Little Accidents: An Intense, Emotional Drama

Little Accidents is an emotional, realistic production that keeps you asking questions.

Director and writer: Sara Colangelo

Starring: Elizabeth Banks, Josh Lucas, Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Lofland

Release: September 28

Little Accidents follows the lives of a small community who all are coping in their own ways to a tragic accident which saw several of the miners die.

This sets of a series of misfortune for many of the residents including the sole survivor Amos Jenkins (Boyd Holbrook), a lonely mother (Elizabeth Banks) and a young boy with blood on his hands (Jacob Lofland).

The opening sequence shows the mining shaft presumably, although never stated, before the accident occurred and the workers allowing the audience to establish the location and the potential themes and characters.

The film has a continuous feel of a documentary-esque style through the use of the unsteady, handheld camera, yet it somehow reinforces the realism aspect that the production creates.

We are first introduced to Amos Jenkins (Holbrook) as the injured miner who is the sole survivor and from his dialogue we immediately understand an accident has occurred.

Reinforcing this is the montage of images that follows Jenkins giving his statement and it becomes apparent that the tragedy has affected the small town and even further reinforces the idea that this is not going to be a happy production.

The ‘melancholyness’ of the town and the grey skies within the images help to bring into account how an accident can affect a whole community.

After this montage of images, we are introduced to two brothers, Owen (Lofland) and James who has Down syndrome.

At first it was unclear as to whether they were the children of Amos or one of the miners who died. As the narrative progresses, we find out that Owen and James’ father died in the mine.

The independent production hints multiple times throughout that the mining accident was not in fact an accident which brings the lonely wife and mother Diana Doyle (Banks) and her family into the narrative.

The film sees these three characters from varied social classes brought together through the mining incident and the others that follow.

Little Accidents keeps you asking ‘what is going to happen?’ and the big question ‘what caused the mining accident in the first place?’

As the narrative progresses you get a sense that something is going to happen that will further link all the characters together and it does not fail to do so.

One particular scene where you will not be able to turn your eyes away from the screen is when Own is running away from the son of Diana, JT.

As the two boys whizz passed the camera through the wooded area it becomes an intense scene and the tension builds and then one incident causes a new narrative to emerge.

It is clear why the film is called Little Accidents as it involves families being affected by one main accident followed by some smaller ones and it is rightly named.

Without the death of the miners the narrative could not have gone in the direction it went. After this accident smaller ones occur which brings all the characters together and the three main characters are all connected.

With a cast including Boyd Holbrook and Josh Lucas, the star performance has to be given to Elizabeth Banks.

Her ability to show the feeling of loss is an Oscar winning performance. Personally, I have only seen her in The Hunger Games and the TV series for Wet Hot American Summer and initially I was sceptical at her being casted.

However, upon viewing she showed me what a talented actress she is and I was pleasantly surprised with her performance and will definitely add more films of hers to my collection.

Throughout the entire film, you are hoping for some sort of happiness to befall on the town and its residents and there does seem some glimmer of sunshine as the narrative progresses but it swiftly goes as it came.

The three main characters, Diana, Owen and Amos are brought together over the same accidents in their own ways.

Amos becomes a sort of father-figure to Owen and Diana becomes a companion to Amos and a motherly-figure to Owen.

There happiness and on the other hand their misery can be seen to go hand in hand with each other.

Like most independent films, the ending is ambiguous and does not tie up the loose ends. Do the characters get their comeuppance? Is there a happy ending? It is all up to the viewers to decide the characters’ fate.

Little Accidents will be released on DVD and VOD on September 28.

Directed and written by Sara Colangelo, Little Accidents is an emotional portrayal of a town and the families who are all coping with their own loss and guilt.

Advertisements

Let’s Do The Time Warp Again!

For one night only, the world sang and danced to the Time Warp.

Writer: Richard O’Brien

Director: Christopher Luscombe

Starring: David Bedella. Haley Flaherty, Ben Forster, Sophie Linder-Lee, Jayde Westaby, Richard Meek, Dominic Andersen, Kristian Lavercombe

Touring: From December 2015

The Playhouse Theatre, London, and cinemas across the world were invaded by ‘Sweet Transvestites From Transexual, Transylvania’ for the live screening of the Rocky Horror Show.

One of the most iconic, audience ‘interactable’ shows to be produced on stage follows Brad and Janet who get ‘pelvic thrusted’ into a ‘strange journey’.

First showed in 1973, the musical production has become a cult classic and fans across the world have filled theatres waiting for their favourite Transvestites to appear on stage all dressed head to toe as their favourite characters and the live stream did not fail to follow these traditional requirements.

Unlike most theatre productions, the show relies heavily on audience participation with them shouting iconic words and phrases, taking items in with them and even getting up and doing the Time Warp.

As a huge fan of the show and the film adaptation starring Tim Curry, I was eagerly anticipating the live stream and what a joy it was.

As the screening began, a feeling of jealousy swooped over me. Why didn’t I go to see the show in London? Even though I have seen it multiple times before there is nothing more exciting than seeing the show on stage.

However, live screenings do have their positives. With the ability to zoom into the actors faces, the cinema audiences across the world are able to see their facial expressions more clearly. This also includes when the cast are trying to hold back laughter.

As well, whilst the theatre audience were settling in their seats, cinema audiences were treated to an exclusive interview with Richard O’Brian himself who explained why the show has been such a success over the years

David Bedella’s performance as everyone’s favourite Transvestite Frank N Furter has become a fan favourite and his ability to create a role so iconic is a tough job but he does not fail to do so with perfection.

He knew how to keep the audience engaged through his facial expressions, vocals and ad lib which is an element of theatre that I particularly love.

Breaking the fourth wall is common in this performance and the live stream did not fail to follow this through with Frank saying to an audience member that it was his time to sing.

The rest of the cast including Hayley Flaherty as Janet, Ben Forster as Brad, Sophie Linder-Lee as Columbia, Jayde Westerby as Magenta, Richard Meek as Eddie/Dr Scott and Dominic Andersen as Rocky were nothing else but perfect.

All performers have played their respective parts in various productions of the show in past years and returned for this special evening.

Kristian Lavercome as Riff Raff is the only performer who will be continuing his role as the hunched-back, faithful handyman when the show begins its tour in December 2015.

To top of the evening, creator Richard O’Brien took on the role of one the narrators causing roars of applause throughout the theatre and the cinema.

Other guest narrators included Stephen Fry, Emma Bunton, Anthony Head and Mel Giedroyc who also introduced the show worldwide to cinema audiences.

The production has been running for 43 years and the one night only live stream was a charitable event for Amnesty International, a cause that O’Brien feelings strongly about.

The Rocky Horror Show will be touring from December 2015 but get your tickets ASAP! They will sell out quickly!

 

Addicted to Fresno: Only Slightly Addictive

Addicted to Fresno is an attempt at a Thelma and Louise-esque comedy.

Director: Jamie Babbit

Writer: Karey Dornetto

Starring: Judy Greer, Natasha Lyonne, Malcom Barrett, Molly Shannon

This black-comedy centres around two sisters, Martha (Natasha Lyonne) a lesbian and Shannon (Judy Greer) a sex addict, who work as maids in a hotel is Fresno.

When Shannon accidentally murders one of their guests, the two sisters embark on a ‘get rid of the body’ journey which sees them robbing a sex shop, selling sex toys to lesbians and stealing money from a bar mitzvah.

Addicted to Fresno begins with a voice over narration alongside scenes of a prison which then cuts to two years earlier allowing the audience to understand that it is someone reminiscing about an incident that happened.

Like other films, Addicted to Fresno uses the credit sequence as a way to set the scene for the rest of the film by using a montage of images showing the area and cleaners working.

Initially the narrative is quite slow and without watching the trailer first, it is unclear as to what the story is and what will happen next.

Comedy is difficult to produce and writer Karey Dornetto focuses her humour on the themes of sex and uses a lot of, what can only be described as, non-PC.

As the film does centre on someone with a sex addiction it makes sense that the humour is based around this as well and the over-the-top acting reinforces the attempt at comedy.

Some of the scenes were slightly ridiculous especially when the sisters sell the sex toys to a group of lesbians.

However, director Jamie Babbit knew how to make this scene more visually appealing through the use of montage of photographs.

As the film progresses, it does pose the question of ‘what is the narrative?’ It seems to jump from a story about Shannon trying to get her life sorted and then moves to a ‘get rid of a body’ murder film and it was difficult to guess where the story was going.

It is very much a film focused on the idea of cause and effect. In any film, events happen that seem to be to perfect and Addicted to Fresno does not fail to use this traditional method.

The sisters need to get rid of a body and it just so happens they know someone who works at a pet cemetery. Cause and effect does work in filming but sometimes it seems too predictable. Maybe this was added to increase the comedy side? It is difficult to say.

Judy Greer’s performance as the sex addict Shannon is one to give applauds to but it seems that without her addiction the film would have no humour or elements to it.

The sex addiction side of her is the main catalyst for the story and the film does keep reinforcing this and it gets slightly dull towards the end.

Martha, played by Natasha Lyonne, is the perfect actor to play the career-driven, focused of the two sisters and whilst watching, it seems as though the role came naturally to her.

Together, the two actors work extremely well together and their acting brings to life the two sisters and their different lives.

Although the acting was good, there did seem to be some instances where the script was most improvised than actually scripted.

Nevertheless, the humour, although sometimes limited, does keep surfacing throughout the film.

As well, the continuous juxta-positioning of the two sisters reinforce their outlooks of life and their own desires and goals and it is a nice touch for the low-budgeted film to incorporate.

A good film is all about detail and Addicted to Fresno uses the notice board of the hotel to add to the comedy elements.

I would suggest keeping an eye out for the notice board which changes in each scene that it is featured in. Small elements like this all add to a good film.

Call me slightly sadistic but one of the funniest scenes that made me laugh out loud is during the bar mitzvah scene.

They decide to crash the ceremony and steal the money given to the young boy. In order to do so they need a distraction which turns out to be Martha faking a seizure.

Although this sounds quite insensitive, it is one of the few scenes that I thoroughly enjoyed watching and had to wipe away a few tears.

The independent, low budget film was shot in Fresno, California, due to budget restrictions that did not allow it be shot in the original location in Cleveland.

Independent films are not for everyone and I would be lying if I said that there was fancy Hollywood camera work and it was full of CGI but it didn’t need it.

The film is not Hollywood’s next big film and it knows it. It is merely a film about two completely different people who bond over an accidental murder.

Addicted to Fresno has its flaws but nevertheless, the eye for detail and the few hilariously funny moments do create an adult-focused comedy.

Alan Ayckbourn’s new play Hero’s Welcome review

Alan Ayckbourn’s new play Hero’s Welcome is a humorous yet serious production that will make you think about past relations and romances.

Director: Alan Ayckbourn

Writer: Alan Ayckbourn

Starring: Stephen Billington, Elizabeth Boag, Russell Dixo, Terenia Edwards, Emma Manton, Richard Stacey

Running: September 4 – October 3

The play captures a town’s reaction to Murray (Richard Stacey) returning from the war with his new wife Madrababacascabuna, or Baba (Terenia Edwards) and receiving a title of town hero.

As the play unfold, it becomes clear that Murray’s return has impacted old friends and romances including the Mayor of the town, Alice (Elizabeth Boag).

As memories begin to be remembered between the characters, jealousy and envy become the catalyst for the rest of the events that unfold.

Whilst waiting for the production to start in The Round at The Stephen Joseph Theatre, the set was the first thing to capture the eye of the audience.

The small stage was split into three different sections each showing a room in separate buildings. This clever use of space and design is particularly influential as the play progresses.

Each section of the set indicates the different characters’ homes and with the help of the lighting by Jason Taylor, the audience were able to fully understand which section was for which character.

The play starts with an interview with Murray with BBC Look North. As it continues, it became apparent that it was the real voices of Harry Gration and Amy Garcia from the team. This just reinforces Ayckbourn’s connections as a renowned playwright.

As the production progresses, it keeps the audience thinking that it would that a certain direction but it would go a different route and always keeps a humorous undertone throughout the entire production.

This happened more than once and keeps you on your toes about what will happen next.

There was a reference to a building being demolished in the town and this theme can be seen to relate to the Scarborough community with the Scarborough Borough Council wanting to demolish the beloved Futurist Theatre that has hosted many different plays in its run. This theme of demolition swiftly disappears as it came.

The narrative is slightly complicated that does warrant focus throughout and as the play continued there are some scenes that are predictable and events take place that aren’t really clear as to why a certain character did what they did.

The first half establishes the characters, their history with each other and builds expectations for an action-packed, love fight between the females in particular.

However, the second half takes a more serious route with events unfolding that threw the production into a more emotional direction.

Without giving away any spoilers, incidents happen to certain characters that were not expected and the reasoning behind some of them is unclear. Nevertheless, the humour is still evident especially in the character of Derek.

With a small cast of only six people, it is hard to only pick out a few that really stood out as they all brought their own characters to life.

From the sexual predator of Brad (Stephen Billington) through to the naïve, foreigner Baba (Edwards), the whole cast perfectly fitted into their own roles.

Out of them all, Russell Dixon’s performance of the submissive, kind hearted and slightly flamboyant of Derek is the star of the show.

His continuous use of funny quirks and recurring motives keep the audience entertained throughout and his character was admired greatly by the audience that one of his scenes even caused the audience to applaud his reactions to a certain character.

This shows that Dixon is an extremely talented actor that can influence a reaction from the audience.

One critique that must be said is that there were some instances when it was difficult to hear what the actors were saying.

Whether or not they didn’t have microphones or if they weren’t working is a question I kept asking myself. When the noise of the audience enjoying the production overrode the actors performing did cause some issues.

Nevertheless, Hero’s Welcome is a play that is worth watching for any theatre fans and the full audience only proves how well-admired Ayckbourn is in the Scarborough area.

Hero’s Welcome is performing in Scarborough until October 3 and will begin its tour after its run at The Stephen Joseph Theatre.

New Chairman for Hertsmere Youth Council

A Queen’s School pupil from Radlett has been voted chair of the youth council for Hertsmere.

Jackie Warman, who is 16 but was elected when he was 15, started working with the youth council five years ago and has been actively involved in the local community.

In June, the youth council had an election for a new chairman to represent the youth of the area and through anonymous voting Jackie was awarded the title.

Jackie said: “It gives young people in the area a voice. The youth council is targeted at 11-19 year olds and it is really good to have on your CV.”

During the election, the voting decided between 10 other councillors which was then narrowed down to just three.

The youth council undertake small tasks around the area and they are always looking for new members to get involved.

Jackie’s father, Leigh Warman, said that the local community is something that has always interested his son.

“I am really proud and it is a fantastic achievement for someone his age,” Mr Warman said.

“All I can say is I am a very proud dad.”

The youth council complete projects in and around the community and work closely with the local mayor.

Each year, they get a budget of £3,000 to spend how they wish if the council agree with their proposed plans.

Jackie said: “It is a role that I am willing to take up and we are always looking for new members to get involved in the youth council.

“These people become your friends and it’s actually quite fun.”

The youth council provide a year round provision for ages nine to 19 helping them improve their chance of success and to raise aspirations in the most deprived areas in Hertsmere.

If there is anyone who is wanting to get involved, please send an email to customer.services@hertsmere.gov.uk and for the attention of Jackie Warman.

‘Thank you seafarers’

Harpenden Town Council raised the Red Ensign flag at the Town Hall to promote the UK’s dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers on Merchant Navy Day.

The Merchant Navy seafarers are responsible for around 95 per cent of the UK’s imports including food products.

At 10am on September 3, visiting ships in UK ports were encouraged to sound their horns in support of industry.

The Deputy Town Mayor said: “The Town Council was delighted to take part in the event and to show its gratitude and respect to all those that have served or currently serve in the Merchant Navy.

“We are grateful for those who keep the vital shipping links and transportation of goods for our country going; helping to sustain livelihoods and businesses.”

The nationwide call for the official flag of the UK’s Merchant Navy to be flown on public buildings and flagstaffs was supported by Harpenden Town Council.

“It is something that we can all take so easily for granted and I am pleased to have raised the flag and shared in raising awareness of the important work that they do,” the Deputy Town Mayor said.

We’re all going on a short summer holiday

A recent announcement has revealed that schools in England are now able to set their own term dates and summer holidays.

Academies and free schools have the power to determine their own term dates and many across England are already taking advantage of this change.

The Department of Education have also revealed that this change would soon be extended to council-run schools.

Some schools in the Hertfordshire area have already decided on the structure of their timetable for the next academic year and some have stuck to a more traditional schedule.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “Hertfordshire’s recommended school term dates are based on proposals from a working party of representatives from both primary and secondary head teacher associations, working to a set of agreed principles.”

These agreed term dates for this academic year were published in January 2013 and can be found on the County Council’s website.

“While there was support for this model from the secondary sector at the time, we are aware that some schools subsequently chose to set dates which did not align with Hertfordshire’s dates,” the County Council said.

“It has always been acknowledged that academy schools are not required to follow the county council’s model and will ultimately make their own decisions regarding their term dates.

“Indeed, it is possibly that in the future there may be greater variety of term dates, and even term structures, as individual schools look at innovative ways of teaching and raising standards.”

Despite being given advice on how their academic year should look by the County Council, schools and academies now have full control.

By reducing the summer holiday time, parents are able to take their children abroad at cheaper prices but could still face fines if a child is taken out of school in term time.

Currently permission is needed for an adult to take their child out of school during term time and with consent from the head teacher if this is not granted, parents could risk paying a fine.

Parents could face up to £60 in fines and if they do not pay it within 21 days it increases to £120.

Prosecution fines can equal up to £2,500, a community order or a jail sentence up to three months with a Parenting Order.

The new decision was welcomed by the government who advised head teachers to think about local businesses if they plan to change term dates.

Decorative sword stolen from young blacksmith from Abbots Langley

A young blacksmith from Abbots Langley is asking for witnesses after a decorative sword was stolen during bank holiday weekend in Wimpole Estate.

Peter Williamson, 23 who lives on The Graylings in Abbots Langley, graduated last year and created the sword for his final project at Hereford College of Arts.

The sword, which measures two and a half foot, was stolen from his tent in Wimpole whilst he was away demonstrating in the folly.

Mr Williamson said: “It only really has value to me and I cannot what anyone would get from stealing it.

“It’s not something you expect to happen. The site that we were on was really far away, roughly around a km, and we had to walk to get to the other areas.”

On the day of the theft, it looked like it was going to be raining and Mr Williamson decided not to demonstrate the sword and left it in the tent.

According to Mr Williamson, it was around 9.30pm when someone asked him to show and demonstrate the sword and he realised it was missing.

If the sword was to be valued, the price would be around £3,000 according to Mr Williamson.

The sword was used for demonstrations to show people the skills and the work of an artistic blacksmith.

“It has more sentimental value to me as I didn’t give up and pushed to do this project in my final year at college.”

Mr Williamson graduated from the Hereford College of Arts where he studied Artistic Blacksmithing.

With the other projects that he had to do the sword took around two months to create not including the planning and preparation.

According to Mr Williamson, his college tutors were initially sceptical at the idea of someone creating decorative weaponry as many other students want to pursue this.

“They said that it was really difficult and that you cannot expect to be able to do that without the ability,” he said.

“I decided to just learn the basics with hopefully pursuing this career when I was older.”

The sword was stolen from the tent in Wimpole Estate on Bank Holiday Sunday and anyone with information are being asked to contact the police on 101, with the crime reference OF/15/833.

An Inspirational Couple

In Raw, near Whitby in North Yorkshire, there is a couple who have an inspirational story to tell.

Dennis and Norma Carrick spend their retirement caring and rescuing abandoned and injured animals, whether they are wild or pets.

The couple have been helping abandoned and injured animals for 16 years and they never have a day off.

Mrs Carrick, 73, said: “We started at Whitby Dog Rescue and we have been here for 16 years now and every animal here is rescued.”

Dennis, 80, was the second coxswain on the lifeboat in Whitby and took Norma on a tour across the world.

In order to feed all the animals, the couple spend roughly around £60 to £100 a week on food alone but receive no financial help except for donations.

“We do hold some events in order to raise money including through jumble sales,” Mrs Carrick said.

The 73-year-old even went so far as to do a parachute jump and raised around £2400.

“I gave some of the money to other charities as well but never got a thank you or anything,” she said.

Across the six acres of land there are a whole host of different breeds on animals, from geese to sheep and goats to cats, all of which were rescued by the inspirational couple.

They do not breed any of the animals as that is not what the rescue centre is for but instead they look to re-home some of the animals (depending on age) and never put them down until they are too old.

Compared to other charities who charge around £100 for a dog, Raw Animal Rescue Centre give them for free.

Mrs Carrick said: “People ring up to tell about abandoned or animals that are going to be put done.

“We rescued sheep who were supposed to be put down when they were three but have lived until they are 13.”

As well as local residents getting in touch, the police are also frequently engaging with them and brought to their attention the nine puppies that were scattered around Whitby.

Mrs Carrick said: “Social services got in touch with us about a cat whose owner had to go into hospital.

“When we got it, it was so malnourished and skinny we don’t think it had been fed for a while so we put her in the attic and now she is called the cat in the attic.”

Some of the animals were obviously injured including a goat with one horn and ducks with Angel Wing (who are easy targets for foxes).

“We do get a lot of fox attacks especially this time of the year when they are breeding,” Mrs Carrick said.

As well as the inspirational couple, there is also a team of volunteers who take time to help with the caring and cleaning of the animals.

“Volunteers throughout the week but the workload is continuous and there are always jobs to be done,” Mrs Carrick said.

Despite the help of the volunteers, they are always looking for help around the farm and there is continuous DIY/manual labour work.

As said, their weekly spend of food alone is costly but they are always in need of appliances, equipment and materials to keep the farm up dated and secure.

After fifteen years of having no trouble, in September 2014 there was an incident that caused the couple to install CCTV.

Mr Carrick said: “We had an issue with the fox hunters who came onto our land and disturbed the animals resulting in having to put a sheep down.

“I was accused of firing a gun but the case was dismissed but since then a whole host of trouble has occurred.”

What happened after this incident was truly shocking to hear.

These included the tail and mane cut off a pony, the gate was lifted off its crooks and left open, intruders were on top of the stable and a sitting goose was disturbed which resulted in her leaving her eggs and as a result there were 13 dead goslings.

As well, there have been a few disagreements with the local vets who are called out to help the injured animals.

“If we find an animal injured during non-surgery hours, the vets we have dealt with the in past would refuse to come out and therefore we would have to put the animal down ourselves,” Mrs Carrick said.

The couple now have a vet that will come and check on the animals but they used to deal with Cleveland Vets but no more.

“I am sure vets have an obligation to treat wild animals as well as pets,” Mrs Carrick said.

This truly inspirational couple are always looking for and in need of any help and donations from people and businesses.