icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram


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

By midlandsmovies, Aug 10 2019 07:24AM


Directed by Waheed Iqbal


Dead in the City films

Written, directed and starring Waheed Iqbal, Jungleland is a new feature set amongst the seedy world of criminals in the West Midlands.

Waheed Iqbal stars as Tanha, a man with some seriously bad habits – drugs and gambling being just two of them – who gets in way over his head after a bet gone wrong. With just 5 days to pay off his debt, we get a countdown of days to a sports game that could help Tanha win a large amount of cash to resolve his situation.

He visits a number of criminal associates, prostitutes and shady dealers as he travels around the streets at night, trying to pull his wayward life together. The film also has an admirable support cast including Hannah-Lee Osborn, Magdalena Ziembla, Faraz Beg, Nav Iqbal and Haqi Ali who encapsulate the sordid aspects of their very unwholesome characters.

As the sparse story develops at an unrushed rate, the film seems to owe more than a debt to Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn. Iqbal has been inspired to chose a stark colour scheme with shots drenched in neon purples and reds. At the same time, the similarities continue as he focuses solely on a single character’s point of view as the director attempts to draw the audience into his depraved and shadowy psyche.

Although some parts have the vibe of Refn’s Drive (2011) with a downbeat individual entering an immoral world, Jungleland felt more of a nod to God Only Forgives (2013) as a man moonlights his way around a city dealing with threats and iniquitous behaviour.

Sadly, this is slightly unfortunate as this film has inherited the incredibly slow pace and somewhat meandering narrative of that film as well.

Regretfully, the minimalist dialogue and some extremely time-consuming sequences have the effect of making Jungleland feel a bit of a slog at times. An example straight away is the opening 2 minutes of static Birmingham shots that feel redundant - especially when the subsequent red titles, pumping music and a car swerving through a city at night is a much more intriguing and exciting opening.

And there is a LOT of walking too. Everything is dragged out and so measured I found myself switching off which was a disappointment given its mysterious narrative and impressive electro-infused soundtrack.

But it keeps coming back to its snail’s pace. At a whopping 1 hour and 40minutes, Jungleland ends up being an ambitious attempt to deliver an exploration of wickedness and sin but the repetitive script needs tightening, the film could do with a quicker edit and the length doesn’t justify the narrative content.

That said, Iqbal no doubt has an impressive variety of skills and throws them all at the screen during its runtime. Steadicam-style tracking shots, black and white scenes and some impressive and very atmospheric lighting are the film’s finest aspects. And all of this gives the movie an aura of sleazy racketeering and deadly corruption which comes across of screen.

So definitely check out Jungleland if you’re a fan of Refn’s work – especially Only God Forgives whose tone is splashed all over the film – but for others, prepare for a long-drawn-out endeavour that may leave you either immensely fascinated or slightly fatigued.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jul 28 2019 10:22AM

Midlands Spotlight - New trailer for Jungleland

Jungleland is a new Birmingham-made film from local filmmaker/director Waheed Iqbal and after a busy summer in post production will soon to be released later in 2019.

Made on a very limited budget of just under £5,000 Iqbal wrote, directed, produced and acted in the film himself. As well as this the multi-faceted filmmaker took on the major role in post-production where he carried entirely carried out work on the film's picture & sound.

Not content to throw himself into every aspect of the filmmaking process, at the same time all of the work was done whilst he was a student during the last academic year.

Jungleland also features famous tracks from Bruce Springsteen and Chromatics (whose music was featured heavily in the film Drive),as well as Tangerine Dream, Alisha and Mazzy Star, all of which he has the complete rights to use.

The film itself was planned, shot and edited in just under a year and there was never any more than 4 of 5 crew members (including the director himself) working on the shoot at any given time.

"This was my first film, and the first film for the entire crew, which was made up of college students", says Iqbal.

And he hopes all the hard work will pay off as the entire producion team look forward to the upcoming release.

Watch the full teaser trailer below:

By midlandsmovies, Aug 12 2018 07:50AM

Midlands Review - God’s Lonely Man

Directed by Waheed Iqbal (2018)

God’s Lonely Man is a 25-minute short film written and directed by Waheed Iqbal, starring Faraz Beg and Nina Johnston. It’s about faith, isolation and the internal struggle to choose the right path and resist evil.

Beg plays Noman, a young Muslim man in Birmingham who is isolated and disconnected from his peers. He faces the external pressures of racism and islamophobia while battling his own conscience and second-guessing his decision to be a righteous man given certain actions taken in his past. He’s confronted by The Whisperer, played by Nina Johnston, as she attempts to lead him astray by appealing to his ‘true’ nature. When push comes to shove and it’s time to make a moral decision, will he choose wisely?

I’m not sure what I expected going in, but God’s Lonely Man is certainly slower and more abstract than I was prepared for. There are long scenes of Noman walking alone in the dark, and a few scenes that are a blur of colours and shapes. It’s very dark visually, which may have been a conscious decision on the director’s part but does make it a bit hard to make out what’s happening at times. When the image is clear, though, some of the shots are superb – Noman framed against the window, the deadly closeups of the hammer, the fresh bright blood on the poor assaulted woman’s face as she stands under a streetlamp.

The use of colour is excellent, with the dark red light of desire and violence cropping up again and again. Iqbal knows how to use sound effectively too, accentuating the action on screen well and distorting it occasionally to help the blurry visuals disorient the audience. The music is a bit of a low point, sadly, as it’s often over the top and inappropriately dramatic.

I think more could have been made of the relationship between Noman and his peers (we have one scene where they ridicule him, but the moment is brief despite the scene being long) as it would have been interesting to explore that aspect of his struggle and its effect on his inner turmoil, especially given how the climax goes.

It’s unclear who he’s calling on the phone - symbolically, perhaps he is calling the good man he hopes to find within himself? It’s also a little unclear what actions he took in his past that makes him believe he is a bad man – because of the red light’s usage to symbolise desire in a previous scene, the violent red-lit scene in the shop could be an unfulfilled desire rather than an actual action he took. It would have been nice to have explored his past a little more, but that’s more of a personal preference here!

However, Beg gives a good performance as a conflicted loner, with his emotive expressions being the high point. His delivery is a little flat, but that matches the character as he’s overwhelmed by his choice and the lonely life he’s leading. Johnston is superb as his foil, all smiles and delicious glee as she pours poison in his ear to try and lead him astray. The scenes they share are among the best in the film, as is the climax itself. These are the moments the film shines.

All in all though, God's Lonely Man is a great short on a topic that seems to be rarely discussed, and it’s well worth checking out.

Sam Kurd

Twitter @Splend

RSS Feed twitter