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By midlandsmovies, Apr 16 2020 07:25AM


Directed by Liam Driscoll


Cinectar Studios

Tommy is a new World War 2 drama from Midlands director Liam Driscoll that looks at one of the most important days in the conflict.

We open on 6th June 1944 D-Day and a brief title explains how after the successful Normandy beach landing, many paratroopers found themselves alone in enemy territory after bad weather hindered their drop.

To the sound of gunfire, we open on a soldier (Jack Kemp) awaking on the ground and looking up to see his parachute stuck in a tree. Not only that, the man is also tending to a bloodied and wounded leg.

Struggling to stand in his forest surroundings, he eventually stumbles across a farmer and passes out, only to come round in the stranger’s lodgings.

The film is shot naturalistically, handheld at times but luckily not like shaky mobile phone footage. Its influence seems to be Saving Private Ryan’s middle section with a dash of David Ayer’s Fury (2014) thrown in and the shots are suitably cinematic. Aerial shots in expansive wheat fields give a fantastic sense of scale as the soldier appears tiny against a large canvas of countryside.

A slightly questionable French accent from the farmer almost hinders the illusion but he’s portrayed sensitively by a committed Duncan Hess. And I’m not sure if it was the wardrobe or props, but at times the film seemed more “modern” than the 1940s – certainly within the farmhouse location.

Moving on however, the dramatic tension increases as farmer tells our soldier about his son before the arrival of Germans means he hides the British soldier away.

A violent confrontation ensues, and the film takes a sympathetic look at men from different countries helping each other out during a terrible era of battle.

Tommy’s highlights outweigh its anachronistic flaws and the short finishes with an open-end of sorts as another British soldier arrives on the scene who we hope doesn’t misjudge the bloody scene he arrives to witness.

In conclusion, Liam Driscoll has used the Midlands well as a location to recreate a brief, serious drama about the tragedies of war. Tommy shows the sacrifices many gave from all countries with a hint that there’s more to tell in the ambiguous fight of warfare.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jan 5 2020 05:03PM

Midlands Review - Reminiscence

Directed by Tomek Zontek


Cinectar Studios

Three young friends leave college and enjoy the beginnings of Summer as we open on new Midlands film Reminiscence from Tomek Zontek.

After discussing their respective end-of-year concerts, the trio - Liane, Nigel and Chris - celebrate by playing alcoholic drinking game “red or black”. Unfortunately Nigel gets frustrated and after Lianne leaves, he explains his feelings for her to Chris (Sam Forrest) in his now drunken state.

With more flavour than your average short film, Nigel (played excellently by Josh Radcliffe) and Liane (Alice Orlik) then chat about jazz music and pentatonic scales as they walk the library and the short draws you quickly into their world of academia and musical passions.

A gentle piano score contrasts nicely against the darker elements that lurk under the surface of the film as Nigel torments Lianne in a scene brooding with an undercurrent of obsession.

The filmmaker’s attention on music – both in its creation and as a basis for sound-tracking life – is clear on screen. From mixing desks to recording studios the film wears its aural influences on its sleeve and keeps the narrative at a high tempo.

As we progress though, the friendship fractures as Nigel witnesses his two friends happily dancing and he responds by angrily walking away. Faking illness and then discreetly following the pair in public, he becomes scarily preoccupied with his friends’ intentions.

With an interesting concept and a dash of Whiplash (2014) for added measure, the three leads deliver great performances all round. And as the story unfolds, the harmonious ensemble see their minor hang-ups becoming major problems for them all and are superbly edited into the film.

Thoroughly enjoyable, the short focuses of self-serving egoism as one of its central themes as Nigel eventually takes to the stage in a “memorable” solo. The threesome’s crumbling relationship creates drama and the constant presence of a music is a recurring motif I thought worked extremely well.

Sharp and well-written, Reminiscence comes highly recommended as it builds to a dramatic crescendo. And director Tomek Zontek should be applauded for conducting his short with great skill and intensity leaving the audience with much to think about at its downbeat conclusion.

Michael Sales

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