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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





By midlandsmovies, Aug 26 2019 09:00AM



Memory – The Origins of Alien


2019


Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe


Opening in Greece with shots of bugs & ancient hieroglyphs, a group of witches chant incantations in a strange beginning for a documentary about Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic Alien.


However, what the film attempts to convey is how the historical symbolism and metaphorical signifiers of the film are actually curated from an underlying “global set of myths”.


Focusing “mostly” on the film’s writer Dan O’ Bannon, the documentary explores his rural upbringing, obsession with sci-fi and monsters and his many influences. One such is “Seeds of Jupiter” – a comic book about a man whose alien infection eventually escapes his body and scuttles off his military location. Sound familiar?


A competent artist in his own right, his early version of Alien (the awfully-titled “Star Beast”) was injected with a new lease of life when Swiss artist H R Giger became involved.


His sexual, mechanical and biological amalgamations were the perfect aesthetic for Bannon’s alien. Giger went to Egypt as a child and was obsessed by black bones and in early storyboards, the derelict spaceship was actually a Pyramid. Unbelievably Fox fired the artist but when original director Walter Hill exited the project, it was Ridley Scott who brought him back on board.


The documentary has the usual talking heads and I must admit that the fact Alien is one of my favourite films of all time helped maintain my interest even when the film didn’t quite work. It argues that the alien has its roots in Renaissance demons and medieval dragons and that it resonates with the human race’s deeper fears.


For me, this only partially rings true. Maybe its longevity can be traced to these themes but I’m not convinced the script of “Star Beast” had such illusions explicitly added. I would argue many of the “theories” are more Room 237 than they are intentional. It puts forward the notion that the 70s economic downturn, terrorism and corruption are represented, which is an interesting if less believable proposition. And the documentary loses some focus elsewhere too BUT I’d caveat that too many theories are probably better than too few.


That said, the combination of the dark psyches of O’Bannon, Scott and Giger together certainly helped bring deeper meaning to the film. Their obsessions of exploration of the ancient past and creation – a theme Scott would come back to in Blade Runner as well as Prometheus – give Alien much more depth than other monster movies.


Like Alien itself, the documentary builds to the iconic chest scene and an in-depth breakdown. With its male pregnancy fetishism, the quote of the film comes from actress Veronica Cartwright who describes the chest burster thus: “It frankly looked like a penis… with teeth”.


From paintings by Francis Bacon to a nice eulogy about Dan O’Bannon from his wife Dianne, The Origins of Alien casts its net very wide. Yet it‘s festering with curious but interesting philosophies and gives birth to a number of thought-provoking ideas about one of the greatest films ever made.


Michael Sales


MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN in cinemas 30 August, on VOD and DVD 2 September



By midlandsmovies, Jul 30 2019 04:05PM



Framing John DeLorean (2019) Dir. Don Argott & Sheena M. Joyce


As a huge fan of Back to the Future, I’ve always dreamed of driving the time machine car with its gull-winged doors and silver UFO-appearance – which fan hasn’t I guess? With my limited knowledge of its designer John DeLorean, the documentary actually avoids too much focus on its iconic place in the timeless 80s cinema classic and instead wisely focuses on the mysterious engineer of the auto industry behind the vehicle.


Funnily enough though, Back to the Future’s writer Bob Gale is one of the first people interviewed. And he questions why Hollywood hasn’t used DeLorean’s story for a biopic given his life full of women, cars, business and later on, criminal goings-on. The documentary follows DeLorean’s story from his huge success at General Motors in the 60s and 70s using standard talking head interviews, archive footage and contemporary opinions from DeLorean’s children.


However, and rather strangely, the film also has dramatic recreations of a number of important moments in his life starring Alec Baldwin as the auto expert. Again, it’s a little bizarre as we see are also shown the behind-the-scenes preparations for these sequences. Baldwin imparts his thoughts on the man as he sits in the make-up chair having massive fake eyebrows attached to look more like DeLorean.


The intention I guess seems to be an attempt to delve into DeLorean’s motivations and what “made him tick”. Although not entirely successful, or needed at all, it does add a creative flavour to the standard documentary format which was refreshing.


DeLorean doesn’t make his dream easy as he sets up a factory in Northern Ireland (during the violent Troubles no less) but his goal to be an independent car manufacturer is welcomed in a country torn apart by bombs and guns. Offering a chance of employment, the Catholic/Protestant production line workers find a place of safety and solidarity and are visibly upset when the it closes.


Unfortunately, his lack of genuine manufacturing experience and the dearth of funding takes its toll. And DeLorean is suddenly involved in two court cases - one involving a drug deal and another a case of embezzlement. But this is an excellent documentary with a unique, if a bit confused, splash of drama edited into it, with the film exploring the multifaceted aspects of his extraordinary life.


And it ends with his disappointed children acknowledging that if Back to the Future had been released just months earlier, the subsequent interest in the car may have saved the company. But like the mistakes he made himself you can’t go back in time, not even in a DeLorean.


★★★★


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Jun 29 2019 03:43PM



Apollo 11 (2019) Dir. Todd Douglas Miller


Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous 1969 moon landings, Apollo 11 is a new documentary that revisits the familiar space-race story but with some very unfamiliar footage. Made up entirely of archive film, the documentary includes high quality 70mm sequences that have never been released publicly, which is a huge shame given their significance.


But thankfully, here they are now. With no narration and minimal dialogue dubbed over the NASA images, the film reminded me of the documentary 3 Shots The Changed America about JFK’s assassination. There, as with here, historical home-movie style sequences from the era gave an eerie realism little seen in more formally structured docs.


And coming from the President who promised the US public a man on the moon in the first place, both films use 60s film stock and snippets of conversational sounds to create a natural feel that thrusts you straight into their respective periods.


The amazing footage isn’t just used for the inevitable launch and landing however. Much of the joy comes from the mundane. If you feel overfamiliar with the subject then the exclusive backroom admin work, telephone calls and crowds waiting in anticipation give the audience an experience that they would not have seen before – short of being at Cape Kennedy on the day itself.


Swathes of thrilled Americans are edited alongside rare CCTV of a van transporting the astronauts to the launch site. This grainy intimate black and white footage is as fascinating as the glorious 70mm film as we get to view many little-seen aspects from the day that all lead to the countdown. The huge tracks of the Missile Crawler Transporter slowly moving the Saturn V rockets to the pad are shot in such high quality you’ll swear they were filmed last week.


The Southern accents certainly make it an all-American affair, whilst a leaking valve shows the reality of the situation and its risky difficulties. The sensational images continue with the launch itself and the excitement of that day comes across in every frame. But again, the matter-of-fact procedures show how “normal” much of this seems. And these also remind us of the hundreds of humans behind the momentous occasion.


And as I type this on a laptop that has 1,500 times more processing power than the lunar module, the reality is that this was a dangerous mission as Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins are strapped into a claustrophobic metal box stuck to the world’s biggest firework.


Covering both the scientific detail and the strong patriotic emotions, Apollo 11 is a must-see for space enthusiasts and for the rest, you can bask in the jaw-dropping and immaculate footage which brings the electrifying lunar landing to life.


★★★★


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Jun 13 2019 08:50PM

Quite simply, here is our ongoing and updated list of Film Festivals in the Midlands (2019 edition):


• THE SHORT CINEMA http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk info@theshortcinema.co.uk Phoenix, Leicester - August 20 – 24, 2019


* NOTTINGHAM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL http://www.nottiff.com/ 14th - 17th November 2019


• 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/ July 15th - 21st 2019


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


• BIRMINGHAM FILM FEST - 1st - 10th November 2019 https://filmfreeway.com/festival/Birminghamfilmfestival


• BIFF FEST (Birmingham Black International Film Fest) https://www.biffestival.co.uk 26th October 2019


• SHOCK AND GORE FESTIVAL Electric Cinema in Birmingham https://twitter.com/shockgore July 2019


• 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 21st June - 1 July 2019


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


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


• DERBY FILM FESTIVAL http://www.derbyfilmfestival.co.uk 14 - 17 November 2019


• 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 10th October - 13th October 2019


• FLATPACK FEST - Birmingham, UK. http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk 11th-16th 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 November 2019 TBC


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


* WIRKSWORTH 3-MINUTE FILM FEST https://wirksworth3minfilmfest.co.uk Derbyshire15th Sept 2019


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


* THE BLACK BIRD FILM FEST Wolverhampton https://ajayhackett2113.wixsite.com/bbff Wolverhampton 2020 Dates TBC


* HIGH PEAK INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL Derbyshire https://www.highpeakindie.com 12th to 16th June 2019. #HPIFF18


* NEXUS FILM FESTIVAL https://twitter.com/NexusEastMids Nottingham 2020 Dates TBC


* NOTTZ FILM FESTIVAL Hothouse Theatre Nottingham https://twitter.com/NottmFilmFest Sat 6th July 2019


* 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 2020 Date TBC


* PARACINEMA - Derby https://twitter.com/ParacinemaDerby May 1st -3rd 2020


* THE BLACK COUNTRY HORROR SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL - Stourbridge https://www.weepingbankproductions.co.uk/horror-film-festival Saturday 25th January 2020


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

http://www.festivalfocus.org/festival

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

http://www.thefilmfestivaldoctor.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, Jun 13 2019 08:25AM



Midlands Spotlight - The Pocket Film of Superstitions


Midlands Movies Mike uncovers a dark new feature film currently in production from Tom Lee Rutter, the writer/director of regional flick Bella in the Wych Elm.


THE POCKET FILM OF SUPERSTITIONS is a planned creepy docu-fantasy almanac and will explore a wide range of superstitions both well-known and not so well-known through the ages.


Produced under the director’s Carnie Features production company, Rutter promises a more “polished, feature-length progression” after his short film Bella In The Wych Elm (our review here) was released in 2017 to acclaim despite a low budget.


Director Rutter tells us that with this new film audiences should expect “dreamscapes, Victorian gothic, practical effects and nods to the haunted screen of the silent-era through to the seventies”.


“I am half-way through production now and up till now have completely self-funded but due to the ambitious jumps through time with period set-pieces and the SFX I have had to start up a Gofundme campaign”, he adds.


This will help “to raise a little money for us to achieve some exciting sequences on the horizon”.



He goes on to explain, “My films have always been proudly self-funded and are very independent in nature. Despite the limitations brought about by very little in terms of finance it has always given me the freedom to explore styles and create projects that I feel don't get explored enough in indie circles today”.


Hoping to be a one of a kind West Midlands movie you can find out more information and donate to their crowd-funding campaign here: GoFundMe LINK


You can also follow further updates from the official Facebook page here which includes some exciting behind-the-scenes photographs and lobby-card stills - click here for Facebook page




By midlandsmovies, May 6 2019 04:01PM



No Guesses Found


Directed by Georgie Cubin & Jane Leggat


2019


No Guesses Found is a new short from Leicester that hopes to question the expected representations of dyslexia by confronting some mainstream, and perhaps commonly misunderstood, expectations of the condition.


Made by Georgie Cubin and Jane Leggat, dyslexia is a somewhat common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. And this short experimental documentary opens with the clatter of pens being clicked and computers keys being whacked in a hurriedly-paced flourish of alphabetical confusion.


Mixing personal and performative elements, the documentary is self-referential in its style with its own cinematic language. It chaotically at times processes the narrative with lots of quick edits, stuttering cuts and descriptive images crossed with a host of interesting visual signifiers.


Although one “over-arching” condition, the film clarifies that the nature of the disorder can affect people in many different ways. And the filmmaker uses allegorical symbols to highlight its nature within the medium of the film. For example, a split-screen technique used often suggests the film is at least recognising some of the neurological aspects of dyslexia.


In addition, various voiceovers describe their real-life experiences. And a percussive soundtrack gives certain sequences a music-video feel – or a clock-countdown, perhaps inferring the pressures people feel they are under. With dyslexia sometimes being expressed as the “difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds)”, the film again uses the symptoms to play with the structure of the short.


This unique combination is the documentary’s greatest achievement. It is a terrific creative conceit that draws you in to the (sometimes) confusing arena of words that sufferers face. Shots that have been sped up – but with our protagonist standing rigid – represent how those with dyslexia may feel the world is passing them by. Whilst the title itself refers to one of the voiceovers struggling to complete sentences when word processing programmes cannot autocorrect.


A successful documentary not just in style but in content, I have to admit I’m not always the greatest fan of what is labelled as an ‘experimental piece’. However, the filmmakers here have more than successfully used a whole host of cinematic techniques to deliver something special about a condition that could do with having its profile raised.


Reflecting the nature of dyslexia in the film’s style is therefore an inspired creative choice. “Having a better image of dyslexia in mainstream media and film would be fantastic”, says one sufferer. Well, No Guesses Found is the first in hopefully a long line of many to come and it’s bloody brilliant.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Apr 30 2019 09:17AM



Replicas (2019) Dir. Jeffrey Nachmanoff


What is up with Keanu Reeves career making decisions? For every critical and commercial success he then opts to star in something so awful it beggars belief. As far back as Speed (followed by the woeful Johnny Mnemonic), all the way to The Matrix (followed by the unwatchable The Watcher), Keanu has moved from stone cold classics to utter drivel within months. So with John Wick being followed by the awful Knock Knock (see our review) he now moves from the excellent John Wick: Chapter 2 to new sci-fi film Replicas. And guess what? A $30 million dollar failure, the film sees Reeves as William Foster, a scientist who breaks the law to clone his family members after they perish in a vehicle accident. Sadly the film contains every plot cliché you can imagine and, whether it’s the script (likely) or the direction, Alice Eve as his wife gives a simply atrocious performance. Film fans will notice all the scenes hawked out of previous, and better, sci-fi movies including an I-Robot car crash (and Sonny-looking droid), an obsessed scientist and some Minority Report interfaces. And despite its attempts to tackle deeper issues of loss, humanity and family, the film is mostly reminiscent of the bold boringness of Transcendence. Avoid. ★★




The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019) Dir. Alex Gibney


This new documentary film tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes and her technology company Theranos, a now defunct business which was claiming to have revolutionised blood testing in the United States. Using just a small amount of blood from a finger prick, the company was testing machines that could return results of certain conditions in minutes. With their stupendous, and world-changing claims, Forbes named Holmes the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire in America. However, just one year later her value was reassessed at zero dollars. What happened? Well Gibney’s documentary builds upon investigations at the time that uncovered there were significant problems with the company’s medical claims despite the endorsement of some high-flying business leaders. As a fan of Gibney’s past work – Zero Days being one of our top films of 2016 – it’s a shame to see such a lacklustre delivery of what is clearly an interesting subject. Unsure if it wants to be a study of manipulative characters like the delusional Holmes, or a take-down of Silicon Valley’s empty capitalism, the documentary sits in a sort of no man’s land of so-so interviews, archive footage and analysis. With a few tweaks and a tighter edit (it runs at 2 hours) this could have been a fantastic look at a modern-day conspiracy but despite Gibney making the complex subject matter understandable, it’s ultimately a dry recounting of the facts at hand. ★★★



The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot (2019) Dir. Robert D. Krzykowski


Directed, produced and written by Robert D. Krzykowski, the film’s title has “solo passion project” written all over it in this new adventure drama starring Sam Elliott. The story sees old man Elliott as Calvin Barr who is shacked up in his home reminiscing about his past. On a covert operation to kill Hitler, Barr does the deed but his actions are swept under the carpet by seedy government forces and the public never find out. Later on in the present and after getting in fights around town, two new government agents explain that the world is at risk of destruction owing to a virus caused by, you’ve guessed it, Bigfoot. Aidan Turner plays the young Barr whilst Mark Steger has the enviable IMDB listing as “Bigfoot” himself. All this sounds lots of b-movie fun, right? Well, sadly, categorically no. Despite having the ridiculous title of a grindhouse film, the cinematography and pacing is that of an earnest character study. Sadly this results in an inherent dull-ness and it massively fails to live up to its ludicrous premise. In hindsight that could (and should) have been a semi-serious romp in the vain of another recent historical horror, Overlord – which combined similar genres far more effectively. A wasted opportunity. ★★


Michael Sales


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