icons-03 icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo

blog

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

By midlandsmovies, Dec 15 2017 08:59AM



The Last Jedi (2017) Dir. Rian Johnson


WARNING: Contains spoilers


After the soft-reboot that was The Force Awakens and the misstep, for me, of the dull prequel Rogue One, with The Last Jedi comes Disney’s third foray into the galaxy far, far away with director Rian Johnson (Looper) stepping into the director’s chair.


We pick up where Force Awakens left us. Luke has banished himself on an island after failing to train Ben Solo, now Kylo Ren who is again played with evil ‘emo’ glee by Adam Driver. A courageous Rey (Daisy Ridley) is on a mission from the Resistance being tasked with coaxing the powerful Jedi back into action against the dastardly First Order. The internet was buzzing over what his (or her) first words would be. Two years in the making and every possible theory pored over and Johnson builds up tension with lingering shots on the two protagonists. And what are they? Well, essentially none. Cool-hand Luke slowly accepts his lightsaber in his robotic palm and then...simply chucks it over his shoulder and walks away.


And this favouring of the unexpected over the predictable is its winning formula and a metaphor for Johnson’s whole film. The moments an audience give assumed importance to are given little significance whilst the smaller details are given prominence throughout. Heck, Johnson provides an entire 10 minute battle sequence even before we return to the island and pick up the story JJ Abrams left us with.


Narrative wise, the film sticks to a basic plot where the resistance have been decimated to a few ships then go on the run tracked by huge star destroyers (now with a super-sized dreadnaught class version). Supreme Leader Snoke, another amazing Andy Serkis creation with pitch-perfect CGI, tasks Domnhall Gleeson’s pantomime Hux and Kylo Ren to continue their search for Rey in a bid to get her to turn to the dark side. The light-hearted family feel is there from the opening, the loveable rogue Poe Dameron, filling Harrison Ford’s shoes (AND clothes at times) delivers an overtly comedic exchange over a radio – again echoing Han in A New Hope. Despite its slightly awkward tone which made me fear “I have a bad feeling about this" it luckily settled down and Johnson balanced the light and dark with vigour.


As the resistance plans to infiltrate the First Order to stop their tracking device, John Boyega’s fantastic Finn gets a chance to shine as he joins feisty newcomer Kelly Marie Tran as Rose on a trip to Canto Bight and its wealthy casino patrons. Gambling on alien-horse races sees Johnson add a throwaway but thrilling CGI chase sequence which along with the city’s building design had the worrying look of the much maligned prequel trilogy. However, for me it felt as though it brought back the links between all trilogies which Johnson had fun in delivering. There’s also seeds sown of a wider universe with farm orphan slaves (“it’s like poetry, it rhymes”) being drawn into the events, perhaps helping to establish Johnson’s recently announced stand-alone trilogy. We’ll have to wait and see.


Rogue One’s fan-service appeared tokenistic but R2-D2’s playback of Star Wars’ original “you’re our only hope” message and a hugely surprising cameo from Yoda as a Force ghost were more than welcome. Context is everything and both served the story and I loved the fact the ghosts had returned for the first time since 1983’s Return of the Jedi.


However, at every turn the film swept me off my feet and pulled out something unexpected in each new scene. Expanding the myths of the force we see new powers including a resurrection and transcendence. Mark Hamill as Luke and the late Carrie Fisher as his sister Leia are both mesmerising in career defining performances and their coming together showed that amongst the battles, fights and comedy, the film’s tender emotional beats are what really draw you in.


Away from the nods, we get new creatures – the loveable puffin-like Porgs avoiding Jar Jar Binks levels of annoyance in the main – as well as new characters. Benicio Del Toro’s stuttering code-breaker and Laura Dern’s focused Vice Admiral are welcome additions with the latter’s sacrifice by flying a ship at lightspeed into another craft is one of the film’s visual highlights. With bombastic sounds being replaced with an eerie silence, the image is lingering and powerful. Alongside that, Snoke’s blood red throne room and a Kylo-Luke showdown showed the film’s cinematic ambitions were far more than space banter and franchise references.


In the end, this is epic blockbuster cinema at its very best. It would have been easy to follow the established pattern but the film sets up a precedent that anyone could be expendable which kept tension high. It also highlights how The Force Awakens, a film I hugely enjoyed, really didn’t tackle many new things yet this one twisted my expectations from the start.


With an expansion of its themes and both the classic and new characters finding their place The Last Jedi will hopefully satisfy super Star Wars nerds and general film audiences too. With such great filmmaking from Johnson, it’s a huge task to tackle the lore and the fan expectations of the infamous space opera, but the director more than comes through. Yet the main thing is the film is a lot of fun. Lots of unadulterated fun. And like the best cinema has to offer The Last Jedi leaves you both with a smile on your face and a lump in your throat.


10/10


Midlands Movies Mike



By midlandsmovies, Nov 27 2017 09:31AM



Clone (2017)


Lightbeam Productions


Director: David Hastings

Director of Photography: Joshua LA Baggott

1st AD: Suki Sandhar

2nd Camera: Kaushy Patel


From director David Hastings (The House of Screaming Death) comes Clone; in which a Professor working alone late at night in his home is visited by a mysterious stranger who causes the Professor to doubt his lifetime's work.


It is tricky to provide a detailed review of this film without giving away at least one spoiler, albeit one that is revealed quite early however it is fair to say that writer and lead actor Charles O’Neil (The House of Screaming Death) is the focal point of this movie which prioritises discussion and philosophical ethical musing over any visual action.


Paradoxically it is this focus that is both the film's strength, at times the discussion channels the composition of some philosophical writings of antiquity, for example Dionysius, and also its weakness as O’Neil’s writing (this is his second credited piece) borders at times on the mundane and the inconsequential - which in a film where the dialogue is paramount in holding the viewers attention is crucial to how it will be received.


I have no doubt that Clone will find an audience out there but for me it appeared to be a piece still in progress.


The camerawork and shot framing need a little improving, even as a secondary aspect this was noticeable, while the main crux of the film, the discussion, was slightly vague in its concepts despite its obvious importance. And as a result it was sadly hard to believe, or necessarily care at times, in the critical implications of the decision.


Perhaps the problem I faced was that the concept was definitely strong, echoes of Logan’s Run amongst several other sci-films can be found, but the execution was not quite there on this occasion but I would still look out for the writer's next project given their emphasis on a host of interesting themes.


Marek Zacharkiw

@CosiPerversa


By midlandsmovies, Nov 21 2017 05:52PM

2017 Movie Catch-Up Blog Part 5


As we steam full ahead towards 2018, here are a few reviews of films we’ve seen during the past year in the fifth catch-up blog of 2017.




The Discovery (2017) Dir. Charlie McDowell

Released through Netflix this drama has a fantastic cast of Rooney Mara, Jason Segel, Robert Redford and Jesse Plemons and we begin with scientist Thomas Harbor (Redford) who has proved the existence of life after death. With the world population plummeting as the public commit suicide to experience this other world the film has a very interesting premise yet sadly little else. As Redford’s weird sect at a mansion attempt to record what these dead folk are seeing in their afterlife, the boring drama spoils its ideas in scenes of unbelievable dullness and a slow moving pace. It’s great to see Netflix as the spearhead of well-budgeted independent films that tackle subjects that no longer seem to get cinema releases but this has to be noted as a well-meaning failure. An investigation into the strange images captured lead to the film’s most interesting themes and a final reveal about what they are viewing is disappointing and unfulfilling with no light at the end of a very dark and depressing drama tunnel. 4/10




Catfight (2017) Dir. Onur Tukel

Directed and written by Turkish-American Onur Tukel, Catfight is a dark comedy drama starring Sandra Oh and Anne Heche as two women who begin a feud that ends up lasting decades. Wealthy socialite Oh embarrasses her old friend Heche who is a struggling artist at a party and thus starts a violent drunken fist fight. The action is brutal, yet contains over-the-top comedy punch sounds straight from Indiana Jones and ends with Oh falling into a coma and waking years later. After finding her son died in military service and broke owing to medical bills, the previously rich Oh deals with a role-reversal as Heche’s artist has become a narcissistic and successful artist. Great support comes from the little-seen Alicia Silverstone as Heche’s put-upon and broody girlfriend and a second vengeful fight ensues before Heche herself falls into a coma and also loses her money in the same circumstances. This is a film with hints of Trading Places but has a surreal story to tackle more serious themes of war (both in relationships and a background narrative about military intervention) and loss – of memories, possessions and family. An interesting if slight film, Catfight has two fantastic female leads and sticks to a strange and unique concept yet also has the guts to follow through with a ‘Being John Malkovich’ heightened reality. A punch-drunk oddity. 5.5/10



Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) Dir. Luc Besson

Based on the comic series Valérian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and budgeted at an enormous €197 million, Besson returns to his eye-gouging visual sci-fi aesthetic first seen in the 1997 film The Fifth Element. In the 28th century, the movie follows Major Valerian (a rogue-ish Dane DeHaan) and his partner Sergeant Laureline (a feisty Cara Delevingne) who investigate a mysterious anomaly at the centre of Alpha which is an enormous space station populated by aliens from across the universe.


The film is great at portraying other-worldly environments and mystical beings in colourful CGI and whilst it’s clearly a green-screen mess, it’s such a glorious and inventive mess that most of the artifice is forgiven. An extra-dimensional bazaar called Big Market is an ingenious use of different worlds and Besson actually gives his audience credit for working out how this strange parallel phenomenon works. The film is filled with exciting action scenes which are perfunctory but again, and most importantly, fun. And whilst it’s no Star Wars, it certainly creates an understandable world that feels lived in and inhabited by wildly designed creatures. A commercial failure, the film is far from awful in comparison to similar recent science fiction universes such as the dull Jupiter Ascending. Away from the Pratt and Lawrence of Passengers from earlier this year, some critics didn’t like the strange and cold dynamic between DeHaan and Delevingne but I thought their quirkiness and less-than-Hollywood take on the characters was far more interesting.


Delivering the same fun yet inconsequential science fiction as his previous foray into the future, Besson has no way created anything close to a masterpiece but if you leave your brain at the door, the movie gives audiences thousands of better ideas than other summer hits like the trashy Transformers. 7/10




Casting JonBenet (2017) Dir. Kitty Green

This unique documentary about the death of child pageant superstar JonBenét Ramsey covers the theories and evidence surrounding the mysterious tragedy that caught the attention of an entire nation in 1996. Taking a very distinct approach, rather than the usual vox pops and archive footage, Kitty Green employs a more visceral technique where she runs a casting process for a fictional film. Amateur actors from the Colorado area where the death occurred are interviewed and assessed in their attempts to gain a part as one of the real people involved in the case. As they run through dialogue and dramatic recreations, this in itself is illuminating but the interspersed interviews allow these part-time actors to revel in their own theories surrounding the tragedy. Whilst they are auditioning for the roles of John and Patsy Ramsey, Burke Ramsey, John Mark Karr and various Boulder police officials that are “up for grabs”, they speculate on the motivations and emotions of the case. Being from the community, they give their insights from a local perspective as they impart their raw feelings and uncensored thoughts. Although I’d prefer a little more context to the case – the uninitiated are given a bare minimum of objective context – the film is intentionally provocative and emotional, reflecting the upsetting sentiments that echoed throughout the USA at the time. Upsetting yet extremely fascinating, Casting JonBenet takes a risk away from a traditional documentary format to deliver a fascinating portrait that is successful in all the ways I found I Am Not Your Negro wasn’t. 7/10


Midlands Movies Mike



By midlandsmovies, Oct 30 2017 04:48PM


Graycon (2017) Dir. Duaine Carma Roberts


A young couple who attempt to care for their virus infected daughter opens this brand new sci-fi drama from West Midlands filmmaker Duaine Carma Roberts.


After the young girl’s bloody cough turns worse, not even a pill administered by her father Joe (Andre Pierre) can save the poor child’s life, despite being convinced he has found a possible cure. The couple subsequently play the blame game before the background of the pill becomes a point of contention and although the mother attempts to move on with life, the father still questions why the cure failed.


In a parallel story, we are then introduced to the murky background of the virus and medication and are told that Joe’s friend Jordan (April Nerissa Hudson) is also attempting to save someone she loves. However, Jordan has betrayed murky businessman Ryan (James Edge) in her attempts to save her infected brother and the consequences of her decisions could be fatal to all involved.


As the antagonist Ryan, James Edge channels Tom Hiddleston-levels of evilness in an OTT performance that’s a joy to watch as he threatens more repercussions on the two scientists. Dressed in a trench-coat wardrobe, he delivers a fun role of ticks, stares and menacing hand gestures that balances the more serious dramatic turns from the talented Pierre and Hudson.


Soon a steam-punk time travel “device” called Graycon is introduced that Joe hopes can save his daughter in the past but both he and Jordan are increasingly troubled with the issues in the present. As Ryan tries to track them down he not only wants to get his hands on the device but to halt further development and make himself a rich man from any cure.


On the technical side, a simple piano score is effective and compliments the drama whilst also allowing a suitable level of tension to rise with its repeated musical motifs. If there was just one criticism it would be that the sound mix had a few volume “jumps” and the fighting, although well choreographed, could have utilised some stronger ‘punch’ noise-effects to go along with the brutal visuals – but both these are minor points in a top notch short.


The handheld camerawork maintained a sense of unease and moved in for close-ups when the drama’s intensity exploded into raised voices and fist fights yet it is the strong performances that are the film’s main draw throughout.


Both leads are first rate with Andre Pierre’s intensity as a father searching to correct past mistakes helping to centre the film and April Nerissa Hudson is given emotional scenes as a vulnerable sister trying to do right by her brother. Her poignant style is sensitive and strong and outstanding support also comes in the form of Adaya Henry, Romayah McCalla, Ackeem Gibbs and Nisaro Karim.


Overall, Roberts has provided a tight script with lashings of drama and action to help create an effective time-travel journey. The obligatory bouts of exposition – as are the norm in such sci-fi fare – are kept to a minimum but when they are required, Roberts uses exciting scenes, excellent performances and quirky dialogue delivery to keep things moving when information is being passed on.


A suitable open-to-interpretation ending is the perfect note to conclude the short with, and Graycon confirms that the best stories are ones where an audience can identify with well-rounded characters. And it hugely helps that Roberts has secured such high-quality actors to inhabit these roles. So with all the right elements in place, Graycon is a solid success which consistently delivers a satisfying drama and captures the imagination one moment at a time.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Oct 5 2017 11:22PM



Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Dir. Denis Villeneuve


Let’s cut to the chase but I’ve never been a huge fan of Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi noir original – even going so far to include it in my top 10 overrated films of all time back in 2012 – so I approached this film with some trepidation. I come at all films with an open mind however, and with such highlights as Sicario, Prisoners and the lauded Arrival in his catalogue of successes, director Denis Villeneuve certainly has the sci-fi and visual chops to take on the belated sequel.


Ryan Gosling (K) is now the LAPD blade runner who hunts down older artificial humans known as “replicants”. He soon stumbles upon the discovery of a skeleton which appears to be that of a replicant woman who died during childbirth, a situation until then thought impossible. Linking the bones to the missing Deckard, K is ordered to destroy the evidence by his superior Joshi (a superb Robin Wright) but soon a set of clues leads him to question his own “implanted” memories and his reality.


Blade Runner 2049 takes the themes of the first – humanity, memory, one’s purpose in life – and adds the dazzling cinematography of 13-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins who not only recreates the look of the original rain-soaked streets, but expands the digital noir influences ten-fold. Shadows lurk everywhere as Villeneuve and Deakins work together to create phenomenal shots, with some of the best of them composed simply in pure silhouette, keeping the characters (and us) ominously in the dark.


Ana de Armas provides great support as K’s artificial partner Joi – a hologram who ironically infuses Gosling’s character with the only emotional attachment and is a great addition to the Blade Runner mythos. Yet, the lack of emotional connection between the audience and the film is one of its sad flaws. To me the original had a sense of detachment but it is practically nihilistic in tone here – the future is death – to humans, to children, to androids and even to holograms.


In spite of that, Harrison Ford gives a great performance when he eventually returns as Detective Rick Deckard but don’t expect to see him in the first 2 hours. However, Sylvia Hoeks as Luv provides a feisty antagonist, much more so than Jared Leto whose Tyrell replacement Niander Wallace is underused and missing from half the movie.


An amazing first hour which sets up the tone, the vision and the look of the world works brilliantly alongside an amazing synthesiser score from Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch which is fantastic and truly groundbreaking. This beginning also provides us with a set of interesting characters (at first) and Gosling even throws in a joke – confirming a balance of components that works so well.


But like a malfunctioning android, the film begins to fall apart at times and although its style never falters once, it often fails to cover the cold tone and the incredibly slow pacing. At its best, its perfect visionary sci-fi yet at its worst it harks to Only God Forgives with repeatedly boring shots of a moody Ryan Gosling moping around a neon city at night in a drama-vacuum. The film makes sluggish progress and its script’s heavy-handed links to creation and A.I. are a result of further hackneyed garbage from Michael Green, the scribe of the awful Alien: Covenant.


In many ways it’s the perfect sequel – if you enjoyed the original I guarantee you’ll find the expansion and nods to it more than satisfying and for those who feel the original had flaws then this film clones them to a fault. Blade Runner 2049 therefore ends up being a truly technical tour-de-force but as cold as a glacier and moves about as fast.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Oct 1 2017 10:55PM



The Rockman (2017) Dir. Glenn McAllen-Finney & Tommy Bee


GM Finney Productions


“Like a Dr. Who Christmas Special,” says one character halfway through the Leicester-made sci-fi The Rockman. Yet there’s far worse to be compared to, as this new Midlands film takes all the good hallmarks of the classic BBC show to create its own unique low budget time-travel film series.


The film’s b-movie sensibilities are worn on its sleeve from the start however, with a fake BBFC title card setting up its tongue-in-cheek charm before a CGI asteroid hurtles towards the earth in the opening shots.


The story sees Andrew J.F. Morgan as Duncan Fairbanks, an ‘everyday Joe’ whose dull domestic life is rocked by the arrival of a future visitor (a crazy wide-eyed Sam Winterton channelling Doc Brown into his Dr. Sebastian Kramer) who’s leaped back to the present day from 2050.


From the obligatory “What year is this?” introduction to labelling those in the past as “primitives”, Dr. Kramer shakes up Duncan’s unhappy relationship to explain his journey from the EITS (Eye in the Sky) laboratory to prevent the world being ruled by an alien life-form known as the rockmen.


Colour graded in metallic and steely cold blues the filmmakers are musicians and music video makers by trade and the film is filled with a cool punk/hardcore/ska soundtrack. The movie shines a spotlight on local bands, cobbling together regional artists English Guns, Burnin’, Smokin’ The Profit and Mia and the Moon amongst others, which along with the accents and locations, keeps the production comfortably Midlands made.


And as the film is structured into ‘chapters’ that will eventually be split and released online as a web series, that unique route is actually the perfect platform for its punky sensibilities. This should allow their fans to follow the episodic nature piece by piece whilst adding more dramatic cliffhangers as well. In the busy online world of low budget releases, a change in marketing such as this can certainly help a project push through to a wider audience.


The film’s technical aspects get better as it goes along which shows how the film has been broken down into these “episodes” but the feel and tone are generally consistent. It is great to see an attempt to ADR the dialogue which mostly works as well. Although some more background sound was required to avoid the pitfall of feeling like a studio track from another time. And whilst some of the interior shots are a little under-lit and dark, this does work in its favour at times to hide the home-made special effects and monster costumes.


That said, the film mixes up some interesting explanation of time travel – using the creatures pulsating molecules – and fans of twisty narratives will be pleased as the pacing moves like a rolling stone, swiftly jumping from location to location without ever being confusing. And whilst the acting is broad and OTT, it's the right kind of style for a schlocky sci-fi although I wouldn’t hold your breath for any Oscars just yet!


On a script level, the film is well constructed with dialogue and visual set-ups and pay-offs plus lots of quirky Dutch-angles certainly keeps The Rockman in the b-movie genre. From animated maps to green screen via SFX and drone shots, the filmmakers also don’t shy from away from trying new techniques within each chapter too.


The jokes fly thick and fast with the filmmakers including a big slab of comedy into their story. Two colleagues (Katie Terese and a brilliant Anthony Wright as Jess and Jaime) escape their boring office jobs and their “dick head” manager at Frank Bennett Insurance (FBI) for an escapade into the countryside which makes up the majority of chapter two. Subsequently, the seemingly random chapters one and two eventually crossover in a clever narrative parallel towards the end and chapter three draws the strands of the stories together in a satisfying conclusion.


Overall, there are some very minor technical missteps in The Rockman but that shouldn’t detract from the enjoyable hand-made feel of a low budget gem. The chapters are a great way to engage your audience and the filmmakers clearly have a huge passion for the genre. In the end, less like a pebble than a big boulder, The Rockman crash lands into the Midlands with plenty of humour, heart and science fiction monster fun.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 9 2017 07:48AM

BIRMINGHAM ON FILM II

9 - 17 SEPTEMBER 2017

 


Birmingham on Film returns this week with a celebration of the city’s waterways.

 

Last year Flatpack: Assemble launched a month-long season of Birmingham-related archive film, screening the best (and worst) films made in and about the city. Birmingham on Film II takes place from 9-17 September, with a focus on Birmingham’s 35 miles of canals.

 

Expect retro kids TV, Cliff Richard, Midlands alien sightings and everyone’s favourite disc jockey Alan Partridge….




STARMAN

Saturday 9 September, 7.45-10.00pm, Stirchley Baths, FREE

The John Carpenter classic, Starman (cert: PG) stars Jeff Bridges as an alien visitor to Earth who is knocked off course and must take an interstate road trip to rendezvous with a mothership from his home planet. 

 



DIY DRIVE IN CINEMA

Saturday 16 September, 2.00-4.30pm, Rum Runner Yard, Regency Wharf, £3

The chance to build your own mini-car out of scrap material and then park up for some Birmingham-based kids TV including Brum and Tiswas.

 

TAKE ME HIGH

Saturday 16 September, 6.00-7.30pm, Gas Street Basin, £10

Take Me High stars Cliff Richard as a self-absorbed banker who moves to Birmingham, buys himself a narrowboat and invents the Brumburger. This neglected musical oddity aboard a canal boat and a Brumburger is included in the ticket price. 

 

WATERWAY TO HAVE A GOOD TIME

Saturday 16 September, 4.30-5.30pm, Rum Runner Yard, Regency Wharf, FREE

Sunday 17 September, 2.00-3.00pm, Rum Runner Yard, Regency Wharf, FREE

A selection of canal related archive shorts curated by the Media Archive for Central England followed by a special screening of I’m Alan Partridge.



MADE IN BRUM

Sunday 17 September, 12.00-5.00pm, Gas Street Basin, FREE

Hop aboard the floating cinema and catch a wonderful selection of family-friendly shorts made in Brum.

 

COLOUR BOX SHORTS: NATURE’S TALES

Sunday 17 September, 12.00-2.00pm, Rum Runner Yard, Regency Wharf, FREE

An assortment of Flatpack family favourites from our Colour Box short film programme.

 

THE BARGEE

Sunday 17 September, 3.30-5.00pm, Rum Runner Yard, Regency Wharf, FREE

Harry H Corbett – better known as Steptoe the younger – is a bargee who ferries boats and goods up and down the Grand Union canal, wooing various women while his mate Ronnie Barker keeps an eye on the tiller.


Birmingham on Film II is part of Birmingham Heritage Week, which runs from 7-17 September.


For ticket information go to http://flatpackfestival.org.uk/2017/08/birmingham-on-film-2/


By midlandsmovies, Aug 27 2017 01:12PM



The Short Cinema 2017 - Part 1


It comes around so quickly! Last night was another hugely successful showcase of regional talent as the final Main Competition night was held for The Short Cinema 2017. A full screening room at Leicester's Phoenix Square Independent Cinema were hugely receptive to a whole host of shorts, dramas, comedies and more from the best filmmakers in the area. With the largest programme of films I've seen yet, this show was spread over two screening sessions so I headed down to catch the judge's best films chosen from this year's Short Cinema entrants.


(Click here for part 2)




Multi Story by Kieran Chauhan

Given the big task of opening the evening, Kieran Chauhan had a huge job on his hands being the first film of the night but the bar was set high with his dark drama Multi Story. Set mostly in an eerie car park, the phrase “What Brings You Here?” is echoed throughout as the audience are encouraged to ask the same question of the protagonist. A car-park purgatory of sorts, a man investigates his wife's death but with surreal twists and turns. Its imagery echoes everything from the elevator from Inception to the visions of Jacob’s Ladder and the short is great at unsettling the audience. Adrian Bouchet is superb as the haunted detective whilst Izabella Malewska is feisty and mysterious in an excellent support role with director Chauhan demonstrating his outstanding eye for troubling images and peculiar sequences.

Find out more here: http://kieranchauhan.com/sample-page/shortfilms



Headspace by Stuart Peters

With influences from Spike Jonze’s sweeping camerawork in his “Weapon of Choice” and “Kenzo World” dance-music videos, this short showcases the dance talents of Danni Spooner. Contrasting the sunny tap dancing around Leicester’s Castle Park with a Gene Kelly-esque tit-for-tat dance off with her own spotlighted shadow, the short encapsulates the dreamy world of the dancer and accents all the right beats in its attempts to ‘click’ with the audience.

Watch the short here: https://vimeo.com/groups/459498/videos/213422967




The Last Barman on Earth by Brian McDowell

Brian McDowell’s film of two heavily armed survivors of a post-apocalyptic earth who head into a bar was certainly a highlight from the evening. Mixing great special effects with a tongue-in-cheek steampunk tone, the two leads’ banter contrasts with the appearance of straight-talking android barman. Channelling Martin Sheen in Passengers and a huge dose of Michael Fassbender’s ‘David’ in Prometheus, the star is Kieron Attwood whose electronic movements are a perfect physical manifestation of a machine. The monotone automaton has aims as dark as Ash in Alien and the film concludes with a suitably twisted ending. A satisfying sci-fi success.

Watch the short here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBV6VENAQpQ



The Past Whispers by Jane Hearst

A short which tackles the sensitive subject of sexual abuse and bullying was not the last of the night but this film highlighted the struggles of an abuse survivor as well as the dark memories that continue to haunt victims. The film used a great concept of “blacking out” the perpetrator as a way of trying to forget past trauma but the use of personal photos were clear that the acts were committed by a close family member. The female lead has her memories collated in what initially looks like a fun scrapbook but the shadow of her tormentor burdens her thoughts throughout. An intriguing and delicate story, the film was created through the “First Acts” short programme in partnership with Rural Media – a grouping which again would appear more on the night.

Find out more here: http://randomacts.channel4.com/post/162079637751/the-past-whispers-by-jane-hearst-a-survivor-of



Hands by Michael Lane

An experimental film in which 4 hands are shown against a black backdrop is an arty conceptualisation of a number of themes which are open to interpretation in Michael Lane’s “Hands”. The fleshy appendages are shown in stark contrast to the dark background and the movement of digits hinted upon everything from communication, birth, blooming flowers and togetherness. With great music from Vladimir Konstantinov, Hands is not for everyone as the film’s abstractness may turn off some viewers but its collaborative creation encapsulates the minimalist words seen on screen at the end: A Dance. A Meditation. Hope.


Recovery by Daniel Purse

One of the first straight ahead (or so it seems) dramas of the night, Daniel Purse’s “Recovery” sets itself up as a tale of drunk driving and regret. However a literal left-turn (or was it right?) gives the short much more depth than at first glance. As a mysterious figure watches a grave, the film is superb at setting up a well-known narrative only to switch focus towards its conclusion. With the ringing of a red phone box and a symbolic red book, all signs point towards a bloody ending but a hint of time-travel (believe it or not) help turn a seen-it-before story into something much more intriguing.

Find out more about Recover at http://danielpurse.com/recovery/




Si by Steve George, Ryan Sibanda

A film by Steve George, Ryan Sibanda, Joshua Baggott and LJ Greenwood from the University of Wolverhampton, “Si” was nominated for the Undergraduate Short Feature award at the RTS Student Television Awards 2017. The short is an amazing comedic sketch from one of the strangest points-of-view this reviewer has ever seen. Telling the story in voiceover, the “star” of the film is a ‘Caution: Wet Floor” sign, nicknamed “Si”. Yes, that’s correct. This high-concept idea is delivered with huge laughs and an understated voiceover reminiscent of Ralph Brown’s Del Preston from Wayne’s World 2 (or Danny in Withnail & I if you prefer). Witnessing office romances, terrible toilet incidents and more, the sign hilariously comments on the various events and the short won the audience over from the outset. Si is a winning demonstration of how a great concept, executed well, can result in an even greater success for any short filmmaker.

Watch the short here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpbjApLefgI




FAG by Danni Spooner

An abstract concept of a film, FAG is described as a “rebellious reflection on the cis-gendered society we exist in”. With three individuals shown at the start from the feet up, FAG plays around with stereotypes, expectations and political correctness. The high heels mixed with masculine “marching” mixes gender concepts and as the short progresses, there are tasteful shots of stubble, breasts and smoking – again, combining aspects of what the audience may expect from male or female bodies. With an inherent playfulness, the film brings up important issues but does so in a fun, (partially) explicit yet no-nonsense way that is accessible for all.

Watch the short here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REpNwEOYUys




The Gift by John Quarrell

Husband Michael arrives at the posh residence of a call girl with embarrassment and trepidation in this dramatic film from John Quarrell. Yet, initial thoughts of a cheating spouse are put aside when it’s revealed this is part of a ‘gift’ provided by Michael’s wife, who is debilitated by Multiple Sclerosis. Gregory Finnegan delivers a great performance as he weighs the moral quandary he’s facing whilst Natasha Pring as his disabled wife shows the daily struggles she faces. All red-dress and sly glances, Alex Childs is amazing as she delivers a sultry performance as the call girl who gives depth to what could have been a straight forward supporting role in the film. With 3 strong actors delivering minimalist but thoroughly satisfying dialogue, The Gift gave its audience a superb present of extraordinary pleasures.

Find out more about The Gift here: https://www.johnquarrell.com/




My Jedi Powers by Rhys Davies

A modest little short from Leicester filmmaker Rhys Davies, My Jedi Powers continues with the themes from the filmmaker’s previous efforts embracing family connections between young and old generations. In this Star-Wars influenced film, a boy (in a Stormtrooper outfit) and his grandmother (brilliantly attired Audrey Ardington as Darth Vader) are attempting to get to the cinema but are beset by unforeseen ‘forces’ including a broken-down car. What a piece of junk! The two connect over talk of “Rebels” and, with the help of an old man, continue their adventure and cross rural rivers to get to the bus stop. With their new hope ultimately dashed as the bus fails to arrive, the short ends on a high with their journey itself being celebrated as a success. And again, My Jedi Powers shows how director Davies uses his masterful skill to tackle the quaint and peculiar hobbies that bring families together.

Find out more here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6225146/




Barfly by Mike Yeoman

“Mike Yeoman walks into a bar”. Barfly is a short but sweet sketch from Mike Yeoman and his FlipYou comedy collective and takes the age-old “bar joke” format and twists it with a swift punch-line. Less than a minute long, it continues Yeoman’s quick and funny Fast Show-paced skits that cut out the fat for big dollops of sharp laughs. Mixing the amusing with the absurd, the film left the audience in high spirits as the break approached and showed the group’s talent for well-observed, yet intelligently silly, humour.

Follow updates from Flip You comedy here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD8Slh-Kc2LHWcjC0h8-fuA


Click here for Part 2...


Midlands Movies Mike

RSS Feed twitter