Review: Northern Film School’s Shattered is the perfect short piece to be built upon for the silver screen

By Luke Pawley

Leicester-born film producer Oliver Duffy has, alongside colleague Nicholas Teslich, brought to life a spectacular yet horrifying story of the effect the Holocaust had on a young Jewish woman and her family in 1940s Netherlands. 

Northern Film School’s ‘Shattered’ is a film worthy of extrapolation to the big screen.

Ilse (portrayed by Ebony Hiley) is worried about Hitler’s regime when a Nazi officer approaches her on the street and confiscates her bike. What does this mean for her and her brother? 

There is a flow of underlying tension throughout the piece, which is not lost by the short, intricate scenes of dialogue sprinkled either side Ilse and her brother’s bloody, horrific train journey to Auschwitz. 

Duffy and his colleagues – including writer Brogan Waller-Parkinson, director Teresa Moorhead and co-producer Nicholas Teslich – have negotiated the challenges of short film masterfully. 

Once hooked by the neatly told story of the piece, it is hard to believe that the production only runs for 11 minutes. The team behind this film have paid close attention to details, including hair, makeup and costume, which ensure that viewer attention remains unbroken for its duration. 

After bravely surviving the concentration camp for several years, Ilse returns home to have her heart shattered by the revelation that her close friend’s mother betrayed her. 

The final scene is beautifully written and, coupled with a powerful message which appears on screen at the end of the film, provokes a period of thought and reflection for its viewers. 

The final message reads: “This film is dedicated to all those whose lives were shattered during the Holocaust and all genocides since. 

“For those who continue to make a stand against intolerance, bigotry and hate. 

“We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. 

“Evil does not die.” 

Shattered is an exemplary short film which left a burning desire to see Ilse’s story played out over two hours. This production is the perfect story to be extrapolated onto the silver screen. 

REVIEW: Major League Wrestling Fusion returns after seven-month hiatus

By Oliver Taylor

Alexander Hammerstone, holder of the MLW National Openweight Championship, opened last night’s show. (Photo via Creative Commons)

Major League Wrestling’s flagship show Fusion returned to airwaves last night(WEDNOV18) after the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic prevented the company from taping content for seven months.

It was worth the wait.

Three marquee matches were advertised for the show; MLW National Openweight Championship holder Alexander Hammerstone in action, Myron Reed defending the MLW World Middleweight Championship against Brian Pillman Jr and Jacob Fatu defending the MLW World Heavyweight Championship against Davey Boy Smith Jr in the main event.

By having two major championship matches on its return show, as well as Hammerstone in a non-title bout, MLW immediately set the tone for the restart. Big stars, big matches, big stakes.

Hammerstone began the show with a dominant 20-second victory against an enhancement talent following a devastating Nightmare Pendulum manoeuvre.

Hammerstone grabbed a microphone from ringside to discuss his long-standing status at the top of the MLW rankings and re-iterated his desire to challenge for the MLW World Heavyweight Championship.

“Fatu! It’s time to stop running,” he warned. “It’s time to give the people the fight that they want to see! I’m waiting on you.”

Reed versus Pillman Jr for the MLW World Middleweight Championship was second on the card. The duo first had an altercation last December and this match was the culmination of an 11-month rivalry.

Reed made his fourth successful defense of the championship after 11 minutes and 17 seconds. It was a past-faced, competitive match until Pillman Jr drove his knee into Reed’s loaded chest protector, giving Reed the window he needed to secure victory.

Backstage, Reed challenged new MLW signing Lio Rush to a future match. Rush was released by WWE in April and is a great addition to MLW’s middleweight division, offering legitimate name value and exciting in-ring ability.

The full bracket was then revealed for the 2020 Opera Cup. The Opera Cup, revitalised last year, is a new annual tournament competed under single-elimination rules with an eight-man bracket. The winner receives a future opportunity at the MLW World Heavyweight Championship.

On the left side of the bracket, Tom Lawlor faces Rocky Romero from New Japan Pro Wrestling and ACH faces Laredo Kid from Lucha Libre AAA World Wide.

On the right side, 2019 tournament winner Smith Jr faces Low Ki in a rematch from last year’s first round and Richard Holliday faces TJP.

MLW competitors Dominic Garrini, Gino Medina, Jordan Oliver, Hijo de L.A. Park and King Mo and AAA’s Daga were named as tournament alternates.

As mentioned before, Smith Jr won last year’s Opera Cup to earn the right to challenge Fatu. Stakes were raised in May when Fatu and the rest of CONTRA Unit – a villainous group dubbed as global merchants of violence – attacked Smith Jr backstage causing a (storyline) broken back.

MLW owner Court Bauer revealed in press interviews that Fatu versus Smith Jr was tentatively planned to headline a pay-per-view event in the famous 2300 Arena in Philadelphia in July. However, the event has been rescheduled to April 10 next year due to the pandemic.

Choosing to air the match on the return of Fusion, largely available to fans worldwide for free on YouTube, this further affirms MLW’s commitment to providing fans with pay-per-view calibre matches straight out of the gate.

After 10 minutes and 22 seconds of hard-hitting action, Fatu made his sixth successful defense of the MLW World Heavyweight Championship by pinfall following his patterned Moonsault.

With Smith Jr set to become a free agent next month (a fact Bauer has confirmed in multiple interviews) and Fatu signed with the company until late 2025, perhaps real life circumstances served as a hint of what was to come on-screen.

Fatu grabbed a microphone from ringside and responded to Hammerstone’s earlier claims: “Hammerstone! Your b***h a** don’t want none of this, you better get right! Hail CONTRA!”

Unsurprisingly, Hammerstone did not let Fatu’s remarks go unanswered and came out to confront him. However, before he could reach the ring, he was attacked by CONTRA’s newest member Logan Creed to close out the episode.

Overall, the episode succeeded in concluding existing storylines while also creating new ones. Reed defeated Pillman Jr in a good match and immediately challenged Rush. It only seems a matter of time until Hammerstone and Fatu collide in a monstrous clash, perhaps with both championships on the line.

The Opera Cup also offers interesting matchups and various interpromotional possibilities. It will be worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.

With Calvin Tankman’s debut set for next week as well as Lawlor versus Romero and Holliday versus TJP in first round matches, MLW’s electric restart does not seem to be running out of power anytime soon.

Hunt Showdown review: Zombies, hellhounds and guts galore

By James Cannell

Hunt Showdown creates an atmosphere that Pennywise himself would shy away from. From the terrifying enemies to the panicked encounters with other players, the only thing scarier than the gameplay is the waiting times.

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The game focuses on bounty hunters who hunt down monsters, kill them, banish them and then successfully escape. Of course, it isn’t that simple, the world is overrun by monsters as well as other bounty hunters trying to kill you to take the bounty for themselves.

Crytek has outdone themselves this time, the game is loaded with as much potential as a Springfield sniper. Since its release, it has given players a chance to hire female hunters, as well as adding even more terrifying night-time missions.

The 1890s setting is reminiscent of classic games such as Red Undead Redemption and Left 4 dead. The capabilities for both PvP, as well as PvE, have added fear no many other games can match, along with the threat of permanently losing your character, there is no doubt this game raises the states to the next level

With clever map design, and an endless roster of potential playstyles, there are tactics that can suit anyone, whether it is all out-melee attack, stealthy hit and runs or even long-ranged sniping. Expect the unexpected.

And that, like any new game, includes bugs. With waiting times that can exceed nearly five minutes there is even more of a reason to play it safe, and not die. Unfortunately thanks to the limited capabilities of consoles, it’s impossible to see an enemy if they stand over 30 meters away.

The clunky action ironically gives the game an extra level of terror as players frantically attempt to showdown against each other and their bounties. It becomes easy to be overwhelmed by even the simplest enemies.

Originality Crytek revitalised their development of the game in 2014, then was released in early access in 2018, it is clear that Hunt Showdown is the living example that waiting is better than rushing.

One can only hope that, if Crytek continue to delight us with updates, Hunt Showdown will become one of the best horror games for the new generation of consoles. There are endless possibilities to be explored within the game not to mention the chances to play with friends, hunt monsters and panic so hard you lose 10 years of your life.

1917 review: modern, flowing and phenomenal

By James Cannell

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This means war: the poster for 1917

Sam Mendes’ 1917 is a masterpiece of artistic cinema with a tyrannical focus on cinematography. Its dramatised narrative and gut-wrenching performances are a solid reminder of the woes of war and a beautiful revitalisation to the war genre.

The Academy Award-winning film seemed destined for glory, with a cast list that could pack a punch harder than an artillery cannon. Unfortunately, each round of A-list ammunition seems to be locked, loaded and fired before the audience are given a chance to even recognise them.

The casting of George MacKay and Dean Charles Chapman as leading protagonists is ideal. It is uncommon to find such young talent to portray the reality of war, their desensitised opinions are both a breath of fresh air while also disturbingly calm to the whole situation.

The heightened pace of the film leaves little time for questions, and none for answers. Colin Firth’s character announces “your orders are to deliver a message calling off tomorrow’s attack” and that’s it; we’re away. Anyone in the audience with their hands up, wondering why they couldn’t just drop the message by plane, or send more than two boys will just have to keep puzzling.

Nevertheless, the film itself is such a spectacle we can overlook its blatant audience manipulation. Just as advertised, it delivers a seemingly flowing, uncut single shot. While you’re sitting there, with your hand up, waiting for your answers, you might want to try spot one of the 34 or more hidden cuts throughout the film.

1917 trades in the traditional war movie tropes in favour of a cinematic marvel, blending the tragedy of war with the glorifying immersion of the drama. The characters that are in the film for more than three minutes are genuine characters, ones who you believe to have families and loved ones. You cannot help but route for them.

Ironically some have criticised the British/American produced film, that focuses on two British soldiers fighting for the British and following the British ideologies of the time for being too British. The criticism that the film is nationalistic isn’t an arguable point, but rather a quintessential part of it, you cannot portray a British-centred film by focusing on the rights and wrongs of both sides.

Mendes’ snapshot of the First World War is far from perfect, however its pace and immersion leave little argue with. The acting plunges its audiences into the reality of war while waterboarding them with the kind of graphic detail we have come to expect from the genre.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Jo Brand and guests at De Montfort Hall

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Review by Olivia Maclaughlin

Tonight’s line up featured Eshaan Akbar, Arthur Smith, Ivan Brackenbury, Hal Cruttenden, Jo Brand, a barking dog and a man in the front row who came to watch, and ended up on stage.

In a night supporting the Big Difference Company, the charity behind the comedy festival, the entertainment didn’t stop right from the moment the host Phil Nichol stepped on stage.

That isn’t to say there weren’t moments that weren’t planned. Like the dog, making an unplanned guest appearance by barking at the back of the room. Thinking on his feet, Nichol made it part of his act.

He made connections throughout the crowd, whether four-legged or not, especially a man in the front row, who became a running gag whenever Nichol returned to the stage.

By the end of this two-and-a-half hour fundraiser, Neil had been lured on to the stage, and was singing while the audience chanted for him.

The line-up all brought their own different styles, ensuring there was something for everyone.

Akbar was first on, and brought political commentary and self-deprecation to stage which appealed to the younger members of the audience, but brought a tut from one woman near me.

She was keener on Arthur Smith, the godfather of British comedy, who came pre-armed with crowd-pleasing puns and a comedy poem. But at the end he recited a poem about kindness which allowed for moments of sincerity and added another level to the show.

Sometimes using using a gag over and over again doesn’t work, but with Brackenbury it did. His hospital radio DJ act has been around for a few years, but his songs and simple one liners got us back in the swing of things after the break.

After this came Cruttenden, immediately confessing to looking like Mr Tumble. Well, the crowd was thinking it too. His routine mined a rich seam of gags from marriage and turning 50.

Last up was Brand, who appeared from behind the red curtain to thunderous applause, and commanded the room from joke one.

Never one to shy from cheek-blushing comedy, she tore into topics about weight and the menopause, along with her life with her husband and two daughters.

She’s a natural storyteller, and showed just why she has lasted so long in comedy.

A perfect way to end an hilarious night.