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By midlandsmovies, Dec 7 2018 12:36PM



Three Identical Strangers (2018) Dir. Tim Wardle


[Spoilers – please be aware this review reveals the film's main story]


This excellent new 96-minute documentary comes from Tim Wardle who re-discovers one of the more bizarre stories from the early 80s and re-positions it as a far more complex and dark tale than initially thought.


An outstanding opening tells the story of a young man, Robert Shaffran, who heads to college only to be mistaken by random strangers as their friend Edward Galland. After establishing that Robert isn’t Edward – who dropped out of the same college the previous year – fellow student Michael Domnitz encourages Robert to contact Edward and they drive cross-country to go meet him the very same day.


Amazingly, the tale unfolds to reveal that the two mistaken men are in fact twins, separated at birth through adoption yet who grew up in the same area.


The documentary uses talking head interviews to explain their incredibly wild story in simple terms which makes the tale all the more fascinating when the coincidences occur. And what coincidences!


As only a short time later – with the brothers’ story and photos making national newspapers – they are contacted by another man, David Kellman, who questions why he is looking at a picture of two of himself.


And so, the three men come to realise that far from twins, they are in fact a set of triplets who were raised in different households by loving families, unaware of each others existence.


Splicing in footage from the time across interviews, panel shows and question and answer TV appearances, the trio come across as likeable, fun and eerily similar siblings who make the most of their new found fame and fortune.


However, in a search for some answers to their adoptive pasts the families uncover a sinister reason for their separation involving a science experiment by psychiatrists Viola W. Bernard and Peter B. Neubauer. Without care or diligence, the two set a terrible scheme in motion to try and answer the age-old question of what has the most influence in our lives – nature or nuture?


The “scientific” study is given ominous context and with the full results sealed in a locked vault at Harvard University the brothers struggle to come to terms with their predicament. Grappling with their world, and their inner demons, one of them eventually commits suicide and the painful reality of their topsy-turvy lives is underscored in this honest yet fascinating documentary.


As with many of the best documentaries, it is the story itself that is the real enticement for audiences but the filmmaker’s change of tact to delve into the murky past and shady machinations is to its benefit and depth, with the film contrasting the happy reunion with the fatal outcomes.


Chilling, thrilling and fulfilling the documentary serves up a triple whammy of satisfying characteristics and combined with the revealing and candid interviews with the put-upon and exploited participants, it ends up being one of the best documentaries of 2018.


8.5/10


Mike Sales



By midlandsmovies, Nov 26 2018 07:58AM



Midlands Spotlight – Irene’s Ghost


Midlands Movies Mike Sales finds out about new local film Irene’s Ghost made by filmmaker Iain Cunningham which covers a personal story about the search for a family member using animation and filmed footage.


Irene’s Ghost is a documentary which follows a son’s search to find out about the mother he never knew. The birth of his own child inspires the filmmaker to go on a journey to discover the truth about Irene, who passed away when he was just a child. Piecing together fragments of the past to make sense of the present he uncovers a long-held secret.


Directed by Iain Cunningham, the film is set around Nuneaton in Warwickshire and recently had a premiere at BFI London Film Festival. With plans to screen in cinemas next year and a local event in April 2019, Iain take centre stage doing the detective work to uncover his own mother’s story.


“I think that wanting to make this film is probably the reason I went into filmmaking in the first place”, says Ian. “The need to find out about Irene was always entwined with the desire to create something about her, to give her life a bit of poetry and give her a voice that she was in some ways denied in life”.


Irene died before Iain was old enough to form memories of her and after difficult decades where he was unable to broach the topic with his father, Iain encounters long-lost relatives and Irene’s best friend Lynn and gets to know his mother through the stories they tell.


From life in Nuneaton in the 1970s, factory work and living for nights at the Co-op Hall and holidays, the documentary pieces the puzzle of her life together, and slowly Irene’s personality comes to life.


Iain runs production company Forward Features and focuses on intimate and personal work. He decided to incorporate bursts of animation to illuminate memory and fantasy as he explores mental illness, grief and female friendship.


For more information on Irene’s Ghost check out the film’s official website and watch the trailer for the film below


www.irenesghost.com






By midlandsmovies, Nov 13 2018 10:39AM



Midlands Spotlight - Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers


Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers are a lively group of filmmakers and enthusiasts who meet twice a month in the West Midlands to create projects and inspire new and experienced filmmakers alike. Midlands Movies Mike Sales catches up with Jill Lampert to find out more.


Jill Lampert is the Membership Secretary of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers, a grass-roots organisation that meets at 7.45pm every second and fourth Thursday of the month.


Their get-togethers take place between September and June at Wylde Green Community Hall, Emscote Drivein Sutton Coldfield and they are a community of like-minded cinephiles who enjoy developing film-making skills and supporting their members with their projects.


Although members of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers include people with many years of experience working in mainstream television, Jill says that the club is an ideal place for beginner filmmakers to take their first steps into filmmaking.


"There is always a warm welcome given to visitors and new members and the first visit is free!"


Many members are currently working on different projects - from a murder story, an excerpt from Shakespeare and a short comedy with special effects. There are also a number of work in progress documentaries underway too and the range of subjects vary from beauty spots in Derbyshire to a boy with a passion for cricket as well as a film on hedgehogs and also another about homes for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people in France.


With such a wide range of experience and diversity of projects, SCMM has already created and completed a number of award-winning short films and their most recent work has included:


The Race to Death’s Door

Julian Austwick wrote and directed this ambitious short comedy film with many locations and a large cast.





Short Cut

Jack Reid wrote a short script which interested experienced filmmakers Ann and Arthur Fletcher. They developed the script and helped Jack to make this film featuring a shy birdwatcher.




A Helping Hand

Filmmaker Debbie Daniels’ first short film is about an elderly man who couldn’t sleep at night. He turned night into day but found this was isolating and lonely, so he turned to Dr Spellman for help. The doctor’s remedy was surprising.




The Attic

Members of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers rented holiday cottages in Wales which doubled up as locations for this spooky short film by Andy Wills.




Behind the Signs

Three groups of members each put together a very short film explaining (in imaginative ways) the story behind a different pub sign. These three films were bound together by another story put together by a fourth group. Altogether some 27 club members were involved in making this film.


One special feature of this film was that members who had no experience in some aspect of filmmaking were invited to have a go. So the crew largely consisted of members who were trying out a new role e.g. directing for the first time, or doing the lighting for the first time.


For more information and to become a member check out the group's official page at


www.suttoncoldfieldmoviemakers.org.uk



By midlandsmovies, Nov 4 2018 08:44AM



Midlands Spotlight - Nottingham International Film Festival


The Nottingham International Film Festival is taking place at the Cineworld and Nottingham Arts Theatre from the 11th-15th November and is showing a great selection of independent film from around the world.


After two successful years the festival is expanding in length and will be spread across two venues with Nottingham’s city centre cinema Cineworld and stalwart of Nottingham’s arts scene The Nottingham Arts Theatre hosting a mix of feature and documentary films, short films, experimental, music videos and animations.


The opening night documentary, The Ballad of a Righteous Merchant, is about Werner Herzog and the making of his film My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done.


The film is playing at Cineworld on 11th November at 4PM and the director will be doing a Q&A after the screening. Check out http://www.nottiff.com/ballad-of-righteous-merchant for all the information and to buy tickets.



Screenings at the Arts Theatre are great value for money as they include both a Short Film Showcase and a feature presentation for the price of one ticket. Viewers can also grab a selection of passes for the Cineworld screenings, including all six films for £24 (£20 for students).


A 60-Minute Short Film Showcase and feature film double bill at The Nottingham Arts Theatre can be purchased for just £7.50


For all ticket options and offer click here: http://www.nottiff.com/tickets-and-passes/

For more details please visit http://www.nottiff.com


Full Line-Up below:


Ballad of a Righteous Merchant

HERBERT GOLDER / UNITED STATES / 63 MINUTES / ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Starring: Werner Herzog, Michael Shannon, Chloë Sevigny, Willem Dafoe

Playing at 4pm on Sunday 11th November at Cineworld Nottingham


Opening Night Shorts

A selection of short films from around the world with stars Billy Bob Thornton, Stephen Graham and Alfred Molina in the linuep.

Playing at 6:30PM on 11TH November, Cineworld


Octav

SERGE IOAN CELEBIDACHI / ROMANIA / 100 MINUTES / ROMANIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Starring: Marcel Iures, Victor Rebengiuc, Lia Bugnar

Playing at 6pm on Monday 12th November at Cineworld Nottingham


My Year with Helen

GAYLENE PRESTON / NEW ZEALAND / 93 MINUTES / ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Starring: Helen Clark

Playing at 8:30pm on Monday 12th November at Cineworld Nottingham


Behind the Mirror

DIETMAR GAMPER, LINDA ROEHL / ITALY / 73 MINUTES / GERMAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Starring: Hanna Weithaler, Veronika Pircher, Walter Tribus

Includes Tuesday Night Short Film Showcase

Playing at 7PM on Tuesday 13th November at the Nottingham Arts Theatre


Phantompain

ANDREAS OLENBERG / GERMANY / 98 MINUTES / GERMAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Starring: Daniel Littau, Sven Martinek, Jessica Boehrs

Includes Wednesday Night Short Film Showcase

Playing at 7PM on Wednesday 14th November 7PM at the Nottingham Arts Theatre


You Can’t Say No

PAUL KRAMER / UNITED STATES / 91 MINUTES / ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Starring: Marguerite Moreau, Annie Monroe, Peter Fonda

Playing at 6pm on Thursday 15th November at Cineworld Nottingham


When The Storm Fades

SEAN DEVLIN / CANADA / 81 MINUTES / ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Starring: Kayla Lorette, Ryan Beil

Includes Thursday Night Short Film Showcase

Playing at 7PM on Thursday 15th November at the Nottingham Arts Theatre


Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies

AMANDA LADD-JONES / UNITED STATES / 84 MINUTES / ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Starring: Alan Ladd Jnr, Morgan Freeman, Ridley Scott, Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver

Playing at 8:30pm on Thursday 15th November at Cineworld Nottingham

By midlandsmovies, Sep 24 2018 11:23AM



“OCD: Can You Hear It Too?”


Directed by Laura Ray


A new short documentary surrounding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) comes from Birmingham-born director Laura Ray in “OCD: Can You Hear It Too?” which aims to spread the awareness of this mental illness in the hope to help others across the UK who are suffering in silence.


Laura Ray began directing plays and writing scripts from a very young age, until finally making it her ambition to make a full time career in the future as an aspiring screenwriter. But for nearly 4 years, she has also been trying to educate herself during her own battle with OCD.


Contemplating why she thought the way she did and why she acted in particular ways, Laura approached her film by trying to find other sufferers willing to speak about their experiences.


“I wasn’t there to be in control of it”, explains one sufferer as the film breaks down the various ways OCD can take hold of a person’s life. The film uses interviews to explore the multiple facets of people’s daily lives and even how the beginnings of OCD can start at a young age.


Another person, quoted only as Jess and silhouetted in the dark, shows how sufferers even want to hide what they perceive as a sometimes shameful issue, despite films like Laura’s which attempt to highlight that they need not suffer in silence.


The film also draws attention to the “completely insane” actions (as one person describes it) but the utter awful inability to be able to stop.


Panic. Poison. 24/7. Therapy. False memories. The complexity of OCD is explained by those experiencing the condition and Laura Ray simply lets those in the talking heads sections speak for themselves. With little intervention from the filmmaker, this makes their plight all the more relatable.


The film also depicts how managing to live with the day to day consequences is sometimes the best sufferers can expect. And despite therapy sessions, and even medication, those with OCD take small steps to alleviate their frustrations.


Going further, Laura Ray doesn’t plan for this to be her last OCD documentary either. By next year she aims to create an even deeper, honest account of OCD but this time through the eyes of the people surrounding the person suffering.


But by showing the options for support – friends, doctors, online forums – we see the strength of her current documentary. It provides a tangible plan of action and suggests that by joining a group to share experiences can be incredibly useful.


“Even at your lowest point. It does get easier”. A tender and sympathetic portrayal, Can You Hear It Too doesn’t break any documentary genre tropes but its simple delivery helps make the complex and sensitive issues understandable for any audience.


Mike Sales



By midlandsmovies, Jul 16 2018 10:19AM



Dark Days


Directed by Daryl Grizzle


A Grizzle and Steele Film


We open on a regular street as a lady leaves her suburban house to stretch before going for a run but there’s nothing regular about this new film from West Midlands director Daryl Grizzle.


As we track her in the park jogging, seemingly enjoying a pastime passion, the film uses narration to explain to the audience how difficult life is living with a mental illness.


Having previously created short film Bless You, which we saw at Leicester’s Short Cinema festival in 2017, the director here provides a portrait of a dark personal journey. With sequences of narration delivered direct to camera in small interview-style segments the film doesn’t sugar-coat the awful aftermaths of actions like self-harm and explores the difficulties of living with depression and its stigma in today’s society.


The film stars Jade Samuels as the protagonist who, as is explained in a coda at the film’s end, is actually performing a recreation of a real interview conducted in 2017. An interesting concept for sure but for me I would have preferred for this context to be given at the start of the film in order for the real truths to hit home from the beginning.


Our protagonist’s testimony continues as the tragic consequences of deep cuts that require stitches, and sometimes even surgery, are explained and delivered by Samuels in an honest portrayal throughout.



A bit more creative flair would set the film apart from the crowd as although the technical elements were first class - especially the park-based tracking shots, the serious themes were slightly undermined with a standard mix of handheld camera work in her house and some VERY long shots which pushed away from the much-needed intimacy.


However, the few minor flaws don’t distract from the story as a whole and we are told how she joins an athletics club before acts of divorcing parents and changing schools became a trigger during a difficult period.


Add to this peer pressure, bullying and name calling and we discover she gives up her hobby which is recounted as the thing that made her most happy. With some solitary bathroom shots there was also a small echo of recent local film HIM (click here) which covers similar subject matter and is worth seeking out as well.


The film is good at leaving some threads open to interpretation however and questions how these childhood events shape and sometimes control us.


And with the disease of depression becoming more fully understood by society as a whole, it is admirable that this film shines a light on a real victim and the very truthful troubles they have been through.


More of a monologue than a full exploration, Dark Days does hold on to the thought that although a positive outlook will not cure the struggles faced by sufferers, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. Leaving the audience then with a message that sufferer’s journeys will be a marathon and not a sprint, it successfully focuses on how understanding and awareness will help guide people’s efforts in the right direction.


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Jul 11 2018 02:00AM

Quite simply, here is our ongoing and updated list of Film Festivals in the Midlands (2018 edition):


• THE SHORT CINEMA http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk info@theshortcinema.co.uk Phoenix, Leicester - August 20 – 25, 2018


• NOTTINGHAM MICRO FILM FESTIVAL Twitter @FilmNottingham http://www.nimfestival.com/ 8-10 March 2018


• INDIE-LINCS - March 15-18 2018 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 16 -22 2018


• LEICESTER DOCFILM FEST https://twitter.com/docfilmfestival Contact John Coster November 2018


• BORDERLINES FEST http://www.borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk UK's largest rural film festival. Herefordshire/Shropshire - 23rd February - 11th March 2018


• BIRMINGHAM FILM FEST - November 22 – 25 2018 https://filmfreeway.com/festival/Birminghamfilmfestival


• BIFF FEST (Black International Film Fest) https://www.biffestival.co.uk 2018 dates TBC


• SHOCK AND GORE FESTIVAL http://www.shockandgore.co.uk The Electric Cinema in Birmingham, July. Contact david@theelectric.co.uk or https://twitter.com/shockgore July 27 to Aug 5 2018


• DEAFFEST http://www.deaffest.co.uk The UK's International Deaf Film & Arts Festival Wolverhampton. Contact info@light-house.co.uk Friday 17th to Sunday 19th May 2019


• THE UK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL LEICESTER - http://tonguesonfire.com/ 15 March - 31 March 2018


• SHOUT FESTIVAL http://shoutfestival.co.uk Birmingham Dates TBC for 2018


• DERBY FILM FESTIVAL http://www.derbyfilmfestival.co.uk 4th - 13th MAY 2018


• 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 11 October - 14 October 2018


• FLATPACK FEST - Birmingham, UK. http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk 13 - 22 April 2018


• EAST ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL http://www.eastwindsfilmfest.com May 2018


• BEESTON FILM FESTIVAL - https://twitter.com/BeestonFilm 8th - 11th March 2018


• SHROPSHIRE RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL http://www.rainbowfilmfestival.org.uk/midlands-zone 5th - 7th October 2018


• GRINDHOUSE PLANET - www.grindhouseplanet.com November 2018 TBC


* BOTTLESMOKE FILM FESTIVAL - https://www.facebook.com/BottleSmokeStoke Stoke on Trent, 8th - 9th September 2018


* POCKET FILM FESTIVAL (Unseen cinema) http://www.unseencinema.co.uk/pocket-film-festival-2018/ Stafford 12-17 March 2018


* BIRMINGHAM HORROR GROUP - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/birmingham-horror-group-mini-movie-marathon-25-march-2018-tickets-41683231668 Mini-Movie Marathon Mini-Movie 25 March 2018


* SHROPSHIRE'S FIRST WORLD WAR FILM FESTIVAL https://twitter.com/wilfredowen100 8th October to 23rd November 2018


* THE BRAVE BLACK BIRD FILM FEST Wolverhampton https://ajayhackett2113.wixsite.com/bbff Wolverhampton 25th Feb 2019 (submissions until July 2018)


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


* NOTTINGHAM FILM FESTIVAL Hothouse Theatre Nottingham https://twitter.com/NottmFilmFest 8th July 2018


* THE VENUE LINCOLN FILM FESTIVAL Lincolnshire https://www.thevenuelincoln.co.uk 6th - 8th July 2018


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


* THE TELFORD FILM FESTIVAL Telford & Wrekin - various venues across Telford as part of the twon's 50th anniversary http://www.telford50.co.uk/filmfestival 14th September to 31st October 2018


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 10 2018 08:51AM

12 Underrated films that may have passed you by since 2010


Despite your huge collection of DVDs, BluRays, boxsets, collector’s editions and streaming services, have you ever found yourself staring into space struggling to find a film to watch? With so many options available at just a touch of a button, the choice can be overwhelming. However, we’re going to provide a friendly list for your viewing pleasure as we showcase a dozen great films from the last few years that may have slipped under your radar.


Whether it be quirky documentaries, underground sci-fi or a splash of comedy, we have something for you. Take a read of the list below of our highly recommended, but often little-seen, movies – especially if you’re in the mood for something different to the usual multiplex blockbusters or critics’ darlings. And hit us up on Twitter @midlandsmovies with some of your own suggestions!




Coherence (2014) Dir. James Ward Byrkit

Written and directed by James Ward Byrkit this is an 89 minute thrilling sci-fi mystery set at a suburban USA dinner party that pulls at the audience’s emotions and brainstems equally. The film sets up a dinner meal and after discussion of a passing comet, the electricity goes off and the group explore their neighbourhood which leads to a mysterious occurance.. To say too much would be to spoil the surprise but with a similar tone to the low budget film Primer (2004) as well as the confusing and twisting narrative of Triangle (2009) the handheld realism leads to a brilliantly constructed film that demands a second viewing in order to fully appreciate the looping plot.



Stoker (2013) Dir. Park Chan-wook

A tense psychological thriller from the director who gave us OldBoy, Stoker again covers dark family secrets and was written surprisingly by Wentworth Miller of Prison Break. Avoiding any happy ever after clichés, the film has sinister fairy tale imagery from wooded copses, creepy spiders and phallic rocks to heighten the Hitchcockian themes of betrayal, deception and revenge. A trio of Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman, bring strangely winning performances in a social drama with a mythic quality. A far-fetched but fascinating fable.




Tim’s Vermeer (2014) Dir. Teller

Directed by stage magician Teller, this documentary gives us a portrait of Tim Jenison, a man who spends 5 years testing his theory which proposes how Renaissance Dutchman Johannes Vermeer possibly used optical instruments to help create such realistic paintings. A friend of Teller’s magician partner Penn Jillette, Tim comes across as a barmy garage-style bonkers scientist who has worked with computer graphics but has no formal artistic training. In his quest to be authentic, Tim also learns to use traditional methods to render not just the painting he admires but the entire room. The doc constructs a brilliant study of one man’s drive and his crazy courage to complete his personal canvas.




Frank (2014) Dir. Lenny Abrahamson

Based on the idiosyncratic UK comedic stylings of Frank Sidebottom, this movie is a fictionalised account of an eccentric musician trying to find his calling in life. The musical journey is seen through the eyes of Jon (a brilliantly naive Domhnall Gleeson) who leaves his humdrum life to work on an album of bizarre instrumentations and unusual compositions. The lead singer Frank (Michael Fassbender) persistently wears an over-sized homemade head and the film follows the erratic interactions and odd relationships between band members. Fassbender delivers a virtuoso performance as the comical yet infectious front man trying to connect with world he’s closed himself off to in a screwball study of creativity and mental hindrances.




White Bird in a Blizzard (2015) Dir. Gregg Araki

Set in a well-designed 80s of big hair, big phones and bigger boom boxes, the film follows the disappearance of unhappy mother Eve Connor (Eva Green) with flashbacks punctuating the modern day narrative strands to show her daughter Kat (Shailene Woodley) as she explains her drunken mother’s loveless marriage. The film may seem like Gone Girl-lite but its mysterious take on small-town life has echoes of American Beauty with its voiceovers, repressed fathers and dinner table silences. The comparisons continue with a sexless marriage and blossoming sexualised teenagers. The movie bounces easily between cold relationships to seduction secrets to create a winning formula of nosey next-door neighbours and night time naughtiness.




Snowpiercer (2014) Dir. Bong Joon-ho

All aboard for this South Korean/USA action film which tells the story of Curtis, a rebel on a fascist train that encircles the globe now that mankind has caused an accidental ice age. The snow train is a prison with the poor and destitute forced to live in squalor at the tail end whilst the rich live like royalty near the locomotive’s front. Curtis (a bearded Chris Evans) teams up with Edgar (Jamie Bell) and Tanya (Octavia Spencer) to overthrow the guards and with Tilda Swinton as a norther- accented minister with a nasty sadistic side, the movie is an original take on a tested formula. Joon-ho delivers the appropriate amount of fist fights and combines this with his artistic Eastern outlook with some inventive Hollywood-style smack downs. Although the premise is absurd, the audience will be pulled along for the wintery ride enjoying the emotional tracks the director lays out for us.




Joe (2014) Dir. David Gordon Green

After a glut of awful b-movie films, Nic Cage gets to tackle headier material by playing a violent loner in the Deep South where he stars as father figure to Tye Sheridan. We get a sizzling slice of Southern life played out amongst rural blue collar workers who turn to violence whilst trying to maintain their dysfunctional family dynamics. Alongside Cage’s muted dramatic chops and the rusty trucks, the two play out a tragic and cruel drama. The director elicits a cornucopia of emotions as we witness passionate kindred bonding and drunken falling. Cage is perfectly suited to the grizzled everyman and shows why he is still a watchable performer given the right material.




Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014) Dir. Mark Hartley

Following Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus who in the 1980s bought low-budget scripts to make even lower budget films, this documentary explores the ups and downs of the schlock movie business. Remembered for low budget action “classics” such as the Death Wish franchise as well as Delta Force, the film actually exposes some of the creative risks (but with little money) the cousins took as they tried to reflect, and sometimes create, the trends and fashions of the day. They made entertaining, amusing yet ultimately quite dreadful films but despite the low-low budgets, their productions focus on a sense of fun and the film provides a comedic look on how not to run a studio.




Love & Mercy (2015) Dir. Bill Pohlad

This biographical drama follows the life of Brian Wilson during the height of the Beach Boys’ fame in the 60s and his turbulent later years in the 80s where a confused Wilson deals with controlling advisors. The swinging section has a brilliant Paul Dano focusing on his song-writing whilst in the 80s, Cusack plays a more vulnerable Wilson who gets around with his new wife Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) and Paul Giamatti’s creepy psychotherapist. The Beach Boys’ music punctuates the film as Dano discovers his genius pop-hits and Cusack’s understatement is the flipside of Wilson’s fractured subconscious. Experimental in narrative, the film focuses on the brilliant brain of Brian through 2 different actors in a perfect portrayal of the mastermind musician.




Grand Piano (2014) Dir. Eugenio Mira

In the vein of Buried and Phone Booth Grand Piano is a taught ‘one-location’ thriller where a returning pianist protégé Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is threatened with murder during his comeback concert. An assassin promises to shoot him if he gets just one note wrong in his performance and the tension rises as a sniper’s laser sight passes over his sheet music. The pianist comes to terms that both he and his wife in the audience are at the hands of this man as he desperately tries to figure a way out using coded messages to escape with his life. A fast rhythm ratchets up the stakes using creative editing, along with a fantastic score coming from Frodo’s fingers himself. Any low-budget limitations are set aside as Grand Piano plays to its strengths like a fine composer.




As Above So Below (2014) Dir. John Erick Dowdle

Academic Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) delves into the catacombs under Paris in a found footage horror as she and her cohorts look for the philosopher’s stone, a powerful but possibly cursed historical relic. The jumps, scares and the Descent-style claustrophobia come across in every frame with the cast filming in the real caves and stone corridors under the City of Light. With a shadowy sense of foreboding around every corridor twist and turn, the concept is as old as the hills but the ancient caves contain enough no-frills shocks for a Saturday night scare-fest.




Life Itself (2014) Dir. Steve James

From the director of the Oscar nominated documentary Hoop Dreams comes this film based upon legendary film critic Roger Ebert's 2011 memoir of the same name. From his humble beginnings as a film critic through to the co-writing of the cult film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, the film covers the major points of his life using interviews and archive footage as well as excerpts from his infamous show with Gene Siskel. A powerful but humorous writer, Ebert not only scored a Pulitzer for his work, he also helped elevate film criticism and established himself as the foremost authority on the subject. The doc later moves to Ebert’s hard fought struggle with illness but show how great his outlook was, not just through his career around the movies, but as a mantra for life itself.


Midlands Movies Mike


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