Category Archives: Film & TV

Review: ‘Jurassic Kingdom – Where dinosaurs come to life’ by Eloise Stingemore

The dinosaurs have been let loose and have arrived at Cardiff’s, Bute Park.

The beautiful grounds of one of Cardiff’s most loved parks has been turned into a prehistoric world this summer, where over 30 interactive, life sized replicas rome the grounds. Brave explorers come face to face with a 26m long Diplodocus and the notorious Tyrannosaurus Rex, all of which come to life before your eyes, with their tails, eyes, heads and arms moving and making you jump with their raging roars.

In the education marque one can watch a 30-minute viewing experience produced by the BBC, which plays on a large projection screen and documents the dinosaurs time wandering the earth right up until the ice age.

One aspects of this attraction aside from the dinosaurs themselves which are fantastic, is the excavation, which will keep mini-dinosaur palaeontologists entertained for hours as they dig for bones.

There are a herd of street food and drink vendors for when the gang gets peckish or thirsty. A retail marquee sells a range of educational and entertaining branded merchandise so dinosaur-lovers can remember their experience.

This is the first outdoor dinosaur experience of its kind in the UK and a truly entertaining and educational experience for children of all ages.

The event is open daily from 10am to 6pm with last entry at 5pm. When selecting tickets you will be asked to select a time slot and entry is at hourly time slots from 10am to 5pm. Once inside the event visitors can stay as long they wish but it will close at 6pm.

Tour dates be found here: http://www.jurassickingdom.uk

Review Ant-Man and the Wasp by Jonathan Evans

 

(4 / 5)

 

Another season another MARVEL movie. I remember a time when we might only get one Superhero movie a year (if that), or at least one MARVEL movie a year, now we are at the rate of two or three a year. What the studio has done which allows itself to be maintained is stuck to style and principles but allow the correct amount of diversity and identity among its many ongoing characters. This is a genre movie like any other, we already understand the basic flow of the narrative, we need just enough surprise, variation and high level of competence to execute the project so it is enjoyable and not stagnant.

The plot of this movie is based on events that are carried over from the previous as well as a little bit of the events of Captain America: Civil War. The original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly) are seeking to rescue Janet Pym (Michelle Pfeiffer) who’s been trapped in the Quantum Realm for years. However, there is a gear in the works because Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), the new Ant-Man is under house arrest.

The humor is the element that is most on-point in this movie. Not since the first Guardians of The Galaxy have I laughed so hard and consistently during a MARVEL movie. Yes, the movies have all had a generous serving of humor and none of them have been unfunny but this one especially tickled me. One particular joke about truth serum stands out.

As the title would imply in this movie is the inclusion of the character The Wasp. She is Hope Pym, she has the same shrinking powers as Ant-Man but comes with wings that greatly help in maneuvering and stingers, gauntlets that shoot paralyzing blasts and are able to expand and shrink objects they hit. She is pretty much superior to Ant-Man, but a job is always easier accomplished with more than one person so he’s along for the ride too.

Causing other problems for the heroes this time is a mysterious specter that is named Ghost. They are named so because they have the mysterious ability to phase through solid matter i.e. walls, cars etc. They wear a white costume with small red, glowing eyes, so they are mysterious and threatening and once we learn they’re the motivation they also become sympathetic. Ghost isn’t as deliciously overpowered as Hella from Thor Ragnorok, or tragic and threatening as Killmonger in Black Panther, but they are a solid character and obstacle for our heroes.

A few ties these movies have taken older actors and for the purposes of flashbacks reverse aged them. They have been working on this technique within a few movies and here we get to see it reach the pinnacle of perfection. We see Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburn look how they did twenty years ago with almost no sign of artificial tampering. Along with that are seeing fully grown adults be shrunk to three feet tall, a regular sized human next to a colossal sized human and even when they are shrunk down huge fat dust particles float around them. There’s also the right mixture of practical-camera effects and giant props.

With the introduction of the growing, it adds another element to the action sequences. The shrinking was also a rich element, two cars can be racing and when you shrink you can go underneath the other vehicle, now mundane objects and be thrown which become obstacles for others to traverse or even straight up block them. Also when the heroes grow the seemingly large threat is now an annoyance. Along with this Scott’s new suit was a rush job so it doesn’t work perfectly. All this abides with the “But and Therefore” mentality towards narrative and action mentality.

One of the key distinguishing elements about this movie is what I liked so much about the first Ant-Man, the smaller scale. Infinity War was such a massive project, with some genuinely dire tones that have a movie that takes place within one city, that is not at risk of being blown up and some funny humor comes as a nice change of passe.

Payton Reed has stepped into this world and characters and made it his. This is the playful, toy mentality chunk of the MARVEL cinematic universe. It is slick, inventive, colorful and fun!

Jonathan Evans

Review of “In the Fade” watched at Chapter by Roger Barrington

 

(4 / 5)

Fatih Akin, is a writer/director with a social conscience, and “In the Fade” is another example that explore this theme. Born in Germany to Turkish immigrant parents, his ethnicity isn’t ever too far from his much acclaimed work.

I first came to notice Akin, in his brilliant 2004 film, “Head on” which told the story of two Turkish immigrants who bond together after ending up in the same Hamburg psychiatric hospital. Compared to the acclaimed 1995 Mathieu Kassovitz film, “La Haine” it provides a ferocious mix of rage and humour, which is typical of many of Akin’s films..

Although, there isn’t much humour in “In the Fade”, which examines the impact of the violent Neo-Nazi campaign of murder and terrorism against the Turkish community in Germany, that was at its height around 15 years ago.

After a tragic act of terrorism, Katja Sekerci, (Diane Kruger) tries to comes to terms with the aftermath of losing her husband and only child. She turns to drugs to try and alleviate her immediate sense of loss, and these are discovered when police arrive to interview her as a witness. The amount is negligible, (only a misdemeanour), but this comes back to haunt her later at the trial she has to endure.

Katja noticed a likely perpetrator who had parked her bicycle outside where he husband, (who was minding their young son), worked. Being able to provide an excellent description, the suspect and her husband are arrested and detained.

At the subsequent trial, Katja’s usage of drugs is used to discredit her reliability as a witness, and her victim husband, who had earlier spent four years incarceration for dug-dealing, also has his character besmirched, although he had qualified himself up whilst in prison, and had successfully set up his own business.

It was a scandal that “investigators assumed that the victims and their families had skeletons in their closets simply because of where they came from,” Akin told the German news agency dpa. “Having a Turkish, foreign background myself, I felt that this was a personal issue. This could have happened to me.”

The film is separated into three sections. The interaction between Katja and her husband and young boy – a happy relationship. Akin skillfully contrasts a relaxed and happy Katja in a Turkish Bath, at the same time that the act of terrorism that shatters her existence is taking place.

The second section deals with the resultant trial of the two suspects and the ordeal that Katja has to endure in the courtroom, not only with having to face the man and wife Neo-Nazis alleged to have carried out the atrocity, but having to listen to a harrowing account of her little boy’s devastating injuries. She wasn’t even able to see her family’s remains – the sympathetic investigating police officer says, that they are only body parts now – no longer human.

The final part, set in Greece, because there appears to have been collusion between a Greek far right sympathiser and the two Neo-Nazis, is about Katja’s revenge. The powerful and emotional final scene will haunt you long after the conclusion of the film.

German actress Diane Kruger, rarely performs in her native language, having starred on Hollywood  blockbusters such as “Inglorious Basterds” and “National Treasure” . Ms Kruger is exceptional in this performance, exemplifying a woman dealing with grief and anger to perfection. She dominates this film, and appears in nearly every scene. It is no wonder that she won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival 2017 for this role.

“In the Fade” has won a host of awards including Best Motion Picture in a Foreign Language at the 2018 Golden Globes. Fatih Akin was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Fesitval for this film.

“In the Fade” is a compelling crime drama/thriller elevated with an exceptional performance from the central character.

It might be well to reflect in these uncertain times with Brexit, that for many who voted to leave the EU based on the idea of the UK being overrun with migrant workers, that, this ideology, in fact is largely racist , and the bottom rung of a latter that reaches to acts of hatred from members of the Far-Right depicted in this film. We should learn to accept people for what they are, rather than how they live their lives, how they dress themselves and what they believe in.

Country: Germany, France

Language: German with English Subtitles

Time: 106 minutes

Cert: 18

The film was watched at Chapter, but has now completed its short run.

END

Roger Barrington

Review The Secret of Marrowbone by Jonathan Evans

Horror works best when the frightening moments are left in the blank spaces. We can have scream’s and see horrific sights but the elements that truly grip us are what we do not see or the things that go by unexplained and we are left to conjure the terrifying within our own minds. The Secret of Marrowbone uses this as the launching point to hook us as audience members and keep us watching through the experience.

A family enters a run-down old mansion way out in the middle of the countryside. The mother marks a line in the dust and says once they cross it all things before will be forgotten and this is their new start, especially Father. The family is Jack (George MacKay) the eldest at twenty years old, Billy (Charlie Heaton) the angsty younger brother, Jane (Mia Goth) the peacemaker and little Sam (Mathew Stagg). They live in the house under the name Marrowbone, fix up the house and have a fun time, one day out all of the children meet Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy). Meanwhile, the mother is getting sicker and sicker and eventually passes. If her death is known before Jack turns twenty-one the children will be put into care so it has to remain a secret. One peaceful day a shot comes through the window, Jane looks through and there is a man standing across the house, she yells, Jack runs and then it cuts to months later. This is where the movie truly begins.

Now it is months later and all the mirrors have either been removed or covered in sheets, there is a large red stain on the ceiling and they all speak of a ghost in the loft. Only Jack is allowed to venture into town for the essentials.

While in town one day he meets up with Allie and they clearly want to be together, however also on the scene is Tom (Kyle Soller) a lawyer that is also interested in Allie and is seeing to the Marrowbonbe’s affairs.

The cast is one of the most solid elements of the movie. Everyone fills a certain role but they are able to reach different emotional levels, from being passive aggressive to full rage. The standout is Anya Taylor-Joy, who brings such realized, caring nature to the performance.

Some of the most effective moments of the movie are the sequences of fright. We all know them, dark room, something’s in there, and somethings gonna go boo! But this movie times its shots very well and there is an appropriate amount of buildup to them. The most effective element is that there are moments when something can happen and all the air gets sucked out of the room for a few moments. Sometimes something does go boo, others nothing happens so we are always left guessing.

Within these moments are tender ones though, moments of the family having fun, joking. An entirely doom and gloom movie would ultimately become a purely depressing experience, contrast needs to happen.

By the end of the movie, all is revealed. Perhaps if all wasn’t it would be a better movie, but I digress. It took me a bit to go over some of the details that didn’t sit right with me immediately when everything was revealed but after going over it it does all hold up well.

The Secret of Marrowbone cuts deep by leaving you not knowing when it will cut or even what by. When it does it is sharp and efficient. It has a heart, which many horror movies lack, comes with a talented and invested cast and understands the mechanics of the genre very well.

Rating: 4 stars

Review of “Whitney” seen at Chapter by Roger Barrington

 

 

(3.5 / 5)

 

On a warm Tuesday evening on 3rd May 1988, a colleague of mine and I spent a couple of hours in the company of Larry Wansey. Wansey at this time, was Operation Director of the Dallas Cowboys, but had taken time out to act as Security Director for Whitney Houston’s Moment of Truth World Tour. When researching for this review, I had no idea other than the Cowboys connection, of the man I was talking to.

A celebrated undercover operative for the FBI, he was involved in the Patty Hearst 1974 kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Later, at the time of 9/11 he was Managing Director of Corporate Security for American Airlines, and was heavily involved in the investigation of that tragic event. I remember him as a very affable man with a good sense of humour.

Why did this conversation take place? Well at this time, I was employed in the In-house security team at the InterContinental Hotel at Hyde Park Corner, and Whitney was not only using this as her base for her 8 night stint at the Wembley Arena, but for her Paris gig as well. She stayed about a fortnight at the hotel and Larry wished to discuss security arrangements for her stay, although I seemed to recall, we talked mostly about other things.

Incidentally, at this time, my ultimate Boss was Stephen Mulligan, who lived in a suite in the hotel with his family, including 3-year old Carey Mulligan. But that is nothing to do with this film, so I shall return to my review.

Shortly into her stay, I bumped into Whitney and Larry, in a lift. Taken aback, I entered rigorously chewing gum for which I gave the excuse that I was making my most recent attempt to quit smoking. Larry had introduced me, so Whitney enquired, how long had I managed to go without a cigarette, and checking my watch, I informed her, about 19 minutes. She shrieked with laughter and a few days later, when I was on duty at a press conference she was doing, she recognised me and with a smile asked if I had still managed to quit smoking to which I responded with a sigh. There ended my short conversation relationship with this American icon – totally forgettable for her but the opposite for me.

What emerges from Kevin Macdonald’s worthy but flawed documentary of the life and death of this iconic American pop star, is her sense of humour – which I think is shown above within my own experience. She loved life and it is all the more sorrowful, that her rapid decline and ultimate death was fueled by a combination of drink and drugs and being surrounded by people, both friends and family who brought this on.

I say flawed, because I think this kind of documentary can only go so far on trying to identify the real Whitney. “All the music. All the stories. All the answers” is the movie’s tagline and it doesn’t really merit any of these assertions. A couple next to me were complaining that there wasn’t enough of her singing so left half-way through. Certainly, all the answers was not provided. It is rather like reading an autobiographical book, where the author naturally only writes about what he/she wishes to know about. Likewise here, people interviewed are selective on what they tell you. Her husband Bobby Brown, flatly refused to talk about her drug abuse.

There is reference to their child Bobbi Kristina Brown on record of having said that she wished to kill her mother. ‘Whitney was probably a good mother at first” we are told, but with the tragic 2015 death of Bobbi Kristina in an uncanny similar way to her mother, this topic is left tantalisingly unfulfilled.

Glaswegian Macdonald is a skilful documentary filmmaker. He won an Oscar in this category in 2000, for “One Day in September” that chartered the hostage taking of the Israeli athletes by militant Palestinian group Black September in 1972. He asks searching questions to a wide range of people associated with Whitney. To get an idea of her early life, he interviews Cissy Houston, her mother. Cissy, (who I also met because she was doing a duet with her daughter, and also came across as a friendly person), is a former singer of note. After a successful career as a backup singer to her niece, Dionne Warwick, (there is only 7 years age difference between them), Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin she is part of a soul dynasty. In addition to her family connection with Dione, she is also aunt to singer Dee Dee Warwick and a cousin to famous opera diva Leontyne Price. From Cissy we learn about Whitney’s gospel singing  upbringing and the way her young life was largely protected from the harsher environment that existed in Newark, New Jersey at that time.

Brother Gary provides insightful comments and there is much attention brought to the Svengali type presence of lesbian and possible lover of Whitney, Robyn Crawford. But there is nothing particularly new here.

Probably the coup of this investigative work is the reference to Whitney being molested by her cousin Dee Dee Warwick.

Macdonald provides an historical aspect as Whitney’s life develops with archival film, using the Newark Riots pf 1967 and images of Ronald Reagan to provide a couple of examples. You do wonder whether this adds to the film, or gets in the way, and, at best, is only moderately entertaining.

This is the third documentary of the life of Whitney. It is a highly watchable film that probably goes as far as it can do at this time, only 6 years after her death. Maybe the definitive documentary on this singer has yet to be completed, and perhaps the passage of time, when others are more forthcoming to reveal material, will make this possible.

“Whitney” is currently showing at Chapter. For schedule and booking tickets, please visit,

https://www.chapter.org/whitney-ctba

End

Roger Barrington

Series Review, Hidden, BBC Cymru Wales by Gareth Williams

(3 / 5)

When one looks back over 2018, Keeping Faith is sure to come out on top in the world of Welsh television drama. It has been a huge success. Its latest stop on its incredible journey is primetime BBC One. It goes from strength to strength, and will certainly deserve all the accolades that come its way. In amidst all the hype of this brilliant series however, it has been easy to overlook another Welsh drama that has been airing over the past two months on BBC Wales and BBC Four respectively. Produced by the creator of another Welsh hit drama Hinterland, Ed Talfan, Hidden has been allowed to bubble away below the surface of Keeping Faith’s success. I would suggest that this is primarily because it is a crime drama. And though I would agree, to a certain extent, with some of the groans that accompany the thought of yet another one hitting our screens, it does at least offer something a little different. There is a slight spin on the achingly familiar.

The twist in Hidden’s tale is the revelation of the killer at the outset. The opening scene sees a girl running through the woods, pursued by an unknown man. This girl is subsequently found dead. The investigation that unravels across the whole of the series centres on finding this girl’s killer. Such a task is given to local detectives Cadi John (Sian Reece Williams) and Owen Vaughan (Sion Alun Davies). But whilst they are in the dark over the killer’s identity, the viewer is given unprecedented access into the life of Dylan Harris, played brilliantly by Rhodri Meilir. A strange, sensitive and brutalised figure, Harris lives with his mother and daughter in an old farmhouse deep within a forest of the Snowdonia National Park. It turns out that he is a serial abductor of young women. Having let his latest catch go, we witness his unsuccessful attempt at abducting a local farm girl. Then, as the pieces of the drama’s puzzle start to come together á la The Bridge, he claims the life of long-suffering student Megan Ruddock (a standout performance from Gwyneth Keyworth). What follows is a tense thriller that follows both the police investigation and Harris’ narrative simultaneously. As a result, it involves the viewer deeply in its various twists and turns over the course of its eight episode run.

Despite the fact that the central crime isn’t particularly original, Hidden remains worthy of some praise for the performances of two of its central actors: Rhodri Meilir and Gwyneth Keyworth. Episode four in particular, which is wholly focused on Dylan and Megan, is a deeply uncomfortable yet utterly compelling hour of television. It is made so by their noteworthy performances. Firstly, Meilir brings a vulnerability and gentleness to the role of Dylan that will be recognisable to fans of the sitcom My Family, in which he played the hapless Alfie. Yet this vulnerability and gentleness are subverted as a result of the abuse Dylan has suffered at the hands of his mother (Gillian Elisa). As a result, they manifest themselves in an extremely dark and dangerous way, far from the comforting confines of the Harper household. Meilir manages to express such complexity at the heart of his character in such a way that the viewer is both sympathetic yet repulsed by him. To extract such opposing emotions is testament to Meilir and his ability to play such a broken and complex figure. Meanwhile, Gwyneth Keyworth produces an emotionally raw performance as Megan, a student whose mental anguish (outwardly shown in the form of self-harm) is exacerbated by her abduction. It is an incredibly challenging role that Keyworth manages to embody wholeheartedly. As a result, she is powerfully believable as Megan. It is easy to forget sometimes, in the course of the series, that what is witnessed is a dramatic reconstruction. Keyworth plays it in such a way that it seems horribly real. For me, it is one of the most engrossing performances in a British TV drama this year.

With a stunning backdrop that shows off the bleak, mountainous terrain of North West Wales in all its magnificent and austere glory, Hidden may not be revolutionary but it is still worth watching. With some excellent performances from the cast and a slightly different take on the conventional crime narrative, it has enough going for it to keep viewers coming back for more. If you like your crime dramas dark and disturbing, then Hidden is certainly for you. It may not be Keeping Faith but it nevertheless showcases the fantastic talent coming out of Wales at the moment at every level, from production to acting, storytelling to editing. This is very exciting. With hopefully more fantastic ‘Made in Wales’ dramas to come, the Welsh TV landscape looks like going from strength to strength.

Click here to watch the full series.

gareth

The Double FF — Ffabulous and Fflamboyant — Bus Tour

The Double FF — Ffabulous and Fflamboyant — Bus Tour

When do grown ups … get the chance to be that free?”

“I am so glad it was such a buzz for everyone! I am really, truly grateful and very happy.”

The Ffabulous and Fflamboyant Bus Tour around Cardiff, on Saturday 19 May 2018, was the second consecutive event I produced for Get The Chance during the Gwanwyn Festival of Creativity for Older People in Wales.

Also for the second time, Suzanne Noble, whose Flamboyant Bus Tour in London was the highlight of Advantage of Age’s 2017 events calendar, inspired our Wales-based event.

AofA’s Arts Council of England-funded events drove impressive numbers to their now 3,000 plus members-strong Facebook group, Advantages of Age, Baby Boomers and Beyond and 6,500+ followers-strong Instagram account The London bus tour helped to consolidate the AofA community, and it was the primary driver of human traffic to the group.

Through the power of our partnership with Advantages of Age, Get The Chance’s events have the chance to reach many more people. I was keen to build on the success of my 2017 event, Creative Listening, and to continue to develop this relationship.

Creative Listening could have been perceived as ‘fluffy’ due to it being set in a hot tub. On the contrary, it was quite a cerebral event.

Similarly, AofA’s inspired series of hot tub salons earlier in 2017 were by no means fluffy.

I was pleased to have received another grant and another chance to produce. For many reasons I wanted to mix it up this time, do something different, and I felt that it would be great to do something that was for just for fun for a change, particularly because of how intense the social and political climate in 2018 had been. People needed some levity and an opportunity for some escapism. I had no intention to make light of something that warranted a serious take — but without a doubt a creative event such as a bus tour was a platform to be able to offer such levity, and I loved being in the position to be able to offer people this opportunity.

The Double FF Bus Tour offered participants a chance to express themselves — however the mood took them. There were no dictates, no rules, only to be as flamboyant as they liked — whatever that meant to them, and feel as fabulous as they could — inside and out! A chance to hop on board and be themselves — to come out, enjoy and have as much fun as they possibly could on an open top bus around Cardiff!

So, how did it go?

From a marketing perspective, Facebook was my primary marketing tool. I started to promote the event via the Double F Facebook ‘public group’ in early March —

FFabulous and Fflamboyant Bus Tour

March 12

Gearing up for a great event. It’s greatness will be measured by levity and uncomplicated fun. It will make a nice change. Please come and join us.

The Double F Facebook group page got 75 members; Fabulous and Flamboyant Bus Tour @ Get the Chance page attracted 50 members and continues to get Likes; and the Event page, attracted another 19. Examining the analytics, there is room for improvement on these social media numbers. But before I shoulder any ‘blame’ for these less-than-ffabulous results, I would like to comment on how I felt whilst working on the social media campaign. I felt confused, and somewhat overwhelmed by what was on offer on FB, and I believe the confusion stems from the option to set up a ‘page,’ a ‘group,’ and an ‘event’.

I started by setting up the Double F group,

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409058989223408/,

which somehow got linked to last year’s Creative Listening page, and then thought I’d better set up a separate page for the Bus Tour, and so I set up The Fabulous and Flamboyant Bus Tour @ Get The Chance

https://www.facebook.com/GetTheChanceCymruWales/,

and then supposed that we needed something to flag up the ‘event’, and set up an Event page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/200768290519952/.

I thought all of these would link up simply and seamlessly and that cross communication would flow, but this was not the case, and as a result, my efforts on FB were split between 3 different places. For the purposes of managing communications with existing ‘members’ and managing promotional efforts to attract more, it became somewhat confusing for me, and I have no doubt that it was not entirely clear to the public either. And so, while Facebook does provide an excellent way to reach the public, I have a feeling that they are now complicating their offer beyond what is practicable. Or, perhaps I need to up my game, and just figure it out! I would welcome comments from others on their experiences with promoting via Facebook.

That said, Facebook analytics have provided me with some reassuring and encouraging stats:- We ‘organically reached’ 2,344 people. Reach is defined as the number of people who had info about the event ‘enter’ their screen.

The majority of those reached were females between the ages of 45 and 64 years old. Iam satisfied with these results. Perhaps my next event will attempt to address the imbalance between men and women reached.

Oftentimes the event organizer is too busy to actually participate, but because most of the work had been done in advance, I was able to feel like a participant. I was able to really enjoy and feel part of the day, which was amazing.

Judging the mood on the day of the event — it was high spirited! The weather was ideal — it could not have been better! And the Royal Wedding on the morning of our 1pm scheduled event was quite likely a contributing factor to the sense of occasion that was in the air. The cumulative effect was wonderful.

“The Double FF Bus Tour… ‘…took a great event and made it better.”

As a producer, I am confident the event went very well, and that it achieved its objectives — we had a chance to do something different, be ourselves and have a fun day out with a group of older people. Measuring the degree of levity and volume of uncomplicated fun — our cups were full and spilling over.

The experience also offered me a learning curve — there were things that could have worked better. Logistics were the primary problem, having a starting point in one place — The National Museum of Wales — and an end point in another — Cardiff Bay. The problem this presented only became clear as it was occurring, by which time it was too late to change. And so, after the full loop through Cardiff City Centre, down to the Bay, and back up to the Castle, participants who had parked their cars in the City Centre near to the museum did not want to go back to the Bay for tea and cake. We were only a handful of people at Ffresh. Too bad we didn’t think to start and end in the Bay, that actually would have made much mores sense …..But that is part and parcel of doing something for the first time. You cannot possibly think of everything. The other was that, due to road closures for another big event going on, which we hadn’t been previously aware of, the bus driver had to improvise the route. For example, I don’t think an open top bus would have gone under the rail bridge in Riverside except under these circumstances — and in their feedback some participants said they’d found this scary. I’m very sorry about that, but it was something that was out of my control. I did check back with the bus company on this matter and I am relieved and reassured by their response:-

Dear Leslie,

Yes, we used the route through Riverside due to diversions on the day.

As you can appreciate we have been running the tours in Cardiff for over 22 years, the bridge although appears low, with a very tall person standing, they clear the bridge with a lot of room. 

We have route risk assessments done on all roads covered by our main tour,  and any roads covered due to diversions. We have used the Riverside bridge route many times over many years.

I am grateful to the bus driver, Maria, for her professionalism and for being such a great sport. She really entered into the spirit of the day. I am also grateful for Lynn Hoare’s contribution — she brought along an array of costumes — hats, feather boas, masks, capes, etc., from Marigold Costumes — which were there for the borrowing.

“The costumes were wonderful; you could see people change as they put them on.”

Another big thanks to Lucy Purrington who was our stills photographer and videographer on the day. Please enjoy her photos in the is article! Here is the short video Lucy produced.

I was thrilled to have connected with Bethan Frieze, the conductor of choir Only Menopause Aloud, and for the choir to have been part of the day. Their contribution added a huge surge of energy!

The event could not have happened without the extra sponsorship from Spice! I am especially grateful to Rachel Gegeshidze and her team for helping promote and attract participants to the event.

 

And, of course, to Guy O’Donnell, Director of Get The Chance, to Emma Robinson at Gwanwyn, and to Suzanne Noble of Advantages of Age.

There was a lot of positive and constructive feedback, amongst my favorites, pulled out and highlighted in this evaluation:-

Bethan Frieze, Conductor, Only Menopause Aloud, captures a special essence with hers:-

‘When do grown ups (who are not performers) get the chance to be that free?’

Suzanne Noble joined us on the day, and her comment makes me feel proud:-

‘The Double FF Bus Tour took a great event and made it better.’

A really happy couple of hours…I suspect that it will stay a very happy memory for all.”

Leslie R. Herman

July 2018

 

Review The Incredibles 2 by Jonathan Evans

We are now in the renaissance of Superhero entertainment. Every blockbuster is a Superhero, on television, there’s plenty of choice of Superheroes from adult entertainment to kids animation. Many other toys and games as well, they are deeply embedded in our culture at this point. When the first Incredibles movie came out, it wasn’t amongst such heavy competition, when a Superhero movie came out in 2004 it had about one other Superhero movie to compete with as well as probably not another one coming out the year before or after that. Now, how does it distinguish itself from so many other movies of the same genre?

The movie picks up just about where the last one left, with some crazy supervillain, armed with a giant drill wreaking havoc on the city. The Incredibles launch into action, during the pursuit Superheros, are still illegal and the villain gets away, this doesn’t help their case. Fortunately, an enthusiastic fan of Superheroes is eager to bring them into the spotlight. He is Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) the head of a flashy technology company, he’s the face while his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) is the idea genius that relaxes behind the scenes.

When it comes to action sequences we need the same thing that’s required in a narrative arc. We need one character with a want and then a but so therefore and then a but again and so on and so forth until it is somehow resolved. Take for example our opening action scene where Mr. and Mrs. Incredible is chasing The Underminer. He has a huge drill and is sinking buildings and robbing a bank. They need to get inside so Mrs. Incredible turns into a trampoline for Mr. Incredible, but it goes underground making is difficult for him to hang on, he gets inside but then gets sucked into the large hose he’s using to suck up all the riches, therefore he must punch his way out of the vault and so on and so forth. Along with this, it must be shot clearly, usually with wide angle shots so we see all of the characters and get a sense of their surroundings, with a few extreme wide angle shots and close-ups so we gauge the bigger scenario and see the characters reaction so we emotionally connect with them. Being that this is animation the camera is allowed to smoothly move along with the characters in long, unbroken shots that would be nearly impossible in live action. Along with all of this, we have people with superpowers so its a case of utilizing their abilities for their situation or against eachother. Director Brad Bird and his team are simultaneously enthusiastic kids playing with their toys and sophisticated storytellers, efficiently utilizing and visualing the different elements at play.

The Parr family is still just the same as they were, only with a new situation to deal with. Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) is eager to get back into crime-fighting but is detoured so now must deal with the struggle of raising his family, Mrs. Incredible/Helen Parr (Holly Hunter) is ever concerned for the family but also has a passion for crimefighting and makes the decision to commit to that and trust Bob. Violet (Sarah Vowell), the adolescent with the power to turn invisible and create forcefields, she the constantly questioning her parent’s decisions as well as going through her own personal troubles, she is also my favorite. Dash (Huck Milner, replacing Spencer Fox from the first movie) is the young energetic kid that acts on impulse, add superspeed to the mix and it’s a perfect analogy. Finally, there’s little baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) who in fact has multiple powers, from laser eyes, to teleport, to turning into a literal little devil.

Causing trouble this time is an entity that calls themselves the Screensaver. A plotter that wears a gas mask like mask and takes control over people through the screen using a hypnotic strobe effect. They believe the people have become lazy in this age of television and convenience, so they plan to flat out enslave them anyway. Like with Syndrome in the last movie it seems if you choose to don black and white for your costume, you are the villain.

Later in the movie, more Superheroes are introduced. The Incredibles costumes are mostly red with a sleek, minimal design to them to other heroes all have a unique silhouette and color scheme to their costume so they become instantly recognizable even if you squint your eyes. This is a sign of the clear visual storytelling that animation can allow. But it is peppered nicely with a few scenes that have a majority of the shot in black, adding a threatening nature to the mood and only allowing the bare essential information to be absorbed.

The heart of the first movie is still the heart in this one, family. The Superhero genre is about taking a common emotional problem and greatly escalating it through powers and extravagant situations. The Parr family is a like any other, they drive each other crazy, support one another and when an obstacle come they do what they can to hurdle it, like any family drama, they just have the added spice of powers and villains.

In this time of many other superheroes, the original Incredibles still stands as a slick, punchy action adventure movie with a lot of heart and maturity. But through its unique visual style and interpretation of the Superhero genre is unique among its peers, the sequel is exactly the same.

(4 / 5)

Boa Review 

The opening short revolves around food and the emotional connection we develop with it. It is allegorical and has beautiful texturing with the many different types of food is puts before us. You will most likely be hungry while watching it. Though I do believe the ending will have children more confused and asking questions that immediately understand.

(3 / 5)

Jonathan Evans

Review of “The Bookshop” by Roger Barrington

 

(4.5 / 5)

“The Bookshop” directed by Catalan feminist auteur Isabel Coixet, is a faithful adaptation of British writer Penelope Fitzgerald’s 1978 Booker Prize nominated novel.

Set in a small Suffolk coastal town in 1959, as with all Fitzgerald’s novels, it is drawn from her own experience, as she worked in a bookshop in that country for a time in the 1950’s.

The plot is about awfully nice Florence Green, (Emily Mortimer) as a widowed middle-aged woman who decides to open up a secondhand bookshop in fictionalised Hardborough and concerns her battle with the local bigwigs General and Mrs  Gamart who want to convert the property into an Arts Centre. Also encountering opposition due to small-town small mindedness and ignorant philistinism she garners support from recluse Edmund Brundish, (Bill Nighy) and 13-year old Christine, whom she employs as her assistant. Into the mix comes loquacious rakish BBC man Milo North who Christine perceptively recognises is not a nice man.

The tension arises out of the burgeoning friendship that develops between our heroine and Brundish in opposition to the Machiavellian ruthfulness of the appalling Gamarts.

Isabel Coixet is a multi-award winning Catalan director, who first came to my notice with the superb, “My Life without me”. (2003). She continues to make highly acclaimed film, “Elergy” (2008) and “Endless Night” (2015) and a dominant theme throughout her dozen or so other feature movies is that the central character is a woman who takes control of her life.

Emily Mortimer is ideally cast as Florence Green, the brave and pioneering but vulnerable woman who doesn’t look for confrontation, but will take it on if she has to.

 

Bill Nighy who plays her ally Edmund Brundish is in usual scene-stealing form. Has there been a British actor since Denholm Elliott ho constantly manages to achieve this? All the best scenes in the film feature him.

 

 

American Patricia Clarkson is a regular feature in Coixet’s films and this is their third collaboration. This underrated actress manages the clipped British accent nicely and subtly provides us with a nasty determined character who is determined to get her way within the small community she resides in, as she always does.

 

Thirteen-year old actress, (at the time of filming), Honor Kneafsey as bookshop assistant Christine provides a mature performance of the precocious but charming adolescent. A couple of years on, she is already a veteran of nineteen films and looks a rare talent, even though her middle class speaking voice seems a little out of sorts with Christine’s working class antecedents.

 

Coixet’s Suffolk doesn’t look authentic. In fact, exterior shots were filmed on location in Northern Ireland, whilst interior sets were in Spain.

However, this isn’t really a problem, as Suffolk isn’t key to the story. As I mentioned earlier, it is where author Penelope Fitzgerald resided for a time in the 1950’s whilst she worked in a secondhand bookshop. But the location could be anywhere, and not only in the UK, where closed communities exist.

“The Bookshop” is a story about courage and determination. We  learn late into the film that during WW1, Edmund was an aviator, so he is the ideal person to recognise Florence’s qualities. By contrast, General Gamart, (Reg Wilson) a veteran of the same conflict but who served in The Suffolk Regiment, comes across as the worst kind of army officer of this period, who stoops to levels of deceit to cowardly succumb to his wife’s demands.

This film is also about small town bigotry, in terms of it’s consolidated opposition to a person who doesn’t conform to their small minded way of thinking. If you are brought up in a small town or village, you may appreciate what I am writing.

The time setting of the book and film is significant. The last year of the 1950’s, a period when Britain was coming to grips with the austerity of and aftermath of  WW2, marks a time with the 1960’s, just around the corner,  a decade that transformed society. Also, Arts Centres, that sprung up after 1945, were becoming the trendy venues of the 1960’s and 1970’s, thereby marking a total contrast to the traditional British secondhand bookshop – an institution that in our era of online bookselling and e-books is slowly succumbing to its eventual inevitable demise.

It didn’t pass me by, that I was watching this film at Chapter, an arts centre in Cardiff. I pondered whether I had to give one thing up – secondhand bookshops or arts centres, which choice would I make, coming down in favour of the former. A difficult decision because i love both, but books have always featured strongly in my life. I have always lived in places where books take over the place. Even in the modest flat I live in now, I have upwards of two and a half thousand books. I will never be able to read all of them before I, (hopefully), gain admittance to that great library in the sky, but that doesn’t stop my sense of anticipation when I enter a secondhand bookshop to explore its contents. “You are never alone in a bookshop” is the closing line of this film, and if you feel as I do, then you will identify closely with this.

The satisfying climax works perfectly, but I don’t wish to give the game away by saying more here.

This film will divide the majority of viewers, into those who love it, and those who loathe it. The start is a little sluggish, but if you accept what it is trying to achieve on its own terms, then you will find this an utterly absorbing and memorable film.

Country: U.K., Spain, Germany

Language: English

Running time: 113 minutes

Certificate: PG

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