icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram

blog

Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Mar 26 2020 08:17AM



Pieces of an Adolescent


Directed by Renecide


2020


The passing of time represented by the tick-tock of a metronome opens a new short film called Pieces of an Adolescent that deals with the troublesome and tough times of growing up.


An experimental piece, the short is a mixture of styles that tell the background of the filmmaker and the struggles they face.


“I used to be happy when I was younger”, says the young man as he shares personal experiences of depression, loneliness and even suicide.


A mixture of voiceovers and brief interviews stand alongside images of a radio, text messaging and an interesting use of titles giving us snippets of a life.


The editing is haphazard but is a great technique used to show the conflicting and confusing thoughts that go through a vulnerable person’s head. The black and white handheld camera adds a personal touch and an interesting use of titles attempts to create a sort of structure amongst the chaos.


From CCTV and Skype footage, the differing media continues randomly yet about halfway through we switch to colour. Alongside this comes a more formal documentary style as the protagonist’s life starts to come together. A clever switch I enjoyed, the use of film technique to again represent the “pieces” of this person’s life from disorder to stability.


And with a dash of religion sprinkled in, as well as questions around personal identity, the topics ensure a certain weight is given to the multifaceted themes.


On a personal note I found the short quite long as the experimental style is not something I’ve ever warmed to. Narrative cinema is more up my street and although the short has interesting concepts, they come and go almost at random. The differing styles gives glimpses into a time of life but for me they don’t coalesce into a complete whole and the point is made realtively early on.


An honourable piece, the film certainly tackles hugely complex and difficult issues in a sensitive and very personal way with a style that represents the young man’s fractured mind. However, the style may not be up everyone’s street but if you stick with it, the second part somewhat explains the first half and the interesting use of styles shows promise and technical expertise to be admired.


Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, Mar 18 2020 04:31PM



DJ Dougal’s Dad


Directed by Thomas Line


2020


We open in a music festival dance tent with a DJ attempting to pump up a packed crowd as we begin new documentary DJ Dougal’s Dad by Midlands filmmaker Thomas Line.


As the man shouts over the microphone, he introduces us to our first glimpse of Garry Clarke aka DJ Dougal’s Dad. We then smash cut to Garry leaving his suburban home that couldn’t be further from the euphoric boom of the crowd and sub-woofer of the festival event.


Garry is a photographer and videographer from Northampton whose wife bought him a Yashica 24 camera many moons ago and began his career by taking a few shots of a local guitarist known as Marc Bolan (!)


Later going on to sell his shots to big music magazines like Melody Maker, Garry has since come full circle to photograph local band Howlin’ Owls. But alongside footage of the older Garry working with up and coming artists, he regales the viewer with stories of photographing some of music’s most celebrated artists.


From Santana in the early 80s through to Bob Dylan, Garry shares his passion in an honest and informative documentary. We see his photos and director Thomas Line uses interviews, voiceover and both old and new footage to showcase Garry’s work over his distinguished career.


The passion from Garry and his interest in the subject matter comes across well and being a musician myself – and having done many a band photoshoot – the subject matter was especially interesting to me.


Tom previously made Headphones, a short film drama film we reviewed that was also nominated at our annual movie awards (click here for review). This film shows the director can jump mediums with aplomb and having a narrative background always helps in documentaries to create a story around the subject. It’s all too easy to think your own obsession with the subject matter will see audiences respond the same way but that’s not always the case.


Here though, Garry’s history and personal stories help you relate to his photography and the director has captured a man sharing his love for music and images in a simple but informative way. We briefly move on to his DJ son and rave culture but Garry explains the only drugs he takes are medicinal ones.


Although the documentary uses standard genre techniques, the subject matter was more than up my street and anyone with a passing interest in music, history or creative photography will definitely get something out of the film’s brief 8-minutes. What starts as a mad insight into a life capturing the excesses of rock n roll, actually develops into a more life-affirming self-portrait of an older soul processing the snapshots of his life. Recommended.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Feb 21 2020 10:30AM

Quite simply, here is our ongoing and updated list of Film Festivals in the Midlands (2020 edition):


• THE SHORT CINEMA http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk info@theshortcinema.co.uk Phoenix, Leicester - August 2020 (TBC)


*CINE-EXCESS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Birmingham School of Media Birmingham City 4th - 7th November 2020


• NOTTINGHAM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL http://www.nottiff.com/ 13th - 15th November 2020


• INDIE-LINCS - Feb 13th - 15th 2020 Based at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, and run in partnership with The School of Film and Media at the University of Lincoln http://www.indie-lincs.com


• BRINDLEY PLACE OUTDOOR FEST - http://www.brindleyplace.com/event/brindleyplace-film-festival-2018/ DATES TBC


• BORDERLINES FEST http://www.borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk UK's largest rural film festival. Herefordshire/Shropshire - 28th February to 15th March 2020


• BIRMINGHAM FILM FEST - 13th - 22nd November 2020 https://filmfreeway.com/festival/Birminghamfilmfestival


• BIFF FEST (Birmingham Black International Film Fest) https://www.biffestival.co.uk 2020 TBC


• SHOCK AND GORE FESTIVAL Electric Cinema in Birmingham https://twitter.com/shockgore 2020 TBC


• DEAFFEST http://www.deaffest.co.uk The UK's International Deaf Film & Arts Festival Wolverhampton. Contact info@light-house.co.uk 2020 date TBC


* BIRMINGHAM INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL http://birminghamindianfilmfestival.co.uk 2020 dates TBC


• THE UK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL LEICESTER - http://tonguesonfire.com/ 2020 dates TBC


• SHOUT FESTIVAL http://shoutfestival.co.uk Birmingham 2020 dates TBC


• DERBY FILM FESTIVAL http://www.derbyfilmfestival.co.uk 19th - 23rd November 2020


• FANTASTIQ FEST http://fantastiq.co.uk Fantasy/Horror Fest at Quad in Derby (part of Derby Film Fest)


• MAYHEM HORROR Film Fest - Halloween. Contact Broadway cinema in Nottingham http://www.broadway.org.uk/mayhem 15th - 18th October 2020


• FLATPACK FEST - Birmingham, UK. http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk 5th - 10th May 2020


• BEESTON FILM FESTIVAL - https://twitter.com/BeestonFilm 25th-29th March 2020


• SHROPSHIRE RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL http://www.rainbowfilmfestival.org.uk/midlands-zone on hiatus for 2019 - TBC 2020 dates


• GRINDHOUSE PLANET - www.grindhouseplanet.com 2020 dates TBC


* BOTTLESMOKE FILM FESTIVAL - https://www.facebook.com/BottleSmokeStoke Stoke on Trent - September 8th 2019


* WIRKSWORTH FILM FEST https://wirksworth3minfilmfest.co.uk Derbyshire 2th - 31st July 2020


* HEART OF ENGLAND FILM FEST - https://www.heartofenglandfilmfest.com Coventry 2020 Dates TBC


* HIGH PEAK INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL Derbyshire https://www.highpeakindie.com 6th - 9th August 2020


* NEXUS FILM FESTIVAL https://twitter.com/NexusEastMids Nottingham 17th - 21st May 2020


* NOTTZ FILM FESTIVAL Hothouse Theatre Nottingham https://twitter.com/NottmFilmFest 2020 Dates TBC


* THE SHORT STACK FILM FESTIVAL Nottingham Bi-monthly screening night at Broadway Cinema https://www.facebook.com/groups/841340665914084 (Various dates)


* 5 LAMPS FILMS - Bi-monthly short-film screenings at Derby Quad (various dates) + annual 24hr film challenge https://twitter.com/fivelampsfilms (Various dates)


* PARACINEMA - Derby https://twitter.com/ParacinemaDerby 7th - 10th May 2020


* THE BLACK COUNTRY HORROR SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL - Stourbridge https://www.weepingbankproductions.co.uk/horror-film-festival Saturday 27th February 2020


* CINEQ - Birmingham Queer Film Festival - https://www.cineqbirmingham.co.uk 26th - 29th March 2020


* LEAMINGTON FILM FESTIVAL - Temperance Bar, Leamington Spa http://www.temperance.bar/film-festival.html 10th - 12th January 2020


* NORTHAMPTON FILM FESTIVAL - various locations across Northampton http://www.northamptonfilmfestival.co.uk/ 13th – 20th May 2020


* WORCESTER FILM FESTIVAL - Royal Porcelain Works, Worcester https://filmfreeway.com/WorcesterFilmFestival 15th – 17th October 2020



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

http://www.festivalfocus.org/festival

http://film.britishcouncil.org/festivals-directory/festivals-map

http://www.thefilmfestivaldoctor.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, Feb 11 2020 11:39AM



O.H.C.A (Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest)


Directed by Richard Steele


2020


O.H.C.A is a new semi-autobiographical short film written and directed by Midlands filmmaker Richard Steele. The film focuses on Lucas (John Williams) and his journey tackling the psychological hurdles of the trauma and recovery of an out of hospital cardiac arrest.


As the film opens we see footage of a five-a-side football game, a hobby which Lucas refers to taking part in later in the story. He explains he was playing only a week before his cardiac arrest, implementing a theme that is constant throughout the narrative, the future isn’t promised.


Steele utilises the regular breaking of the fourth wall with Lucas’ narration. The film is structured in a way that sees Lucas recounting his experience in a point by point fashion when he is fully recovered. This takes away a lot of possible peril in the story but presents the audience with a reliable narrator throughout the narrative. It gives us a much better understanding of the emotions the character is feeling at each point in the film.


The inclusion of Lucas’ girlfriend, Pippa (Linda Brammer), offers another point of view of these events, giving insight into the mindset of a casualty that is not often talked about in stories of ordeals such as these. Lucas’ dependence on her provides the most touching parts of the film, especially when we see his first solo walk to the bus stop without Pippa there to rely on.


The handheld nature of the camerawork works in a personable way, reinforcing the unrehearsed, realistic feel of the film, also possibly signifying the instability of the character after his trauma.


The film centres around a touchy subject for many people, without pulling on the heart strings too much. If I was to put forward one critique it would be that the emotional side of the story could have been delved into deeper. It would have touched me in a more poignant way if the main character had been more emotive when explaining the way he felt in certain situations.


Overall, Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest is a gratifying, insightful and personable look into a road to recovery that a large number of people traverse. The fact that the director has created a semi-autobiographical film adds to the authenticity of the story, which I believe could be used by other people in similar situations to help them along their own journey.


Jake Evans



By midlandsmovies, Nov 20 2019 03:46PM

Review - Movie catch up blog 2019 - Part 7


This month we check out new releases YESTERDAY (from Danny Boyle), THE KING (from David Michôd), HAIL SATAN? (from Penny Lane) and BOOKSMART (from Olivia Wilde).


Scroll down to read the reviews:





Yesterday (2019) Dir. Danny Boyle


Himesh Patel plays Jack Malik in this musical fantasy where a guitar-playing shelf-stacker becomes the only person in the world to remember that The Beatles existed after he survives a bike-crash during a global blackout. The screenplay by Richard Curtis is suitably nimble and light-hearted and after discovering his predicament, Jack decides to take credit for the infamous songs of the Fab-Four’s back catalogue. The more than likeable Lily James plays Jack’s friend and possible love interest Ellie, and she helps him cut a demo of their greatest hits. With audiences going wild for the classic tracks, Jack’s career rushes to worldwide stardom with Ed Sheeran appearing as himself and a ruthless Kate McKinnon as Hollywood music manager Debra Hammer. Probably biased (and certainly a film for fans) my love for The Beatles definitely helped my enjoyment, as the film plays with the song titles, famous stories, the background of the band's music and we even get to visit their hometown of Liverpool. The support cast are also good, especially Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal as Jack’s parents who barely listen as he plays “his" new song "Let It Be" in the family front room. With over half of the budget reportedly going on the rights to The Beatles’ songs, every penny has been well spent with the tracks, and a score incorporating their various melodies, bringing joy and sadness in equal measure. With fun and jokey performances, heartfelt (and maybe schmaltzy at times) storytelling as well as the obligatory but still legendary music, everything comes together in this captivating comedy.


★★★★



The King (2019) Dir. David Michôd


Back at University I did a course called Shakespeare on Screen and ever since I have been somewhat obsessed by how the Bard’s work has been adapted for movies. And so hopes were high for medieval drama The King which is inspired by Henry IV: Part 1, Henry IV: Part 2 and Henry V. With gorgeous cinematography by Adam Arkapaw, this Netflix period piece had all the fascinating elements of a deep dive into royal politics and war. However, despite a great start whereby the playboy Henry, Prince of Wales (Timothée Chalamet) reluctantly but successfully succeeds his war-mongering father, the film quickly veers into mind-numbingly dull drama and tediousness. The support is great, Joel Edgerton as Falstaff brings a lot of charm, Robert Pattinson as The Dauphin of France is a sleazy delight and Sean Harris is solid as the duplicitous William Gascoigne. However, the carbuncle-growing pace and lacklustre dialogue slows down every dramatic development of the plot to a complete standstill. As Henry eventually succumbs to the war merchants who desire the King to show his strength, the film STILL doesn’t draw your attention - wasting as it does every possibly interesting plot point. Stick with Olivier and Branagh for the definitive Henry V takes and avoid this wearisome run-though of Willy’s work.


★★



Hail Satan? (2019) Dir. Penny Lane


A documentary about The Satanic Temple seems ripe for a warts-and-all exposé on the demonic practices of its debauched members but prepare yourself to be very surprised with new film Hail Satan?. The film opens with the background to the temple’s inception and the subsequent negative media coverage. From the 70s, the “satanic panic” labelled members outcasts at best – and murderers and abusers at worst. However, the film’s politics are much more centred on its tolerance and fight for religious freedoms. After a Ten Commandments monument is set up on State grounds in Arkansas, the group, led by Lucien Greaves (not his real name, and also his “real” name is not his real name), take steps to advocate the separation of church and state. This is done in the main by suggesting their statue of Baphomet (a goat-headed, angel-winged demon) should also be placed on the grounds to maintain impartiality. And more revealing, the film shows that far from the religious extremists that is suggested by its name, the group are dripping in self-conscious irony, media-awareness and tolerance of alternative lifestyles. Although the film shows some internal rifts within the temple's leadership, from after school clubs to the cleaning of beaches, the diverse members in fact commit themselves to well-thought out political and eco causes. At 95 minutes, Hail Satan? doesn’t overstay its welcome and disputes the spurious claims heaped upon the temple whilst exposing the hypocrisy of certain elements of far-right Christianity.


★★★★



Booksmart (2019) Dir. Olivia Wilde

What a year it’s been for Olivia Wilde who starred in the fantastic A Vigilante earlier in 2019 (our review) and now in her directorial debut has delivered a more than pleasurable film about the anxieties of growing up. Beanie Feldstein is amusing as the studious Molly whilst her best friend is Amy (Kaitlyn Dever). After overhearing some gossip in the school bathroom, Molly comes to the conclusion they haven’t had enough fun before they go off to college. Convincing Amy they should attend a party the night before graduation, the two head off on an evening of adventure. With a sensitive, yet hilarious, journey into teen angst, sexuality, popularity and school chaos, Booksmart balances some coarseness with an emotional heft that is incredibly satisfying. At times, the film hits the beats of the similarly structured Superbad (2007) with the protagonists criss-crossing the city in search of a party whilst getting caught up with the cops, strangers and illicit substances. However, the two leads are simply wonderful and some off-the-wall sequences on a boat, at a murder mystery party and as toy dolls are a giddy joy. A poignant and affecting conclusion and some believable drama throughout, the balance of laughs and moving scenes were affecting and even the support cast bring real entertainment to their (sometimes exaggerated) roles. An impressive film, Feldstein and Dever bring real empathy and believability to their characters - whilst being hilarious at the same time - and Booksmart comes highly recommended as a fun night out for all.


★★★★½


Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, Nov 16 2019 09:38AM



Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (2019) Dir. Midge Costin


Making Waves opens with Apocalypse Now sound designer Walter Murch explaining how deep sound is to humans - from the womb to the almost unnoticed and emotional effect it has on us in cinema.


And so begins new documentary Making Waves. And Murch is just one of an amazing array of interviews in this new exploration and within the first minute we have comments from legendary Star Wars sound guru Ben Burtt, directors Chris Nolan, Ryan Coogler, David Lynch, George Lucas and Ang Lee and musician Barbara Streisand. Wow. A list doesn’t get much more impressive than that!


Rightly so, the film’s focus is on the importance of sound in our enjoyment of cinema. The film covers the importance of the “Circle of Talent” to create the modern team-orientated experience audiences expect today. With so many people in the mix, the experts in their field enable impressive sequences like the D-Day landings of Saving Private Ryan to be created.


From the intimacy of an emotional score to studio mixing, the film covers the technical background to music-making – which is conveyed in an easy digestible way for the viewer. It also covers the history of sound when early films were projected with a live orchestra (or even live sound effects) as well dialogue from people behind a screen.


The documentary is fascinating and informative especially to someone with a music background like myself. But it also explains the journey of cinematic sound bringing general audiences along the way too. However, its biggest flaw is the familiar ground covered in another recent documentary Score: A Film Music Documentary from 2016 (our full review here).


Both have comparable talking heads, technical info and the history of sound (slightly more specific on musical score in the 2016 film) but they are VERY similar. And therefore this isn’t a unique illumination on the subject, more of a confirmation of some of the information seen from a different viewpoint. But the explanations are great if you don't know your foley from your sound effects and we also see how the variety of these important aspects are put together in the final mixing stage.


Score and sound design are definitely two different disciplines though - one being part of the other. So if you prefer one area then choose the documentary for you. However, both films together are a fascinating insight into the often overlooked (and hugely important) world of the magic of music and sound in movies.


★★★½


Michael Sales


Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound is out on DVD on Monday 25th November 2019

By midlandsmovies, Oct 28 2019 09:58AM



Outside the City


Directed by Nick Hamer


2019


Intrepid Media


A tough watch from the beginning, Outside the City starts with a very elderly and frail man in bed who talks about the power, or not, of prayer. As bells begin tolling, we are introduced to the monks of Mount St Bernard Abbey.


The Abbey’s location near the M1 and within spitting distance of the power station is a nice contrast between the modern world and the archaic life lived by these spiritual men. The film mixes old photos, talking head interviews and measured shots of the Abbey itself in its rural Leicestershire location.


With the lack of “new recruits”, the current number of monks have dwindled through the years, sadly by death mostly. A self-described “contemplative monastic community of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance” their life of “radical discipleship” means early rising, endless prayer and their reflection of life.


Ironically, I found out about this information on their very informative website and from mobility scooters to business planning, the monks decide to take the Abbey’s continuation into their own hands by planning for what lies ahead in the 21st century.


Fighting against an ever-changing contemporary world, they decide to secure a better future by changing their farmland from dairy produce to a Trappist beer brewery. Which turns into a great success – even with fantastic YouTube reviews.


A heart-breaking final few days, and subsequent death, of one of the monks is an extremely difficult watch and as you hear stories from these men, you are enlightened to a life so different to your very own.


However, my own personal partisanship on the importance (or otherwise) of religion did hamper my enjoyment of the film somewhat. Seeing each man – we’re all aware of the side-lining of women in these institutions – throw away months and years was partly soul-destroying if I’m being brutally honest.


Recently I watched “Hail Satan?” – a documentary about the Church of Satan who, rather than the name suggests, work within the community and accept a range of other alternative-leaning free-thinking men, women and transgender people. And their involvement in improving, rather than ostracization, of society was far more aligned to my own outlook it must be said.


I certainly don’t think a film in any way has to align to the views of the reviewer – quite the contrary – yet although this film successfully challenged my own beliefs, the interesting and quirky beer-brewery narrative was essentially side-lined for a bit of an eye-rolling sermon about the continuation of their old boys’ club.


However, it is certainly not my place to tell anyone how to live their own life. That’s down to each and everyone’s own “calling” and I support individualism and independent decision-making which these devout monks had in holy spades.


Despite some fundamental differences on the topic, it has to be said that the film is as much about age as it is religion. It also does address some of the conflicts they face with modern views similar to my own, which was a positive acknowledgement of their current struggles.


Outside the City therefore ends as a very respectful look at devoted men and the ever-changing world they, and we, inhabit. It is also a well put-together film contrasting the past, present and future and gives a challenging glimpse into a bygone world which certainly got a strong emotional response from this reviewer. And although maybe not the same feelings will be had, I think its poignant themes and affecting questions will resonate with most audiences too with its thought-provoking comments on religious lifestyles.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Sep 27 2019 10:22AM



And that’s another fine documentary you’ve gotten me into


A new documentary film is now in production from Leicester based production company Spoon Jar Films called On the Trail of Stan & Ollie which will showcase the historical journey of the famous film duo.


Established by experienced producer Wayne Kelly and Director/Cameraman Matt Holt, they make compelling films about fascinating people, issues that matter and quirky stories that surprise and entertain.


Wayne and Matt are currently filming the production which comes hot on the heels of documentaries “No Fare” and “In a Landfill Far, Far Away”.


And as well as the creative talents on Spoon Jar, the duo run commercial business MGL Media.


“We’ve been making high quality video for a wide range of businesses across the UK for over 13 years. Our portfolio covers a wide range of corporate clients, local governments, broadcasters and small businesses and organisations”, they say.


However, their new affectionate documentary will tell the story of comedy legends, Laurel and Hardy and follow hot on the heels of the recent BAFTA nominated film, ‘Stan and Ollie’. “We’re but really pleased at how many famous faces we’ve got on board so far”, they told Midlands Movies.


Wayne and Matt are also delighted to be producing this brand new documentary in collaboration with notable Laurel and Hardy aficionado, Ross Owen, of The Ross Owen Show.


And well-known actors will talk the viewer through their favourite scenes and show how Stan and Ollie continue to influence their own work and wider popular culture.


Laurel and Hardy historians and fans from around the world will also share their fascinating stories, some of which have never been heard before.


“We also follow the personal journey of Stan Laurel’s great granddaughter, Cassidy Cook, as she goes in search of her grandfather’s theatrical roots at the world’s oldest music hall - The Panopticon in Glasgow, Scotland”.


Shot on location in LA and Glasgow and full of anecdotes from those who knew Stan and Ollie best, this documentary brings ‘The Boys’ and their genius to a new generation of fans.


Having already produced films for the BBC and eOne, including content for international DVD & BluRay releases, the company also continue to seek new production and distribution partners.


“We always have multiple projects in production, so take a look at our website to see what we have on the slate, and how you can get involved”.


For further info check out their official website and social media pages below and check the full trailer out too:


http://www.mglmedia.tv/

https://twitter.com/SpoonJarFilms

http://www.spoonjarfilms.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/spoonjarfilms





RSS Feed twitter