Category Archives: Film & TV

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

 

“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