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By midlandsmovies, Apr 8 2019 08:35AM



Midlands Spotlight - A Sort of Burial


A Sort of Burial is a new comedy, currently in pre-production, from Coventry based production company, Korky Films which was written by and will be directed by Midlands filmmaker Lee Charlish.


The film follows Alistair who is late for a funeral which annoys many including Carla who is there to say goodbye to her loyal family friend who is has now passed away. With the Vicar starting the service and Harry 'the fencer' having a job to do, the film is a funny look at a final send off.


Written by Midlands Movies Awards winner Lee Charlish, he again assumes directing and editing duties on this new film and he feels it’s a departure from his recent, more darker offerings.


Carla, the movie’s lead, will be played by Korky Films stalwart Marian ‘Mazzy’ Elizabeth who Lee describes as "solid, dependable and talented and she was the natural choice to assume the grief stricken and highly-agitated Carla".


Alistair, her hapless close friend will be played by Leicester-based actor, Martyn Luke. Lee adds, "Martyn is a well-established voice-actor who has provided voices on a few Korky Films animations previously. However, he is true talent in front of the screen too and is soon to appear in a few other local short films. His comic timing and expressive personality will bring the right level of credence to the often ‘put upon’ Alistair".


In addition, Leamington-based filmmaker Mark Hancock, who recently played The Psychopath in the last Korky Films ‘live-action’ release The Cold Caller, will assume a decidedly different role as Harry the Fencer.


And completing the cast is Stoke-based acting talent, Harrington Day as The Vicar, Gregory. "An accomplished, local actor, Harry is in constant demand by filmmakers for his professionalism and acting brilliance. He will compliment proceedings with a stoic and reverential turn in front of the cameras", says Lee.


As with The Cold Caller, the crew list for A Sort of Burial isdeliberately small as again, the production will be total self-funded. Like a lot of local filmmakers, Lee will use his house and garden, and minimal exterior locations as well, to keep costs deliberately down.


But Lee doesn't want to stop there. "More, larger scale scripts have been written, however, for the short-term, I have concentrated on preparing a slate of smaller-scale films, deliberately written so they can be filmed economically on a shoestring budget".


He adds, "To be clear, everyone gets paid; we fully support the needs of creatives, but we just cannot compete with projects who secure funding. For us, it just isn’t there, despite our output and successes. That said, our small-scale movies are no less ambitious and the level of professionalism we squeeze out of productions is a testament to the team’s talent".


Behind the camera is Damien Trent, another Coventry-based filmmaker (from Doktored Films) and Damien has previously worked as a sound recordist on the Korky Films/Jam-AV production, Scarecrow and operated camera on The Cold Caller. And finally, Ryan Clarke, a new member of the team will provide assistance to Lee as First AD.


Lee is currently looking for local musicians who may be able to assist in crafting a score and/or creating an original song to complement proceedings.


"The movie also requires a sound recordist and we're actively trying to recruit a competent professional before shooting begins on May 5th in Coventry, West Midlands".


For more information follow Korky Films on Twitter and Facebook




By midlandsmovies, Apr 2 2019 03:30PM



Midlands Review - A Helping Hand


Directed & written by Debbie Daniels


2018


Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers present A Helping Hand, a short film about an elderly man who is now sleeping during the day and active throughout the night. This isolated way of living forces him to seek help, with surprising results.


Arf (Arthur Fletcher) due to continued lack of sleep has now resigned himself to operating during the night and falling asleep in the day. The audience can see early on that he isn't happy with this arrangement as he is seen routinely opening his bedroom door, longing for normality, longing for sleep.


Writer and director Debbie Daniels, through a series of shots show the viewer how Arf lives his life. Because he cant sleep at night he is forced to carry out tasks such as shopping, gardening and cleaning in unsociable hours. Mute and glum with depression.


Arf decides to visit Dr Spellman where he reveals he is a widower, and since his wife's passing he has had trouble adjusting to sleeping alone. The good doctor discourages medication and recommends a “co-sleeper”, someone who will physically take the place of his late wife in bed to give Arf the familiar feeling of sleeping next to someone. Arf, taken aback by the unusual prescription agrees to give it a go.


Leah (Fiona Dunn) is introduced shortly after, lifting Arf's spirits immediately. The introduction of this character also elevates the films pace, as I enjoyed watching Arf and Leah's relationship grow in what should have been an awkward encounter. In stark contrast to Arf's conventional way of living, Leah brings with her otherworldly candles, props and music to help lull Arf into a deep slumber. Both characters are written beautifully, Arf's willingness after his initial scepticism warms me to his character whilst Leah's hunger for helping people make her a joy to watch.


“Remember, you can do anything you wan, be anything you want, you've got your whole life ahead of you” Arf says as he waves Leah goodbye after an unsuccessful effort to help him regain a normal sleeping pattern. Dave, another co-sleeper is introduced but to no avail until a third co-sleeper, an elderly lady Ann enters Arf's life. Will Arf be able to succeed in Dr Spellman's counselling and be able to live the life he wants to?


A Helping Hand is a light hearted story regarding a sombre subject which another director might have been heavy handed in their approach however director Debbie Daniels handles the story with a gentle touch surrounding Arf's evident discomfort with humorous moments.


Daniels is also responsible for the inspired choice of casting Arthur Fletcher as Arf as he gives a great performance. Fletcher is the films anchor as he commands attention in every scene and also to have great chemistry with all three of the supporting actors is a serious achievement.


The aspect that stood out for me the most whilst watching this film was friendship and the potential strangers have to be of importance to one another.


Shot on location in Sutton Coldfield, A Helping Hand reminded me of particular type of film that Britain does excellently, the mature comedy-drama. Go check it out.


For more information on Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers please click on this link.


Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer


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, Jan 17 2019 09:02PM



The Favourite (2019) Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos


Olivia Colman stars as Queen Anne in this bawdy black comedy-drama that sees the eccentric and frail head of state avoid her kingdom’s woes as she gets caught up in a tit-for-tat but serious squabble between her confidante Sarah and Sarah’s poorer cousin Abigail.


La La Land’s Emma Stone plays Abigail Hill, a fallen woman who arrives caked in mud and is soon to set to work as a maid amongst the luxurious palace rooms. Despite undertaking menial labour she has her sights set on bigger things and begins a surreptitious plan to move up society’s ladder by usurping Sarah (Rachel Weisz) in the Queen’s affections.


Abigail begins by assisting the Queen with her ailments before planting more sinister seeds to curry favour with the throne. Once it is revealed that Sarah is in fact involved in a lesbian affair with the monarch, Abigail discovers another way into the Queen’s good books – via her bed.


Lanthimos shoots his film with glorious cinematography using wide angle and fisheye lenses to show the vast spaces in the stately house, and the sumptuous chequered floors provide a metaphorical board for the chess pieces to play out their game. The pawns of Weisz and Stone try to checkmate the Queen but their false appearance of power is not quite the same as the actual divine power of royalty.


There’s plenty of humour to be had as well and the three leads are nothing short of phenomenal on screen. Funny when needed, whilst also showing vulnerability and empathy, the trio of amazing actresses fully come into their own with their vicious put downs and deliciously devilsome dialogue.


A (very small) hint of Trading Places occurs as Stone’s lowly serf becomes a lady in waiting whilst Weisz’s influential lover is brought to her knees when she is drugged and almost killed after falling from her horse.


The fine female cast are pushed to the forefront whilst the men in court definitely take second fiddle. And as the women fire guns, slap each other and drink heartily, the males are caked in make-up and wigs and pushed behind in an interesting twist on the period drama formula.


Nicholas Hault as Robert Harley is the best of the background bunch where he gets to act like a total arse throughout and is given some of the best and most profane dialogue, playing his own games in parliament and beyond.


But it really is Colman, Stone and Weisz’s show. The power games, the flip-flopping and the sparring of physical and verbal humour are delivered impeccably by all three and allow the actresses to create fully-rounded characters we can sympathise with. Yet the audience can just as easily hate when the trio’s primal and nasty game-playing comes to prominence. But either way, their conniving deceits provide plenty of juicy drama to enjoy.


Stylistically it couldn’t be further from the director’s previous film The Killing of a Sacred Deer (review here) which appeared in our Top 20 of 2017 which was far slower, slightly meandering (in a good way) and conceptually abstract. Whilst this is far more accessible, similar mythical and classical themes are explored where power, retribution and revenge all come in to play throughout the narrative.


The lighting is natural and adds to the period realism where night time scenes are lit by candle flame echoing a similar technique seen in Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon whilst the score utilises the classic music of composers like Handel and Bach.


Whilst its historical accuracy can be hotly debated, like Tarantino’s take on history I don’t see this as some quasi-realistic portrait and it sure has far more in common with a Carry On film than period-precise documentation. That said, with Anne keeping 17 rabbits to represent each of her child-bearing tragedies, Lanthimos doesn’t let the humorous aspects stop him from exploring the morbid issues of motherhood, dominance and sovereignty in all its forms.


However, with its added darkness and the Machiavellian machinations of the three protagonists, the film is full to the brim with incredible performances alongside some eccentricities in its technical aspects, plus we mustn’t forget its terrific quip-filled script. The Favourite therefore is a formidable film from a director who takes weighty themes and provides a theatre for three mighty actresses to deliver some of the best performances of the year and possibly of their career.


★★★★ ½


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Dec 28 2018 02:07PM



‘Lighten Up’ - Classic comedies screening in cathedrals


QUAD (Derby)’s programme of ‘BFI Comedy Genius’ film screenings tours UK cathedrals

QUAD in Derby has a programme of film screenings called ‘Lighten Up’ taking place in cathedrals across the country in January 2019. ‘Lighten Up’ has been programmed as a part of ‘BFI Comedy Genius’, a nationwide season celebrating the best in film and TV comedy, supported by funds from the National Lottery, led by Film Hub Midlands on behalf of the BFI UK Film Audience Network.


‘Lighten Up’ screenings will take place from November 2018 until January 2019, in cathedrals across the country, including at Southwark Cathedral, Portsmouth Cathedral and Coventry Cathedral. Further screenings at additional cathedrals are to be confirmed. The events will feature an extra special twist with live organ accompaniment or projection mapping on the buildings.


In January three films come to Coventry Cathedral Duck Soup, Sister Act and Monty Python's Life Of Brian. In Duck Soup, the small state of Freedonia is in a financial mess, borrowing a huge sum of cash from wealthy widow Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont). She insists on replacing the current president with crazy Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) and mayhem erupts. To make matters worse, the neighbouring state sends inept spies Chicolini (Chico Marx) and Pinky (Harpo Marx) to obtain top secret information, creating even more chaos! Duck Soup (U) screens at Coventry Cathedral on Friday 11th January, doors are open from 6:30pm, film starts 7:15pm. Tickets are £9 or £7 Concessions.


In Sister Act Whoopi Goldberg exchanges the sequins for a habit and the nightclub for the convent when lounge singer Deloris Van Carter witnesses her mobster boyfriend kill-ing someone. The police place her in a witness protection programme in the last place anyone would expect: a convent. Struggling with the change in lifestyle, Deloris is finally ordered to join the choir and turn the timid nuns into a choir of singin’ swingin’ sisters! Sister Act (PG) screens at Coventry Cathedral on Saturday 12th January, doors are open from 4:45pm, film starts 5:15pm. Tickets are £12 or £10 Concessions.


The Life Of Brian is Monty Python's satire which is as funny today as it was in 1979. Brian is a Jew born in a stable in Bethlehem who spends most of his life being mistaken for the Messiah. But as we all know "He's Not The Messiah, He's A Very Naughty Boy!". Arguably the best Python movie, the laughs come thick and fast with countless quotable one liners, routines and memorable characters. Fully endorsed by the People's Front Of Judea. Monty Python's Life Of Brian (15) screens at Coventry Cathedral on Saturday 12th January, doors are open from 7:15pm, film starts 7:45pm. Tickets are £12 or £10 Concessions.


For more information or to book tickets call QUAD on 01332 290606 or see: https://www.derbyquad.co.uk/whats-on/cinema/lighten-up



Full details of Comedy Genius screenings and events happening all over the country can be found at www.bficomedy.co.uk


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, Dec 16 2018 12:34PM



Bee-Loved (2018)


Bee-Loved is a new short Midlands film from local directors Sarah Wynne Kordas and James Pyle and is a loving homage to the slapstick black and white silent comedies of the past.


We open on a janitor cleaning a corridor outside a room labelled “Director” which owing to some wet paint ends up being plastered on his own back in a Pepé Le Pew-style farce.


Akin to the premise of that cartoon, there is a story of unrequited love here too as the “smitten” man follows a passing woman as she strolls down the corridor. However, like the skunk himself, this man's affections are turned down despite his offer of a flower – which wilts in disappointment.


Using the silent film tropes of intertitles for dialogue and description, as well as a scratched celluloid aesthetic, the film authentically captures the period in its look and style.


The short moves forward as the woman applies make-up and the reversed “Director” paint imprinted on the janitors jacket appears to the woman via her small mirror. Seizing an opportunity to impress this apparent head-honcho she returns to the man.


The silent era motifs continue with suitably archaic fonts for the titles and the cinematography has a used vignette filter taking us back to the look of the classic films of the period.


However, the film spins off into unchartered territory. We’ve already mentioned old cartoons and it is at the halfway point it becomes a more surreal affair as an animated bee lands on the flower. With a mix of live action and animation we are whisked back to references of Gertie the Dinosaur whilst the bee seems heavily stylised on early Mickey Mouse and his Disney debut in Steamboat Willie.


The slapstick continues as the bee circles the two leads and the great original score by Midlands Movies Award-winner Pav Gekko is another fantastic nod to silly symphonic jazz soundtracks of a bygone time.


Similar to previous Midlands short Just Desserts – with some participants involved in both – the 3-minute short packs a lot heart and fun into its runtime. Bee-Loved also wears its love for the silliness of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin on its sleeve and combined with a unique animation style is a beloved love letter to the past.


Mike Sales



By midlandsmovies, Dec 11 2018 01:29PM



The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) Dir. The Coen Brothers


A 6-part anthology film that quickly ended up on Netflix, the award-winning Coen brothers are not immune to the modern day perils of the straight-to-streaming phenomena. However, like Alex Garland’s Annihilation, cinematic quality is there from the outset and this easily could have been more widely released in cinemas.


And given its quality it is a huge shame it wasn't.


The multiple, and magnificent, stories themselves are framed within the pages of a book and contain a range of tonally different shorts all set in the Wild West. The Coens’ dark humour and splashes of violence are well and present and the stories include a cocky outlaw played brilliantly by Tim Blake Nelson who sings (and floats) his way to heaven (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), James Franco’s bank-robber hanging by a noose (Near Algodones) and Liam Neeson’s impresario riding through towns with his actor Harrison who has no arms and legs (Meal Ticket).


The eclectic situations continue with Tom Waits’s grizzled prospector searching for riches in the wilderness (All Gold Canyon), a wagon train being attacked by natives (The Gal Who Got Rattled) and finally five people in a stagecoach that refuses to stop as it carries a dead body (The Mortal Remains).


With something for everyone, the yarns each have their own unique style and death and misery appear in all the tales. But the Coens haven’t scrimped on the comedy from annoying dogs, witty songs and characters trapped within their situations to humorous effect.


My personal favourite was The Gal Who Got Rattled with an excellent Zoe Kazan as innocent Alice Longabaugh and Bill Heck as the kindly and gruff Billy Knapp. That story could happily have been part of a longer film and the mixture of deadly attacks and sharp conversation was a highlight.


That said, each story has its own charms and for someone not keen on anthology flicks (see my Ghost Stories review here) the Coens have managed to weave 6 amazing stories into a cohesive and thematic whole.


Where Hail Caesar tackled Roman epics (and musical numbers) amongst its Hollywood setting, the Coens' influences here come from the American love of frontier films - another classic genre linking their modern takes within established cinematic history.


Not diverging greatly from their usual style, the death-obsessed duo deliver another historical romp with a great cast and amazing outdoor locations.


8/10


Mike Sales


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