Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Twilight - New Moon

It's the film that's sent ripples across the globe, causing hysterical excitement in teenage girls at the prospect of seeing Robert Pattinson (or 'RPat' as he's now being called. Not the most inspiring nickname...) on the big screen again, and sarcastic guffaws from everyone who deems themselves far too sophisticated to be interested in the same things as teenage girls. I think I fit somewhere between the two. After the first 'Twilight' film, which I thought was okay but wasn't blown away by, I had been intrigued by the release of the sequel but not necessarily psyched for it. A number of my friends were very much looking forward to it, however, having read all of Stephanie Meyer's books, and so I found myself in a pre-booked cinema seat in a very very full screening.

So, for those who don't know, the 'Twilight Saga', as the series of books and films are officially called, follows the story of Bella (Kristen Stewart) - a 'normal' girl who falls in love with Edward (Robert Pattinson), a pale boy at school. Except he's not just 'a pale boy at school', he's a hundred-and-something-year-old vampire, who comes from a family of 'vegetarian' vampires that only eat animals. But they still really really want human blood, and think Bella is ever so tasty, which gets her into all kinds of scrapes.

'New Moon' begins at one of these scrapes - Edward's brother goes for Bella after she suffers a pretty severe paper cut. This is one scare too far for Edward's conscience, so he decides to leave her in order to protect her. Although his reasoning is blazingly obvious, Bella thinks he doesn't love her any more and spends (literally) months moping, not speaking to anyone, and having screaming nightmares. She sounds fun, huh? She also repeatedly sends emails to Edward's sister, Alice, even though they never get delivered. It's all a little bit bunny-boiler. To take her mind off of all this pining, Bella tries to distract herself from Edward with newly-buffed-up friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the other reason for the teenage girl frenzy (and I can't blame them, phwoar!) But he isn't all he seems either...
So is this a quality film? Well...I'm not sure it'll be winning any Oscars. The script is pretty wooden at times, and the 'intense' looks between Bella and Edward sometimes just end up suggesting that they could do with a bit more fibre in their diets, if you catch my drift. Bella is also incredibly irritating, this isn't down to the acting particularly, just the fact that she's an adrenaline-seeking idiot, as dangerous situations seem to trigger a vision of Edward. This is something that is never explained, which is rather annoying. But, despite a few problems, it is damn entertaining. You've got action, a bit of gore and horror, action, romance, and some rather hot people to look at. In the full cinema, every time a shirt was removed, a kiss nearly happened, and especially at a certain cliffhanger at the end, the whole audience screamed, clapped and cheered. They were loving it. Although it may not have had quite the same effect on me, this film is a big deal to a lot of young people, and as it promotes a lot of good values - accepting those who are 'different' etc - maybe some of the critics should give it a break.
Twilight New Moon - 3.5/5

Monday, 16 November 2009


Often I try to pretend to be a bit of a film geek, and so I first I heard about this latest release from Disney and Pixar some months ago when it was shown at Cannes Film Festival. Ever since the Cannes screening I have read review after review about how spectacular and moving this film was, 'the best Disney film in years' yada yada yada. Reviews like this are great for generating a positive buzz, and definitely persuaded me to (eventually) spend my fairly hard earned cash to go and see it - especially since there wasn't a huge amount in the way of advertising. Anyway, while the reviews are great for getting people into the cinema, they're not always so good once you're there. I had such high expectations - that I was going to be crying with sadness one minute and with laughter the next. I wanted big, unexpected, amazing things. I'm not sure what Disney could have done to fulfil this, but they just didn't quite reach the mark.

It's not that this is a bad film, far from it, as the reviews said, it did have moments that were actually quite harrowing, and parts which really did make me laugh, but it just was not up to the hype. One review, for instance, described the beginning of 'Up' as being sadder than Bambi's mother getting shot, Mufasa dying in the 'Lion King', and Dumbo's mother being locked up...what kind of horrendous carnage can really live up to that?! Nothing that would pass a PG rating, that's for sure. So, yes, it was sad, I felt sorry for the old cartoon man, but my tear ducts stayed dry.

Downfalls aside, there is a lot about 'Up' that is rather good. I only wish I had seen it in 3D, as that would have enhanced the experience even more. For a quick summary, we meet Carl and Ellie Fredrickson, how they meet as children, fall in love, grow up and grow old together. Sadly even a love like theirs cannot last forever, and so Carl is left old, alone, and in danger of losing his house and his independence. What does he do to overcome this? Well, what anyone would do, ties hundreds of helium balloons to his house so that it lifts off and so that he can take it to South America. Yes, you read that right. From a fairly realistic beginning you do have to utilize your imagination as the story takes several sharp fantastical turns; chocoholic birds, talking dogs, death-defying stunts by two OAPs...but it's fun, it's exciting, and gives hope to Carl's once bleak outlook, which would be a comfort to anyone that has lost someone close to them.

Highlights of the movie would have to be the stowaway boyscout, Russell, who is both annoying and adorable, and the talking dogs - any dog I have seen since this movie I can totally see speaking like the ones in the film!

It's a good family film, but don't expect it to be as life-changing as some of the critics might have you believe!

Up - 4/5

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Nostalgic fm - Radio For The Unfulfilled?

I have just been spending the spare minutes of my working day in between phone calls perusing the various news sites to find out what's going on in the world, and in between which celeb got fat this week and what new superfood will save us all, I came across a little story about a new radio station. Absolute Radio (formerly known as Virgin fm) are launching a new station, called Absolute 80s, which will be playing - yes you guessed it - music from that magical shellsuit-filled era of the 1980s. This station will be dedicated to the likes of Duran Duran, Prince,
Madonna...Chris deBurgh(?!) and expressly aimed at a group termed 'reluctant adults', society's 30-54 year olds, who want to regress back to memories of their youth that has been preserved in the cheesey music around at the time.

The chief operator of the Absolute Radio chain, Clive Dickens, said there is a gap in the market for this kind of station, that listeners of this age group 'have responsibilities, are members of families but still want to participate and have fun and be involved in music', and this radio station - which will have no DJs and be run on a dukebox type system - is the way to offer this.

There are a number of things that struck me about Dickens' statement. First of all, that those around the middle aged bracket with their responsibilities and families need something provided to them to enable them to 'have fun'. What a depressing prospect! Both that hitting middle age means you're going to be bored and unable to appreciate modern music, but also that the invention of a mere radio station will be able to solve such pining! At 22 I do already appreciate the memories that can be brought back through music, but to think that I will eternally crave for the music of my youth because it holds the only memories worth remembering...shall I just slit my wrists now?! Surely responsible adulthood holds some opportunity for fun? Surely 'the noughties' haven't brought that much disappointment?

Also, despite only being alive for 2 full years of the 80s, I and many of my friends would love to tune into such a retro radio station. True, it does not bring back many memories to speak of, but we would listen because we have been influenced by our parents' tastes, and - as with the slightly questionable return of shoulder-pads shows - because the 80s is very cool right now. It's a cheesey kitsch dream and allows for the most horrendous of dance moves. Dickens hasn't thought of this in his 30-54 year age range, either because us young 80s lovers are an unknown pocket of radio listeners, or because he wants to cover up his possible desperation. You see, the reason Absolute 80s has come to be is to fill in the gap left by Absolute Xtreme, which was dedicated to rock music but has been largely outdone by the other rock giants such as Xfm, NME Radio and Kerrang. So, are there really this large group of adults who are so disappointed with grown-updome that they wish to lose themselves in times gone by? Or is the Absolute group clutching at straws when there are so many other radio stations who have taken almost every niche going? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I personally hope it is a success, then we can get a 90s radio station going when I too am middle aged and discontent...Spice Girls, 5ive, Backstreet Boys, N*Sync...

(Original story at www.guardian.co.uk)