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By midlandsmovies, Jun 2 2017 09:09PM



Well, it's been nearly 5 years since I launched Midlands Movies and in 2012 I did one of my first ever blogs by writing a simple feature about my favourite 50 films of all time (click here).


This was done straight off the top of my head so after all this time I thought it would be very intresting to do it again! Will any of them change? What has aged well and which are no longer sitting in my favour, I wonder?


As always, these lists are entirely subjective and with *only* 50 to choose from I have obviously missed out some great films I love but thought it would be intriguing to put out a new list so many years later.


So, below is the full 50 films (and I have to clearly state that these are in no particular order):


1 Back to the Future Trilogy

2 Alien Quadrilogy

3 The Dark Knight

4 Almost Famous

5 The Big Lebowski

6 Goodfellas

7 Withnail and I

8 Die Hard

9 Dr Strangelove

10 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

11 The Fall

12 Fight Club

13 12 Angry Men

14 The Godfather 1 & 2

15 Groundhog Day

16 Heat

17 Indiana Jones Trilogy

18 Batman '89

19 Jurassic Park

20 LA Confidential

21 Gladiator

22 The Matrix

23 Memento

24 Gravity

25 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

26 The Prestige

27 Psycho

28 Pulp Fiction

29 JFK

30 Reservoir Dogs

31 Robocop

32 Schindlers List

33 Toy Story Trilogy

34 Star Wars: Original Trilogy

35 The Silence of Lambs

36 Some like it Hot

37 Inception

38 This Is Spinal Tap

39 T2: Judgment Day

40 Trainspotting

41 Unforgiven

42 Django Unchained

43 Wall E

44 The Wolf of Wall St

45 The Warriors

46 Shawshank Redemption

47 Lord of the Rings Trilogy

48 Se7en

49 Zodiac

50 Mad Max: Fury Road


A quick check shows that the following great films have slipped out the list after 5 years:

American Beauty, Anchorman, Minority Report, Raging Bull, Requiem for a Dream, True Romance, Chinatown, Sin City, The Sixth Sense, Spiderman 2, Team America: World Police and Full Metal Jacket.


These were replaced by The Fall, Groundhog Day, Heat, Memento, Gravity, The Prestige, Trainspotting, Unforgiven, Django Unchained, The Wolf of Wall St, Zodiac and Mad Max: Fury Road


Maybe in a few years I will do another check of these and no doubt some will stick around and some will move on - and again allow myself some trilogies in there to get more films in! LOL.


Midlands Movies Mike






By midlandsmovies, Feb 26 2017 10:55PM



Midlands Movies 2017 Film Award Winners


First of all, the Midlands Movies crew and I would like to say a great big thank you to everyone who made suggestions and nominations for our first ever film awards.


A special thank you should also go to all the artistic filmmakers, actors, writers, directors and more who have shown throughout the last 12 months that the Midlands region is a hot bed of talented folk from across different communities and locations.


Midlands Movies is very grateful for your enthusiasm and support in our efforts to help celebrate the brilliantly gifted artists who endeavour to tell their stories no matter what they may be and advance the local filmmaking industry.


And your encouragement has also helped build on the achievements of the Midlands filmmakers, so we would like to reward the hard work and accomplishments of those involved, and showcase this talent to the rest of the UK and beyond.


Winners were certainly not easy to decide upon as the selections were all of such a high quality. Therefore big congratulations go to all of the films submitted as we enjoyed each and every one of them. Finally, Midlands Movies hopes that this celebration can help ensure an even more successful movie awards as we develop an event for next year.


Until then, we have the pleasure in announcing the following Midlands Movies 2017 Film Award winners in each category below.


Mike Sales

Editor, Midlands Movies



Cinematography

Nominations: Transcended, Our Father, The Long Way Home, Archway 0173, Dolls

WINNER: Karl Poyzer (Transcended)


Costume Design

Nominations: The Long Way Home, Hollow Men, Night Owls

WINNER: Sammy-May Buxton (Hollow Men)


Documentary

Nominations: JA40: The Junction Arts Story, Who Killed British Cinema

WINNER: Robin Dutta & Vinod Mahindru (Who Killed British Cinema)


Editing

Nominations: Archway 0173, Static, Dolls, Squidge, Working Girl

WINNER: Keith Allott (Dolls/Archway 0173)


Actress in Leading Role

Nominations: GRID, Static, Squidge, Arrivals: Rachel, Crossing Paths

WINNER: Charlie Clarke (GRID)


Visual Effects

Nominations:The Long Way Home, The Slayers, Paper Plane, Darkwave: EOTS

WINNER: MangledPixel & Mike James VFX (Darkwave: Edge of the Storm)


Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

HONORARY WINNER: Tom Young (Pitiful Corpses - monologue from The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov)


Music (Original Score)

Nominations: Our Father, Frettin, The Long Way Home, Karma, Squidge, Dolls

WINNER: Zachary Start (Our Father)


Supporting Actor

Nominations: Hinterland, Transcended, Just Charlie, Kebabylon, Arrivals: Rachel

WINNER: Annil Mittoo (Kebabylon)


Sound Mixing

Nominations: Paper Plane, Frettin, Static, Transcended

WINNER: Joey Lever (Paper Plane)


Best Picture (feature)

Nominations: Neville Rumble, The Slayers, Frettin’, Just Charlie

WINNER: The Slayers


Animation

Nominations: The Fairy & the Dragon, Aladdin & his Magic Teapot, The X-Mas Files

WINNER: The Fairy & the Dragon by Alex Sinclair


Actor in Leading Role

Nominations: Transcended, Squidge, Dolls, Night Owls, Capricious

WINNER: Jonny McPherson (Night Owls)


Supporting Actress:

Nominations: Archway 0173, Just Charlie, Neutral

WINNER: Eleanor Worthington Cox (Archway 0173)


Best Picture (short)

Nominations: Feiht, Archway 0173, A Girl in Words, Static, Transcended, Dolls, Night Owls, Capricious, Ballpoint Hero

WINNER: Feiht by Harry Wilding


Directing

Nominations: Frettin, Neville Rumble, Ballpoint Hero, Static, Squidge,

WINNER: Lee Price (Frettin, Neville Rumble) & Richard Miller (Ballpoint Hero, Neville Rumble)


Foreign Language Film (screened in Midlands)

HONORARY WINNER: Justicia Justiciera by Rafa Dengra


Makeup /Hairstyling

Nominations: Transcended, Hollow Men, Just Charlie, Night Owls, Darkwave

WINNER: Charlotte Price (Night Owls)


Music (Original Song)

Nominations: Frettin’, Just Charlie, Crossing Paths, Night Owls

WINNER: Balls Balls Balls (Frettin’)


Production Design

Nominations: Our Father, The Long Way Home, Transcended, Hollow Men, Night Owls

WINNER: Jen Meredith (The Long Way Home)

Honorary mention: Bugsy Malone (The Curve Theatre)


Sound Editing

Nominations: Frettin, The Long Way Home, Dolls, Paper Plane, Static, Squidge

WINNER: Martin Critchley (Squidge)


Original Screenplay

Nominations: A Girl in Words, Hinterland, Night Owls, Arrivals: Rachel

WINNER: Sophie Black & Tommy Draper (Night Owls)

By midlandsmovies, Jan 9 2017 04:00PM

Quite simply, here is our ongoing and updated list of Film Festivals in the Midlands (2017):


• THE SHORT CINEMA http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk info@theshortcinema.co.uk Phoenix, Leicester - August 23rd – 26th 2017


• NOTTINGHAM FILM FESTIVAL - Hothouse Theatre’s Nottingham Film Festival. October 6th – 8th 2017 For details visit http://www.nottinghamfilmfestival.com


• ANON FILM FEST - No 2017 dates yet. Screened at Northern Light Cinema, Wirksworth, Derbys. https://filmfreeway.com/festival/anonfilmfestival


• INDIE-LINCS - March 16th – 18th 2017 Based at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, and run in partnership with The School of Film and Media at the University of Lincoln http://www.indie-lincs.com


• BRINDLEY PLACE OUTDOOR FEST - 2017 dates TBC. http://www.brindleyplace.com/event/brindleyplace-outdoor-film-festival-2


• WORCESTERSHIRE FILM FESTIVAL 2017 dates TBC www.worcestershirefilmfestival.co.uk Contact Lawrence Donello‏ on Twitter @Razorpost https://twitter.com/worcesterfilm


• LEICESTER DOCFILM FEST http://www.citizenseye.org Contact John Coster 2017 dates TBC


• BORDERLINES FEST http://www.borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk UK's largest rural film festival. Herefordshire/Shropshire - FRIDAY 24 FEBRUARY TO SUNDAY 12 MARCH 2017


• BIRMINGHAM FILM FEST - November 18th – 26th 2017 https://filmfreeway.com/festival/Birminghamfilmfestival


• BIFF FEST (Black International Film Fest) http://www.vtelevision.co.uk/biff/event.html


• SHOCK AND GORE FESTIVAL http://www.shockandgore.co.uk The Electric Cinema in Birmingham, July. Contact david@theelectric.co.uk or https://twitter.com/shockgore July 2017


• DEAFFEST http://www.deaffest.co.uk The UK's International Deaf Film & Arts Festival Wolverhampton. Contact info@light-house.co.uk 12th – 14th May 2017.


• LEICESTER ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL - 16th - 19th March www.leicesterasianfilmfestival.com


• SHOUT FESTIVAL http://shoutfestival.co.uk Birmingham Dates soon for 2017


• DERBY FILM FESTIVAL http://www.derbyfilmfestival.co.uk 28th APRIL - 7th MAY 2017


• FANTASTIQ FEST http://fantastiq.co.uk Fantasy and Horror Fest at Quad in Derby


• MAYHEM HORROR Film Fest - Halloween. Contact Broadway cinema in Nottingham http://www.broadway.org.uk/mayhem 12th - 15th October 2017


• FLATPACK FEST - Birmingham, UK. http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk 4th - 9th April 2017


• EAST ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL http://www.eastwindsfilmfest.com 2017 Dates Coming Soon


• BEESTON FILM FESTIVAL http://www.beestonfilm.com 9th - 12th March 2017


• CAN DO FEST – Nottingham http://www.can-do-fest.com Biennial Fest currently fundraising to run a new Can- Do Film festival in 2017


• ZZUB - http://www.zzubfest.co.uk Wolverhampton - 2017 Festival TBC


• SHROPSHIRE RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL http://www.rainbowfilmfestival.org.uk/midlands-zone 6th - 8th October 2017


• GRINDHOUSE PLANET - 2017 date TBC www.grindhouseplanet.com


Other useful Film Festival information can be find at these links:

http://www.festivalfocus.org/festival

http://film.britishcouncil.org/festivals-directory/festivals-map

http://www.thefilmfestivaldoctor.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, Dec 30 2016 08:57PM

MM Writer Kira Comerford Best 10 Films of 2016


So, here I have put together a list of my top ten films of 2016. It has been quite a mixed year for film this year, and this became clear to me when trying to make this countdown. I've seen some truly awful films during the last twelve months, a few that have been questionable, and a handful that have been true show-stoppers.


10. The Hateful Eight

I had looked forward to seeing this in cinemas and then missed out on the opportunity, so paid full price for the DVD when that came out. It is at this point I have to tell you that the only reason The Hateful Eight has made this list is because other 2016 films were worse - I had to pick the lesser of a few evils if you will. It really was not what I have come to expect from Quentin Tarantino, but in comparison to some of the other tripe from this year, I guess it was okay...


9. Suicide Squad

A film that was a big talking point this year was CD's Suicide Squad. I'll be honest, I'm a bit defensive of this one - I don't think it deserved the absolute savaging it received. Fair enough, it was nowhere near as good as the hype surrounding it built it up to be, but it wasn't terrible in my eyes. It was a bit of fun that I think has set up the foundations for a series of new stories in that universe.


8. The Revenant

It was the film to finally Leo that Oscar and it was quite an enjoyable watch. The beautiful scenery captured by director Alejandro Innaritu really did The Revenant a lot of favours, and while at times it did feel a tad too long, I think I would struggle to pick a point where the runtime could be trimmed down at all.


7. Doctor Strange

Another film to receive quite a build up was Doctor Strange. I thought Benedict Cumberbatch did a great job as the title character, but I feel like Mads Mikkelsen was wasted as Kaecilius. The film set things up nicely for any future storylines in this universe, but part of me just hopes they make full use of whatever talent gets cast there.


6. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

This prequel to the Harry Potter franchise turned out to be a very pleasant surprise for me. Eddie Redmayne was so perfectly cast as Newt Scamander and after seeing him in the role, I find it hard to think that there was a time someone else would have been in contention/ It really was a terrific family film and I enjoyed every moment of it.


5. Bone Tomahawk

I'm a sucker for a good western, and the idea of this one really appealed to me. It slowed down considerably in the middle, but the ending was well and truly worth it. I still haven't quite managed to erase that scene from mind! The western/horror mix that Bone Tomahawk opted for is one that I think holds a lot of promise once the formula has been tinkered with.


4. Kubo And The Two Strings

In my opinion, 2016 and the years before it have been pretty poor for animated films, especially those brought to us by Disney and Pixar. However, we have been presented with one real gem recently. Kubo And The Two Strings was a wonderful breath of fresh air with it's story that originated in Japanese folklore. Plus, the whole thing was done with stop motion animation, which made it even easier to appreciate all the hard work that went into it.


3. The Nice Guys

A film that I think surprised a lot of people was The Nice Guys, featuring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as the world's worst detectives. I'd say the film could be described as this generation's Lethal Weapon, with plenty of action and some seriously funny moments. You can imagine how happy I was to find someone had bought me the DVD for Christmas.


2. Spotlight

The only awards season release I got to see in cinemas was Spotlight, and it ended up being money well spent. It told a harrowing story very well, and I was backing it to win every Oscar going, although it only clinched Best Picture on the night. The performances by the whole cast were terrific and it was good to see the stories of the people who first brought these atrocities to the surface.


1. 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane takes my number one spot for so many reasons. The long-awaited follow-up to 2005's Cloverfield did not disappoint audiences, and it turned out to ban other dark horse amongst this year's releases. John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead provide brilliant performances in a film that constantly changes direction, leaving you second guessing what could happen next for most of the film. This film takes the top of the podium purely for the fact it was such a surprise for me, and I'm really looking forward to what is to come next.


So, there you have it - my top ten films of the past year. I saiid at the start it was a mixed bunch and I don't think I was wrong. Western, sci-fi, comedy, drama, animation and a few other things thrown in for good measure prove that regardless of what anyone says about film this year, there has certainly been something for everyone.


Kira Comerford

By midlandsmovies, Dec 30 2016 08:38PM

Midlands Movies Mike Worst 10 Films of 2016


As in previous years I do not want to give too much exposure to the releases in a year that have bored, annoyed or disappointed me but here is a quick recap of the 10 films I liked least in 2016. Some were disappointments rather than outright bad and I did my best this year to avoid true stinkers on the basis that life is far too short for such distractions.


I know some people loved a few of these and as with all these lists it’s entirely subjective but here are a few of the worst films of 2016 (plus a few choice quotes from our reviews).


10. Goodnight Mommy

“The whole thing is undercut by the most obvious “twist” that can be figured out in the first 5 minutes. Guessing where the film was going so soon meant the finale was unsatisfying. It has a lot to say but sadly a horrifically bad set up and payoff”.


9. Central Intelligence

"Despite its premise, Central Intelligence has the majority of its humour redacted".


8. The Greasy Strangler


7. Batman V Superman

“There is FAR too much for one film to handle and it leaves us with the obligatory CGI city-destroying smash up that permeate all these movies. Cavill is so dour as Superman he’s simply miserable to watch at times and is an unnaturally gloomy feature and a structural mess from the outset”.


6. Jason Bourne


5. Don’t Breathe

“This is the quintessential film of two halves. Characters begin to make stupid decision after stupid decision and the leads’ ability to think even slightly rationally/logically was completely absent. A huge disappointment in terms of expectations given its descent from excellence to rubbish in a mere 15 minutes”.


4. They Look Like People


3. Triple 9

“Never has a great cast delivered so little in this dull thriller. Leaden performances aren’t helped by a pacing so tedious I could barely stay awake. Lacklustre dialogue, lifeless action scenes and dreary directing simply was not good enough from the filmmakers and actors – all who have much to bring, but show so little here”.


2. Warcraft

“What was he thinking? Jones has made a huge blunder for a once focused filmmaker whose themes were mysterious and multi-layered. A sad flop from the once promising director, I hope Jones returns to some original source material and avoids any follow up the studio may have plans for”.


1. London Has Fallen

“Not even funny to laugh at, the film will barely bring any joy, even to those who like to watch B-movie brawn-a-thons. This yawn-a-thon is terrible throughout so you’ve been suitably warned of its impending hellishness”.


Midlands Movies Mike


*Use our website search for the full reviews to these and any other reviews of 2016.

By midlandsmovies, Dec 21 2016 09:34AM



Big budget, little entertainment


When Mike asked me if I would be interested in submitting my top ten list for the year I broke out in a cold sweat, had I seen ten films that were worthy of recommendation? Did these films truly deserve to help up as a sign of exceptional quality or were some of them simply alright in a cinematic year that I felt was mediocre overall.


Then I thought, hang on I have seen a lot of stinkers this year wouldn’t it be easier (and I refute any allegations of laziness on my part) to create a list of my worst films of 2016.


Now many of these films technically speaking are not bad. They are all more than competently made with high levels of technical expertise, decent actors and sometimes big budgets but for whatever reason they lack that certain something (or in some cases several things) that make them enjoyable. I have to admit because of this Grimsby and Sausage Party don’t make my list as although both are bad films they did cause me to snigger much in the same way as Beavis and Butthead do.


So whether it’s because of an unengaging and cohesive script, erratic direction or even just the crew lacking an editor who understands film here are my personal top stinkers of the year.


Zoolander 2


Completely missing the point as set out by the first film - Stiller and Wilson return in another cameo heavy poke at fashion and celebrity. Although this time it appears that not only are the celebrities in on it but their complicity strips the film of any genuine credibility or validity rather becoming an ironic send up of the first. All would (almost) be forgiven had the script been any good but sadly even the most ardent fan of the original would struggle with the lack of humour contained in this one.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


Just awful from the get go and a real struggle to sit through the full movie. Arguably it was tonally supposed to be along the lines of Nolan’s darker Batman series but once again Synder just fails to deliver, which a shame as I feel that he had such a strong start to his directorial career.


Furthermore we can all be in no doubt that this film was also supposed to be the one to act almost as a launch pad for the Justice League and this potentially took away from the directors focus. Perhaps next time spend a little more time in the editing room and a little less thinking about future work eh Zack.


Suicide Squad


On the subject of fantasy heroes (or anti-heroes) having been over-marketed for months and months and shoved into our faces every time we set foot in a cinema I suspect the majority of movie goers were over this film by the time it finally landed and it’s easy to see why. With the exception of the now iconic (and sure-fire cosplay staple Harley Quinn) this film just failed to capture the imagination of viewers as it suffers from poor character development, even poorer baddies and a script that feels like it is three TV episodes bundled together to create a whole film.


There was a rumour going around stating that the marketing men had the final say on the edit and while this is almost certainly rubbish I wish it was true as it would at least make sense. The narrative barely flows and many of the sequences appear to be set up for highlight reels and promotional shots rather than for the benefit of the story. Quite frankly very little works in this mess of a film.


Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie


No one asked for it. No one wanted it. So it is amazing that it grossed as much as it did as people desperate to relive those moments from the TV show flocked to this bloated swan song that really did seem to come out of nowhere. That said I am sure die-hard fans enjoyed what could have just been a holiday special.


Precious Cargo


Bruce Willis does it again, another stinker only this time he has pulled Zac from Saved by the Bell (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) down with him in this tale of no honour between thieves that just screams TV movie from the very get go and won’t do his career any favours. One to avoid.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies


This was a personal disappointment for me having been a big fan of the book of the same name. I was of the belief that cinematic adaptations of best-selling zombie books could not get any worse but I was certainly mistaken as this ill-judged, teen friendly borefest was released. It’s no surprise at all that to date it hasn’t even made back half of its reported $28 million budget and by chasing the mass audience it alienated those who actually were interested and willing to pay to see the film. A terrible mistake indeed.


Inferno


Now while not a massive fan of The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons there were elements I enjoyed and bits that have, quite surprisingly, made me want to revisit them but Inferno is just a mess. Perhaps that was the intention, for the film to mirror Robert Langdon’s (Tom Hanks) fragmented memory but Ron Howard overshot and despite some beautiful scenery and well-staged set pieces overall the film fails to live up to what it needed to be and as such makes this list of let downs.


Let’s be honest there are plenty of other stinkers such as Now You See Me 2 (but I had very low expectations going into that one anyway) and Hollywood’s attempts at bringing back the biblical or ancient epic (Ben-Hur; Gods of Egypt; Risen – all of which make the film in Hail, Cesear! look genuinely award winning) but on the positive side this is all the more reason to get out and discover new and exciting independent productions in 2017 especially with the midlands being so well served in terms of local independent art house cinemas.


Get involved and let us know your worst film of the year over on Twitter @MidlandsMovies


Midlands Movies Marek


By midlandsmovies, Dec 17 2016 12:28AM

Top 2016 films from MIdlands Movies Editor, Mike Sales


After a very tough year personally, I think I have gone for a much more light-hearted Top 20 than in previous favourite lists of mine but there is also something from most genres including comedy, action, horror, drama, documentary, sci-fi and much more.


Not sure it was a “classic” year in terms of films that will have longevity but what it did have was creativity in spades and in at least three cases, the rejuvenation of well-worn franchises was actually the biggest surprise for me.


Read below for the final list of my favourite 20 films in 2016 and links to the full reviews from the site.




20. Hardcore Henry Dir. Ilya Naishuller

What we said: “The violence was suitably over-the-top and generally creative, an excellent and campy Sharlto Copley gets multiple characters to inhabit – including the delivery of a song and dance number – and the stunt work is superb”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Hardcore-Henry/10854265


19. Anomalisa Dir. Charlie Kaufman/Duke Johnson

What we said: “With dazzling animation, Kaufman’s tight script and a distinctive style to wrap the themes around, this exceptional film is that rare beast where mock-up mannequins gives us not just an imitation of life but show the intimacy of life. When Kafka meets Aardman you get Kaufman”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Anomalisa/10628676


18. Race Dir. Stephen Hopkins

What we said: “2016 has provided a wealth of sports films for fans and Race is a movie that makes you want to read more on a subject which is a rare commodity. Breaking track and field records alongside breaking barriers in America, I recommend you take a chance with this winning film as, despite its shortcomings, is one worth investing your soul in”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Race/10758379


17. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

REVIEW TBC


16. De Palma Dir. Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow

What we said: “De Palma’s legacy as a filmmaker has been assured with a genre-hopping career with unforgettable cinematic images. De Palma is a fantastic documentary…[and] for those wanting to get an insightful and, more importantly, honest review of someone’s life, De Palma lets the director do all of the talking”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Reviews---Midlands-Movies-Film-Catch-Up-Blog-2016-Part-2/10911312


15. Midnight Special Dir. Jeff Nichols

What we said: “A supernatural thriller with a stunning piano-led soundtrack, Midnight Special takes an unexpected route to well-worn themes. Nichols has created an enigmatic film for those willing to stick with a cryptic cross-country cruise that doesn’t answer all the questions, but when done this well – it doesn’t need to”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Midnight-Special/10684545


14. Zero Days Dir Alex Gibney

What we said: “It’s a hush-hush story with all the twists of a spy thriller…this is an astonishing documentary. A fantastic journey of code-makers and breakers, Zero Days goes beyond its niche technical audience and becomes a successful critique on global warfare in the 21st Century”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Zero-Days/10817614


13. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

What we said: "With enough action, throwback ‘easter eggs’ and a host of characters whose journeys we haven’t followed before, Rogue One delivers a solid sci-fi story of hopeful resistant fighters rising up against their wicked oppressors. It's done with fun, flair and impressive visuals that whisks you off to that galaxy far, far away like the annual family holiday. Comforting, expected but with an extra trip or two thrown in. We'll all be back again next year".


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Rogue-One---A-Star-Wars-Story/11026222


12. High-Rise Dir. Ben Wheatley

What we said: “High-Rise is a film that bubbles up slowly from the bottom until it reaches a gloriously gory finale. Experimental but just the right side of coherent, the film explores wickedness and immorality and if you go along with its wantonness you’ll find many more highs in a slow burner - building to a pinnacle of decadence”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---High-Rise/11025992


11. Everybody Wants Some!! Dir. Richard Linklater

What we said: “Avoiding clichés, Everybody Wants Some blurs the lines of the traditional jock stereotype. Whilst plenty of time is given to their competitiveness, the film deconstructs this and…at the core is a spirited story of male-centred affection and despite the burliness and muscle-flexing bravado shown by the physical players, Linklater has created a film with much more soul than you would imagine”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Everybody-Wants-Some/10848732



10. The Nice Guys Dir. Shane Black

What we said: “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”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---The-Nice-Guys/10848731


9. Hell or High Water Dir. David Mackenzie

What we said: “From dusty roads to budget diners, the film revels in its unobtrusive locations and settings to add realism to a well worn tale. Efficient in story-telling and with flashes of action interspersed with intimate tête-à-têtes, Hell or Highwater is a low key success that is both gritty and smart, tough and stylish and definitely one of this year’s highlights”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Hell-or-High-Water/11025994


8. Creed Dir. Ryan Coogler

What we said: “For the fans, all the ingredients of the Rocky formula are there with a focus on the characters you have grown up with but the drama is so well crafted there is plenty for those who know nothing about the journey so far. This means that Creed is a filmic feat, an emphatic return to form with an individual voice from director Coogler that amounts to a knock-out triumph”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Creed/10461550


7. Bone Tomahawk Dir. S. Craig Zahler

What we said: “Bone Tomahawk therefore ends up being a furious film with pockets of revolting cruelness and the dust-covered savages are a fascinating twist on the “cowboy and Indian” stories of the past and whilst the horse-based passage through the wild is a Hollywood chestnut, the film’s formula mixes in new aspects to the genre. A bloody smattering of torture and mutilation gives the movie a bleak twist that will also satisfy the horror crowd and its no-frills narrative was a thrilling ride along”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Bone-Tomahawk/10534068


6. Eye in the Sky Dir. Gavin Hood

What we said: “Marvellous powerhouse performances from the entire cast are elevated by Mirren and Rickman showing their legendary range in a remarkable film. Drone controllers Aaron Paul & Phoebe Fox are excellent support as those with their fingers-on-the-triggers but in the safety of your own home the film asks you to question what you would sacrifice for the sake of protecting others. And it doesn’t get much more significant than that”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Eye-in-the-Sky/10939145


5. The Revenant Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu

What we said: “The film’s endurance reflects the characters’ fight for survival and combines thrills with more tender moments in a hard-hitting expedition of a movie. The director brings nuance and refreshing ideas – the camera gets “fogged” by the actors’ warm breaths in the chilly air at times – but with a superb cast the film is just a log cabin away from setting up camp in Oscar territory” (Editor – and boy did it!).


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---The-Revenant/10434659


4. The Invitation Dir. Karyn Kusama

What we said: “Director Karyn Kusama has got nearly everything right with the film, getting great performances out of a good mixed cast, as well as filling her dark shots with trepidation, terror and a fair amount of fear. Expertly crafted, The Invitation creates anxiety through a superb central performance by Logan Marshall-Green, and is an alarming achievement where nothing is what it seems. Filled with fear and a few frightful revelations, this is one party I recommend you RSVP to on its release”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---The-Invitation/10646298


3. Hail Caesar! Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen

What we said: “A homage, a pastiche, a tribute – the Coens’ ‘Hail, Caesar!’ is a masterclass in the technical but with warm comedic touches, a playfully simple narrative and heaps of laugh out loud moments, it also passes the audition to join those great films that are also about films. With the look of an LA Confidential and a raucousness verging on a Carry On film, the Coens’ latest offering has all the ingredients of the bygone age it affectionately lampoons”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Hail-Caesar/10705393


2. Green Room Dir. Jeremy Saulnier

What we said: “With the passing of star Anton Yelchin, it is even more sorrowful to know that the up and coming actor was putting in great performances right until the end. Bloody, nasty and at times gruesome, this is a superb film where characters make suitably realistic decisions and its understated opening of a down-and-out band playing the shitty underground music circuit contrasts brilliantly with the subsequent carnage later on. Brutal and uncompromising, ferocious and savage, fans of physical and emotional heaviness will lap up this dark movie from the director of Blue Ruin”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Reviews---Midlands-Movies-Film-Catch-Up-2016/10802467


1. Captain America: Civil War Dir. Anthony and Joe Russo

What we said: “Here there is a better balance of characters than Age of Ultron and great action sequences and moving scenes help ground the film but the airport scrap between the two warring factions is simply “amazing” in all “senses” of the word. With an ending that’s as gripping as it is meaningful, the last but not least important aspect is Chris Evans as Captain himself. Originally somewhat of a clichéd damp squib of a character – the 40s hero is a war-time stereotype – Marvel have created an absolute pivotal role for the superhero and Evans’ superb approach creates a (narrative) freedom that Cap’ himself would be proud of”.


http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Review---Captain-America-Civil-War/10712083



By midlandsmovies, Jul 28 2016 02:45PM

Judgement Year - A retrospective look at 1991 cinema


25 years. 25 YEARS? How did Terminator 2, one of my favourite films of all time, hit the cinema 25 years ago? Wow. As time goes by, my cinematic knowledge seems to have had an awakening in 1991, the year of its release, and much like Marty McFly and 1955, the year now has a particular significance for me.


The year 1991 involved some important events but oh how we’ve moved on since a war waged in Iraq, the European Market and closer political union were heated public debates, a Star Trek sequel was released and The Simpsons was on TV – wait, what?




Joking aside and back to film, that year gave me 2 of my top 5 movies ever – more on that later – plus a host of blockbusters, dramas and some great comedy and was a superb cinematic period that I haven’t forgotten easily.


So where do we start? Well, 2016 has been accused of being an unimaginative year of franchises, sequels and named-brand features that show the stagnation of the current film industry. The emphasis has been on Hollywood ‘product’ rather than independent originality. But was 1991 that much different?


A quick look shows that there were a glut of sequels in the summer schedule. Problem Child 2, Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze, Terminator 2, F/X 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion (still one of the great sequel titles), Never Ending Story 2, Naked Gun 2 ½, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Child’s Play 3, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West and Star Trek VI. And were these any good? Mostly no. Outside Terminator and Naked Gun they were mostly terrible cash-grabs which peaked with Return to the Blue Lagoon, starring Milla Jovovich and Brian Krause and the much maligned Highlander II: The Quickening. Hardly an original slate for the production companies at the time.


It wasn’t all doom and gloom however and the Academy Awards reflected that. For the first time since One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest there was a clean sweep by one film in the “Big 5” categories. 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs received Oscars for Best Film, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress (Jodie Foster) and Best Screenplay (Ted Tally).





In the year of real-life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, the film’s combination of frights, horror and drama fed the appetite of the cinema-going public along with a fantastically “hammy” Hopkins who created one of the most iconic characters in movie history. Foster had a great year and went on to release her own film Little Man Tate as well. With a box office of $272 million, it’s hard to imagine nowadays that a non-biopic drama could be so successful and it’s 2016’s loss that such fare gets far less attention nowadays.


More horrors were served up to audiences in ’91 with Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs and Martin Scorsese’s remake (yes, they were doing the same back then too) Cape Fear. De Niro gave a comparable hammy horror turn as Max Cady, the obsessed criminal stalker of Nick Nolte’s family

Remembering back, with my 11 year old self just a few years away from developing a deep love of gangster rap music, a number of significant black voices in cinema made their presence known during this year too. Jungle Fever from Spike Lee showcased Wesley Snipes whilst New Jack City directed by Mario Van Peebles also included Snipes and rapper turned actor Ice T. Sticking with hip-hop, Boyz n the Hood (John Singleton) used Ice Cube and future Oscar winner Cuba “Show Me the Money” Gooding, Jr. Another “Ice” rapper also came to prominence in 1991 as Vanilla Ice starred in his own film Cool As Ice. Which was awful in every way possible. He also did the main theme to Turtles 2 – another pile of steaming sewage.


Comedy wise, it was a great year for funnies. The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear was released by Paramount with Leslie Nielsen reprising his role. It also starred O. J. Simpson. *resists comparison to Buffalo Bill*


Another spoof released was Hot Shots! starring Charlie Sheen (the 9th biggest film of 1991!) and the laughs continued with Rik Mayall’s quirky Drop Dead Fred, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and Michael J. Fox in Doc Hollywood – a film which has the same story as Pixar’s Cars. Seriously, go check it out. Fox also showed up in the comedy The Hard Way to annoy James Woods’ gritty cop whilst another buddy action-thriller The Last Boy Scout also got released. Written by Shane Black, the same formula of witty one-liners in a noir Los Angeles still appears today in his latest release The Nice Guys (2016).


The most successful comedy in terms of numbers was Barry Sonnenfeld’s “reboot” of creepy and kooky TV series The Addams Family. Pulling in big names Anjelica Huston, Raúl Juliá and Christopher Lloyd and the young scene-stealing Christina Ricci as Wednesday, the film was a huge success. Itself leading to more sequels and spin offs. Not as successful but also one of the most well-known comedies from the year was Western farce City Slickers with Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby and Jack Palance. Palance won a best supporting actor Oscar which was a Sean Connery-style aging-actor sympathy award if there ever was one.


Sappy but loveable Father of the Bride starring Steve Martin got a release as did Martin’s L.A. Story in which he also penned the screenplay for. Sadly a forgotten gem, this tale of love in the city of angels is a little seen quaint movie and well worth seeking out if you haven’t caught it late night on ITV or somesuch. Together, four comedy films brought in almost a billion dollars (you could argue Hook should be included too) and this was in 1991. Quite amazing given the highest grossing films we see in today’s box office list.


Moving away from comedy, action fans had Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break with dirty dancer Patrick Swayze and a post-Bill & Ted Keanu Reeves beginning to show his action chops we’d eventually see more of in The Matrix, Speed and John Wick. The video game Streetfighter 2 also came out in 1991 and it would be a few years before a movie-adaptation would be made but the star of that future film Jean Claude Van Damme appeared in Double Impact. In that film audiences got double the Van-Damage as the first of many outings for JCVD where he fought himself as brother, twin or time-traveller. During the same summer, fellow future action b-lister Steven Seagal starred in his usual low-brow-no-brains schlock Out for Justice.



Was The Rock one of the first wrestlers turned actors? No way! 1991 saw Hulk Hogan starring in Suburban Commando, a film so bad it resulted in only 1993’s Mr. Nanny and not much else for the macho moustachioed man. A weird sub-genre that has also seen Schwarzenegger’s Kindergarten Cop and The Rock’s Tooth Fairy as men taking the unlikely role of children carers but that’s for another article. Feature failure Hudson Hawk (now having a somewhat retro cult status) showed that Planet Hollywood owner Bruce Willis wasn’t infallible either after his two Die Hard successes.


Ron Howard’s Backdraft threw together a group of stars including Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Donald Sutherland and Robert De Niro in an action-drama about firefighters – worth checking out for the pre-CGI fire effects alone. And mixing retro-steampunk style with a good old battle against the Nazis, Disney’s The Rocketeer showed how director Joe Johnston could balance 1930s America and a superhero. This led to him taking on directorial duties for Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger many years later.


More serious fare came in the form of Alan Parker’s The Commitments about an Irish band, Palme d'Or Winner at the Cannes Film Festival Barton Fink, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and My Own Private Idaho from Gus Van Sant. Well renowned French film Delicatessen, directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet hit cinemas and David Cronenberg took Peter “Robocop” Weller on a surreal semi-biographical journey in his adaptation of William S. Burrough’s Naked Lunch.


Admirable but ultimately forgettable movies from the period include Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer in Frankie and Johnny and post-Home Alone and pre-off-the-rails child star Macaulay Culkin in My Girl. Warren Beatty in Bugsy and Sylvester Stallone in Oscar were so flawed that their comparable archaic gangster stories merge into one equal recollection of two horrible messes. Finally, Thelma & Louise by Ridley Scott showcased a new feminist take on the American dream and Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King won an Oscar for Mercedes Ruehl as Best Supporting Actress. Ruehl all but disappeared from acting sadly making only a handful of films over the next 25 years.


But what of the biggies? The ones I’ve given special place in my soul? Firstly, coming back to the film that kicked this article off, is Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It made half a billion dollars (again, remember this is 1991) as it brought its original stars back for a sequel that twists the original’s formula and adds ground-breaking visuals. This early use of CGI saw Robert Patrick’s shape-shifting liquid terminator fight Arnie in a film that combines a clever sci-fi narrative with Caemron’s aesthetic flair in a film that is widely considered one of the best, if not THE best, sequel of all time. Probably Arnie’s finest hour (only the first Terminator and Predator coming close) and no doubt the best (and certainly the last great) Terminator film before the franchise spun off into a cornucopia of sub-par sequels by filmmakers who didn’t know where to take the idea.



Alongside Terminator 2 as one of my favourite films of all time is Oliver Stone’s JFK. The historical drama is not often cited as a lot of critics’ best films ever lists but its 3-hour run time allows Stone to indulge in every conspiracy theory around the President's assassination whilst poking a wagging finger at the US government.


The courtroom scene making up the final third of the movie allows Costner (never better) to rattle through absurd theories of who could have been involved and Stone’s use of different film stocks, black and white footage and flashbacks upon flashbacks created a whirlwind of ideas that confuse even the most logical of viewers.


Stone’s script is 90% talking in rooms but helping him along with his “essay” is a cast of amazing actors including Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Oldman, Michael Rooker, Sissy Spacek, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Donald Sutherland, John Candy and Joe Pesci who bring to life the heavy dialogue. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and won two for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing (rightly so) but Oliver Stone was honoured with a Best Director accolade at the Golden Globes.




Unbelievably, Stone had a second film released the same year as Val Kilmer took on Jim Morrison in the music biography feature, The Doors. Containing all the drug references you would expect, The Doors was overshadowed by JFK but the fact Stone had a second film in him was nothing less than remarkable.


And speaking of Costner, he too had another film released in 1991. Financially only beaten by T2, his badly-accented role in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was mostly glossed over as fans flocked to the cinema for Alan Rickman’s OTT Sheriff of Nottingham. Along with Die Hard (and later Harry Potter), Rickman has a knack for dark and memorable villains and most will also not be able to forget the maudlin ballad by Bryan Adams that accompanied the film. In the UK the song stayed at number one for 16 weeks (3 months!) consecutively. Rightly so, it eventually got on everyone’s tits but it didn’t take away from the fun family adventure romp the film was.




As we come to the end of this look back, 1991 not only stands out as a great year for films of the past, there’s a strange set of parallels with the current landscape in cinema today too. A Star Trek sequel was released (The Undiscovered Country) whilst 2016 saw Star Trek Beyond hit our screens. Back in ’91, the creator of Star Trek Gene Roddenberry sadly died aged 70, yet in the same year future Trek helmer JJ Abrams gained a screenwriting credit for Regarding Henry starring Harrison Ford. Abrams himself would then go on to direct Ford in Star Wars: Episode VII of all things.




In winter, Steven Spielberg took on a well-known child’s literary character in Hook which speculated on what a grown-up Peter Pan would be like. 25 years later, the family friendly Spielberg has just released his adaptation of Roald Dahls’ The BFG to a round of (improved) acclaim. Staying with children’s films, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast became one of the most prestigious films of all time when it was the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. Although it failed to win, it took home two other Oscars home for Best Score and Best Song. Alongside Terminator 2, Disney began to dip into CGI for the ballroom scene, leaving a legacy that spun off into Pixar as well as connecting it to next year’s live action remake of the film starring Emma Watson.




So what a year! For me personally, at age eleven then and thirty-six now, 1991 is one of the quintessential and most important periods in my movie memory. It was an eye opening 12 months of film and was probably the first time I saw movies as a creative art form rather than some sort of child’s entertainment. The legacies spawned from the movies of 1991 have become a tale as old as time and have ingrained themselves into every aspect of my conscious. And I will treasure that forever.


And what if you don’t agree with that?


Oh well, whatever, nevermind.


Midlands Movies Mike

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