icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram FILM FREEWAY LOGO


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

By midlandsmovies, Dec 31 2016 11:32AM

A Real Peach is a noir inspired Midlands short

Midlands Movies showcases new crime-noir film “A Real Peach” which has an unusual origin story that happened more by accident than by design.

The story of the short starts with Raya Films and their film “Do Something, Jake”. In that feature, the protagonist Jake watches old black and white movies so the filmmakers came up with a unique way of avoiding rights issues by filming their own film-within-a-film.

Screenwriter Caroline Spence decided that if they were going to go to the trouble of producing clips reminiscent of the 1940s noir era, they could edit them together to make a short film and subsequently “A Real Peach” was born.

Made in the Quorn/Loughborough area Leicestershire, the film uses the tropes of the genre with covert meetings, a murdered tenant, a dangerous criminal and some thoroughly dashing chaps - all unwittingly linked by 'a real peach' of a plan.

Originally comprised of seven separate vignettes, the extra black and white footage inserted into the feature was influenced by Caroline Spence’s love of the genre.

"I grew up watching a lot of movies from the '30s and ‘40s," explains Caroline, "so it was fun shaping the characters and recreating movie dialogue of the era. Many of the character names are taken from some of my favourite films from Mrs Muir (1947) and The Cat and The Canary (1939) as well as some iconic actors of the day like Vivien (Leigh) and Rex (Harrison)”.

Shot in just in one day at Quorn Village Hall with zero budget, the short benefited greatly from period costumes organised by theatre director Sharon Scott. Add to that lighting and cinematography from Nick Williams, direction from James Smith, and original score by Nikolas Labrinakos, the producers achieved their goal of recreating a classic crime noir look that feels as if it was shot circa 1939.

A Real Peach's teaser trailer can be viewed above and is already out to film festivals whilst Do Something, Jake is scheduled for release Summer 2017.

For further information

Visit the Raya Films website at www.rayafilms.com

MDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5815932

Twitter: @rayafilms @cspenceproducer

By midlandsmovies, Sep 21 2016 07:29AM

The Nice Guys (2016) Dir. Shane Black

Shane Black has written his fair share of witty dialogue, buddy-cop movies and his trademark flourishes are on full show in this 1977-set noir comedy about private detectives investigating a missing girl.

Based in Los Angeles, the films begins after an adult-movie star dies in a car crash and her aunt hires private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) after she is spotted mysteriously ‘alive’. As another missing girl Amelia Kutner (Margaret Qualley) hires Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to intimidate Gosling’s P.I., the two detectives are suddenly and reluctantly thrust together to search for the answers to each case. They are assisted/hindered by March’s daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) and the threesome head to locations around the city to tie up the pieces – from an air pollution protest to a hilltop party where models, actresses and dead bodies are all “uncovered”.

As the confusing case spirals, Amelia's mother who is played by an always-pleasing-to-see Kim Basinger, enters to stir the pot from her position in the Justice Department. Her high-class demeanour and Crowe’s violent retribution somewhat echo their roles in L.A. Confidential. Black shies away from the seriousness of that film though as slaughter and laughter come in equal measure as the complicated double-crosses are revealed.

The chemistry between Ryan and Russell is one of the film’s main selling points. Crowe doesn’t do anything particularly new with his beefy muscle role, nor does Ryan with all his silly tics, but the two together deliver Black’s zippy back-and-forth dialogue brilliantly. The twisty narrative is slowly exposed with the audience grasping at the clues along with the two leads and the support from the young and talented Angourie Rice offsets the macho banter. Her scepticism towards her father, her sly and accusing looks at Crowe and generally innocent outlook help give the film some much needed soul where sleaze, murder and corruption are the main themes throughout.

The period fashion, locations and soundtrack are expertly realised and Black’s strong script delivers the knock-out lines the writer/director is known for. A single criticism could be levelled about originality – the set up of Black’s successes of Lethal Weapon, Last Boy Scout and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang are all prevalent here – but the plusses far outweigh the negatives in a film full of entertaining vignettes.

Its use of Warner Bros 70s "Big W" logo designed by Saul Bass shows that the Nice Guys is much more than nice – it’s a big slice of retro-influenced cool. With stylish direction, a sophisticated script and a set of trendy performances, Black’s latest is best enjoyed as a hip cocktail of cynical repartee and noir style.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Feb 11 2015 08:50PM

Feature Review – 4th Floor of Singapore

Directed by Jim Peakman. Written by Jim Peakman & Michael Smith. Blue Ridge Films (2015)

Filmed in sumptuous black and white, this noir comedy mixes the group dynamics of Clue with the gumshoe antics of Sin City and despite its American tropes and look, actually hails from the unlikely city of Coventry in the Midlands.

Plot wise, after checking in to a murky mansion hotel, Hollywood agent Mr. Baker is soon found dead and the put-upon concierge Mr. Pleasant (Alan Wales) calls in a Bogart-esque gumshoe to investigate the murder. Detective Clive Driver (George McCluskey) arrives and immediately interviews guests about their alibis and backgrounds – from a randy femme fatale with a heaving bosom – who asks how he takes his sugar with his tea (“two lumps”) – to an illusionist who reminiscences on past tricks (that failed both him and his father) as well as many more quirky characters.

Playing on some of the vintage nostalgia and iconography that The Artist tapped into, the authentic “scratches” on the film stock give the appearance of celluloid whilst the period music adds to the authentic experience. The film continues its nods to the past with smoky stairwells, stormy weather and shifty shadows whilst the group dynamic works well although the linear narrative could have done with some more cross-cutting instead of almost exclusively following the private eye.

I did enjoy the comedy throughout the film, where visual gags and back-and-forths between characters are balanced with silly slapstick as portly porters attempt to carry luggage to rooms and sexual innuendoes abound. The film twists some of the style of 1930s Hollywood with battles of the sexes mixing with both the hardboiled and the screwball genres.

The 30’s tropes are all there from the mink scarves, dining tables, (mild) violence and gravel-throated voice-overs as the gumshoe probes all party-going guests in his search for the culprit. The thin but appropriate narrative is also punctuated by pratfalls and the clowning humour is sound-tracked by a great use of period music from swing and jazz to blues trumpet.

The vintage comedy is brought up to date with a smattering of self-aware jokes amongst the dining tables and aristocrats as the film breaks the fourth wall with knowing looks to the camera as well as a scene which culminates into a brief song and dance number. In addition, the sound effects that don’t quite match up or are humorously over the top are all part of the film’s charm and an animation sequence is thrown in for good measure too!

The film uses tricks such as flashbacks and recalled memories whilst Leicester’s own Kenton Hall as the master of magic (and a French accent) steals the best scenes with a clowning and animated performance amongst the standard crime fiction plot beats. The diminutive but hilarious Carsum Din as his sidekick performer, Cormac, was a great touch despite The Amazing Gino’s character’s lack of skill – the Dr. Nick of illusions if you will.

The one thing missing I suppose was some stereotypical fast-talking – a quick fire repartee style oft seen in old gangster flicks which would have physically sped things up in some of the slower scenes. Another issue for me was the slightly strange running time – a bit too fleeting of length (and narrative) for a feature (at 1 hr 13 mins) but far too long for a short. Maybe a choice could have been made between a sharper 45 minute cut or another subplot or two to make it a full feature. Either way, it could have helped make the film stake its intentions a little bit clearer.

That said, whilst the accents vary throughout (it’s clearly “moir-dor”) the fine combination of mismatched couples and conflicts between the varied guests keep the intrigue ticking along. A selection of social classes and an orgy of fighting and calamity at the film’s climax that would make Gatsby proud, recalls the best from the period. And the jokes, whilst not always hitting their mark, come thick and fast enough to overcome the odd miss.

With both vaudeville and the “talkies” being mocked in the opening, it is ironically upon those two foundations the film is successful the most. From misunderstandings to wistful costumes and production design, the humour is always at the forefront, whether it be visual or musical.

Overall, I can highly recommend seeing this terrific trench-coat Chandler-style comedy that parodies the private eye stories of the era and has a brilliant edited musical soundtrack of merry melodies from yesteryear.


Midlands Movies Mike

See the trailer for the film at this link: http://vimeo.com/87010690

RSS Feed twitter