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By midlandsmovies, Nov 17 2017 11:17AM



Careering (2017)

Directed by Lee Tomes & Daley Francis

Bang Average Films


“She'll guide you to your dream job... via a nightmare!”


The movie world has a history of short but great scenes of interviews from the antics of Step Brothers to the seriousness of Will Smith’s desperate father in The Pursuit of Happyness.


Ben Affleck has been in quite a few from a comedy turn in Good Will Hunting to something more sobering in The Company Men (and I’d add his sleazy boss from Boiler Room as well) and these experiences are ripe for picking apart as two strangers come together to judge one another.


With lashings of Brent-style Office humour containing awkwardness and embarrassment, Bang Average Films take a different path with their new short ‘Careering’. Focusing on a career advisor in a college, we are thrown straight into a short comedy film where things aren’t as they seem.


We begin with advisor Tracy sitting at a desk playing with a computer and a potted plant but the interview she’s about to start comes up smelling anything other than roses.


Then the chirpy Daphne (Hollie Burrows) joins and sits down on a nearby office chair. From Scooby Doo references to shortening her name, Tracy demeans Daphne (or “Daffers”) whilst possibly attempting to create a mood of light-heartedness. It is anything but jovial though and the brilliant ticks and quirks of lead actress Helen Lewis channel that weirdly unsettling “try-hard" colleague or boss we’ve all experienced at least one time in our career.


As the tables are turned, Daphne is shocked to see a celebratory drink being poured from a desk drawer hiding a glass decanter of liquor. The comedy comes from surprise as well as Tracy’s knack for ‘enjoying’ a job which turns potential artists and doctors away from their dreams. The tight script efficiently gets to the fun visual and verbal gags as the two lead actresses banter back and forth in an increasingly stunted relationship.


A cameo at the end from Flip You’s Peter James is a nice crossover to another Midlands comedy group – maybe a cinematic universe in the making, ha ha – but the trio of actors work well with their brief but important roles.


The Office comparisons are easy to make with any desk-bound comedy but directors Tomes and Francis keep their film short and sweet and is a great calling card for this new Midlands filmmaking group. With a hint of Pauline from The League of Gentleman thrown in as well, I envisage a long career in the Midlands movie scene ahead.


Midlands Movies Mike


Check out updates from Bang Average Films at their site and social media pages below:


http://www.bangaveragefilms.com

https://twitter.com/bangaveragefilm








By midlandsmovies, Nov 5 2017 09:23AM



For the fourth year in a row now, Midlands Movies takes a look at Leicester Comedy Festival and give our recommendations for some of the best film and movie-related shows that are occurring during the whole of the festival.


Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, the festival takes place place between 7th – 25th February 2018 at various venues around Leicester.


For all info on tickets on the below shows and many many more, please check all the events at the official festival website: http://comedy-festival.co.uk/events/




Joanna Neary

Saturday, 17/Sunday 18 February 2018 Time: 5:50pm (6:50pm) Doors open: 5:30pm

Entry: £5 OR PWYW Venue: Heroes@The Criterion

Joanna Neary / Celia Cardigan in 'Voting And Not Voting.' Middle class housewife Celia investigates 100 years of votes for some women, and asks "what changed and what's next? All Mrs Clack ever says is 'how do you think the horse felt?' “Joanna appeared in the film Suffragette; she has a credit one above Meryl Streep.




Hurt & Anderson: Come What May

Saturday, 24 February 2018 Time: 6:30pm (7:30pm) Doors open: 6:10pm

Entry: £5 OR PWYW Venue: Just the Tonic at BrewDog

Hurt and Anderson are on the edge. Can they make it through their final performance without self-destructing? Will Laura ever stop sabotaging the show? Will Georgia finally admit the awful truth - she's never liked Laura's favourite film Moulin Rouge that much? Come what may, this will be a laugh-out-loud hour of sketch and musical comedy.





An interview with Dave Johns

Saturday, 17 February 2018 Time: 4:30pm (6:00pm) Doors open: 4:10pm

Entry: FREE Venue: PETER Pizzeria - Violin Room

Dave is one of the most respected comedians working in the UK, however, he almost gave up comedy in order to manage donkey rides at Whitley Bay. Come and listen to what happened when he got a call from film Director Ken Loach and went on to star in the critically acclaimed film "I, Daniel Blake" and won the coveted Palme D'Or Award. An interview with Festival Director Geoff Rowe.




CARRY ON: 60 GLORIOUS YEARS with ROBERT ROSS

Saturday, 17 February 2018 Time: 12:30pm (2:00pm) Doors open: 12:10pm

Entry: FREE Venue: PETER Pizzeria - Violin Room

In 1958 cameras started rolling at Pinewood Studios on a comedy film called Carry On Sergeant. The film would become the third biggest box office success in Britain of that year. Sixty years on the franchise is still going strong. A revealing talk illustrated by rare and hilarious behind-the-scenes footage, from the official Carry On historian Robert Ross.




Heidi Vs Sharks: Work in Progress

Saturday, 17 February 2018 Time: 8:30pm (9:30pm) Doors open: 8:10pm

Entry: £5 OR PWYW Venue: Attenborough Arts Centre - Main Hall

Heidi Regan, winner of BBC New Comedy Award 2017 and So You Think You're Funny 2016, explores our increasingly confusing world and terrible shark films.




Cult Comics

Sunday, 11 February 2018 Time: 2:00pm (3:00pm) Doors open: 1:40pm

Entry: FREE OR PWYW Venue: The Exchange Bar - Downstairs

Two award-losing nerds (Sam Golin & Bisha K Ali) present an hour of geek-culture themed stand-up comedy, fun and games. If you're a gamer, a comic book fan, a sci-fi & fantasy buff or addicted to horror movies, Cult Comics is for you. Join us. Resistance is futile.




Clonely

Sunday, 25 February 2018 Time: 3:30pm (4:30pm) Doors open: 3:10pm

Entry: £5 OR PWYW Venue: Brood @ Vin Quatre - 2

Clonely is an adventure in existential sci-fi crisis, a blend of bulls*** art house theatre with sci-fi cinema, but on stage and with DIY props. Expect lo-fi aesthetics, an awkward five-minute docking scene and long monologues about how dark and bleak space life is. Are you afraid of dying aclone?


Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead

Thursday, 08 February 2018 Time: 8:00pm (9:00pm) Doors open: 7:40pm

Entry: £9.50 Venue: The Y - Standing/Seating

This hit show returns to where it all started, Leicester Comedy Festival. Cult classic horror movie Evil Dead 2 reinterpreted through the songs of Elvis*. A tribute concert to the sequel to the ultimate in gruelling terror... and the King of Rock‘n’Roll. Brilliantly executed: winner of Best Show and Best Musical at Leicester Comedy Festival 2017.




Wizard of Oz

Sunday, 11 February 2018 Time: 5:00pm (7:00pm) Doors open: 4:40pm

Entry: £12.50 Venue: The Y - Row Seating

The "irresistibly anarchic" Oddsocks Productions are bringing another classic adventure to life with a hearty dollop of their trademark comedy: new songs, familiar faces and laughs aplenty! In a brand-new adaptation of L Frank Baum's 'The Wizard of Oz', the Oddsocks troupe invite you to meet Dorothy as you've never seen her before. Join the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man as they travel through the weird and wonderful land of Oz.




Happily Never After

Friday, 16 February 2018 Time: 8:00pm (9:00pm) Doors open: 7:40pm

Entry: £10.00 Venue: Just the Tonic at BrewDog

Award-winning improvisers The Maydays present this skin-prickling tale full of black comedy and haunting music, inspired by the warped imaginations of Tim Burton, Lemony Snicket and the Brothers Grimm. Starting with your suggestion, The Maydays take you on a bone-chilling journey, meeting the grotesque and the innocent, weaving a fantastical story that's different every time.




Police Cops In Space

Friday, 23 February 2018 Time: 8:30pm (9:30pm) Doors open: 8:10pm

Entry: £12.00 Venue: Attenborough Arts Centre - Main Hall

Following 3 SELLOUT runs at Soho Theatre with their first production, Police Cops, multi award-winning comedy trio THE PRETEND MEN are back once more with their critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe 2017 TOTAL SELL OUT theatrical blockbuster POLICE COPS IN SPACE; an 80's 'low-fi sci-fi' set in the most dangerous place on Earth... Space.




Mission Impossible Ipswich: The Director’s Cut

Saturday, 10/Friday 23 February 2018 Time: 8:00pm (9:00pm) Doors open: 7:40pm

Entry: FREE OR PWYW Venue: Grays@LCB Depot - Lightbox

Tom Cruise is trying to be a bona-fide Hollywood star, but he's lost his mojo and he thinks a provincial East Anglian town in the 1980s and its strange inhabitants can help him. Join us for weirdness. Join us for sexiness. Join us to sing along to some classic tunes from some classic films! This is the director's cut. We've got more baby oil, more gin, more costumes and more dodgy Nicole Kidman accents! Watch the Suffolk craziness unfold!



By midlandsmovies, Oct 6 2017 02:43PM



Dave Made A Maze (2017) Dir. Bill Waterson


I quickly came to the conclusion with only 20 minutes gone that Dave Made a Maze was the “most hipster film I’ve ever seen” which may (or may not) fill you with dread regarding this new high-concept comedy film. The story shows how after a weekend left alone Dave (Nick Thune) builds a cardboard fort/maze in his living room and when his girlfriend Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) returns, she invites some friends around to help him escape after he gets “lost”.


Strangely, once they’re inside, the maze is in fact a huge fantasy interior with paper-based monsters and the explorers attempt a rescue yet are surprised at each corner they turn. A wacky and zany “Paperchase” of a movie, there are nods to Indiana Jones and The Goonies (booby traps) whilst origami cranes and tissue paper ‘blood’ continue its surreal elements. However, the film’s humour swung from low brow dick punches to self congratulatory smugness – neither which pushed my buttons.


An early musical sequence inside a keyboard room made me think that the film would in fact make a good 3-4 minute music video – which is why the trailer is great – but it’s an awfully long slog for a confused metaphor about creativity, struggling with life and feeling “lost”.


Back to the story, a film-making crew also attempts to document the journey which reflects the artificial nature of the expedition as they invade personal moments and create their own narrative journey. Whether you feel it could be a metaphor for filmmaking itself – its home-made nature, the dead-ends faced when trying to finish a goal and so forth – the film takes away any ambiguity by simply telling that to you. Via an interview, the film is far too on the nose with a cardboard structure used for both its location and its story.


However, one of the few genuine laughs came as the gang were turned into paper-mache marionettes and the film finally pokes fun at itself with the sarcastic dialogue exclaiming “This was only a matter of time”. But despite that and a chat about beards it’s still mostly blissfully unaware of its hipster clichés, confirmed with the inclusion of suitably quirky animations bookending the film.


A few positives include the unique mix of absurd and ludicrous situations with a tremendous design aesthetic. Optical illusions combine with gorgeous cardboard creations whilst the allusions to ancient tales – historical mazes, mythology and a Minotaur – added some much needed depth. At times it also harks to Tarsem Singh’s The Cell (2000) where we physically explore “the mind” and come across random and strange subconscious personified.


In the hands of a Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze, the wacky idea of Dave Made a Maze could have worked but there’s little humanity in this film and it’s less the mind-maze of Eternal Sunshine than it is The Crystal Maze in terms of quality and execution.


6/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Oct 1 2017 10:55PM



The Rockman (2017) Dir. Glenn McAllen-Finney & Tommy Bee


GM Finney Productions


“Like a Dr. Who Christmas Special,” says one character halfway through the Leicester-made sci-fi The Rockman. Yet there’s far worse to be compared to, as this new Midlands film takes all the good hallmarks of the classic BBC show to create its own unique low budget time-travel film series.


The film’s b-movie sensibilities are worn on its sleeve from the start however, with a fake BBFC title card setting up its tongue-in-cheek charm before a CGI asteroid hurtles towards the earth in the opening shots.


The story sees Andrew J.F. Morgan as Duncan Fairbanks, an ‘everyday Joe’ whose dull domestic life is rocked by the arrival of a future visitor (a crazy wide-eyed Sam Winterton channelling Doc Brown into his Dr. Sebastian Kramer) who’s leaped back to the present day from 2050.


From the obligatory “What year is this?” introduction to labelling those in the past as “primitives”, Dr. Kramer shakes up Duncan’s unhappy relationship to explain his journey from the EITS (Eye in the Sky) laboratory to prevent the world being ruled by an alien life-form known as the rockmen.


Colour graded in metallic and steely cold blues the filmmakers are musicians and music video makers by trade and the film is filled with a cool punk/hardcore/ska soundtrack. The movie shines a spotlight on local bands, cobbling together regional artists English Guns, Burnin’, Smokin’ The Profit and Mia and the Moon amongst others, which along with the accents and locations, keeps the production comfortably Midlands made.


And as the film is structured into ‘chapters’ that will eventually be split and released online as a web series, that unique route is actually the perfect platform for its punky sensibilities. This should allow their fans to follow the episodic nature piece by piece whilst adding more dramatic cliffhangers as well. In the busy online world of low budget releases, a change in marketing such as this can certainly help a project push through to a wider audience.


The film’s technical aspects get better as it goes along which shows how the film has been broken down into these “episodes” but the feel and tone are generally consistent. It is great to see an attempt to ADR the dialogue which mostly works as well. Although some more background sound was required to avoid the pitfall of feeling like a studio track from another time. And whilst some of the interior shots are a little under-lit and dark, this does work in its favour at times to hide the home-made special effects and monster costumes.


That said, the film mixes up some interesting explanation of time travel – using the creatures pulsating molecules – and fans of twisty narratives will be pleased as the pacing moves like a rolling stone, swiftly jumping from location to location without ever being confusing. And whilst the acting is broad and OTT, it's the right kind of style for a schlocky sci-fi although I wouldn’t hold your breath for any Oscars just yet!


On a script level, the film is well constructed with dialogue and visual set-ups and pay-offs plus lots of quirky Dutch-angles certainly keeps The Rockman in the b-movie genre. From animated maps to green screen via SFX and drone shots, the filmmakers also don’t shy from away from trying new techniques within each chapter too.


The jokes fly thick and fast with the filmmakers including a big slab of comedy into their story. Two colleagues (Katie Terese and a brilliant Anthony Wright as Jess and Jaime) escape their boring office jobs and their “dick head” manager at Frank Bennett Insurance (FBI) for an escapade into the countryside which makes up the majority of chapter two. Subsequently, the seemingly random chapters one and two eventually crossover in a clever narrative parallel towards the end and chapter three draws the strands of the stories together in a satisfying conclusion.


Overall, there are some very minor technical missteps in The Rockman but that shouldn’t detract from the enjoyable hand-made feel of a low budget gem. The chapters are a great way to engage your audience and the filmmakers clearly have a huge passion for the genre. In the end, less like a pebble than a big boulder, The Rockman crash lands into the Midlands with plenty of humour, heart and science fiction monster fun.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 31 2017 03:44PM

2017 Movie Catch-Up Blog Part 3




24x36: A Movie about Movie Posters (2017) Dir. Kevin Burke

This documentary concerns the lost (and now maybe regained) art of the illustrated movie poster. With conversations from key artists over the last 40 years, the film shines a nostalgic light to the changes within the industry from the iconic (and painted) nature of the past to the resistance of the homogenised digital ‘Photoshop-ing’ of the present. It also follows the resurgence of the MONDO brand who, in the absence of Hollywood’s calling, filled the gap for creative, limited edition, screen-printed posters which has grown into an underground (but maybe no more) phenomenon. The doc is structured with the usual voice-overs and interviews yet despite its average structure, if you’re a fan of the subject then it does a great deal to explain the industry’s avoidance of creative risks with the increase use of focus groups. Similar to “Drew: The Man Behind the Poster” (2013) – a doc focused on the most famous poster-creator of them all Drew Struzan – the passion of the collectors just pulls it over the line – as was a surprise appearance from Leicester’s own Thomas Hodge whose 80s-flavoured posters are part of the scene’s rebirth. As a fan of alternative poster art (see our blogs here & here) I enjoyed the documentary, but for the passing fan however, it may be a bit too bland in style to grab you like well-designed placard. 6.5/10




Prevenge (2017) Dir. Alice Lowe

A pregnant woman who commits murder owing to voices she believes come from her unborn foetus is the dark narrative from this new British comedy horror. I had high hopes for this film after a spate of fine reviews yet right off the bat, the film is neither shocking nor comedic enough to warrant such regard. The movie’s positives include a terrific turn by writer/director/actor Alice Lowe who brings some depth to the troubled character but it delivered a poor script that thought it was far cleverer than it was. The overall feel was a few “skits” tied together with an over-arching and confusingly delivered narrative. The themes of female passions are surface level at best and an (almost) hand-held filming style meant I couldn’t get beyond the mix of its low budget technical style combined with the self-important themes and 6th Form-level wit. Apparently it was filmed in 2 weeks and boy can you tell. No laughs and no scares make Prevenge a dull girl. 4/10




Opening Night (2017) Dir. Isaac Rentz

A low budget frolic into the world of the musical stage sees Topher Grace playing a backstage producer of a new show that is as haphazard as it is a giant mess. Mixing the front of house musical numbers with the chaotic backstage antics of divas and dead-headed actors, the film is a light-hearted and enthusiastic tribute to the stresses of putting on a professional performance for the first time. Grace brings his inoffensive but warm persona from That 70s Show and a great comedic support cast delivers a stock love-story that, like the show within the film, wins the audience over despite its amateurism. Even though I’ve toured in a rock band myself, I have but a passing interest in film musicals as bursting into song in the middle of a scene has never really connected with me away from the stage. However, Opening Night is itself a meta-musical with the actors at times singing and dancing ‘outside’ of their own show. In many ways it works much more naturally than the artificial construct of most musicals. Like Moulin Rouge, well known pop songs are mixed with a handful of originals (which helps) and overall the movie avoids blandness as it harmlessly pokes fun at the crazy dramas of the theatrical world. 6.5/10




It Comes at Night (2017) Dir. Trey Edward Shults

Another film coming with a raft of praise-worthy reviews, this minimalist horror-drama also sadly fails to live up to expectations with a story about an unknown contagious disease and two families’ attempts at secluding themselves in the forest away from its ravages. One unit is headed by Joel Edgerton delivering an intense rage-filled role we’ve come to expect from him. He tries to ensure the safety of his family with a firm-hand and strict set of rules until he crosses paths with Will (Christopher Abbott) and his wife and child. The two then come together for both company and the sharing of scarce resources. However, the slow build up creates an unsettling distrust and from ‘sleepwalking’ children to barking dogs, the filmmaker aims to increase both the character’s and audience’s paranoia throughout. With dream and nightmare sequences though, the film is very ambiguous in what it is presenting. This at times works owing to the fear of the unknown but unfortunately this ‘open-to-interpretation’ delivery is stretched to a point of confusion. As the water and supplies dwindled, so did my interest and the director delivered some stock Hollywood horrors (a tree rustle here, a locked red door there – ooh spooky) whilst the investigations and infections come to an unsatisfying conclusion. It’s therefore a big shame the film failed to grab me as there are a few glimpses of a more narratively coherent horror in here. Yet It Comes at Night is ultimately a well-filmed and beautifully lit chamber-piece that some viewers will find tense, ambiguous and atmospheric whilst I predict a majority will come away simply bored to death. 5.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 29 2017 08:57AM



The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) Dir. Patrick Hughes


The very vocal Ryan “quips and quirks” Reynolds and Samuel “mother*cker” L. Jackson star in this action film, which tells the story of a disgraced bodyguard making amends by bringing a witness to a war crimes trial. Gary Oldman hams it up as the Russian gangster the authorities are attempting to bring to justice and the film mixes an 80s buddy-comedy tone with the old-school explosions of a Die Hard or Con Air.


It’s nowhere near as good as those influences however, as both actors deliver dialogue in their usual fast-paced style but ideally you need a straight man rather than two similar personalities. One huge flaw is the amount of unnecessary and endless swearing though. I’m not offended by it, quite the opposite given my love for Scorsese and Tarantino’s back catalogue, but it seems so lazy here. At times it feels as much as 50% of sentences!


In addition, the jump from the seriousness of the trial and the film's themes of loss are tonally mis-matched and the music is truly awful moving from Mr. Bean comedy jingles to cheesy rock via Goldeneye-era Bond strings. Clamouring out for the nods and winks of The Nice Guys or even The Other Guys, the film does get better as it goes along with two fantastically filmed vehicle chase sequences as they head around the tight streets of Amsterdam. Cars, bikes, boats and trams combine with real-life action stunts to provide a few much-needed thrills in the picturesque city. Sadly the boring antics around the UK countryside and lazy-ass CGI backgrounds of the conversation car sequences are again another disappointment.


It also has echoes of R.I.P.D. which saw Reynolds team up with Jeff Bridges – another award-winning older actor – and although it’s nowhere near as bad as that truly awful film, The Hitman’s Bodyguard similarly cannot use these actors’ great charisma to overcome the poor material. Salma Hayek gives a refreshing and funny turn as Jackson’s incarcerated girlfriend but who is sadly burdened, like the leads, with a huge amount of expletives in place of clever dialogue.


Overall, it’s a peculiar mix with some superb action highs and some very strange expletive-laden lows. The film could have used Gary Oldman’s penchant for over-the-top bad-guy performances as a more traditional baddie and avoided the war crimes aspect of his character. If you’ve got Oldman at least give him some scenery to chew. Shaving 20 minutes off the run-time wouldn’t have gone amiss either but the final impression is that this is a film which despite its interesting parts, gets the balance just wrong enough to turn an entertaining romp into a disappointing slog. If you're still interested then I'd advise you watch with friends and a LOT of beer.


6/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 27 2017 01:12PM



The Short Cinema 2017 - Part 1


It comes around so quickly! Last night was another hugely successful showcase of regional talent as the final Main Competition night was held for The Short Cinema 2017. A full screening room at Leicester's Phoenix Square Independent Cinema were hugely receptive to a whole host of shorts, dramas, comedies and more from the best filmmakers in the area. With the largest programme of films I've seen yet, this show was spread over two screening sessions so I headed down to catch the judge's best films chosen from this year's Short Cinema entrants.


(Click here for part 2)




Multi Story by Kieran Chauhan

Given the big task of opening the evening, Kieran Chauhan had a huge job on his hands being the first film of the night but the bar was set high with his dark drama Multi Story. Set mostly in an eerie car park, the phrase “What Brings You Here?” is echoed throughout as the audience are encouraged to ask the same question of the protagonist. A car-park purgatory of sorts, a man investigates his wife's death but with surreal twists and turns. Its imagery echoes everything from the elevator from Inception to the visions of Jacob’s Ladder and the short is great at unsettling the audience. Adrian Bouchet is superb as the haunted detective whilst Izabella Malewska is feisty and mysterious in an excellent support role with director Chauhan demonstrating his outstanding eye for troubling images and peculiar sequences.

Find out more here: http://kieranchauhan.com/sample-page/shortfilms



Headspace by Stuart Peters

With influences from Spike Jonze’s sweeping camerawork in his “Weapon of Choice” and “Kenzo World” dance-music videos, this short showcases the dance talents of Danni Spooner. Contrasting the sunny tap dancing around Leicester’s Castle Park with a Gene Kelly-esque tit-for-tat dance off with her own spotlighted shadow, the short encapsulates the dreamy world of the dancer and accents all the right beats in its attempts to ‘click’ with the audience.

Watch the short here: https://vimeo.com/groups/459498/videos/213422967




The Last Barman on Earth by Brian McDowell

Brian McDowell’s film of two heavily armed survivors of a post-apocalyptic earth who head into a bar was certainly a highlight from the evening. Mixing great special effects with a tongue-in-cheek steampunk tone, the two leads’ banter contrasts with the appearance of straight-talking android barman. Channelling Martin Sheen in Passengers and a huge dose of Michael Fassbender’s ‘David’ in Prometheus, the star is Kieron Attwood whose electronic movements are a perfect physical manifestation of a machine. The monotone automaton has aims as dark as Ash in Alien and the film concludes with a suitably twisted ending. A satisfying sci-fi success.

Watch the short here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBV6VENAQpQ



The Past Whispers by Jane Hearst

A short which tackles the sensitive subject of sexual abuse and bullying was not the last of the night but this film highlighted the struggles of an abuse survivor as well as the dark memories that continue to haunt victims. The film used a great concept of “blacking out” the perpetrator as a way of trying to forget past trauma but the use of personal photos were clear that the acts were committed by a close family member. The female lead has her memories collated in what initially looks like a fun scrapbook but the shadow of her tormentor burdens her thoughts throughout. An intriguing and delicate story, the film was created through the “First Acts” short programme in partnership with Rural Media – a grouping which again would appear more on the night.

Find out more here: http://randomacts.channel4.com/post/162079637751/the-past-whispers-by-jane-hearst-a-survivor-of



Hands by Michael Lane

An experimental film in which 4 hands are shown against a black backdrop is an arty conceptualisation of a number of themes which are open to interpretation in Michael Lane’s “Hands”. The fleshy appendages are shown in stark contrast to the dark background and the movement of digits hinted upon everything from communication, birth, blooming flowers and togetherness. With great music from Vladimir Konstantinov, Hands is not for everyone as the film’s abstractness may turn off some viewers but its collaborative creation encapsulates the minimalist words seen on screen at the end: A Dance. A Meditation. Hope.


Recovery by Daniel Purse

One of the first straight ahead (or so it seems) dramas of the night, Daniel Purse’s “Recovery” sets itself up as a tale of drunk driving and regret. However a literal left-turn (or was it right?) gives the short much more depth than at first glance. As a mysterious figure watches a grave, the film is superb at setting up a well-known narrative only to switch focus towards its conclusion. With the ringing of a red phone box and a symbolic red book, all signs point towards a bloody ending but a hint of time-travel (believe it or not) help turn a seen-it-before story into something much more intriguing.

Find out more about Recover at http://danielpurse.com/recovery/




Si by Steve George, Ryan Sibanda

A film by Steve George, Ryan Sibanda, Joshua Baggott and LJ Greenwood from the University of Wolverhampton, “Si” was nominated for the Undergraduate Short Feature award at the RTS Student Television Awards 2017. The short is an amazing comedic sketch from one of the strangest points-of-view this reviewer has ever seen. Telling the story in voiceover, the “star” of the film is a ‘Caution: Wet Floor” sign, nicknamed “Si”. Yes, that’s correct. This high-concept idea is delivered with huge laughs and an understated voiceover reminiscent of Ralph Brown’s Del Preston from Wayne’s World 2 (or Danny in Withnail & I if you prefer). Witnessing office romances, terrible toilet incidents and more, the sign hilariously comments on the various events and the short won the audience over from the outset. Si is a winning demonstration of how a great concept, executed well, can result in an even greater success for any short filmmaker.

Watch the short here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpbjApLefgI




FAG by Danni Spooner

An abstract concept of a film, FAG is described as a “rebellious reflection on the cis-gendered society we exist in”. With three individuals shown at the start from the feet up, FAG plays around with stereotypes, expectations and political correctness. The high heels mixed with masculine “marching” mixes gender concepts and as the short progresses, there are tasteful shots of stubble, breasts and smoking – again, combining aspects of what the audience may expect from male or female bodies. With an inherent playfulness, the film brings up important issues but does so in a fun, (partially) explicit yet no-nonsense way that is accessible for all.

Watch the short here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REpNwEOYUys




The Gift by John Quarrell

Husband Michael arrives at the posh residence of a call girl with embarrassment and trepidation in this dramatic film from John Quarrell. Yet, initial thoughts of a cheating spouse are put aside when it’s revealed this is part of a ‘gift’ provided by Michael’s wife, who is debilitated by Multiple Sclerosis. Gregory Finnegan delivers a great performance as he weighs the moral quandary he’s facing whilst Natasha Pring as his disabled wife shows the daily struggles she faces. All red-dress and sly glances, Alex Childs is amazing as she delivers a sultry performance as the call girl who gives depth to what could have been a straight forward supporting role in the film. With 3 strong actors delivering minimalist but thoroughly satisfying dialogue, The Gift gave its audience a superb present of extraordinary pleasures.

Find out more about The Gift here: https://www.johnquarrell.com/




My Jedi Powers by Rhys Davies

A modest little short from Leicester filmmaker Rhys Davies, My Jedi Powers continues with the themes from the filmmaker’s previous efforts embracing family connections between young and old generations. In this Star-Wars influenced film, a boy (in a Stormtrooper outfit) and his grandmother (brilliantly attired Audrey Ardington as Darth Vader) are attempting to get to the cinema but are beset by unforeseen ‘forces’ including a broken-down car. What a piece of junk! The two connect over talk of “Rebels” and, with the help of an old man, continue their adventure and cross rural rivers to get to the bus stop. With their new hope ultimately dashed as the bus fails to arrive, the short ends on a high with their journey itself being celebrated as a success. And again, My Jedi Powers shows how director Davies uses his masterful skill to tackle the quaint and peculiar hobbies that bring families together.

Find out more here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6225146/




Barfly by Mike Yeoman

“Mike Yeoman walks into a bar”. Barfly is a short but sweet sketch from Mike Yeoman and his FlipYou comedy collective and takes the age-old “bar joke” format and twists it with a swift punch-line. Less than a minute long, it continues Yeoman’s quick and funny Fast Show-paced skits that cut out the fat for big dollops of sharp laughs. Mixing the amusing with the absurd, the film left the audience in high spirits as the break approached and showed the group’s talent for well-observed, yet intelligently silly, humour.

Follow updates from Flip You comedy here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD8Slh-Kc2LHWcjC0h8-fuA


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Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jul 29 2017 07:56AM



The Jock and The Chav (2017) Dir. Jon David Ellison


Filmed round the back of my flat (literally) in the Cultural Quarter of Leicester, this new comedy action film incorporates a fight involving two stock characters straight out of the stereotype play book.


However, what makes this film unique is a nod to 90s computer arcade fight games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat as filmmaker Jon Ellison tries to recreate the look and the sound of the era.


As the first combatant enters the fray, the crowd boo and jeer and cleverly, appear to repeat the same background motions like a programmed sprite from the Mega-Drive era.


With the Far East influences of Nintendo and others, a second (and much bulkier) fighter enters the fray and after a “have a fair fight” warning the competition begins. Here, the film adds video game power bars for each fighter and the side-on/locked-off shot is a great recreation of the layout of retro fighting games.


The film even includes some (basic) special effects as a lighter becomes a Ryu-style flame attack although the film did stray away at times from the video-game format. One such cutaway was to two cheerleaders which slightly distracted from the style already established. That said, the sequences are used for laughs and the home-made nature gave the film low-budget charm.


The voice-dubbing was a little off sync as well – although you could argue it fitted with badly-dubbed Asian Kung-Fu style it harked back to – so again, it may have been an intentional choice.


Director Ellison has made a number of shorts prior to this film, which have included a short featuring stop-motion balloons and straight-to-the-point title, “What F*@!er Said That”, which have all included a fast-paced style combined with dark humour and comedy.


A bit rough and ready, and definitely in need of some tighter editing, it’s clearly a low budget feature and some opening shots could have benefited from a tripod or tracking shot but the sketchy technical nature fits in with the humorous tone.


A little Scott Pilgrim here, a little Fast Show “Long Big Punch Up” there, The Jock and the Chav had me smiling with only the technical side letting it down. Its dollop of fun was a refreshing addition to the local comedy film-making community (see also Flip You in Leicester) and combined with his other films, Ellison has a Kentucky Fried Movie of sketches and skits to play with in future.


Midlands Movies Mike


Watch the full short here:


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