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By midlandsmovies, May 11 2020 03:43PM

Cliff Edge

Directed by Samuel Bossman



Filmed partly in Birmingham, Cliff Edge is a new 20-minute drama exploring the difficult issue of male mental health in the 21st century.

A man (director/star Samuel Bossman as “Joe”) awakes from a vision on a cliff edge before he’s brought back to reality as a woman walks out of a pub in this opening of this recently released short that takes us through a slice of life story of a withdrawn man’s problems.

We cut to another day and from smoothies to working out, the film’s lead tries to maintain a sense of normality in the world. Suiting up for work and downing a beer, the film portrays an ever-growing sense of tedium in modern society given its reliance on technology and its subsequent distancing effects.

And more beer, takeaways, and extensive mobile phone use keeps the lead trapped in his apartment (and life). Hours lost and with frustration setting in, the man fails to even remove his work clothes, adrift as he is in his own sphere.

Habit and routine have made Joe’s life mundane and his evening ends by swiping through photos on a dating app. Arising the next morning, Joe vomits in his bathroom before realising he’s late for a meeting and rushes through a bustling city.

Joe bumps into the woman from the opening flashback, also doing so without realising it’s his future date. And as they are both looking down, self-absorbed in their mobile phones, they continue on their way, oblivious to their connection.

Finally, he’s back in the pub and as we return to the beginning of the short, the woman (Laryssa Schoek as “Eve”) explains her work in a scene of introverted awkwardness.

Joe’s lack of interest, not in just the date, but with the world in general shows his emotional distance and detached loneliness. Despite his depressive mannerisms, his date lends a more-than-kind listening ear but Joe throws it back in her face and she leaves.

The end of the short gives us a little hope but does seem to arrive from nowhere and is probably the film’s least engaging aspect. But the performances are good and the narrative clear yet suitably puzzling to maintain interest.

However, Cliff Edge ultimately concludes as a well-filmed study of the headaches faced in the present day. And it focuses on the complicated interaction between technology, isolation and psychological well-being.

The film also attempts to portray a non-judgmental narrative that neither condones nor absolves the protagonist. Much like Joe, the film very much has a “just is” tone. We’re left to find meaning in the film like Joe’s trying to find meaning in himself. And overall its swift 20 minutes provides a successful metaphor for contemporary angst.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jul 16 2018 10:19AM

Dark Days

Directed by Daryl Grizzle

A Grizzle and Steele Film

We open on a regular street as a lady leaves her suburban house to stretch before going for a run but there’s nothing regular about this new film from West Midlands director Daryl Grizzle.

As we track her in the park jogging, seemingly enjoying a pastime passion, the film uses narration to explain to the audience how difficult life is living with a mental illness.

Having previously created short film Bless You, which we saw at Leicester’s Short Cinema festival in 2017, the director here provides a portrait of a dark personal journey. With sequences of narration delivered direct to camera in small interview-style segments the film doesn’t sugar-coat the awful aftermaths of actions like self-harm and explores the difficulties of living with depression and its stigma in today’s society.

The film stars Jade Samuels as the protagonist who, as is explained in a coda at the film’s end, is actually performing a recreation of a real interview conducted in 2017. An interesting concept for sure but for me I would have preferred for this context to be given at the start of the film in order for the real truths to hit home from the beginning.

Our protagonist’s testimony continues as the tragic consequences of deep cuts that require stitches, and sometimes even surgery, are explained and delivered by Samuels in an honest portrayal throughout.

A bit more creative flair would set the film apart from the crowd as although the technical elements were first class - especially the park-based tracking shots, the serious themes were slightly undermined with a standard mix of handheld camera work in her house and some VERY long shots which pushed away from the much-needed intimacy.

However, the few minor flaws don’t distract from the story as a whole and we are told how she joins an athletics club before acts of divorcing parents and changing schools became a trigger during a difficult period.

Add to this peer pressure, bullying and name calling and we discover she gives up her hobby which is recounted as the thing that made her most happy. With some solitary bathroom shots there was also a small echo of recent local film HIM (click here) which covers similar subject matter and is worth seeking out as well.

The film is good at leaving some threads open to interpretation however and questions how these childhood events shape and sometimes control us.

And with the disease of depression becoming more fully understood by society as a whole, it is admirable that this film shines a light on a real victim and the very truthful troubles they have been through.

More of a monologue than a full exploration, Dark Days does hold on to the thought that although a positive outlook will not cure the struggles faced by sufferers, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. Leaving the audience then with a message that sufferer’s journeys will be a marathon and not a sprint, it successfully focuses on how understanding and awareness will help guide people’s efforts in the right direction.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Oct 15 2016 12:40PM

Midlands Movies finds out about Lee Price, a regional filmmaker who is leaping from the local to the international with a whole host of new projects.

Midlands writer-director Lee Price is an old hand at making films in the region. Since 2011 Lee has focused on making full length films with his first foray into features being Neville Rumble, about a character with Asperger's Syndrome struggling to cope with rejection.

Neville is played by Ian Hencher who is an obsessive man who meets Lucy (Alex Lochrie) at a “people skills” training course. He soon becomes infatuated with her but becomes depressed when she leaves town.

The story continues when three years later, a chance meeting sees Neville running back into Lucy. However, upset about her new fiancé (played by Gavin Fowler) Neville takes drastic and dark steps that see Lucy fear for her life.

Lee says the film contains “relatable angsty and awkward characters that teen youths will be interested in” whilst the film represents how shifts in power can lead to things going badly wrong for those involved. The interpersonal relationships are intentionally brought to the forefront of the story and the script has been co-written and co-directed by Price and Richard Miller to cover personal themes and a focus on mental health issues.

Currently available in the USA on video-on-demand (VOD), Lee is happy with the film’s success and hopes to bring that learning to his second feature called Frettin’. Currently in post-prodcution, Frettin’ has been filming in Hinckley (Leicestershire) and Nuneaton (Warwickshire) over the past two years. “If I was to pitch the film it would be as a British Midnight Cowboy, in the spirit of Bill Forsyth”, explains Lee.

With the trailer soon to be released, the Homebird Films production tells the story of Jake who lives off-grid, down by the cut and “busking for his bread”. Lee goes on to divulge that the character “keeps his head down, living life day-to-day, and is almost a ghost amongst the living”.

“But then Jake meets Tim, an executive in a moment of crisis and decides to take the younger man under his wing”, continues Lee, before adding that the film is “a buddy road movie. Probably the shortest distance travelled in any road movie, anywhere”.

Midlands Movies' readers can watch Neville Rumble’s trailer on the YouTube video above and find more about Price’s second film Frettin’ over on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrettintheFilm

Midlands Movies Mike

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