Category Archives: Reviews and Events

Marquez on the victory march in Argentina.

With the 2017 MotoGP season getting underway, Round 2 of the Championship took place this weekend at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina.

Pre-race speculation suggested that three-time World Champion, Marc Marquez, was the man to beat around the 2.98 mile circuit. Marquez looked as though he was going to do the business after he put his Repsol Honda on Pole Position after Saturday’s qualifying session.

British hopeful, Cal Crutchlow, also qualified strongly as he finished up third on the grid heading into Sunday’s race. Crutchlow had previously had a taste of success at this event as he was a podium finisher in Argentina back in 2015 and was surely aiming to repeat this feat two years on.

After a lacklustre qualifying session, many of the so-called front-runners failed to capitalise and make it onto the first few rows of the grid. Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and the eventual race winner, Maverick Viñales, struggled to come to grips with conditions in Argentina. A poor showing from the MotoGP stars resulted in them having to launch their attack from further down the field come Sunday’s race.

As the race got underway in dry conditions, Marquez looked like a man on a mission. He seemed to have re-gained his confidence after his spill in the morning warm-up. After 3 laps Marquez looked to be well away at the front after opening up a 2-second lead from Crutchlow in second.

Just when it looked like Marquez had it in the bag, disaster struck. The Spaniard crashed out of the lead at turn two leaving the door open for Crutchlow, Viñales and Rossi to battle it out for the podium positions. Honda team-mate and fellow countryman, Dani Pedrosa also crashed out of the race whilst in a steady fifth position. Both riders’ were critical of the new Michelin tyres indicating that a lack of temperature in the rear was the reason for them ending up in the gravel.

Some great battling between the front three saw Viñales make it two from two, to get his season off to the best possible start. Yamaha teammate, Valentino Rossi and Satellite Honda rider Cal Crutchlow completed the podium positions, finishing second and third respectively.

In a post race interview Viñales said, “It is great to get another win under my belt, my bike was working well and I hope this is a sign of things to come.”

Both Honda and Ducati struggled this weekend as Pedrosa, Marquez, Dovizioso and reigning world champion, Jorge Lorenzo all crashed out of the race.

At this early stage many people have indicated that the Yamaha boys will be hard to stop this season.

Round three of the Championship takes place in North America. Viñales will be searching for his hat-trick of wins in Texas.

However, the main question is, who can rain on his parade?

For all the latest MotoGP information please visit: www.motogp.com

Review: Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson made his directing return this year with Hacksaw Ridge, a war movie about a pacifist, this level of contradiction was surely worth a watch.

This movie goes some way towards repairing the damage of Gibson’s previous slurs and misdemeanors.

Gibson’s return marks ten years out of the director chair and when asked why he took up this project he replied Hacksaw Ridge is a “story well worth telling…..it’s a war film but it’s beyond that, it’s a love story,”.

The level of contrast between the love story on the homefront and the gore of  heated battle assures that this is a movie for all.

The movie traces the true story of war hero Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield,  as he battles with his religious conscience and his determination to be involved in the war.

Andrew Garfield as war pacifist Desmond Doss

Andrew Garfield plays the role with dignity and strength, armed with a great southern accent the former Spidey really paints the character perfectly.

The appearance of Vince Vaughan as sergeant Howell also adds a level of comic affect in the multifaceted movie.

Mr Vaughn plays the leader of Doss’s ragtag division, his display as hard love preparing the recruits for battle is both hilarious and real.

Doss’s love interest and later wife Dorothy Shutte is played by Aussie actress Teresa Palmer.

Ms Palmer puts in an emotional and gripping performance a far cry from that in the remake flop of Point Break in 2015.

It was a brave decision by Mr Gibson to make such a film of such contrast and conflict, from war to romance to comedy, so much various in genre……

But some how it works, from the loved up whirlwind story on the homefront to all to real scenes of blood and gore.

This movie is most certainly going to be added into the arsenal of war greats beside Saving Private Ryan and Platoon, even if it did not get this recognition at the Oscar’s with La La Land stealing the show.

Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

 

Beauty and the Beast’s heroine Belle was played by modern feminist Emma Watson.

It may be a ‘Tale as old as time’ but Bill Condon’s remake of the 26 year old fairy-tale film was refreshingly modern, feel good and unforced.

The film is set in a picture-book French village during the 1780s. Beauty and the Beast’s heroine Belle was played by modern feminist Emma Watson. Watson’s character was clever and bookishness with a perfect balance of strong will and innocence.

Dan Stevens plays the enraged Beast whose charm seeps through from very early on in the film. Stevens adequately portrays his characters bitterness with undertones of frustration and sadness.

Gaston, the self loving bully is played by Luke Evans however it is his sidekick the smitten Le Fou played by Josh Gad who steals the show. McGregor and McKellan also work well together as the hilarious and odd duo Lumiere and Cogsworth.

The story follows a young prince – Dan Stevens – who refuses to help an old beggar lady when she arrives to his castle. The woman warns the prince not to be deceived by looks before transforming herself into a beautiful enchantress.

She puts a spell on the prince turning him into a beast and the castle’s inhabitants into furniture. The Beast must find love before all the petals from a magical rose have dropped.

The film pulls out all the stops in its ballroom scenes and most of all in the Be our Guest dinner sequence which can only be described as a “choreographic extravaganza”.

The movie highpoint reminds the viewers of Disney’s successful and magical history in cinematic craft. Throughout the film the frolicking furniture brings life and laughter to the audience during even the darkest of moments.

Overall, the live action/digital hybrid film was joyful and enchanting. Writer’s Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos skilfully modernised the story without eliminating all the features we fell in love with as children.

Those who predicted the film would not hold a “talking candle” to the original will be pleasantly surprised.

See alternative reviews at : https://arstechnica.co.uk/the-multiverse/2017/03/beauty-and-the-beast-2017-review/

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/mar/19/beauty-and-the-beast-review-undeniably-arresting-emma-watson-josh-gad-bill-condon

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/beauty-beast-review-emma-watson-dazzles-disneys-show-stopping/

Beauty and the Beast film review

By Katie Dickie

 

Beauty and the Beast have recently been relaunched to our cinema screens, with the 2017 version a live action film, compared to the 1991 animation.

Director, Bill Condon, employs the latest technology in visual effects, computer generated imagery. Using 3D computer graphics to create scenes or special effects throughout the film.

When a handsome prince, played by Dan Stevens is transformed into a Beast by an enchantress who warns, “Beauty is found within,” she also places a curse on his servants.

Emma Watson plays Belle, the bookish beauty and heroine. Our first introduction shows her strolling around her home village of Villeneuve, in France, singing, “I want more than this provincial life.”

Gaston, a former soldier in the French army, seeks to marry Belle and is played by Luke Stevens. Will he succeed?

Lefou played by Josh Gad is Gaston’s side- kick and displays subtle affection towards him throughout the film.

Kevin Kline plays Belles father Maurice, a music- box maker. After picking a rose in the grounds of the castle, he is taken captive by the Beast.

Belle becomes a prisoner in exchange for her father going free. Will Belle soften the Beast’s heart?

If she falls in love with him the curse will be lifted on the Beast and his servants. Will this happen before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose?

Is Belle suffering from ‘Stockholm syndrome’? (Where a captive shares feelings of trust or affection toward their captor). Emma Watson has strongly disputed such claims, in recent interviews. I feel the relationship between Belle and the Beast is a matter for your own interpretation.

During a ballroom scene at the end, there is a brief ‘gay encounter’ with Lefou and another gentleman. This storyline has attracted much publicity, however young children would not pick up on this.

Beauty and the Beast is an excellent film, live action gave the film a good pace and depth, something that animation alone could not achieve. Cast performances were all superb.

The soundtrack, which has added three new songs, aided performance and helped convey background storylines.

Sarah Greenwood, production designer, added decadence to the sets and improved viewers understanding of the time period.

A parental guidance (PG) rating has been given to the film, as it contains some violent scenes, but should not unsettle a child aged eight or older.

Click on the links below for alternative reviews.

http://variety.com/2017/film/news/beauty-and-the-beast-reviews-critics-1202001749/

http://www.empireonline.com/movies/beauty-beast-2/review/

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/beauty-and-the-beast-2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From lost to found…..a journey of 1100 miles

It’s Sunday evening, you and your hangover are just about on speaking terms, and as such, there’s really only one thing for it….light the fire, pour a liberal glass of “hair of the dog” and settle down with a movie to distract from the knowledge that Monday morning is fast approaching.

And so ensues the great debate that happens in every living room, in every house, between every couple at this crucial stage in the weekend…….What movie should we watch? Action? Fantasy? Comedy? For me, Sunday evenings and a film “based on true events” fit together perfectly like love and marriage. As the song so beautiful puts it, “ya can’t have one without the other!!”

This week’s pick, “Wild”, Nick Hornby’s 2014 adaptation of Cheryl Strayeds’ New York Times number 1 best-selling memoir, “Wild: A journey from lost to found.”

So, what’s it all about? Cheryl, played by Reese Witherspoon, embarks upon a gruelling 1100 mile solo hike through the wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail. Following her mother’s death to cancer, Cheryl is unable to process her grief and spirals into self-destruction. A heroin habit and many sexual encounters with strangers cement the toxic relationship she is developing with herself. She is acutely aware that, in order to break the cycle which she now identifies as everyday life, she must stop using these coping mechanisms to numb the pain of her mothers passing. In short, she needs to be able to  feel again.

Throughout this transformative journey, feel she does. Of course there’s the physical side that one would expect from a trek such as this. From the numerous raw and bleeding grazes etched into the skin of her ever shrinking frame to the loose toenails that need to be ripped from their nail bed in one swift movement in order to continue hiking. But there is also an intense emotional journey.

During the trek, flashes of Cheryl’s back story become interlaced with the present day to allow a greater understanding of what has happened in her life to shape her as the complex individual she has become.

I’m not going to offer any spoilers. Does she succeed or does she decide to pack up and return to her previous life? You’ll have to watch to find out.

I will leave you with this, during the journey she meets a fellow hiker who asks her if she ever gets lonely trekking solo. Her response, “I’m lonelier in my real life than I am out here.” And so, some food for thought, in a world so full of other people perhaps it is in isolation, that a true sense of physical and mental freedom can be found or perhaps not? You decide.

 

Crash and Burn Review

Recently, Formula One has become a hotbed for filmmakers, whether that be a documentary or a biopic of the sport’s most successful stars and the biggest rivalries that helped turn it into the global sensation that it is today.

However, Crash and Burn tells a tale far removed from the glitz, glamour and success that Formula One is associated with. BBC Northern Ireland’s documentary a tale of a Dundalk man from who came from nothing, and whose eventual fall from the pinnacle of motorsport was nearly as rapid as the road that brought him there.

Like me, even the most ardent Formula One fan may struggle to recall the name Tommy Byrne, and I take great pride in being able to recall every single Formula One champion from memory.

After all, Byrne only entered five races in 1982. He failed to qualifying for three and the two he did manage to wrestle his way onto the start grid, the unreliable Theodore car failed to finish on either occasion.

Byrne’s story is a tale about a man who fought against the odds to reach the top, but fate intervened and his name vanished into the history books. As the title for his book, which preceded the documentary, states, “Tommy Byrne: The Greatest Formula One Driver You Never Saw.”

Byrne and Van Dieman Racing team mate Ayrton Senna and Byrne both demolished the opposition throughout the junior racing categories.

One went on to win three Formula One world titles, the other ended his career racing for a drug cartel owner in Mexico.

You almost have to watch it to believe it.

It’s the unknown and unexpected nature of his career, the feeling of rooting for the underdog, that makes Crash and Burn such an intriguing watch.

In the recent successful films Senna and Rush, the story line is well documented, the viewer knows what is coming up next.

Crash and Burn doesn’t give a happy ending. At one point, it looks like Byrne is destined for stardom and suddenly he’s working at an advanced driving school in Florida.

And the film doesn’t hide it. It doesn’t pretend to be a success story. It’s his spectacular fall is that draws you in.

It’s an important documenatry. It’s not only a piece on a local underdog that was close to making his mark on the big stage and fighting against the establishment, but it’s also a film for the many drivers who didn’t make it, they’re in good company.

In Byrne’s own words, “It hasn’t been a terrible life. I just missed out on 100 million dollars, that’s all.”

Review: ‘Get Out’

“Black is back!”

Meeting a partners parents for the first time is usually a somewhat uncomfortable experience, and in “Get Out” the situation is no different.

Awkward dad jokes, an overtly competitive sibling and a mother who specialises in hypnosis. Yes, it’s your traditional ‘meet the parents’ set-up.

DANIEL KALUUYA as Chris Washington

The directorial debut from Jordan Peele (MADtv, Key & Peele) presents the audience with a film balancing precisely on the line between psychological thriller and dark comedy.

At several points in this film you will experience the urge to laugh, although whether your giggle is the result of humour or horror you are never quite sure.

When African-American photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is invited by his Caucasian girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her family, race is an issue from the beginning.

The insistence that her father would have voted for Obama “a third time” is later reinforced by the man himself, as Bradley Whitford embodies the role of friendly/desperate Mr Armitage with a conviction that is winningly cringe worthy.

Mrs Armitage’s (Catherine Keeper) contemplative assessment of Chris is no more comforting, particularly when we see her command of the two (black) servants using little more than the clink of a spoon on her teacup.

Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keeper as the creepy Mr and Mrs Armitage

It soon becomes clear that the warning “Don’t go to a white girl’s parents’ house!”  delivered by Chris’ best friend, and provider of comic relief, Rod (LilRel Howry) is more ominous than first thought.

Bleak comedy soon gives way to spine-chilling mystery as Chris is paraded as the star attraction of a garden party where wealthy, white people prod his muscles and patronisingly insist “Black is back!” with an intensity which transcends mere curiosity.

The casting of Daniel Kaluuya may have been controversial when revealed, but it is the Brits former non-entity in Hollywood combined with Peele’s chaotically choreographed writing which makes this film stand out.

The casting of a more prominent actor would surely not have cemented us so securely in a film where the progression of the sinister is so rapid.

The unpredictability of the script, the haunting, string-filled soundtrack and a cinematography where symbolism is subtly emphasised all combine to create a thriller where the audience cannot guess what is going to happen next. It is satisfying for those sick of the predictability of thriller films, yet to label it as “crowd-pleasing” could not be further from the truth.

“Get Out” is a triumph of cinema, a socially relevant but unique concept which reveals more messages with every viewing.

The audience teeters uneasily between the realms of farce and fear as we are presented with a world which is assuredly unrealistic, yet at the same time disconcertingly familiar.

‘Logan’ Review: The final chapter of Wolverine’s story slices and dices all before it

Hugh Jackman in Logan. Photograph: Gamespot

Fans of the X-Men series have been clamouring for a gritty, ultra-realistic and brazenly violent Wolverine movie for many years, and even more so recently considering the success of fellow Fox property Deadpool. In Logan, which is touted to be Hugh Jackman’s last turn as the adamantium-clawed mutant, Fox and director James Mangold have achieved everything they set out to accomplish, and then some.

It is 2029, and mutants have become virtually extinct, with the few that remain seemingly in hiding from their human oppressors. A greying, bearded and dishevelled Logan is living in a rugged outpost near the Mexican border where his primary function is to care for a mentally debilitating Professor Xavier – with the legendary Patrick Stewart reprising his role as the iconic mind-reader for the final time. The Professor requires a lot of medication to restrain his substantial telepathic powers, which Logan pays for through his side job as a limo driver. It is somewhat disturbing to see these archetypal mutants in such a miserable state – it certainly makes a change from Xavier’s lavish X-Mansion in upstate New York.

One of the main story arcs in the film begins when Logan encounters Laura, a powerful young mutant portrayed by actress Dafne Keen who shines in a breakout performance. The girl is hunted by the methodical and frightening half-man, half-cyborg Donald Pierce, with Boyd Holbrook of Narcos fame putting in a superb display of charisma and nefariousness, and he will stop at nothing to bring Laura back to his Mutant Experimentation Centre. At first glance you could be forgiven for wondering why Laura is such an asset to the evil Pierce – but all will become clear around a quarter of the way through as her relationship with Logan develops.

Hugh Jackman has appeared in the X-Men series since its big screen debut in 2000, but for the first time, Wolverine feels mortal. You get the sense that every unsheathing of his trademark claws and blood-soaked battle may be his last, which separates Logan from modern day superhero movies where everyone appears to have an air of invincibility. It is a dark, emotional tale but at the same time an uplifting one. It is the perfect send-off for everyone’s favourite slicer and dicer. You can cast aside many of your superhero tropes and clichés for this one, as James Mangold tears up the rulebook and starts from scratch.

Ed Sheeran – “Divide” album review

Image result for ed sheeran album divide

Following the success of his 2014 Grammy-winning and best-selling album, the Suffolk singer-song writer, Ed Sheeran has returned with yet another chart topping sensation. Released on 3rd March 2017, the album “Divide” allows us to delve into the life of Sheeran as many of the tracks feature snippets of his childhood, love-life and rise to fame.

“Divide” features sixteen tracks and to round it off, there is even a track exclusively dedicated to Sheeran’s 26th birthday.
Whilst many would argue that the album gives off an “ego-maniac” vibe, at the same time, with his bright ginger hair and adorable, quirky nature, we can’t help but excuse Ed for now!

The album is introduced with “Eraser”, a declaration of intent, mixing hip hop with a chorus of layered vocals (where Ed shows off his rapping skills). The track also addresses – in minute detail – the trials of Sheeran’s life, career and status in the industry. The lyrics mention everything from “singing in the Lord’s house” as a child and the dramatic shift of being without, “a nine-to-five job or a uni degree” to winning international awards.

However, unlike previous projects, Sheeran takes time in his new album to reveal his Irish heritage. The track, “Nancy Mulligan”, is a full on Irish traditional song whereby Sheeran pays tribute to his grandparents, particularly his grandmother (who the track is named after) from County Wexford, Ireland.

This track features Belfast based traditional band Beoga who also feature in the song, “Galway girl”, which depicts a blend of Irish folk tradition and Ed’s signature acoustic pop style. In his lyrics, Ed channels traditional Irish folk storytelling by describing an encounter with a vivacious Galway girl in a bar who “played a fiddle in an Irish band” and danced the night away with him. The instrumental influence is clear in the track, resonating with that of Van Morrisons, “Irish Heartbeat” with the similar fiddle and uileann pipe sounds.

The album features many incredible songs. However, I must admit, the track, “Castle on the hill” (a guitar-driven pop song that pays homage to Ed Sheeran’s upbringing in the English countryside town of Framlingham) is my preferred track of the whole album. The reason being, it is one of those songs whereby you cannot help singing along too, with its catchy beat including Ed’s impressive guitar rifts.
Since disappearing off the radar, Sheeran has returned with his finest album yet in my opinion. It is both well-timed and rip-roaringly fun, another example of his still-evolving craft.

For more information:

http://www.edsheeran.com/music

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ed-Sheeran/e/B001LHZOLG

https://www.youtube.com/user/EdSheeran

‘Go Girl” exhibition at QSS Gallery on International Women’s Day

The ‘Go Girl’ exhibition at the QSS Gallery in Belfast was launched on the 8 March, to coincide with International Women’s Day 2017.

‘Go Girl’ is a collective of female artists, musicians and photographers from across Belfast who work together to raise awareness for works by women within the creative industries.

‘Trauma and Triumph’ exhibition

Catherine McLoughlin was the curator of the ‘Trauma and Triumph’ exhibition and a founding member of ‘Go Girl’.

23-year-old Ms McLoughlin, a Fine Arts graduate of Newcastle University, said the exhibition aimed to:

“Give a feminine perspective on how being a woman in Northern Ireland affects the way you live and grow up”.

The works displayed were all original creations and a total of £300 was raised which will go towards the hire of gallery space and promotion of events established by ‘Go Girl’.

The Go Girl exhibition conincided with Intl Women’s Day