Let Penn take you into the wild

Into the Wild – a review by Michele Canning

Into the WildSean Penn’s ‘Into the Wild’

With ‘Into the Wild’, Sean Penn dons his director’s hat to tell the real life story of straight-A student Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), who in 1992 donated all his savings to charity, dropped out of society and embarked on a journey of self-discovery, changing his name to Alexander Supertramp, with only the writings of Thoreau, Tolstoy and Jack London for company.

Penn effectively paints a picture of a young man at odds with society in general and his dysfunctional, materialistic parents (Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt) in particular.

Along his journey through the backroads of America he crosses paths with an ageing hippy couple (Catherine Keener and Brian Dieker), a grain harvester (Vince Vaughan), an infatuated teenager (Kristen Stewart) and a lonely old man (Hal Holbrook), learning valuable life lessons from each encounter.

Hirsch portrays McCandless as a charming, intellectual, yet troubled individual, who nevertheless touches the lives of all those he meets, and whose ultimate journey to the frozen wastes of Alsaska eventually leads to a damascene conversion to the value of human friendship.

An uncredited supporting character is the great American wilderness, which Penn uses to great effect in all its beautiful, and on occasion, desolate glory.

A worthy mention must also go to Eddie Vedder’s Neil Young-esque Americana soundtrack, which accompanies the scenery to great effect.

Into the wild is a moving exploration of the human condition, as visually stunning as it is thought provoking. Ultimately, while McCandless’ actions cost him his life, his view of the corrupting influence of consumerism and the great hunt for possessions at the heart of the darkness in society may be even more relevant now in a post-economic meltdown world than it was in 1992.

Vandals target Adria site

The Adria site
A bird's eye view of the now derelict Adria site

VANDALS, targeting a disused factory site in Strabane, are making life miserable for residents living nearby. Michele Canning looks into the problem

Once home to hosiery giant, Adria, the 11.5 acre Beechmount Avenue site has lain derelict since the collapse of the town’s manufacturing industry in 2006.

Today, the detritus of illegality – dumping, underage outdoor drinking and vandalism – is a daily eyesore for local residents.

Pensioner Colm McGrath’s home at Ashgrove Park backs onto the site, where he spent most of his working life. He has erected an eight-foot fence to keep vandals out.

“I have had my windows broken twice. It never stops. I have spoken to the council, the landowner and the police. Nothing has been done. There are a lot of pensioners living in this park and they are afraid,” he said.

Resident Patrick Devine, said: “It’s like an open air pub over there. We are tortured with stone throwers. I was hit on the face by a youth trespassing on the site.”

Beechmount Developments bought the site in 2006. Developer, Kevin Crumley said he is “fighting a losing battle” with vandals.

“We have had the site secured on a number of occasions but each time the work has been undone. The only way to rectify this is to get the site redeveloped.”

Mr Crumley has been unable to build there after twice being refused planning permission.

“The site is worth maybe one quarter of what was paid for it. The only way to salvage anything and eradicate this eyesore is to develop the site.”

Paddy Cosgrove, chief environmental health officer at Strabane Council, said the local authority does not have responsibility for the site.

“I would appeal to people not to abuse the site and to get in touch with the owner if they have any issues.”

Emeli Sande Our Version of Events

By NATASHA MILLAR

It’s a huge compliment to be compared to chart supremo Adele, but yet sets the musical bar stratospherically high. Too high for some perhaps, but prepare for 24-year-old Emeli Sande to catapult to notoriety with the release of her anticipated debut album Our Version of Events.

Our Version Of Events

While both ladies picked up the Brits Critic’s Choice Award and ironically share a forename, (Emeli changed her name from Adele Sande to Emeli Adele Sande to avoid obvious comparison with the Rolling in the Deep megastar), this is where the similarities end. As Adele gained worldwide success and racked up millions in album sales, Emeli was studying medicine at a Glasgow University. With this career now on hold, Emeli is embarking on a path of stardom. As she prepared to release her first album, some critics initially wrote off her attempts as just another singer-songwriter punching above her weight. Emeli’s response to her doubters? Our Version of Events. All of a sudden it becomes clear; this girl is here to stay and will rocket up the top of the charts.

On first listen it is clear this is an album well worth the wait. Opening with the anthemic Heaven, the epic floor filler from last summer, the album is a roller coaster though Emeli’s feelings of love, loss and friendship. Admittedly the tone is more sombre as the album progresses. My Kind of Love with its key change and distinctively heavy soul could easily be mistaken for a Leona Lewis ballad and it’s not surprising this has been tipped as the next single release. Signing off the album is a bonus acoustic version of her hit with Professor Green, Read All About It which serves as a reminder that Emeli has paid her dues to the industry and is ready for the limelight.

Other notable songs include the short but sweet Where I Sleep which strips back Emeli’s voice to pure naked harmonies and should bring a tear to even the most cynical of eyes. But it’s track 10, out of 14, that showcases why Emeli is worthy of the hype she is finally starting to provoke. Next to Me is the biggest hit from the album, peaking at number 2 in the UK charts in February. With piano riffs and a strong drum base, the song is evidence that this lass is definitely on the way up.

The mid section of the album has received the most criticism for lacking in the up-tempo RNB and dance based beats that initially put Emeli on the map. However, in her song River, Emeli ponders “If you’re too big to follow rivers, how you ever gonna find the sea?” Perhaps this is best answer to any critics who doubt the talent and ability of both this album and indeed this Aberdeenshire artist.

Emile was always going to play this album safe. From Lana Del Ray to Leona Lewis, from Jessie J to Jordan Sparks, the market is saturated with strong RNB females. Stick on pre-packaged pop and you will be fairly certain to hear a bona fide chart hit. But follow un-chartered waters, the unknown and somewhat underrated and you will be rewarded with albums like Our Version of Events.

 

For more info and details on tour dates visit www.emelisande.com