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By midlandsmovies, Jun 16 2018 08:21AM



Songbird (2018)


Directed by Sophie Black


Written by Tommy Draper

Produced by Laura C. Cann.

Triskelle Pictures


Starring Janet Devlin (from ITV’s The X Factor), Songbird is an enchanting new short following a female singer who encounters a wicked stranger set on stealing her talents.


A folktale that jumps swiftly between reality and fantasy Songbird comes from Nottingham filmmaker Sophie Black and her Triskelle Production company who has already seen success with the 2016 film Night Owls.


With a feathery familiarity, here our red-headed heroine is Jennifer (played with a subtle vulnerability by Devlin) who is dropped off near a forest at the film's beginning. But as she holds up a writing board which says “Thanks for the ride”, we get the impression that all is not as it seems in the woods today.


Heading into the countryside, the eerie sounds are well edited as the crunch of leaves by Converse-wearing feet introduces us to the tone of the film which mixes a modern hipster vibe with fairy tale folklore.


Cutting to 3 weeks earlier at an open mic in a local café, a chattering and chirping audience isn’t paying a great deal of attention as Jennifer plays a soft rhyming ballad with her acoustic guitar. A wonderland of poetical lyrics sends us down an aural rabbit hole complimented by Black’s potent cinematography with its dreamy visuals and hazy glow.


As the audience warms to her soaring vocals we cut to a set of crusty finger nails drumming on the bar to reveal an evil dark-eyed woman. Whilst Jennifer is spotted by a local producer, all looks well but she is soon confronted by the ominous lady in an alley outside the venue. As a strange powder is blown over her by the old crone she awakens at home, yet an uncomfortable phone call reveals her inability to speak. Black invites the audience to ask if this is a medical condition, but a visit to the doctor finds nothing wrong and her frustration kicks in with her vocal wings wholly clipped.


However, a handwritten book of spells and rune symbols is discovered and we are migrated back to the film’s opening as Jennifer begins collecting frogs and mushrooms to concoct a potion that perhaps can release her from this spell.


Black alludes to well-known fairy-tale myth from Sleeping Beauty - as Jennifer passes out - to Devlin’s auburn hair which plays to the imagery of Little Red Riding Hood’s adventures in the woods. As well as this, Therese Collins is excellent as a classic villain keeping her victim in a state of bondage with her incantations. She mixes a dash of Helena Bonham Carter witchcraft with fellow vocal-thief Ursula from The Little Mermaid as she incubates her stolen voices in jars amongst the trees.


2018 has had a fair share of similar cinematic encounters with fantasy voices, from the silent creature in Guillermo Del Toro’s aquatic fable The Shape of Water, as well as Duncan Jones’ Mute. Black tackles some parallel themes using well-shot special effects, gothic make-up and a superb choral score at its conclusion to deliver a bittersweet fairy tale.


Like all good fairy tales though, the film could be interpreted with having a number of symbolic undertones including an allegory of stage fright. As a musician myself, the fear of losing one’s voice can be difficult to swallow and here the film showcases a strong female trapped in a cage of insecurities.


Songbird is a tremendous short that shows the importance of voices and how they can truly transform and heal when you are filled with doubts and a lack of confidence. Sophie Black demonstrates a skill for the craft of filmmaking and, others take note, has created an artistic short with a raft of narrative to keep an audience captivated. With a selection of thematic and emotional beats, Songbird therefore takes flight with a magical trip from the mic stand to wonderland.


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Jun 14 2018 12:58PM



New film You Are My Sunshine, which will be filmed and produced in and around the Midlands this summer, is launching a new crowd-funding campaign for their upcoming LGBTQ drama.


Written and directed by award winning filmmaker Dave Hastings, and produced by award winners Troy Dennison and Kaush Patel, You Are My Sunshine promises to be a heartfelt look at two extraordinary lives wanting nothing more than to be together against hostility and prejudice.


Set across two decades, Sunshine tells the story of Tom and Joe, who first meet in the 1970s, a time when homosexuality is still deemed immoral and wrong. As the two youngsters try and navigate their way through an uncompromising time in history, their modern day counterparts also have to deal with the repercussions of their early lives when events take a turn and families collide once more.


Looking for help to tell their stories, their filmmakers’ campaign launches with an aim to raise funding for locations, make up effects, transport as well as other considerations such as food and insurance.


Much of the cast have already been secured including Steve Salt who will be playing the younger version of Tom, while Jack Knight will be the younger version of Joe, Martin’s son. Both are from the Midlands and studying drama in London and they are joined by Charlie Clarke, Charles O’Neill and Rosemary Manjunath.


Director Dave Hastings comments, "This is an important story to tell now more than ever. Especially when we are again seeing a rise in homophobic crimes around the world, which in itself is sickening. Sunshine shows that while in the face of tough adversity, whatever your sexual preference, there is never anything wrong with falling in love with someone of the same gender”.


Producer Troy Dennison elaborates; "while the film presents hope, it never shies away from showing the ugly side of these discussions, with the script showing how in the 1970s, even when we had the first Pride in the UK, attitudes were still very difficult, and were strong enough to rip whole families apart, an event that could take decades to heal, while in other cases, not even being repaired at all, leaving some members of the LGBTQ community vulnerable and separated by their families forever".


The filmmakers first feature collaboration was Checking In” (see MM review here) which told five stories all set over the course of a 24hr day in a hotel. The film was screened in London, was featured on BBC Midlands News, and eventually went on to WIN BEST BRITISH FILM at the 2014 London Film Awards. The film was made on a budget of £2,000.


And their Hammer horror inspired second film entitled The House of Screaming Death won Best Feature at the 2018 Midlands Movie Awards.


“We are very passionate about filmmaking and doing the absolute best we can with what limited resources we have. But we believe this just makes us more creative on set and how we develop not only ourselves but the movies we make”.


To make a pledge please check out the Indiegogo Campaign by clicking here


For more info please head over to their official website: www.lightbeamproductions.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


By midlandsmovies, Jun 2 2018 07:55AM



Eviction (2018)


Directed by Lewis Clements


When it came to creating his final piece of work for his university course, Lewis Clements decided to create a short film - his second following a debut project that screened at a number of festivals around the US and Canada.


Eviction follows Nigel Grimshaw and Luke Fox, two debt collectors who go about their day-to-day business, which quite often involves evicting tenants who cannot afford to pay their dues. However, little do they know that they are soon to evict a tenant with a very dark past.


The film was inspired by the TV series, 'Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away!', which follows a group of the country’s most experienced High Court sheriffs as they travel around enforcing writs and repossessing whatever they have to in order to pay off the debts that people have built up. After seeing this show, Clement thought it would be interesting to turn the tables and have the tenant turn on the debt collector.


Eviction makes you think on a few different levels. First, there were a lot of red herrings thrown into the mix throughout the film that made you expect the story would head in one direction one second, but it soon actually goes elsewhere. I liked this element and whilst I won't spoil the film, there are parts that hint at the end-game for the film. Ultimately it's best I say no more as if you know this I don’t think you can quite appreciate some of the other moments and how effective they really are at throwing you off the scent.


Eviction also makes the audience seriously consider the people who actually do this job. When we watch shows like Can’t Pay, I don’t think it's really considered about the potential repercussions some evictions carry with them. Quite often people are forced to think about those who get evicted from their homes, but the guys who just have to do this job don’t ever seem to get spared a second thought, at least I haven’t done so on the occasions I’ve watched.


So the film becomes a thought provoking piece that makes you take a minute to take stock of how these things affect the day to day lives of everyone involved, and it’s always a powerful thing when a short can achieve that.


The film did a good job of portraying the debt collectors here as real people with real problems, which is easy to forget when you see them evicting tenants from their homes. In this case, the character of Nigel was massively humanised, and didn’t particularly enjoy his job, but was doing it simply because he had bills to pay. Again, in terms of defending these enforcers, it’s an important thing to bear in mind what their personal circumstances are.


Clements made the decision to set the atmosphere for this film using grime music (I hope that’s right anyway), and I think it was the perfect backdrop given the subject matter being dealt with. When you look at the history of grime, there are some major similarities to some of the themes in this film, and seeing as Clements wanted to ensure that the project had a super British film in order to properly celebrate cinema in this country, I think it was a perfect fit.


All in all, Eviction is a film that really makes you take in the bigger picture surrounding a very interesting subject. There are a lot of elements that it makes you seriously consider, and whilst having some pretty dark themes, it does manage to remain entertaining through the changes of pace and direction that happen almost constantly throughout. Definitely worth a gander if you’ve got the time to spare.


Kira Comerford

Twitter @FilmAndTV101


By midlandsmovies, Jun 1 2018 12:23PM



Him (2018)


Directed by Scott Driver


4am Pictures


Scott Driver returns after the success of his Midlands Movies Awards nominated film Restroom (our MM review here) with a new short drama called Him.


The 6-minute film opens on the slow running of water in a bathroom as we are shown a man (Michael Muyunda as Daniel) showing signs of stress as he rubs his neck in apparent frustration.


The audience soon hear two voices as Daniel stares into the bathroom mirror and as he begins to undress, a voice asks, “Why are you here Daniel?” and he immerses himself into a full bath.


His response to his this conscience-like voice is simply “I don’t know”, suggesting a conflicted man struggling with his demons. The director uses long deliberate shots to slowly create an atmosphere of anxiety and as Daniel takes a deep breath – we inhale at the concerns about to unfold along with him.


We hear the words “don’t forget me” which hints upon a terrible act to unfold and director Driver shows Daniel rifle through the bathroom cabinet in a frenzy. It is here that the shocking revelation we are witnessing a possible suicide becomes apparent and no punches are pulled with the inclusion of an upsetting shot of a razor blade drawing blood from a forearm.


Sweat, tears and spit pour from Daniel, who seems reticent but genuinely anguished, before he dives head first into the water of the bath. Here the film uses the bathroom as a place of male privacy. But it’s also a representation of cruel cold isolation. With suicide currently the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50 across the UK, Him tackles this dilemma head on.


Between 70-75% of all suicides across the UK are by men and the social and clinical dangers are not clear cut but the film suggests that silence and solitude are observable factors as people become increasingly fragile. The impressive buzzing atonal sounds from composer Erick McNerney also builds a suitable menace without overplaying or oversimplifying the real terror.


From The Shining to Psycho the bathroom has often been presented as a place of disturbing death but unlike the horror genre splatters, this film avoids clichés with a disturbing drama that presents a more harsh authenticity.


As the film cuts to a family dinner, the filmmaker plays with time and space as we ask ourselves if this scene is leading up to the events or set afterwards. With small talk of work and school we soon discover it is afterwards as Daniel’s partner questions how his day has gone. His unconvincing response “It’s been good” leads us to a final shot framed by a window that gives us a glimpse into his troublesome and lonely world.


A short sharp shock of a film, Him has a fantastic central performance from Michael Muyunda who channels a complicated and despondent character with nuance and sensitivity. Feeling like a subject matter that is close to the director’s heart, Him ends up being a superb dark study of despondent males who are still hiding their individual anxieties from the world, and loved ones, around them.


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, May 27 2018 07:23AM



Winchester (2018) Dir. Michael and Peter Spierig


Oh Spierig brothers, what happened, guys? 2009 saw their breakthrough hit Daybreakers take an interesting angle on the vampire genre where humans are farmed for their blood whilst Willem Defoe and Ethan Hawke discover a possible cure.


After that came the phenomenal sci-fi short-story adaptation Predestination; a film which presented a twisting time-travel narrative with Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook and whose clever premise made it our 4th best film of 2015.


Snook is back in their latest movie along with Helen Mirren as heiress Sarah Winchester. The lady of the house is haunted by spirits in her turn of the century mansion. Also along for the (dull) ride is Jason Clarke as Eric Price, a doctor who is sent to diagnose her mental state of mind by the gun company she lends her name to.


Based on the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, a real location claimed by many to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles to this day, the scares, if you can call them that, begin early. But don’t expect the slow build up needed for these kind of films. Atmosphere? Absolutely nowhere to be seen. Tension? You wish!


Quiet, quiet, quiet then BOOM, a pale looking ghost appears. If that's your thing then fill your boots but for the rest of us that technique is lifeless and predictable.


The endless jump scares and pre-emptive musical stings remove any mood the film was attempting to create and despite some good costume and set design cannot overcome its complete lack of horror in a supposedly horror film.


Unengaging and unsatisfying, the brilliant Helen Mirren sadly fails to bring her gravitas and talent to the one-dimensional character and hackneyed haunted house plot. Lazy, seen-it-all-before jump sequences (oh look, a ghost appears in a moving mirror) and boring corridor explorations make Winchester’s narrative as meandering as the layout of the mansion itself.


Hugely disappointing, the Speirigs previously delivered two exciting genre hits focusing on character, story and interesting themes but with Winchester (and their franchise failure Jigsaw) their career is heading downward in the wrong direction. A lack of true shocks, a boring narrative and scene after scene of dull exposition, not even the talented actors can raise this flop from the dead.


4/10


Midlands Movies Mike



By midlandsmovies, May 26 2018 09:40AM



Martin Sharpe Is Sorry


Directed by Lee Tomes & Daley Francis


Bang Average Films (2018)


“Two Academy Award Nominations. Too many allegations...”


This new 3-minute short comes from Midlands filmmakers Bang Average Films who previously impressed us with their comedy film Careering earlier this year.


They take a sharp turn here with a far more multi-layered drama about sexual harassment in the media which marks a stark contrast between their previous light-hearted effort and the serious subject matter we see here.


The short begins with a man (Dean Kilbey as actor Martin Sharpe) inside a hotel room staring blankly as he hears news reports about a famous man accused of sexual misconduct.


We are quickly to assume that this coverage is about him and this is confirmed as his PR agent starts to discuss with him the various options to mitigate the issues. With the #MeToo movement raising awareness in real life, the film approaches this difficult topic head on but throws in some controversial perspectives as well.


The strangely brown colour palette mutes some of the harsher themes at play and the film takes further risks with a rather comedic performance from Helen Lewis as Jane. This was an interesting direction to take and didn’t entirely work for me but at around the half way point there is a particular shift into more a more sombre and dark tone.


As she proposes the different options to the star including a non-confirming announcement that his judgment was impaired, Martin asks, “when did everything change?” Of another time, the film asks the audience to question how modern values have shifted from more previous “acceptable” times of the past. Combined with his protestations of innocence one could even suggest the film creates a tiny amount of sympathy.


However, this is dashed immediately as it contrasts with Martin’s statement, “I used to do anything I wanted” further complicating the issue and setting the audience in opposition to his big-headed arrogance.


As they work through which PR route to take – interviews, charity donations – the aforementioned tonal change occurs when Jane raises the subject of “aggressive allegations”. Jane’s previously jovial demeanour rotates 180 degrees with her acute question, capturing Martin off guard.


Martin’s “tart’s pants” comment continues to play with the audience’s mind whereby his adamant denial conflicts with his dismissive sexism and chauvinism.


Is it defending an innocent man’s accusations with a comment on witch-hunting and principles from another time? Or is it taking a moral standpoint that with clever media and PR you can spin these genuine victim claims into gossip and hearsay?


Well, the film leaves the audience to decide somewhat and a final shot of Martin entering a lift is juxtaposed with a raft of voices spinning through his mind with more (and multiple) accusations.


Tackling difficult themes, Martin Sharpe Is Sorry is not entirely successful with an uneven tone but its script and performances will make audiences contemplate the problematic subject matter in a world of spin and soundbites. But make no mistake, you’ll be thinking about the issues it raises far beyond the confines of its short runtime.


Midlands Movies Mike


Watch the full short below:






By midlandsmovies, May 23 2018 06:58PM



Downsizing (2018) Dir. Alexander Payne


This high-concept sci-fi drama seems to live in the same strange world as Ricky Gervais’ The Invention of Lying. By that, it’s set in a normal world yet with one very odd conceit – in this film it’s the ability to shrink people.


Yes, that's right, just like Honey I Shrunk the Kids! Unfortunately, like Gervais’ “clever” attempt, Downsizing’s tone is all over the place and the director appears to be delivering a sermon on poverty issues when the set-up is pure Ben Stiller territory.


The film was a box office bomb and it’s easy to see why. Story-wise, the earth’s resources are becoming increasingly limited and a scientist discovers a way of shrinking humans in order to make the most of what is left. People who go ahead with the procedure end up increasing the value of their money, so one particular couple, Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig, decide to take the plunge. However, she drops out at the last minute and we see Damon reflecting on his ‘big’ decision on his own.


Here we get the first mismatch as the film jumps from sequence to sequence in scenes that are a total tonal mismatch. These range from set-ups that play out like Willy Wonka’s Mike TV to a story that unfolds amongst poverty and health issues. Matt Damon (as always) is the likeable everyman whilst Jason Sudeikis (as always) is the self-centred “friend” and before long we find that the gap between rich and poor still exist as Damon visits impoverished slums.


Hong Chau plays a Vietnamese political prisoner who is shrunk against her will and does well with the awkward tone. Yet she is so wasted in the film in many respects. Damon’s unhappy American is far less interesting than Chau’s activist whose background sounds so much more intriguing.


As the film begins to explore themes of environmentalism through gorgeous shots of Norway, the film’s lightweight tone gives way to headier concepts and is all the worse because of it.


An incredibly strange film, almost nothing in Downsizing works together but individual scenes highlight the story that could/should have been told. Neither funny or satirical enough, it takes itself far too seriously and ends up being an honourable curio at best.


5.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike


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