Avengers: Age of Ultron – A Great Film But Slightly Disappointing

A star-studded sequel to the original film, Avengers: Age of Ultron is full of humour, drama and an ending that makes for conversation.

Director: Joss Whedon

Writers Joss Whedon

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth

Certificate: 12A

Audiences can be expected to see familiar faces of the characters that we have grown to love including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk.

Any fans of the first film will no doubt enjoy this sequel. The banter between Iron Man, Thor and Captain America caused eruption of laughter throughout the cinema.

Avengers: Age of Ultron sees the introduction of two new characters, Quiksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen).

These two unique superheroes bring a whole new element to the Avengers franchise and bring a range of powers that makes it feel sort of X-Men. Whether that’s good or bad, you can decide.

Also, these two characters have a developed storyline throughout the sequel but the narrative, like most superhero films, was quite predictable.

As most of the Avengers characters have their own separate film franchises, the other characters finally managed to get their story developed throughout this narrative.

Hawkeye and Black Widow (plus the two new characters) had more character development than the first Avengers.

My own personal preference would have to class the first Avengers film as the favourite of the two. There was a perfect combination of action and narrative building.

However, in the sequel, I couldn’t help but feel there was far more talking with minimal action.

This is, by no means, saying that the film didn’t have great action-packed scenes but it seemed to lack any real fight scenes except for the beginning and ending of it.

Another thing to mention is why Ultron was actually a villain. It was not explained in great detail (unless I completely missed that part) but nevertheless there were exciting parts and it was more jumpy than before.

This is another reason why my preference lies with Avengers Assemble as there was more structure and reasoning behind the events that happened in the first one.

I would suggest that watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Iron Man 3 would fill in any blank spaces between the two Avengers films.

The use of different Iron Man suits was an added extra to the film. Watching the battle between Hulk and Iron Man’s Hulkbuster suit was an exceptional cinematic experience.

As the Marvel franchise has been purchased by Disney, it didn’t stop them using a Disney reference.

Everyone who saw any trailer for this film will see the Pinocchio reference ‘There are no strings on me’ and it developed throughout.

Whether you enjoy or despise this link is completely up to you, I personally think it works and added an extra level to the film and appealed to the younger generation.

As well, throughout the film, an unusual and quite strange romantic relationship between two of the characters emerges and whether or not this romance will continue we can only wait and see.

Marvel are renowned for having a short preview that hints to the next film and Age of Ultron does not fail to follow the same pattern so don’t leave the cinema too early.

Age of Ultron was one of the most anticipated films of year and maybe there was a bit too much pressure for it to be better than the first.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a good film and I thoroughly enjoyed it but couldn’t help but feel that it should be better than the original and it failed.

What is next in store for the Avengers franchise? This is put into question.

With a third and fourth Avengers film already mapped out for the near future, the ending of this one puts a lot of questions to mind.

I won’t reveal any spoilers but all I can say is I hope they follow in the same direction as these first two.

Scarborough Author To Hold Talk

Scarborough author Malcolm Bruce Smith, who writes under the pen name of Malcolm Bruce, will be giving an illustrated talk at Vernon Road library at two thirty on May 14 about the Scarborough bombardment – but with a difference!

As Malcolm says, most of the events to commemorate the bombardment last year, quite rightly, concentrated on the effect it had on the citizens of the town.

However, there is much more to this story than people realise. For a number of years Malcolm worked at the Naval Ordnance Inspection Establishment in Sheffield (you never knew any sort of naval establishment existed in Sheffield? all will be revealed!)

It was there that Malcolm learned of the connection with the German High Seas Fleet and all our lives today, and it is fascinating and rather disturbing.

Malcolm will correct some of the myths that surround the bombardment and then bring the story right up to date and explain how remnants of the German ships are still playing a vital part in our lives now.

The photo shows Malcolm with one of the six inch calibre shells which failed to explode.

The townsfolk at the time referred to them as ‘duds,’ in fact some of the shells were fired at such close range they were not in the air long enough for the fuse to set, thus landing inert.

Getting Potty With Ceramics

Crescent Arts, Scarborough, not only holds regular art exhibitions, including the current printing exhibition, but also holds a selection of talented artists.

Karen Thompson is a ceramist and currently is a resident artist where she produces an array of different art work.

Her studio, located at Crescent Arts, is full of functional, historically and politically inspired and social conscious ceramics.

Karen said: “I feel I have a powerful voice within my work. I made the Goveshy where delegates at the conference threw a wooden ball at Michael Gove busts.

“That was a powerful piece and really fun to do.”

Another exhibition called Farm World provoked a lot of response from viewers.

Here, Karen created a dark, contemporary agricultural theme incorporating ethical and ecological concerns about the environment.

“In this exhibition, there was a section called A Poultry Life where I took the concept of a well-known chicken egg basket and subverted them and made them into battery chickens,” Karen said.

“I cut off the beak and had hundreds of them exhibited on a shelf all squished together. I really enjoy subverting iconic pieces of ceramics and that’s kind of my main area.”

As well as creating political and social conscious pieces of work, Karen also makes functional mugs which are pierced and cut by hand yet still remain fully functional.

These patterns become translucent when held up to the light and Karen explained how she likes to make things that people ‘interact with’.

“For my degree show, I got a copy of a PMN-2 land mine and made hundreds of them and laid them outside the Holburne Museum of Art in Bath to resemble a military cemetery,” she said.

After creating these, Karen took that form further and made them into little decorative boxes.

“No one knew what they were and I decided to play with that a bit more and it still provoked a bit of a response,” Karen said.

“It’s interesting that I can evoke such a response in people.”

12 years ago, when Karen was living in London, her dad was ill and she was heavily involved with the radio station Resonance FM.

Here, Karen was given a lot of training in resonance but when her dad become terminal she left.

A year later, she tried to get back into the same position but she wasn’t able to access that level of training that the other people had.

“I thought to myself that this isn’t working and it was when I was living in Chelsea that I saw some ceramics classes being held at the college campus,” Karen said.

“I signed up for a few courses and ceramics was one of them so I went across and after a few classes I knew that this was it.”

After completing her degree, Karen saw Crescent Arts being advertised and she thought the studios had a good offer.

“The studios were subsidised and were in a creative environment and there aren’t many places that offer this nationwide,” Karen said.

“It’s a really great place to be and trying to find somewhere with subsidised rent is difficult.”

With other resident artists renting out a studio, Karen described the relationship with the other artists and said how ‘there haven’t been any murders yet’.

“When I make a new piece of work, I will show the other artists as I like to get people’s feedback,” she said.

“If I was in a studio by myself I would miss that interaction and it would feel quite isolated and even now working in the studio is quite isolated but saying that I would be fed up with all the people if I had to share.”

The accompanying picture shows the different variety of work that Karen does.

The tureen heads are based on a cross of two things, a phrenology head which is a Victorian bonkers science figure that sectioned the brain into different compartments and they believed that the different lumps and bumps of each person affected their personality.

The second thing that inspired the tureen heads was another Victorian influence. Tureens were used as serving dishes during dinner parties and were shaped in all sorts of different animals.

“The heads I make are a play on the two of these things,” Karen said.

“I made a head based on the phrenology head for an exhibition at the Scarborough Art Gallery and I placed a series of health charms, such as a moles forefoot, which I called the Charmology Head.”

This head was styled using health charms collected by the Scarborough-based Victorian charm collector William James Clarke.

“All my work is research based and are inspired from a piece of original ceramics and I then make contemporary ideas,” Karen said.

“I was asked to display some of my work in an exhibition with really big names like Grayson Perry.

“They made a call out for artists and I was the only one they selected which was brilliant.”

The majority of Karen’s work is research orientated except the cups that she makes.

“The cups are in a league of their own. People interact with cups and have a personal relationship with them,” Karen said.

As creating ceramics is a very long and laborious task, Karen cleverly made two Charmology heads and one was in colour which was used in the exhibition.

“You never know when something will break,” she said.

“You could simply open the door too early and it breaks so it’s good to make a spare.

“People have been responding and buying the tureen heads and they are becoming more popular than I wanted.

“My greatest fear is getting stuck with one thing that is successful and always making that one piece and the heads are starting to feel a bit like that and I am getting a bit bored of them now.

“I’m always looking for good tache and hair combinations to make them more exciting.”

For Karen, art is about evoking a response from somebody and making them think and some of her work, including the Goveshy and the chickens received huge responses during their exhibitions.

Karen said: “I was interested in the relationship with the computer keyboard and how people build really intense relationships with others over the internet and the only tactile element is the keyboard.

“I made this retro keyboard in 2008 before the mobile phone became so prolific and this exhibition made me think about the part that clay has played in communication.

“A lot of our information comes from cuneiform tablets and I wanted to merge the modern and historic forms of communication.

“I made a cast of the keys and pushed them into the slab of clay and got the impression of the keys.

“I then took the keys out to hold them and that’s when I saw the final print that looked kind of like hieroglyphics.

“Some pieces of work are conceived and some are made throughout the process.”

The studio was filled with dozens of ingredients that are used to make the different components to make ceramics.

According to Karen, a career is ceramics is expensive but relatively to a silver smith it is quite cheap.

The Crescent Arts is a charity funded by the Arts Council and offers a rotating artist residency programme.

Karen has been a resident since October 2010 and will stay there until around the end of June or July.

“I think I need to spend a year with the family in Newcastle but if I go up there I won’t have a studio,” Karen said.

“I am planning to relocate to Newcastle and do this occasionally when I get a good project.”

Some of Karen’s ceramics can be purchased from shops around Scarborough including Angela and Rosie on Bar Street and in Woodend.

“I sell my cups in the Art Gallery and had bits and pieces in Homebird House and I had a conversation with Alex and it would be nice to make some porcelain into lighting,” Karen said.

For more information, please visit Karen’s website at www.karent.co.uk

Wicked: The Great and Powerful of the West End

‘Are people born wicked? Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?’ These words from the opening number really make you ponder the answers and Wicked doesn’t fail to answer them.

Director: Joe Mantello

Producer: Marc Platt

Musical Director: James Draisey

Starring: Emma Hatton, Sophie Linder-Lee, Jeremy Taylor

Running: 2hrs 45mins

Within the current political climate with the general election looming over the country, Wicked is a topical show with themes of discrimination, being different and deceitful rulers.

It brings into account the notions of social obligation and personal courage for a new and somewhat flummoxed generation, at a time when trust in government leadership is questioned. And if that doesn’t entice someone, then I don’t know what will.

The production is an adaptation of the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, which is based on L. Frank Baum’s iconic children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz made even more famous by the 1939 film adaptation. A mouthful I know.

With the array of sources to base the script around, there is wonder that Wicked is beautifully written with subtle intertextual links to the other media, the ruby slippers come to mind.

Plus the brilliance and allure of the Emerald City is assured since visitors and citizens alike don green-tinted glasses.

Walking into the Apollo Theatre in London, your eyes are immediately drawn to the giant dragon on top of the curtains. The set is both, paradoxically, basic yet detailed with wheel cogs in the background symbolising The Clock of the Time Dragon, an element explained in more detail in the novel.

Having read the novel, and thoroughly enjoyed, there are elements of the set and the dialogue that only make sense to those with the common knowledge of the novel. Nevertheless, these elements are not greatly explored within the production but only briefly mentioned.

If anyone is a fan of The Wizard of Oz, then my advice, go see Wicked. It fills in some blank spaces of the original story and makes you see the Wicked Witch of the West in a different light.

There is no doubt why Wicked is one of the longest running shows on the West End. The ambience of the theatre is built and enhanced through the live orchestra. The tooting of horns and the beating of drums as they prepare, fills the audience and theatre with an excitement that cannot be explained.

As well, the Apollo Theatre is decorated green. Whether or not this was done purposely for the production doesn’t matter, it still enhances the greeniness of the production.

The theatre was filled with schools on excursions and it proves how the English culture values the arts and that couldn’t have pleased me more.

Emma Hatton, who played the misunderstood and politically agitated Elphaba, is a true performer.

Her ability to perform the belter Defying Gravity was a, using one of Glinda’s favourite words, ‘fabulocious’ pieces of music to ever be heard and had the audience miming along the powerful number.

Glinda, who was played by the understudy Sophie Linder-Lee, easily fitted into the shoes of Savannah Stevenson.

‘I didn’t get my way’ Glinda says… Well Sophie, now you have. Her performance as the spoilt, yet popular, Glinda, paid off and the two leads harmonised together.

However, during ensemble numbers, the two leads seemed to lack the ability to override the ensemble. Whether this was due to a microphone issue or that their voices weren’t powerful enough is one to wonder. But they both made up for this through their solos and duets.

Perhaps it’s my own bias, but I cannot help but compare these leading roles with the performances of the two original Broadway witches Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel but I was still hooked by their performances.

Jeremy Taylor played the role of Fiyero. Having read the book, the character of Fiyero, for me anyway, is supposed to be confident and arrogant, yet Jeremy seemed somewhat shy and lacked the confidence in his performance.

The two performers that really stuck out for me were Boq and Nessa. These two characters are brilliantly developed and for supporting roles they really add to the spectacle of the show.

Nessa, performed by Katie Rowley Jones, is a character that always seems to be missed out, even in the soundtrack, but she deserves the credit. Her song The Wicked Witch of the East is short but powerful and Katie had an exceptional voice, no surprise for the understudy for Elphaba.

Susan Hilferty, costumer designer, shows her true talents. Having designed more than 300 productions worldwide, her ability to create the wonderful world of Oz we have all grown to love is an outstanding achievement. The green, flamboyant outfits of the Ozians through to Elphaba’s simple, yet iconic, black dresses shows her range of talents.

Wicked is a powerful story about friendship and all criticisms aside, there is no surprise the show is so ‘Popular’.

Oh! I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

Seaside Snaps is currently be held at Scarborough Art Gallery and is a collection of photographs showing the town through the years.

The exhibition is a fantastic array of images that are sure to kindle old memories and will, and most certainly did for me, open your eyes how Scarborough used to be.

The images date back to around the 1860s and features attractions that are long gone in the town but used to be iconic attractions.

These long gone attractions include the Gala Land amusement complex and the South Bay Pool but the exhibition also features such as the Rotunda Museums and Peasholm Park that are still going strong.

The photographs are accompanied by comments from the public which have been collected via a social media campaign.

Each of the photographs in the exhibition are from the Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects and art collected by the borough over the years, and now in the care of the Scarborough Museum’s Trust.

Entry to the exhibition is £3, which then includes entry fee to both Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda Museum for a year.

The Gallery is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm, plus bank holidays.

A Crafty Paper Cutter

The Crescent Arts Studio in Scarborough is full of talented artists.

The studios are currently located in the basement of Scarborough Art Gallery and they offer studio space for up to seven artists at any one time.

One of the local resident artists, Steven Potter, spoke to us about why he got into creating pieces of art through paper cutting.

Steven said: “I started at Leeds College of Art in 2009 where I was promptly sent home to Scarborough before Freshers week began because I’d contracted mumps.”

As he contracted mumps, he saw that there were a few posts about his classes regarding ‘ice breaker activities’ and art exercises.

“I felt like I was missing out, like for some reason I would be at a disadvantage when I returned because I had not been there to hop on one leg and draw a straight line,” he said.

“I spent the week bitterly doodling repeated patterns into a sketchpad.”

When he returned, he ‘felt lost in a sea of experimental sculptures and groups of newly formed friends who had all already exhausted the novelty of exploring a new city.’

With all university students, there is always an issue with Student Finance; however, Steven did not receive any funding up until halfway through his second year.

He said: “I needed a cheap way of producing art, I found myself on paper but being as interested in illustration as I was in contact sports I dragged out my old sketchbooks to find away to make it work and stumbled upon the doodles I did when I was sick nearly two years ago.

“I decided to recreate them to see how subconsciously my unconscious thoughtless scribbles had changed.”

As he couldn’t afford the materials, Steven was unable to make his ‘doodles’ into 3D which is what he was hoping for.

“When I tell people about this I like to describe it like the scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where Harry picks up the wand and there’s a wind machine and lighting effects and dramatic music, in reality I saw a scalpel handle and blade by coincidence and bought them for 60p on student discount, there was no wind machine,” he said.

He then started to use the scalpel to cut the shapes and wrapped them around a lamp.

“I liked the way it looked and so did Leeds City Gallery who requested a window display for their Christmas art fair,” Steven said.

“Still working by hand I scaled up the A4 paper I had been working on to fit their 8ft window and so ‘griffonage’ was created.”

The question that he has been asked many times is ‘why do you not use a laser cutter?’

According to Steven, a laser cutter could produce what takes him months to produce by hand in less than a day.

“I guess using a laser cutter would be more efficient and a lot more accurate then I could ever do,” Steven said.

“It would be easy to assume at this point that a mixture of personal circumstance and ridiculous quirks had set me on a predetermined path of hand cutting over machine production and at first it definitely started that way however as I worked more and more with the medium I began to favour the time consuming process involved with the conception of large scale paper cut installations.

“I think it all circles back to that first week when I had mumps and missed out on the ice breakers and me not having any confidence in the work I produce.”

Hand cutting takes a lot of time and Steven believes that ‘the sacrifice involved in making these pieces isn’t just time, its personal dedication. ‘

The culmination of this practice came to fruition with his first solo show ‘10A’ at crescent arts which consisted of 10 8ft hand cut repeated pattern pieces suspended around a single light source.

According to Steven, there is a personal history involved with hand cutting that laser cutting doesn’t contain.

“Laser cutting is perfect. Hand cutting is a practice of mistakes. The art exists within the slipping of the blade,” he says.

More recently he has been scaling down his cutting to a more commercial level that combines the medium of paper cutting along with his sense of humour: ‘kitty’, ‘penguin’ and ‘bunny.’

He said: “I feel having worked with paper cutting for so long and in the same sort of way these pieces are the bridge to what is next and I have begun an experimental phase while my residency at Crescent is still in effect and I have access to the space.

“It’s exciting in the sense that it allows me to have fun outside of the artistic persona I have invented for myself but it’s also scary because it’s venturing outside a medium I have built a practice and a fan base around.

“What if what I produce isn’t as good? What if I waste time I could be cutting on something that won’t matter in the end?

“Basically I just have to constantly shove an apple in the mouth of my existential crisis and continue with a stiff upper lip and hope for the best.

“All in all if I end up back on paper cutting at least I’ll return to it with the same rejuvenated conviction I have after sacrificing to produce work.”

Crescent Arts is a local Scarborough gallery and arts council funded charity that houses a rotating artist residency program.

Steven interviewed for a studio whilst he was still at university and had his first solo show there.

“I have also exhibited in Leeds Light Night where I was awarded an independent artist bursary to participate,” he said.

Crescent Arts is to support and promote contemporary visual arts in Scarborough and beyond.

They support emerging, developing and leading artistic talent and seek to enhance access to the visual arts.

The resident artists benefit from subsidised rates for studios, equipment, facilities and resources as well as from professional support and training opportunities.

Steven said that he uses his full name ‘Steven Malorie Potter’ as a passive aggressive reply to the fact no gallery or submission seems to be able to get his name right.

“I have kicked off at so many printed typos below my work that for a brief period I insisted on being called Steven with a V.

“By giving my full name I relinquish responsibility and am providing all the letters of my name for interpretation of whoever is receiving my submission.”

To find out more information please visit his website at: http://www.stevenmaloriepotter.com/

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Photograph courtesy of Steven Malorie Potter

Glossary: How and Why Artists Make Prints

One word to describe the new exhibition held at the Crescent Arts, Scarborough is… Detail.

Being unfamiliar with the ways of artists, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but walking around the small studio, it was clear that each image was expertly crafted together.

Glossary: How and Why Artists Make Prints brings together the work of seven contemporary printmakers including Julian Meredith, Rachel Clewlow and Stephen Chambers.

It consisted of different examples of prints that varied from monoprint through to potato print (which was a favourite of mine).

With other works including digital print and direct print, the exhibition has something for any fan of art.

Julian Meredith’s Swifts (The Scream) evokes a sense of flight and movement and upon researching, I found that Meredith pressed a dead bird into the paper.

Originally shocked by this concept, the image did, as the information said, evoked a question of how we value other creatures’ lives.

A particular favourite of mine was Hilary Paynter’s Spetchells – Gathering Places.

The amount of detail that Hilary put into the image was a true eye-opener and an inspiration.

To create something so time consuming, creative and skilful is something, I would imagine, aspiring print makers would envy.

Being one of the small number of artists and illustrators working in the UK using the wood-engraving process, Hilary exceeds all expectations.

Her image is clearly and undoubtedly inspired by the Northumbrian artist Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) who raised wood engraving to an art form.

It is an exhibition showcasing the skills of each of the different print makers and showing just how many different ways to print.

As a novice art-gallery goer, I was astounded by the amount of work and skills that each artist has, including the simplistic yet profound potato print.

Art exhibitions, for those not ‘in with the crowd’, initially bring the question of ‘I don’t get it?’ to mind.

However, with plenty of information and a video of each artist, it did show how and why artists make prints.

Despite enjoying the exhibition, it did seem more catered towards those with an interest in fine art and those with an expertise in the area.

The exhibition is curated by Northern Print, based in Newcastle upon Tyne and will be available for viewing until May 16.

Sex, Party & Lies: Cringey, funny & thought-provoking

Being a big fan of foreign films in general, I picked up this film just by coincidence and I am extremely glad I did. Sex, Party & Lies is without a doubt one of the best films I have seen and needs audience’s attention.

The film, as stated in the plot, follows the lives of eight people over a course of three days. The film stars Mario Casas who plays Tony, the young boy who is in love with his best friend Nico. Mario portrayed the character of homosexual Tony in such a realistic way that whilst I was watching it all I wanted was for him to end up with his best friend. One could interpret that Tony is the main protagonist within this film however; each character has their own narrative even if they are interlocking in some way. At the end of the film, without giving too much away, the effects of the three day party lifestyle take the turn for the worst with Tony and it was extremely shocking and emotional to see just what happens to him in the end.

Another actress that is clearly worth mentioning is Ana Maria Polvorosa who plays the sexually repressed and in denial lesbian Marina. She was once again excellent in portraying a female who is sexually confused and there is a fantastic scene where she is looking in a mirror and saying other words for lesbian such as dyke. This shot was extremely effective as it allows the audience to understand that she is confused and unaware of whom she really is. Like the majority of the characters, Marina also suffers with the shocking ending and this is extremely emotional as just before the ending she is seen to be comfortable with herself now and she seems happy which is juxtaposed with the shocking finale.

The character called Carlos who is played by Hugo Silva is another character worth mentioning. Carlos is predominately the main drug addict within this film and is constantly seen snorting some sort of drug. This character was seen as the ‘prick’ within this film as he was cheating on his girlfriend with her best friend who he eventually started cheating on as well. Throughout the film, he was never seen in a positive light but however Silva played this character so well that you eventually start, not to like him, but to feel sorry for him and as the audience always see him doing some drug we believe that he will die. This makes the shocking end more unexpected.

As the film progressed, I was constantly unaware of what would happen in the next scene. Despite the acting be somewhat ‘cringey’ I was nonetheless hooked from the opening and closing credits. There were times when I tried to guess what was about to happen but it turns out that I was wrong. I believe that I fantastic film has to make the audience constantly trying to think about what could happen next therefore this film was a great piece of cinema as it made me become an active spectator.

As the majority of the film was set, basically, in a nightclub or rave throughout the use of lighting was quite limited as it was meant to capture the nightlife of Alicante which is did through the strobe lighting which you would find in nightclubs and raves. The only time that the lighting was natural and high key was through the intimate scenes between the characters outside the rave atmosphere, for example there is a scene where Paz, played by Miriam Giovanelli, is working in a restaurant/bar where the lighting is extremely natural and is juxtaposed with the lighting from the nightclubs .In relation to this, the music once again was trying to capture the nightlife and throughout the music was Spanish hardcore rave music which would have been heard in the nightclubs. Both the lighting and the music were very effective in creating the whole ambiance of the party lifestyle of these young characters. The music changes dramatically at the end where the music changes from rave music to striking emotional music which adds to the shocking ending. The film ends with the song from the beginning of the film so there is a sort of ongoing loop between the characters.

As stated earlier, this is one of my favourite films of all time now and I suggest that everyone should see this film sooner or later.

There are parts which make you laugh, parts that make you cringe, parts that make you think (a lot) and then there are parts which make you cry.

Park Chan-wook does it again!

Before beginning this review, I have to state that Park Chan-wook is one of my favourite Asian film directors and I am a huge fan of Oldboy.

This is his first English speaking film and he lives up to his cinematic techniques and devices.

When watching Stoker, the first thing that grabbed my attention was the music, and in some scenes the lack of music. Throughout the entire film, the music reinforces the uneasiness of the uncle, played by Matthew Goode. The main score varies between diegetic and non-diegetic. During the entire film, there are several shots where the music is heard but it is off-screen (non-diegetic) but then the scene changes to a shot of India (Wasikowska) playing the same melody on the piano. The piano is frequently seen within the film and one could suggest that a majority of the film relies heavily on the piano and the melodies played by each character.

As well as the music, there are also recurring motifs such as the whistling of Charles (Goode) which becomes attached to him and allows the audience to understand and identify that he is a potential threat, one could say that the whistling has the same effect as the Jaws theme tune. The audience becomes aware that something evil is soon to happen.

As I stated earlier, the lack of music is also very effective. India and her uncle Charles are able to “hear what others cannot hear” [direct quote from the film], therefore when there is no melody playing either on screen or off screen, the other sounds are reinforced. The opening scene has a voice-over effect added which is, despite not stated until the end, the voice of India. Within this opening scene, the sound of bugs and wind is reinforced, creating an immediate uneasy feeling toward the film.

One particular sequence of shots that rely heavily on sounds and, for me, was extremely effective was the scene where India was playing her piano and there were multiple shots of her opening items with lids, such as her piano and pencil case. This scene was excellent as India had just discovered her dead housekeeper in the freezer, therefore whenever she lifted the lid from certain items she has a flash back to the discovery of the dead housekeeper. I found this to be a fantastic scene as there was a melody in the background [India playing the piano] with the reinforced sound of the freezer opening.

It is clear that I found the music and sound to be one of the most prominent aspects of this film but now I will focus on the rest of the fantastic film. The three main characters played by Kidman, Wasikowska and Goode all excellently portrayed their characters. The mother of India played by Kidman was one of my favourite representations. Kidman showed the jealously of a mother and daughter relationship extremely well and towards of the end of the film, you can’t help but hate her, which was something new for me when watching a Kidman film. Wasikowska, also portrayed a mourning teenager very well. She was constantly seen looking miserable and always deep in thought. It was clearly from the very beginning of the film that she didn’t have a good relationship with her mother and this already established relationship continued throughout the entire film.

Charles, played by Goode, was charming and attractive, yet you could tell immediately that something is not ‘right’ about this character and Goode manages to keep this characteristic throughout the whole film. During the murder scenes, you can’t help but get anxious due to the build-up of the death.

Throughout the duration there are multiple freeze frame shots and lots of fast camera movements which, in my opinion, keeps the audience constantly aware that they are watching a psychological thriller. As well, there are many ‘unusual’ cuts to separate scenes. These cuts vary from the swipe technique to an ellipsis in the narrative which is filled via flashback techniques. The use of repetition in the film is very frequent. There are many shots from previous scenes, which add a little bit more information when India is trying to piece together the mystery of her uncle.

There are also many extreme close-ups, and one in particular is the scene where India is brushing her mother’s hair. This scene is an extreme close-up and as the camera focuses on the hair, it changes into grass, for a flashback of India and her father.

When India is her father’s office she discovers letters written from her uncle addressed to her. When she begins to read them, the letters are super imposed onto the screen and there is writing all over the screen. Despite this technique being used in multiple films before this one, I found this interesting and it was different to anything that came up previously in the film.

One of my favourite scenes within the film was the build-up to the death of India’s aunt. Each character from Charles to the aunty are all watching the same nature programme about a predator seeking out its prey. This scene stuck with me as when you watch it, you know, deep down, that Charles will find the aunt and kill her. I found it interesting as the voice-over of the animal channel narrator stayed over the top of the entire scene until Charles had found her and killed her.

This film is a great film and a fantastic purchase. For those who haven’t seen it, I would advise a viewing as soon as possible.

Park Chan-wook has done it again! He manages to grasp the audience from beginning to end.

The Breakfast Club: A Triumph of the 80s

When growing up, I was lucky enough to never have to spend a Saturday in detention, something after watching this definitive 80s teen movie I would give my right arm for.

This is consider to be one of the greatest high school films, as well as one of Hughes’ most memorable and recognisable works and it is undeniably true.

There is nothing within this film that shouldn’t be and everything works perfectly together and in turn produces an outstanding viewing.

Each character has their own reason why they are having to spend their Saturday in detention and all are revealed by each character as they grow to know and enjoy each other’s company.

One of the most emotional scenes in this film is when the ‘Brain’ explains why he is there and you can’t help but be hooked and even, some may shed a tear.

I have to admit that when re-watching The Breakfast Club for the fifth time, I couldn’t help but wonder how a remake in modern day would work and from ideas that were spinning around my head, I’m glad that there isn’t one in the making.

This film is one hundred percent perfect.

This is not to say that there are some scenes that are just unbearable to watch, in particular, when the students smoke weed and dance around the library.

Every time I watch this film that is the one scene that I just cannot watch.

Besides that one scene, there is nothing else about the film that isn’t out of place. It will constantly have you asking questions including the one I couldn’t get out of my head ‘Which character would I be?’ (Unfortunately for me, it would be the Brain).

As well as the acting and the script of the film, the soundtrack is unbelievably catchy.

With the brilliant Simple Minds having their infamous track ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ as the end sequence track is one of the most suited songs to be added to a film.

The fact that the song is entitled ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ is perfect for the ending of the film as you never find out how they treat each other when school begins on Monday.

This iconic film will have you wondering just what will happen to each of these characters once the film has ended. Do they stay friends at school on Monday? Do they go back to their normal friends?

This film takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. There are parts that will make you belt out laughter and parts that will have you on the brink of crying.