Category Archives: Film & TV

An interview with artist Ruby Walker on the Strictly Cinema project Bridgend

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Our project coordinator recently spoke to Bridgend based artist Ruby Walker. Ruby discussed the Strictly Cinema project in Maesteg Town Hall, Bridgend, community access to cultural provision and fancy dress!

Hi Ruby great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

I studied illustration in Wrexham and by fate ended in Cardiff, after being excepted on the Welsh development agency’s program, I was successful in obtaining a grant from the Princes Youth Business Trust to set up as a freelance illustrator. Through my work other opportunities became present. Art direction, set painting and other visual mediums in television, film, theatre and the arts changed my direction. I became involved in project’s with HTV drama workshops, S4C, Cardiff council and the Welsh National Opera.  In 2000 I went abroad to Australia, Thailand and Greece and returned in 2005.  Since my return my day job is Art Materials Specialist/Visual merchandising for the Pen and Paper Stationery Company in Royal Arcade. I have been a volunteer for Strictly Cinema since last November, and became a member of the board this year. Film is my guilty pleasure as those who know me I’m obsessed with film history that includes Welsh history in this equation.

So what got you interested in the arts?

Drawing started when I was six, people joked I had paint for blood. But my other passion was Cinema I saw The Red Shoes at a very early age I was transfixed by this incredible visual feast of colour and movement. I never really wanted any other job as I was lucky I knew some form of art was for me. So I guess I’ve been involved all my life, and will carry on creating, learning and developing.

Strictly Cinema is described a “unique ‘social cinema’ event combining Cinema, Dance/Bingo and Food and takes place last Wed of every month at Maesteg Town Hall.” It sounds great can you tell us more?

I had been looking to be involved in a cinema project since I moved to Bridgend two years ago. Ceri Evans manager with Awen the local cultural trust directed me to Strictly Cinema. It is unique. A day time event offering film, buffet, special features, bingo and raffle. What’s important is the social experience for our customer’s. Making new friendships, seeing new films in such a beautiful building as the town hall. We involve the customers with the film choices, and add there thoughts and ideas to inspire future programs. Our last event featured the silent movie ‘Maid of Cefn Ydfa’ by silent filmmaker William Haggar based on the true story of local girl Ann Thomas with live harp, plus locally made ‘Very Annie Mary’ director Sara Sugarman. Most of our audience either knew someone in the film, or have great memories of the places featured in the film. Great talking points for the day.

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The project seems very community focused, I believe you have shown community made films prior to the main feature, do you think involving local communities is important?

If any thing if its locally made it’s of great interest to our customers. Our main facilitator on such features is Andre Van Wyk who works as an Arts development Officer for Bridgend Council, a role which he is extremely passionate about. Usually on the day we collate new stories of interest though talking with our customer’s, and discuss the details in our committee meetings. There are always gems in the mix that’s what makes it so inspired. It’s of great importance to voice local stories, it keeps local history alive.

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Ruby with volunteers in fancy dress at a showing of Casablanca

In your personal opinion what sort of support networks are there for projects of this nature in Wales? Can more be done?

There  can always  be more done! Cuts to the Arts are the norm. We recently received a grant through Film Hub Wales and the Audience Development Fund. Thinking creatively is a complex maze and if you think your idea is inspired with research, advice and knowledge it’s achievable.

Finally bringing us up to date, what have you got coming up next?

Our next feature is ‘The Proud Valley ‘ on the 29th March. The film starts 11am and the event finishes around 2.30pm. Booking is essential via http://www.maestegtownhall.com

We will also have some very special activity for this performance we will be screening a pre-film interview with the family descendants of Welsh actress Rachel Thomas.

“Rachel Thomas, film and television actress, best remembered for her role as a miner’s wife in the film ‘Proud Valley’. In 1968 she starred in the television version of How Green Was My Valley and in 1971 appeared in the film version of Under Milk Wood, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. She was also a mainstay of Pobl y Cwm, the BBC Wales television soap opera.”

We have also just confirmed that Tony Mullins (Maesteg Operatic Society) will be performing some Paul Robeson spirituals as well!

Thanks Ruby, sounds great, see you there!

Review The Lego Batman Movie by Jonathan Evans

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

The Lego Batman Movie does the same for the Caped Crusader that Blazing Saddles did for the Western genre. Poking fun at all the various versions of the character, the overabundance of praise from his fans and some of the most colorful villains in pop-culture history. But done with genuine love, enthusiasm and knowledge of the source material so it is never bitter or poorly thought-out.

This is the same Batman that we got in The Lego Movie, the Batman that the overzealous fans talk about but don’t know they are. Completely impressed with himself because he can so effortlessly accomplish every seemingly impossible feet, has wealth and many, many cool possessions and everyone else is his lesser (he believes). Will Arnett has made this version of Batman his, having a deep raspy voice but also able to use it for dry delivery and even being petulant at times. He accomplishes one of the great examples of voice acting, remaining in-character while truly acting with it, able to maintain the same voice but use it to convey different emotions.

The other members of the cast members are Ralph Finnes as Alfred Pennyworth, the loyal butler. Through his straight delivery it makes the comedy all the more hilarious, it is a genius contrast against the wackiness he has to work off. Michael Cera plays Dick Grayson/Robin the energetic flamboyant element in the Batman universe and is very unwelcome to this Batman that believes he’s cramping his style. Rosario Dawson plays Barbra Gordan, who they unblinkingly changed to Latino, who’s the level headed, no-nonsense character she’s always been. Zach Galifianakis takes on the role of the Joker, obviously this a much more comedic focused version of the character, but there are a few moments where you can detect his malice, but he is here for comedy and you will laugh.

The animation is just like in The Lego Movie. Using actual pieces of Lego’s and cutting down on the frame rate so that it creates a choppy effect. However there are moments where it isn’t as refined as the previous movie. For example in the last one they only had on-screen what they could do with real Lego’s, here they cheat but manipulating the arms or having the pieces goes where they wouldn’t with a real toy, other times they look less realistic and more like C.G.I. characters, moving more smoothly. This isn’t really a detriment to the movie, it’s just that previous instalment was meticulous in it’s execution of animation.

The message and overall character-arc for Batman in this movie is to not be alone, to let others in because one man (even if they are Batman) can’t do everything. That and life just goes by better if you have someone to share it with. A simple message but told in such a gloriously overblown and entertaining way that it’s damn near impossible to not enjoy it.

Like what Blazing Saddles did to the Western genre I wonder if this will have a similar effect on the “serious” portrayals of Batman. That the people will see that this is all really rather ridiculous and not be able to take it so seriously for a time and have to wait. Or maybe that will be a good thing and realise that to be a real character is to have flaws so they may be willing to accept that their favourite Superhero has more than a few.

REVIEW ANTON AND ERIN SWING TIME, ST DAVID’S HALL BY JAMES BRIGGS

“I’m puttin’ on my top hat, Tyin’ up my white tie, Brushin’ off my tails” to welcome the fabulous Strictly Come Dancing duo Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag. On Sunday 19th February a packed crowd at the St David’s Hall was treated to an afternoon of high class ballroom dancing from two of Strictly Come Dancing’s most famous dancers.

I must say I was extremely excited before watching this show as I am a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing and really love ballroom dancing so for me this show was a dream. The brilliant dancing duo was accompanied by a whole host of other dancers who were just as brilliant. The three male dancers easily kept up with the style of Du Beke and they were Scott Coldwell, Luke Field-Wright and Adam Lyons. The ladies dancing within the show were equally as brilliant and gave the same grace as Erin Boag. The brilliant ladies dancing were Hayley Ainsley, Victoria Hinde and Francesca Moffat.

Alongside the brilliant dancers within the show there was also a fabulous orchestra namely that of the London Concert Orchestra. Anton Du Beke himself joked about how he would have had the Welsh Concert Orchestra only they were too expensive. The London Concert orchestra was conducted by renowned conductor Richard Balcombe. The orchestra accompanied a very special guest singer for the show Lance Ellington who is one of the singers on the show Strictly Come Dancing. His voice was brilliant and worked very well with the music chosen for the show. He even joined in with some of the dances and certainly showed how massively talented all of the performers are on Strictly Come Dancing.

All of the brilliant dances were choreographed and directed by Nikki Woollaston who has worked on productions such as 42nd Street at the Theatre du Chatelet and many other tours with Anton Du Beke.

All in all Anton and Erin put on a fabulous show that really is a joy to behold. With such magical dance numbers and brilliant performances it really is a show not to be missed. So if you have chance to watch this amazing duo performing grasp it and just “face the music and dance”.

Tickets for the tour around he UK are available via – http://www.antonanderin.com/_blog/The-Anton-And-Erin-Blog/post/swing-time—our-2017-tour/

Review Trainspotting 2 by Ben Poulton

Danny Boyle chose not to choose the rehash, he chose something else.

T2 caught me off guard and I loved it. I was expecting the rehash, but no, he came in with the energy and film making pioneering that I believe will be analysed for years to come. The aspect I would most praise from my viewing is the pacing, as it is something that was uniformly exciting through the film, but also each aspect of what made the film brilliant.

One of the main things I noticed was that, essentially, there isn’t much of a plot at all. Yes we have Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) and Renton (Ewan McGregor) buying and setting up of a ‘sauna’, Begbie’s (Robert Carlyle) return from jail and Spud’s (Ewen Bremner) struggle with addiction and suicide, but they seem side-lined to what we as an audience are wanting to see, The characters being as candid as we’ve always known them to be, and, in all honesty, see Begbie (Robert Carlyle) flip his shite when he gets his hand on the c*** what stole his four f***ing grand.

With 20 years of build-up it was essential that T2 understood something that most sequels don’t, and that’s how to work with nostalgia, and with a great exhale of relief, executed endearingly. In the real world nostalgia is a feeling, a little shot of endorphins that spikes dramatically from a single glimpse of an old friend, or the first few beats of a previously well versed song, it gets you riled up with a sudden awareness of blood running through the veins.

This understanding is used with tantalising precision throughout, the well loved soundtrack teased at us in tiny increments, original clips intercut with live action of the aged characters, to engulf us in memory, whilst standing side by side with the characters. This merging of the two assists the audience to come together with the characters, we are never allowed to forget about the content of the first film and are reminded throughout of the goings on in the first Trainspotting, and how although the characters have aged, the harrowing memories and experiences forgone have timelessly stayed with them. In one scene in particular when they return to the ‘great outdoors’ and we are flooded with the memories of Tommy (Kevin McKidd), and baby Dawn. Boyle does this, whilst also creating context and tension in the current film, by having the characters consider their role in the fates of these two from T1, a sign of empathy that goes ignored in the first film. This also goes to show that the characters have genuinely matured, and possessed the reflexive capacity that may only come from one who has decided to choose life.

The only real segment of T1 that Boyle indulges in is choose life, with a spritely modern rendition of the passage. When viewing it in the trailer I did think that it would turn into a pop culture rehash, but again it is the context that it is used in the film that pulled it off.

The new soundtrack itself is riddled with oldies, whom take the lions share of run time, with the likes of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Clash, Blondie and Queen, mixed with contemporary artists The Rubberbandits, Wolf Alice, Young Fathers, Shows the dedication to the mix of old and new, whilst primarily aiming to please the mature audience.

The difference between T2 and any other sequel is both the mind-set of the filmmaker, and the respect by that filmmaker, for the original viewer. These two things are key to why films of late, which should have gone down in history as beloved sequels, or prequels, shelved with pride in the collective box set, have been scorned and cast aside by original viewers out of sheer insult or boredom, personally I find myself struggling to mention The Hobbit in fear that someone may watch it if reminded about its existence. There was nothing of the kind in T2. A small disclaimer, I was born on the year of the original release and so my viewing platform is skewed about 10 years. However I do feel that I am an ‘almost original’ as I had watched it when I was a teen and had loved it since, and so view it in relatively the same perspective and the classical viewer. As I was saying, Boyle has taken great pride in creating the film for the simple purposes of entertaining himself and his audience. He knows what the audience has been longing for, the same vibrant, eccentric, experimental joyride that he has always delivered, but with 20 years of build up behind it.

The two decades have been evidently packed with visual ideas, as the variety of shots was phenomenal. Each scene filled to the brim with interesting angles and camera trickery, (including, in my eyes, the first successful use of a go pro shot in cinema to date). This, along with several POV shots from phones and CCTV cameras, worked well in comparison to other less successful uses (think first season Peep Show), is because the shots do actually blend in with the professional camera clips, you just accept it as a regular old clip and can move on without noticing it to stand out. I found myself to be in constant awe of the bountiful scape of shots and the exquisite use of them. It was utterly crammed and I loved every frame.

As much as I have praised the originality and lack of conforming to modern film problems, it is no without fault. Be sure to try to spot the money flow, a fancy new tracksuit you’re wearing Renton (Ewan McGregor), quite the refreshing beer there Begbie (Robert Carlyle) and oh my, I never noticed how very attractive Edinburgh really is. Alongside this there is the odd cringe worthy pop culture reference, the pick of the pile must be the bad photo. ‘Delete that now’, ‘no I’m putting this straight on my twitter profile’ repertoire, maybe they’re looking for this to be nostalgic in 20 years time? Aside from that the use of current technology was effective as they did it either for a reason in relation to the story, or used as a filming technique.

All in all my opinion on T2 is in high regard, mostly on its own merit as a film itself and also on the fact of it being a genuinely exiting sequel, maybe the film industry will take heed of this and produce unique exciting films, regardless of their continuing themes. I’m actually vaguely hopeful of the next year for motion picture, despite them trying to ruin it with another Pirates of the Caribbean.

 

Review Trainspotting 2 by Jonathan Evans

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

Trainspotting 2, is something I never thought would be a reality, beyond simple theories and discussions. The first is a more than a complete story, also to others the idea of doing this is considered sacrilege. So why do it at all? Probably because that time has passed and the question of “Where are they now?” has been itching the filmmakers as much, or more than anyone.

For our crew it seems like they have everything right. Ewan McGregor as Mark has returned, Ewen Bremner as Spud, Johnny Lee Miller as Simon, Robert Carlyle as Franco and Danny Boyle once again taking the reins as director with John Hodge writing the screenplay.

Everything kicks off with Marks return. He is back after twenty years and not everyone is glad to see him. Would you be if he stole four grand from you? Spud did have his life on track, but when day light savings kicked in he was an hour late for everything which threw his stable life way off track and is now back on the heroine. Simon has a “business” of filming people have kinky sex with a prostitute friend and then blackmailing them, he also runs a pub that isn’t really worth opening and takes too much cocaine. And within the prison Franco is locked-up in prison, having twenty years for his rage to boil, it cannot hold him much longer.

Everyone has aged, of course, during the course of twenty years (some more gracefully than others). Most are different or in the same place as they were when Mark left them. But for some they have ignored time and it’s not them that’s changed but the world around them.

Danny Boyle is a director that, if anything, is known for his unique, sizzling visual flare. Something that was probably first established when he made the first Trainspotting. He brings it here as well, with careful and expressive lighting setups, razor sharp sounds, crazy setups an dynamic camera work. He is still very energetic with his passing and with Jon Harris as his editor they put together a very sharp movie. However there are moments of showing one thing and it leading to another which I wont dare spoil for you but are moments that remind you that Boyle is one of the top talents working today.

What would disappoint me about the movie would be if it was deliberately trying to recapture the exact same experience as the original. If they all just did the same thing, beat for beat, that would be a huge mistake. Luckily this is too wise to be so foolish. To be sure, for those that want warped visuals, crazy situations and colourful dialog (which is a staple of Trainspotting) you’ll get it, but they’re different and new. The familiar is revisited but not entirely the same.

Later in the movie Simon need’s a lawyer. So Mark goes to Diane, a person he had a fling with one time but has remained in-contact with. Like all the others Kelley McDonald return to reprise her role. In both movies Diane is what Mark wants to be but can never reach. In the original she was the new and exciting free spirit that found balance of fun while not being self destructive. Now she has formed into a mature and successful adult.

The movies main theme is nostalgia. These were once young men that lived their lives every day and for every second, but now all those times didn’t amount to anything. They’re not happy with how it all turned out and wish for a time when they could be happy-go-lucky again. But they cant.

Was this sequel necessary? Probably not, the ending to the first one is satisfactory enough. Though to the young people that have just discovered either the book of the film and see it as a way of life this will show them that there is still the rest of your life that you have to live. And for the youths that loved it when it came out may find some comfort in realising that they turned out better than the characters they once admired. And if there in the same place as the characters in the movie then this can be their wake-up call to change.

 

Review Ghost in the Shell by Jonathan Evans

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Great Science-Fiction asks questions about what is going on in the time that they are made and gives us a vision of what all that will lead to. Now that it is over twenty years old, Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell remains as a pinnacle of great science fiction by still being so relevant because it’s questions are still being asked now.

In the year 2029, the world’s international tensions are still high and the police still do their best to keep the world in as much order as they can. However technology has upped the game, now there is virtual hacking and information deliverance and speed is the name of the game. Just being human won’t cut it anymore so both sides now come with enhancements. They can now trade-in their organic parts and have them replaced with cybernetic upgrades. A brain that can have instant access to the police data logs or act as a radio, more powerful limbs etc. But there are some that are cybernetic from the ground-up. Enter The Major,a woman by appearance but everything from her hair, eyes to her brain has been manufactured. She even comes equipped camouflage capabilities that allows her to disappear.

Probably one of the biggest distinguishing aspects of the movie as well as whats played a part in making it so popular as well as recognizable is the choice to have it main character appear nude for a significant chunk of the movie. On one side, sex sells and there are undoubtedly many that simply come for the exposed breasts. However there are many intellectuals that still find merit in the movie beyond that choice. But lest focus on this part of it. Our opening sequence is the Major being built, the cybernetics, then the fake flesh, then finally the artificial skin. Early on we know that this is not a real woman before us, at least in body , you can observe at her sexualized proportions and say “That was definitely designed by a man” but here it literal on both sides, which adds to it.

Japanese animation operates at a different mentality than what the West will be used to with the Disney movies. First of all they make their movies at a lover frame rate, the West have twenty-four frames a second, while the East have sixteen, this means that they are allowed to have more moments quiet behavior rather than being in constant Ballet mode.They also don’t feel the need to have the characters in constant motion. Sometimes, or even many times they will land on a piece of framing and cinematography and have that be the shot throughout the scene, or for an extended time. It is a method of film-making that is primarily cost effective but can lead to moment of greater poignancy.

Much like Akira and Blade Runner the movie presents us with a city that is like the ones we have now, however elevated through the increase of technology. The building are more higher and technologically designed and advertisements are also everywhere however they are no longer flat projections, they have become three dimensional holograms and move around the building themselves (some even as bug as the buildings). In the slums every inch is used up to accommodate the mass population and is trash heavy and rustic.

We quickly learn that a terrorist is in Japan, one named The Puppet-Master. Who exactly he is nobody knows. They track down an inadvertent accomplice who’s a trash man trying to make money to help-out his daughter, however when they take him in it’s revealed that he has never been married and never had a daughter. This is a world where the enemy can manipulate civilians memories to make them do their tasks. It’s then quickly revealed that The Puppet-Master is actually an artificial intelligence, they simply call it him and he due to typical language conventions. What it really, or at least physically is, is electronic information.

The main theme, or at least the most prominent theme of the movie is what lies beneath. It is about pealing back the layers of what something seemingly is and getting to some sense of truth.

There is a sequence in this movie that consists of images, music and no dialog. It is shots of the city, the major moving through it, while passing she catches a glimpse of someone that resembles her at a restaurant. Nothing really comes of it and it’s not mentioned again but it plants the seeds for so many ideas. Was that a real person that the Major was based on? Is that another cyborg and her face is simply one of many identical ones? Was that even real or was that us getting a view into her imagination? I don’t know. I don’t need to know, because a crystal clear explanation would subtract from the interesting questions that I and/or someone else will come to through the watching and then we can discuss. It is the kind of scene where the robot part of your brain will tell you that it is inconsequential and should be cut, but the emotional, curious side needs it there.

With the heavy science fiction theme and images you would expect the musical score to be some kind of techno/synth style, but no. The score by Kenji Kawai is one of human chanting and traditional instruments. Nothing synthetic. A musical score can be considered the emotional layering on-top a movie, or its spirit.

The main theme, or at least the most prominent theme of the movie is what lies beneath. It is about pealing back the layers of what something seemingly is and getting to some sense of truth. Throughout the movie The Major keeps referring to “Twitch in my Ghost.” In context they are basically instincts, but it is what cannot be programed or truly logically explained in that machine way. They are those abstract feelings that have immense power over our decisions.

The Puppet-Master arranges for his body to be stolen out of the police headquarters. The team peruses and eventually, it’s just the two of them. Finally comes the encounter between The Major and The Puppet-master, taking place in some kind of old dance hall. He has gained control over a tank, which in this day and age is shaped more like a beetle. She dodges and shoots what she can but the armor is too tough, so she distracts it and then gets on-top if it in an attempt to rip off its panel. She pushes her artificial body to the limits and beyond, contorting her body to become incredibly butch in appearance, but even that is not enough, her circuits themselves rip out, leaving her limbless and only a torso.

It looks like the end but one of her colleague arrives to put the tank out of business. What is left is two beings that are no longer capable of psychical movement, only thought. In their time conversing The Puppet-Master proposes a merging to the Major, a merging of their minds.

With The Puppet-Master and The Major merged what we have now is something new. With her adult body destroyed in the fight the only replacement that could be found is a child’s one. Neither entirely him not her, their child? Where will she go now and what lies ahead of her? I don’t know. In the beginning the movie asks the question what makes us human, or what makes something living, at the end resolutions are made like any satisfying narrative but the really big one goes unanswered because it will never be answered.

In order for a ghost to be made something must first be living, right? Something must be there is whatever physical entity harbors it. Japan has a different relationship with technology than other countries. It’s more harmonious, encouraged and celebrated, they don’t fear or distrust the progress that’s been made, they’re quite proud of it. Ghost in the Shell is intricately detailed in many regards but it also operates so much in the blank spaces, leaving the audience to guess and fill in the blanks on their own steam. If you want something to flat out give you all the answered there are many other mediums that can give it to you like that. But a movie should have faith in it’s audience and that they can work things out for themselves. Besides, these questions can never be properly answered.

Review : La La Land by Jonathan Evans

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

La La Land is a movie that uses the same old tools from the classic musicals of old, like Singin in the Rain, Funny Face, My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins, but is used by a man from modern times and sensibilities.

Damien Chezelle has an obvious passion for jazz music and about perusing dreams despite all the obstacles. Here, like his last movie Whiplash, he crafts a similar story where two people live in L.A. where dreams can come true, but not easily.

Our characters are Mia (Emma Stone), a young actress that is working at a coffee shop at the Warner Bros. lot but wants to be an actor. She auditions for many things but nothing. Then there is Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a musician that loves Jazz more than just about anything, worshiping the greats and hating having to simply play the mediocre tunes he’s given for his job. He wants to open his own jazz club where the classics and his own music will be played, in the same venue that was once a legendary jazz bar. But they both must face the reality of compromising in the real world and the sadness that maybe their either not good enough or nobody cares about what they want. Stone and Gosling work together splendidly, from dialog scenes that are as dynamic as Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday and the low-key but cute choreography. The characters are brilliant concepts and the actors make them realized.

The songs are composed in the same vein as the classic Hollywood/Broadway numbers but the singing never reaches that truly glass shattering volume. This is a more subdued musical style. Most of them aren’t meant for that, they’re more like little tunes you hum to yourself while walking home all alone. The most haunting of them all is the main song of the movie “City of Stars” the simple tune will hook itself deep in your mind and not let go.

Channeling the movies of old it uses lush, glowing colours for its environments and the characters costumes. This movie is expertly lit and colour coordinated to fit the characters and their character arcs. There is a scene (whether deliberate or not) that reminded me of another similar scene from Adolescence of Utena.

La la is a term for the sightly crazy or obscene. Which is certainly L.A. in a nutshell, it is these characters facing the world with what they want and it is this movie that channels the old classics but both sets it in modern times as well as selling it to the now young. But in order to pursue your goals you must put aside reality, even just the most little bit and delve into your dreams.

Get the Chance to takepART

Get the Chance recently had the opportunity to run some free critical workshops as part of takepART 8 at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. takepART is aimed at the 0 to 18-years-old age group, but its open to  parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents who all get  involved in workshops and craft sessions that take place throughout Venue Cymru.

 

Get the Chance was just one of the organisations running a series of free workshops during the weekend.

The Get the Chance staff had the opportunity to chat to some of the members of Young Critics North Wales who are supported by the venue.  Young Critics North Wales is based at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. It is supported by the Arts Council of Wales and is the first scheme of its kind in North Wales.

https://youngcriticsconwy.wordpress.com

We can recommend the scheme and If you would like to be a Young Critic please email joann.rae@conwy.gov.uk for more information.

We can also recommend the work of the Document Conwy who ran a free newspaper and photography workshops called The Daily PlanART

http://www.documentconwy.co.uk/the-daily-planart

The pop-up newspaper  returned to Venue Cymru’s take pART arts festival where young people were given the chance to learn some of the skills of a journalist and news photographer. Under the guidance of Editor Joann Rae, Chief Photographer Paul Sampson and Chief Reporter Tim Moxley, young people were assigned a story to cover and photographs to capture from all of the exciting events at take pART! All the work below has been created by the young journalists and photographers of the Daily PlanART

It was a very welcome opportunity for Get the Chance to develop its critical network in North Wales. We thank the Arts Council of Wales for funding this opportunity.

 

 

Review : Your Name by Jonathan Evans

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Anime doesn’t tell stories the way Disney, Dreamworks or Sony Animation tell stories. They don’t make movies solely for children or the family, they can make any movie they want, sometimes a movie that can only be a anime. Your Name is a movie, where I cant point to another for an example, it is its own thing.

A meteor shoots through the sky and while souring across, two young people at different pints in Japan see it and think the same thing “It’s like a beautiful image from a dream.” One day we see that one has woken up and everywhere they go people act strangely around her telling her that yesterday it was as if they had amnesia, they didn’t know anything about their life, later we see that this was because every other day or so it turns out they switch minds. How is this happening? Doesn’t matter, well at least the filmmakers don’t concern themselves with the how. What they do concern themselves with is the what now? But lets just put a pin in this subject for now.

The boy is named Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki) he is a bold, forward young man that lives in the big city of Tokyo and clearly dreams of being an architect. The girl is Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) whose timid and with skills in arts and crafts. You can tell you is occupying whose body at any point in the movie because the storyboard artist took the care and time to have their body language show it easily. Each of them have their own friends and family that are all equally important to the story and fun in their own right.

So now back to the body switching thing. They catch on quickly that it’s really happening and not a dream. They communicate through their smartphones and notes. What makes the back and forth so interesting is that one is more brash and able to finally make progress with the others problems while one is more gentle so their able to gently navigate the others obstacles.

From there on there are twist and turns in the story but I wont spoil them for you. But they are very cleaver and interesting that will have you increasingly engrossed as each revelation happens. Usually a movie like this would be satisfied with the body switching thing and use that for the entirety of the movie, but there is a lot in this movie that takes you to places where you will never be able to predict.

The drawing style is like that of Studio Ghibli, thick lines blobby lines and with simple but distinguishable character designs. The facial features are more like plastic dolls but lend themselves to be easily manipulated for a vast variety of clear expressions. Beyond the characters the environments also shine as a beautiful technical achievement. The environments are lusciously, detailed painted, with all of it in-focus so wee can absorb every detail of it that someone has taken the time to draw, but also there is the added layer of the atmosphere. The lighting changes for what time of the day it is, not just bright days and dark nights, but high contrast mid-day, golden hour morning or sun sets, and depending on when it is characters and objects cast light rays. As-well as all of this there’s also dust matter that hangs in the air in a few locations. Just some incredibly generous details that the filmmakers put in to produce the best product they can.

This movie has has so much beautiful, intricate workings to it that you will be able to look at it and be owed by what is on-screen. However what will stay with you is experiencing these two character and their worlds. I cant explain why it is this movie that seems to be doing such great business when anime has been such a niche market before. Maybe it’s been knocking so hard on the door to the West so hard that this is the one to finally break through? Doesn’t matter, this is still a film with everything you want in an enjoyable watch told in the off-beat way that anime does.

 

Review A Monster Calls by Jonathan Evans

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

“We need monsters to explain the world. Because without them, we cannot explain our place in the universe.”

Guillermo Del Toro

A Monster Calls is a fantasy realism movie, I don’t believe many or even any other movie can claim that it is simultaneously such opposing things. But this movie knows that children, adults and human beings are contradictory by their nature and they are never truly only one thing and all have their ways of coping with hardships.

Conner is a child that is smart, creative and unhappy with everything around him. In his house he draws in his room and his mother (Felicity Jones) is sick but promises she’ll get better. Staying with them now is his Grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). Her presence means that his mother will most likely go, so Conner rejects her and her fussy ways. Also coming back is his estranged father (Tony Kebbell) that is there for Connor, but only in small amounts, never able to fully commit. Lewis MacDougall is able to handle this extremely heavy, complex material and tackle it. He does not make it look easy, that is what makes the performance effective. He looks like he is at war within himself, every-time some adult tells him something he is completely dissatisfied with it. The ache, pain and frustration that MacDougall portrays gives this character weight and makes him real.

When the clock strikes 12:07 from over the hill and far away there is a rustling and an aching noise and what forms is a monster and makes its way to Connors house. It smashes through his bedroom wall, picks him up and tells him that he will tell him three stories, then Connor will tell him his nightmare, which is also a truth. The Monster (Liam Neeson) is a Yew tree that has come to life from over the hill next to a church. He is shaped like a human but giant sized and obviously made from a tree. With twisting branched doubling as muscles. The monsters and Connor’s interactions are like that of a strict adult or a teacher speaking to a child. It takes a rough tone in it’s voice, doesn’t tolerate any of his disrespect but also wants to nurture Connor, to explain important thing to him, so it doesn’t just get angry or revert to insulting him. It has a purpose.

All the stories seem like regular fables that we’ve heard in some way, however, when the ending comes it turn out that the characters are not what they originally appeared to be, others are more sympathetic than we would like. Connor doesn’t see the point in them. When it comes time for the Monster to tell it’s stories it becomes a shifting picture book animation.

There are visual choices that are made in this movie which you could simply label “cool” or “pretty” when seen initially. However through the entire watching of the movie you see that there is a reason why. These are the best kind of visually creative decisions, one that look great but also feed into the meaning of the world. It is as Guillermo Del Toro describes “Eye protein, not eye candy.”

Stories are escapes from reality, but they also help shape reality. We escape into stories when we need a break but to places and characters that help us understand out troubles, vices and tragedies.