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

blog

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

By midlandsmovies, Oct 16 2019 09:23AM



JED


Directed by Nisaro Karim


2019


Five Pence Productions


Jed is the new film from actor-turned director Nisaro Karim and tells the story of a disturbed individual and their obsessions.


We open with a man walking his dog before stumbling across a body in the woods. We cut to a TV news report which explains that this is one of a number of recent victims and that witnesses tell of a tall bearded Asian man running away from the scene.


We cut to Nisaro Karim as Jed – a tall bearded Asian man – who has what appears to be a mental impairment and is weeping as he listens to the telly. Living with his mother, she asks how he got a hand injury and is suspicious of his vague and unlikely explanation


Jed has a good set-up from the start. A mystery is discovered in the first 30 seconds, a number of characters and their mysterious motivations are clearly explained and away we go. It was satisfying how the film quickly sets up its world and leads us down a dark path, whilst some swift editing and interesting shot choices keep the story moving as we continue on.


The story moves to a gym where we encounter two girls chatting. One of the women, Amy Roberts (played by Juliana Ratcliffe) strikes up a conversation with Jed before he returns home where he searches for Amy through her social media accounts.


A bit on the nose at times – the socially awkward character living at home with mum for example – the film is helped by an intense atonal score of held notes that gets more prominent as the film progresses raising the tension throughout.


Some point-of-view shots of a stalking in progress show the increasing danger to Amy and as she leaves the gym, Jed jumps in his car and follows Amy and her friend along the road. Some clever (and foreshadowing) wardrobe choices were a nice touch too and each scene has a purpose and leads nicely to the next.


Interesting locations around the Birmingham area and the almost-mute Jed allows the filmmaker to do lots of showing-not-telling with the film’s story beats which was also a positive.


Whilst I personally saw the ending coming a mile off, the 26-minute length made it feel like a solid episode of television and the film had surprisingly similar production values. Just an added bit of colour-grading and some tweaks on the lighting would see it indistinguishable from modern broadcast crime dramas.


Jed therefore ends up being a quality film which could do with a few more original takes on the stalker genre, but aside from that tiny flaw, it is a level-headed drama that’s easy to watch and contains themes of heroism and misplaced passions.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Oct 15 2019 11:32AM



Midlands Review - Shame My Name


Directed by A R Ugas


2019


AR Ugas’ short film Shame My Name is a first part in a series called “Chronicles" and is about a young man and his Albanian girlfriend. It centres on him meeting her father and trying to make a good first impression. The girlfriend initially resists and grows weary of her boyfriend’s repeated requests for him to meet her dad; and we all know how nerve wrecking it is to introduce your partner to your parents.


The opening scene is shot near a window inside a flat. I assume the use of natural light was beneficial for the camera crew, but it read a bit like a student-made short and too basic. Watching it a second time, I could see the girlfriend was standing near the window to keep an eye out for her dad and appears quite bothered that the boyfriend is still hanging around before her dad is due. Their relationship to her father is still secretive even after them being together for a good few years and the boyfriend felt it was time to make himself known to her family.


The atmosphere seemed a little flat, even subtle body language movements such as the girlfriend biting her nails could show a jittery tone without anyone saying a thing. The writing 100% drove the story and that was it. Something visual was needed and I would have enjoyed seeing more of the flat and the potential for different settings. The bedroom is a perfect environment for an intimate and caring scene between two people who love each other. Or maybe show a playful moment in the kitchen with some light-hearted banter. Any interaction with their surroundings is ten times more interesting than a 2D conversation facing each other near a window.


As mentioned before, the script was heavy with detail and in the first five minutes you find out the dad works for a security camera company, he’s Albanian, the couple have been dating for a while and on the surface, and everything seems to be pretty stable.


Before even watching the short, I was expecting a bigger influence of Albanian culture to be present. The title alone is nicely curious as it plays with identity, and considering AR Ugas’s rich life experiences and ability to speak four languages fluently, I was surprised to see a lack of culture identity that the father seems so obsessed with.


The second half focuses on the dad and the boyfriend with their initial meeting set out like an intimidating job interview, with the father asking standard questions like “tell me about yourself". Corey Thompson who plays Michael the boyfriend does an excellent job of performing as an awkward, but sort-of-confident guy as he takes the questions in his stride.


Again, everything is playing out somewhat predictably, so much so that you don’t realise Michael is being lured into a false sense of security. The mood suddenly switches, the camera turns to wide angle for that uneasy feel and it really is a deer in the headlights kind of moment for Michael and us. The immediate transformation to a darker tone is unpredictably wonderful and the story became much more compelling.


Tensions rise and the music is as unsettling as the scene, it is all very intriguing as to what’s going to happen next. What impressed me the most was Thompson’s ability to go from meek and mild boyfriend to knight in shining armour in a matter of seconds. His character went as far as sacrificing himself for the prosperity of his girlfriend and even defending her family’s honour and name. This was a huge jump to switch so quickly and swiftly that it really did take me by surprise, mainly because nothing in the first half of the short indicated that the boyfriend was so loyal and devoted.


There were clues to the dad’s hidden security camera background and a touch upon his Albanian culture, but nothing about Michael being an understanding and courageous man. As far as the audience knew, he was just a young lad trying to make a good impression with his girlfriend’s dad with a slight culture clash.


All of the actors did a great job and I got pulled into the scenes a lot more during the dramatic parts of the short. It was fascinating to see how both Corey Thompson and James Bryhan who plays the father could so easily switch their personalities.


I’m looking forward to seeing more short stories as part of Chronicles as I’m curious to see what links them all. Considering AR Ugas’s own background and interest in many cultures and languages, I’d love to see a bigger impact and influence of this through his films.


Sammy S

Twitter: @IsoElegant



By midlandsmovies, Oct 8 2019 11:05AM



Midlands Spotlight – STAY INSIDE 2: VINCENT’S REVENGE


A new action drama film is due for release in 2019 from local filmmaker Joshua Griffiths. We find out about this exciting new flick from the West Midlands.


Joshua Griffiths is an actor and teacher and began his film production company JJR Films around 5 years ago in the Midlands region.


Ever since, the company have created films of different lengths and genres and was set up to give him and his cast and crew friends a chance to showcase their talents including acting, writing and producing their own films.


Wolverhampton-based Joshua is taking on the roles of actor, writer and director himself for the film and the young movie-maker has already starred in the Midlands-made World War 1 short The Long Way Home. (Click here for Midlands Movies link)


Influenced by horror and action, Joshua’s latest film is a sequel which picks up the story of best friends Jason and Dean whose friendship was tested when someone from their past, Vincent, once paid them a visit.


After an incident saw Vincent disappear from their lives the two tried to hide from their past but this new film asks whether Vincent could be back for revenge. The film also stars Jordan Shaw and Ryan Corry.



Previous JJR Films have also included horror/thrillers “Tetanus” and “Escape” whilst the original “Stay Inside” was an action feature from a few years back.


And as well as appearing in The Long Way Home, Joshua has acted as an extra in music videos and Yesterday – the recent Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis Beatles-inspired film.


With the film due for completion soon and a host of festivals ready to be submitted to via Film Freeway, check out Stay Inside 2 Vincents Revenge when it is released soon.


Follow Josh and the future of this project on his social media links below


Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoshJoshieg98

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joshuagriffiths21




By midlandsmovies, Sep 23 2019 12:11PM



LICHFIELD GARRICK OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES EVENT CINEMA WITH NEW DIGITAL PROJECTION AND DOLBY SOUND PLUS BRAND NEW SEATING


Lichfield’s famous Garrick Theatre is already well known for staging exceptional live theatre bringing star names, well known plays and musicals, events, comedy, one-night gigs and traditional pantomime to its stage.


This autumn the award-winning theatre will be adding to the entertainment offering by officially launching EVENT CINEMA in the theatre’s refurbished Studio Theatre.


Using state of the art digital projection and Dolby sound, EVENT CINEMA will offer an exciting programme of screenings this autumn/winter including the hit comedy ‘One Man Two Guvnors’ starring James Corden, in celebration of 10 years of National Theatre live on screen; The Royal Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ a special Christmas treat for all the family, and Royal Opera House favourite Bryn Terfell in a new production of ‘Don Pasquale’. The cinema will also screen blockbuster movies including ‘RAMBO: Last Blood’ starring Sylvester Stallone.



Lichfield Garrick Theatre’s Chief Executive, Karen Foster said: “For some time now residents of Lichfield and beyond have had to commute out of the city to attend a cinema. Here at the theatre we have listened to our local community, and as a registered charity, took the decision to invest money back into the building and create a cinema which will appeal to both theatre and cinemagoers alike.”


Further highlights include a Dementia Friendly screening of the musical film Calamity Jane, starring Doris Day; 42nd Street the Musical filmed live at London’s Drury Lane and PLAYMOBIL: THE MOVIE taking younger audiences on an epic comedy adventure.


EVENT CINEMA is situated in the existing Studio Theatre which has recently benefitted from the addition of brand-new seating. The 150-seater studio can be configured to host a variety of events including live theatre, conferences, seminars and outreach work.


EVENT CINEMA will officially launch on Thursday 3 October with a screening of WISE CHILDREN (live Recording) a celebration of show business, family, forgiveness and hope, with a generous dash of Shakespeare, scandal and mischief, taking the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotion.


In 2020 audiences can look forward to further live screenings as well as new film releases.


Tickets for EVENT CINEMA are available online at https://www.lichfieldgarrick.com/whats-on/cinema/and in person at the box office (open Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm and until 9.30pm on performance days) or by phone on 01543 412121.




By midlandsmovies, Sep 18 2019 12:11AM



The Black Country Horror Shorts Film Festival launches in the Midlands


A new film festival for short horror films is launching in the area and is inviting the region’s filmmakers to send in their movies for their event.


The Black Country Horror Shorts Film Festival will take place at Kinver High School in Stourbridge on 25th January 2020 and filmmakers will have the chance to show their films by submitting a short film under 5 minutes before 14th December.


Based in the Black Country, the festival is being organised by Weeping Bank Productions who are hoping to make this an annual event.


“We have quite an amazing panel of judges including Henrik Harms, Adam Neville and Steven Green”, says one of the founders Alan Birch.


Formed by two well-known Black Country ‘Alans’, Weeping Bank Productions is a small independent entertainment company dedicated to the art of scaring people by way of reading original ghost stories.


After many years of treading the boards with various theatre groups, actor Alan Birch starred in two full length indie comedy films as David Tristram’s creation Inspector Drake.


“I’ve always loved the horror genre and what excites me most about telling these stories is the fact that the audience has no preconceptions. They really will be unprepared for just how scary they are”, adds Alan.



Co-founder Alan Smith who writes under the name A.G.Smith has gained praise for his novels from best-selling authors Anthony Horowitz and G.P.Taylor. His work with prisoners has seen him appear on Channel Four’s ‘Secret Millionaire’ and on BBC Radio 4’s PM Programme.


The pair met on the set of ‘Inspector Drake The Movie’ and have remained friends ever since. Once they discovered that they both shared a passion for horror, the idea of forming Weeping Bank Productions was hatched.


And as they launch the festival, they are keen to encourage everyone with a horror story to tell to get involved. The 1st prize for the festival winner is £200 (plus a crate of Batham’s Best Bitter) and 3 runners up will win £50 (plus six bottles of Batham’s).


The full list of judges are Adam L.G. Nevill (author of the horror novels 'Banquet for the Damned', 'Apartment 16' & more), journalist/writer/filmmaker Steve Green, Birmingham radio journalist Nina Das Gupta, writer A. G. Smith and Worcester writer and director Hendrik Harms.


To enter is just £10 and click this link and check out further festival information and full terms and conditions on the official site here:

https://www.weepingbankproductions.co.uk/horror-film-festival







By midlandsmovies, Sep 9 2019 07:19AM

Midlands Review - Jallianwalla Bagh 1919 and Peaky Blinders A New Era



This week we take a look at a double-release of films from new West Midlands film production companies Gurjant Singh Films and Five Pence Productions, which delve into two very distinct historical stories from the past.




First up is Jallianwalla Bagh 1919 directed by Gurjant Singh which is a 1-minute micro short which pays tribute to those massacred by the East India Trading Company in 1919. Given its short length it’s a welcome surprise to see the film mostly shot in slow motion. This extends the visual experience as we see gentle flowing clothes in the wind giving off an air of peace and tranquillity. This is juxtaposed with a screaming military sergeant (Richard Teasdale) and a cut to a primed rifle barrel. A voiceover from the protagonist (Nisaro Karim) provides some context given the film’s extremely brief runtime which was a good use of technique to give the audience background information. The pull of a trigger and the splattering of blood also gives us a brief glimpse of violence. The focus on just one person rather than a group (nearly 2,000 were shot in the struggle for independence) brings home the personal nature of this story to the filmmaker.




The second film is Peaky Blinders: A New Era. Most Midlanders will no doubt by familiar with the BBC TV series crime drama which is primarily set in Birmingham. It follows the exploits of the Shelby family after World War I and the fictional group is loosely based on the real 19th century urban gang who were active in the city from the 1890s.To honour the release of Season 5 in Sept 2019, this fan-film was shot in just 4 hours and set closer to the present in 1950.


This time period allows the short to (briefly) open up a conversation about a time where immigration was a cause for concern for locals leading to tensions running high. The short opens with Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child infamous guitar riff which although is an impactful sound, is simply the wrong song given that it’s associated with the end of the 60s rather than the period aimed for.


The film’s visuals work much better though as we see a gang of suitably attired “peaky blinders” in a pub drinking before they leave and come across an Indian man (Nisrao Karim again) squaring up for a fight before it cuts to a bloody outcome and a promise of more revenge.


In summary, both shorts are technically proficient and tease insights into very different worlds of the past. Their short run-time though merely acts as brief advertisements for longer narratives. Definitely with an air of professionalism throughout, despite my pet-peeve of music choice, they both act as intriguing calling cards for stories I’d like to see more of.


Michael Sales




By midlandsmovies, Aug 11 2019 04:24PM



Sat-Nav


Directed by Lianne Moonraven


2019


Sat-Nav is a new short film which comes courtesy of Liane Moonraven, a West Midlands based director who tackles a problem that seemingly we’ve all have had with our Sat-Nav but there’s much more than bad directions in this dark drama.


Originally from America, Lianne has made the Midlands her home and apparently the short was brought back from the brink owing to complications in the production.


However, you wouldn’t notice it as the ominous music and digitised font of the title sets up excellently this mysterious short. Vicky Moloney plays Erica Bridges who grabs a coffee on the go whilst explaining to a friend on the phone how she’s not ready to date just yet after a failed relationship.


Entering her car she types in her friend’s Post Code into the Sat-Nav and heads off in her vehicle. More of the scary score accompanies her drive as the male voice on the Sat-Nav calmly gives her directions to her destination.


The technical aspects are more than solid whilst the sound is particularly well mixed and put-together given the various conversations, phone-calls and driving sounds as well as the recorded voice coming from the unit.


Functional without being flashy, Sat-Nav works best in its storytelling. After a phone call from her mum warning her of her ex-boyfriend, the film ratchets up tension as Erica tries to get the unit to recalculate but she gets lost and ends up far from where she thought.


As we continue the drive with her, her ex calls and finally she arrives at a deserted piece of land. The film’s denouement wasn’t too much of a surprise but all the threads that were set up pay off and the unanswered ringing telephone at the end was an eerie final calling card.


Sat-Nav therefore ends up being a laid-back but well executed short and is far superior to the director’s first film Assassins (review here). With a few rough edges to smooth off and if Moonraven can add a dash of cinematic sheen to the mix, then I’m excited for the filmmaker’s next short as unlike our protagonist in Sat-Nav, she’s more than headed in the right direction.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Aug 10 2019 07:24AM



Jungleland


Directed by Waheed Iqbal


2019


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

RSS Feed twitter