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By midlandsmovies, Aug 11 2019 08:00AM


Directed by Ben Bloore


B Squared Films

After a bit of hiatus local Derby filmmaker Ben Bloore returns to the director’s chair for his new 7-minute short McKinley, an emotional police procedural containing many unfortunate consequences.

We open with a husband (Steve Wood as Craig) who arrives home late one Friday night to his wife (Tina Harris as Emma) who angrily shouts at his son (Rory McGuinness) to go to bed.

A violent row ensues with his wife pushed out the way as he heads upstairs to the boy’s room where he is unjustly punished by the whipping of a belt.

But there is a twist in this tale: a masked intruder enters from behind and attacks Emma before we are whisked away to the next day where a police officer is at the crime scene. A great introduction, Bloore switches focus (and our sympathies) with this narrative swap and immediately sets up an intriguing mystery just a few minutes in.

A dishevelled and unshaven detective turns up (Mark Tunstall as the eponymous McKinley) who is whisked around the house by a forensic scientist (Michelle Darkin Price) explaining how the previous night’s events unfolded.

Bloore again uses images to fill in the audience with the background as we cut back to see the final moments of the parents before their bodies were discovered now strewn on the floor. But again we are offered a plot surprise as we find out the son has in fact survived the attack.

McKinley appears haunted by a past case, especially one involving his family as he imagines their images in a broken photo frame and we again flashback to the incredibly traumatised detective at a different crime scene.

The film has a huge number of high points going for it. Bloore has assembled a crew who have created a quality short that looks as good as anything I’ve seen on TV. Director of Photography Jon O’Neill uses sharp images with great depth and the shot quality shows the professionalism and skill on screen.

Kudos should also go to editor Nick Archer who successfully cuts back and forth across many time narratives to ensure the audience can understand the multiple situations we are shown.

The acting is also a highlight with the whole cast delivering and getting across their characters in such a short space of time. This is probably due to the successful relationship the director has built up with the actors from their previous appearances in his earlier shorts 2015’s Hidden Truth (review here) and 2016’s Crossing Paths (review here).

Haunted by ghostly visions, McKinley finishes open-ended which again reflects the TV nature of the film with this short almost acting as the pilot episode of a longer drama series. As one door closes we are left to imagine another opening up as the film’s conclusion teases a bigger story and further investigation.

Although the short does contain some clichés of the genre – the troubled detective, a family murder etc – the film overcomes most of these. With high-quality professionalism and a well-written script, this allows the audience to discover the mysteries along with the characters in a fulfilling way. And from a satisfying set-up to an exceptional cast, McKinley is a first-rate detective tale with intriguing secrets that will leave an audience wanting much more.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jan 29 2016 01:28PM

Feature Review – Crossing Paths (2016)

Directed by Ben Bloore

Derby filmmaker Ben Bloore has released a new dramatic short called Crossing Paths which has taken a year of hard work to make and will soon be premiering in the Midlands this Spring. At seven minutes, the short is brief but packs a powerful punch in an ambiguous tale of tragedy, trauma and grief.

The film opens on a bright summer day with interspersed shots of spider webs on branches and ducks in a pond showing a vast array of life and energy in this environment before bringing focus to a solitary lady on a wooden bench.

This is Alison (played by Michelle Darkin-Price) and she waits there for a beat before being joined by a mysterious suited man who asks if the seat next to her is taken. Perhaps offering a new dawn to Alison, the man says he’s there to help. This enigmatic opening sets up the intrigue about how these two came together and there is some brilliantly gorgeous cinematography in the film. The summer trees pop from the screen in glorious greens as the film cleverly cuts between its stories using smart dolly shots and camera moves by Neil Oseman.

We cut to from this to an ill woman called Lorraine (played by Tina Harris) who is bed bound and refuses her morning dose of pills. The scene begins with curtains opening to again reveal luminous sunlight – echoing the brightness of the opening and suggesting a positivity at odds with the heart-breaking circumstances. Here we see the man from the park (the character ‘Matthew’ played delicately by Phil Molloy) as a frustrated husband faced with the pain of a loved one.

Although back in the ‘present’ Matthew claims it’s “never too late”, director Bloore gets across a sad inevitability through his characters’ dialogue and the sensitive gaps between the dialogue.

Crossing Paths continues with these back stories as it cuts again but this time to a violent encounter. A pregnant woman (Alison again) is shown being beaten to the ground by her partner Sean (played by Mark Tunstall) before running from her house and into trouble. Here the film begins to hint upon past lives bringing us to the same points in our journeys as well as some figurative and literal representations of the human spirit.

Bloore ‘suggests’ more than he explains and the short is all the better because of it. Scenes are brief but to the point with an excellent use of colour and costume reflecting the characters’ state of mind at the time. Themes are repeated and echo throughout thus giving the film a circular nature but also a hope of positivity which fights the damaging events shown on screen.

Mourning their losses, a melancholic sense of despair permeates the short but even the briefest of smiles suggests how the soul may move on. The film ends on a haunting guitar ballad with an outro track that is a tender and strangely prescient nod to the film’s emotive issues (“Love Is a Deadly Thing” by Annabelle Bartram).

Written by Ben Fowkes, the film is emotional and poignant and does not provide a definitive answer as to why or how these two traverse but Bloore has criss-crossed his regretful stories with fine editing to show a great but brief narrative of intersecting life-cycles.


Midlands Movies Mike

Crossing Paths is having its premiere on 26th March at 11:00am – 12:00pm on screen 4 at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham. For information about the screening check the event’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1530286923938232/

The Broadway Cinema is at 14-18 Broad Street, NG1 3AL Nottingham, Midlands and the film is followed by Q & As with the cast and director.

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