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

blog

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

By midlandsmovies, Aug 9 2016 12:03PM

Mike Sales speaks to Midlands born actor Jonathan Holmes who has found fame with a wealth of voiceover work for TV and cinema before being recently cast as a giant in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s ‘BFG’.


Mike asks the actor about his work to date and how he came to be in such a large Hollywood blockbuster…


Jonathan Holmes grew up in an all boy’s school in the Midlands where he jokes he initially got involved in acting and doing plays as the only way to meet girls. However, since these humble forays into theatre, Jonathan has had a bumpy but never dull journey in his film career so far.


“I spent the first 18 years of my life in and around Shrewsbury. It will always feel like home. I've no film experiences from the region, but lots of happy theatrical memories. And growing up in deepest darkest Shropshire, actually going to the cinema wasn't as easy as it might have been, but I do remember loving (Spielberg’s) Close Encounters. Favourite moment? When Richard Dreyfus tries to wave the UFO past”.




Being Shropshire born and bred suggest Jonathan’s home-grown accent was the perfect match for the quirky Britishness encapsulated in this new CGI world Spielberg created for the film. Yet his casting was somewhat a lucky coincidence for the now Vancouver-based thespian who was originally asked to coach a girl who was up for the part of the film’s protagonist Sophie.


I ask if any roles have come that way to him before.


“In some sense - most of them! There are a whole series of decisions that have to be made before you are cast in any role over which you have no control. So it always feels like a bit of a lottery”.


With extensive CGI in lots of modern literary adaptations (Alice in Wonderland) which portray wild and vivid locations and characters, Jonathan explains that during his the recording of his role as ‘Childchewer’, the inhibiting green-screen process in fact gave him more freedom than most expect.


“We shot using performance capture technology. It takes a little getting used to, but it allows scenes to be shot in the entirety, capturing everything from all conceivable angles simultaneously. So it can actually be liberating. It's as close to theatre in the film world that I've ever encountered”.



Jonathan adds that is was a joy working with actor Martin Freeman who he describes as one of the “funniest and most astute students of the art of acting” he’s ever met and Jonathan has seen previous success as a voice actor in Marvel’s “Hulk Vs” cartoon.


In 2007 the actor worked with Peter Greenaway on ‘Nightwatching’ which he describes as “terrifying” for a different reason than the motion capture concerns. “Peter shoots incredibly beautiful and massively long takes. If you mess up - resetting a shot can take an age. So you don't mess up! But an amazing experience”.


Back to the magical world of Dahl and the BFG, I ask the five-foot-eight Jonathan if he were as tall as the character he plays, what mischief he would get up to.


“I would try out for the NBA. Or possibly be England goalkeeper and bring the glory days back to English football!”


England football glory may be a bigger fairy tale than anything Dahl has written but Jonathan says that his 10 year old daughter loves the author’s books. “Matilda is a big hit in our house,” he says before adding that the appeal of Dahl’s books is that “he can be funny, wicked, tender, intimate and extreme in the space of one paragraph”.


And which one of Dahl’s books would he personally like to see adapted (or re-adapted) for the big screen? “Hmmm...I think an anti-hipster version of The Twits would be fun”.


Now based in Vancouver, Jonathan finds the ‘Hollywood of Canada’ a great place for a working actor. “I've lived in Vancouver for about 15 years, so the majority of my film and TV work has been here. You'd be amazed the amount of work that is shot here, so it doesn't take too long to spot soon familiar landmarks”.


Sadly, Jonathan has also had to overcome unfortunate personal circumstances during his career including dealing with a diagnosis of cancer a few years ago.


“It was very challenging. And around the same time, my step mother sued myself and my 5 year old over my father's will. It was a truly rough time. But you can only appreciate the highs if you embrace the lows. As an actor, life experience can't help but inform performance, and I've had my fair share over the last few years”.


Jonathan is definitely now on the turn-around with his successful role in the BFG and his experiences on that set enriching his outlook on life. And there’s no rest either. Straight from that film he jumps into a new animation series and a video game with the hard-working actor on the rise in a multitude of disciplines.


He also hopes to back in the UK for some theatre also one thing is for sure, Jonathan will be beaming over the fantastic reviews of his and his co-stars performances in one of the most well-received family films of the Summer. Which is surely Jonathan’s biggest and friendliest success of all.


BFG is in cinemas now.


Midlands Movies Mike


Photo of Jonathan courtesy of Kristine Cofsky

By midlandsmovies, Jul 31 2015 03:33PM

Respect The Cock - A Cruise Top 10 Of Sorts


When Midlands Movies Mike (as I am contractually obliged to call him) asked me if I’d like to write a Top 10 piece on Tom Cruise, I lurched drunkenly at the chance and offered it outside for a fight.


But it turned out that he meant pick my top 10 films by the microScientologist. Ah.


Y’see, I can’t stand Tom Cruise. Even leaving aside his frankly insane pronouncements in interviews and the like, I loathe his anodyne, uninspired, unimaginative, box office-fodder “blockbusters”, and I find his acting utterly, as they say in my country, shite.


This may not be the article MMM deserves, but it’s the article he needs right now.


So here’s my Tom Cruise Top 10.


10. Top Gun

Utterly irredeemable wank where he perfected his toothy, grinny, runny schtick. I understand that they’re making a sequel. Oh goody.


9. Cocktail

A film about a barman who learns how to be a better barman from an older, wiser barman. The older barman dies, the young barman becomes the best barman. Barman.


8. A Few Good Men

He runs! He shouts! Jack Nicholson phones it in! Meh.


7. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Short-arse is not even remotely believable as the supposedly louche, seductive vampire. Put paid to a mooted series based on the rest of the execrable Anne Rice novels, so there’s that, I suppose.


6. Mission: Impossible (All of the bastards)

A series of typically messy, runny, explodey Tommy vehicles. Most memorable for the re-working of Lalo Shiffrin’s iconic theme by the least talented members of U2. Which is saying something. And would they have been able to dangle a normal-sized human from a clothesline through that small hole in the roof?


5. Rain Man

Dustin Hoffman: Oscar Bait. Insert “Full retard” line from Tropic Thunder here. Tommy is utterly irrelevant when not being fucking annoying.


4. Vanilla Sky

Cruise Does Arthouse. Which happens to be an anagram of “Thou arse”, which is exactly what Marlow, Bacon and all that crowd would call him to his fat grinning face.


3. Tropic Thunder

He wasn’t in this much, so that was all right.


2. Minority Report

I liked this, actually. But then I’m a Philip K. Dick fanboy, no matter how much they make an arse of his novels or - in this case - short stories. An intriguing premise, as you’d expect of anything from the lad Dick, but of course the transition to the screen lost a lot of that intrigue and ended up being mostly just Cruise running around again. There’s a pretty good bit with some cars. Future cars! Worth it for Samantha Morton alone, though.


1. Magnolia

This film’s a favourite of mine, but obviously not because of our Tommy being in it. In fact I seem to have repressed everything about his role apart from him declaiming the title of this article.


Top 10 by J. Sirin

By midlandsmovies, Jul 5 2015 12:23PM

Jurassic World (2015) Dir. Colin Trevorrow


A billion dollar, 65 million years in waiting audition tape for Chris Pratt as Indiana Jones...


22 years later and the Isla Nublar monster park is finally open to the public in this 4th film of dino DNA design being exploited only for it to (inevitably) go very wrong. With the theme park attractions now in full swing from Sea World-style shows to interactive gyrospheres, the plot sees two children (hmmm) head to the park to meet a family member (sound familiar?) on a holiday break. Alongside is a Sam Neill-style rough and ready Velociraptor trainer (Chris Pratt) with big reservations about the power now wielded whilst the park’s new owner (Irrfan Khan as Simon Masrani) watches as his newly designed creature – the genetically-modified Indominus rex – strangely doesn’t want to be locked up.


The narrative spins off into the familiar paddock padding as the feisty and uptight business manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) searches for her two nephews as the park breaks down and trades sexy banter with Chris Pratt’s macho man. The film’s best parts are a range of interesting characters that don’t hit the heights on an Ian Malcolm or Dennis Nedry but are better than the one-dimensional and unforgettable folk of JP 2 and 3 and the acting is surprisingly solid for a summer blockbuster. However, the film dismisses any sort of slow build up and within 15 minutes we are watching endless dinosaurs in the park itself. This lack of anticipation and a HUGE reliance on CGI means that the once-awe-inspiring animals are rendered (literally) commonplace and, dare I say it, quite dull.


The first half of the film is therefore quite poor but once the chaotic creatures are out of control the film picks up in the second hour. Excavating a number of familiar ideas with a dashing of new twists, the film’s biggest downfall are the technical aspects. The grading of the film is insane with cartoonish colouring making it look more like a video game than the natural tone of Spielberg’s first hit. In one way it has the awful visual tone of Spielberg’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Funnily enough the film also demonstrates that the grizzled Chris Pratt has nailed his audition for being the next Indiana Jones!


Trevorrow has gone on the record to say the movie’s main creature the Indominous rex is “based on a series of corporate focus groups” but sadly his film is too. One brilliant static shot towards the end showed us raptors running towards the camera in silhouette but other than that, the artistic choices are limited to the usual blockbuster action editing and CGI camera swings. The film’s most tender moment involving the death of some gentle giants demonstrated both an interesting new theme about conservation and animal protection but also showed the benefit of using animatronics over CGI.


By no means a catastrophic failure, the film is more franchise fodder than an amazing work in its own right but by throwing so much at the screen Jurassic World knows that at least some of it will stick. It digs up the bones of the Jurassic Park legacy and adds enough fancy flourishes to impress the summer going movie crowd but never hits the brachiosaurus highs of that first vacation.


7/10 Midlands Movies Mike


RSS Feed twitter