Category Archives: Film & TV

Review Finding Dory by Jonathan Evans

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(3 / 5)

Finding Nemo is one of the pinnacle of the powerhouse that is Pixar. It is often named as peoples favorite favorite Pixar movie and often on their list of favourite family movies. So now for some reason there is a sequel. There are unanswered question’s leftover from the first movie, I guess, but was this really another trip worth taking.

The movie takes place one year later after the end of the first movie yet it took over ten years for this move to come out. So it begs the question why? Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks as Dory and Marlin slip back into their roles with ease showing no sign of the decade between the time when they first performed these roles. Dory continues to be the optimistic one with short term memory loss so she always looks at things with fresh eyes, Marlin the more cautious and critical one, Hayden Rolence replaces Alexander Gould as Nemo because in ten years he no longer sounds like a little kid, but has the same sound and feel of the original. They are all living out their lives on the reef before it occurs to Dory that she must have a family, and that begins to allow memories to resurface. So she, Marlin and Nemo are now on a journey to track down her family.

The plot is mostly a repeat of the first movie, with an encounter with a scary creature, bizarre comedic relief that ultimately serve a purpose in aiding their search. What matters is that character development is not repeated and is still stands on its own. Many movies have the same structure what matters is the effort and little pieces of originality.

Dory meets the new, iconic supporting character that everyone will remember, Hank the Octopus (Ed O’Neil). He is traumatised of the open ocean, rather cynical towards Dory’s optimistic attitude but has to stay with her so he can get her tag which ensures he can stay in captivity. He is also an animation treat with seven (he lost one) legs all moving about without the restrictions of bones and has camouflage abilities which lead to (as you’d expect) many creative visuals and jokes.

It is obvious at this point that Pixar is one of the great animation studios, with heartfelt and brilliantly constructed stories, but also amazing animation capabilities too. This one is no exception, with all kinds of different textures going on at the same time, how under the surface of the water the image is more blurred but the color pallet more vibrant, as they swim it effects every grain of sand and whenever the fish come out of the water they are wet and can see the water trickle down their skin. And it captures that ethereal lighting and atmosphere that you get in an aquarium.

This is an unnecessary sequel, but it is also not the weakest sequel. This isn’t without clever moments and great effort being put into the animation. This takes us deeper into one of the great supporting characters in Pixar’s history, along the way we meet fun, memorable characters, are given moments of emotion that will stay with children until they’re old enough to fully understand them and instantly connect with adults.

Review Star Trek Beyond by Jonathan Evans

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(3 / 5)

When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek is was with the concept that mankind had indeed reached a point beyond racism, sexism and it’s petty squabbles. The conflict was about to places and situations that they would meet out there in the big wide galaxy where no man has gone before.

With the new Star Trek continuity that was created with the rebooted movie back in 2011 it is indeed a chance to go where we haven’t before. We have the same characters but now they’ve been altered slightly which allows them to go in whole new different directions and development. So far they’ve been doing a fair job on that front.

We enter our plot about midway through the legendary five-year mission, Kirk (Chris Pine) is starting to become weary of the monotony of everything on The Enterprise and is even considering passing the Captain duties onto Spock (Zachary Quinto). However Spock has received bad news, his future self has passed, clearly referencing the real-world passing of Leonard Nimoy and has separated from Uhura (Zoe Saldana). Things are left unsaid before they meet a giant swarm of little ships that instantly engage in combat with The Enterprise, sending it crashing into the planet below.

With the Enterprise taken down the surviving crew members are now scattered on an alien planet and must survive. This leads to character iterations that are definitely the best parts of the movie. Smaller moments that make us feel for these characters, and show us them in ways that we haven’t seen them in for the fifty years of their existence.

Justin Lin takes over directing duties from J.J. Abrams being that he’s moved on to Star Wars. The major parts of Lin’s filmography are the Fast & Furious movies and it shows, he has a quick, slick passe to the way the scenes unfold which makes him a good choice to replace Abrams. He also clearly likes long twisting camera movements.

The movie is heavy on it’s action. Not to the point where it sacrifices plot or characterization but to be sure there are chunky moments of them. However these come with a little more brain work put in them than you’d normally be used to. The characters use what resources they have and gadgets, with limitations, at their disposal which adds a few unique visual flares to it and shows that the characters and filmmakers are smart.

Our main antagonist is a being named Krall. That at first glance appears to be a simple, blood-thirty alien that wants the federation destroyed. However things are revealed about him that make him something more. However, even though he is played by Idris Elba, a more than capable actor, this character never really works. Sure I understand his backstory and how he works, but you never really feel sympathetic towards him and I certainly didn’t ever understand his plan.

Star Trek is a franchise that comes with a lot to do justice to. It comes with long lasting, defined characters that must be done justice to and a sense of optimism and intelligence that the writers must bring to the table. This is indeed an action science fiction movie, but it has more brains going for it that an ordinary run-of-the-mill movie of that genre. And it has the characters that we all know and love still being pushed to new places and situations.

Review Suicide Squad By Jonathan Evans

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(2 / 5)

Suicide Squad is a movie that takes place after Batman v Superman and focuses it’s attention on the villains of this universe. Further evidence that these creators have abandoned any wholesome or optimistic views of this world and these characters of superheroes.

This is one of those movies that has a team assembled for a job. Always with that comes the fact that you must rapidly introduce a cast of characters, get us invested in them and tell a full story. A difficult task.

For said team, the members consist of: Harley Quinn, a fan favorite that is finally getting her live action debut, in terms of casting Margot Robbie was the right choice with her cute face and ability to blend both bubbly fun, sadistically dangerous and tragically in love. The other is also the fan favourite of Deadshot, played by the always charismatic Will Smith, he is the wisecrack, expert marksman that can make demands and insult whoever he wants because he never misses. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) serves as someone to keep an eye on them for the government, a stern solider with an emotional weakness. Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a crazed Australian that, for some reason, has mastered the boomerang (as the name implies). El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) a former gang-banger with fire powers that is now a pacifist. Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) a deformed man that looks like a crocodile and society has turned into a monster. Enchantress a literal magical being that posses the body of a girl (Cara Delevingne). Katana (Karen Fukuhara), who wields a sword, and wears a mask, she doesn’t really have much else going for her beyond that. Smith and Robbie are definitely the best parts of the movie, they are the ones that have the most grasp on their characters and are given the most screen time and development.

Most of these character are sadistic, morally lacking characters that are also undefined. There is no reason we should like them beyond some of the, sort-of, cool things they do at times and they are our leading characters, whether we like them or not. But maybe we could grow to like them but are simply not even given any time to, what little we do get is a jumbled forced mess of montage edited together segments of exposition.

The other big name in the movie is Jared Leto playing The Joker. This is the next live action Joker since the character defining Heath Ledger performance in The Dark Knight so there’s much to live up to. Though I don’t believe you should compare one performance of these characters to another and simply let them stand on their own, it is difficult because Ledger left such an impact on the character. His performance isn’t “Rock Star” surprisingly, more like a crazed, brain fried gangster. I feel the talent that I know Leto is capable of, but there is an obvious lack of direction and grasp on what this character is. His look has parts good and parts tacky awfulness. White skin, neon green slicked back hair and thin psyche is good, but some of his wardrobe and inclusion of tattoos (literally having “Damaged written across his forehead”) are something that are tasteless and ludicrous with a complete lack of subtlety.

What is the plot that brings this team together? Good question. Well the Enchantress is actually bad and summons her brother, and is opening a gate to…hell? Another dimension? Where they can take over the world I guess, they make an army of other-worlds creatures, so maybe. I honestly cannot fully explain it, it is too complicated and too forced and nobody will care.

The movie unfolds be having forced exposition for its characters and scenarios by merely having their backstory summed-up with a few words from someone. Then forget about that its time to hit something. This is like how Fury Road operated but, where this movie fails where that one succeeded is that there was all the backstory and motivations worked out and they were intricately worked into every aspect of the character, from they’re wardrobe, performances and dialog. This is much less interested in getting us invested and rather saying snarky dialog and doing crazy things.

What really hurts this movie is that we have seen this literal concept, with most of these characters already done before. The directed to DVD animated movie Assault on Arkham. That movie was able to have a cast of characters, get us to know them, have them be villainous, but also likable and tell a whole story. Under an hour and a half.

The visuals of the movie are like something out of an MTV music video from the nineties. Fast editing, neon colors, lack of taste as well as subtlety. However I can say that this movie has a visual style and still knows that there is a thing called color and is a vital tool to use. So it is more vibrant that the murky, primarily gray looking movies that have come before.

For some of it you’ll be entertained, slightly. But for the most part you will be bored. But this is a movie that is seeking to entertain, trying to be energetic and fun. It fails, but at least it has its characters smiling, which is still a step-up from the recent movies. Yes the characters are morally lacking but they are villain, so that makes sense. But these aren’t as likeable and fun as Guardians of The Galaxy, nor is the characterisation as efficient as Assault on Arkham. But it still has energy, colour and smiles instead of still moodiness, so its a step-up from the previous movies.

Diversity in the Media by Amina Elmi

14010047_10209116700507288_1086472829_nWe live in a multi-cultural society with rich cultural heritage that is not being reflected on-screen. This needs to change. There is no excuse good or enough reason to justify the lack of representation in the media in this day and age.

Representation matters to people like me. People who want positive role models that we could relate to. That’s why when I was younger, I was hooked into any show where I saw a black female character. No matter the quality of the show or how it was written. This was because it was such a rarity to see this. Unfortunately for me, writers would try to pander to their audience by feeding them stereotypes of sassy angry black women. The negative stereotypes are not just a problem for black viewers. Minorities are consistently forced into stereotypical roles that society perceives them to be. These characters would be less important, predictable and ultimately unnecessary. One reason for this is the lack of diversity behind the scenes. How can straight white writers relate to the experiences of minorities?

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Even when minorities are cast they are faced with prejudiced voices speaking up to raise their objections. Some may remember when John Boyega was cast as a Stormtrooper in Star Wars. The global outcry of racists exclaimed “White Genocide” and that the film studio was conforming to the “PC Agenda” Boyega was bombarded to with hatred fuelled racist tweets. Does their imagination not stretch enough for other ethnicities or is it limited at intergalactic wars?

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Cast member Kristen Wiig at the LA Premiere of Ghostbusters.

Another example of fury when Diversity is applied was the all-female Ghostbusters reboot. “They’re ruining my childhood” cried familiar prejudiced voices. Their childhood is over and has been for quite a while now. What they are neglecting to notice is that this movie has provided a younger generation with strong female role models. It seems that whenever diversity is enforced there is backlash. How can change be implemented if we are met by defiance at every turn?

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Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange

Ridiculously, ethnic minorities are even unable to get cast in non-white roles. This is called Whitewashing and it occurs when a white actor is cast in the role of a non-white character. It is not uncommon for this to happen. A recent example of this is the upcoming Marvel Movie Doctor Strange. Tilda Swinton plays an Asian character in this film. Essentially the film will be a “white woman teaching a white man Asian culture.” There is no debate on the capabilities of Swinton. She is a talented actress but she is simply unsuitable for this role. If people of colour are losing non-white roles to white actors, then what hope do they really have?

An argument against diversity is that it is too much of risk to cast minorities. Studios fear losing viewers and money. However diverse televisions shows and films are advantageous to studios and have a track record of being successful. Television shows that have a diverse cast have higher ratings. Examples of this include ‘Scandal’, ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’. Films coincide with this. Those with diverse casts make notably more money. For example, the extremely popular ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise. The summer blockbuster ‘Suicide Squad’ saw found that 39% of its ticket buyers were Black and Hispanic. The movie boasted a diverse and multi-cultural cast.

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The cast of Suicide Squad

We know that diversity does work and that it is not a risk. So why does Hollywood remain white?

Review The BFG by Jonathan Evans

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(4 / 5)

Roahl Dahl was a true writer of children’s fiction. He created stories of the truly fantastical that stirred the imagination of all who read them. Also he shaped simple but deep plots that could be understood but the simple thinking of children but also complex in a way that you will keep coming back to them years later. The BFG is a story about bravery and the importance of dreams.

Put simply we meet Sophie, a little orphan that is more responsible that the head carer in her orphanage. She knows that there is something that moves the London streets at night, one night she sees it for herself. A large, twenty-four-foot figure in a black robe. The figure sees her too and takes her. She is whisked off to another world and learns that she is in Giant Country. The one that has taken her is a giant but has no intention of eating her.

He will not take her back for fear she will tell people. So Sophie is in Giant Country indefinitely. And must do her best to navigate throughout this world of giant oily vegetables and host that is so large his bed is an entire ship.

The best part of the movie is the giant himself. Mark Rylance moves and is able to deliver the giants fragmented form of English with utter conviction and ease. An actor that was uncomfortable with the material would overcompensate by being too hammy, Rylance is able to speak the unique dialog with warmth, humor and even regret at times. His design is also a technical triumph. Like with Tintin the effects team are able to take the original illustrated character design and add all kinds of skin texturing and wrinkles lines to create a balance that forgoes the Uncanny Valley and more of a detailed illustration come to life.

The other best thing is Ruby Barnhill as Sophie. Speilberg has a talent for working with children, somehow he is able to communicate with them and get them to understand that material and get very solid performances out of his young stars. But there does obviously need to be talent there and Barnhill has so much of it. She is able to interact with things that are not really there and able to pull-off scared, witty and awe convincingly.

The C.G.I. is something that’s beautifully realized. There are as much practical effects in the movie as can be, but most of it is C.G.I. and it looks like a lush, vibrant painting. The sunlight shines through the the hair and bounces off skin, dreams are matter that take different shapes depending on their nature.

What else can be said about Steven Spielberg? He is one of the most acclaimed names in all of movie history. He knows the formula of how to compose a satisfying movie. Knowing how to expertly compose and light shots but also also with the story for having moments of levity, but also dark ones to balance everything out. With this new technology he is able to have swooping, intricate shots that would be impossible in live-action. As-well as that show things that would be impossible, Jumping into a reflection, having the camera follow them and then flipping one-hundred-eighty degrees when they come out the other side, for example. Though there are a few moments that seem like he just wanted t make sure the kids would laugh.

As must always come with a Spielberg movie is the music of John Williams. Williams who has so many of the greatest movie scores under his belt doesn’t need another one. But yet he does anyway. His score here heightens the mood and feel of whatever situation it plays for and ranges from scary and intimidating, bouncing and magical, and quiet and lonely.

This movie is something that children should experience. They should know that dreams and courage are important, that there are threats in this world but they can be overcome. And see images that will enrich their imagination for years to come.

Review Chicago, Wales Millennium Centre by James Briggs

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(4 / 5)

“Murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery…all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts “and so Cardiff welcomes the touring production of Chicago. In a first for the Wales Millennium Centre the smash hit musical Chicago has arrived to entertain packed audiences. Chicago is based on the real life events in the roaring 1920s. A nightclub singing sensation Velma murders her husband, and Chicago’s smoothest lawyer, Billy Flynn, sets out to act has her defence. But when Roxie ends up in prison on similar charges, Billy takes on her case too, turning her too into a media sensation. Neither of the two women will be surpassed in their fight against each other for fame and celebrity status.

As the audience sat down before the performance an announcement was made informing us that John Partridge who plays  lawyer Billy Flynn would not be performing due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ and therefore the role would be played instead by his understudy Kerry Spark. Despite the obvious disappointment by some audience members we needn’t have worried as Kerry Spark gave an excellent performance.

This revival tour of Chicago showed a whole different side to the show by stripping the production back to its bare bones, with a full band positioned on a podium on stage, minimal costumes on the performers and some chairs. As an audience member, you seem to have the feeling that the music is the main star of the show and the thing you should be concentrating on most of all.

In the performance, Sophie Carmen-Jones played Velma Kelly, the tough performer awaiting trial for the murder of her husband and sister. Sophie Carmen-Jones delivers a brilliant Velma who is very confident and self-assured but still beneath her many layers is highly vulnerable.

Hayley Tamaddon is utterly sublime as Roxie Hart. Hayley Tamaddon brings out a different version of Roxie with slightly more comedy and shyness in Roxie than audiences will not have seen before. There are many moments during the performance where Roxie really comes into her own and shines like a star.

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In my opinion, the two leading ladies are perfectly matched and when they come together and perform the ‘Hot Honey Rag’ to the end of the show they are wonderfully in synch with each other bringing a smile to every audience member.

The Matron of the Cook County Jail, Mama Morton was played by Gina Murray. The role is usually played by former X Factor winner Sam Bailey however she took a break from the tour. Gina Murray was brilliant as Mama Morton and has a good mix of being stern and kind to the inmates. Her performance in the song ‘When You’re Good To Mama’ was amazing and received a loud applause from the audience.

One of the real stand out characters during the musical was A D Richardson as Mary Sunshine. Each line of the song ‘A little bit of good’ is presented with a strong sense of carefulness and delicacy. It’s an extremely gruelling role that can be extremely difficult to sing night after night, but you get one of the best vocal performances I have seen. Without giving a major plot spoiler away it is unbelievable how good the characters voice is considering the circumstances.

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Roxie’s all loving and walked upon husband Amos Hart is played by Neil Ditt. Extremely well performed, the character is worked, used and mistreated by Roxie and Billy but it is a truly wonderful performance by Neil Ditt and this is especially shown in the song Mr Cellophane which demonstrates to the audience how this extremely bland man is constantly striving to be noticed by others.

‘The 6 marry murderesses of the cook county in jail in their rendition of the cell block tango’ are outstanding with the cast consisting of Sophie Carmen-Jones, Lindsey Tierney, Ellie Mitchell, Nicola Coates, Frances Dee and Chelsea Labadini. This performance is very powerful and each character portrayed is very different with a stand out personality that draws in the audience.

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It would be very wrong to not mention the utterly divine band for the performance led by the fantastic Ben Atkinson. It truly is the icing on the cake for this touring production. All through the show the energy levels of the band were extremely high and the music blasted out around the Wales Millennium Centre. The two real highlight moments of the band was during the Entr’acte and Playout because it was then they came into their own. Ben Atkinson was conducting upside down leaning over a wall and climbing over the staging while leading his band. He finally ended up draped over the piano upside down with his band dancing around the stage. An utterly amazing performance.

You don’t want to be ‘Mister Cellophane’ so make yourself seen and go and watch Chicago: The Musical at the Wales Millennium Centre. The musical is showing between 25th  Jul – 30th  Jul 2016. Tickets are selling fast so please make sure you get them via this link-

https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2016-2017/DonaldGordonTheatre/Chicago15/

Last Night of the Welsh Proms 2016, ST DAVIDS HALL BY JAMES BRIGGS

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Following a simply wonderful week packed full with all types of music, the Welsh Proms 2016 drew to a stunning close on Saturday evening. The Last Night of the Welsh Proms, at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, is a celebration of what it means to be Welsh and how important music is for Welsh people. The celebrations began before the audience entered the auditorium, with a band playing outside the hall enticing passer-by’s into the concert hall.

As the show began the audience welcomed The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from London and the resident Last Night Of The Welsh Proms conductor Owain Arwel Hughes CBE. With a marvellous programme of songs set for the evening the audience knew there would be a great evening in store.

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As well as the upbeat recognisable pieces played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra the Last Night is also about some serious music, and this year’ concert featured three world premiere performances of brand new orchestral pieces.

The first of these was ‘Cambrian Serenade’, by Arwel Hughes, the father of our conductor for the evening. The piece featured heavily on Classical FM where they held a competition for the listeners to name the song and the winner would get to see the music performed on The Last Night Of The Welsh Proms. The second of the world premiere pieces was ‘Aberfan’, by Christopher Wood, the emotional piece which was very moving was written to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Aberfan disaster. The Aberfan disaster was a catastrophic landslide of a colliery coal tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, on 21 October 1966, which engulfed a Primary school and killed 116 children and 28 adults.

The third piece making its World Premiere was ‘Mr Dahl’, by Bernard kane Jnr, which was a beautiful piece written to commemorate 100 years from the birth of the great Welsh writer Roald Dahl.

Some of the first half highlights included Coates ‘Dambusters March’, Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’ and Mendelssohn’s well known and loved ‘Wedding March’. The real showstopper that ended the first half was the soundtrack to Star Wars which took your breath away. Nothing can really prepare you for when you hear the opening few bars of the theme played by the brass section. It is almost like you are expecting Darth Vader or Yoda to appear on stage and greet the audience.

As with the tradition of the Last Night Of The Welsh Proms, it was really after the interval that the fun really began with an influx of flag and banners being brought into the auditorium in preparation for waving along with the music.

The second half opened with a personal favourite of mine Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance No.1 and it wasn’t long until conductor Owain Arwel Hughes soon had everyone on their feet and singing ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’ enthusiastically to the music. Strauss Radetsky March proved popular with the prom goers as we all clapped along when told by the conductor.

The final songs of the evening came in the form of ‘Fantasy On Welsh Songs’ arranged by Gareth Wood. This part of the concert involved a great deal of singing with the orchestra as some of Wales’ most famous songs were played. With songs such as Cwm Rhondda, Men Of Harlech, Ar Hyd Y Nos, We’ll Keep A Welcome, Myfanwy, and I Bob Un Sydd Ffyddlon there was plenty of choice. One song played Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn had a great deal of meaning for my Mum who I attended the concert with as it was the song she performed for the Queen when she visited Wales in 1977 for her Silver Jubilee celebrations.

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The national anthem Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau provided a fitting encore to end a wonderful evening of music. Conductor Owain Arwel Hughes promised the proms would return bigger and better next year, which is definitely something to look forward to. I urge everyone if you have the chance to attend the Last Night Of The Welsh Proms be sure to go because you are sure to have a magical evening of music and culture.

Review Ghostbusters by Jonathan Evans

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(3 / 5)

Ghostbusters is one of those names that has become crystallized through the love and nostalgia the original garnered in the eighties. Now it’s the time where a movie must be made of the same title again because studios will bet (and probably be right) in thinking that remakes are a more financially worthy pursuit than originality.

This is a pill every regular movie goer must swallow. Hollywood operates as a business so they will make the easy cash grab choices. However this does not, instantly mean that the movie itself will be bad. There’s still an opportunity for the filmmakers and actors to bring something new to the property and make it feel like the original.

So first lets establish what Ghostbusters is. Well its a diverse team of four funny people that take down the ghouls and goblins in a modern world and the peoples fate lies in their hands even though they have no business being heroes. Lets begin.

Our motley gang this time is composed of Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) a scientist of the paranormal but seeks a normal, respectable life. Abby Yates (Melisa McCarthy) also a scientist but one that more actively seeks the paranormal and doesn’t care what the public thinks of her. Then there is the tech genius and my favorite, Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) and fizzy mad scientist with a shock head of hair and large round yellow goggles to emphasize her crazy eyes and speaking whatever loopy thing comes into her head because she is simply enjoying the madness of her own world. This is the most original character in the movie, not something we’ve seen before. Then there’s Patty Tolan the most sane or at least, street level one of them that adds the audience perspective to the group. She doesn’t know about the tech or the science but knows about the history of the city. Then there’s Chris Hemsworth again putting a twist on the previous movie but being a good looking hunk but also being as dumb as rubber, who’s probably got by with his looks this whole time. But he means well so there’s that.

So now with all that established the question still lies, is this funny? Yes, yes it is. There are indeed a good handful of funny moments within the movie that made me laugh. The jokes range from dialog to visual (most of the best ones coming from Holtzman). However there are others that are simply not funny or loose their way as they go on. This is a case of a little rewriting and/or some editing needed to make them flow more easier.

However the weakest part of the movie are when cast members from he original movie make cameos. They are really distracting, few of them add anything and can probably be cut out entirely. Cameos have to be weaved in so that you can see them and if your in-the-know you can appreciate them, but if the movie stops and you don’t know who’s on-screen then it just takes you out. The weakest one is Bill Murray and what they do with him is really tasteless.

In terms of continuity it would seem like this is a whole new separate entity. There seems to have never been any other group that called themselves Ghostbusters before this. Ow well, that just makes this a reboot/remake (whichever category it falls under), it doesn’t really hurt it.

With years since the original eighties movie comes upgrades, as there always must. We see the PKE meter but it looks different but we get the traditional Proton-Packs only we get other models with variations. There’s a suction pack, grenades and even one where you hold in your hand and is activated by motion so you can punch ghosts in the face. These are creative variations on the classic designs, we still have the originals in the movie but we also get the new.

Is this a good movie? Yes there’s plenty of good that outweighs the bad and I’d gladly see it again. Is this Ghostbusters, yes, because what are the Ghostbusters if not colorful blue collar comedians with guns.

Review The Neon Demon by Jonathan Evans

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(4 / 5)

The Neon Demon is a movie that is entirely contrasted by its light and dark segments. Sometimes there are scenes that are perfectly illuminated, others that are pure black, save for those little shapes that emerge from said darkness before they are enveloped by them. Then there are the crossroad scenes where there is equal light and darkness on both sides and eventually, one must be taken.

Elle Fanning is an up-and-coming model that seems to have what it takes. She is slim, blonde and beautiful. Everyone seems to gravitate towards her, she gets signed with an agency easily, the top photographers desperately want to photograph her and the other models have their plastic surgeons cut and stretch their faces to make them more desirable while she simply is. So she becomes desired by some, while for others the source of hate and both to others still. That really is the grand total of the plot. The rest of the experience consists of mood and images that we are given to experience.

We’ve seen this story before, plenty of times the story has been told of the bright lights of Hollywood that cast dark shadows and the pressure and ugly side of fame. Movies like Black Swan, Hollywoodland, The Informers, Perfect Blue, Birdman are examples off the top of my head. Having a similar theme or message is fine in a movie, but what it needs is to distinguish itself from the others so that it’s original. This movie operates on the level of a music video. Having more emphasis on the mood and the image with minimal dialog sequences with such distance that look like they’re out of a Kubrick movie. Director Nichols Winding Refn works best when creating inspired new images and environments.

The mastery that Refn has on placing of the lighting and sets makes him a category of his own. No one else has such images and scenarios running through their mind. He always paints such striking, and quietly disturbing setups to put the characters in or physiologically experience.

The other prominent presence in the movie is the musical score by Cliff Martinez. At times it is a twinkling fairy-tale tune and others a fever dream, and it always fits with the pacing and colors on-screen.
People have said that a re-make of Susperia will happen one day. Well while a true re-make would be foolish this film is like a spiritual successor. Both are horrors in terms of their frightening moments, mostly Fe-male cast and have their sets and musical scores speak more than their dialog ever could.

Something you will walk away from this movie remembering are some of the darkest, most disturbing scenes in movie history. Moments that are born from the most depraved part of the human Psyche and desires warped by evil intent. But darkness can be forgiven if there is genuine intent and reason for it. Having something unsettling on-screen is one thing but whether its because the filmmakers want you to think about the why rather than hoping to get a reaction from you and then leave you with nothing.

The Neon Demon will leave you with something. It is a dark look into the pursuit of fame and beauty. But also the knowledge that if that is someones soul goal then it will lead them out of the bright lights, then they’ll be the darkness and nothing will be left.

Creative Cardiff Pop-Up Hub: Reflections on Hub Environments for the Arts

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All images taken from social media linked to the project

In the same week that it was announced that Britain was leaving the EU, free-thinkers in Cardiff were exploring new and innovative ways for arts professionals to work together as part of the Creative Cardiff pop-up hub.

From the 20th-24th June selected creatives occupied a temporary pop-up workspace in the Wales Millennium Centre as part of an initiative organised by Creative Cardiff. Sara Pepper, director of Creative Economies at Cardiff University, was a key organiser of the event having researched existing approaches to creative hubs both within, and outside of Wales. Pepper champions ‘hub’ models as potential centres for innovation within the Cardiff creative economy. Sara Pepper has authored a blog post in which she outlines her research which you can access via the link below:

http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/creative-economy/2016/06/16/a-creative-hub-for-cardiff/

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Creative Cardiff is an online network of practicing creatives in the Cardiff area initiated by a team at Cardiff University. The network went live in October 2015 and already currently has a membership of over 550 practitioners.

This form of online network has already proven useful to both my peers and myself, practicing within universities as well as on a freelance basis. Organisations such as EMVAN (The East Midlands Visual Arts Network) provide valuable access to creative opportunities and share relevant events information, thus implementing a meeting of like-minded practicing creatives and audiences alike.

What Creative Cardiff achieved in this recent venture is to demonstrate that the hub environment prompted an acceleration of the outputs of its occupants whilst retaining its supportive values. There are early indications that hubs may prove to be beneficial to the development of creative networks and productivity within the city. That these values could be propagated successfully within the physical space of a hub supports the demand for more dedicated collision spaces for creatives, which could support existing online networks.

“Our network aims to bring together people from across the full breadth of the city’s creative economy – from dancers and marketing professionals to architects and app developers. By collaborating and sharing ideas we want to encourage more innovation and creativity in our city” – Creative Cardiff.

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Reflecting on my own experience of working in the hub, I found the pop-up nature of the arrangement provoked thought and reflection on the nature of the co-operative working arrangement rather than focusing on the development of individual creatives. This differs from the way in which arts students or employees within other creative industries are usually encouraged to practice, and on the surface seems to contradict productivity. Although the arrangement of the short-term hub might have been initially disruptive, established examples have indicated that co-operative working increases productivity – hence Google’s eagerness to provide exciting, open workspaces for their employees to work collaboratively.

I found the group was particularly concerned with how professionals from various creative fields might gather to achieve the aforementioned aims of Creative Cardiff, whilst still continuing to realise autonomous objectives within their own creative practices. Countless discussions were had on the topic, and throughout the week questions were raised regarding the benefits, physical design, core values, social and creative impact of working in this way to name but a few. Issues such as these are often interrogated on occasions where creative practice mingles with academic insight.

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A particularly successful feature of the pop-up hub was the daily ‘Provocation Sessions’ provided in the mornings within the hub space. During these sessions, the hub members were invited to hear professional reflections on the nature of creative spaces and productivity and discussion on these topics was encouraged. We heard from a range of speakers including Prof. Wayne Forster of the Welsh School of Architecture, Clare Reddington and Jo Landsdowne of WATERSHED (Bristol) and Prof. Jonathan Dovey, UWE Professor of Screen Media and director of REACT. Such sessions provided an opportunity for focused learning and interaction amongst the hub members that I believed complimented more casual encounters experienced in the joint space.

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I found Prof. Jonathan Dovey’s insights regarding the hub as a creative eco-system especially informative and motivational. His experience has demonstrated that hubs can provide instances of exchange, impacts and continued mutual support amongst their occupants. Dovey placed particular emphasis on the benefits of shared values within creative hubs, such as generosity, openness, trust and excitement.

It is the presence of these shared values, possessed by the members of the pop-up, which contributed towards the success of the Creative Cardiff hub, and defined the unique and progressive environment that I experienced as a member.

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With the project only spanning over a short week, the conditions of the hub could not be established in the way in which an organically cultivated hub space might. However, many would agree that the potential for development and continuation of the project was evident. Through research carried out by Cardiff University, we can be positive the project has contributed to the development of creative hubs in Cardiff in the future. As well as this, I hope there is recognised potential for such hubs to become part of an interconnected network of creatives spanning Wales, the UK, and even Europe and globally.

Perhaps the potential of a hub network is way in which creatives can demonstrate that, despite established individualist tendencies, we are in fact better together.

To view Amelia’s Creative Cardiff profile, please follow the link below:

http://www.creativecardiff.org.uk/users/amelia-seren-roberts

Twitter: @amelia_seren