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Source Code Review

Source Code

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan

Duncan Jones’s second film, Source Code, explores one of the most fundamental questions human beings face; What would you do differently if you could do it all again?

THE PLOT
Colter Stevens, (Jake Gyllenhaal), is a US Army helicopter pilot whose last memory is coming under heavy fire in Afghanistan. When he awakens, he finds himself in another man’s body on a train. Eight minutes later the train explodes, killing Stevens and the other passengers onboard. Short movie.

Or maybe not. Stevens finds himself back in his own body, encased in what looks like a cockpit, with a US army Captain, Captain Goodwin, explaining to him that he must go back and find out who planted and detonated the bomb that caused the train explosion.

The film’s main premise is established from here. Gyllenhaal must repeatedly live the last eight minutes of Sean Fentress’ life, (the passenger he “possessed”), in order to discover the identity of the bomber, who has planted a nuclear device somewhere in Chicago and plans to detonate it. Stevens is told he cannot save the passengers but he can save the residents of Chicago from nuclear disaster. Jeffrey Wright stars as Dr. Rutledge, the brains behind the Source Code simulator.
The romantic interest is provided by fellow passenger Christina Warren, (Michelle Monaghan), whom Stevens falls for little by little as he re-enters the simulator.
His priorities shift from identifying the bomber to stopping the train attack in order to save Christina.
The film is hugely ambitious in its premise, something to be admired even if the ending doesn’t fully realise that ambition. It mixes Gyllenhaal’s journey to remember what happened to him in Afghanistan with the bomb plot, finding room for emotional charge in such an action-packed subject.
Gyllenhaal lends great presence to the role and he goes through the full gamut of emotions here, displaying an acting range perhaps not fully showcased since Donnie Darko and certainly not in his previous offering, Love and Other Drugs.
The other real star of the show is Captain Goodwin, (Vera Farmiga), with the idea of humanity versus science explored throughout the relationship between Gyllenhaal and her own character. Farmiga proves herself every bit as capable as Gyllenhaal with a range of emotions expressed in minimalist style.

ANY GOOD?
The ending feels slightly like a cop-out with a clunky visual metaphor, but the film deserves credit for its ambition and star turns from Gyllenhaal and Farmiga. Superb acting, however, takes the film to another level.

By Damien Edgar

MTV stars perform at Titanic Sounds

Rebekah Logan visits the MTV awards

Thousands of music fans filled the Titanic dock on Friday as MTV returned to the city once more to host the Titanic Sounds festival.

With a star-studded line-up featuring the likes of Olly Murs and Pixie Lott it came as no surprise that tickets sold out within hours.

MTV UK

Opening the centenary concert and dressed in Dolce and Gabbana, Pixie Lott took to the stage with an up tempo performance of Boys and Girls before singing hits such as All About Tonight, Kiss the Stars and Mama Do.

Next to storm the stage was energetic duo, Rizzle Kicks who opened with a lively performance of their hit, Prophet.

As the excitement in the 16,000-strong crowd grew, so did the duo’s momentum as they powered through a number of well-known hits from their debut album such as Mama Do the Hump, When I Was A Youngster and Down With The Trumpets.

Performance Teaser

Jamaican star Sean Paul took to the stage to perform a string of well-known hits such as Get Busy, Got 2 Luv U and Gimme The Light.

As the sun set over Belfast the superstar encouraged concert goers to follow their dreams:

“I had a dream that I would one day perform in Belfast. If you have a dream, hold onto it.”

Next up was songstress Katy B who belted out hits such as, On A Mission, Lights Out as well as her new single, Anywhere In The World , the official single for the London Olympics 2012.

The dubstep star tweeted after the show:

‘Belfast that was so much fun!! Thank u so much for having me!! 🙂 xxx’

Headlining the show was X-Factor runner-up Olly Murs, who performed with his own nine-piece band.

The singer danced his way through songs such as, Dance With Me Tonight and Don’t Let Me Go, as well as a cover of American singer Aloe Blacc’s hit, I Need A Dollar.

As the concert drew to a close Murs was joined on-stage by Rizzle Kicks as the trio belted out their Brit nominated single, Heart Skips a Beat.

Tweeting after the show he said: “BELFAST!! Finally got out there to see ya!! Was waiting for ages!! Proper buzzing crowd!! Long day for ya!! Thanks for staying til the end!x”

@OLLYOFFICIAL

The concert was one of the first in a series of events set to take place across the city to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Album Review: Tyler, The Creator – Goblin

Odd Future’s figurehead Tyler, The Creator releases his sophomore album Goblin, the first from the collective to have a release on a major label. The most hyped release of the year doesn’t live up to expectations, with few quality tracks, the album eventually suffers from a lack of musical ideas and a running time which could do with having at least 20 minutes shaved off it.

‘Radicals’ is one of the standout tracks on the album. It takes the vitriol up a notch; menacing beats are laced with a genuine anger in Tyler’s voice as he veers into an almost militant style of hip hop. “Kill people, burn shit, fuck school, I’m fucking radical” whilst the intensity subsides as a more enlightened Tyler tells us “im not saying to just go out and do stupid shit, commit crimes. What im trying to tell you is do what the fuck you want, stand for what the fuck you believe in, and don’t let anybody tell you you cant be what you want. I’m a fucking unicorn.”

The visceral intensity continues on tracks like ‘Translyvania’ and ‘Nightmare’ which sound exactly as the titles suggests. The tracks have slick grooves attached while Hip Hop juggernaut and track of the year contender ‘Yonkers’ maintains this vibe. While ‘Tron Cat’ sees him spouting the darkest raps on the album. A track so lyrically depraved that even his most ardent supporters will find it hard to stomach. “These tracks work almost on intensity alone, but there isn’t much else happening. He shows it doesn’t all have to be extremely dark on tracks like ‘Her’ where the bravado takes a back seat. But the track fails to land musically. ‘She’ sees Tyler join forces with Frank Ocean in a slow and forgettable RNB affair.

The album’s title track refers to everything to that point in Tyler’s life. The media pressure, the broken home. It’s Tyler spouting a stream of consciousness while a contrasting voice allays his fears. It happens again on album closer ‘Golden’ and while they are pretty decent tracks you can’t help but feel both are drawn out.

‘Sandwitches’ sees Hodgy Beats lend a hand in one of the album’s better moments, which acts almost as OFWGKTA’s call to arms. ‘Window’ sees a whole host of OFWGKTA member’s guest in a tune which serves no other purpose than as a platform to introduce some of his crew. ‘Fish’ and ‘Analog’ are another two tracks which have discernable grooves, while tracks like ‘Bitch Suck Dick’ are nothing more than parody.
It’s not an album for the easily offended, the groups’ defenders claim they are satirising the ugly parts associated with hip hop. Dependent entirely on how you want to perceive it, this could very well be a bit much for some people. Regardless of how you perceive it, eighty minutes is a bit much to listen to the misanthropic ranting and ravings of anyone, regardless of how skilled they may be in delivering it.

Tyler The Creator – Yonkers
Tyler, The Creator – Sandwitches (Live on Jimmy Fallon)

Odd Future Interview

By Paul Mullin

Battle of the Bands Beckons Amazing Talent

Crow Black Chicken's lead singer Christy O'Hanlon

Emma-Kate O’Reilly reports.

The third heat of the much anticipated Battle of the Bands took place on Friday 5th February. The battle ground was the up and coming music venue The Sail Inn, which is establishing itself as the new hotspot for original alternative music. The artists came from far flung places like Cork and Laois to fight for the chance to grace the stage of Glastonbury where aspiring musicians play out their ultimate dream.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year’s outright winners Shouting at Planes who have since released two singles, over seventy bands applied to take part but only 25 were lucky enough to make it through. The prestigious prize up for grabs has beckoned the best talent in Ireland.

The fray began with Crow Black Chicken, a three piece band who set the standard for the night with their funky, blues/rock sound. The lead singers gravelly voice worked its magic on the crowd. Woodstock would’ve loved these guys.

Humbuzzer, a local band from Cootehill who had a hard act to follow, did so with style. They took you by the hand back to the sixties. They have a melodic, acoustic roots sound. Clever lyrics coupled with their natural flair for the guitar make for easy listening and you can’t help but feel happy.

Awake Young Soldiers, six young lads with an array of musical instruments had a kind of Arcade Fire scene going on. The keyboard gave a wistful tone to their catchy tunes. They started off with a soft sound but gradually built it up to a dramatic end.

A female vocalist has sang with this band in the past and could have given them the edge but there were no female artists on this male dominated night. The guys held their harmonies well together and the lead singer didn’t try to shake off his local lilt, which is refreshing these days as a lot of bands somehow seem to pick up an American accent along the way.

Third Smoke were next up. A four piece alternative rock act from Dundalk. They had a sort of underground vibe and sounded a bit like The Strokes. They had a tight sound and the lead singer had a voice like Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull.

Nova Static were last to go. Again, four guys with guitars and percussion. They wrapped up the show with more of a mainstream performance. Last to take to the stage ended up taking the night and Crow Black Chicken got through on the wild card ticket.

The disappointment of the other bands was palpable as their Glastonbury dream slipped beyond their reach, for this year anyway. The chance to break through the barrier of the unsigned band world will have to wait.

To the bands who didn’t get through, the battle may have been lost, but the war goes on.

 

Marvel: Avengers Assemble

Marvel: Avengers Assemble, 2012, Movie Poster

By Hannah Goodall

There’s an old saying, “Too many superheroes can spoil the film”. Well, not quite, but that was the fear felt by the vast Marvel fandom when plans for an Avengers film were made public. An idea that worked well in the panels of a comic book but realistically could not transfer to celluloid. Or so the cynics believed and, how wrong they are.

Marvels: Avengers Assemble has allayed the darkest of fans fears and, made believers of those cynics that doubted its plausibility. The widely held belief was that any attempt at an Avengers film would be nothing more than a confab of big names and even bigger special effects with very little substance could not be further from the end result.

With Joss Whedon, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, a man who knows how to create a fandom and give those in it exactly what they want, at the helm, the film was an assured hit. A perfectly balanced film with everything in good measure and as a superhero film should be, Marvels: Avengers Assemble is, in my opinion, exactly what the fans have been waiting for.

At the outset it is made quite clear that there are things are going on underneath the surface that we, as the audience are not yet privy to. Everything in this film is on a strict need to know basis, nothing is given away causally on a whim or without reason. Perfectly timed from start to finish, the plot holds its own under the weight of the mega-star cast. Which, any lesser film-maker would have clubbed together with special effects in order to make a quick buck.

At over two hours in length Whedon and, director Kevin Feige hold the audience’s attention with a barrage of quick-paced, fluid fight scenes, jaw-dropping special effects that border on the realistic and extremely well thought out and sharp dialogue. Nothing about this film feels forced, from how the plot twists and turns, to the acting itself, as the A-list cast bring their A game to the original A team.

The character development is another stellar and endearing quality that ranges from Agent Coulson – the token martyr  – to the super villain, Loki [Tom Hiddleston] with charm that rivals an Ian Fleming spy.

From the heated exchanges between the Avengers themselves, to the more emotional rebukes of Loki and brother Thor, to the fist fights and explosions and even to the unanticipated comedic element of the film. carries with such ease, Marvels: Avengers Assemble holds your every nerve on end and refuses to let go until the last bus boy on set has been named in the credits.

All in all Marvels: Avengers Assemble is not quite what you expect from a Hollywood blockbuster and it has, by far, raised the bar on and for all future summer blockbusters and every superhero film to come.

 

 

Review; iPhone 4s

By Jordan Moates

Sixteen months after the launch of the widely criticized iPhone 4 came the iPhone 4s. Initially many turned their nose up at the naming, many were expecting the iPhone 5.

One can’t help but notice the likeness between the 4 and the 4s. The 4s is virtually the identical twin of the 4 on the outside.  Only on close inspection will you notice a different camera on the user facing side. Don’t judge a book by its cover. As soon as the 4s is switched on it comes into its own.

Wirelessly setting itself up through itunes it took less than 10 minutes. There was no need to go searching for the slow laptop and waiting for ever for it to pick up the device. Once you are able to use it you start to see the updated features, some of which I have discussed below.

MobileMe has been replaced by the slick iCloud. This virtual space that is free to all users allows you to store your apple identity safely. Everything from pictures, apps, music and most noticeably on the iPhone your contacts. One draw back of the photo stream is that once a picture is there, it is there forever. Something that could be a little embarrassing when showing all your pictures to your granny. However a brilliant new feature for effortlessly syncing all your devices together.

The antenna problems that caused much controversy in the 4 seem to have been eradicated. Most users will probably not notice much difference except those who were having a lot of issues with the previous model.

Apple have claimed that the battery life is significantly improved. However this is something that I have been disappointed with. Having a super phone in every other way is good only if there is the battery to back it up. There is no point having to worry about using the phone to its full potential so you will have a battery for a full day.

I have saved the feature everyone has been talking to until last Siri. It has been described a voice controlled in built app that is basically a PA. This description is not far off the mark. Ask it anything from the population of Brazil to when is my next appointment and you will get a reply. The device needs at least a 3G internet connection but works a lot faster and more effectively over wi-fi networks. The app has the ability to contextulise comments and sustain a conversation with you. However despite these fantastic abilities it is hard to imagine using the app for anything other than a gimmick.

To sum up at first glance it seems like a replica of the 4 but as soon as you start to play with it you realize that this device is a vast improvement.  Many are coming out from their contracts with the 3GS model and will most likely go for this model rather than waiting an unknown amount of time for the elusive 5. So I believe Apple in this case have done enough to secure the 4s as one of the top phones on the market.

 

Rapturous reception for Oliver at An Grianán

A review by Will Burton

Building on the success of Annie last year, the Letterkenny Musical Society has produced another warm and lovable play for the loyal An Grianán audience. I have to admit that I do not have any recollection of reading or watching Oliver Twist before. It is hard to believe I know, given how popular the novel and the much loved musical adaptations are. Even more embarrassing is that I am from Portsmouth, where the author was born.

The production of Oliver Twist at An Grianian was the perfect introduction to the story with great performances by all the actors. The children in particular stood out, and delivered a performance to be proud of as for some it was their stage debut.

Mr Bumble is played by Highland Radio’s very own Donal Kavanagh, and his character’s looming presence is superb on stage. He towers over the children in the workhouse and booms when Oliver asks for more gruel for dinner. The softer side of Mr Bumble is thrilling to watch as his wandering eye is drawn closer and closer to Widow Corney, played by Maria Heekin.

The music was beautiful with renditions of “Food, Glorious Food”, “I’d Do Anything”, “Oohm Pah Pah” and “Who Will Buy?”, which wooed the audience with some of them even singing along.

The characters’ costumes and make-up were very effective. Fagen, the spindly crook and chief pick-pocketing orchestrator, sang with a faux innocent, “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two,” which delighted the audience.  Fagen’s protégé, Bill Sykes, seems to be behind every corner on the stage, thundering and stomping his menacing boots everywhere.

The theatre was full for the performance on Thursday night with people of all ages. Scene after scene was concluded with rapturous rounds of applause and deservedly so.  The musical was produced by the Letterkenny Musical Society for the second time. In 2000 the show was very warmly received and judging by tonight’s performance, the cast can expect the same rave reviews by the public and media alike.

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.

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