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

blog

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

By midlandsmovies, Nov 26 2019 11:54AM


Steve Green with Alan Birch and Al Smith
Steve Green with Alan Birch and Al Smith

Midlands Spotlight - New online show focuses on Midlands filmmakers


Midlands filmmakers will find themselves in front of the camera when local telly legends Des Tong and Gary James launch their new online show Birmingham Now on Monday 25th November.


Birmingham Now is a new monthly YouTube series will feature interviews with personalities from the world of movies, music, theatre and art, as well as profiles of business and sports figures.


Des Tong is a Birmingham-based musician, presenter and video director, best known for his work with Sad Cafe and singer Cissy Stone. Gary James is a Birmingham-based sports journalist, presenter and branding consultant with wide experience in corporate entertainment.



Birmingham Now hosts Gary James and Des Tong
Birmingham Now hosts Gary James and Des Tong

And Steve Green and Chrissie Harper run Solihull-based Vamporama Films, producing news packages for regional television and documentary material for a variety of online and media platforms.


In the first edition, co-producer Steve Green will be talking to actor Alan Birch and writer Al Smith about their collaborations on film and stage, as well as the first Black Country Horror Shorts Film Festival.


Running in Kinver in January 2020, the Black Country Horror Shorts Film Festival includes judges include Adam Nevill, whose novel The Ritual was adapted for the screen in 2017.



There's also the first of Des Tong's "featured artist" profiles in which he chats with Wolverhampton-born singer-songwriter Rebecca Downes.


The show is a co-production between Des & Gary and Solihull-based Vamporama Films.


Previews and free subscriptions are available now via the show’s website http://brum-now.uk


YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIjVpJqCyNK_BymjT-fnTdQ

Festival link: https://www.weepingbankproductions.co.uk



By midlandsmovies, Nov 9 2019 03:09PM


Step Up


Directed by Nisaro Karim


2019


Five Pence Productions


Step Up is the new film from producers Five Pence Productions and Gurjant Singh Films and is directed by Nisaro Karim, who may may have taken over fellow West Midlands filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz as the Midlands' "Most Prolific Director™".


Described as a gritty urban thriller inspired by Netflix’s Topboy, the film sees a gangster in a car (Sarfraz Mughal) asking if a friend Sam (Jacob Lander) is ready to “step up” and do a dastardly deed. Sam claims he is well prepared and we soon find out that he is being asked to kill a rival - yet is limited to just one bullet.


With no second chances he is handed the gun and pulls his hood over his head and exits to the sound of ominous music. Once out the car, his bravado turns to a more worried facial expression as he enters a mobile phone shop.


The stunned shop owner comes off a video call from a loved one and stares at his possible assailant. And as the tension rises, the man draws his gun and Karim cleverly holds the moment for a beat.


With the shooter and the audience taking in a deep breath, we ask the question whether he’ll go ahead and pull that trigger.


I won’t disclose the ending but Nisaro throws in a nice twist keeping the viewer off-kilter and sets up a possible second instalment after this opening short drama.


Similar to his previous micro-film Peaky Blinders A New Era, the film is more of a trailer than an all encompassing short such is the minimal narrative on show. It could also work as a nice sequence as part of a showreel piece for the two actors.


A nice if slight little short, to be fair to Nisaro Karim he has in fact billed Step Up as part of a series and I’ll be intrigued as to where this goes. Especially as he leaves the audience and his protagonist in a place where they certainly do not know what is coming next.


Michael Sales


Watch the full short below:




By midlandsmovies, Oct 31 2019 01:00PM



Midlands Review - The Despondent


Directed by Nisaro Karim


2019


Five Pence Productions


The Despondent is the latest film from Five Pence Productions, the prolific Birmingham-based company who brought us Jed, The Chase, Peaky Blinders: A New Era and more. Primarily known for crime tales, this film is something of an ambitious departure for them as it sees them take on the horror genre.


Jazzmin Letitia stars as Keira, a troubled young woman who lives at home with her mother Jenny, played by Lisa Blissitt. At night she's tormented by visions of an evil demon in her room, one that seems bent on harming her, one that it seems there can be no escape from.


Horror has a rich history of externalising our internal demons, and that's pretty much what's happening here. Keira is depressed and the demon is her depression, pushing her towards suicide. It's all taking place in her head, the battleground where many of us (myself included) struggle and fight daily. It's a good analogy, but rather on-the-nose here.


The film is far from subtle, making it absolutely clear what's going on from Keira's conversation with her mum about her self-harm and medication. It would have perhaps been more interesting to see the two dance around the subject, never raising it head on but dealing entirely in subtext, so that when the tragic ending comes it hits harder. Having Keira stay in her pyjamas over the course of the two days is a very good touch, though, as that's absolutely consistent with some people who suffer from depression.


The story is quite slim and would benefit from having a little more to it, making the film a bit longer. It would have been good to have had more of a sense of Keira's struggles in the daytime sequences, and how they relate to her night terrors, so that we can relate to her more as a character. The scene with her mother establishes their rocky relationship in one quick punch, but at only 6 minutes long there's plenty of scope to let the relationship breathe a little more and help us understand Keira more intimately. As it is, she comes across more as moody than depressed.


This isn't to say that it's a bad performance; Letitia shines in the hallucinatory sequences where she's beset by the demon, coming across as believably vulnerable and disoriented. The standout performance by far though is the demon; it's not clear from the credits who played the part (perhaps split between Imran Uddin and Zohair Raza?), but it's a great piece of creepy body-performance, with stilted and almost contortionist-style movements. I definitely wouldn't want to wake to find him in my bedroom!


The film shines best in these disorienting sequences. The hand-held, shaky camerawork does a great job of confusing and distressing the viewer, and the unnatural framing and lighting work together to create unsettling scenes. There's a misconception that its easy to do horror on a low budget; it has to be planned and carried out carefully to make the most of what you have. Keeping the shots tight and moving fast keeps the audience uncomfortable and on their toes in the nightmare sequences, worrying that anything could happen. The film makes great use of noise in these sequences too, arguably the most important part of any horror film.


Ultimately, The Despondents falls just short of its ambition but it's still a great first step into horror. Nisaro Karim clearly has an instinct for how to unsettle the audience, it's just the slimness of the story itself that holds the film back. Definitely worth a watch, and here's hoping there's more horror to come from Karim and Five Pence!


Sam Kurd

Twitter @Splend


By midlandsmovies, Oct 26 2019 07:15AM



BIRMINGHAM FILM FESTIVAL IN ASSOCIATION WITH TREVOR BEATTIE FILMS RETURNS FOR ITS 4th ANNUAL FESTIVAL


The fourth annual Birmingham Film Festival, an international festival of screenings, events and awards for talented filmmakers from around the world, returns to the city from 1st - 10th November.


The international celebration of film craft is a platform for new filmmakers, helping them reach a wider audience and nurture their careers to the next level. The festival’s screenings and seminars are all free to attend, making the innovative festival accessible to all and allowing the filmmakers showcase their work to a huge audience.


Birmingham Film Festival, which takes place over the course of ten days at Millennium Point, featuring an array of shorts, features, documentaries, and music videos, aims to put Birmingham on the international map and will add to the rising popularity of the UK’s second city.


The festival’s home, Birmingham, has recently become a popular location choice for Hollywood filmmakers, most notably including Steven Speilberg’s Ready Player One and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.


Trevor Beattie Films is the 2019 headline sponsor for the upcoming event. Trevor Beattie, originally from Birmingham, is considered one of the leading figures in advertising in Britain and has been responsible for a number of high-profile advertising campaigns. He has since moved into the film industry, producing the BAFTA award-winning film Moon, directed by Duncan Jones in 2008.



“I am genuinely honoured and flattered to be associated with The Birmingham Film Festival. Birmingham is more than my home, it’s who I AM and film is most definitely my future. It’s a perfect fit for me. The Birmingham Film Festival is yet another example of how Birmingham is becoming the cultural heartbeat of the nation. Birmingham never rests. And now we’re punching our weight in film".


"It has not escaped my attention that Birmingham has a Hollywood district, and I’m sorely tempted to base the Birmingham branch of my film company in B47. I just think “TREVOR BEATTIE FILMS, HOLLYWOOD, B47” has a ring to it"


"I’m really looking forward to the festival week and seeing some of the extraordinary film making talent on display. I have a message for Birmingham from DUNCAN JONES (of that other Hollywood fame). Duncan promises that he will visit Birmingham when he next returns to the UK and create a little something for next year’s festival. Birmingham has ARRIVED in film! Birmingham Film Festival will ensure that news is shouted from the rooftops.” says Trevor Beattie.


Steven Knight, the Brummie creator of Peaky Blinders, who is planning on building a £100M state-of-the-art film and TV studio in the city, is the festival’s patron. Kevin McDonagh, President of Birmingham Film Festival said: “We are really excited for this year's festival. Our aim has always been to grow the event and reach larger audiences for the amazing work that we get to show and we've achieved that this year".



"Adding more seminars and workshops was also key as it not only brings more of the industry into the city but supports local talent and helps them to grow their own careers. Raising the profile of the festival also leads into that goal, bringing more focus onto the city and its talent. If we can create an exciting and respected platform for the films and filmmakers, then we hopefully we are contributing in a positive way to future of the regions industry".


"To be honest though, our growth and success is in no small part due to the amazing talent that generously allows us to showcase their efforts. Without the film makers, we are nothing.”


The festival will conclude with a fabulous Gala Awards Ceremony on 9th November at Macdonald Burlington Hotel, during which the Birmingham Film Festival Awards will be handed out to the winners of each of each category. Awards will be given out to everything from Best Feature Film to Best Young Actor, Best Local Film and Best Special Effects.


One of Birmingham’s most famous sons, Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, has also been announced as a judge for the music video category. "I was thrilled to be at the Birmingham Film Festival last year and wish everybody involved with this year's event the best. Though I won't be there on the night, I will be judging the music video category." says Nick Rhodes, Duran Duran.


Celebrities and special guests will be out in force on Friday 1st November at the Millennium Point to kick-start the festival at the glamorous VIP Launch Party.


The film festival invites talented and independent film makers from all over the globe to participate. To learn more about Birmingham Film Festival visit www.birminghamfilmfestival.com



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.




RSS Feed twitter