icons-02 icons-01 Instagram Black Logo - normal size


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

By midlandsmovies, Feb 9 2014 10:31AM

• SHORT CINEMA CLUB (quarterly showcases) http://phoenix.org.uk More info from Karen at Leicester's Criterion Public House https://twitter.com/criterionkaz

• WORCESTERSHIRE FILM FESTIVAL www.worcestershirefilmfestival.co.uk 13-16th November 2014 - Contact Lawrence Donello‏ on Twitter @Razorpost

• LEICESTER DOCFILM FEST http://www.citizenseye.org 5th Docfilm Festival 1st-30th Nov 2014 Contact John Coster

• BORDERLINES FEST http://www.borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk UK's largest rural film festival 28th Feb – 16th March 2014 in Herefordshire/Shropshire.

• BANG SHORT FILM FEST http://www.bangshortfilmfestival.com 2014 Dates TBC Contact - https://twitter.com/bangsff

• BIFF FEST (Black International Film Fest) http://www.vtelevision.co.uk/biff/ 1st November 2014 Birmingham

• FILM NORTHANTS http://www.filmnorthants.co.uk 2014 TBC Contact filmnorthants@yahoo.co.uk or info@filmnorthants.co.uk

• SHOCK AND GORE FESTIVAL http://www.shockandgore.co.uk The Electric Cinema in Birmingham, July 2014 Contact david@theelectric.co.uk or https://twitter.com/shockgore

• DEAFFEST http://www.deaffest.co.uk The UK's International Deaf Film & Arts Festival Wolverhampton. Contact info@light-house.co.uk 16th – 18th May 2014

• STOKE YOUR FIRES FILM FESTIVAL http://www.stokeyourfires.co.uk Stoke on Trent 7th – 11th March 2014 Contact http://twitter.com/stokeyourfires

• SHOUT FESTIVAL http://shoutfestival.co.uk Fri 25 - Sun 27 Apr 2014

• ID FEST http://www.idfest.co.uk May 2014 Contact info@derbyquad.co.uk or https://twitter.com/ID_Fest

• FANTASTIQ Fantasy and Horror Fest at Quad in Derby (Part of larger Derby Film Fest Derby Film Festival May 9th – May 18th 2014

• MAYHEM HORROR Film Fest - Halloween. 31 October to 3 November 2014 Contact Broadway cinema in Nottingham http://www.broadway.org.uk/groups/mayhem_film_festival

• FLATPACK FEST - 20-30 March 2014 across Birmingham, UK. http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk

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



Older festivals that may/may not run a festival in 2014 below:



By midlandsmovies, Jan 8 2014 04:31PM

After another fantastic year at Midlands Movies I treated myself to a little jaunt across the Atlantic to see some old friends in the city that never sleeps, New York. With its esteemed history of movie locations I wanted to visit some of my favourite movie settings in the city so over 7 days, headed around the city (mainly by foot by sometimes by subway as the 2013/14 “polar vortex” headed in) and if you ever visit on vacation I can highly recommend the below places for any cinema connoisseur.

As mentioned, I often used my Metro card to travel on the city’s subway which criss-crosses all five boroughs and is an easy and safe way to get around. However, the movies have previously portrayed this transit system as a place of gang warfare or crazy loners as seen in 1979’s cult classic The Warriors, 1990’s Ghost (“Get off my traaaaiiin!”) or even in Michael Jackson’s “Bad” music video. One of the stops is the city’s main hub at Grand Central Terminal, a huge building and the 6th most visited place in the world (!) which has been seen in Cloverfield (2008) as well as a great scene with disappearing people in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). More recently a large part of the finale of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble (2012) is set on the raised part of the road nearby there.

Just a few blocks south is the art deco classic and iconic image of New York, the Empire State Building, which is most famously climbed by King Kong in the 1933 black and white film as well as again in Peter Jackson’s recent remake. Further down past Broadway is another infamous building in the slim-line facade of the Flat Iron Building. This plays the offices of the Daily Bugle in Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man movie.

Slightly off the track on the East of Manhattan I wandered down towards the University area where I headed to Washington Square (seen briefly with a monstrous apparition in 80s actionner Ghostbusters) before taking a short walk to a street of shops where I found The Little Lebowski Shop (215 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012 http://www.littlelebowskishop.com) which is the world’s only dedicated “dude” store.

Continuing around the East Village area I stumbled across Tompkins Square – the location where John McLane and Zeus (Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson) have to play a game for the villainous Jeremy Irons “Simon Says” with a couple of water jugs in the third Die hard movie. The park also hosts regular outdoor movie screenings every summer so if you go during the summer months you may be able to catch a film or two!

Slightly further south is Katz’s delicatessen (www.katzsdelicatessen.com) which has been established since 1888 and maintains its tradition of quality food but is beloved for film fans for its “orgasm” booth where Meg Ryan fakes her pleasure across the restaurant table to Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally (1989) – “I’ll have what she’s having”.

Another food related place is Joe’s Pizza where Peter Parker is (briefly) employed in Spider-Man 2 (2004) and although I didn’t pop in, the food smelt and looked great and the queue from the shop to outside seemed to suggest the same. Later on in the vacation, my friend who I was visiting worked at a restaurant uptown and to get there we came out of the 72nd Street subway station which also appeared in Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) as the place Simon gives our two protagonists a verbal riddle by phone as well as again appearing in The Warriors (1979).

Although I had been to New York 3 times before and had sampled the main attractions the city had to offer, one place had always eluded me but no more during this visit. I walked a long distance as the temperatures lowered (but that was not going to stop me) to the NYFD Hook and Ladder #8 Fire House. What’s that I hear you ask? Well, it’s from one of my favourite childhood films and may be better known as the Head Quarters to the Ghostbusters as seen in the 1984 film of the same name. The firehouse even has a (slightly faded) Ghostbusters-inspired insignia on the sidewalk outside and was one of those places that “looked just like the movie”.

As I was visiting in Dec/Jan, I was in the city for New Years. Planning to go to a friend’s party at a bar in Brooklyn I got a taste of the chaos in Times Square as I tried in vain to get to her apartment. Over 20 blocks were cordoned off by the police and the detour I had to take was massive as some subway stations were closed as well. The crowds were building and the streets densely packed and it was not even 7pm yet! The neon signs and advertisements of the square itself can be seen (although in a different context) in the deserted/empty scenes in the movies I Am Legend (2007) and Tom Cruise’s dreamy Vanilla Sky (2001). The emptiness of the square in those films contrasted massively to the reality of the tourist packed sidewalks of the holiday season.

I decided to avoid that area for the rest of the trip so over the next few days I went down Fifth Avenue to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, seen in classic sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) where a genetically engineered flying Gremlin is thrown in wet cement before drying on the Cathedral’s roof as an epic gargoyle.

Also on Fifth is the Rockefeller Building. Beneath the imposing height of the main skyscraper is the infamous ice rink with a statue that I found out when I got back is actually Prometheus! The area’s Christmas tree can be seen in Will Ferrell vehicle Elf (2003) as well as the meeting place in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992).

During my first trip to NYC in 2002 I stayed at a hotel on East 57th Street NY 10022 and opposite the hotel was a tall tower which I again saw on this trip and was used for the exterior shots of the Oscorp building in Spider-Man (2002). A few streets away are the Roosevelt Island cable cars which I rode and can also be seen in the same web-slinging movie as Spidey fights off the Green Goblin.

On the Upper East Side later in my trip I hopped off the subway and walked a short distance to the Guggenheim Museum, an iconic and startling looking circular building seen in Will Smith’s first alien encounter in the opening of Men in Black (1997).

Opposite is New York’s huge open green space Central Park which has been seen in everything from Ghostbusters (1984) to Annie Hall (1977) and Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy (1999). A walk through the park from East to West and I ended up at The Museum of Natural History which has the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the back of the building (81st Street, Central Park West) and this unique globe-inside-glass structure was seen in Spider-Man 2 (2004) for the John Jonah Jameson III benefit event.

Post New Year’s Eve and many days into the trip, the city was struck by what the media dubbed “Snowpocalypse” and then was subsequently labelled a “polar vortex” as snow, ice and below freezing temperatures swept the North East of the country. For me it was a cross between the planet Hoth from Star Wars (see a video I filmed here - facebook video) and disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow (2004) where Manhattan gets covered in a thick layer of icy snow such were the shockingly (and shiveringly) low temperatures.

However, on my final few days the snow began to thaw (briefly enough) to get on the Staten Island ferry which takes you out into the water near the Statue of Liberty as seen in Planet of the Apes (1968), Ghostbusters 2 (1989) and Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000). Once back on dry land, a short walk downtown saw me end up on Wall Street which is where Christopher Nolan filmed Bane’s attack on Gotham’s Stock Exchange in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) as well as being extensively in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (1987) and a brief appearance at the end of National Treasure (2004).

On Park Avenue, my last memory of the trip was seeing the famous Met Life Building (formerly Pan Am) which is in Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can (2002) and doubles as the offices of The Daily Planet in Christopher Reeves’ incarnation of Superman (1978).

Not even the cold weather could stop my enjoyment of such a creative, bohemian and cosmopolitan city which is still one of my favourite places on the planet. If you get the chance then I can guarantee you will have a good time seeing iconic buildings and enjoying the hustle and bustle of the busy streets - but if you’re a film fan then there’s even more to marvel and enjoy and you will get an understanding of why New York is so regularly used on the big screen – hopefully you’ll have as much fun as Eddie Murphy does in Coming to America (1988)!

See all my New York pictures in this gallery here - Facebook Gallery

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Dec 21 2013 10:23AM

Midlands Movies regular contributors Gary and JJ list their best/worst films of the year and Midlands Movies Marek adds his faves as well

Midlands Movies Gary Best Cinema releases

1 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

2 Prisoners

3 Riddick

4 World War Z

5 Gravity

6 Fast & Furious 6

7 Parker

8 The Fifth Estate

9 Oblivion

10 Escape Plan

Midlands Movies Gary Worst cinema releases and let downs

1 Movie 43

2 Stoker

3 Welcome To The Punch

4 Now You See Me

5 Side Effects

6 Pacific Rim

7 A Good Day To Die Hard

8 After Earth

9 Elysium

10 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Midlands Movies JJ Best

1 Gravity

2 Alan Partridge: AP

3 Man Of Steel

4 Elysium

5 World War Z

6 Oblivion

7 The Way Way Back

8 Evil Dead

9 Star Trek Into Darkness

10 The last Stand

Midlands Movies JJ Worst

1 Movie 43

2 Sharknado

3 GI Joe: Retaliation

4 Movie 43

5 Hangover 3

6 Hansel & Gretel

7 Movie 43

8 Pain & gain

9 The Purge

10 Movie 43

Midlands Movies Marek Top 10 films of 2013

10. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

9. Gravity

8. Pain & Gain

7. Francis Ha

6. Antiviral

5. Django Unchained

4. We're the Millers

3. Robot and Frank

2. Maniac

1. The Great Beauty

Midlands Movies Matt Top 10 films of 2013

1. Star Trek

2. Gravity

3. Hobbit

4. Rush

5. Gatsby

6. Partridge

7. Django

8. Thor

9. Elysium

10. Zero Dark Thirty

By midlandsmovies, Dec 18 2013 10:18PM

Best of 2013

When choosing top films of any year not only do you look back on those films that stood out at the time but you re-assess those you were unsure about and with the ability to rewatch and saviour new and different aspects of those features for a second time, I feel the following list shows the real mix of films I’ve enjoyed throughout the year. I’ve tried to use UK Cinema release dates for the list (Oscars run from Feb to Feb of course) so some may seem like last year but were definitely released this year. So, with animation, drama, sci-fi, superheroes, comedy, adaptation and biography all getting a look in, it’s been a very diverse year for films indeed.. Without further pause here are my (Mike, Editor of Midlands Movies) favourite 20 films of 2013. Let the arguing commence!

(Update: for info I have not included Zero Dark Thirty and haven’t seen Captain Phillips).

20. The World’s End

19. Elysium

18. Trance

17. The Desolation of Smaug

16. Iron Man 3

15. The Great Gatsby

14. Filth

13. BlackFish

12. Mama

11. Cloud Atlas

10. Stoker

A tense psychological thriller from the director who gave us OldBoy amongst his work and dark family secrets are again explored in his first English-language film written somewhat surprisingly by Wentworth Miller of Prison Break fame. Avoiding any happy ever after clichés, the film has sinister fairy tale imagery from wooded copses, creepy spiders, dreamy landscapes and phallic rocks to heighten the Hitchcockian themes of betrayal, deception and revenge and each of the trio of actors bring their “A” game to the dinner table with strangely winning performances. A social drama with a mythic quality, this film has an impish allure that hypnotized me with its twisting narrative, bold images and multi-layered fetishes that subverted the superficial vampire/Lolita subject matter it drew upon. A far-fetched but fascinating fable.

9. Prisoners

This American thriller features Hugh Jackman, the father of a homely suburban family whose daughter goes missing during a Thanksgiving party. The abduction forces the family into contact with Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective who investigates a local oddball with child-like intelligence played brilliantly by a distressed Paul Dano. Along with the father of a second girl, Jackman puts in a tour de force performance as a man who will go to any lengths (and beyond) to find his daughter. If you like dark and disconcerting police procedurals with a slow burning but gripping plot then Prisoners could be the film for you but don’t expect an easy ride from this solemn and spiritual journey of the disturbed.

8. Hitchcock

A great film about a great filmmaker, Hitchcock covers the master of suspense’s making of Psycho played out against the notorious marriage issues with his wife and frequent collaborator Alma Reville (played by a brilliant Helen Mirren, herself married to a director in real life). A biopic that has nods to all of Hitchcock’s output, from his blonde obsessions and voyeurism through to a Hermann-esque score by the composer Danny Elfman, the film is not a warts-and-all portrayal of Hitchcock as director but anyone with even a passing interest in the work of “Hitch” will find delights from start to finish. With great actors roped in as support, this is a fun and enjoyable film that analyses the making of film itself without a shadow of a doubt. 8/10 Midlands Movies Mike

7. Thor The Dark World

The sequel to 2011’s Thor sees Marvel forge deeper into Phase 2 post-Avengers as an imprisoned Loki taunts Thor as the Dark Elf Malekith attempts to regain possession of a mysterious power called the Aether which has the strength to destroy the universe. Tom Hiddleston has created one of the best comic characters of all time, villain or otherwise with his cheeky portrayal of Loki, both as heinous criminal and sarcastic japer and he’s a joy to watch in every scene he stars in. Also, I enjoyed the film being set in London and as one of the most female-orientated of the Marvel films, Jaimie Alexander and Rene Russo get to beef up their roles. The combination of large action sequences with funny demigod dialogue and solid performances make Thor2 another cosmological conquering.

6. Rush

Vrrrrooooommm! Director Ron Howard tackles the true-life 70s sporting rivalry between Englishman James Hunt (a wobbly-accented Chris Hemsworth of Thor fame) and Austrian Nikki Lauda (an outstanding Daniel Brühl probably best known as the sniper in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds) who fought each other on and off the Formula One circuit in the battle for the ’76 championship. A slightly Formulaic One but a great F1lm nonetheless, Rush puts the pedal to the floor from the start to the chequered flag.

5. Wreck It Ralph

Reviewed by our Marek on release, I finally got to see this on Blu-Ray at home and what a treat it was. Utilising a retro-computer game aesthetic the film showed us that Disney was back amongst the big animation players and was a kick up the bum for Pixar who appear to be suffering sequel/prequel-itis! From the arcade to the power-lead transport, the film used ingenious storytelling, console graphics and gaming heroes and villains to showcase its central strand of admiring and recognising difference in this original some cyber-based feel-good film.

4. Gravity

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star as NASA astronauts within this thriller set in the emptiness of the heavens who are involved in an astro-accident as debris from exploding satellites causes a chain reaction of chaotic crashes leaving them stranded in the void of deep dark space. Amongst the stars, Bullock fights her own personal battle in her pressure suit and her odyssey to get to a safe place allows her to “re-birth” and overcome her inner demons. From lost relatives to relativity, Gravity is set in the vacuum of space yet Cuarón creates a movie full of atmospheric tension that splashes down on a delicate trajectory of action, understatement and ingenious cinematic expertise.

3. Alpha Papa

CASHBACK! A Partridge film has taken a long journey to the big screen but Alan has finally arrived in this hilarious outing from performer Steve Coogan and for a character that is 20 years old Coogan and co breathe fresh life into the Norwich newshound and the jokes come at an Airplane-like speed whether it be clever wordplay, silly slapstick or hilarious one-liners and the small-town setting is the perfect backdrop as the film avoids any “go big” or “fish out of water” clichés that often occur in TV to film transitions. Back of the net!

2. Star Trek Into Darkness

Whilst JJ Abrams “borrows” a number of cinematic beats from Star Trek II; The Wrath of Khan, he infuses them with enough twists and new ideas to convert even the most cynical of viewers and even manages to bring a lump to the throat towards the end. Outstanding set pieces, action-a-plenty but not forgetting to string these around characters you like and believe in, Star Trek 2 is a fantastic piece of summer event cinema that’s nothing short of spectacular and the sort of showmanship and skill not seen for 30 years in a certain other rival space opera.

1. Django Unchained

With a straightforward linear plot, a focus on one sole character, few flashbacks and a more restrained directorial style, Tarantino’s eighth film is almost unrecognisable from the auteur’s previous offerings (especially his latest output) but all the better in my eyes for it. With the amazing soundtrack accentuating the emotional journey, Tarantino has made a brilliant film and in this reviewer’s eyes, the best since Pulp Fiction. Django does Entertain!

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Dec 14 2013 03:01PM

Worst of 2013

Not going to waste any more time on the following 10 abominations and each has been reviewed by myself on our cinema and DVD/BluRay pages so please click hyperlinks for full rants but these were truly bad and I heartily advise all to avoid these pieces of crappy cinema.

10. Olympus Has Fallen

9. Dead Man Down

8. Hansel and Gretel

7. Alex Cross

6. Red Dawn

5. Paranormal Activity 4

4. Broken City

3. Only God Forgives

2. GI Joe 2

1. Die Hard 5

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Oct 13 2013 12:17PM

Jobs (2013) Dir. Joshua Michael Stern

Ashton Kutcher (The Butterfly Effect, That 70s Show) stars as Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computers in this biopic about the hippy who wanted to change the world. We follow Jobs from his early days bucking the system (firstly against James Woods representing the educational establishment) before finding himself in India then planting the first seeds of his plans linking technology with the mass public. Kutcher is very watchable as he plays all of Jobs’ core traits from his early days at Atari through to his founding of Apple. Director Stern doesn’t stray too far away from a clichéd formula as we get moody piano refrains and stirring strings in this cheese fest that could be served with crackers.

The film has an amusing scene when Jobs and Wozniak discuss the use of the name Apple (predicting later court cases with The Beatles’ label of the same name) but what tries to be profound has more in common with the large conglomerate Pepsi, a company whose marketing manager switches to Apple, in that these objects (fizzy “soda” and PCs) are essentially a life luxury that they convince populations they need. The film’s closest comparison is with Fincher's Social Network but the inter-boardroom battles between the bare-feet dreamer and the money-men are more akin to a TV movie. Rather than the modern edge of that film, the director goes for the “soft” tone of an Almost Famous with 70s rock soundtracking the soldering of circuit boards and geeks imagined as easy-riders and revolutionists. In an attempt to make it cool, it subsequently fails to be anything but. Dressing up the 70s as a golden and delicious era, the film is as superficial as Apple products – so a pretty accurate representation of their inventions which are often all smooth gloss and no soul.

The tale continues with Jobs germinating his ideas and his girlfriend as he launches the Apple II computer at the West Coast Computer Faire and does his first crowd-pleasing speech which many a passerby would know him from in his later life. Long tracking shots of Jobs from behind suggest we are all literally walking in his footsteps whilst his house is decorated with a portrait of Einstein, who changed our views on science but to me (and in this film) Jobs convinced us he created “new” technology but in fact was more focused on convincing the public we all need more “stuff”. Kutcher explains to his company that Apple should represent “social status/currency” which is the fundamental issue I have with the company. It’s the haves and haves not.

As he continues to argue with his team about fonts (again, image over substance), his metaphorical “baby” goes public on the stock market and the fluctuation of share prices maps Jobs’ own obsessions with the new MacIntosh and his increasing rivalry with everyone around him. Matthew Modine (as the ex-Pepsi marketer) becomes CEO and Jobs gets kicked off the Board of Directors like Norman Osborne in an orchard of tried and tested plot points.

Once fallen from his own tree, Jobs at this point returns home and the film becomes overly cloying and Hallmark-y as he literally plants a new seed in his garden (surely to represent his burgeoning family life and the nurturing of a new company before being asked to rejoin Apple 2.0) whilst all I could think of was how the public went mad for similar plastic rubbish the Cabbage Patch Kids around the same time. Jobs ends with him recording a commercial for Apple which funnily enough the movie ends up feeling like, as the core of the film is really about investors and business yet wants to convince the audience it’s about creativity and breaking the mould. The film ultimately is as bland as the characters that inhabit the world and I’m convinced now at least we won’t get the Bill Gates story as we get no juicy insights or depth in a script that feels like it’s cribbed from Jobs’ Wikipedia entry. Some may see this as a paean to their geeky hero but for me it was confirmation of Apple’s worst excesses of superficiality.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 13 2013 05:15PM

Best Opening Titles/Credit Sequences

After watching the new film “Hitchcock” with Sir Anthony Hopkins as the master of suspense himself along with the trials of getting the film Psycho made, it got me thinking about the brilliant credit sequence from the 60s classic. That was created by the awesome graphic designer and credit maker Saul Bass and I started to reflect on what my favourite opening title/sequences were.

By no means an exhaustive list (and definitely NOT in any order) but here are some of my favourites over the years and please drop us a message below or reply with a tweet about your own favourites or any glaring omissions from the list.

Let the credits roll!

Zombieland (2009) – The film begins with a superb montage of slow motion zombie attacks on screaming American victims to the heavy sounds of Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.


Casino (1995) – Here the titles are actually by the infamous Saul Bass who was coaxed out of retirement for one more intro sequence by Martin Scorsese and is a brilliant explosion of lights, colours and neon shapes in his inimitable style.


Casino Royale (2006) – A different “casino” in the title again, this time with a Bond-song by Chris Cornell that has grown on me over the years but the card-playing imagery and animation was a neat twist on traditional Bond motifs.


Watchmen (2009) – The graphic novel’s entire back story/alternative universe history is shown with Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are A’ Changing” overdubbed in full which is an epic beginning to an epic film.


Speed (1994) – Jan De Bont used a very slow, deliberate and almost never ending lift shaft where the steel girders are used to “frame” the actors’ names as he winds up the tension from the start. (Mike update – obviously no one else likes this as I am unable to find an online video of it!)

Spiderman 2 (2004) – It was great to see traditional comic book artwork in the intro to Sam Raimi’s comic book film and the images run through a quick recap of the first movie’s major plot points. (The reboot of The Incredible Hulk did a similar thing in an attempt to both skip the “origin” part of the story and somewhat erase Ang Lee’s first film).


Catch Me if You Can (2002) – Spielberg went old school in this Saul Bass inspired intro sequence that covers the film’s story points and is reminiscent of the Pink Panther in its retro use of animation


Anchorman (2002) – I enjoyed this intro as we get a series of quick jokes in the style of a 4:3 television set with rounded corners which immediately gives us the time, the place and the actors’ names in the style of a news bulletin. These “outtakes/riffs” put us straight into 70s San Diego.


Inside Man (2006) – Here it is the music by Punjabi MC that sets up a multi-cultural New York with some traditional (and others not so) shots around the infamous city Skyline and canyon-like streets. Bang! Spike Lee has placed us right there in the hustle and bustle of the city immediately.


LA Confidential (1997) – A retro-postcard of an intro with a great Danny De Vito voiceover who sets the scene as we head around the city.


Lord of War (2005) – A perennial favourite is the “bullet-journey” from manufacture to being shot out of a gun barrell in this audacious sequence filmed from the bullet’s perspective. This is a must see.


Snatch (2000) – Guy Ritchie uses fast editing and fast talking in this cockney barrel of monkeys of an intro which jumps from actor to actor and character to character in a microcosm of the film’s multi-stranded storyline.


Saturday Night Fever (1997) – John Travolta strutting down a New York street to the sound of The Bee Gees. Nuff said.


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) – The elongated living room jam session shows us the film’s indie roots as well as setting up its brilliant subversion of time and space with graphic novel style animation and grunge-y fonts.


Ocean’s 11 (2001) - A Saul Bass-y funky intro with harsh lines, luminous colours and edgy design which harks back to the 50s cool that Soderbergh was trying to recreate for his updated version with Clooney & co.


Raging Bull (1980) – Another special one from Scorsese as we see a “caged” Robert De Niro warming up in black and white to the sounds of the classical Cavallerio rusticana: Intermezzo as he shadow boxes in the ring in slow motion. The blood-red writing hints at the violence about to be unleashed in this memorable intro.


Panic Room (2002) – Fincher takes a leaf out of Saul Bass’ book this time as he updates North by North-West by using CGI to super impose HUGE lettering against city skyscrapers in this tense thriller. The large typeface is a literal “floating” billboard which took a year to create.


Seven (1995) – another great Fincher intro as the combination of the “scratched” negative juxtaposed against the creation of John Doe’s scrapbook of insane writing and horrific photographs creates an unnerving and dark start to the an unnerving and dark film.


The Fall (2006) – Tarsem Singh’s slow motion black and white intro shows Cowboys and Indians against a backdrop of bridges, rivers and trains but only later do we realise the full implications of this classic Hollywood stuntmen scene.


Requiem for a Dream (2000) – Set against Clint Mansell’s legendary score, the opening scene gives us Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans’ characters as they steal the family TV and drag it through the streets to a nearby pawn shop for drug money. The shots of seedy streets and the abandoned rollercoaster show the dark journey we are about to embark upon.


Trading Places (1983) – A brilliant juxtaposition in Philadelphia as Mozart plays on the soundtrack which begins with the usual tourist hotspots before alternating between scenes of the wealth and poverty in the city. We get setting, character and a flavour of the story ahead.


The Warriors (1979) – A funky 70s soundtrack accompanies shots of various gangs travelling through the city by subway as they come out to pla-ay with awesome costumes, some character development and great graffiti style fonts.


Honourable mentions to Django Unchained (what a soundtrack!), Alien (great minimalism), Sin City (Frank Miller’s raw art), Sleepy Hollow (smokey names in the forest journey), Terminator 2 (LA city and flames) and The Untouchables (great music and THOSE imposing and shadowy letters).

There is one more area of film credit sequences that I would like to address. It is a very small and select group of films that would have been great ONLY if you left immediately after the start credits finished.

Let me explain…

Indiana Jones & Crystal Skull (2008) – If you avoid the CGI gopher then the Rock Around the Clock soundtrack and racing hot rod cars in the desert transports us immediately to the 1950s with Spielberg keeping the same font we all know and the young teens contrasted against the Cold-War Russians was a great combination of generations as we moved away from Indiana’s Nazi chasing roots. With its A-bomb testing military finale, it’s a huge shame that the film then went CGI crazy and left us all pining for a return to the classic stunts we were promised.


Superman Returns (2006) – From the first bass notes of the score provided by John William’s iconic fanfare and then the flying blue type of the original font, Singer used our pre-existing expectations along with a Marlon Brando voice-over to recapture our imagination and make us believe once again that a man can indeed fly. Sadly, the film failed to take off as the plot moved slower than a speeding snail and miscasting all over the place bored the red pants off cinema goers.


X-MEN Origins Wolverine (2009) – Watching Logan and his brother through time was an amazing way to convey their longevity and the operatic voices and classical music that underscore the sequence from the US civil War through World War 1 & 2 and then Vietnam was as good as this film got. If the whole movie had been this sequence I think I would have enjoyed it more but a frankly rubbish Ryan Reynolds and more terrible Taylor Kitsch saw that this was the final claw in the coffin.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jul 31 2013 03:21PM

Guest feature reviewer Marek takes a look at a new Brit-flick in his review of this Zombie-Comedy film from Napoleon Jones. Terrifyingly good or dead from the waist down? Read on...

Stag Night of the Dead (2012)

Director: Napoleon Jones

A British zom-com which came out in the first quarter of 2012, following a group of men (and one stripper) out for some stag night fun with a difference as they embark on a new outdoor experience called Zomball, essentially paintball with zombies, although we cannot forget to mention the almost mandatory group tensions rising to the foreground that these types of movies push as a sub-plot.

The film itself is generally well paced although this drops for a bit in the beginning of the third act, it possess an enjoyable and fun soundtrack and manages to get the tone exactly right, which is paramount to any horror comedy working and thankfully these Brits manage that without losing focus. Meanwhile, a lot of horror fans might be interested in the Fx, and you will be pleased to learn that this film is competent in both respects, although in order to fully appreciate the zombie make up, I would advise that you watch the behind the scenes extras which really give you time to see the creations. However, that is not to say that this was at the detriment to the acting with all characters putting in a great performance, with a particular nod to the female lead coming across like a mixture of Emily Booth and Liz Hurley

Billed as a mix of Shaun of the Dead and American Pie, you know what to expect as it leans more towards humour than hardcore zombie action but this doesn’t detract from the horror action but rather complements it. Essentially this is a perfect choice for a late night beer fuelled watch and if you enjoyed movies such as the NZ zomcom Last of the Living and have a soft spot for a bit of action then this wont disappoint and should be in any self-respecting zombiefiles collection.

Overall, this is an enjoyable movie with a few cheeky nods to its influences, and while I doubt it will win many awards, it will entertain on more than one occasion and also to non-horror fans. Additionally, the extras are what push this over the edge as a great value dvd, leading me to give this a Fundead 8/10.

Midlands Movies Marek

Further information on the movie can be found at http://www.stagnightofthedead.com

By midlandsmovies, Jul 30 2013 05:43PM

With the Man of Steel tearing up the box office, the Comic Con announcement that Superman AND Batman will appear in the next DC film together as well as being deep inside Phase 2 of the Marvel Universe, I’m going to take a brief look at my favourite superhero films. A few films like Scott Pilgrim and Wanted (both of which I love) I’ve decided against including as although both from graphic novels and both having protagonists with “powers” they didn’t seem to fit in with the masked crusaders from the rest. They’d both be pretty high up however. Also, honourable mentions to Mystery Men, Captain America, Hellboy 2 & The Rocketeer. That said, commence au festival!

15. Thor (Kenneth Brannagh)

Marvel proved it was willing to take a few chances with its directorial choices as Sir Ken came in and gave a big dose of Shakespearean family feuding to the usual CGI fight-fests and to his credit comes out with one of the more distinct movies from Marvel’s Phase One. Hammer time!

14. Superman (Richard Donner)

We believed a man could fly in the ultimate showcase of actors (Brando, Reeve and Hackman) taking a serious look at the indestructible red pants man, taking us from Krypton to Earth with amazing results. Super dooper!

13. Blade (Stephen Norrington)

With the black jacket, sunglasses, bullet dodging and building leaps, it’s easy to see how The Matrix overshadowed this movie despite their similar style in this dark and gritty 90s vampire-killing classic. It’s got a big bite of action and effects with some unique fighting that sadly fizzled out in the humour-filled sequels. Tasty!

12. Unbreakable (M Night Shyamalan)

His second (and last good) film and the one that many of us are awaiting a sequel for, the director told a slow-burner of a story as a man who doesn’t even believe he has any powers but has to protect his family and the public from a classic villain taken (literally) from comic books. Uniquely told with comic-panel visuals and presented in a down-to-earth realistic way makes the film all the more impressive. Shatter proof.

11. Batman Begins (Chris Nolan)

Nolan sets the bar high with his re-imagining of Batman after the dreadful Joel Schumacher failures with an authentic tale of rich boy going AWOL and then being trained by assassins before returning to his beloved city to do good. With a strong set of actors and some exciting action scenes, Bale’s Batman placed him solely in the real world with very real problems. Bat-tastic!

10. Kick A** (Matthew Vaughn)

Over the top action sequences combined with some hilariously named heroes, all tied together with a self-referential knowing of superhero traits blended to give this film a violent look at a brand new set of characters outside of the usual huge franchises we already know. Cage hasn’t been this good in years and the young protagonists try to balance their growing pains with the torture of street pummels! A cult classic with a sequel due anytime now in July 2013.

9. X-Men (Bryan Singer)

Again, the origin story seems to be the strongest of the bunch as Singer takes the mutant group and brings it into a faithful world setting (or gay allegory as some have suggested) by aligning them with modern day persecution. Amazingly, Singer takes the premise of a child’s cartoon (my first experience) and turns it into an action packed narrative with serious adult themes and where moral discussions lead to genuine and sincere consequences. The film also introduces us to an unforgettable actor/character pairing with Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman. X-cellent.

8. Iron Man (Jon Favreau)

Marvel’s first foray into movie-making may never be topped for some as Robert Downey Jnr plays arrogant billionaire Tony Stark who after a kidnapping uses his company’s technology to create the ultimate military suit. From the playboy with the boy’s toy to the perfect pacing, Iron Man has humour, hurt and tenderness but is mostly a lot of fun with an amazingly recreated CGI suit, great action scenes and set the stage for the future team-up with his avenging pals. A metal marvel. (Just don’t mention Iron Man 2).

7. The Incredibles (Brad Bird)

Pixar moved away from cuddly toys and talking animals in this almost art-deco style story of one family’s superhero problems - from secret identities to the inconveniences of capes, the movie twists the genre conventions, the animation is flawless and the characters well shaped. Throwing in plenty of funnies and nods to other famous superhero powers (ice, stretching, invisibility etc), director Brad Bird even gets in on the action as the voice of costume designer Edna Mole. Nobody does it quite like Pixar.

6. X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn)

After the incredibly disappointing and flawed X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we go back to the beginning for a Cold War narrative as the backdrop to finding out how Xavier and Magneto met, developed their skills and started the school for the gifted in this brilliant prequel/origin story. From the nods to real world events (Cuban missile crisis) to the training montages, the film balances the serious Nazi themes of the opening with a later light-hearted touch as the swinging 60s takes hold. Fassbender is a joy as we watch his downfall during his clashes against Kevin Bacon’s excellent villain. Pure class.

5. The Avengers (Joss Whedon)

The pinnacle of Marvel’s Phase One as we finally got to see Nick Fury’s plans come to fruition during his ploy to assemble the greatest set of heroes on earth to defend against the nefarious Loki (a brilliant Tom Hiddleston) and his alien army of minions. Whedon gives everyone their fare share of screen time and injects a dose of humour and knowing about the proceedings before unleashing Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and finally a decent Hulk onto the city of New York with support from Black Widow and Hawkeye. Action aplenty, lots of laughs and solid storytelling all lead to a brilliant finale that satisfied geeky fans and the passing crowd on its way to a $1billion plus box office. Avenge that!

4. Watchmen (Zack Snyder)

Snyder’s literal interpretation of the infamous graphic novel was a turn off for some but with adult themes in an alternative history and his visual pyrotechnics assaulting the eyes, the film is a faithful re-telling of Moore’s opus. A story of getting older, doing things for the greater good and double-crossing, the film tackled huge themes and has one of the best opening credit sequences of ANY film. From the violent Rorschach who refuses to compromise to the out of shape Night Owl via the omniscient Dr. Manhattan, the brilliantly realised characters show the darker side of the American dream. The joke’s on us as we are forced to confront our own moral standpoint. Very watchable.

3. The Dark Knight (Chris Nolan)

Nolan’s best entry in his trilogy contains Heath Ledger’s astounding take on Batman’s nemesis as he creates havoc in Gotham as the sadistic Joker whilst Bruce comes to terms with losing a loved one alongside the transformation of Harvey Dent to Two-Face. Filled to the brim with classic scenes from the opening heist to the Bat-cycle speeding through city streets, Nolan makes not just a superhero film but an inspired crime saga with immense depth previously unseen in the genre. Virtuoso acting, remarkable stunts and a convincing script resonated with audiences who wanted to follow Bruce’s continuing journey as the watchful protector. Wayne-derful.

2. Spider-Man 2 (Sam Raimi)

The first film established a solid but uninspiring take on the webbed-wonder but after its success Raimi was allowed to unleash his full directorial flourishes onto the franchise in the form of zooms, whip pans and more Bruce Campbell in this superior sequel. Maguire loses his mojo as Parker tries hard to be both Spidey and boyfriend to MJ whilst Alfred Molina is top drawer as Dr. Octopus, a much improved and far more fun villain than the Green Goblin. With less-cartoony CGI, brilliant action sequences on the elevated train, during the bank robbery and high-up on buildings, Raimi showed he could handle the affectionate closeness between characters whilst wasting no time in slinging in some comedy, mild horror and plenty of fisticuffs as Spiderman comes to terms with what’s important in his life. Go web go!

1. Batman (Tim Burton)

The best of Batman in my eyes with the right balance between fantasy comic book and dark reality with a brooding Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne and devilish Jack Nicholson as The Joker in a role he was born to play. Rejuvenating the comic-book movie (after the Superman franchise ended in a damp squib) the film was stylish, sassy (“where does he get those wonderful toys?”) and equal parts insane and serious. Nolan took more from this than anyone cares to admit (see my Bat-blog here on their similarities – click for blog) and Burton focused on the Caped Crusader’s crime and detective background and gave us the origins in well-thought out flashbacks. With a BatMobile for the ages, a solid support cast (Michael Gough as Alfred lasting ALL four of this franchise’s movies) and a gothic design by the late Anton Furst, the simply titled Batman was not only the sum of its parts but much more than that and made the anti-hero not just a campy actor in tights, but a major cultural phenomenon. Good knight my sweet Prince.

By midlandsmovies, Jul 14 2013 06:40PM

A multiple Spotlight with a number of different local film-makers across the region showcasing their work.

The Pitch

A sitcom about movie-making? Well, that’s good enough for us. The Pitch is a new five episode live action mini web series by Bearing 305 Productions in Leicester with each episode focusing on a particular day within the offices of Vision Productions. Bearing 305 is a collaboration between Luke Gosling, a screenwriter with a BA in model design and Sean Brown a film-maker with a background in Media Production.

The premise of The Pitch is how 3 film students Michael, Ed and Tim graduate from university and form a production company whilst Michael and Ed want to produce blockbusters, Tim just wants it to be a successful business. All 3 pursue their dreams and aspirations of becoming established within the film and television industry plus achieve the holy grail of fame, fortune and a path to Hollywood.

Follow them on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/thepitch2012 for updates or at their website http://www.the-pitch.co.uk or watch the first episode here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxCSiA0SlLI

Food for Thought

Watch here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3WTj39AAps

A new short from Ryan March featuring the incredible skills of local actress Angharhad Owen.

Angharhad play Georgia in this short silent black comedy written and directed by Ryan for Royal Holloway University 2012 and follows a serial killers need for greater self esteem through murder and cake! Ryan March can be contacted at https://twitter.com/ryanjmarch and Angharhad Owen is also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/angharhado

Angharhad has been performing for 30 years and is a versatile character actress with exceptional comedy skills, excellent timing and physical comedy and Improvisation skills. Angharhad has worked extensively with the producing company Leicester Drama Society where she has performed in over 30 full scale stage plays including, Shelia in An Inspector Calls, The Countess in Rattigans Flare Path and Bernie in Willy Russells Stags & Hens amongst many others. In 2012 Angharhads work in theatre access helped to secure the coveted Access for All Tourism Award for Leicester Theatre Trust. Watch

SicZ GirlZ

Stu at www.evoluzive.co.uk is a young film-maker taking to the streets with a handheld camera to tackle sic kids on the block. The full feature is coming soon which Stu describes as “a gang of girls created from ones actions, with a need for money & a taste for fast cash and asks how long will it be before their actions get reactions and what will be the consequences, will their friendship grow stronger or will it get too Sic and split them?”

Watch the trailer here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwdmFJxlAIU (Caution contains explicit/offensive language)

RSS Feed twitter