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By midlandsmovies, Nov 12 2019 04:34PM



Midlands Review - Tom, Dick and Harry: Christmas Special


Directed by Philippe Ashfield


2019


Instant Entertainment


A new micro short film comes from Midlands director and producer Philippe Ashfield and has the perfect festive theme for the forthcoming winter months where we are thrown into Christmas carols, elves and reindeer games.


Written by Julie Paupe and already nominated for a Birmingham Film Festival award, Tom, Dick and Harry: Christmas Special opens with a rendition of festive favourite "Ding Dong Merrily on High” performed by a trio of church choristers with a bell-jingling elf joining in for good measure.


Three lads (Charlie Wernham, Sam Gittins and Luke Higgins) arrive on a couch and are suspicious of the scenario before they begin to question the motives of the conductor and make clear they are not the Tom, Dick and harry of the title.


However, the star-wearing conductor explains that they are in fact creating a skit to promote the longer film Tom, Dick and Harry. Immediately this meta-moment throws us off and into the surreal comedy world we are about to inhabit. But the boys are still not pleased, especially after hearing this alternative skit will be called “Ding Dong” and they will be replicating the choir members’ singing.


Despite their protests, we cut to find the boys dressed as Santa, an elf and a reindeer as one claims to be a “serious actor”. And quickly they are forced to enact a “sing battle” with the choir.


From a jokey reindeer antler ‘mic-drop’ to a comedic attempt at some falsetto, the film creates laughs as the boys struggle both with the melody and the lyrics of the Chrimbo classic.


Thinking their ramshackle effort “smashed it” over the virtuoso vocals of the harmonic choir, the boys exit as the short wraps up.


The film clearly acts as an advert of sorts for the forthcoming film featuring the same group, but as a witty self-referential mockumentary, it’s a unique idea to tie in with their larger project.


With some festive fun and jolly jokes, the short balances a parody of Christmas clichés and its goal to set up some interest in their follow up. And with zippy dialogue and good-natured sarcasm, the short itself is still a successful stocking filler that teases a bigger present to come.


Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, Jan 29 2019 02:58PM



The Chase (2018)


Fight Club production in association with Five Pence Productions.


Directed by Nisaro Karim & Sam Malley. Written by Nisaro Karim


A trio of contract criminals are assigned a case whereby they must steal a Christmas present from an empty household, only the job doesn’t turn out to be quite as straightforward as they had anticipated.


Sometimes I see films and I have to admire the potential they showed, even if they don’t quite hit the mark in terms of their execution. What Sam Malley and Nisaro Karim have created with The Chase is something that is a very solid foundation for what could go on to be a well-developed concept should they continue to invest in it.


What piques my interest most here is the premise and the number of questions it raises for the viewer. First and foremost, we have a story that centres around the bad guys, which is never a bad thing in my eyes. Generally speaking, the dodgier the character, the more intriguing the narrative tends to be. The thing with villains is they’re grafters. They always have to work hard, whereas the heroes - no matter how high the odds may be stacked against them - they always seem to come out on top with little or no hardship.


So the fact that I’m straightaway presented with two not-so-good characters as the front runners here tells me that the filmmakers also acknowledge this in some way, and I can appreciate that. What I think would be beneficial is that, going forward, how these people got to be where they are today gets explored.


To be able to get inside the head of a villain is always a fascinating thing, and would absolutely add layers of depth to what is a promising blueprint. Add to this the fact that little notes are added throughout the story with the intention of capturing attention and suddenly you have something that shows a lot of potential indeed. Some of these are a bit on the nose, for example, a package with content that remains a mystery from start to finish. However when you look at the bigger picture, it’s the slightly less obvious details that raise the bigger questions, which is another thing I was a fan of.


There were some moments that felt like they were supposed to be more comedic that didn’t hit the mark for me. For the most part, the downfall occurred in one of two ways. Either the generations involved in making the jokes didn’t fit, such as when there is the opening exchange between Dima and Daisy regarding Daisy’s Netflix viewing habits, or the responses to certain situations weren’t reactive enough, and were just too straight-laced.


Personally, I don’t think comedic elements are really needed here if I’m perfectly honest. I think out-and-out crime drama is the approach I’d prefer, and which I think would work better as getting the balance just right with lighter moments is hard and can carry some weight when it’s even just slightly off.


Overall, I do feel like there is a lot of potential there with The Chase, but it does need more development. Foundations are strong, but I think before any future projects are built upon them some of the writing could be tightened up a little bit, and it needs to have more confidence with whatever direction it is headed in.


There is a good idea here, and I think with the right amount of love it could grow into something great. It’s a work-in-progress, but definitely one where the bigger picture is worth keeping an eye on.


Kira Comerford


Twitter @FilmAndTV101


By midlandsmovies, Dec 20 2018 09:11AM

Top 5 Worst Christmas Movies


Midlands Movies contributor Guy Russell chooses his 5 worst Christmas movies that give him the bah humbugs each festiva season. WIth a couple of controversial choices do you agree with our Guy? Read on to find out more...




1. Black Christmas (2006)


This unoriginal remake was screaming out for an injection of humour throughout its 90 minute runtime. With a talented cast, this should have been a lot better however the film makes no effort to improve on the original 70s slasher instead Black Christmas lazily goes through the motions until it reaches the finish line.




2. Deck the Halls (2006)


Matthew and Broderick and Danny DeVito star in the uninspiring Deck the Halls as two neighbours who battle it out to become their small towns most festive household. Every character is either downright obnoxious or obscenely uptight, watch the dark but brilliant Bad Santa if you like awful people doing awful things. 2006 was clearly a bad year for festive films!




3. Scrooged (1988)


I personally found this film to be monumentally annoying and unpleasant. Scrooged will be a surprise entry for some as it has achieved “classic” status over the last few years however apart from Murray doing what he does best there is little to like in this unfunny take on A Christmas Carol.




4. The Grinch (2000)


Despite a spirited and energetic performance by Jim Carrey, The Grinch is a film that is unpleasant to look at, filled with a lacklustre direction and a confused message. Just stick with the original, animated short film.




5. Home Alone 4 (2002)


Not only is Home Alone 4 completely unfaithful to its predecessors, it is poorly made in every aspect. An absolute chore to sit through even at 88 minutes long. Give this one a miss at every cost.


Guy Russell


Twitter @BudGuyer



By midlandsmovies, Nov 26 2018 02:38PM

Birmingham Cathedral hosts Christmas screenings this festive season


On Saturday 8th December, Birmingham Cathedral is hosting a festive film double-header with two classic films on the same day.




First up is The Shop Around the Corner (Dir: Ernst Lubitsch, USA 1940, 99 mins) starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.


Stewart and Sullavan play two gift shop employees that simply cannot stand each other. But over the course of the Christmas season however, they accidentally fall in love through letters they exchange as each other's anonymous pen pal.


Sound familiar? Well, the film actually served as the inspiration for the 1998 Hanks and Ryan schmaltz-fest You've Got Mail. Doors open at 4.00pm with the film starting at 4.30pm.




The second film will be this year's edition of Flatpack’s popular Silent Night series. This year, they are celebrating the career of original Hollywood starlet Mabel Normand, with four of her best short films (USA 1913 - 1927, 78 mins) featuring contemporaries such as Chaplin and Arbuckle and a live score performed by The Meg Morley Trio.


This screening takes place later the same day with doors opening at 8.00pm with the film starting at 8.30pm.


For more info on both films please click these links for tickets and more:


The Shop Around the Corner

https://2018.flatpackfestival.org.uk/event/the-shop-around-the-corner?perf_no=1491


Silent Night

https://2018.flatpackfestival.org.uk/event/silent-night-the-marvellous-mabel-normand?perf_no=1490





By midlandsmovies, Dec 19 2017 08:54AM

Top 5 Christmas Movies


Midlands Movies writer Guy Russell gets in the Christmas spirit by choosing his personal top 5 festive films that bring a warm feeling to his winter heart.


Well, it's that time of year again. The season of festivities, goodwill and a large amount of Christmas films showing in either the cinema or through the television at home. From childhood classics to black comedy capers here are my Top Five Christmas films.




1) Home Alone (1990)


An obvious choice but rightly so. Premiering in 1990, over the past 27 years Home Alone has cemented itself as a holiday classic. Starring Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McAllister, a 10-year-old boy whose parents have accidentally left him home alone in the madness of making a plane to Paris for the festive season. Burglars Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci & Daniel Stern respectively) are working the McAllister’s street not knowing Kevin is left behind. What ensues is a hilarious, chaotic fight to claim the house.


With a brilliant score by John Williams, family-friendly direction by Chris Columbus and original screenplay by John Hughes, not only is Home Alone a Christmas favourite but a favourite all year around.


Honourable Mention: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992). Whilst repetitive and overlong, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York recreates some of the same magic the first had one has, adding the festive New York atmosphere into the mix as well as the hilarious addition of Tim Curry as a snobby hotel concierge.



2) The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992)


One of the greatest and most heavily adapted stories of all time, A Christmas Carol is brought to life in a unique way in The Muppets Christmas Carol. A live-action musical starring an on-form Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge whilst the supporting cast feature Kermit, Mrs Piggy and the rest of The Muppets. As a comedy film with modern songs and puppets it would have surprised many when this film revealed itself to be one of the most faithful re-enactments of Charles Dickens story. Michael Caine brings the film to life as Scrooge is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve night, they visit the past, present and future in the hope he can see the error of his ways and redeem himself.


The cold, bleak, Victorian London setting is realised fantastically and compliments the film further as a Christmas classic.


Honourable Mention: Scrooge (1951). Another adaptation of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is a lot more straightforward than The Muppets take on the subject matter. Alastair Sim portrays the titular character here brilliantly however when first released the film didn’t take off, only finding an audience many years later.



3) Die Hard (1988)


Recently voted “Britain’s favourite Christmas film” by the British public, this action adventure film from John McTiernan splits fans down the middle as to whether or not it can be classed as a “true” Christmas film.


The odds are stacked against off-duty police officer John McClane as he is trapped in a L.A. skyscraper during a Christmas Eve party while terrorists storm the building led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). Released during July 1988, it became a smash hit summer blockbuster. With its sunny Los Angeles setting it’s easy to see why some people disregard Die Hard as a Christmas film however the merry soundtrack and seasonal references are peppered throughout bolstering the argument this is one of the greatest Christmas films of all time.


Honourable Mention: Die Hard 2 (1990) Suffering from the same problem Home Alone 2 had, this sequel was accused of being too repetitive when first released as John McClane fights more terrorists on Christmas Eve, this time at an airport. It has become a firm favourite since then too, myself finding it greatly entertaining. It even has snow this time around!



4) The Family Stone (2005)


One film that doesn’t pop up on these lifts very often is The Family Stone, a comedy-drama film that follows the Stone family as they gather at their parent’s home, amongst them is Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) who introduces his family to his new fiancée Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) during the holidays. However, she receives a hostile reception and invites her own sister to stay causing further complications.


The Family Stone is a Christmas film that doesn’t get much air time come the festive season and it’s a shame. A moderate box-office and critical hit, it’s funny enough and has some real dramatic clout. It has a real slice of life feel to the film as there are awkward dinners, family rifts and arguments over spouses whilst balancing the comedy well.


If you’re after a snowy, Christmas setting with a fun premise then I would definitely recommend The Family Stone.


Honourable mention: Christmas Vacation (1989). Everyone’s favourite screwball family The Griswold’s return as they plan a big family Christmas involving both Clark and Ellen’s parents. Similar to The Family Stone in the sense that the family rarely get on for longer than ten minutes however in traditional John Hughes fashion the film doesn’t pass by without a happy, festive finale.



5) Bad Santa (2003)


Produced by the Coen Brothers and starring Billy Bob Thornton, Bad Santa was always going to be close to the knuckle and it does not disappoint. Alcoholic safe cracker Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) and fellow thief Marcus (Tony Cox) hit a mall every year at Christmas whilst posing as the stores Santa and his little helper, complications arise however when Willie befriends a troubled boy.


One of the crudest but funniest Christmas films of all time, Bad Santa will have some opposition for its less than gleeful outlook on the season however its use of advent calendars and store Santa’s more than make up for it.


If you’re a fan of the comedic talents of John Ritter, Bernie Mac and Billy Bob Thornton then check Bad Santa out! Just avoid the 2016 sequel.


Honourable mention: The Night Before (2015). Booze, Drugs and Debauchery come together to produce a Christmas three friends will never forget. The Night Before stars Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Anthony Mackie as childhood friends who get together every Christmas Eve to support Ethan (Levitt) who lost his family at Christmas. They decide to end their tradition but not without going out with a bang. The Night Before is a welcome addition to the adult Christmas genre providing enough laughs for the viewer to remember why they’re having such a good time.


Guy Russell

https://twitter.com/BudGuyer


By midlandsmovies, Nov 11 2015 11:16AM

CHRISTMAS AT QUAD IN DERBY



The QUAD in Derby has a selection of seven Christmas films in December alongside live theatre and a themed event in November. Films include It’s A Wonderful Life, The Shop Around The Corner, White Christmas, Frozen (sing-a-long), Elf, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard.


QUAD traditional Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life returns with screenings in December. Set on Christmas Eve Clarence, a guardian angel, is assigned to convince the desperate George Bailey (James Stewart) not to take his own life. When George decides he is worth more dead than alive, it’s up to Clarence to help him realise how many lives his good deeds have touched. It’s A Wonderful Life (U) screens at QUAD from Friday 18th to Thursday 24th December.


There will also be a special It's A Wonderful Life Dementia Friendly Screening in QUAD on Tuesday 1st December from 1:00pm. The screening is specially programmed for those with Dementia and their carers, please contact charlottec@derbyquad.co.uk 01332 285427 for further information.


Part of QUAD’s ‘LOVE’ season, The Shop Around The Corner is set in a lovingly evoked Budapest in the run-up to Christmas. The delicately observed comedy focuses on the various obstacles blocking the path of potential lovers James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, fellow workers in a gossip-ridden emporium unaware they’re in fact courting one another by mail in an anonymous correspondence. An exquisitely romantic depiction of the old central Europe and perfect seasonal fare. The Shop Around The Corner (U) screens at QUAD from Friday 4th until Sunday 6th December.


White Christmas stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a song and dance act charged alongside a sisters’ double act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) with saving a failing Vermont. Laughs, romance and musical numbers abound in this classic festive musical from the director of Casablanca. White Christmas (U) screens at QUAD from Friday 11th until Monday 14th December.


For all the family a Frozen sing-a-long is also back by popular demand. In the popular film Anna teams up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and sets off on a journey to find her missing sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in an eternal Winter. With mountainous conditions, mystic trolls and a snowman named Olaf, the two race to save their kingdom. Frozen Sing-a-long (PG) screens in QUAD from Saturday 19th until Thursday 24th December. This Cine Kids screenings has special ticket price of 3.50 for Cine Kids club members.


Family comedy Elf stars Will Ferrell as one of Santa's elves, who learns of his true identity as a human and goes to New York City to meet his biological father - spreading Christmas cheer as he goes. Elf (PG) screens in QUAD from Saturday 19th until Thursday 24th December


There is an alternative to the traditional films with a Lethal Weapon / Die Hard Christmas Double Bill – LA style! Riggs And Murtaugh take on ex-military drug dealers in the classic cop buddy movie, Lethal Weapon. Followed by John McClane having a very bad day in Nakatomi Plaza courtesy of Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber. Lethal Weapon / Die Hard Double Bill: is an (18) certificate and screens at QUAD on Saturday 19th December from 7:30pm. Tickets are: £12 and £10 Concessions.


QUAD Christmas opening times are: Christmas Eve, Boxing Day & New Year’s Eve from 11:00am until 8:00pm. QUAD will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.



Cinema tickets are £7.80 or £6.50 concessions, for more information or to book tickets please call QUAD Box Office on 01332 290606 or visit http://www.derbyquad.co.uk/whats-on-listing/film

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