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By midlandsmovies, Apr 8 2014 04:38PM

Here’s a fact: I’ve never walked out of a Chris Nolan Batman film fully happy. It’s true. For me, Batman Begins was covering the same ground as Burton and I didn’t “get” the fuss surrounding The Dark Knight. Time appears to have healed my jadedness like a crippled Bruce Wayne as although initially disappointed, I now feel both films (Dark Knight especially) are brilliant, dark and distinct comic-book crime films which I have continued to reassess in my own mind with a certain two-facedness if you will.

So, to the new film itself. Eight years have passed and an isolated Howard Hughes-esque Bruce Wayne (Bale) has left Batman behind in the wake of the Dent Act – the lie Gordon perpetuates that now keeps Gotham safe but like a steroid-induced Oswald Cobblepot, a villain rises from the gloomy sewers in the form of Bane - a man-hulk bent on sending Gotham into a spiral of economic revolution. In the middle of this Nolan throws in the morally (and sexually) ambiguous Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (that particular name is never mentioned, fact fans) who is a sultry thief who plays all sides like the best noir femme fatales of old. And alongside Oldman as Gordon is another Gordon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt to be precise) who plays a beat cop as morally incorruptible as Batman himself.

And so why my initial reticence this third time? Well, first up, Bane/Hardy is just not the villain The Joker is – not an icon, not fully fleshed but a well-designed thug without the bite and possibly one of Hardy’s least charismatic acting stints since This Means War. Also, the film is very long (obviously epic but definitely plot heavy) and I also began to think, how much did we really see of Batman? Nolan does not want to over egg the omelette, I get that, but I can only remember three full sequences containing Batman. It’s got the least Batman of any Batman film! Some of the chemistry was also sadly a bit lacking between all the characters too, even previously established ones like Fox and Wayne didn’t have the usual spark and I think that Hathaway could have been used more as some of her story threads started and then suddenly stopped.

The good parts? Well, the production values are second to none, Wally Pfister’s moody cinematography is exemplarily (as usual) and the solid story arc takes Gotham to hell and back whilst giving nods to characters and themes (including the League of Shadows) from the previous films. Clearly a great three-quel, Nolan doesn’t disappoint but neither does the film escalate to the heady heights of the last caper. The action is a highlight (although it is as rationed as a Wayne foundation austerity budget) with vicious fight scenes, as brutal as you’ll ever see in a 12A. This compliments the exciting bat-bike chases and the introduction of “the bat” (a new hover-plane vehicle of sorts) where Batman avoids cops by sweeping between city skyscrapers by road and air. Along with the drawn-out end sequence these thrilling set-pieces suddenly make your heart go boom like some sort of exploding stadium and help provide moments of intensity to break up several of the rather lengthy and dreary political exposition scenes.

The standout moments continue with a makeshift “people’s” revolutionary court, some poignant speeches from old voice-of-reason Alfred Pennywhistle (Caine) and a smattering of smart rooftop one-liners between the cat and bat themselves. Too few though were any truly great scenes like the one involving a bridge/building façade and some flaming liquid which was probably my favourite scene in the whole movie and one of the best kept secrets of the film (sorry, no detailed spoilers here).

Ultimately, the gloomy film contains solid but not spectacular acting (Bale is probably best of the bunch here) and I’m trying not to judge too harshly until I get that elusive second viewing in order to further enjoy the multiple meanings contained within. Although it is somewhat ironic that the film with the most “layers” (Nolan’s “Inception”) struck a chord that made me love it first-time around, The Dark Knight Rises however had me back in the familiar old not-sure-I-really-like-it mode. If my own past rises then the inevitable re-watch will have me addressing these issues again in 6 months time and claiming it as a masterpiece but as I walked out the cinema I couldn’t accurately judge whether Nolan had served up a film like a faithful maestro or delivered a disappointing pile of guano.

Midlands Movies Mike 8/10

By midlandsmovies, Feb 9 2014 10:31AM

• SHORT CINEMA CLUB (quarterly showcases) http://phoenix.org.uk More info from Karen at Leicester's Criterion Public House https://twitter.com/criterionkaz

• WORCESTERSHIRE FILM FESTIVAL www.worcestershirefilmfestival.co.uk 13-16th November 2014 - Contact Lawrence Donello‏ on Twitter @Razorpost

• LEICESTER DOCFILM FEST http://www.citizenseye.org 5th Docfilm Festival 1st-30th Nov 2014 Contact John Coster

• BORDERLINES FEST http://www.borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk UK's largest rural film festival 28th Feb – 16th March 2014 in Herefordshire/Shropshire.

• BANG SHORT FILM FEST http://www.bangshortfilmfestival.com 2014 Dates TBC Contact - https://twitter.com/bangsff

• BIFF FEST (Black International Film Fest) http://www.vtelevision.co.uk/biff/ 1st November 2014 Birmingham

• FILM NORTHANTS http://www.filmnorthants.co.uk 2014 TBC Contact filmnorthants@yahoo.co.uk or info@filmnorthants.co.uk

• SHOCK AND GORE FESTIVAL http://www.shockandgore.co.uk The Electric Cinema in Birmingham, July 2014 Contact david@theelectric.co.uk or https://twitter.com/shockgore

• DEAFFEST http://www.deaffest.co.uk The UK's International Deaf Film & Arts Festival Wolverhampton. Contact info@light-house.co.uk 16th – 18th May 2014

• STOKE YOUR FIRES FILM FESTIVAL http://www.stokeyourfires.co.uk Stoke on Trent 7th – 11th March 2014 Contact http://twitter.com/stokeyourfires

• SHOUT FESTIVAL http://shoutfestival.co.uk Fri 25 - Sun 27 Apr 2014

• ID FEST http://www.idfest.co.uk May 2014 Contact info@derbyquad.co.uk or https://twitter.com/ID_Fest

• FANTASTIQ Fantasy and Horror Fest at Quad in Derby (Part of larger Derby Film Fest Derby Film Festival May 9th – May 18th 2014

• MAYHEM HORROR Film Fest - Halloween. 31 October to 3 November 2014 Contact Broadway cinema in Nottingham http://www.broadway.org.uk/groups/mayhem_film_festival

• FLATPACK FEST - 20-30 March 2014 across Birmingham, UK. http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk

Other useful Film Festival information can be find at these links:



Older festivals that may/may not run a festival in 2014 below:



By midlandsmovies, Feb 7 2014 04:47PM

Midlands Movies checks out a new cinema in the region which is trying some things very different to the massive multiplexes.

Located at the beautiful Barton Marina and with free parking (thank god!), cinema goers can also peruse other shops and a gentle stroll around the water before eating brunch, lunch or dinner in the cinema’s Cafe Bar.

Co-owner, Kate Silverwood had a love for Grand Designs and big homely projects, so it was over 5 years ago when her and her partner set out to build a 2-screen cinema. The focus was on a relaxing and peaceful environment and this romantic idea was slowly fulfilled with a big dose of optimism despite some hiccups with many rounds of planning permission, over 53 (!) changes to the architectural plans and the almost obligatory multi-mortgage to help finance it.

Many, including themselves at some point, thought they were bonkers. But as their project came to a close and the cinema almost completed, it felt very special to finally have the building finished and they even placed a time capsule of drawings of films by local school children under the foyer – copies of which are in the bar itself.

With a focus on the personal, for seven days a week, the cinema offers a “Film and Food Night Out” which consists of a two course meal in the cafe followed by the film of your choice for under twenty pounds and all daytime films (scheduled before 5pm) are just £5 per person, it’s the small touches that have set the cinema apart from the franchise rivals.

Kate explained that there are Baby Wednesday screenings which cater for parents and toddlers whilst Sunday noon classics have included Roman Holiday amongst others. For the adventurous the inclusion of “Snoozles” (low sofa type seats) at the front of the screen now allow for much more comfort if sitting close to the screen but be careful not to fall asleep as they can be almost too comfortable.

I can higly recommend the retro style and warmth of this cinema and advise all readers to go and check it out to ensure we continue to have friendly community-based independent cinemas for years to come.

To book film, food or both, please call the cinema on 01283 716257. The Red Carpet Cinema, Barton Marina, Barton under Needwood, Staffordshire, DE13 8AS

Website: http://www.redcarpetcinema.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Red-Carpet-Cinema-and-Cafe-Bar/190585667793786

View the making of the cinema on this YouTube video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyRw0aM4Jcg&feature=player_embedded

By midlandsmovies, Jan 31 2014 06:01PM

Feature writer Dodson delves inside the film that started the chain spinning...

In light of Texas Chainsaw 3D, (18) John Luessenhop's 're-imagining' of Tobe Hooper's 1974 'video nasty' and the sixth film to feature the macabre exploits of Leatherface, not to mention the various TV spin-offs, documentaries and a Video game, I decided to blow the dust off of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre after several years on the DVD shelf.

My earliest memory of the original was in the early nineties, where I watched the film alone, curtains pulled, on a grubby, second-rate pirate copy on VHS, which cunningly lived in a Raymond Briggs' The Snowman video case. I was around thirteen years old and my wayward delinquency was annoyingly punctuated by my Dad's intermittent trips to the toilet, where I would have to quickly stop the tape until the coast was clear again. At the time, it was banned in several countries including the UK, on account of it's overall repugnant tone and became the most coveted title in the playground, alongside Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead and William Friedkin's The Exorcist.

It's faux 'true story' marketing, attracted broad, blood-thirsty audiences, despite the fact that the original film has hardly any blood. That said, watching Leatherface twirl his chain saw around at the very end of the harrowing final act, almost in a gesture of dark ballet, immediately sent a sick feeling of panic into the pit of my little stomach, staying long after the sobering credits had rolled. Tobe Hooper, Kim Henkel and Gunnar Hansen had successfully planted yet another cinematic sicko firmly in my psyche, standing threateningly close to Freddie Krueger, Norman Bates and Michael Myers. And having more in common with one another than I first imagined, thanks to Wisconsin psychopath Ed Gein.

Some Six years later, I bought a Eumig Mark CINE 8 Sound Projector and whilst walking around Leicester Market I acquired an 8mm, 45 Minute print of the film for around Five pounds. It was badly colour-damaged, burnt in places and cut to pieces. It was a 'greatest hits' reel, mostly showing the films more graphic moments. After all this time; it's dark charisma still shone through. Watching the false-faced, beer-bellied maniac slinging his oil-spitting chain saw, as the projector screen crackled and popped, I was assured that this remarkable movie still worked.

In 1999, the BBFC finally lifted the ban on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre when they passed the cinema and subsequent home video and DVD release. Finally, being able to see the film I'd been previously viewing on more modest formats, projected in a multi-plex was interesting, as I was subject to an audiences reaction to the film. Something I hadn't witnessed until then.

Amongst the crowd, a group of teenagers, mostly sniggering males, immediately began to heckle the film. I heard one of them say "Scream is way better than this..". What intrigued me most was toward the films' midpoint, I noticed that the theatre had been plunged into complete silence. The band of plucky, young striplings had completely lost their machismo; their enthusiastic bawdiness had been replaced by a look of deep distress. By the end credits, the film had successfully reprimanded their prior discourtesy. The Last House On The Left, Wes Craven's equally disturbing sibling to Hooper's Southern brain child wasn't shown publicly in Britain until a year later, when The Phoenix Arts in Leicester was granted a one-off license to screen the film, side by side with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but not without unavoidable opposition.

Local headlines read: Arts Centre in Horror Film Row- ' Campaigners want a horror film featuring explicit violence to be banned in Leicester. The Phoenix Arts Cinema, is seeking permission from Leicester City Council to screen The Last House On The Left and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre featuring guest appearances from leading actors David Hess and Gunnar Hansen'.

In the article John Beyer, director of the media watchdog: The National Viewers & Listeners Association said: 'Depictions of these types of brutality should not be tolerated in a civilised society'. Head of the Cinema Alan Alderson-Smith stood his ground and responded by stating 'We will use the films to discuss the whole rationale behind censorship'.

I went along to the summer Horror-Fest entitled: The Last Chain Saw On The Left not only to seize the opportunity to see Chain saw projected on the big screen once more, but also to support the Phoenix Arts; a picture house that were not only showing great films, but were showing no signs of compromising their integrity. As thriller-filler for the unpleasant sandwich of the prohibited, was a collection of equally unhealthy exploitation fodder and Q & A interviews with the filmmakers and 'stars' of the films. It was bizarre. The thirteen year old inside me was shaking the tough, sturdy hand of Leatherface, except he resembled a gentle Santa Claus look-a-like more than a chain saw wielding homicidal maniac. What was interesting to me was that after all this time, the potency of this film was still very apparent.

The subsequent sequels, re-makes and re-boots that were to follow, (including Dennis Iliadis' remake of The Last House On The Left in 2009) were obviously diluted, put through the money-making factory and as a result, gave birth to a twisted, deformed dispensable franchise. Almost forty years later, the last effort: Texas Chainsaw 3D, contains strong bloody violence and gory images, something the BBFC has passed without exception. Which says something about what we accept collectively and culturally in modern cinema and however dated the original may be considered, it creates and sustains such an unbearably ominous tone throughout, it has yet to be equaled by anything since.

For further insight: The Last House On The Left (18) (C) Anchor Bay Ltd. 2003 DVD/ Disc 2: Special Feature, Krug Conquers England: Documentary charting the theatrical tour of the UK, which included the first ever legal screening at The Phoenix Arts Centre, Leicester.

Midlands Movies Dodson (follow on Twitter @dodson_review)

By midlandsmovies, Dec 17 2013 05:08PM

Since 1994, Leicester’s Comedy Festival has given the city a big laugh during the cold month of February and now, 20 years on, the festival hits the region again with some amazing upcoming and established acts from all walks of life. From zany to the surreal, semi-serious to bizarre and everything in between there is something for funny afficianados during a blazing 2 weeks of festival fun and with over 600 events in total, I list below a few off-beat and film-related choices that you should try and check out early next year:

Spot On @ The Movies

DATE: 07 February VENUE: The Y Theatre TIME: Doors: 11.00.am

A light hearted look at some of the Movie World's most iconic posters and stars, seen through the warped eyes of former TV Times and GQ illustrator and caricaturist George Williams. This exhibition of stylised iconic images is taken from a larger collection, reflecting George's lifelong passion for both caricatures and movies.

How To Make A Movie For 43 Pounds

DATE: 08 February VENUE: Phoenix Square ENTRY: £7.60 (£5.85 / £5 students)*

One man. One dream. No budget. Rhys has quit the day job to live the dream. But can a former ‘logistics process manager’ really direct an epic romance in just 12 months? Helping him are a scheming producer, a paranoid writer and actors who don’t even need to act because they’re really in love. What could possibly go wrong? Our documentary crew followed him to find out. Shot on location in Leicester.

Off The Kerb Productions present...James Bannon: Running with the Firm

DATE: 08 February VENUE: The Crumblin Cookie ENTRY: £10 (£8)* DOORS: 7.15pm

When you go undercover remember one thing, who you are… The film was I.D. The book is Running With the Firm and this is the true story told by the man himself. In 1995 Gary Oldman said to James Bannon: ‘We play at this, you did it for real, no second takes, you f*ck it up and you're dead.’ In a unique theatrical event of authentic sheer bloody madness, you will experience first-hand what it was like to live your life undercover.

Kitty Cointreau's BraHaHa

DATE: 09 February VENUE: The Y TIME: Doors: 7.15.pm START: 7.30pm ENTRY: £13 (£10 Balcony)

The critically acclaimed UK sell-out burlesque and comedy revue is back! With award-winning comedians, burlesque beauties & cabaret stars, there's tease, tassels and titters not to be missed. An undisputed banquet of vaudeville heaven with a sensational cast featuring International burlesque strutter extraordinaire, Cherry Shakewell (‘one of burlesque’s finest shimmy-shakers’ TimeOut)

Austentacious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel

DATE: 10 February VENUE: The Little Theatre ENTRY: £9

Undoubtedly one of the most talked-about shows on the improvised comedy circuit, Austentatious: An Improvised Novel is an hour-long comedy play spun in the inimitable style of Jane Austen – and based entirely on audience suggestions http://austentatiousimpro.com

The Cookie present...A Movie Premiere: TRUNK'D

DATE: 14 February VENUE: The Crumblin Cookie TIME: Doors: 9pm ENTRY: £6

From writer/director, Jake Hull, comes Trunk’d an unapologetic road trip comedy complete with a pimp, a mayor, hillbillies and blackmail. All of this rolled together in a healthy dose of raunchy, offensive, stupid, bust a gut comedy. Through the glazed over eyes of its narrators, Trunk’d follows Adam (Kevin Zaideman, Chance in Hell), his brother Paul (Dan Cummins, Comedy Central Presents), his best man Jesse (Austin Anderson, America’s Got Talent) and his cousin Rob (Michael Leamen) as they travel from Nebraska to Texas and back again, all in an effort to dispose of the body of a deceased call girl.

Cassetteboy vs DJ Rubbish Comedy Disco

DATE: 15 February VENUE: Firebug ENTRY: £12 (£10)*

Editing extraordinaire Cassetteboy’s hilarious YouTube videos have mashed-up everyone from Alan Sugar to Harry Potter, and have been watched over 20 million times. Now they’ve teamed up with DJ Rubbish, freestyle rapper and Peckham’s biggest idiot, to create an unforgettable night. Part comedy club, part disco, all party, it’s the only night in town that plays Madonna and MasterChef, 50 Cent and Jeremy Paxman. Prizes! Drinks! Swearing! Stupidity! You’ll laugh, you’ll dance, you’ll go to the toilet (probably). Tweet your musical requests to @Cassetteboy

The Social Cinema and Phoenix present “The Apartment” - Valentine's Weekend Screening

DATE: 15 February VENUE: Phoenix Square ENTRY: £6

Social Cinema returns for a unique Valentine’s screening of the comedy masterpiece The Apartment. With sizzling dialogue and iconic performances from Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, Billy Wilder’s 1960 multi-Oscar winner is sharper, sweeter and darker than most love stories.

...and this is my friend Mr Laurel

DATE: 19 February VENUE: Upstairs at the Western ENTRY: £12 (£10)*

A biographical one-man play about the life of film comedian Stan Laurel starring Jeffrey Holland (Spike from BBC’s Hi-De-Hi). Set in the bedroom of a sick Oliver Hardy the show takes place during Laurel’s visit to the dying man. Recounting their past success as the comedy double act Laurel and Hardy this is a humorous and touching look at one of the great cinematic partnerships of the last century.

Walking Cliche and Superfan present...Who Ya Gonna Call?

DATE: 20 February VENUE: The Ale Wagon Entry: FREE* DOORS: 7.40pm

Katy, Tom and Jon pay tribute to the best film of all time in their own special way; with original songs, cardboard props and lots of love. Watch them sing, slime and bust their way through a one-hour interactive tribute to everyone's favourite 80s classic. Think Reduced Shakespeare Company meets Be Kind, Rewind. ***** "The only thing that could’ve improved this show is a cameo from Bill Murray himself" THREE WEEKS

Quite Nice Theatre present...Snakes! The Musical

DATE: 22 February VENUE: The Little Theatre ENTRY: £10 DOORS: 8.45pm

Following their sell out, five stars run at the Edinburgh Fringe Quite Nice Theatre bring their award winning Snakes! The Musical to Leicester. A group of young, ambitious actors have written a musical based on a film about some snakes on a plane. They think it's going to be a massive hit! They just need £50 million to produce it! Join our group of hopeful dreamers as they take you through what you can expect when the extravaganza transfers to the Palladium.

Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival

7th – 23rd February 2014


Twitter @DavesLeicesFest

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Dec 8 2013 01:19PM

Why I think the Guardians of the Galaxy could be marvel’s first flop...

With Marvel’s forthcoming release schedule featuring Captain America: The Winter Soldier which is due for release in April 2014, I am optimistic about the film which looks like an espionage action-thriller concerning Robert Redford’s senior leader at SHIELD and an attack on the nation’s capital. Suitably jingoistic and taking a tone that follows on but looks different to previous incarnations in the Marvel cinematic universe, the film’s trailer looked darker in tone to The Avengers but with action aplenty for the masses. However, I’m not so optimistic about Marvel’s next movie which is The Guardians of the Galaxy. Featuring a band of sci-fi heroes from the comic of the same name my gut feeling stems from a number of issues.

Firstly, the credits-stinger at the end of Thor: The Dark World seemed way out of tone not just with that film but with the universe as a whole. A heavily made up Benicio Del Toro couldn’t hide the fact that it looked more like a bad costume from a Fifth Element TV spin off and I immediately thought that this was a bad direction for Marvel to go. It was hilarious in all the wrong ways - mainly looking incredibly cheap.

With a set of mostly unheard of characters (to the non-comic reading layperson) that have less appeal than the US-centric Captain America, the film feels like a further watering down of the Marvel franchise. After watching the first 6 episodes of The Agents of SHIELD TV series, it seems that Marvel do not have the magic touch with everything and the endless expansion actually appears to be ruining the characters’ world.

Maybe Marvel is seeing the franchise as a new way to distribute TV-style series given the success of shows like Breaking Bad and Games of Thrones where stories can be told across a large number of episodes. The problem with that is the way it forces the audience to consume (in all the bad ways that word connotes) ALL the material for fear of missing plot points. Call me an old cynic (or old fashioned) but I don’t want to view cinematic films in that way. They have to exist on their own terms.

Further issues that concern me include the necessity of CGI (if nothing but to create a CGI Racoon) which I don’t gel with, especially when a film heavily relies on digital effects which in turn furthers the universe’s sci-fi credentials but further takes away from the human element that is so needed in these films. Can Marvel “hack” another group dynamic too? A group with a ridiculous name where general recognition is going to be low? The Avenegers has worked so far with its human-based heroes and their inherent flaws but when space going-ons get in the way then you could have another Green Lantern on your hands – a film that contains nearly all the same concerns as already mentioned.

Combined with director James Gunn who has a segment of Movie 43 on his resume, I wonder if he can pull all of these worrying strands into a cohesive whole or will they fall apart and do damage to the good work done so far?

Some of the defenders of the film say I should read the comics. I’ve been a big believer in that movies (whatever they’re based on) have to survive on their own merits and not be a slave to any source material or the need for audiences requiring any “outside” research to bolster their understanding of the film so I admit up front that I won’t be doing that. I shouldn’t have to. I don’t read Star Wars sci-fi expanded universe stuff and even Lucas himself stated the films are only canon to themselves.

Other defenders have argued about other original sci-fi like Star Wars or Avatar. I disagree as they had no “universe” to fit into. They were a clean slate and began without being part of a greater whole (they established one) so I feel Guardians is going to require a script of epic proportions to allay my fears.

Despite all of this, I do want the film to be a success as I am big fan of science fiction and the current films in the Marvel canon but for me, I am much more interested in the next origin story that will be Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man.

In conclusion, I’ve been in wrong in the past (I thought a little band called The Spice Girls wouldn’t get anywhere) and would love to stand corrected next year (and maybe flop is too big a word) but will look forward to the first footage in the trailer to see whether any of my predictions/worries have been confirmed or whether they can be thrown out the window altogether.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Nov 3 2013 09:26AM

Can the eagle eye sailors in the crow's nest see the iceberg any easier in this retro-fitted 3D re-release of Cameron's star-crossed lovers from different background CGI epic...Matt finds out in his review of Avatar...wait, no...Titanic!

I’ll get this out of the way right at the very beginning. I like Titanic. I like Titanic a lot. I’d go as far as to say it’s one of my top ten favourite films. I love it. If you’ve never seen it – your loss – but allow me to give you a brief synopsis. Rich girl gets on boat. Rich girl meets poor boy. Rich girl and poor boy get it on. Ship sinks. Poor boy dies. The moral of the story being that if you’re rich, you can survive most things, even the freezing Atlantic Ocean.

I must admit though, that as much as I love the film, I was a bit surprised it had been chosen for a 3D re-release. 3D seems to be the realm of action/horror/sci-fi films and not romantic dramas. 3D can certainly add elements to the right kind of films, but to a film like Titanic? I was sceptical. And, as I found out, rightly so. Touching up Titanic with a bit of 3D doesn’t really work. With 3D, there should be dramatic “in your face” moments and Titanic just doesn’t have them.

The famous iceberg which did for the ship doesn’t move out of the screen as it strikes the Titanic, water doesn’t appear to be flooding towards the audience in dramatic 3D fashion. The interior shots do have more depth to them but seeing a dining room in 3D just isn’t the same as seeing alien spaceships flying down a canyon as in Avatar. In a 3D film of over 3 hours, there was only really one 3D “wow” moment when the water floods into the bridge were the Captain meets his maker. In a film this long, you’d expect more.

The problem, however, rests with the film itself. To state the obvious, it’s already been made! There are no new scenes that can really be added in to make the 3D work and there are no existing scenes that 3D can really add anything too. The 3D angle just doesn’t work with a film like Titanic in the same way as it does in Avatar or Toy Story 3.

Once again, I was disappointed with a 3D re-release. I do like 3D as a concept where it can add something to the cinema experience but pointlessly re-releasing films just to add 3D into it seems like a pointless gimmick. That said, the film itself is amazing on the big screen and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it again, even though the 3D was a bit of a damp squib. My advice – go and see Titanic at the cinema while you can, but skip the 3D and go for the cheaper 2D option.

Midlands Movies Matthew

By midlandsmovies, Aug 13 2013 05:15PM

Best Opening Titles/Credit Sequences

After watching the new film “Hitchcock” with Sir Anthony Hopkins as the master of suspense himself along with the trials of getting the film Psycho made, it got me thinking about the brilliant credit sequence from the 60s classic. That was created by the awesome graphic designer and credit maker Saul Bass and I started to reflect on what my favourite opening title/sequences were.

By no means an exhaustive list (and definitely NOT in any order) but here are some of my favourites over the years and please drop us a message below or reply with a tweet about your own favourites or any glaring omissions from the list.

Let the credits roll!

Zombieland (2009) – The film begins with a superb montage of slow motion zombie attacks on screaming American victims to the heavy sounds of Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.


Casino (1995) – Here the titles are actually by the infamous Saul Bass who was coaxed out of retirement for one more intro sequence by Martin Scorsese and is a brilliant explosion of lights, colours and neon shapes in his inimitable style.


Casino Royale (2006) – A different “casino” in the title again, this time with a Bond-song by Chris Cornell that has grown on me over the years but the card-playing imagery and animation was a neat twist on traditional Bond motifs.


Watchmen (2009) – The graphic novel’s entire back story/alternative universe history is shown with Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are A’ Changing” overdubbed in full which is an epic beginning to an epic film.


Speed (1994) – Jan De Bont used a very slow, deliberate and almost never ending lift shaft where the steel girders are used to “frame” the actors’ names as he winds up the tension from the start. (Mike update – obviously no one else likes this as I am unable to find an online video of it!)

Spiderman 2 (2004) – It was great to see traditional comic book artwork in the intro to Sam Raimi’s comic book film and the images run through a quick recap of the first movie’s major plot points. (The reboot of The Incredible Hulk did a similar thing in an attempt to both skip the “origin” part of the story and somewhat erase Ang Lee’s first film).


Catch Me if You Can (2002) – Spielberg went old school in this Saul Bass inspired intro sequence that covers the film’s story points and is reminiscent of the Pink Panther in its retro use of animation


Anchorman (2002) – I enjoyed this intro as we get a series of quick jokes in the style of a 4:3 television set with rounded corners which immediately gives us the time, the place and the actors’ names in the style of a news bulletin. These “outtakes/riffs” put us straight into 70s San Diego.


Inside Man (2006) – Here it is the music by Punjabi MC that sets up a multi-cultural New York with some traditional (and others not so) shots around the infamous city Skyline and canyon-like streets. Bang! Spike Lee has placed us right there in the hustle and bustle of the city immediately.


LA Confidential (1997) – A retro-postcard of an intro with a great Danny De Vito voiceover who sets the scene as we head around the city.


Lord of War (2005) – A perennial favourite is the “bullet-journey” from manufacture to being shot out of a gun barrell in this audacious sequence filmed from the bullet’s perspective. This is a must see.


Snatch (2000) – Guy Ritchie uses fast editing and fast talking in this cockney barrel of monkeys of an intro which jumps from actor to actor and character to character in a microcosm of the film’s multi-stranded storyline.


Saturday Night Fever (1997) – John Travolta strutting down a New York street to the sound of The Bee Gees. Nuff said.


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) – The elongated living room jam session shows us the film’s indie roots as well as setting up its brilliant subversion of time and space with graphic novel style animation and grunge-y fonts.


Ocean’s 11 (2001) - A Saul Bass-y funky intro with harsh lines, luminous colours and edgy design which harks back to the 50s cool that Soderbergh was trying to recreate for his updated version with Clooney & co.


Raging Bull (1980) – Another special one from Scorsese as we see a “caged” Robert De Niro warming up in black and white to the sounds of the classical Cavallerio rusticana: Intermezzo as he shadow boxes in the ring in slow motion. The blood-red writing hints at the violence about to be unleashed in this memorable intro.


Panic Room (2002) – Fincher takes a leaf out of Saul Bass’ book this time as he updates North by North-West by using CGI to super impose HUGE lettering against city skyscrapers in this tense thriller. The large typeface is a literal “floating” billboard which took a year to create.


Seven (1995) – another great Fincher intro as the combination of the “scratched” negative juxtaposed against the creation of John Doe’s scrapbook of insane writing and horrific photographs creates an unnerving and dark start to the an unnerving and dark film.


The Fall (2006) – Tarsem Singh’s slow motion black and white intro shows Cowboys and Indians against a backdrop of bridges, rivers and trains but only later do we realise the full implications of this classic Hollywood stuntmen scene.


Requiem for a Dream (2000) – Set against Clint Mansell’s legendary score, the opening scene gives us Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans’ characters as they steal the family TV and drag it through the streets to a nearby pawn shop for drug money. The shots of seedy streets and the abandoned rollercoaster show the dark journey we are about to embark upon.


Trading Places (1983) – A brilliant juxtaposition in Philadelphia as Mozart plays on the soundtrack which begins with the usual tourist hotspots before alternating between scenes of the wealth and poverty in the city. We get setting, character and a flavour of the story ahead.


The Warriors (1979) – A funky 70s soundtrack accompanies shots of various gangs travelling through the city by subway as they come out to pla-ay with awesome costumes, some character development and great graffiti style fonts.


Honourable mentions to Django Unchained (what a soundtrack!), Alien (great minimalism), Sin City (Frank Miller’s raw art), Sleepy Hollow (smokey names in the forest journey), Terminator 2 (LA city and flames) and The Untouchables (great music and THOSE imposing and shadowy letters).

There is one more area of film credit sequences that I would like to address. It is a very small and select group of films that would have been great ONLY if you left immediately after the start credits finished.

Let me explain…

Indiana Jones & Crystal Skull (2008) – If you avoid the CGI gopher then the Rock Around the Clock soundtrack and racing hot rod cars in the desert transports us immediately to the 1950s with Spielberg keeping the same font we all know and the young teens contrasted against the Cold-War Russians was a great combination of generations as we moved away from Indiana’s Nazi chasing roots. With its A-bomb testing military finale, it’s a huge shame that the film then went CGI crazy and left us all pining for a return to the classic stunts we were promised.


Superman Returns (2006) – From the first bass notes of the score provided by John William’s iconic fanfare and then the flying blue type of the original font, Singer used our pre-existing expectations along with a Marlon Brando voice-over to recapture our imagination and make us believe once again that a man can indeed fly. Sadly, the film failed to take off as the plot moved slower than a speeding snail and miscasting all over the place bored the red pants off cinema goers.


X-MEN Origins Wolverine (2009) – Watching Logan and his brother through time was an amazing way to convey their longevity and the operatic voices and classical music that underscore the sequence from the US civil War through World War 1 & 2 and then Vietnam was as good as this film got. If the whole movie had been this sequence I think I would have enjoyed it more but a frankly rubbish Ryan Reynolds and more terrible Taylor Kitsch saw that this was the final claw in the coffin.


Midlands Movies Mike

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