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By midlandsmovies, Jul 26 2019 02:00PM

Movies shot in the Midlands

The Midlands with its mix of industrial cities and town centres and its swathes of picturesque countryside and regal-like manors and houses can provide film-makers with a wide range of locations for their shoots.

We take a look at some of the films that were made in the region and recommend that you go and check them out as most of these places are open to visitors too!

“Morning film fans - We'll be tweeting Midlands movie locations you can visit over the sunny weekend around the region...”

Cult classic The Princess Bride (1987) was shot on location at Haddon Hall #Derby which represented Humperdinck's Florin Castle in the film

#Jadoo (2013) is a comedy starring Harish Patel (from Run Fatboy Run) and filmed entirely in #Leicester @JadooMovie

Tom Hooper directed The Damned United (2009) with Michael Sheen as Brian Clough & Chesterfield FC stood in for Wembley in the film #Derby

Another football movie Goal 3 was filmed around the #Midlands including in #Nottingham and at #Leicester's King Power stadium

I visited Snake Pass, Kedleston #Derby few years ago which is in 2007's "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" http://t.co/mOablgizfM

Snake Pass was on way to Hadfield #Derby where I visited locale of The League of Gentlemen (2005 film from TV series) http://t.co/oswgfuV7Wj

The coastal marshes from Atonement (2007) are at Gedney Drove End, a beach on the Wash in #Lincolnshire #Midlands

The Upper Derwent Valley in #Derbyshire (the test area for the real raids) doubled as the Ruhr valley for the film The Dam Busters (1955)

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) when Snape arrives at ‘Malfoy Manor’ it is actually Hardwick Hall in #Derbyshire #Midlands

And last year, Midlands Movies visited @WollatonHall #Nottingham for @OutdoorFilm in this #DarkKnightRises get up http://t.co/7sjyMNNHQ8

Les Misérables (2013) depicted the family estate of Marius using Boughton House, Kettering in #Northampton #Midlands

The Italian Job (1969) - Although the entrance was filmed in Turin, the length of sewer used was a new pipe being installed in #Coventry

Jan De Bont's The Haunting (1999) was filmed both at Harlaxton Manor (Great Hall) in Grantham #Lincolnshire & at Belvoir Castle #Leicester

Felicia’s Journey (1999) - The rainy street scene and cinema exteriors in the Bob Hoskins movie were filmed in Station Street outside the Electric Cinema, where a plaque was later erected.

Thunderball (1965) used RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire for the film's Airforce base runway scene #Midlands #Lincolnshire

Bolsover's local pit fitting workshop and the Empire were used as locations for the film The Full Monty (1997) #Derby #Midlands

Four Feathers (2002) starring Heath Ledger was partly filmed at Burley House in Oakham #Leicestershire #Midlands

Goodbye Mr Chips (1939) had the exterior shots of Brookfield School filmed at Repton School near Burton #Derby #Midlands

Midlands director @ShadyMeadows 2002 Once Upon a Time in the Midlands starred Robert Carlyle and was set primarily in Carlton #Nottingham

The Old Bailey in Scandal (1989) is actually Shire Hall in High Pavement #Nottingham and stood in for the infamous courts during the movie

Nicholas Winding Refn filmed 2009's Bronson (Tom Hardy) around the St. Ann’s, Sherwood, Worksop & Welbeck Abbey areas of #Nottingham

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) starred Albert Finney and was shot at the Raleigh Bicycle factory in Radford #Nottingham

Shadowlands (1993): Among the locations used in the Anthony Hopkins movie were Hole-in-the- Wall, Capler Woods and historic Goodrich Castle.

#Leicester's Great Central Railway is a pivotal location in Buster (1988), Phil Collins’ Great Train Robbery movie and The Hours (2002)

Control (2000) about the life/death of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis was partly filmed in #Nottingham around places Curtis was known to frequent

Belvoir Castle #Leicester is home to the Duke of Rutland & seen in Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) + Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code #midlands

John Cleese 80s classic farce Clockwise had scenes filmed at Edward’s School, Edgbaston & Menzies High School in West Brom #midlands

Brassed Off (1996) actually saw the band play in #Birmingham Town Hall which stood in for the Royal Albert Hall in the movie #Midlands

Ralph and Cedric argue at "Windsor Castle" in King Ralph (1991) which starred John Goodman but it is actually great hall and state rooms of Warwick Castle, Warks.

#Derby hero Alan Bates starred in Women in Love ('69) which featured Kedleston Hall as his & Eleanor Bron’s house #midlands #film

#Derby's historic Chatsworth House was turned into Mr Darcy’s home “Pemberley” in Pride and Prejudice (2005) #midlands

Haddon Hall, Bakewell, was used as Hatfield House, Elizabeth (1997) & doubled as Thornfield Hall in Zeffirelli’s Jane Eyre (1996) #Midlands

The Da Vinci Code was partly filmed in Lincolnshire including Burghley House, Stamford and "Westminster Abbey" was in fact Lincoln Cathedral

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) by Justin Chadwick starred Scarlett Johansson & Natalie Portman as Mary Boleyn and sister Anne Boleyn. Parts of the film were shot in Dovedale, Cave Dale in Castleton and Haddon Hall, as well as at North Lees Hall.

"Thor's Cave, Manifold Valley, Staffordshire and the Peak District in Derby were both used for locations in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

I've saved the best until last - Top Secret! (1984) - Fleurgendorf prison exterior filmed at Rockingham Castle, Corby #Northamptonshire

Movies in the Midlands, Films in the Midlands, Films shot in the Midlands, Film Locations in the Midlands, Movie Locations in the Midlands, Midlands Movies, Midllands Films

By midlandsmovies, Jan 11 2018 12:02PM

The Disaster Artist (2017) Dir. James Franco

As an inexperienced filmmaker, actor, writer and director with over-reaching talent and delusions of grandeur in an attempt to be a master of all trades, James Franco sure does fit perfectly in playing fellow “visionary” Tommy Wiseau.

If you don’t already know, Tommy Wiseau is the writer/director/actor whose 2003 film The Room is regularly considered one of the worst films of all time. Based upon the book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, this adaptation is partly an Ed Wood portrait of a misunderstood genius and partly poking fun at the notorious flop with Tommy’s eccentricity taking centre stage.

For anyone who has seen The Room, the horrid acting, paper-thin sets, nonsensical plotting and endlessly quotable lines are all recognised part of its charm which saw it become a Rocky Horror Picture Show for a new generation. Midnight shows saw the film evolve into another interactive cult classic as crowds repeated its lines and brought in props to interact with during screenings.

Focusing on Tommy (James Franco) via a story framed from the viewpoint of the book’s author and fellow actor Greg Sistero (Dave Franco), the film is a slight look at the two’s fractured and strange relationship in their goal to become successful actors. James Franco tackles Wiseau’s oddball with enough ticks and hair-shaking as Tommy himself without being a pure impression yet strangely even Franco’s facial features have a genuinely uncanny resemblance to Wiseau.

Set in 1998’s San Francisco, Sestero meets Wiseau in acting classes and whilst the conventional teachers and students pour scorn on Wiseau’s peculiar take on the texts, a friendship is born and the two head to LA to pursue their acting dreams. As their efforts prove fruitless, Tommy decides to write and film his own screenplay and Greg reluctantly agrees to star.

From the outset the long script combined with a lack of business nous sees the dim duo buy the wrong equipment, build unneeded sets and audition (then sack) countless actors and crew. For “fans” of The Room (I admit I’ve seen it twice but both times with commentary - from Jaboody Dubs and Red Letter Media) the recreations of the locations, actors and scenes are spot on but if a film was made about Rocky Horror, you may simply wonder why you’re not watching the more fun original.

The Disaster Artist has flashes of genius but the story of the film’s making is simply on screen in the original. This film doesn’t enlighten you to the secrets of The Room as the bad decisions made and the sincerity of the film is already portrayed in The Room itself with its sheer god awfulness.

That said, the scenes are a suitable mix of multiple takes as Tommy forgets his lines as well as ridiculous overacting. And Seth Rogan as the director stares in awe at the garbage that’s playing out in front of him. Yet Rogen gets more laughs as a low-budget director in his similar role in “Zack & Miri”. As Wiseau’s “vision” slowly comes together the toils take their toll on the two friend’s bond and they stumble over the finish line before arranging a premier in Hollywood.

The reception and subsequent reassessment of the film is pure dramatic ‘retcon-ing’ with Tommy stating he intended to make people laugh all along, which I am sure is not the case in the slightest. But that’s part of Wiseau’s charm. Always looking for an angle to break into the “big time” he finally gets a real-life movie to do justice to his efforts and to also, hopefully, encourage more folk to watch his dreadful original.

In the end, James Franco is admittedly great as Wiseau but overall this film is “safe” to the point of humdrum as there’s neither a great in depth analysis of Tommy himself (his background is still unknown today) or a specific directorial style. Franco has stated The Disaster Artist was "a combination of Boogie Nights and The Master” which is pure Wiseau – overblown, hugely ambitious, outlandish and utterly not true.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Mar 25 2016 12:01PM

Derby Film Festival 2016

The third edition of Derby Film Festival arrives in just over a month with another exciting full festival line up for the region. From April 29th to May 8th Derby Quad will be bringing ten days of brilliant preview screenings and guest events as well hosting fantastic one-off events at Derby Cathedral and Derby Museum.

A small number of highlights are picked out below. Please take a look at the full festival line up on the website at: www.derbyfilmfestival.co.uk


Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) is a New York heiress who has a single dream, to become a famous opera singer, and is not going to let a small matter like her terrible voice stand in her way. Director Stephen Frears (Philomena, The Queen) brings a lightness of touch to this true life tale of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.


As part of this year's thematic strand of 'Journeys' the DFF present a screening of a classic romantic comedy. This screening takes place at Derby Museum where the exhibition Joseph Wright And The Lure Of Italy, running March 19th to June 12th, looks at a nation that has long been a place of artistic pilgrimage.


The atmospheric Derby Cathedral provides the setting for this timeless Cathedral film, famous for Lon Chaney’s classic performance as Quasimodo – the deaf, half-blind bellringer of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Live accompaniment for this special screening will be provided by Donald Mackenzie, organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square, who will be playing Derby Cathedral’s 1938 Compton organ.

MUSTANG (15) - PREVIEW Sun. 1st May 6:00pm & Mon. 2nd May 8:15pm

In a remote Turkish village Lale and her four sisters are walking home from school, playing innocently with some boys. Their conduct is viewed as scandalous by the village elders and they are confined to their home whilst their grandmother starts to arrange their marriages. The five girls, who share a common passion for freedom, resist and find new ways of asserting their independence. First time director Deniz Gamze Ergüven drew upon her own adolescent experiences for this much-lauded drama which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars.


Simon Callow made his cinema debut in 1984 in the critically acclaimed Oscar winner Amadeus. He was then BAFTA nominated for his role in A Room With A View and is now in the fourth decade of a hugely successful career that has taken in appearances in some very popular films including Four Weddings And A Funeral and Shakespeare In Love.

FANTASTIQ 6th May to 8th May

The Fantastiq Festival Of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror returns for Derby Film Festival's second weekend. This year's Fantastiq Guest Of Honour will be actress Barbara Shelley who became known as "The First Lady Of British Horror" in the 1960s after appearances in films including Dracula: Prince Of Darkness, Quatermass And The Pit and The Gorgon. Fantastiq will also feature fantastic retrospective screenings as well as previews of great genre movies including Intruders (15), The Call Up (15). Green Room (18).


Festival Pass: £80 - Allows entry to all events across the full ten days of the festival

Weekend Pass: £50 - Allows entry to all events at the festival Friday April 29th to (Bank Holiday) Monday May 2nd.

Fantastiq Pass: £50 - Allows entry to all Fantastiq and Derby Film Festival events Friday May 6th to Sunday May 8th

By midlandsmovies, Apr 18 2015 01:53PM

The life aquatic - The Hot Tub Cinema comes to the Midlands

Tub Tropicana Tour, Birmingham: Mean Girls (2004).

The original award winning Hot Tub Cinema events have landed in the Midlands this month with their unique brand of soothing bubbles, frothy suds and film screenings. Midlands Movies Editor, Mike Sales, took a group of film friends to this unique cinematic experience.

With a calendar of full events, the Hot Tub Cinema jumped on the social cinema scenes a few years back in a market that is exploding across the UK. They do not have a single permanent location but screen films in a variety of exciting spaces across the country as well as internationally. During summer they bravely venture to the UK outdoors (spaces included rooftops, courtyards, parks, etc) whilst for the colder seasons the company uses more sheltered indoor locations.

Strictly over 18s, we arrived for our showing at Boxxed in Digbeth, Birmingham, just 15 minutes from the city’s Bullring Shopping Centre. This art space with skylight was the perfect location to see the sun set as we were welcomed in by the friendly door staff. After explaining the set-up, we were shown to the changing area – a sparse gazebo split for men and women – but the service from the organisers was top notch. We were shown to the tub, helpfully (and securely) dropped off our bags and explained that tokens are bought to buy drinks – no wet money in the tub!

With our bags full of our swim-wear, towels, flip flops and a much needed plastic bag to take them home, we quickly changed, dropped off our bags and jumped in our allocated tub. Some of the hot tubs were already full (they can take up to 6 people) and with the light still coming in to the hall, it all seemed a bit sparse. However, these fears were quickly allayed as the sun set, the drinks flowed and the film began

With relaxation being the focus, the cinema has two large pop up screens on either side so no patrons have to turn around to view a single screen whilst the waiter service provided a brilliant way to get drinks delivered direct to your tub. They also provide a small covered bin for your towels and a table to rest your phone – you just need to make sure it’s waterproof!

With our drinks warming as we rested the bottom of the cups on the 39 degree water, the steam started to rise and the audience enjoyed the high school hijinx of the Lindsey Lohan’s finest hour.

Although some may find the thought of being half naked (and wet) with others their worst nightmare, Hot Tub Cinema have done everything to make the guests feel welcome. The choice of films are suitable with dramatic and serious films being put aside for more popular fare like the 80s classics of Pretty Woman and Top Gun, the music-based Grease & Rocky Horror Picture Show or the comedic Anchorman and The Hangover movie. Avoiding the traditional hot tub clichés of the weird sex hotel or seedy massage parlours, the cinema is more akin to a club with bar, neon lighting and, once the film was over, a DJ spinning some eclectic retro dance tunes.

The luxurious benefits of watching a film in a tub was a great experience – however you should be prepared to get hot. Very hot! After a while, a trip to the nearby bathroom – required for the amount of alcohol that was drunk – was as much needed to just cool down and give my dehydrated Yoda-skin wrinkled body a brief bit of respite as much as anything else.

But the fun was plain to see for those who were there. Laughs coming from each tub were equally from the comedy film we were all watching as well as the embarrassing “slips” and crazy body movements in the tub to find a suitable position. This was especially true, if like us, you had a 6ft 5 person in with you. But the atmosphere was certainly filled with enthusiasm and excitement from the start.

An entertaining film experience that differs from the norm, a stuffy film fanatic may find this a tad vulgar but everyone else should leave their inhibitions and clothes at the door (oo-er) and enjoy a pleasurable few hours unwinding. And with that, no one could jacuzzi me of watering down my recommendation for this awesome aquatic affair.

For more information on future dates and to book a tub check out their official website and social media pages below:

Official Website: http://hottubcinema.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hottubcinema

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HotTubCinema

By midlandsmovies, Jan 13 2015 04:52PM

The Worst Sequels of All Time

With a mix of franchise balls-ups and delayed sequels as well as the truly horrid unnecessary follow up, here is my countdown of 30 of my least favourite sequels of all time with a few reasons why.

Sorry for those wanting to see Matrix Reloaded (the action saves it for me), X-Men: Last Stand (it’s pap but finishes the story fine for me) or Terminator: Salvation (it’s not the worst in the franchise by a long way) but I hope there’s plenty of others that got on your nerves without spoiling too many of your favourite films. From classics to straight-to-video, you’ll also find no prequels here (so no Phantom Menace or Dumb and Dumber: When Harry Met Lloyd) but definitely some of those WTF were they thinking moments and the always difficult to accept changing of established cast members.

Let the countdown begin..


30. The Exorcist 2 – replace the horror with grasshoppers and “visions” and you lose any audience that may have come with you from the original.

29. Rocky V – a franchise killer with Stallone casting family members unable to act in key roles.

28. Star Trek V – seriously old men camping in coats talking to God in this “action” sci-fi.

27. Spider-Man 3 – as a big fan of the Raimi-helmed web-slinger it pains me to include this but a duffer it is with far too many villains and THAT emo-Peter Parker dance scene. Tingling.

26. Son of the Mask – remove the excellent Jim Carrey and replace with Jamie Kennedy. That’ll work. No, it didn’t. It really didn’t.

25. Teen Wolf Too – replacing Michael J Fox with Jason Bateman was this film’s worst crime.

24. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – *spoiler warning* bad enough was a belated sequel no one cared even slightly about, but the original provocateur Oliver Stone concludes his movie with a ridiculous happy ending. This from the man who brought us Natural Born Killers, JFK and Platoon. Unforgiveable.

23. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalo – a contender not because it spoilt the original – a mildly amusing gross-out farce – but because it could be the least funny comedy ever on screen.

22. Staying Alive – do you want to see a sweaty John Travolta in a leotard trying to make it as a dancer on Broadway directed by Sly Stallone? Nope. Neither did anyone else.

21. Sin City 2 – possibly the dullest sequel for sure and one that missed its chance of success by nearly a decade too late.


20. Robocop 3

Different actor for Robocop? Check. Directed by someone with no pedigree at all? Check. Ninjas? What the fuck but yes, check. Flying Robocop? Why the fuck not?! All the ingredients for a right old fuck up were here and present as Verhoeven’s original is stripped of any edge for a future children’s audience. You have the right to remain terrible.

19. S. Darko

Seriously. Whose idea was this? It’s such a mind bending decision that I would have rather seen a film about that than the absolute knock-off/money-grabbing sequel that was released.

18. Blues Brothers 2000

The terrible replacement of a beloved character (in which the actor died no less) is no way to begin thinking about creating a sequel 20 years after a classic. Add some worse musicians, an annoying kid and a rubbish plot and you have one of the lamest films from John “Trading (I forgot he was once good) Places” Landis.

17. Jaws 2/Jaws 3-D/Jaws: The Revenge

A truly special entry for 3 films that are all terrible in their own unique ways. Jaws 2 was always going to live in the shadow of its classic forerunner, whilst 3 added a low budget gimmick and terrible effects to the proceedings. The final mess of a film is universally despised (and rightly so) with the pissed off piscine hunting its prey and swimming 2000 miles in 3 days to do so. A franchise fail of great white proportions.

16. Grease 2

The not-needed sequel to the only musical film I really love was a huge mistake and not even one of my favourite actresses, Michelle Pfeiffer, can save this monstrosity. Throw in a few cameos from supporting characters (i.e. the only people who needed the money) and you’ve got a film that is far from supreme.

15. Matrix: Revolutions

Along the same lines as a film we’ll see later on the list, Revolutions thought more complexity equalled more interest. As we spend even less time in The Matrix (including an opening set in a limbo-representing subway, remember that shit?) the plight of Zion becomes something we care less and less about until an overblown fight and disappointing ending got the whole debacle over with and left us with the fading memory of that amazing first film.

14. Highlander 2

A legendary bad sequel that not only was a bad film, it totally changed the concept of the film before by including an alien back-story that made little or no sense. It would be higher in the charts if I was a bigger fan of the first but I know a duffer of a sequel when I see one and feel the pain of a once-beloved film being shat on.

13. Scream 4

A big fan of the original films (even 2 & the misjudged 3), here was a belated sequel literally no-one was crying out for – maybe except Courtney Cox’s accountants. With some behind-the-times allusions to cyberspace and celebrity culture, the first trilogy’s self-referential tone was lost amongst Epic Movie style pop culture “jokes” and zero scares.

12. Transformers 2

I’ve mentioned elsewhere my unapologetic and superficial enjoyment of the first Transformers film but by the sequel we were already seeing where this franchise was going. With less emphasis on the humans, more focus on comedy, a 2 ½ hour runtime and more product placement than you could shake a stick at, this sequel set the new low- standard for the others that came next.

11. American Psycho 2

Didn’t know this film exists? Well it does and this direct-to-video movie has Mila Kunis (of Black Swan fame) killing fellow students for a good grade. It also stars, wait for it, William Shatner. An absolute mess of a sequel and the pinnacle of low (no) budget filler follow ups.


10. The Godfather Part 3

It’s going to be difficult to follow up the Oscar winning original and the lauded sequel but what you shouldn’t do is wait nearly 20 years, give a key role to your unable to act daughter and not include one of your main protagonists (Robert Duvall). Despite 7 Oscar nominations and a large budget, this is rightly hailed as a template for why sequels can fail.

9. Terminator 3

I will still never understand the hate for Salvation whilst Rise of the Machines is in existence. Arnie’s “comedy” robot, Nick Stahl’s annoying Connor and SFX somehow worse than T2, this film should have been so much better but a disappointment was all we got.

8. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

I literally still have no idea what went on in this film. Part 4 was bad but at least had a self-contained story. This third part lost its navigation and do you remember that bit with Jack Sparrow as a chicken or talking to a goat? Well, it’s there and we’ve collectively blocked out this appalling stinker.

7. Alien vs Predator: Requiem

Watching this revealed one of those moments where you literally stop and think “how did we get here?” From the TV-soap opera cast and awful “story” we are light years away from Ridley Scott’s original space horror.

6. Blair Witch Project 2

A sequel to the infamous found footage horror ditched the main conceit of that film – the found footage aspect – and made a sequel with such bad acting and lack of connection with the previous film that its surprising it was even released as a sequel at all . Bland Witch Project.

5. Superman IV

An interesting one as I kind of remember enjoying this as a kid but a recent rewatch showed up the huge lack of budget and hilariously abysmal special effects. Heck some of the shots were even reused within the film. An absolute franchise killer for almost 20 years. Super!

4. Speed 2: Cruise Control

This is one of those completely unnecessary sequels that not only moved the exciting freeway-speeding concept to a rather slow boat, it lost its biggest star and still got a cinema release! The only remarkable thing was the speed in which the quality went from classic action to box office bomb.

3. Batman and Robin

I was such a huge childhood fan of Batman that when I hired this film from the shop, the 15-year old me turned it off halfway through and took it back the same day. Well done 15 year old me and I stand by that decision to this day.

2. Ocean’s Twelve

As a huge fan of the first heist movie, it lost everything that made that movie fun and its worst crime was Julia Roberts playing a character who gets mistaken for Julia Roberts by Bruce Willis. Yes, that’s the level of this film.

1. Die Hard 5

If you ever want a franchise killer, here’s one. Nothing like any of the previous films, Willis (showing up in spots 2 and 1) sleepwalks through a PG-level film making it my worst film of that year and the worst sequel ever since. My hatred of this film is immense and if it were possible, Die Hard 5 should be on its own list whereby if you have seen it you can get your mind wiped of its badness as in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Dec 14 2014 09:15AM

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) Dir. Peter Jackson

With a title like that it is clear where Jackson was going in this third and final frustrating prequel adapted from J. R. R. Tolkien’s slim book of the same name. Before we go back again, we started with An Unexpected Journey whose dwarf-singing, cutlery throwing antics were mostly a large misfire for me before the sequel (The Desolation of Smaug) found another gear in which the Cumberbatch voiced dragon was more than a fine spectacle.

This third act opens where we left off with Smaug attacking Lake Town which was an exciting but too brief intro and why Jackson didn’t end on the *SPOILER* killing of the dragon for part 2 shows how thin he stretched the tiny novel. Once the dwarves return to Erebor, they fortify themselves within its mountainous walls, which then sets up the mother of all scraps. And therein lies the problem. The vision is exciting and as bombastic as any film-battle depicted on screen but the casualty is any meaningful engagement with the people conducting it.

We move away from Bilbo and focus on Thorin’s downfall as a man obsessed by gold, poisoning him (much like the Ring) which means we lose focus of the hobbit’s journey. Thrown away is the character development of LOTR and we are simply given a second helping of the Minas Tirith battle which like The Fast Show’s “The Long Big Punch Up” sketch, goes on for exactly forever.

That said, the fight is undeniably thrilling. The 3D combined with Jackson’s swinging camera (perhaps too much swinging) was electrifying as we got orcs, elves, humans, dwarves and *ahem* eagles clashing in a brawl that contains fist fights, sword skirmishes, axe-swinging and pig-riding. An always acrobatic Legolas jumps and leaps in a particularly well executed bridge falling-apart scene whilst an earlier appendix-filling sequence in which 3 older characters fight early incarnations of the Nazgul was a joy for fans of the previous trilogy. In a flurry of special effects the 48fps was a little weird at first but I thought it gave the film a distinguishing style and was a risk worth taking in a film with little narrative risk elsewhere. And the CGI? Oh the CGI. Sometimes amazing (Azog was all but real) and sometimes frustrating (Billy Connolly voiced Dain Ironfoot was rendered completely in CGI for no reason whatsoever) audiences will either go along with the visual eye-candy or rebel against it. In the main, this reviewer went with it.

In summary, a decent but dry ending leads up to the events which start the LOTR trilogy and with the Tolkien estate refusing to authorise further adaptations I hope we can leave Middle Earth with the memory of one exceptional trilogy and one reasonable one.

7/10 Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 10 2014 07:44PM

This Friday the Derby Quad will be giving the regions horror lovers a treat as they show the highly controversial, widely banned and taboo-breaking Nekromantik (1988). Never previously submitted to the BBFC, 2014 marks the first official release and certification of the film and is a must for all horror fans to see on the big screen.

Coming from the mind of infamous German director and SFX artist Jörg Buttgereit this demented tale of love follows a street sweeper who cleans up after grisly accidents bringing home a full corpse for him and his wife to enjoy sexually, but is dismayed to see that his wife prefers the corpse over him, bringing a whole new meaning to the term of having a stiff one in bed!

The film is being shown as part of Quad’s Fright Night and programmer Adam Marsh (writer of ‘Devils Tower’) stated “To be honest I never thought I would ever see Nekromantik on a cinema screen let alone be able to programme the film at my cinema. I think it is a great audience film and it is great that people we get to enjoy the film together. Cinema bringing people together, through gore and necrophilia."

As is customary at the fantastic Fright Night, the film will also be preceded by an introduction by horror historian Darrell Buxton.

The film is showing at 20:50 on Friday 12 September.

For more information and to book tickets visit the Quad website here!

Midlands Movies Marek

By midlandsmovies, Apr 19 2014 05:31PM

How to Make a Movie for 43 Pounds (2014) Dir. Rhys Davies

“One Man. One Dream. No Budget” is the tagline for this feature from Midlands based Hive films and was made by Leicester director Rhys Davies. A “meta” film with hints of Adaptation and lashings of The Office-style mockumentary, the movie showcases the talents of local actor Christopher J. Herbert as a fictionalised version of Rhys himself as he sets out to make a romantic infused movie for the princely sum of £43 sterling. Written by Rod Duncan, the movie’s handheld camera imitates the low budget end of documentary footage but the movie itself, filmed over 2 years, also contains sequences from the fictionalised film they are making which gives the audience a much needed rest from the shaky cam to more fully fledged cinematic-style shots – even if these are sometimes played for laughs.

Mainly a subversive love story, the film follows the challenge set by a fast-talking US-producer who dares Rhys to quit his job and make a movie for just £43 which would secure his place in the record books and give this first-time “Marty DiBergi” some much warranted public exposure. Sylvana Maimone plays the producer with a pantomime largeness but I thought this was much needed against the understated performances from the rest of the cast and before long the audience is quickly moved though the plot to the casting sessions themselves.

Set at local Leicester location Firebug, Rhys tests many a wannabe actress and actor before settling on Marie (Olwen Davies) and Josh (James Murton). From an exquisitely shot snow-soaked music-video to sunny country fields we get clips of the movie-within-a-movie alongside the disarray Rhys faces at every turn. In addition, some talking-heads vox pops are inserted which help personalise the problems he faces including unsuitable locations to on-set bust-ups. These shots of the movie in different seasons also show the real length of time it took to get the movie made and the changing of the weather mirrors the changing fortunes of the leading couple.

Although working from a script, the film clearly uses Best in Show-style improvisation techniques with actors’ wittering and inventive off the cuff lines key to the inherent spontaneity and authenticity of the film and making the relationships within it much more believable. From the x-rated swearing of the couple’s break up to the (not quite x-rated) “love” scenes – both in the film they’re creating and during the couple’s make-up scene, the actors are relaxed, sincere and honest in their performances and Christopher J Herbert as Rhys even dons the requisite facial hair of a frustrated film-director (the petit goatee is a facsimile of the real Rhys’ style). Therefore, the humour comes not from clowning around but from subtle set ups with witty dialogue, amusing situations and droll dramas.

The film’s couple start, end and reignite a relationship as rocky as the movie’s production itself and we wince through uncomfortable drama as well as the filmmaker’s frustrations. His creative endeavour is at odds with each new aggravated situation that provides more torment for Rhys who has smash hit desires but very little faith that his production will ever reach the premiere. However, like most feel-good films, the story comes full circle and despite the hurdles, it finally wraps and I felt genuine affection and admiration for the protagonists as their journey draws to a tender conclusion.

With the premiere of “£43” a huge success on the opening Saturday evening of Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival, the “real” Rhys Davies has now moved on to his next film “Finding Richard” with an aim to enter and screen at Cannes 2014 and the experience and feedback gained from this feature will no doubt provide the appropriate spring board into greater things.

A superb demonstration of producing art both in front and behind the camera, the film uses a fake-movie to create a great movie and with high aspirations it will see a new life amongst the UK and Worldwide festival circuit. How to Make a Movie for £43 may show the struggles of movie-making on a budget but contains invaluable lessons on the power of passion and hard work and ends up as priceless comedy that is a template for local film-making at its best.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Apr 19 2014 08:08AM

This feature blog is going to look at a collection of films that for better (or worse) ruined a whole genre of films for me for being either too good, too clever or simply are the pinnacle of their genre with very little competition in the subsequent years to make them anything other than the indefinable king of “that-type-of-movie”. The list unsurprisingly features many unique satires that ended up poking fun at the genre/movies that came before but also gave a fresh perspective on how we view them with a whole new take on the ideas and images we’ve grown to expect.

Scream (1996)

Well, my first example is also the best example. In 1996 after a few years in the horror wilderness, Wes Craven came back to the director’s chair with the hit movie Scream, written by Kevin Williamson, a spot on riff that deconstructed (and destroyed) the slasher genre. With Neve Campbell’s teenage Sidney Prescott and pals taunted by the serial killer Ghostface, the film’s opening telephone call scene even references a glut of horror classics and characters talk about movies, music, television and even famous catchphrases (“I’ll be right back”) related to the genre and these horror tropes were a great way of engaging a cynical 90s audience. The problem? Well, any teen/slasher film has to do something very new now in order to avoid all of the situations the film takes apart and the subsequent sequels and Scary movie pastiches (and their sequels!) meant there was very little left in this once popular genre to cover.

Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Along similar lines, by being both scary, funny and tackling concepts from an established field of movies, the Joss Whedon co-penned story went even further with its stereotypes (Jock, stoner, nerd, virgin and cheerleader) from past films and took them to a “meta”-level of interaction with the set up being part of a cleverly constructed plot line. Later the same year I watched the remake of Evil Dead (2012) and could not for the life of me get into the film such was its reminiscent imagery from the former film. Genres are genres for a reason (repeated motifs, images, situations, stock characters etc) but when a film has nailed them so well, as Cabin did, then many a subsequent film have since lost their bite.

This is Spinal Tap (1984)

It’s not just horror films (although their many sequels provide a huge problem for genre overkill) but this “mockumentary” of a 80s hair-rock band from Britain cuts to the core and resonates with any musician who has tried to play in a band and take it on the road. From the stage mishaps and faulty equipment to dreadful gigs and drummers’ songs (“Jazz Odyssey”) the spoof so brilliantly sends up the machismo and ego of singers and guitarists that subsequent REAL documentaries are now forever tainted with the Tap-esque label. Case in point is the (unintentionally) hilarious Some Kind of Monster featuring US-metallers Metallica, the awesome underdog focused Story of Anvil or even the true-life inspired but dramatic tale of Almost Famous, all of whom has Tap-related plot points from rotating members, terrible gig venues and guitarists (“with mystique”) who leave. Heavy! Duty! Heavy duty...rock n roll!

Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993)

A great sequel with Charlie Sheen reprising his role as Topper Harley who moves from the Top Gun-inspired first film into a Rambo-action fest of over-the-top violence, shoot outs and terrorist fighting with this movie poking fun at the big-screen outings of Sly/Arnie/Bruce during the decade of excess. Along with the Naked Gun style comedy and silly slapstick the film also referenced its stars’ previous films (“I loved you in Wall Street” exchanges Charlie with his dad Martin as their boats cross), the film is a terrific bout of harebrained nonsense and done with heart and knowledge of the film(s) it parodies. So what’s the point of a film like The Expendables I ask? The first was an inconsequential piece of action fluff reuniting some of the old stars for one final outing but a second (and now a third) film is embarrassing as it parodies the same genre without the budget for great action and without the wit of great comedy. No amount of (lame) Chuck Norris gags could win me over when a better film with more intriguing characters (and better acting I’d argue) already exists. Sorry folks, but the 80s happened, it was parodied, and you are too late to the party.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

We return to horror in this infamous tale of a psychiatrist who helps a lonely child come to terms with his ability to “see dead people” so what’s the problem with this one? Well, the film, which I think is a very good one (although repeated viewings are difficult to stomach once you know its twist ending) began the annoying trend in the 00s to make a film which just had to have a twist ending. So many films were then subsequently made on the back of its success, each with an increasingly ludicrous and unbelievable plot twist to manipulate an ever aware audience – but an audience who soon became sick of the “you thought it was this – but actually it is this” style of misdirection. It became a big “f*** you” by the time these films slowly started disappearing and not until Scorsese’s Shutter Island (to be fair, based on a best-selling book) did the whole argument come to a head once again. There’s nothing wrong with it but enough time needs to pass so that the unreliable narrator truly becomes a shock again. One upside however is that not only did it set the standard for the genre to destroy itself, it effectively destroyed Shyamalan’s career too - whose over-reliance on the technique became his calling card and subsequent downfall! 2 for one!

Gladiator (1999)

Ridley Scott’s Oscar winning epic tale of a commander who’s forced into slavery before rising once again as a hero of the Coliseum and defender of Rome, came out of nowhere for the first sword and sandals classic in a generation with impressive story-telling, direction, CGI and characters that amazed and impressed audiences the world over. And what have we had since? Well, Alexander (ew), Troy (OMG), Prince of Persia (good lord!), Clash of the Titans (so bad), Kingdom of Heaven (pah!) and Immortals (I give up!). Frank Miller’s 300 was a great comic book translation from the “visionary” director Zack Snyder with all the hallmarks of Gladiator itself (muscley bearded man takes rag tag band of underdogs up against evil empire) but aside from that one film which I enjoyed as a blockbusting spectacle, the genre is one mess after another. Even the spin-off of the not bad “The Mummy” had nowhere to go and The Scorpion King is known mainly for its atrocious (and notoriously unfinished) CGI finale. Are you not entertained? No, not really, Russ.

Animal House/American Pie (1999)

Simply put, the college s*x comedy has two standout films which are similar in many ways but appeal directly to their respective generation. Maybe we’re due one now but every time we get a new “teen comedy” it caters for the lowest common denominator, contains a glut of gross out gags and has been replaced with the” twi-harder-games” style teen movie set in distant worlds or with horror-undertones. Jim and the gang were loveable heart warmers rather than idiotic scumbags and subsequent attempts have mainly fallen flat for their lack of wit and soul (only Superbad has come close in recent memory) and so every time a trailer rears its ugly head (soundtracked authentically by some guff like Florence and the Machine) a bit of my heart dies knowing that this era of teens won’t have that quintessential relatable tale of getting your rocks off. The Inbetweeners was good (although taking them on holiday was an idea as old as the hills) but I am still waiting for the definitive movie of the college/uni experience in the UK. Come on Midlands movie-makers – there’s a gap right there! 

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Apr 9 2014 05:01PM

Trunk doesn’t flunk as comedy thriller is a killer

On a sunny Sunday in February I headed down to the Crumblin’ Cookie on Leicester’s High Street to witness one of two screenings that made up the world premiere of new comedy film “Trunk’d” by US film-maker Jake Hull. In the cafe bar’s intimate downstairs function room, this was to be a new event for Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival in England which was celebrating its 25th anniversary and is known for helping to further the careers of Russell Brand, Jimmy Carr and Harry Hill but today however was to be the first time Nebraskan born and bred Jake Hull would be showing his movie.

Before the film, Jake explained that “we wanted to take ourselves out of our comfort zone and although we are showing it at a theatre back home in March, we came to the comedy festival to be the first to show a film at what is usually a showcase for stand-up comics and groups”.

Only the second feature written by Hull, Trunk’d tells the dark comedic story of a group of young men who take a road trip from Nebraska to Texas to dump the body of a dead prostitute found in the bed of the groom post-bachelor party. The film is a flashback that is framed using a psychiatrist asking the protagonists their views of the events that unfolded and we begin by joining the gang in a hangover haze sans eyebrows with the body of a hooker proving to be a rather large problem to resolve.

The group is made up of the groom Adam (played by Chicago native Kevin Zaideman, from TV series “One Fine Day” and Nazi zombie-horror “A Chance In Hell”) Mike Leamen as his cousin Rob and comedian Austin Anderson as Jesse, whose Weekend at Bernie-esque body-moving comedy introduction soon descends into much darker territory but all done with a wry and sly smile.

The road trip then commences as we follow the troublesome trio cross-country soundtracked by local Irish-punk music reminiscent of The Departed and with the movie filmed in and around their hometown state of Nebraska, the picture’s hometown roots shine through with immaculate photography for an independent film on a budget. Special thanks should therefore go to Director of Photography Rhett McClure who used the RED ONE digital cinema camera to capture the American iconography throughout including the long highways, motels, strip malls and a variety of vehicles during their journey.

As they plan to dump the body, the group cross paths with a variety of strange characters including Shang Forbes (as Joe the Pimp) who brings a wise cracking energy and his “dead hooker business” speech has echoes of Quentin Tarantino’s cameo in Pulp Fiction. Also worthy of note is veteran Eddie Pepitone whose experience on US shows including Weeds and Two Broke Girls ensures his role as Randy the mayor and father of the bride-to-be is a natural highlight that compliments the hijinx of the gross-out comedy of the younger actors.

Finally they pick up Adam’s brother Paul, played by Dan Cummins who uses his brilliant stand up comedy chops to play an introverted live-at-home Jewish convert (yes, really) and is the regular scapegoat to the shenanigans that happen to the gang throughout. Cummins, who has appeared multiple times on “The Tonight Show” and other Comedy Central specials, gets some of the best lines despite playing it deadpan to the more misbehaving antics of the others.

Continuing on their way to Texas, the comedy is dark, sometimes pitch black, but for all the morally dubious action is a sly wickedness that revels in its own absurdity and this seedy and gloomy content contrasts with the natural beauty of the Nebraskan state. The tone and story is reminiscent of other “bad bachelor” films like Very Bad Things (1998) or Stag (1997). The minimalist score also gives the right sense of dread as the comedy pulls back to allow dramatic and tension filled scenes come to the forefront of the plot, before moving closer to horror – especially with a back-water barn sequence – but the funnies don’t stay away for long as lines like “Jews don’t believe in hookers” bring the audience back with a gruesome grin.

The drinking and games played out by the now fearsome foursome direct the group together and it’s Austin Anderson who is the unsung talent with a vibe and vocal styling of an angry young Jason Lee and if we are comparing careers then we all know how Kevin Smith and co started with a low budget buddy comedy and went on to bigger blockbusters.

In summary, Jake and his cast and crew have set the wheels in motion on his own trip and if there’s any justice in the world then Trunk’d will have its own successful journey across the independent movie world with this floozy finding farcical and funny film getting the attention it very much deserves.

Midlands Movies Mike

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