Category Archives: Film & TV

“Which is why I am writing this” Creatives and critics on the EU referendum

 Creatives and critics from and based in Wales respond to the vote to leave the EU.
Beth House Founder/Creative Producer
Taking Flight Theatre Company
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I have been shocked and dismayed by Thursday’s vote in which just over half of the British public expressed their desire to leave the EU. As a theater maker working with marginalised groups, much of the funding of organisations we come into contact with- organisations, which support the most marginalised and disenfranchised among us-, comes from EU pots.

The aim of Taking a Flight is to provide employment opportunities for Deaf, disabled and sensory impaired performers. Whilst I don’t anticipate that the government of the day would reverse laws and Acts which have already been passed to protect the rights of disabled people, I fear that, with the UK’s poor track record for supporting disabled people and protecting funding and support, that the UK will begin to lag behind Europe in this- and many other areas. This will happen.

My immediate response of panic has been much more personal, as I feel already there has been a paradigm shift in the attitude of many people towards “the other”-I have heard in the street, on social media and on the news, Joe Public using the result of this referendum as an excuse to be overtly, unashamedly and publicly racist. It feels as if this referendum has opened the door for the metaphorical tattooing of the bulldog on the forehead and the waving of the Union Jack in the faces of those who remain supporters of membership of the EU- and those perceived as “other”.

Lastly, I am disappointed at the number of people who appear to have voted “leave” in error- who decided to vote against the government – a protest vote which has cost us- and our children- dearly.

I wish I could share the “lets make the best of it” attitude- that the best art is inspired by diversity, but I’m afraid that with so many of my friends of European origin already planning to leave, and so many friends speaking of “winding up” all their EU contracts, with the pound at an 31 year low and the threat of further knocks to the industry I love and make my living- such as if us- at, I cannot bring myself to optimism at this point.

James Doyle-Roberts (Co-Artistic Director, Citrus Arts based in Pontypridd)

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On the day of the result I was in a cheap hotel room next to London City Airport. The social housing estate next door is soon to be demolished to make way for yet more tiny 1-bedroom flats which claim to be “luxury” (as they always do), and will temporarily house workers rather than families, until they can’t afford to live there anymore.

This is how economic “growth” works, and is why I’m on the side of the social benefits that the EU delivers in our communities in Wales where it invests in apprenticeships, tourism and communities, so they can keep their shared spaces connected to their sense of self. And yes, that includes people who come from abroad who want to contribute to those communities.

At 6 am that morning, I woke up with the referendum result already in my mind. I checked my phone, and my heart sank into an empty-feeling stomach.

I’d already voted to Remain without a moment of doubt; I still respect some friends who have sound ideological reasons to distrust the EU’s current state, but don’t think their global revolution is coming soon and know a better bet on our current future when I see one.

The last thing I saw on TV the night before was the early Sunderland result declared alongside footage of cheering Leave supporters. This clip was different to the usual election results being declared to a band of victorious party-faithful, this was the kind of cheer we’d all seen in earlier weeks of the violence that accompanied the opening games of Euro 2016, it was cheering with anger and a F**k You attitude– the worst kind of victory cry.

I went downstairs to the breakfast room to see a man in his 50’s cheering loudly every time Johnson or Farage appeared on the TV above the heads of an international mix of fellow guests and staff. He’d clearly been having his own all-night Brexit party, surrounded by empty bottles and was enjoying himself by loudly addressing the staff (mostly non-white), in that particular smirking, dismissive, ‘you-know-what-I-mean’ way that the odious Farage has normalised into our political discourse in the past eight years.

I was being paid a small amount of money to attend Greenwich & Docklands International Festival (GDIF) and the networking events around it. Alongside my thoughts asking “what’s the point of going, now we have the repercussions of this terrible result to deal with?” I was also thinking “and so, here it begins . . .”, as I left Bully-Boy to his ugly antics.

The lump in my throat grew each time I thought of the future of my little boy, 19 months old, growing up in a society where facts and expertise become disposable when pitted against volume and vitriol. What kind of society are we allowing our media to shape where honesty and propriety are represented as just “one side of the argument”?

At the GDIF Marketplace event (where artists can meet programmers from around the world to sell our shows), the atmosphere was how I imagine a wedding party to be where the Bride or Groom have bolted, but the guests decide to stay to consume the food & drink anyway because it’s all been paid for. There was no banquet on offer, just opportunities to build relationships with fellow artists around Europe and the wider world, and chances for us to make the best of the funds we could collectively gather between us if we cooperate.

Speakers welled-up & choked as they tried to contextualise why we were all there. Scottish delegates had confidence that they would go their own way, anyway; I felt like apologising for Wales’ strong vote to leave the EU.

There is still hope for a way out of what looks like an ugly future, but without any current leaders with the integrity to step-up & confront the lies, it is up to us to build it together by talking to each other, our neighbours, the people we randomly meet, and not being afraid of Bully-Boy and his gang.

Rachel Tresize Author and Playwright 

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I’m absolutely devastated by the referendum results, not least here in my own Rhondda Valley where residents have benefited from so much EU funding in the past. I studied on an Erasmus scheme when I was twenty years old. It was such an inspiring experience to meet and study with so many students from all over the world and inimitable in introducing me to the world outside of my own area. As a writer I travel frequently to EU countries and am translated in Danish, Italian, Croatian and soon Slovenian and I would like young Welsh students and authors to have these same opportunities. I’m worried now that these ties will be severed due to financial and travel restrictions.

 Gemma Louise Treharne-Foose  Get the Chance Critic

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I’ve been a lucky recipient of EU-funded programmes over the years. I had a paid for apprenticeship after University to train as a researcher in TV production because I lived in the valleys. I have been happy to take advantage of the programmes and funding available to me because of my postcode and because people think I need a ‘leg up’ or a head start. But these programmes and funding pools are a sticking plaster for the real problems going on in the valleys. Long term unemployment, dreadful infrastructure and crumbling services. I’ve had lots of conversations with others living here that it’s ridiculous that in 2015/2016 we are still relying on charity handouts – whether they are from Westminster, Cardiff Bay or Brussels.

I think the remain campaign never really addressed this malaise and the deeper frustrations and resentment, unfortunately. I fear for how much worse things will be here now. EU-funded projects were the only thing helping people back to work in many areas in RCT as UK-Govt services (like Job centres) have ceased or been closed down. As much as I agree with the reasons to remain, I have struggled to articulate to friends and colleagues from wealthier and more prosperous communities why people here aren’t jumping up and down and doffing their cap because of handouts from the EU. I think there’ll be some harsher realities coming our way, though.

Sophie McKeand  Welsh Poet Young People’s Laureate Wales 2016-2018

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I’ve chosen to respond to the Brexit debacle by creating blackout/cutup poems every day for thirty days using only that day’s papers using the hashtag #thirtydaysofBrexit. These are protest poems in response to the right-wing media bias we’ve all been subjected to.

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This needs challenging, questioning and changing dramatically. Our media is homogenised and overtly right-wing which is why Jeremy Corbyn is getting such a roasting.

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I personally believe he is, hated by the political and media establishment, the underdog the British public will get behind in the future. We’re sick of cock-swinging politics and many like his quiet socialism, his let’s-have-tea-with-your-nan approach. I think he is someone who could reach out to Plaid Cymru, the SNP and Northern Ireland, creating a united group of countries.

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https://www.instagram.com/sophie_mckeand/

Iwan Bala Visual Artist 

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'Dis-United Kingdom'

Keith Murrell Community Artist 

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I should preface my response by saying that I didn’t vote

I’m not registered at the moment because I have no permanent address – I know there is still an option to register but I don’t feel like sharing my personal circumstances with the bureaucracy. Having said that: I’ve never been overly engaged with the ‘democratic process’ and have very little (none) faith in the political party system – I’ve only voted a couple of times in my life and that was about issues rather ideologies … at the previous general election I voted ‘Green’ not because I thought they could win but in order to show support and help them to keep their deposit. Had I been registered this time around I would have voted to remain: this in itself is more of an instinctive reaction to the politics of those who want to leave, rather than any shining virtues of the EU.

I personally have little regard for ‘national identity’, borders, or flags and I tend to think more in terms of community and the planet. In that respect, I’d find it more plausible to think of myself as a citizen of an actual place (i.e. Europe) than being a subject in some archaic theme park called GB, UK or whatever it might say on the vellum.

In practical terms: I think the EU is of great value with regards to the advancement of things such as Human Rights, Employment Law and Environmental issues, etc. On the other hand, I’m not particularly enamoured about the impact of European funding for ‘socially targeted’ projects. Having worked on several such projects with a total value of several £millions I witnessed most of that money being directed towards vested interests more than improving the communities intended… and at worst Euro funding has been used to disrupt, dis-empower and displace communities… Butetown has had more than £1billion of EU money and where is it now?

Outside of Cardiff – the areas of Wales which receive the most EU funding voted to leave and irrespective of the politics behind the individual votes this must be seen as indictment of the public and voluntary sector in the delivering the EU programme.

With regards to the political campaigns the apparent choice was between buffoons and liars (clowns to left, jokers to the right …) I didn’t hear anything convincing from either side but then again I wasn’t paying much attention.

Regardless, I reckon the high turnout was due to the media hyperbole rather than any actual knowledge of or even interest in the EU … it’s quite bizarre to think that people might be more concerned about the goings on in Brussels than their own Town Hall.

In the event, I was a little surprised – and disappointed – with the result: mainly because it demonstrates the prevalence of such retrogressive attitudes – and might encourage / permit more people to think more along these lines. Then again, it seems that there was a generational factor in the voting with the implication that the younger people think differently and in time they will lead the debate – if losing this referendum mobilise young people then that will be a good thing …

But my Facebook timeline was inundated with angry / fearful posts about the future without the EU – and my response was “it’s actually not that bad” …

The media, pundits, etc have great fondness for using terms like ‘historic’, ‘pivotal’ and ‘once in a lifetime’ because it makes their role in the affair all the more important – every major political, sporting or scientific event is presented this way – and the public buys it because it makes their lives seem less mundane – but in reality nobody is interested in history but historians: you couldn’t go into into your local pub or corner shop and hear about the economic impact of the Versaille Treaty – very few people in Wales were preoccupied with Wales’ history in the European Championships until the TV reminded us and if Wales should actually win it will pale into insignificance in little more than a decade

I don’t claim to know anything about macro-economics (which makes me better informed than most) but I do know that the actual economy has very little to do with elections (although I will also say that every penny earned and spent is a vote cast)

I personally don’t have any property, investments or pension to speak of and I have quite a low maintenance lifestyle – so market shifts mean little to me – but for those that have those concerns I would say that ‘there is many a slip between cup and lip’ so there will always be the potential that they could lose out but similarly there’s about as much chance that the pendulum will swing and at some point they may be ahead – and this has been the case from the Bible to Barings Bank

I don’t have a passport and have never travelled outside of Wales & England – so again the whole notion of passports, visas, etc has little impact on me directly – but I don’t know that I would be too bothered about filling in some forms if I wanted to visit somewhere that badly – and perhaps people should travel around Wales a bit more 🙂

Dr Emily Garside

Dr Emily Garside

I am sad, I am angry, I am disappointed. Above all I am frustrated. Frustrated with the politicians who led us to here, with the media who helped further campaigns fought on little or misinformation. And I’m frustrated with those who say because it was a ‘democratic’ vote we must all sit back and quietly accept the decision. I accept that the vote was democratic, I accept people’s right to vote Leave. I don’t have to be happy about it. Thatcher was elected democratically and I’m still angry with that, and the implications of what she did while in office. And much like what Thatcher’s government did to this country, to the poorest areas and to the arts, I fear that the decision to leave Europe will be felt for generations to come. And much like in Thatcher’s reign, Wales is a place where the hits will be felt hardest.

In Wales you really don’t have to look far to see one of those little signs with the European flag that let you know the building that was repaired, the social space rebuilt or the arts centre allowed to continue is still there because of European funding. So much of Wales has been rebuilt in literal and cultural terms by the EU, and that so many areas, so many voters let xenophobic notions and unfounded immigration fears blind them to that scares me.

I fear for our artists and our art. I fear for the millions in lost funding that the arts in all their forms are reliant on. Wales has always been outward facing in it’s art. We invite the world to share our stages for Eisteddfod every year. We hold festivals that people travel to from the world over. And we collaborate, we share, we create. It’s in our very nature as a nation of artists. And it is this loss of collaboration I fear most. When paperwork halts free movement, when isolationism means the hurdles are too great to overcome to collaborate and yes, when we no longer have access to the funding we do now, because we cut ourselves off.

It seems reductive, gauche even to reduce my fears about arts in Wales to funding and travel, but these are the vital tools that give our arts life. In cutting off the vital lifeline of European funding, and building barriers to ease of travel to share what work we can still create, what then? I think of all the work unmade, the opportunities not shared, and it breaks my heart.

The ‘leave’ campaign seems to be fought and now won on a backward looking attitude, a yearning for a country that in fact never was. If we look at Wales before EU funding we were crumbling, our arts were suffering. There are no ‘good old days’ to go back to. What an open Europe has done is open the doors to collaboration, to inspiration and to forward thinking, forward motion. To quote Tony Kushner ‘The world only spins forward’, and yet we seem to have voted to try and stop.

What now? That’s the question isn’t it. When you (democratically) vote in a government you know roughly what’s coming, for better or worse. You know policies, personalities and in four years you have the hope that they’ll be gone. Europe is a leap in the dark. The fear is real because the answer to the question of ‘what now?’ is ‘nobody knows’.

The most anger I feel is towards those who tell us all to ‘just calm down’ as if this was a bad football score (not that I hope to jinx Wales’ chances, football is about the only ray of hope I can see right now, and I don’t even like the sport!).  But maybe there’s hope in that. In the anger. If there’s one thing the arts does well it’s respond to crisis. And that is where I do have hope. I have hope in the voices of the artists, and will of the arts companies to keep fighting. To keep working however we can.

Yvonne Murphy Omidaze Productions

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The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction. I do not believe the referendum was managed in a fair and democratic way and since the Leave campaign spoke so highly of sovereignty I wish British Parliament to enact it’s sovereign right in overruling the referendum result in the best interests of Britain and ALL its people and its future generations.

And so I have launched a petition. Here is the wording:

Sovereign British Parliament to debate EU referendum result & vote to overrule.

The British Parliament is sovereign and it is accountable to the people through elections at which we choose those whom we want to represent us, NOT through referendums. MPs are our representatives & are there to decide what, in their judgement, is good for us and the country.

Many Leave voters placed a vote of protest against a range of things not connected to the EU, from austerity cuts, to rising inequality in Britain without actually understanding the facts or the full implication of their vote. This is why we elect MPs in our democratic country to make these decisions. e.g capital punishment was thankfully abolished in the 60’s although a clear majority of the population remained in favour of it. The nearly 50% of the population who voted remain need a hearing.

It takes a few days for a petition to parliament to be processed and approved. So while I wait for that to happen I have written this article/blog. The petition circulating and gathering millions of votes asking for a second referendum (which I signed) was started in May by a Leave campaigner worried that we would get a Remain result! I do not particularly want a second referendum. I want parliament to deal with this.  I didn’t want a referendum in the first place. Nor did at least half the country. So why did we have one?

We had a referendum because David Cameron took a high risk strategy with our country’s future to appease the right wing bullies in his party, to silence UKIP and stop the migration of Tory MPs to that party. He took that risk because he did not for one moment think the country would vote out. Even the man who ran against him (Boris) did not for one moment think we should leave (which is why he is now furiously back peddling) he simply wanted to ‘play the game’ and raise his profile so he could go for leadership next time round. The Co-leader of the Leave campaign Iain Duncan-Smith in a interview on Friday called the result ‘startling’ not once but twice and appeared to be thinking on the hoof of the next steps ‘well I think what we need to do is get together a group of cross party MPs…and maybe some people from outside…some Lawyers…to work out how to progress….’ No way? Great plan. And so the people of Britain were used as pawns in the games of these rich privileged elite Eton boys to further their own careers.

What they had not understood is how angry the British people are. The divide between the rich and the poor and inequality has grown out of all proportion. We are one of the richest countries in the world and yet food banks have become the accepted norm in every town in Britain. When I told colleagues this on a recent trip to India they thought I was joking. They stood dumbfounded that such poverty existed in the UK. And it does. There are parents going without food in order that their children can eat. Today. In modern Britain. It is a disgrace.

And this is why people voted. They simply could not see or understand how it could get any worse. Because they were lied to by the Leave campaign. They were told if we left the UK millions of pounds would suddenly appear in the coffers of the NHS. They were told immigration was the cause of all their woes and the door would be shut. And this was the worst part. This emphasis and blame on immigrants which has opened the door to far right facism, racism and hatred on our streets and in our communities.

And worse still it has opened the door across Europe to Far Right Extremism with the National Front in France calling for France to follow suit and leave the very institution that was formed post World War II to ensure Facism never again gripped Europe and the world.

Shame on you Boris, Gove and particularly Farage. Shame on all of you for dividing our country. For peddling fear and hatred and intolerance. For picking at a scab until it bled. And shame on you for your lies.

Those who voted Leave were told we would get our country back. From whom? From our fellow countrymen? From the EU citizens who lived here, raise their families, contribute to our society, pay our taxes? Our country is now falling apart before our very eyes. They were told it would be an end to EU regulations. Like the ones which mean our children no longer swim in filthy polluted seas as I did as a child? Or the ones that ensure that workers have to be paid a fair wage and have decent working conditions? Or the one that gave us the Human Rights Act? Or the ones that say that the poorer more deprived areas in the EU (the very ones that voted Leave) must have the lions share of funding? Because they have. I remember Wales in 1992 when I first came here. It is a different country now and that is mainly due to being cited a ‘poor country within the EU’ and receiving a shed load of EU investment.

People in this country are not struggling because we are in the EU. They are struggling because we do not share equally the wealth we have at our disposal and the EU is a mechanism which actually helps share that wealth not hinders it. Without EU membership we will be MUCH MUCH worse off. Economically, culturally and spiritually. Many people voted Leave because they felt things couldn’t get any worse and then voted for the very thing that will absolutely ensure that it does.

 “For many millions of people, this was not just a vote about Europe. It was a howl of anger at politicians and institutions who they felt they were out of touch and had let them down…The British people deserve the chance not to be stuck with the appalling consequences of a Leave campaign that stoked that anger with the lies of Farage, Johnson and Gove.” Mr Farron Lib Dems A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said people would feel “betrayed” with the outcome of Brexit and suggested the result had been won on a false prospectus.

And so in the words of the Independent

“All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign.”

 Which is why I am starting the petition.

Which is why I am writing this.

Which is why I cannot quite believe that Labour – at a time when they should be stepping up and holding every Tory MP (on both sides of the campaign) to account who have brought this mess upon us are instead too busy have a row about leadership (again!!!) and allowing the Torys to rewrite history and yet another false narrative. Park your differences for a few months, unite and serve your country and not your own self-interests and do your job which is to OPPOSE not self-combust at a time when we need an opposition most.

And for my colleague who said

“My only question is what would happen with MPs who want to Remain who represent Leave areas? They’d never get re-elected…”

I say well that is a risk all MPs should be prepared to take. They are there to work in our best interests and not their own and sometimes that means taking the very difficult and unusual decision to NOT do what those who have elected them ask them to do. Because they are our representatives. They have the facts. They have the education. They have the time to read the policy documents which we do not. That is their job. And they must now debate in parliament if the result of this referendum is actually in our country’s best interest. And if the majority truly believe it is not then they must overrule it and face the consequences. That is leadership. Leadership is not easy. That is why they are paid the salaries they are paid. And now they must ALL step up and look into their souls and decide.

Barbara Michaels 3rd Act Critic 

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Brexit and the Arts in Wales

Now that the initial furore and panic is over, what is the future for the arts on Wales? As with in other parts of the United Kingdom, we have to wait and see. What is certain, however, is that for a time (and who knows how long that time will last?) everything will be in a state of flux.

Disturbingly, when budgets and funding are up for consideration – some might call it up for grabs – the arts are always in the firing line. In Wales, when the arts scene – and I refer particularly to theatre – is expanding as never before, to cut funding at this stage would be close to criminal. This does not apply only to our capital city, where we are spoilt for choice, but to rural areas – take the prestigious Theatre Clywd, for instance. New talent in both writing and performance are emerging all the time, and being given the chance to explore all manner of genres.

My fervent hope is that our government realise this and will continue to give them support. Many of our young people are dismayed by the result of the referendum. It is up to the powers that be to prove to them, and to all of us, that there is indeed Life After Brexit.

Helen Joy 3rd Act Critic

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An open conversation on Facebook between people who all know me but who don’t necessarily know each other, held in the week of the EU Referendum result.

Each contributor is represented by a different colour text.

 Time for something slightly different: how do you think the vote to leave the EU will affect Arts and Art funding?

The arts economy is marginal at the best of times. I can’t see this having an exaggerated effect on funding. A great deal of Arts Council funding comes from the lottery rather than government revenues.

Some 2yr + bids being wound up where applying for EU funding. Not arts bids.

It’s the cutting of cultural ties I worry about, the Little Britain mentality and the feeling that we can go it alone. I’ve always liked feeling European.

We are used now to a sense of continental culture, the arts seem to benefit from both being carriers of local identity AND being representative of something wider.

If a cultural tie depends on the blessing of a bureaucrat, or still worse funding from one, what is it worth? The ‘cultural economy’ as a whole is huge; it was revealed a few years ago that this country earns more from computer game design than from agriculture. However, it had never asked for or received a penny of government funding, so nobody noticed.’ Culture’ is what people do of their own volition. Start steering it with subsidy, and it becomes something else. That’s how we get the grotesque spectacle of state-funded ‘satirists’ on the BBC.

Sure, to quote Raymond Williams, ‘culture is ordinary’. However, the BBC isn’t the State, that’s a line peddled by James Murdoch.

It’s no longer disputed that the licence fee is a tax (one I don’t pay); the BBC’s establishmentarian bias on many topics is now beyond satire, not least on the referendum issue. It’s notable that two of the best cultural institutions in London, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Handel Festival, don’t ask for or receive state funding.

Maybe I just like the way the BBC presents the bias. In a world completely reliant on private funding or ‘sponsorship’ we’d have a lot less culture and most of it would have to satisfy the paymasters. I’d rather satisfy the Arts Council’s remit than try to please Monsanto.

Culture always has to satisfy the paymasters. I’d prefer those paymasters to be you, me and the people around us! Would you say that our film industry was more dynamic and creative than America’s? Most of the TV I watch now is American-made.

Wouldn’t argue with your first point about culture and who pays for it but if I had to rely on things I could sell I’d be doing something very different. I don’t have anything sensible to say about film and TV. I could happily live without it.

Have they actually had any, or is this part of the current campaign to whistle up hysteria? I’m currently dealing with people on my local FB page, putting up pictures of people they accuse of racist remarks, without any evidence to back it up.

We need to build new structures we need to encourage philanthropy we need to not be scared of making money

Did you know that artists, writers, musicians here (Ireland) pay NO tax? Legacy from Charlie Haughey.

Who decides whether what they do is ‘art’ ?

No idea, presume Arts Council.

I think it’s older than Haughey’s time ; John Huston moved his family to Ireland back in the 60’s, I believe. So the bureaucrats sit in judgment on the artists, who have to meet their criteria? H’m. Curious how there always seem to be salaried posts for arts bureaucrats, but not for artists. A friend once showed me the telephone extension list at the UK Arts Council: more names than the Menin Gate. You’d get more money to artists by summoning them all to Trafalgar Square on a given day and dropping the annual budget in pound coins out of a helicopter.

So not even arts bureaucrats, but the Revenue Commissioners, are the judge of the artistic merit of your work:

http://www.citizensinformation.ie/…/artists_exemptionArtist’s exemption from income tax. Some income earned by artists, writers, sculptors and painters in Ireland from the sale of their work may be exempt from income tax. How to obtain exemption from income tax if you are an artist and satisfy certain criteria…

No was Haughey who introduced it.

Or just work to a different model – fund public art but let the market decide on everything else, like an accountant or pianist. Arts Council England – radio 4 now – believe arts will solve problems on our streets

Hearing this, a vision comes to me of a fat abbot, standing outside the glorious choir of some great abbey, saying ‘Without us, who would feed gruel to the poor?’

That’s interesting, not such a surprise I suppose. I’d like to know more.

 

Review World of Warcraft by Jonathan Evans

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(2 / 5)

When you are given a movie like Warcraft, that’s based on an online computer game that has over eight million people playing it daily, over a dozen different races on both sides and has the most dense lore of nearly any franchise you will ever find, you have to wonder. Could this be any good at all? Or can it even be coherent?

We are told the tale of a world named Azeroth, a magical world where there has been a conflict between the humans and the Orcs for as long as anyone can remember. How it all began is the purpose of the story. We are taken back to the beginning where one world was thriving and one was dying, so in order to survive the Orcs used dark magic to open a portal so they could travel to a world where they could live. I like this setup, there are evil characters and forces at work but this is a case of two races seeking the most basic thing, survival, none can really be blamed for that, so there isn’t really a bad guy.

I found that when it came to writing this review I could not for the life of me remember any of the characters names. In-fact even while the movie was going on I couldn’t hold their names in my head. They were just too complicated and and got lost amidst all the others names and exposition.

I did play World of Warcraft for three years so I know things that the average person would not and that in-itself is dangerous. Putting references in are fine but too much emphasis or not enough explanation can leave the viewer feeling like they are at a table where they don’t know anybody, awkward and unwelcome. But this movie is constructed so that a non-fan can understand the world just fine, there’s magic, barbarians, monsters, kings the regular cast and characters you’d expect to see in any fantasy story.

In order to bring a fully fictional world to life special effects are required. Whether that be through computers or through built sets to create environments that have never existed in our world. As well as that makeup or again computers must be utilized to create other races and creatures into existence. This movie uses both. On a purely aesthetic level, this is such a mixed bag. The Orcs and their world are the best part of it, they look and move convincingly (though I question how they can enunciate so well with those tusks) and their environments are rendered as well as the graphic art of the video game itself. While in the other areas they look very cheap. Some effects are like painting come to life while others are like impressive internet videos, which at a movies standard are not very good.

Again the acting is either hit or miss. The Orcs, having to act using their imagination and then the animators putting the finishing touches over it looks very impressive, magnificently well rendered with all kinds of details in their costume and texture to their skin. It’s when its all live action when you have a hard time believing anything. It’s too extravagant and doesn’t look realistic, too polished

In order to keep the conflict going they implant a tragedy of both inevitability and irony. Or at least that’s what they want to do. It is clearly something so this movie can be the stepping stone for more movies. But this ain’t Shakespeare, what happens in this movie is OK in ideas and pretty clunky in execution.

Can a movie be judged for how bad it could have been? I do not envy the screenwriters for being dealt this library of source information and having to channel it all down into a one-hundred and twenty page screenplay while having to make it all coherent. This could have been our generations Dune. This not that, it’s just a very mixed bag of a movie. There’s clearly ideas here and the hordes (pun intended) of Warcraft player will undoubtedly make the movie successful which will lead to more movies in the future. Previous experience is not required, so really all you’ll see is a movie that is at times good and others times surprisingly bad but still with a competent plot.

Review Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows by Jonathan Evans

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(2 / 5)

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have always worked best as a genre where it welcomes the weird and the insane on a whim. A world where our four main characters are the most unlikely culmination of things that have ever been conceived in pop-culture and now face creations of equal or greater feats of insane genius. Perhaps this is why they have had a hard time in the world of live action movies and the medium of animation and comics just seems to suit them better.

The first movie got no love from me as a lifelong fan of movies and the Turtles. This one, from the first few trailers, you could tell that they were leaning to a different direction. This is a course correction of a sequel. I would argue that if the first movie wasn’t even that good then that shouldn’t even justify a sequel. But we live in a world of franchises, so sometimes we must roll with the punches.

As soon as they appear we instantly see an improvement. Their feature have been refined and improved. They look less ghoulish, the colours are more vibrant, less accessories that make their overall designs less cluttered and their facial features have been smoothed out. They look less terrifying.

Shredder returns as an antagonist in this movie. He is still a very undefined villain in this movie franchise. Although this time he was thwarted by the Turtles so he wants revenge. That’s at least a motivation. However dropped in our laps is Kraang a villain that every fan knows but has never made a live-action appearance until now. His design is out of the old 50’s alien designs. A big talking brain with a face on it.

Even with all the previously mentioned improvements this movie has some of the most forced, amateur examples of exposition you will ever see. These are moments that they put in-front of you to show how not to write conversations. How they were able to get away with it in this movie I have no idea. Silly and nonsensical is on thing. But this is just bad writing, in-excusable.

We then get even more characters in the form of two thugs named Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Sheamus). They are the two block-headed thugs to enforce the big-bad’s will. But they go through a mutation that will give them the edge against the Turtles. Again adding to the ever-expanding-cast is Casey Jones. Stephen Amell is given some tough scenes to act-through. I mean tough in the terms that the comedy and mentality is terribly forced. He gets moments to be charming and to say a few quips, which he does very well.

As well as all the characters that are added (some I haven’t even mentioned) we are shown further development with the Turtles themselves as a family. They are becoming frustrated with having to hide themselves away from society that they love so much and want to join it. However they are still ninjas, which means they must operate stealthily (how they been able to remain hidden considering their huge, hulking physic is beyond me).

Is this an improvement over the last movie? Yes. At least it is closer to the appeal of the Turtles. The gruesome edges have been sanded down and is a much smoother experience. The moments of exploitation are still here but no more real moments of creepiness. Still there is a wrapped and forced sense of comedy and not much heart.

This is not a good movie, but all ratings are meant to be relevant not absolute. So I consider how weak the first movie was and how much better this one is.

Review Return of The Grumpy Old Women- Fifty Shades Of Beige, St Davids Hall by James Briggs

 

(5 / 5)

 

Returning after their sell-out Spring 2015 tour the Grumpy Old Women are back to share their Grumpy tales and tips with the nation. Award-winning comedian and original star of Grumpy Old Women Jenny Éclair is accompanied by fellow recruits Susie Blake (star of Mrs Brown’s Boys) and Kate Robbins (Singer and star of Casualty). Before I go on with the review, however, I must mention I cannot go into too much detail as to the tales told with my review because as Jenny Éclair said “What goes on in Grumpy club stays in Grumpy club”.

The Grumpy Old Women

Landing at St David’s Hall in their shed from outer space the grumpy old women, spacewalk onto the stage complete with space helmets and uniforms to a momentous applause from the audience, unsurprisingly the audience was mainly made up of women, with just a few men dotted about the auditorium. Given that I was possibly one of the youngest in the audience and being male I still felt as though I was able to relate to the topics they discussed – mind you having a Mum the same age as the Grumpy Old Women did help!

The Grumpy Old Women talked about a wide range of subjects that any person was able to relate to including a guide to nagging, how to get a roof rack put on a car without your husband moaning, dancing at weddings and pole dancing. Props littered the garden set and were used to brilliant effect during the show and even included a gigantic pair of pants and a BBQ.

The show is very clever in that it can be talking about a topic and then the lighting will change and you are plunged into a mini sketch. The sketches highlight the brilliant acting skills of all the Grumpy Old Women. The amazingly funny script really worked well for the stars and left the audience in stitches and in my case tears streaming down my face. I really like the fact that all of the comedy was good clean fun with very little use of bad language. When the language was used however it was delivered with fantastic comic timing.

The second half of the show sees them return to the James Bond theme which sparked a debate into why there has not yet been a female Bond. With the current news of Daniel Craig’s decision not to carry on playing Bond there is no better time than now to consider the possibilities of a female actress playing Bond and the three Grumpy women are obviously showcasing their talents to play Jane Bond.

For me there were two stand out moments in the show that were utterly hilarious, the first of these was when team Grumpy took part in ‘Grumpy Come Dancing’ based on the hit BBC show which had the audience in hysterics especially with Susie Blake’s pole dancing performance. The second stand out moment for me was the posh version of The Jeremy Kyle show, the writing was amazing and Kate Robbins impersonation of Jeremy Kyle was brilliant and even mimicked the way he lies on the step and goes up close to the faces of the people on the show. The content of the Jeremy Kyle sketch is also fantastically funny due to it being based around a mother complaining ‘My son will not practice the cello’.

At the end of the evening the audience gave a well-deserved standing ovation. Anyone who watches this show is guaranteed to have a fabulous night and will most definitely be leaving with an aching jaw from laughing so much. This really is a must see show that should not be missed and is most definitely the best night out I have had in a long while.

Return of The Grumpy Old Women- Fifty Shades Of Beige is currently on a UK wide tour and all of the dates are available via this link- http://www.grumpyoldwomenlive.com/

Review Captain America Civil War by Jonathan Evans

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When an irresistible force such as you, meets an old immovable object like me, you can bet just as sure as you live. Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give.
Frank Sinatra, Something’s Gotta Give

Captain America Civil War

(5 / 5)

The reason Superheroes have been able to endure for so long is because they have always told the next story. Sure Superman will always wear a big red cape and fly, Batman will always don the cowl and punch muggers but there is still a long lasting continuity to these characters and in order to keep them going the villains need to find new ways of fighting them and the consequences of their action have to catch up to them. Civil War is a movie about two paths laying before superheroes, one must be taken, the problem is that the heroes are also people, ergo flawed. So they differ on which is the right path and truly believe they are right, so they will stand by their beliefs to the end.

Early on we get one of those sharply worded, briskly shot action scenes, we see a bad guy with a cool name and an equally cool outfit steal a biological weapon, he is stopped but at a cost of a hospital exploding. This is the event that gets the nations of the world to sit the superheros down and talk. All the events in recent years, The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Winter Solider and now this have had far reaching devastation with a lot of collateral damage.

The “Sokovia Accords” will be a special jury lead by multiple people from the United Nations that will determine what situation requires the superheroes attention. Tony. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is for it and understands that with such power as they wield there must be safeguards to keep them in check. But Steve, Captain America (Chris Evans) argues that such boards usually act with a vested interest, also what if they don’t get together and give them permission in time? He stands by the belief that “the best hands are still our own.” So it becomes a case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, Tony wants to go forward with this new system but Steve is unconvinced and does not budge in his beliefs.

Before this review goes any further I feel it’s important for my own feelings be known. Captain America has always been my favourite character in the MARVEL movies and I was on his team before the movie came out and was still on his side during it. But there still remains a valid argument for either side. This could have been a simple case of one are the idiots the others are smart, these are obviously the good guys and this is who we’re meant to root for. But no, they go the more adult and interesting route where each member on each side is there for their own reasons. Neither is the villain, just a clash of ideologies that either is willing to fight for. There is a villain that lurks in the shadows who sets-up all the pieces to fight, but I do question if we really needed it.

The writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely know how to write with clarity and engaging characters. This is a movie that’s over two hours long so there’s enough time for everything, but they operate on a method where every scene is necessary and we know everything, or at least enough going into each action scene. In the dialogue scenes there are no wasted words or moments so you understand the characters very quickly, then we are able to get invested in the action. It is on-par with Mad Max: Fury Road.

The cast of characters in this movie is immense. It has most of the per-established characters from the previous movies and introduces new players that will most likely get their own movie and other moments in later films. But it works on the level of the actual comics now. We see Ant-Man, understand him and then will probably want to go back and checkout his movie. Also in the short time they have with everything else going on we get characters like Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spiderman (Tom Holland) and are able to engage with them through very efficient directing and screenwriting.

As said we need to know the people fighting so we are invested, but good action is still essential. For a good action scene we need to know the layout of the environment and understand who did what when, if we loose track of the basics of what is happening on-screen then it simply becomes lights and noise. However if we keep seeing the same set-up it will become stagnant regardless, the Russo brothers know this so they don’t make the action tedious, they add unique twists or perspectives on their action set-pieces so that its something more engaging. For example a stairway fight, two combatants have enhanced body power so they can do more extreme movements, also one is willing to kill while the other isn’t.

And still, even with all these stakes and dark moments in the movie, we are still treated to comedy and moments of levity. Even here they understand that superheroes are meant to be characters where we can feel good and have fun. There are more than a few examples of movies that cram too much stuff in it just leaves the audience confused and frustrated. Batman v Superman and Jupiter Ascending come to mind. But Civil War is able to so efficiently explain and deliver the characters for the conflict, without necessarily needing to see the previous movies (though you will want to after seeing it) and keep you engaged at all time and with everyone.

Civil War takes out the villain aspect of these movies and puts hero against hero, not in a battle of good verses evil, but a fight for how to serve the greater good. And the drama of these two characters coming to blows isn’t from that mere fact it is happening, but that it was always meant to happen.

Review The Jungle Book (2016) by Jonathan Evans

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The Jungle Book was always a story structured around set-piece moments. We have a little boy as out fish-out-of-water protagonist that comes across creatures that he doesn’t know about and must overcome. What matters is that the world is defined and that characters that inhabit itare memorable as well as likeable and we must have a few moments of awe within the run-time.

This is still the classic set-up a small child being found in the jungle and, for whatever reason, a panther named Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) finds him and instead of eating him, takes him to a pack of wolves, that also decide to not eat him and raise him as one of their own.

Mowgli in terms of his design with his messy black hair and red pants is right out of the original Disney movie. The little boy playing him is Neel Sethi, who unfortunately just isn’t that good. He somehow is able to speak clear English with an American accent but also speaks it with that hammy way that you’d expect from a minor. How bad is it? Possibly in the range of Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace, however we should all keep-in-mind that acting requires concentration and intelligence at a level that we wouldn’t expect from youth. But he can traverse the jungle sets well and interact with the C.G.I. character convincingly.

Eventually there comes a very harsh drought, and a truce is declared among the animals and they gather at a watering hole. Both predator and prey drink, knowing that none can hurt the other. But one sits uneasy, the dreaded tiger Shere Kahn. He has his intense distaste for man and cannot abide having a man in the jungle, he abides by the law but vows that when the water returns, he shall take Mowgli’s life.

Shere Kahn as a villain is probably the most effective element of the movie. He is convincingly rendered through the computer technology and is of course a tiger, which are naturally threatening. He actually has to do very little, most of his impact comes from what is implied, he has a few moments to establish he’s a physical threat and the rest is him being close and knowing that he can rip you apart at any second. And it’s all brought to life with Idris Elba’s vocals, both calming and manipulative and then moving to raging wrath.

So with a tiger that will no doubt carry out his threat Mowgli must leave and be taken the mans village. And of course the journey does not go smoothly, there are obstacles and distractions. The most prominent is the big lazy bear Baloo, played rather well by Bill Murray. Murray injects his classic dry sarcastic, layedback wit in this sloth bear and it is a match.

When we get to King Louie the movie honestly just stops. He is played by Christopher Walken who has such a distinguished voice that it is impossible to think of anything or anyone else. He has long fur that drapes down from his body like a fur coat and sits in his crumbled castle in the jungle surrounded by fruit, treasure and dark shadows giving him a feel of Colonel Kurt from Apocalypse Now. You really do stop thinking about this boy and the tiger that after him and ts all about this giant orange ape being voiced by one of the most unique actors ever to grace the screen.

There are moments in the writing where it just seemed weird and unnecessary. Most of it works as an adaptation, or at least to give us the same moments but in different ways. But others where it seeks to flesh-out the backstory of these character and the choices seem so odd. There were moments of exposition where they forgo and it seemed like a good idea, but they explain them later for some reason, as well as plot-hole I noticed immediately regarding how Baloo and Mowgli meet.

This is a much more dark, threatening interpretation of this story than we have seen before (I do also admit to having not read the book). These animals may talk but they most certainly do still have their teeth and claws. There is even a transition scene with the giant snake Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) which I genuinely think is inspired!

This is not a movie for the younger children that would have enjoyed the original 2D animated movie. This is a much harsher world with more obvious consequences. Is is too tough for any children? I would say that for children twelve or above. The story is still the story but told in a different way and with some very strong elements and others that don’t necessarily let the rest down but do noticeably weaken it. But either way, we still have a movie that has a classic story at it’s center with classic cinematography, good C.G.I. and strong performances from nearly everyone.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars

Review Yr Ymadawiad/The Passsing by Leslie Herman Jones

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Welsh filmmakers have an advantage over others: world-class landscapes on tap.

Shooting in Wales, filmmakers don’t have to go very far or search very hard to find breathtaking locations that will serve them, are deserving of top billing, and require very little in the way of lighting or design or any other customisation for that matter. Wales’ landscapes can be taken ‘off-the-peg’ and are ‘ready to wear’.

Landscapes in Wales speak volumes, with eloquence, intensity, romanticism, or whatever else filmmakers wish them to evoke; they would speak Welsh if they could. And they give Welsh films signature visuals to be proud of and grateful for, but a film cannot succeed by landscape alone.

The location in Yr Ymadawiad (The Passing, Welsh language with English subtitles, Severn Screen production in association with Boom Pictures) a huge old farmhouse on an expansive plot of remote woodlands in late Autumn/early Winter, is awesome and is captured magnificently (Director, Gareth Bryn; DOP, Richard Stockland; Production Designers, Tim Dickel/Siani Palfrey). With exteriors on tap (apart from the well, perhaps?) the designers were able to focus all their attention on the interiors, which I’m sure required a fair bit of research and deft prop acquisition to make it look and feel like it, too, was found as is. (Unless it was?)

The man we watch with great interest at work in the landscape, his intensity and brutish physique quite profound, adds further grim authenticity. Mark Lewis Jones’s performance as Stanley is consistently strong throughout. The attention to detail in vision and in sound (Composer, Jeremy Holland-Smith credits/Cranc, Post-production sound) are apparent in a way the genre permits; the sound scape works like a treasure map – dropping clues like mad — and the audience excitedly keeps track as they stack up. The amount of time spent on these establishing shots, our prolonged watching of Stanley work and live in exquisite silence, is characteristic of Welsh filmmaking, and the opening scenes are captivating. The absence of the spoken word serves his character well: a simple, lonely and emotionally oppressed man, a man with a secret.

I don’t think the minimalist dialogue serves the other actors or the story in the same way. Use of the fewest possible spoken words seems an intentional stylistic decision (Story, Ed Talfan and Peter Watkins-Hughes), but the combination of this, and other style points — the production’s reliance on landscape; and perhaps, a foreknowledge of Welsh history, and an understanding of its allegorical cultural references to tell the story, hinder the success of the film. Even those in the know want more from a film: they want to hear more, be told more, have to assume less.

Until the other characters, Sara and Dyfan, appear, the film works. Their appearance raises questions. Some are the suspense of the story, others are due to the flaws that impede its flow. Their performances (Annes Elwy as Sara; Dyfan Dwyfor as Iwan) are admirable, but the script does not enable them to fully exhibit their relationship or tell the story. Though beautiful to the eye, as the camera follows with languorous shots, Sara’s passive gazing or her curious meandering though the bare, thick-walled exquisitely-lit rooms, the premise remains unclear for too long, mere snippets of dialogue creating a tension that was less edge of the seat and more an urge for a gear shift. Equally, Iwan’s erratic behaviour raises questions, but the script’s reduced dialogue offers no opportunity for answers, increasingly reducing the impact of the action, and ultimately the pay off.

I was ready to make a lot of space and time for the film as it began to unfold, but I gradually began to feel as though I didn’t want to keep investing in this story because it wasn’t giving. It took too long to get to the point. In all its glory, it languished. The Passing could have been a short.

The Passing is not entirely dissimilar to the collective pool of Welsh films that also treat landscapes, pace, dialogue and storylines this way. Huge credit to film industry professionals whose networks have grown and grown up, taking the Welsh product to a substantially broader marketplace and to the savvy of the producers (Ed Talfan/Kate Crowther) who will have ensured The Passing will be seen on multiple international platforms. I am confident that new audiences will devour it and praise it for the same reasons indigenous audiences are calling for more from Wales’ filmmakers.

Review Zootropolis by Jonathan Evans

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A movie needs many things to work. Mainly it needs story, characters and theme, it then needs to take the said elements and put them in an environment so they can cook together. Zootropolis is a movie that has all of these elements and may have a lot of cooks in the kitchen, but they all need to be there because they add to one element or another.

The world our story plays out in is one where animals existed as we know them but simply evolved to become sophisticated. There just simply didn’t seem to be any humans. They can now speak, wear clothes and have all the technology we have now. We are simultaneously introduced to Judy Hopes (Ginnifer Goodwin) a rabbit whose a bouncy fluff-ball of enthusiasm and smarts that grew-up on a farm but has big dreams of moving to the big city of Zootropolis where she will be a cop, make the world better etc. She enrolls in the academy where it seems like the cop life is not suited for a small rabbit, but she is indentured and does graduate. Now the big city awaits her.

The city of Zootropoilis is an architectural marvel. It is one of those locations that allows for many possibilities , serves as a great back drop for the characters and will inhabit your memories for years to come. It is on league with cities from Rintaro’s Metropolis, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil or Gotham City in Batman. We see all of the city, from the highs to the slums. Another neat part is that some of the skyscrapers are shaped like horns. Usually movies with anthropomorphic animals are all the same size, giving a little to let other animals be appropriately bigger or smaller. But here they remain the same size and it is the city that has adapted to accommodate all the different shapes and sizes. Pools for the hippos as well as dryers for them, little suction tubes to speedily transport the hamsters, different neighbourhoods with different weather simulators to create to right climate for the inhabitants natural environment.

And within the city area all the huge beasts and little critters that inhabit it. Every different species is given its own walk and body pose because naturally they have their own proportions. The wide range of furs, lighting, textures, clothing, environments that area all within this one film is so impressive. This is something that has ideas, skill and effort to bring it to life.

Along with it being great to look at there are even undertones. In this society that has descendants from a more beastly past (pun intended) there are remnants of that, some species typically don’t get along together because of their nature and others come with expectations based on their, literal, race. Yes, in this children’s Disney animated movie with anthropomorphic animals.

When Judy arrives there is a case of multiple predators going missing, her superior Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) assigns everyone a lead while she gets parking duty. While working she notices a fox in an elephant Ice-Cream store trying to buy a large lollipop for his son, the clerk refuses service but after some smart intervention from Judy he gets his pop. But it turns out this fox is a hustler named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) that uses the really big pop to turn into smaller ones and sell off to make a profit. Eventually events unfold and him and Judy are forced together as an unlikely partnership.

Any movie partnership needs them to be opposites. If they were the same then there would be no dynamic rendering it pointless. But also this brings out great character moments, Judy’s smarts but also naive optimism contrasts brilliantly with Nicks cynicism and dry wit. But none of them is ever truly the fool and they each bring something special to the situation that makes the whole greater than the sum of it’s parts.

There are constant jokes, as you’d expect from an animated children’s movie from Disney, but there is a much more heavy adult edge to their approach here. Nothing that is too edgy or inappropriate for children but will have the adults in the audience laughing just as hard as the children. One scene in particular that takes place at the DMV had the cinema I was in laughing very hard.

This movie is at the standard of The LEGO Movie. Because it being good would probably be no surprise. But it being this well thought-out with jokes that only make you laugh, but laugh hard and a deftly crafted script that throws in funny but seemingly pointless jokes that come back and play a part in the greater work.

Zootropolis works. It is many things and they all work together. It is a comedy with cute animals in it, you will be laughing throughout the movie. It’s also a social commentary, you’ll be moved by it’s poignancy. There’s also a mystery to solve, all the moments serve and lead and interweave together to a conclusion that is the right level of smart as well as clear enough to understand. The movie is simply a wonderful creation of feelings, smarts told with great characters within one of the great movie locations.

(4 / 5)

Review The Huntsman: Winter’s War by Jonathan Evans

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If you know the previous movie, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a little of a prequel and a sequel to a movie that was also retelling a classic Grimm’s Fairy Tale. But when you simply look at it with non-subjective eyes it’s just another fantasy movie with all that entails.

We are told the story by an unnamed narrator (Liam Neeson) he tells of how there were two sisters. One was the evil queen we know (Charlize Theron) that would manipulate her way to power and the other her younger sister (Emily Blunt) that falls in love with one of the Kings and has a child with him. But when tragedy strikes the child her heart grows cold both figuratively and literally. This gives her the power of ice (because this is a magical world!), she then creates a kingdom up in frozen mountains where children are taken from their families and groomed to become her huntsmen. Of these children two of the best are Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), over the years they fall in love and get married, but love is not tolerated in this Ice queens heart and she separates them.

Time passes and we now move forwards to the events after Snow White and the Huntsman. Eric is recruited by the king (Sam Claflin) to find and destroy the magic mirror that has slowly been driving Snow White mad. On his quest he eventually gains traveling companions, as one must when on any kind of quest! They exist to for exposition and have some witty repartee. There are four dwarfs. There is Nion (Nick Frost) returning from the last movie, Gryff (Rob Brydon) who’s really more interested in profit, Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) a Fe-male rough and tumble kind of dwarf and Doreena (Alexandra Roach) a well meaning although also air-headed individual that serves to balance out the groups personalities and dynamic.

Chris Hemsworth returns to play the role of Eric the Huntsman. He is a devil-may-care, swashbuckling hero, with a Scottish accent that should probably think-out his plans more but has a smile you just can’t resist. For a variety of reasons, Snow White is physically absent from the movie. She is mentioned at numerous times and seen briefly from the back in one scene. But the character and Kristen Stewart is absent from the film.

Though this film serves as a prequel/sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman it is still its own movie. We can gather from the storytelling exposition earlier on what the characters situations are and the kind of world this is.

While on their quest there is banter and conversations among the members, ranging from fun and sharply tongued to rather stupid. A shame because its a case of the weaker moments of poor writing letting the other moments down when we know there could be better material. But the actors are able to remain dynamic throughout and are clearly having fun with it.

Although greatly decreased from the last movie Winters War still comes with it’s own share of unique visuals to the fantasy genre. There are a few moments of unique visuals in the movie (you’ve never seen Goblins like these) and also a few clever moments. But to compare it with the original, it is much less bountiful to the eye.

This is director Cedric Nicolas- Troyan’s first film but he served on the second unit on the first Snow White movie and Maleficent so he knows how to make this movie feel like the others. It’s fine as a first full-length feature goes. Plenty of knowledgeable camerawork, able to get the hammy but controlled performances from his actors.

Parts of it are refined from the last movie, like the performances while other moments are lacking like the visuals. But this really is another fantasy movie with a few neat ideas and at times clever visuals and characterization along with a few performances that are at least memorable. It’s a good-looking movie that has fun with what it is.

Review Richard Herring St David’s Hall, Cardiff

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I must admit I knew very little about Richard Herring so didn’t know what to expect when attending his stand up show at St David’s Hall in Cardiff. Richard Herring is a 48 year old father and husband.

Herring begins his routine talking of the night his daughter was born and the hours afterwards seeing his wife in pain and giving birth. Herring does say that he doesn’t want to be one of the comedians that has just become a father and solely talks about that topic, however, this does form much of the material for the first half of the show. He does briefly talk about life pre marriage and the birth of his daughter which was funny and which was more relevant to my age group but on times was a little too explicit. However, the older members of the audience found it very funny especially on the topic of a possible affair with a life-like robot similar to that of Gemma Chan from ‘Humans’ at some point in the distant future.

In the second half of his show Herring moves away from family stories as he begins to think about the grammatical correctness of his mother in law’s door mat which welcomes people to their house with ‘Grand Children Spoilt Here’. His deconstructing of the lyrics of Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed was very well received with the audience. One feeling you really get from the show is that Richard Herring is extremely proud of his family and this is very much part of his act.

He confesses multiple times that his life has been totally focused on his career and since having a wife and child his priorities have changed and questions how we as adults can reach pure happiness like that felt by a child and whether it is even achievable at all. He also talks about how at the time of the moment of pure happiness we are too busy thinking about what could go wrong rather than really thinking about how important this moment is. Herring tells a story of how a three year old child walking on a beach in a hot country eating a Cornetto is as good as it can get for them at that moment and yet within a matter of hours they will forget the experience and may never feel that happiness again. All very philosophical!

When considering Herring’s performance and routine one can easily describe him as delivering comedy that makes his audience laugh out loud as well as ponder life’s big questions. Herring also talks about how he may not be as famous such as his friend Steve Coogan but seems very happy with his lot. It does encourage you to reflect no matter who we are or how successful we become there is always going to be someone doing that bit better than you and it is also important to remember that there may well be others looking up at you.

This show is not going to leave you with an aching stomach from laughing but will leave you with a smile on your face and a greater sense of appreciation for the smaller things in life that you may well have taken for granted before.