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By midlandsmovies, Oct 18 2019 10:42AM



Derby Film Festival 2019 – Films, special guests and events announced


Taking place 14th to 18th November and now in its sixth edition, Derby Film Festival 2019 features special guests, one-off events and film previews in their new festival programme. This includes a huge selection of brand-new films from many genres, boasting more than eighty films from seventeen different countries, screening at the venue over five days.


The festival has confirmed that this year’s special guest will be film director Ken Loach. A significant figure in the film industry for the over the past fifty years, Ken Loach will open the festival with a Q&A and screening of his new film Sorry We Missed You. Following on from the Palme D’Or winning, I, Daniel Blake, Sorry We Missed You is a topical look at the zero hours contracts culture, shining a spotlight on the working class and those lost in the injustices of the system.


Rigorously researched via off-the-records interviews, Sorry We Missed depicts the ruinous cost of zero-hours contract with gut-wrenching honest and integrity. A furious and heart-breaking film, it offers a rigorous and damning critique of our unequal system; showing how it unscrupulously exploits people, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and robs them of dignity, agency and hope for change. Ken Loach Q&A plus Sorry We Missed You (15) takes place on Thursday 14th November from 6:00pm. Tickets for this one-off event are £15 or £14 concessions.


Derby Cathedral will host a one-off screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s silent classic Blackmail with a live score composed and played by Neil Brand. Neil Brand is the UK’s most acclaimed silent film accompanist, who appears at film festivals and special events around the world, as well as BBC 4 presenter with his hugely successful programmes Sound Of Cinema, The Music That Made The Movies and Sound Of Song.


A highpoint of Alfred Hitchcock’s early films and his last silent film, the seminal thriller Blackmail is a rich evocation of London Life in 1920s. Blackmail (PG) with Live Score by Neil Brand screens at Derby Cathedral on Friday 15th November at 7:00pm. Tickets for this one-off event are £13 or £11 concessions. Neil Brand will also be in QUAD to lead a workshop on Scoring Music to Silent Film on Saturday 16th November at 12 noon.


The full Festival film programme includes twenty-six brand new feature films and over fifty short films from across the globe including New Zealand, Italy, France, Canada and Iran.



An Opening Night Preview is the new Australian film Judy And Punch, a visceral and dynamic live-action reinterpretation of the famous 16th Century puppet show. Starring Mia Wasikowska, writer-director Mirrah Foulkes turns the traditional story of Punch and Judy on its head and brings to life a fierce, darkly comic and epic female-driven revenge story. Judy And Punch (15) screens on Thursday 14th November at 8:50pm


Madness In The Method (Preview) was shot on location in Hollywood and Derby (with a cameo appearance from QUAD itself). Written and produced by Derby’s own Dominic Burns, it’s actor Jason Mewes’ directorial debut. The story follows legendary stoner and actor - Jason Mewes. Tired of Hollywood’s perception of him and on advice from his best friend Kevin Smith, Mewes tracks down a secret method acting book to reinvent himself as a serious actor – with disastrous consequences… Madness In The Method (advised 15) screens on Saturday 16th November at 6:15pm


The Wedding Present: Something Left Behind (Preview) is the definitive story of a record that has been labelled the ‘greatest break-up album of all time’. Exploring music, obsession, love, loss and fading youth over the thirty-year lifespan of The Wedding Present’s much-heralded debut LP, ‘George Best’. The films’ Director Andrew Jezard will also be present for a post screening Q&A. The Wedding Present: Something Left Behind (certificate to be confirmed) + Q&A screens on Saturday 16th November at 6:30pm.


The Biggest Little Farm (Preview) is an environmental documentary about John and Molly Chester, a Los Angeles couple give up city life to buy a farm, following their dream of growing every ingredient they might want to cook with. Motivating, enlightening and entertaining, the film balances one family’s personal story with the practical ups and downs of starting a sustainable, biodiverse farm on land that has been stripped of nutrients. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Jamie from the Down To Earth Project plus special guests, to discuss implementing sustainability in Derby and beyond. The Biggest Little Farm (PG) screens on Friday 15th November at 6:00pm.

Ordinary Love (Preview) stars Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville as Tom and Joan, a married couple with an easy relationship and a depth of love which expresses itself through tenderness and humour. When Joan is diagnosed with breast cancer, the course of her treatment shines a light on their relationship as the pair face the challenges that lie ahead and the prospect of what might happen in the future. Ordinary Love (certificate to be confirmed) screens on Sunday 17th November at 2:00pm


There will be a chance to see many of the short films selected from an international submission, screening before the features and as a full day package on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th November. Derby Film Festival’s sister festival Paracinema will be presenting films that span the genres on the outskirts of cinema. The genre-defying ‘Paracinema’ refers to a wide, seemingly disparate collection of films outside the mainstream.


Adam Marsh, Derby Film Festival Director and QUAD Cinema programmer said “We are really honoured to welcome Ken Loach this year as our special guest. Derby Film Festival 19 yet again presents a fantastic selection of films – from the sublime to the eclectic. There is an excellent range of films representing all corners of the globe; from the ground-breaking and thought provoking and to the funny, subversive and above all some excellent entertainment.”


Anwen Hurt, Derby Film Festival Patron added “I’m really looking forward to coming back to the Derby Film Festival. It’s always such a pleasure and this year there are some amazing new feature films that I haven’t see yet, as well as over 50 short films. It’s going to be a great festival!”


All Film tickets, other than those for special events, are £9.50, £7.00 concessions. Tickets for 16-25 years old are £3.50 (subject to availability). Derby Film Festival Passes are available allowing entry to all screenings and events across all five days of the festival, priced at £50, a Festival Day Pass allows entry to everything on any single day of the festival, priced at £20.


For more information please see:


https://derbyfilmfestival.co.uk


https://www.derbyquad.co.uk/whats-on/festivals


Or call 01332 290606



By midlandsmovies, Dec 11 2018 01:29PM



The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) Dir. The Coen Brothers


A 6-part anthology film that quickly ended up on Netflix, the award-winning Coen brothers are not immune to the modern day perils of the straight-to-streaming phenomena. However, like Alex Garland’s Annihilation, cinematic quality is there from the outset and this easily could have been more widely released in cinemas.


And given its quality it is a huge shame it wasn't.


The multiple, and magnificent, stories themselves are framed within the pages of a book and contain a range of tonally different shorts all set in the Wild West. The Coens’ dark humour and splashes of violence are well and present and the stories include a cocky outlaw played brilliantly by Tim Blake Nelson who sings (and floats) his way to heaven (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), James Franco’s bank-robber hanging by a noose (Near Algodones) and Liam Neeson’s impresario riding through towns with his actor Harrison who has no arms and legs (Meal Ticket).


The eclectic situations continue with Tom Waits’s grizzled prospector searching for riches in the wilderness (All Gold Canyon), a wagon train being attacked by natives (The Gal Who Got Rattled) and finally five people in a stagecoach that refuses to stop as it carries a dead body (The Mortal Remains).


With something for everyone, the yarns each have their own unique style and death and misery appear in all the tales. But the Coens haven’t scrimped on the comedy from annoying dogs, witty songs and characters trapped within their situations to humorous effect.


My personal favourite was The Gal Who Got Rattled with an excellent Zoe Kazan as innocent Alice Longabaugh and Bill Heck as the kindly and gruff Billy Knapp. That story could happily have been part of a longer film and the mixture of deadly attacks and sharp conversation was a highlight.


That said, each story has its own charms and for someone not keen on anthology flicks (see my Ghost Stories review here) the Coens have managed to weave 6 amazing stories into a cohesive and thematic whole.


Where Hail Caesar tackled Roman epics (and musical numbers) amongst its Hollywood setting, the Coens' influences here come from the American love of frontier films - another classic genre linking their modern takes within established cinematic history.


Not diverging greatly from their usual style, the death-obsessed duo deliver another historical romp with a great cast and amazing outdoor locations.


8/10


Mike Sales


By midlandsmovies, May 5 2018 02:05PM



The Commuter (2018) Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra


Liam Neeson never seemed like a likely action hero when his imposing frame appeared in the rather fantastic but ultimately silly revenge flick Taken. Instead of an excellent one-off, the actor has attempted to recapture that glory on multiple occasions (including 2 Taken sequels) and each one worse than the last. And most with Commuter director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night).


Here, he plays an ex-cop (yes, really) who has now lost his job at a high flying banking corporation which leaves him unemployed and with large debts. Not wanting to explain the circumstances to his family, he meets Vera Farmiga on his regular train ride who tasks him with finding a person in the carriages on the promise of a large amount of cash.


Along with Farmiga, Patrick Wilson appears as an old cop pal and Sam Neill is a high ranking police captain but don’t let these quality actors lull you into a false sense of security. They all barely appear in the film and are given nothing to work with when they do show up.


With both the premise (and Farmiga) borrowed from Source Code (where she also gave a mission to a man to find someone on a train), the film has a solid 25 minutes of fun action in the middle when it picks up pace. However, it is bookended by large swatches of utter drivel with poor dialogue and drama. It also contains some truly horrific CGI, especially the shots from outside the train, whilst the virtual dolly shots are abysmal.


It’s of course absolute shlock but that middle segment is entertaining to a point. It also has a very similar premise to Neeson's other transit flick Non-Stop with the plane replaced by a locomotive here. Although he’s on the phone a lot on this one, at least he’s not texting! Is that better? Yes, but it’s hardly an endorsement.


A selection of random, and dull as dishwater, fisticuff and train jumping plot points culminate in a ludicrous Speed-like finale with a runaway train. And although the action has lost all believability at this point, with the cartoon-level computer generated loco steaming ahead, it was topped by an “I’m Spartacus” sequence that had me howling with laughter.


But alas, that one giant guffaw aside, any positives are small and this high concept but low budget actioner is not one you want to be travelling on for long.


5.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike


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