Category Archives: Film & TV

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.

Review Rogue One by Jonathan Evans

 

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

 

With the release of The Force Awakens Star Wars is currently experiencing one of it’s greatest resurgences in popularity. Now as we wait for episode eight we are given Rogue One which serves as the bridge between the prequels and the originals.

This movies main goal is to finally establish who it was that got the Death Star plans to Princess Leia and how. In many different video games and other mediums there have been multiple people that have done this so this whole movies purpose is to set it in stone.

I feel the same way about this movie as I do about Jurassic World and that is that on the asthetic level of being apart of a previously established franchise it succeeds greatly and it never really clicks except in the last ten minutes. The last ten minutes of this movie is where you really feel the impact and has it’s best moments. However this raises the question, does this make it worth it? As a simple piece of information to the franchise as a whole not really, did we need to know all these details, no we can live without them. As a movie, to have to sit through something that is just OK but never really resonating until the finale?

Everything about this production says that the people working on the visuals know their material and are passionate to be here. Star Wars is a world of technology far beyond what we have now but is worn and dusty from it’s time being used and environment. Very few things are clean or at least have a few scratches on them and there are details that tie it in with the original film, like when a giant screen changes there’s a half second of static, remember static?

Our characters to perform this task are Jyn (Felicity Jones) the daughter of a scientist, the one that designed the Death Star, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). Also they have Orson Kennrick (Ben Mendelson) as their position that hunts them and opposes everything they stand for. They also have a converted Imperialist droid named K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk). My favourite character, wise cracking but in the way that is believable a robot would be, displeased with illogical course of action the humans are taking.

The writing for this movie is way too on-the-nose. The dialog is all about “hope” and “rebellion” and “fight” and “chance.” This is obvious writing that is easy to see through and too corny to get invested in. There are times when it settles down and has the characters talk more human-like but it’s these moments you’ll remember.

Being that the plot is set before A New Hope there are two faces that come back, literally! I wont spoil the second one but Peter Cushing is facially recreated and voiced by another actor. This is, frankly, creepy. I know that what I am seeing is a real person that is long since dead and has been facially re-created to deliver another performance. Recreating a young Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy is one thing, but this feels very disrespectful. There is an episode of The Critic where they have a millionaire say that using C.G.I. he can have old, long dead actors do what he wants. This was intended as a joke, now it’s a disturbing reality.

There are moments of fan-service in this movie that is the most detrimental to any movie. They are the types that come, non-subtly state themselves and then moves on. These are moments for the fans, others will just be slightly detoured by characters moving by or a lot of emphasis on a certain name. It’s not the worst I’ve seen but that doesn’t make this any better.

Star Wars fans are some of the most dedicated and obsessive fans ever (this can be either a good or bad thing). I imagine the hardcore fans will take this movie and really focus in on its prose and not care about its problems. For others, it will be a serviceable science fiction movie that has an ending that makes it all worth it

Get the Chance to be a Critic with Take Part!


Are you aged 16-100?

Interested in theatre, dance, visual art, gigs, poetry, film and more?
Want to access a free workshop which will give you an insight into the role of a critic?
Then, this is for you!

What’s involved?
You will take part in a 1 hour workshop with Guy O’Donnell Director of online magazine website Get the Chance http://getthechance.wales

During the workshop you will be given an insight into the role of the arts critic. You will be given instruction on how to create a review and upload your response online. Participants will look at blogging, video, social media and much more! All workshop participants will get the opportunity for their reviews to feature on the Get the Chance website.

If you have one please bring a laptop, tablet and/or smartphone.
Workshops are on Saturday the 14th at 11.30 and 1.45 pm at Venue Cymru as part of Take Part 2017

https://venuecymru.co.uk/take-part-2017.html

 

Must-see cultural events in 2017

In the article below our members choose a range of productions and events they are looking forward to in 2017.

Young Critic Amelia Seren Roberts 

Rosalind Dance 4/James Cousins Company

“I’m looking forward to a production called ‘Rosalind’ by Dance 4 and James Cousins Company at Nottingham Lakeside Arts”

http://dance4.co.uk/event/performance/2017-03-03/rosalind

“I am looking forward to hearing more from Artes Mundi, and to see Castle Ruins (a show by artists rejected from the Nottingham Castle Open).”

https://www.facebook.com/events/300069073728104/?ti=icl

“The New Art Exchange has an interesting show coming up called, ‘Untitled: Art on the conditions of our time”

http://www.nae.org.uk/exhibition/untitled-art-on-the-conditions-of-our/114

“Leon Sadler has a show coming up at Syson Gallery that I think is definitely going to be something worth going to see:”

https://www.facebook.com/events/229217837532707/?ti=icl

Young Critic Beth Clark

Killology The Sherman Theatre Cardiff and Royal Court Theatre

“The show that I am most excited for this year is “Killology” at the Sherman Theatre, written by my absolute favourite Gary Owen and directed by my also favourite Rachel O’Riordan. Two of the most moving and real life productions of the last two years are Iphigenia in Splott which I saw in Cardiff and Violence and Son which I travelled to London to watch so you can imagine my excitement. I love Gary Owens raw approach on controversial, gritty and  jaw dropping subject matter. “Lie out darkest fantasies, but you don’t escape their consequences” a line used in the write up to the play… it gives me goose bumps as I know this play will take the viewers on a phycological trip they wouldn’t have imagined possible.I hope this play is in the studio theatre as the intense momentum that can be built up in there will be electric, with director Rachel O’Riordan no doubt  pulling out all the stops.”

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/killology/

The Moot Virginity of Catherine of Aragon  The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

“I am particularly interested in seeing this play as the writers and creative team alike are unknown to me so I am eager to enjoy and observe their styles and approaches in tackling such a controversial and historical topic.  I have recently watched the BBC drama “Six Wives with Lucy Worsley” which give quite a different perspective of Catherine to that I had imagined and observed to date. I wonder whether this show will evoke more feelings and insights into the life of Catherine of Aragon for me and can it change my strong views I already have on the story? We will see!”

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/music/the-moot-virginity-of-catherine-of-aragon/
I, Daniel Blake  the film at Chapter Arts Centre

“I am so relieved that Chapter are doing more viewings of this as I have read epic reviews of this over last few months by some established critics. Always a good sign!”

http://www.chapter.org/i-daniel-blake-15

Drones Comedy Club at Chapter Arts Centre

“Operating monthly at Chapter Art Centre  and rated in the the Big Issues top ten things to do in Cardiff it is definitely a Friday night option and something I am looking forward to throughout 2017.”

http://www.chapter.org/drones-comedy-club

Zero for the Young Dudes as part of NT Connections at The Sherman Theatre 

“I am also drawn towards Zero for the Young Dudes performed by Sherman Youth Theatre which will be used as their competition entry to NTC festival. In attending the NTC festival in 2016 I am aware of the quality produced by these young individuals and in some circumstances when experiencing barriers which is always extremely insightful and inspiring to me. It’s also a good opportunity to catch glimpse of the up and coming stars that are going to rock the world of theatre in Wales and beyond for years to come!”

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/nt-connections/

Music

“Firstly, Legend and a tribute to Bob Marley 28 January at the Globe being a 7 piece band which is noted to be a flawless musicianship. I am attending with a fellow reggae lover so set to be a fun evening.

LEGEND – A TRIBUTE TO BOB MARLEY

 

I am gassed for Cardiff’s very own asteroid boys who will be championing their recent success of their sold out tour and signing by Sony records and will be supporting Wiley at Y Plas event in one of my most memorial venues in Clwb ifor Bach”

http://www.seetickets.com/event/wiley/cardiff-students-union-y-plas/1054811

Im looking forward to any events for 2017 from Pryme cut and Rhyme cut entertainment incorporating Wild boys wasted and likes of Brave Mugraw, Crash, Lord Bendtner, Two Putt and more on battlers… Performers.. Saykridd, Jake the Ripper, Ferny Mac, Chew, Conrad Lott and Beatbox Hann plus much more as the events over the last two years have been something to shout about. These nights are open to any performers any styles making them completely diverse perfect for our very cultural city of Cardiff.

I am also looking for anything to attend that includes again Cardiff’s own Baby Queens with their album being released the latter end of 2016 and being noted in BBC online top 100 single. This band are the ones to watch.”

 

Get the Chance Creative Associate Jonny Cotton

The House of Bernarda Alba

By Federico García Lorca, Directed by Jenny Sealey
A Royal Exchange Theatre and Graeae Theatre Company co-production

Graeae has a new play, ‘The House of Benarda Alba’ which will be coming out in Feb and will be performing at The Royal Exchange in Manchester so I will be looking forward to see that.”

The House of Bernarda Alba

“My dream or wish is to see a disability-led organisation to come to Wales in 2017. Although I don’t mind travelling to see the likes of Fingersmiths, Graeae, Birds Of Paradise I would like to see them perform in Wales. That would be my wish! I think the difficulties is because of the Arts strands and lack of support from venues which preventing these organisations coming to Wales. We need to see a change in that!”

Young Critic James Briggs

“I am looking forward to this year there are two which I have already got press for in St Davids Hall and they are ‘Anton and Erin’ and ‘Riverdance’.”

Anton and Erin and Lord of The Dance/Riverdance

http://www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk/whats-on/anton-erin/

http://www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk/whats-on/lord-of-the-dance/

3rd Act Critic Chris Howell

 

Sunny Afternoon at the Wales Millennium Centre

“I am particularly keen to see Sunny Afternoon. It started its journey at the Hampstead Theatre, one of my favourite venues in London. Then, as most good productions it is home to, it made it successfully to the West end and now there is a touring company. It’s also the start of an era for me as the Kinks played the Capitol in May 1965, I was there and witnessed the altercation between Dave Davies and Mick Avory”

https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2017-2018/DonaldGordonTheatre/SunnyAfternoon/?view=Standard

Community Critic Emily Garside

Killology by Gary Owen

“I am looking forward to another new work from one of Wales’ most interesting playwrights.”

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/killology/

Young Critic Kat Leslie

“I’m looking forward to seeing Thunder playing live in March.

https://motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk/whats-on/thunder

I’m also going to see Footloose performed in June at the Wales Millennium Centre

I am also  going.to a festival that I go to every year in August called ‘Solarsphere Astronomy and Music Festival.”

http://www.solarsphere.events

3rd Act Critic Barbara Michaels

“Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes which is coming to Cardiff. I was fortunate to be given house seats at Sadlers Wells on Christmas Eve. It is arguably the best thing Bourne has ever done. On the home front WNO start the new season with La Boheme. A great atmospheric production and an excellent on to enjoy if you have never seen opera before. “

https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2017-2018/DonaldGordonTheatre/TheRedShoes/

https://www.wno.org.uk/event/la-bohème

Young Critic Lauren Ellis Stretch

“I am looking forward to Killology at the Sherman Theatre and Funny Girl at the Wales Millennium Centre . The Other Room’s Spring season also looks thrilling!”

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/killology/

https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2017-2018/DonaldGordonTheatre/FunnyGirl/

http://www.otherroomtheatre.com/en/whats-on/current-productions/

3rd Act Critic Helen Joy

1
“Welshness

A rather controversial topic perhaps but one which raises its curious head regularly in conversation if not in print.

Having touched on this in my review of Bafta Cymru, I feel a personal need to explore the impact of Welsh identity projected in the Arts on audiences.

2
Opera & Dance

Having absolutely adored having access to so much of both through 2016, I plan on deepening my knowledge through further attendance at performances, continuing to draw at open rehearsals and through interviewing performers and artists.

3
Homelessness

Leaving events in Cardiff at night has opened my eyes to the problem of homelessness. The stark contrast between the opulent glories of the stage and the plight of living on the streets has been brutal to witness, far more brutal to those who live it. Everyone has a story and I would like to help those stories be heard.”

 

Review Moana by Jonathan Evans

dwayne-johnson-debuts-first-poster-for-disneys-moana

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Disney movies have been for the family since the companies beginning. But they have mostly been for a Caucasian audience. In recent years companies have realised that there are other types of people and have striven to represent more of the many different types of people inhabiting the world.

We get told that there is the god of islands Te Fiti that created the islands of the world, when one day the demi-god Maui steals her heart, this starts the spreading of a great evil that will devour all life on the planet eventually. Years later and the events have become legend and on an island a tribe lives in perfect happiness. However despite this the chiefs daughter, Moana, feels the ocean calling to her, for her whole life despite the fact that the island has everything anyone could want she is beckoned to leave for something else.

Eventually the corruption reaches her island, so she must leave and restore the goddess heart with the help of Maui. And so out hero’s quest begins.

Mona is our latest instalment for female Disney leads. Whether she is technically a princess or not is debatable (even in the film), but she will indefinitely join the brand in future. But she is like many of her predecessors, an energetic, spirited girl that has what would seem like a perfectly acceptable status quo but there is something about her nature where she yearns for more. The great technical achievement with her is her face, whatever inner emotion she is going through her expressions convey them perfectly clearly, so much so that her dialog is rather throw-away. However the person doing her voice is also a great treat. Auli’i Cravalho infuses Moana with the authentic energy we need to like this young woman, she is a genuine teenager so she has that unique quality to her voice that is nearly impossible to replicate by older actors and she is able to handle any emotional scenes she has to from distressed, the comedic to emotional.

Mawi the demigod is played by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. The Rock is an extremely charismatic actor that is the perfect fit for this very larger than life character. He comes with a unique visual gimmick that whenever he accomplishes a great feat he gets a new tattoo on his body and one of the tattoos of him can move and express (possibly his subconscious, I don’t know).

Also along for the quest is Heihei, a rooster that is as intelligent as any other rooster. He serves as the animal comedic relief, because this is an animated Disney movie, there must be one.

Ron Clements and John Musker once again take the reigns as directors on a Disney movie. They kicked off the Disney renaissance with The Little Mermaid and went on to make Aladdin, Hercules, Princess & The Frog and now they’re back with their first C.G.I. movie. They understand how to handle a Disney property, they must be entertaining for the whole family so there needs to be something that all the age-groups will like and then must be tied together as the finished product. Something that’s taken over from when they did Hercules is the use of flat graphic animation.

For this project Disney recruited Lin-Manuel Miranda as one of the songwriters. For those of you (I am one) that are enjoying the phenomenon that is Hamilton this will be very exciting for you. Every song in the movie serves to either broadly convey emotion or compress story information at an extremely efficient level. There are no songs that are simply the character making breakfast, the songs mean something. He is a natural words-man, able to craft intricate lyrics that stay on point, rhyme and are funny. My two favourites are “You’re Welcome” Maui’s self-indulgent song about all his great feats, and “Shiny” also a self indulgent song by the villain (a giant treasure covered crab named Tamatoa) about how it only matters whats on the inside, plays like a 70’s pop song by Jermaine Clements.

This is Disney, I feel its pointless to sing its praise of how well this is animated, it has the best people in the world working for them and have a more than capable budget. It is beautiful, with lush colors and textures. But what I want to bring up is the delicate balance they strike in representing the ethnicity and culture of Hawaiians while not being offensive. This is a cartoon so they have to exaggerate but not so much that it becomes a warped and disrespectful.

Much like The Little Mermaid this marks Disney studio doing what they do best while at the same time trying something new with its asthetic. Songs, characters and brilliant animation for the whole family, this is a Disney movie.

Review ‘Arrival’ by Jonathan Evans

Amy Adams (right) as Louise Banks in ARRIVAL by Paramount Pictures

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

Arrival is a movie that asks the question “What is the first thing we ask an alien race?” It is actually an incredibly simple set-up, spaceships land and a linguist (Amy Adams) must now develop a dialog between them. Simple but also not so much when you think about all that goes into communicating, also with a completely different species.

During the first half an hour of the film the score is terribly obnoxious, every big thing that happens is accompanied with the orchestra going nuts on a single note as loud as they can. There’s musical effect to heighten the mood of a scene and put us in the shoes of our character but this was just blunt un-subtlety.

The ship itself is like a giant floating black pill, cut down the middle. From the bottom a rectangular tunnel opens, within it they provide gravity so the walls can be easily walked on, then that leads to a age rectangular room, where a glass (or whatever the alien equivalent of glass is) separates the two species.

Their exact details are obscured in the smoke but from what we can see they look like obsidian Octopus or hands. When we learn how they function reader of Slaughterhouse 5 will notice a channeling of ideas.

Eventually a back and forth is developed through writings. Louise writes things down in English and the aliens eventually respond with their own form of writings. They look like black coffee rings, always taking a circle form but with spikes, or plashes or thicker lines or gaps within them.

Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks gives an incredibly grounded performance as this truly human but also admirable character. She is driven in her believes and is clearly an expert in her field but she is also very shaken with her world being turned upside-down because of an alien arrival. She shakes and is intimidated by the momentous task she has to achieve but proceeds to do her very best.

Throughout this entire movie there are no action scenes, no moments when gunfire accrues on-screen.This is a good thing. So many science fiction movies either are just action movies but with crazy gun designs and flashier colours or don’t trust their audience enough to stick with them through their message. Arrival has something to say and keeps saying it, without having the throw-in some loud noises to make sure your awake.

One tricky element to this movie that might end-up being a detriment. That is the fact that it is in English and language is so key to the form of the movie. Usually I wouldn’t think about this but because the movie is so keenly focused on the words it chooses and how they can be interpreted, how well will this work with other countries? The translating process is more complicated than just writing-up a direct translation and putting it into subtitles that appear on-screen. Different languages come with different sensibilities so how well can this be translated? This may turn-out to be nothing but it was a question the movie raised within me.

Arrival is a movie that will make you truly think about, is nothing else, your choice of words. How you make decisions and the options you give to an outsider. Thinking is what a science fiction movie should do. This accomplishes its mission.

BAFTAS the Welsh way, a personal response by Helen Joy

bafta-award

I leave St David’s Hall, feet hurting & makeup failing, holding a paper napkin full of warm quiche and Welsh rarebit. Outside, sitting cross-legged on the floor with his back against a wall is a homeless man with a lap full of BAFTA chocolates, still in their fancy boxes. Would you like something savoury? Ooh, yes please. Here, enjoy.

What is it about us that believes there is a difference between the ordinary folk and the extraordinary, the stars, the celebs? Do we judge what makes us special by our material wealth, our social standing, our academic success, the number of people who recognise us? I am as happy as the next post-80s socialite to be in her glad rags and jewels for a night but I am concerned that with all that money and status and happiness abounding tonight, that homeless person has a lap full of freebie chocolate. Maybe someone will write him a cheque.

Other people will talk about the glitz and the nominees and the winners and the glitterballs of a spectacular night. I want to talk about ordinary people, the social aspects of an awards event and the curious exclusivity of the Welsh Language.

To start again, I am standing in the press pen wishing I had a mallow ice-cream cornet to wave at people like a mike, asking for an interview. I am strangely confused by the lack of enthusiasm of journalists to actually talk to the guests. One old hack prefers to cover news events, another happily interviews in Welsh, armed with his iphone on record. Two reviewers behind me barely talk to each other. Others think that we four from Get the Chance are better turned out than the stars.

Which brings me to another reflection on society today (sic), what happened to Black Tie occasions meaning black tie? This is not about class, this is about respecting the invitation from the organisers, sponsors, guests, nominees and attendees; as well as the public so patiently waiting along the barricades. This is the BAFTA’s after all – a visual feast. The men generally are smart but very few bow ties and a nasty selection of daps on show. So few women sweep the red carpet in elegant attire that the ones I spot, I approach at the party later and tell them how lovely they looked, how professional. Each one crumbles in gratitude and enjoys the compliment. So few walk with confidence, I hesitate to use the word deportment but high heels and tight dresses usually benefit from a fine carriage.. why are all these extraordinary women so lacking in assurance? Perhaps it is their ordinariness revealed.

Everyone is friendly. Perhaps it helps that no one is 100% sure who everyone else is; there is no differentiation between attendees – we are all mucking in together in the audience, in the party, in the bars, taking selfies with the BAFTA masks. This makes for a remarkably easy atmosphere and a great buzz. We are all extraordinary; both inside and outside the building.

But is this exclusive? I am disappointed by the Welshness of it all. I know, it’s the Welsh BAFTA’s, BAFTA Cymru; but this is designed to celebrate the wonderful dramatic work in Wales and share it, not create a club based on linguistics. I was born in Wales, I have some Welsh language and I was educated here in Cardiff. Am I alone in thinking that this thing is not for the likes of me? There are not many people lining those barricades along The Hayes, the lack of press, the scuttling into the Hall, the dressing-down, the determination to celebrate smallness over scale. It feels just a little bit poor, the content just a little bit too fashionable. A fab party but not a BAFTAs, a magnificent glorification of TV and Film, helping to get those important messages out there – it’s OK to have fun, it’s right to tell your story, it’s good to want to change the world.

It feels just a little bit ordinary, whatever that is. We should have more pride and shout it out. It is time for another wafer, monsieur; and I think most of us ordinary folk would also prefer something savoury, something more substantial.

Caveat

Every evening in Cardiff I see more and more homeless people; last night, when leaving the WMC on a cold, foggy night, sitting in a corner against the main building was a man completing a broad sheet newspaper. We interrupted him to give him what cash we had about us – a paltry handful of change as it turned out – but he would not take it without giving us something in return. He gave us a magic trick. We enjoyed a chat and a laugh together and went on our way. I wished I had some warm quiche for him too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-movie-poster

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them is based on a fictional textbook about all the different creatures that inhabit the Harry Potter world. If you have seen the movie Adaptation you will know that taking a non-fiction book without a plot is very difficult. There’s not a lot to help shape the narrative.

I must confess that I am not a Harry Potter fan. I don’t hate the world but I have found that there are other, even more richer fantasy worlds to get involved in rather than this one. So this movie has a lot of work to do to appeal to me.

We open with a colourfully dressed character with a frizzy head-of-hair named Newt. He is getting off the boat and entering New York City in the Roaring Twenties. He carries a suitcase with him that (like Doctor Who’s TARDIS) is bigger on the inside. And inside this case is an entire zoo of Beasts, fantastical creatures. While walking the streets one of the Beasts, a money grabbing mole, gets out and enters a bank, while in pursuit his path crosses with Jacob Kowalski, a local New Yorker that’s trying to get a loan for his bakery. And from there-on we have our movies duo.

Eddie Redmayne as Newt (just like he was in The Theory of Everything) is the best part of the movie. He is a shy and awkward around people, but not the typical portrayal of these types of characters we usually see. He is a sensitive soul that is clearly most happy and truly at home interacting with all the beasts.

He and Dan Fogler as Kowalski are the only actors on the side of our protagonists that seem to be invested in the material. The others seem out-of-place and uninterested. But Newt and Kowalski make a good pair, Newt is inexperienced in New York and the non-magical world and is charmed by Kowalski’s simple mentality, while Kowalski knows nothing about the magical world and is fascinated by everything Newt has to offer. Each of them can provide exposition to the other so the audience is also well informed and the actors work together beautifully.

The other obvious really strong element to the movie is the Beasts themselves. We get a whole bunch of different Beasts that range from the the handheld to the size of a house, all are different shapes and need to be handled differently.

There are some clues that an audience member begins to pick-up on through general experience. You learn that one character may be saying one thing but means another etc. But as soon as we see Colin Ferrell as Percival Graves you will instantly think “Villain!” and you’ll be right.

Also included in the movie is a group of orphans that are abused and also know about the wizarding world. Among them is Ezra Miller as Credense Barebone, just as creepy as We Need to talk about Kevin but in different ways. More like a oily, sad creep, lurking in the darkness.

It is these elements, with Ferrel and Miller where the movie makes it’s biggest mistakes. They are so dark and unpleasant, when we just had some good colourful fun with Newt and Kowalski that they really seem like they are part of another movie.

The final climax comes in the form of a threat that is literally just a shapeless blob on-screen that destroys all in its way. It is almost as un-engaging as the final villain fight in Green Lantern.

This could have been a simple tale of a stranger in a strange land with a case full of trouble and they get loose, so now he and his newly acquired friends have to retrieve them. That’s all that was needed, but having a villain included as well as this political stuff is just unnecessary and muddies a simple tale.

The movies biggest fault comes in it’s ending. I wont spoil it but there is a reveal. And it makes absolutely no sense and comes out of nowhere. I had no idea what was going on until I had a brief talk with one of my friends that is a much greater lover of the Harry Potter lore than I am. This relies so heavily on the audience being fluent in the lore to make any sense, maybe for those people it will be a jaw-dropping moment but I was just bewildered.

There is an audience for this movie. Its not me. The people that will like it are obviously the Harry Potter fans that will take more of the world in any form. Others will simply be taken by the special effects that are happening on-screen and be happy with that. Others, like me, will be smiling at the great duo of Newt and Koalski. So I would recommend this to the Potter fans, but if my best friend asked if they should see it and they were not. They can probably live without it.

 

Review The Snowman Peacock Theatre / Sadler’s Wells, By Hannah Goslin

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Growing up, I have been watching The Snowman and its cousin Father Christmas, every Christmas, every year. When The Snowman and The Snow dog came out, I think my tear ducts weren’t expecting the initiation of another short film to encourage them further.

With one of my brother’s being of the orange haired persuasion, growing up we always joked that my brother was the boy in the film. We even had the bedsheets with him and the Snowman on. And while this was all in jest, what kid did not want to be the kid in The Snowman?

So as you would expect, I know the story off by heart, backwards, forwards, up and down! And so the inner child in me felt nothing but excitement and apprehension of seeing magic come alive on stage.

Boy did it! For those living under a rock, The Snowman is about a boy who makes this frosty creature who comes to life. They spend a short night on Christmas Eve having adventures in his house where his parents sleep and then flying across the world to meet Father Christmas and a range of other Snow men and women.

Many of you may be thinking, it’s November and a little early for Christmas – but once you are taken a-hold of all the joy, the pomp and circumstance of The Snowman on stage, you soon forgive it.

Staging is beautiful – seamlessly moveable into new scenes, when the Snowman and the boy are exploring, everything is a little oversized and cartoonlike which makes it comical and child friendly. To fill out the two hour show, the original content has been adapted, adding a love interest for the Snowman, a bad guy who is triumphed over and some dancing fruit. All of these additions are welcomed and give a more modern twist to the 1982 classic.

As this is the Peacock Theatre, of course it is full of dance. Animal characters, our new villain and damsel in distress are all dancing editions, with the use of classical ballet and contemporary, they beautifully grace the stage, moving with little sound and much grace. Music provided by a live orchestra, it’s hard to not feel ‘christmassey’ with the instrumental sounds and live singing which accompany the stage presence well.  We even get a little drum and bass and mixes of the music to again make the piece more modern.

The Snowman is a feel good family show that appeals to all generations – from the young who are being introduced to the story, to die-hard fans like myself and the parents and grandparents who also know the story like the back of their hand – it’s hard not to enjoy and not to come away elated, your inner child bursting to get out.

http://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2016/the-snowman/

The Launch of Creative Citizens Cymru

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Get the Chance recently organised a morning of creative conversations called Creative Citizens Cymru. The event was funded by the Arts Council Wales Sharing Together. “A strategic initiative to encourage the development of networking opportunities.”

The event took place at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Participants shared their views on a variety of issues including, the on-going relationships between arts critics, venues, producers and artists, critical responses to Welsh venues’ work as well as new and existing collaborative working methods. Get the Chance (GTC) is a social enterprise that supports members of the public to access and respond to sport and cultural provision. GTC was specifically interested in generating conversation relating to ways to support the development of Creative Citizens acting as critics, ambassadors, volunteers, advocates, promoters, workshop leaders and more.

Representatives from a range of organisations discussed some of their work in this area including,

Geinor Styles Artistic Director, of Theatr na nÓg and Ani of the Ambassadors discussed their Ambassadors scheme.

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“The Theatr na nÓg Ambassadors scheme started in January 2016 in order to support and mentor the new generation of theatre professionals.

 Aimed towards 16-25 year olds, the scheme offers full access to the company where you will learn by observation and get hands-on experience at rehearsals, on productions and events. The Ambassadors have already supported na nÓg in our production of ‘TOM’ at the Wales Millennium Centre, performed as cast members on ‘The Amazing Adventure of Wallace and Bates’ at Cardiff Museum and the Eisteddfod as well as supporting the production of ‘The Ghost of Morfa Colliery’ at the Dylan Thomas Theatre in Swansea.

 We want to work with as many young people as possible through the medium of both Welsh and English and by offering our support and resources, we hope to contribute to the development of new skills that they will be able to use at na nÓg and elsewhere in the industry.”

 http://www.theatr-nanog.co.uk/na-nóg-ambassadors

Nia Skyrme Freelance producer/promoter

Nia works with local community representatives to support marketing opportunities for touring productions. Shanon Newman was local promoter on a recent production supported by Nia.

“My name is Shannon and I am currently an ‘on the ground promoter’ working on Motherlode’s The Good Earth. That means that I am helping to spread the word to as many people as possible about this show which tours Wales in September.

Motherlode’s tagline is Tireless New Theatre, Made in Wales. I saw the last run of rehearsals for ‘The Good Earth’ at Park & Dare Theatre in Treorchy a few weeks ago. I feel extremely lucky to be working to engage people in the Cardiff area and to have got the chance to watch the performance just before it went on tour to New York. I’m delighted to help spread the word about this production; the themes that it touches on evokes awareness on what has affected Wales as a country in the past and its reaction to moments of hardship. It is an important message of strength and unity, especially during a time when we seem to be so divided.

‘The Good Earth’ echoes concerns over the threat to the Welsh identity and community with its close relation to the Aberfan and Tryweryn tragedies. The play made me feel nostalgic about situations I’ve never personally experienced, and empathetic for the characters’ cause to maintain the integrity of their way of life. It reminded me of Wales’s role in modern Britain, and how drastically that has developed over the years. It was the backlash against apathetic and unjust authorities that helped to fuel the surge of Welsh nationalism that we see today.

The singing, though not appearing to be its fundamental feature, significantly intensified the mood of the play. It had a meditative effect. Kudos to the actors for managing to convey the emotions of deeply relevant issues in many Welsh communities. I am so excited to see the show alongside a Welsh audience when it returns from NYC.”

Peter Gregory and Hilary Farr from Arts Council Wales, Night Out Scheme.

Peter and Hilary gave us all a brief overview of The Night Out Scheme

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“The Arts Council of Wales’ Night Out scheme works in partnership with the local authorities to help groups of volunteers across Wales bring the arts to the heart of their communities. 

 Community groups (known as Promoters) can choose from a huge range of great professional performers and put them on in community or village halls and other non traditional venues across the country.  If you want information on how the scheme works and promoting events visit the Become a Promoter Section.

  Each year close to 600 shows are booked through the scheme by nearly 350 different community groups. Alongside the main scheme we also run the Noson Allan Fach  scheme which offers small shows for member led organsiations such as WI or Merched y Wawr.

 Working in conjunction with the local authorities of Wales, the Night Out team operates a guarantee against loss for events where we pay the performer fee and the community promoter pays back ticket income made at the door. 

 We never take more than the performer costs so as a promoter you will never be worse off by using the scheme. The more money promoters make back the more funds we have available to say yes to another request. 

 Our promoters are free to book a wide range of professional artists. Many come to Night Out for advice on appropriate high quality shows suitable for small community venues.”

Sophie Mckeand and Christine Smith are Night Out Young Promoter Coordinators and talked about their work in this field.

“The award winning Young Promoters Scheme works with groups of children and young people taking them through the process of becoming the promoters for an event in their community. You can  download an information leaflet  here 

 “The whole scheme was very straightforward. Everything was clearly explained. The support we had from the Arts Council staff team was superb …The young people were extremely proud of what they had achieved. They have grown in skill and confidence and can’t wait to do it again”  Sharon Campbell  Colwyn Bay Youth Centre

 The Night Out Young Promoters Scheme is an ideal way of giving practical skills to children and young people and improving the relationship between young people and their schools and their local community.

 Operating since 2005, the scheme has worked with hundreds of children and young people aged between 7 and 18 throughout Wales, giving them the unique experience of organising and enjoying a performing arts event in their local hall. Projects involve a facilitator, working alongside a teacher or youth leader to enable a group of young people to experience the “behind the scenes” work that goes into organising an event.  Though a series of workshop sessions groups are taken through aspects of Box Office, Front of House, Stage Management and Marketing / publicity and Sponsorship.  The Young Promoters get to make all the decisions – and do all the work!

Groups are able to have fun as part of a creative learning process and to develop personal, social and work related skills. When run in schools, the scheme can be utilised to deliver specific  elements of the national curriculum since it includes aspects of literacy, ICT, mathematics, numeracy, art and design and event management.”

 Kai Jones, Gig Buddies Coordinator, Accessible Information Officer, Learning Disability Wales.

Kai discussed the new Gig Buddies initiative.

“Making choices about how you live your life is an important part of being independent. We want to make sure that people with a learning disability can choose to stay up late and go to gigs. A gig is another name for a music concert.

We know that many people with a learning disability love music, but don’t ever get the chance to go to gigs and see their favourite bands live. To help change this we are starting a new project, called Gig BuddiesThe project will match people with a learning disability with volunteers who share the same music tastes so they can go to gigs together.”

 https://www.ldw.org.uk/information/news/2016/10/gig-buddies-survey.aspx#.WDlPhjc42lY

Anne-Marie Lawrence, Senior Project Manager, Spice Time Credits, South East Wales.

“Time Credits make a sustainable difference to a range of organisations across the community, housing, health, care and school sectors. They are proven to increase the number of people involved in the community and are able to help sustain that involvement over time, bringing about a range of transformative outcomes.

Time Credit systems work on a simple hour-for-hour basis: for every hour you give to your community you earn one Time Credit, which you can then spend on an activity of your choice.

You can give time in ways that match your skills and interests, and spend your Time Credits with our diverse range of fantastic partners across the UK who offer everything from swimming to learning a language.”

Much of the morning was spent working as a large group sharing learning opportunities and informal networking.

During the second half of the morning the group were tasked with further developing some responses to questions which developed from the initial conversations and areas Get the Chance wanted to focus on. Some of the responses can be seen in the images below.

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An online survey was also created to continue this conversations. The survey is till live and we invite anyone interested to complete it.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/W27RC3Q

Get the Chance has another event planned in North Wales in the spring of 2017

Guy O’Donnell the director of Get the Chance organised a similar event a few years ago and a blog post on this event can be found at the link below.

http://community.nationaltheatrewales.org/profiles/blogs/critical-feedback-to-the-response-event

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