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By midlandsmovies, Nov 23 2018 12:57PM



Chappaquiddick (film) Dir. John Curran


This film highlights an historical incident from 1969 when US Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car into Poucha Pond killing a girl called Mary Jo Kopechne and then focuses on the subsequent media fallout.


The main facts from the case make for dark inspection as Kennedy drives from a beach party and crashes into water before returning to the house where he asks 2 friends to assist. But after failing to rescue her they advise him to go to the police that night. But for some reason he doesn’t. He goes back to his hotel and back to bed. A man in shock or an act of political protection? Well, the film definitely portrays the latter.


So let’s be honest here, the film doesn’t make the Senator look in any way sympathetic. The car is subsequently found by members of the public and Kennedy returns to his family’s estate to instigate some serious media damage control.


Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy is fantastic and the film’s supporting cast is solid throughout. At the film’s conclusion we are told Ted continued in the U.S. Senate for 40 years – highlighting how that even when causing a death, nothing can really stop your career when you come from American royalty like the Kennedys.


Ed Helms, looking strangely like the manager from The Incredibles and Clancy Brown are the best of the rest whilst Bruce Dern is as cantankerous as ever as Kennedy senior. Kate Mara is strong but given the story, she is"offed" early in the movie - although her sympathetic portrayal makes Kennedy's actions all the more unfathomable.


The film is a solid biopic and if anything made me feel slightly disgusted by the actions on screen but doesn’t truly hold as much weight as it should other than Clarke’s captivating central performance.


The Kennedy family and their powerful friends have unsurprisingly called the film a “fabrication” but the film rightly sticks to its guns in order to remind us all of the political machinations of a country slowly falling away from its morals in a way that maintains the sleazy status quo. A passable political potboiler.


6/10


Mike Sales



By midlandsmovies, Nov 12 2018 07:12PM

MIdlands Feature - Cinematic Crusade - The Best Robin Hood movies


With Robin Hood, not since Sherlock Holmes has an iconic British legend been turned into so many movie adaptations over the years.


A report from the NME earlier this year says there are 7 Robin Hood films in the works. However, having just reviewed Robin Hood: The Rebellion I think they’ve missed at least one. Well, 7 or 8 is still a huge number for the same brand recognition but one thing is for sure – it’s a legend ripe for the reimagining!


With so many iterations over the years – from 1908’s "Robin Hood and his Merry Men" which marks the first appearance of the outlaw on screen to porn parody “Virgins of Sherwood Forest” – there hasn’t been a genre that the Robin mythos hasn’t been adapted into. But which of the many versions are the best? Well, with ours and Robin’s Midlands origins we attempt to look at 10 of the best Robin Hood films from cinematic folklore. Please read on...





10. Robin Hood (1991) Directed by John Irvin

The first of two 1991 Robin Hood films on our list – take a wild guess at the other – sees Patrick Bergin embody the outlaw whilst an up-and-coming actress by the name of Uma Thurman stars as Maid Marian. Directed by John “Raw Deal” Irvin and produced by John “Die Hard” McTiernan, sadly don’t expect too much in the way of solid action but owing to Kevin Costner’s huge film later in the year, this film has been regularly overlooked and certainly underappreciated. Fighting nobility, the plot uses the same set up as the 1938 film where a war between Normans and Saxons gets things moving but the movie sadly, and unwisely, jettisons the Sheriff of Nottingham (why?) for some new villains. Filmed on location at Peckforton Castle in Cheshire – a non-Nottingham theme we’ll be seeing more of later – the 19-year age gap between Begin and Thurman is a bit icky but it’s well worth checking out as a bit of a curio in the history of Hood on film.


Hood Fact: The use of "Your Majesty" wasn’t used until almost 200 years later, the word “thugs” derives from the Thuggee which Brits wouldn’t encounter for another five centuries, the bloodhound was not a favoured dog breed until the 1500s and when Friar Tuck says he can afford swan's breast in Madeira, the country wasn't actually discovered until 1419 so he would have had difficulty! To be fair, many of the other films on this list commit worse crimes than these nit-picks.



9. Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) Directed by Terence Fisher

Tagline: “The NEW and Greatest Adventures of Robin Hood... The World's Most Renowned Swordsman!" Sword? Surely bow and arrow? Anyways, a little-seen version, Sword of Sherwood Forest is a Hammer Film Production (them of ‘horror’ fame) and stars Richard Greene – who reprises the role he played in The Adventures of Robin Hood TV series from 1955 to 1959. Hammer stalwart Peter Cushing takes on the part of the Sheriff of Nottingham who has nefarious plans to confiscate a rich estate and, as always, is thwarted by Hood acting on the side of good. Several clumsy sword fights can be forgiven owing to a genuine love for the material and acting heavyweight Oliver Reed appears, but is re-dubbed, as Lord Melton. Unlike a few hammy Hammer sets, the film looks glorious filmed as it was on location in County Wicklow, Ireland – but again not in Nottingham sadly.


Hood Fact: From 1954 to 1967 Hammer Film Productions released three different movies starring the famous outlaw – as well as this there was The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954) and A Challenge for Robin Hood (1967).



8. Robin Hood (2010) Directed by Ridley Scott

Well, it’s not perfect. And then some. Seminal director Ridley Scott – a man known for his visual prowess and epic scale – takes the legend and sadly removes any fun despite a film filled with great actors and impressive locations. Here, Australian Russell Crowe is cast as Robin and is not the first, and no doubt won’t be the last, person to struggle with an English accent. His infamous BBC radio interview had him hopping mad – then walking out – when its authenticity was questioned (click here). Alongside Crowe is one of the best casts in the business, which includes Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Mark Addy, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston, Eileen Atkins, and Max von Sydow. Yet it was the stodgy story and dour delivery that had people turning their noses up. Where’s Robin’s sense of mischief? Where is the adventure? Where is the film’s joy? For all its flaws though, you can still appreciate the fantastic Scott set pieces. Although, when seeing this film for the first time at the cinema I can still remember laughing out loud at the slow-motion sequence of Crowe popping out the sea (sea? In the legendary land-locked Nottingham?) in a shot of such ludicrous “epic-ness” there’s a perverse enjoyment of a film that takes a jaunty tale so seriously. You have been warned.


Hood Fact: The film's budget ballooned from $155 million to $200 million. Scott robbing from the rich film companies to deliver a poor film.



7. Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) Directed by Gordon Douglas

A 60s musical set in Chicago during the Prohibition where two rival gangs compete for control of the city's rackets seems an unlikely interpretation but with so many films of Robin Hood appearing over the years, it’s these new takes that can standout amongst such a busy marketplace. Written by David R. Schwartz and produced by (and starring) Frank Sinatra, the film sees new mob boss Guy Gisborne (Peter Falk) ordering other gangsters in town to pay him protection whilst “Robbo” (Sinatra) gets together a band of merry men including pool hustler Little John (Dean Martin) and Will (Sammy Davis Jr.). Before long, the gangster ends up robbing from the rich and giving to a poor city orphanage. In a twist however, Barbara Rush as Marian Stevens (Maid Marian) is as duplicitous as they come, playing off both sides and looking out only for herself and stealing tainted money. Mostly a spoof, the film features the rat-pack stars belting out a variety of slick speakeasy hits including "My Kind of Town" which is the centrepiece number and was nominated for the 1964 Academy Award for Best Original Song. A quirky oddity, there’s enough swinging style to give Robin an updated unravelling by jumping into the seedy gangster genre.


Hood Fact: For a legend often containing imprisonments, ransoms and money exchanges, a scene depicting a kidnapping was filmed for Robin and the 7 Hoods but was quickly cut when star Frank Sinatra's son was kidnapped in real life. The 19-year old was released soon after after Sinatra paid the $240,000 demanded.



6. Robin and Marian (1976) Directed by Richard Lester

Before tackling his own American icon in Superman II, director Richard Lester went back to the past heroes of the UK with this period romantic adventure starring Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn. Strangely including comedian Ronnie Barker as Friar Tuck, the film was mostly shot in sunny old Eng—actually in Zamora, Artajona and Orgi in Spain – standing in for France rather than the Midlands at times too. With this suspect geographical anomaly (a Robin Hood film tradition you will see as we continue to go through the list), the movie had big names, a score composed by John “007” Barry and came off the back of Lester’s take on another classic swashbuckler The Three Musketeers (1973). It moves away from the traditional narrative where we get an aging Robin Hood fighting abroad before his return to Nottingham but [SHOCK HORROR SPOILER WARNING] he actually dies at the end. An interesting look at age, legends, love and wisdom, Robin and Marian may be one of the most complex, and interesting, versions of the nostalgic tale to date.


Hood Fact: Connery seems inexplicably linked to the Hood fable from his appearance here to his cameo as King Richard the Lionheart in Prince of Thieves (1991). He also appeared in Time Bandits (1981) which featured John Cleese’s comical Robin Hood. And it doesn’t stop there as his own son Jason Connery would later play Robin Hood in Robin of Sherwood (1984)!



5. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) Directed by Mel Brooks

Parodying the Robin Hood myth – but more specifically the 1938 and 1991 film versions – Mel Brooks undoes some of the legend’s classicism and replaces it with the pratfalls, visual jokes and verbal gags seen in Brook’s previous comedies. Cary Ewes plays a solid Robin holding together the chaotic narrative stemming from the eclectic support cast and bit-players which includes Dave Chappelle (in his first film role and clearly inspired by Morgan Freeman’s Moor), Isaac Hayes, Tracey Ullman, Patrick Stewart and even Dom DeLuise. A point-of-view shot following an arrow’s impossible journey around a forest (in the trailer only no less) is another direct reference to Prince of Thieves and whilst it pokes fun, it respects the story’s heart and never feels like a direct dig at the tale. Favourite line? “Unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent”. With this and some actors interacting with the crew on screen, Men in Tights takes a swipe at a number of past performances whilst warmly acknowledging the history of Hood on film into the bargain.


Hood Fact: As mentioned several times already, the geography of Great Britain is again suspect here – maybe intentionally so given the film’s parodic nature – but at the end of the movie when the camera is zooming out the castle is shown to be around Milton Keynes. Tut Tut.



4. Robin Hood (1973) Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman

Can humanoid cartoon animals portray historical characters better than Russell Crowe? You bet your ass they can! Disney’s box office success found fans owing to its excellent voice cast, fun animation and catchy tunes and although it may have aged a little worse than its initial box office suggested, the movie’s biggest draw is its entertaining and light-hearted take on the hero. Languishing in development hell since the mouse house’s Snow White (1937) the tale is inspired by Reynard the Fox – a medieval fable featuring a trickster red fox character. This version’s Little John shares eerie similarities with Baloo from The Jungle Book (1967) who was also a bear that had been voiced by Phil Harris and classic sequences are incorporated from the traditional Robin Hood narrative. One such take is the cordial tree-crossing in which Robin Hood and Little John wander over a fallen tree which bridges a river – this twists their usual legendary fight at the same location.


Hood Fact: The famous gap on Terry-Thomas' teeth was incorporated into the design of the character he voices, Sir Hiss (a snake) – and it makes a handy opening for his forked tongue to dart out from.



3. Robin Hood (1922) Directed by Allan Dwan

As the first film ever to have a Hollywood premiere, held at the now legendary Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, Robin Hood was also one of the most expensive films of the 20s with a one-million-dollar budget. Douglas Fairbanks stars in this black and white silent movie as Earl of Huntingdon/Robin Hood and with sword fights, castles, horse chases and a feather in his hat, this much-lauded classic help set up many of the tropes we know from the films today. A massive film for its time, its use of over 1200 extras can be seen in spectacular battle scenes in huge Hollywood scale with some of its impressive sets being designed by architect Lloyd “Hollywood Bowl” Wright.


Hood Fact: Alan Hale, Sr. made such an impression as Little John in this film that he reprised the role sixteen years later in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) opposite Errol Flynn. Then he played the character again in Rogues of Sherwood Forest in 1950, 28 years after his initial performance in this original.



2. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) Directed by Michael Curtiz

Considered by many to be the definitive Robin Hood interpretation, the film is most known for Errol Flynn’s magnetic performance of Robin but director Curtiz (of Casablanca and Mildred Pierce fame no less) should be equally lauded for helming this legendary production. As well as Flynn, superstar Olivia de Havilland stars as Lady Marian Fitzwalter (Maid Marian) whilst Basil Rathbone takes the role of Guy of Gisbourne. Melville Cooper’s take on the High Sheriff of Nottingham is underrated and once again a film company (this time Warner Bros.) made their most expensive film ever with its budget being a richly $2 million. With its adventure spirit, a host of dramatic yet charismatic performances and fantastic fights, this film is rightly held as the pinnacle of chivalric swashbuckling on film and won Academy Awards for Art Direction, Editing and Original Score from celebrated composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold.


Hood Fact: James Cagney (of Curtiz’s earlier film Angels with Dirty Faces) was originally cast as Robin but walked out on his Warner Bros. contract and the filming was postponed three years, as a result – but paved the way for the role to go to Flynn.



1. Prince of Thieves (1991) Directed by Kevin Reynolds

As I have mentioned before on this site 1991 was a brilliant year for film which saw Terminator 2, Silence of the Lambs and JFK having huge critical and commercial success but it was Bryan Adams’ soundtrack song to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that takes me back to that infamous year. Spending what felt like 16 years atop the charts at number one (it was in fact a record-breaking 16 long WEEKS) the song’s cheesy love lyrics also earnt it an Academy Award but was the perfect accompaniment to a film that was (and still is to me) one of the guiltiest pleasures of the nineties. Costner’s intense and dodgy-accented New Orleans attorney in JFK from the same year was left behind for the dodgy-accented outlaw in a film which balanced both folk tale fun alongside serious issues of history, honour and guilt. Stealing the show of course is Alan Rickman’s BAFTA winning turn as the Sheriff which cemented his career playing legendary villains. It was also Rickman who brought in friend Ruby Wax to improve the Sheriff’s scripted dialogue. Also in on the act is a superb support cast including Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio who all give a bit of a depth to the characters we’ve seen dozens of times before. The brilliant rousing music score was composed by Michael Kamen and was subsequently used on Walt Disney trailers and gives me chills each and every time I hear it. The movie contains a split arrow sequence that nods to Flynn’s 1938 archery contest scene, a Sean Connery cameo as King Richard (who else, huh?) and lots of laughs and action that entertains to this day. Having kept the VHS of this film – I think it was the first one I ever bought – I’ve always had a soft spot for it and although it’s so cheesy it should be served with crackers, the film’s tone is the perfect adventure mix of silly and serious.


Hood Fact: Everyone always dismisses the film’s geography – land in Dover, get to Hadrian’s Wall then enter Nottingham by nightfall on foot but…..if the cliff is just a cliff and the wall just a wall then you can land in Grimsby at 5am in Summer and get to Loxley near Sheffield in 62 miles which is just kinda possible. And that’s what I’m sticking to.


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jun 28 2018 01:47PM



Entebbe (2018) Dir. José Padilha


Entebbe is an historical thriller from José Padilha recounting the story of the 1976 hostage rescue by Israeli forces named Operation Thunderbolt. When Air France Flight 139 is hijacked en route from Tel Aviv to Paris, the plane is refuelled, and passengers and crew held hostage at part of Entebbe airport in Uganda whilst a ransom of $5 million and the release of 53 pro-Palestinian militants is demanded.


Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike as Brigitte Kuhlmann and Rush’ Daniel Brühl as Wilfried Böse play two German terrorists who take control of the plane but once landed, their high-risk endeavour is super ceded by a Palestinian group working with dictator Idi Amin to ensure their demands are secured.


As families are split into Israeli and non-Israeli groups, we cut to Lior Ashkenazi as Yitzhak Rabin and Eddie Marsan as Shimon Peres who antagonise each other to show the complex machinations of the Jewish government as they seek to find a resolution. However, the film’s politics are delivered in a heavy-handed way with its “if we don’t talk, there will never be peace” message so in your face that the dialogue explicitly repeats it twice in the last 20 minutes. What audience would want subtext, eh?


This heavy-handed approach is further muddled by extensive footage of the Batsheva Dance Company performing a modern routine to the traditional Jewish song Echad Mi Yodea. Although there is an obvious crossover in the stories, this abstract interpretation is so strangely edited into the movie at different narrative points, any parallel topics it tries to infer are lost as the flow of the film disappears.


The poor stop-start nature of the film is improved by the strong performances of Pike and Brühl who go through a range of emotions as their loyalties and commitment to the cause is tested. As diplomatic efforts fail, an inevitable counter operation by IDF commandos led Angel Bonanni as Yonatan Netanyahu is approved, and the finale is a so-so edited, but much needed, shoot-out at the airport.


Its closest relative is Spielberg’s 2005 Munich but without that director’s flair, background and more complex structure, Entebbe is a fine political thriller but is almost all surface and no depth. A fine way to while away a few hours of your time but you’ll get none of the complexities of the politics at play.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike



By midlandsmovies, Jan 18 2018 04:41PM

Midlands Feature - The Movie Succession to the Throne


Having recently started watching the historical television drama The Tudors (yes, I know it’s not a movie but stick with me on this) I thoroughly enjoyed its mash-up of sex, murder, beheadings and political and religious themes. The fascinating mix of war, melodrama and a splattering of camp, the high production values make this a series well worth catching if you’re interested in Henry VIII and British royal history in general.


But it got me thinking. As a fan of Cate Blanchett, a viewer could easily do a watch of her brilliant turn as Henry’s daughter Elizabeth in both Elizabeth (1998) and its follow up The Golden Age (2007) as a kind of quasi-sequel. The films continue the political machinations from the time and show another reign of an infamous monarch.


So coming back to the Midlands, with its swathes of picturesque countryside and regal-like manors and houses, the region even has connections to movies covering monarchs. Haddon Hall in Bakewell was used as Hatfield House in Elizabeth. Henry’s story is also covered in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) by Justin Chadwick, which starred Scarlett Johansson & Natalie Portman as Mary Boleyn and sister Anne Boleyn. Parts of this film were also shot in the region at Dovedale in Castleton and Haddon Hall, as well as at North Lees Hall. Finally, Belvoir Castle in Leicester is home to the Duke of Rutland & seen in Young Victoria (2009).


But if you could follow one dramatisation of a monarch’s reign with another, could you do them all? By that I mean can we follow the entire line of succession using movies (and a few TV shows)? Well, my self-imposed challenge was accepted and the results are below. There have been 66 monarchs of England and Britain spread over a period of 1500 years. Many of the productions are about succession so there’s a lot of overlap between multiple films, but I gave myself just one 'get out' by starting the list AFTER the Saxon Kings. So we begin the list at the infamous date of 1066.


That said, for the Saxon period you can do worse than checking out the 1969 epic Alfred the Great and we begin our full lineage after the death of Harold II and the beginning of the Norman period.




NORMAN KINGS

WILLIAM I (The Conqueror) 1066- 1087 Guillaume, la jeunesse du conquérant (2015)

WILLIAM II (Rufus) 1087- 1100 Blood Royal: William the Conqueror (1990 TV adaptation)

HENRY I 1100-1135 The Pillars of the Earth (2010 miniseries)

STEPHEN 1135-1154 Cadfael (1994)




PLANTAGENET KINGS

HENRY II 1154-1189 The Lion in Winter (1968)

RICHARD I (The Lionheart) 1189 – 1199 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

JOHN 1199 -1216 Ironclad (2011)

HENRY III 1216 -1272 Becket (1964)

EDWARD I 1272 – 1307 Braveheart (1995)

EDWARD II 1307 – deposed 1327 Edward II (1991)

EDWARD III 1327 – 1377 The Dark Avenger (1955)

RICHARD II 1377 – deposed 1399 Richard II (2012)




HOUSE OF LANCASTER

HENRY IV 1399 – 1413 Chimes at Midnight (1965)

HENRY V 1413 – 1422 Henry V (1944) & Henry V (1989) - both classic adaptations

HENRY VI 1422 – deposed 1461 Beginning of the Wars of the Roses Tower of London (1939)


HOUSE OF YORK

EDWARD IV 1461- 1483 The White Queen (2013 TV)

EDWARD V 1483 – 1483 Richard III (2008)

RICHARD III 1483 – 1485 End of the Wars of the Roses Richard III (1995)




THE TUDORS

HENRY VII 1485 – 1509 Looking For Richard (1996)

HENRY VIII 1509 – 1547 Carry on Henry (1971) & The Tudors (2007)

EDWARD VI 1547 – 1553 Well, Edward VI is the basis for the Prince & the Pauper and so the best version of that is clearly Trading Places (1983). For a more traditional take check Tudor Rose (1936)

LADY JANE (9 Days Queen) Lady Jane (1986)

MARY I (Bloody Mary) 1553 – 1558 The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)




ELIZABETH I 1558-1603

There are so many films and prodcutions featuring The Virgin Queen but for some of the best check out Elizabeth (1998) and its sequel The Golden Age (2007), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Anonymous (2011).




THE STUARTS

JAMES I and VI of Scotland 1603 -1625 Gunpowder, Treason & Plot (2004 TV)

CHARLES 1 1625 – 1649 English Civil War The Devil's Whore (2008 TV)




THE COMMONWEALTH - declared May 19th 1649

OLIVER CROMWELL, Lord Protector 1653 – 1658 Cromwell (1970)

RICHARD CROMWELL, Lord Protector 1658 – 1659 To Kill A King (2003)




THE RESTORATION

CHARLES II 1660 – 1685 Restoration

JAMES II and VII of Scotland 1685 – 1688 England My England (1995)

WILLIAM III 1689 – 1702 The League of Gentlemen Apocalypse (2005)

MARY II 1689 – 1694 Orlando (1992)

ANNE 1702 – 1714 The First Churchills (1969 TV)




THE HANOVARIANS

GEORGE I 1714 -1727 The Iron Glove (1954)

GEORGE II 1727 – 1760 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

GEORGE III 1760 – 1820 The Madness of King George (1994)

GEORGE IV 1820 – 1830 Beau Brummell (1954)

WILLIAM IV 1830 – 1837 The Young Victoria (2009)

VICTORIA 1837 – 1901 Mrs. Brown (1997)




HOUSE OF SAXE-COBURG AND GOTHA

EDWARD VII 1901 – 1910 Victoria and Abdul (2017)




HOUSE OF WINDSOR Name changed in 1917

GEORGE V 1910 – 1936 W.E. (2011)

EDWARD VIII June 1936 – abdicated December 1936 Chariots of Fire (1981)

GEORGE VI 1936 – 1952 The King's Speech (2010)

ELIZABETH II 1952 – The Queen (2006)



And there we are! With a few close calls the monarchs from 1066 to the modern day each appear in a different film or production. Which is a cinematic universe I'd give props to anyone trying from start to finish!


A special mention as well to British actress Jeannette Charles who once had difficulty obtaining Equity membership due to her resemblance to the Queen. However, she subsequently played the role in numerous films including Secrets of a Superstud (1976), Queen Kong (1976), The Rutles' movie All You Need Is Cash (1978), National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985), The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)


*raises goblet* So, ladies and gentlemen, let's toast all of the talent, both local, national and international, who put their heart and soul into bringing history to the big screen for our pleasure!


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Dec 6 2017 09:59PM



Midlands Spotlight – Lapwing


Midlands Movies Mike finds out about upcoming film Lapwing from Urban Apache Films which is being made in the region with a planned release in 2018.


Urban Apache Films are an award winning UK based independent film production company founded in 2009. The core team features director Philip Stevens whose work has been selected for festivals around the world and has won numerous international awards, including a Royal Television Society award for best short drama.


Lapwing adds to the expanding portfolio of films at Urban Apache as they endeavour to keep numerous projects in production at any given time.


Lapwing’s exciting location is the local salt-marshes of Lincolnshire. Set in 1555, the film follows an isolated group of salt famers who are arranging illegal passage to Europe for an Egyptian family in hiding. However, a love affair between Patience, a mute English girl, and Rumi the son of the Egyptian family, threatens to destroy both communities.


The cast includes Emmett J Scanlan (David), Sebastian De Souza (Rumi), Hannah Douglas (Patience) and Javed Khan (Arif) and will be produced by Urban Apache Films themselves alongside Red Dog Film and World Serpent Productions,


Urban Apache describe Lapwing as “an immersive, visceral, yet tonal window into the life of a young woman who is forced to the fringes of Tudor society”.


“Living within an isolated community on the Lincolnshire salt marshes, Patience embarks on a journey of self discovery beyond the ominous shadow of the community's violent patriarchal leader”.


“Part psychological thriller, part love story, the film sets the contemporary and modern themes of immigration, otherness and the female voice and gaze, in a dangerous world where violence, superstition and vengeance reign”.


The film has been written by Laura Turner who has written more than twenty original plays and adaptations of classic novels for the theatre, with productions of her work touring all over the world and a number published by Josef Weinberger Books. Her film The Empty Throne won a LOSA award in April 2016 at the BFI and Laura's new work The Buried Moon opened in May at the Rose Theatre in London.


After a successful IndieGoGo campaign, the film has now wrapped and the filmmakers are very proud of their local connections. “We are almost entirely local professionals who believe in the wealth of exceptional talent in the East Midlands where we are based. But above all, we want to make the most beautiful and entertaining film that we can”.


You can follow updates on the film at their social media Twitter page here: https://twitter.com/lapwingmovie or at their official website www.urbanapachefilms.com


Midlands Movies Mike



Hannah Douglas and fellow cast and crew on set of Lapwing
Hannah Douglas and fellow cast and crew on set of Lapwing


By midlandsmovies, Jan 31 2017 09:24PM



Denial (2017) Dir. Mick Jackson


With a rather eclectic Hollywood filmography including LA Story, The Bodyguard and 1997’s Volcano, director Mick Jackson shies from the schlocky sentimentality of those movies to the much shocking issues in Denial.


The film follows a British trial where Jewish historian Deborah Lipstadt is taken to court by Holocaust denier David Irving for libel. Lipstadt is played by an American-accented Rachel Weisz whilst the arrogant scholar Irving is embodied by a haughty Timothy Spall. With the convoluted UK legal system and laborious law processes proving to be frustrating, Weisz leaves her reputation in the hands of solicitor Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott) who refuses to be drawn into the incredibly emotional aspects of the case.


Also in the legal team is Tom Wilkinson, as barrister Richard Rampton, who visits the concentration camp at Auschwitz with the rest of the team in an attempt to get to the facts of the case. Pushing the emotions to one side, he searches for evidence before the trial begins and Irving himself uses his media audience for his own self-centred exploits.


The film presents a balancing act of our human disgust at the atrocities, so well documented over the years, played against a court case where only the best evidence will do. Conflicts occur between Weisz and her team over one of the most emotional issues in human history yet the film forces the audience to throw those passionate feelings to one side to objectively disprove Irving’s ludicrous claims.


A pivotal scene when Weisz finally realises, and respects, the decisions made by an aloof Tom Wilkinson - which subsequently leads to Irving being revealed as the fool he is - was a dramatic high point in the film. Wilkinson’s subtle techniques as the character AND as an actor show him to be a master of his craft and he later brings a sensitivity to the role over a drink with Lipstadt. Convincing her to not give Irving the satisfaction of dragging victims to the dock, he and his team know that winning is the goal. The only possible goal and they will achieve it despite their feelings.


It was nice to see Mark Gatiss in a serious role as a local Polish historian and although Spall is great as Irving, his hammy waffling contrasts to the understated Wilkinson and its Tom, not Tim, who comes out on top. Both as actor and in the courtroom.


The film’s scenes at Auschwitz so many years later remind the audience of the ongoing efforts to maintain the site as a physical shrine but the history goes beyond the walls and gates and permeates our very soul. A sobering account of a court case that should have never occurred in the first place, the first rate acting helps create a very watchable drama that covers an event in recent history that reminds us to protect the events of the past.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Jan 18 2017 04:25PM



Patriots Day (2017) Dir. Peter Berg


This new film from Peter “Battleship” Berg is a real-life drama about the Boston Marathon bombers and the horrific after effects of their actions on the lives of regular folk in the historic city.


Set in 2013, and only 4 years old, the film has the slight problem of perhaps not allowing enough time to pass to really reflect on that incident and emotions generated. However, like 2016’s “Sully”, the selling point does seem to be “do you remember this?” which is a bit crass but not unheard of in this day and age.


Beginning with true-to-life and mundane scenes of regular Bostonians, the film’s lead is Mark Wahlberg (from Berg’s previous Deepwater Horizon and Lone Survivor) as Police Department Sergeant Tommy Saunders. This fictional character helps centre the film but dents the film’s credentials as an objective look at the events of that horrendous day. That said, it did not bother me as much as the Paul Greengrass-style school of shooting, although the camera is slightly less wobbly and much more in focus than his Bourne Supremacy.


The everyday lives are intercut with the marathon preparations as well as glimpses of brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the perpetrators of the crime. The younger brother is played brilliantly by Alex Wolff whose almost disinterest in the bombing is contrasted with his elder brother’s ruthless jihadi plans.


The doubts of the younger brother are edited with an early focus on the recurring theme of disability – blades can be observed on amputee runners on the start line and Wahlberg’s own cop is going through his own rehabilitation.


Alongside this we see wheelchair racers crossing the finish line whilst day-to-day cops are playing violent video games in their downtime. The calm is suddenly broken by the two bombs and the film kicks up a gear as the realisation that this is a terrorist incident begins to dawn on the cops. The music had a Hans Zimmer-Dark Knight vibe which gave an eerie sense of dread from composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Like The Dark Knight, cityscape shots are used to show how Boston became its own character as the events unfolded and a manhunt gets underway to track the brothers through the dimly lit streets.


Kudos should go to the production team whose recreations are so realistic I struggled to tell the real footage from the recreated moments. Different film stock, handheld cameras and fictional TV footage are seamlessly placed amongst real life photos and interviews. This realism hits home with hospital scenes of gruesome amputations showing the destruction the bombers inflicted. As well as the physical, we also experience the emotional toil as families deal with loss and the film’s focus on the regular people of Boston was definitely one of its key strengths.


Kevin Bacon as a Special Agent in the FBI's Boston field office brings some structure to the chaotic proceedings as his team use a warehouse recreation of the street – with added bloodied clothing – to act as a physical manifestation of the investigation.


The procedure of backtracking through the CCTV is skilfully adapted for the screen and helps keep the interest high despite most viewers already knowing the outcome. As the net closes in on the brothers, Patriot’s Day sadly veers slightly towards the standard Hollywood action genre in its finale with gun shootouts. Filmed again like a Bourne or a Bond, the camera is positioned “inside” the action and subsequently loses some of the credibility already built up.


The conclusion is as expected given the press coverage people may already be aware of and again, like “Sully”, there are interviews with the real life victims at the film’s ending. Unlike Sully though, the home movie footage showing the victims running the Boston marathon on leg-blades brought tears to my eyes. A fitting tribute to the spirit of Boston’s residents not letting anything, or anyone stop them.


Wahlberg, who has appeared in a lot of these recent topical films, is suited for the fictional Sgt. “Joe Everyman” but is mostly just ok. Kevin Bacon and John Goodman however bring their usual high quality to support roles, and JK Simmons isn’t utilised nearly enough, but the acting is impressive overall. I didn’t think the film was crass or exploitative per se – the film changes what it needs to work as a film – and the recreations reminded me of Oliver Stone’s JFK more than anything else. Which given how big a fan I am of that film is high praise.


It's pretty superficial when it comes to the background of the killers but if you’re interested in modern history without a full in-depth essay on the political arguments then Patriot’s Day is a fantastic dramatic retelling. It avoids glamorising the brothers and spends its time showing how people pull together and overcome a crisis in their community and it’s done with flair and a healthy respect for the Boston people it represents.


7.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 19 2016 06:07PM

Archway 0173 tells the story of Tom who is fascinated by an old telephone bought at an auction but one day the previously-broken phone rings and connects Tom with a young girl from 1940 called Isabelle. Becoming friends after sharing conversations, Tom's friend Katie doesn’t believe Isabelle is real. MIdlands Movies writer investigates this new short from Leicester where characters make frightening discoveries about each other.


Writer & Director of Archway 0173 is promising newcomer Pat Knight from Leicester. Although this film is Pat's first production she is someone who already has connections with the regional filmmaking community in the city as she explains:


“My son David attends the Pauline Quirke Academy in Leicester and through this I met Keith Allott who is their Film and TV teacher", says Pat. Pat continues, "As well as working with the PQA students, Keith offered to help any parent who was interested in film making. Having been on serval TV and Film sets when David has been filming I became fascinated by the whole process of film-making and was inspired to create my own film, accepting Keith’s offer to help".


So what came next?


"I then began to think of ideas for a film. I love science fiction and time travel and I came up with the story for Archway 0173 having re-discovered our old broken Bakelite telephone which had been stored away. I imagined it connecting people through time and the story developed from there. I am very lucky that I have a very talented young actor for a son so it seemed obvious to create the role of Tom for him and it was such a lovely experience to work alongside him on set".


With David's friends also being actors, Pat felt it was a natural progressions to tap into their talent for the rest of the cast.


"I was delighted when Eleanor Worthington Cox, who is in CBBC’s Hetty Feather with David, agreed to play the role of Isabelle. We were very lucky that her other filming schedules fitted in with our shoot, I feel very honoured to have her in my first film. Our other young actress, Jess O’Brien is a student at PQA and David has worked with her previously on several short films. Many of the other actors in the film are from a local amateur dramatic group and for our crew we were able to enlist some of the other PQA students to help behind the camera as well as help from one of the other mums and my husband".


With this being Pat's foray into film, she said their were struggles but support came from a variety of close friends.


"It was a steep learning curve but Keith (Allott) was an excellent mentor and explained each stage of the film making process before I undertook them from the treatment through to the final draft of the script, shot lists, story boards, the actual filming process then into editing and creating a trailer. Through Keith I was introduced to Javier Blanco, a professional composer who then composed the music for the film. I have learned so much but I know there is still a huge amount still to learn. We filmed over 3 days and in all it took a year from the first ideas for a script to the film being completed".


Archway 0173 had its premiere at The Shortish Cinema, part of The Short Cinema film festival at the Phoenix cinema in Leicester and Pat couldn't be more delighted with the finished film, turning out exactly as she imagined it.


"I was so lucky to have such a fantastic mentor, cast and crew on my first film who all did an amazing job. I am looking forward to Archway’s next screening which is at 5 Lamps in Derby later this month and I have started to enter it into other film festivals all over the world".


Coming off the back of such successful feedback, Pat is now currently working on a draft script based on idea from her son which he is going to take forward and direct himself.


For a review of the film please continue reading after the jump.


Kira Comerford




Archway 0173 (2016) Dir. Pat Knight


Archway 0173 is a short film with a concept that I found to be very interesting. The idea of the two periods of time being linked by one telephone threw up a lot of questions for me, and made me sort of go, ‘Ah, now there’s a good idea for a short film!’.


The two main performances were partly the reason why I felt the idea worked as well as it did. Both David Knight and Eleanor Worthington-Cox did such a wonderful job of portraying their characters and the time they were growing up in. For example, it was very easy to tell that Worthington-Cox’s character, Isabelle, was from times gone by purely by the way she spoke, and I certainly feel that this was essential for the story to work and to ensure that audiences didn't become confused at any point.


One issue the film brought up that particularly fascinated me was the idea of changing history. Of course, in Archway 0173, the characters would not just have been interfering for the sake of it – it was presented here as a matter of life and death. It left me asking myself a few questions after watching, and I'm partly guessing that this was the impression writer and director Pat Knight was hoping the film would create.


All in all, I found Archway 0173 to be a thought-provoking short that was 20 minutes well spent.


Conceptually, I thought it was very good, and I feel as though there could be a future for some of the young actors who made appearances in the film. If anybody gets a chance to see the film at any upcoming local showcases, I would recommend seeing it at one.


Kira Comerford


By midlandsmovies, Jun 6 2016 08:32PM

Race (2016) Dir. Stephen Hopkins


The story of black athlete Jesse Owens and his struggles against racism, family and eventually the entire world at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is the focus of this new film from Stephen Hopkins who also made the biographical The Life & Death of Peter Sellers.


Stephan James gives a winning turn as Jesse Owens, a talented young athlete from a poor background who makes it to Ohio State University where he is mentored by trainer Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis). Sudeikis is probably one of the most slap-able men in movies but is surprisingly good here with perhaps his best performance – especially in a dramatic role - I've ever seen him give.


The period dress, costumes and locations are excellent but a slight overuse of CGI to recreate 1930s streets, buildings and skylines, as well as some “fake” crowds, are stylised akin to Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Why they bother with this rather than an augmented shot is beyond me but The Panic Room-lite location titles were a better touch.


As Owens fights institutionalised racism at his college (and the public at large), the American Olympic Committee discuss the politics of boycotting the Summer Games.


Jeremy Irons as (future International Olympic President) Avery Brundage plays the sceptical American who receives assurances of Nazi pledges of non-discrimination whilst clashing with William Hurt as Jeremiah Mahoney who supports a boycott. After visiting Europe, Irons’ character soon sees the duplicity of his German hosts (notably Goebbels) and the USA eventually agree to take part.


The segregation and racism is an abhorrent echo to the cruel realism of the past and Owen faces tough choices with his family and his fame. Side stories on German’s film propagandist "Leni" Riefenstah and Owens’ friendship with Carl Ludwig "Luz" Long flesh out the narrative with added historical events.


After Luz helped Owens qualify for the long jump (by moving his mark) and then congratulating him (in front of Hitler no less) Owens once said, “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn't be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment”. A phenomenal part of history.


From the back of a bus to a national (and international) icon, Owens begins to understand what his controversial participation in the games means to different communities but with fellow athlete Eulace Peacock’s support, he decides to go and “stick it up Hitler’s ass”.


I write this on the weekend of Muhammad Ali’s passing – another iconic athlete whose career was equally mired in topics of race – and the issues the film raises seem eerily prescient and brought a tear to my eye being with its emphasis on a story of hope. Owens’ legacy is far longer than the races he ran but his journey in fighting for what was right and ultimately changing others' attitudes is an important one captured here in a fine film.


With Creed, Concussion, The Program and now this, 2016 has provided a wealth of sports films for fans and Race is a movie that makes you want to read more on a subject which is a rare commodity. Breaking track and field records alongside breaking barriers in America, I recommend you take a chance with this winning film as, despite its shortcomings, is one worth investing your soul in.


8/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Apr 23 2016 10:37AM

The Witch (2016) Dir. Robert Eggers


The Witch is a new historical horror which follows a New England family whose puritan beliefs sees them exiled from their community to a wild forest where strange occurrences will soon be thrust upon them. Ralph Ineson plays father William whose wife Katherine gives birth to Samuel who subsequently disappears after their daughter Thomasin plays with him in a field. When their other son Caleb goes missing on a trip with Thomasin and returns to the farm with an ambiguous sickness, their worries increase and their distrust of Thomasin intensifies. As the family’s twins play with a goat – “Black Phillip” – the mother lays the blame on Thomasin for the family’s current catastrophes.


With an “earthy” feel, the film poses questions of the soul but rather than subtle symbolism, these occur with heavy archaic dialogue. This gives a great sense of the past but is somewhat tricky and at times impenetrable. Less accessible for the casual viewer, the minimal language wasn’t helped by a muffled sound mix and on top of that [SPOILERS] the witch itself (herself) is shown very early on. This immediately removes any tension of the unknown and from that point onwards, it felt as if the film was simply waiting to reveal the entity to the family – which itself becomes a slow drawn-out process.


As someone who is not a fan of the 12A-rated family-friendly horrors like Sinister, The Conjuring and Insidious (or grouped together by me as ‘The Insinistering’), I was very much looking forward to this more cerebral take in an overexposed genre. However, despite critics’ claims of a distinct sense of alarm and unsettled dread, I felt neither emotion and more than once it failed to grasp its clever premise. Sad to say I was even shocked (but not in a good way) when I genuinely laughed at scenes including the very final one. Laughed? Yes.


At those points, I felt The Witch had missed (or maybe badly marketed) its key horror elements of terror, frights and shocks. I’m not looking for jump scares but I didn’t “feel” enough engagement for the film to get under my skin. An underwhelming experience, the actors are good and deliver the material well (although Ralph Ineson whose best known to me as “Finchey from TV’s The Office” was off-putting) and fans of drama and historical fiction may enjoy its sluggish paranoia, but many will be disappointed by its obvious delivery. Wonderful cinematography cannot compensate for the absence of tension in a movie with too many anti-climaxes and a cauldron full of missed opportunities.


5/10

Midlands Movies Mike

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