Once or twice a year I re-enter my Oliver! admiration/misery rut. It is my favourite musical of all time and one of my favourite films. There are so many reasons why so I thought I’d talk about today to try and get some of my emo Oliver! feelings out of my system.
I think it’s time I wrote a blog post about Stranger Things. I know you’ve probably seen a million but I think it’s taken the place of my favourite TV show (a space that was left empty by Doctor Who many years ago when Steven Moffat took the wheel and the writing took a nosedive).
Firstly, the concept for the show is interesting and multifaceted. We have the ongoing story of Will, the story of Eleven and her origins, Nancy and Steve, Hopper’s history and much more to keep us interested whilst also figuring out all the mysteries of the upside down. The only episode that I’ve ever felt let down by was episode season 2 episode 7 (I think a lot of people felt the same way) in which eleven went looking for her ‘sisters’ from the lab. Every single other episode has blown me away. I absolutely love the show.
The acting, particularly from the young actors/actresses in the show are outstanding. I have to give Noah Schnapp a particular mention here because his performance being possessed by the shadow monster was just incredibly for a thirteen year old. There’s not been a moment during the entire series where I’ve been left not quite believing any of the performances, they have all been authentic and compelling (at least in my opinion). Of course, Winona Ryder and David Harbour’s performances are also excellent. Not to mention Millie Bobby Brown, who we’ve just come to expect amazing performances from but shouldn’t be forgotten.
The 80’s setting of this show gives it a distinctly nostalgic vibe (even for somebody who wasn’t alive then) and somewhat leaves me longing for a time before the internet. When kids had to travel to an arcade to play games and the telephones were attached to the wall. Obviously, things aren’t simple for the characters of this show, having another dimension to cope with, but it leaves you thinking about what it must have been (or was) like before all the mad technological advances of recent years.
The music! The music is one of the defining elements of the show. Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash is potentially the anthem of the show but there are so many amazing tunes to listen out for along the way.
The characters are compelling. Nancy is independent, Steve is a brilliantly complex character (probably the best character arc of the series so far), Dustin interjects some light relief whenever necessary, Hopper is probably the best policeman ever and Joyce (god love her) has some impressive, resilient vocal chords.
I think the main reason this show stands above other brilliant shows that are out at the moment is the compelling characters. Even if the upside down situation was completely resolved I would still watch the show because I just want to see what’s going on with Dustin, Eleven, Hopper, Mike and Nancy etc. If you haven’t seen the show already I highly recommend devoting your Christmas break to it, you won’t regret it!
Until next time,
I was lying in bed the other night, trying to lull myself to sleep by re-watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when I noticed something about Ron in that book/film. It’s only a sort of sub-plot of the story, and one I’ve always kind of glossed over in my mind, but it stood out to me more in my sleepy, hazy head-space for some reason. Ron is obsessed with Viktor Krum!
At the Quidditch World Cup Ron is ecstatic to see Krum play as seeker for the Bulgarian team and when Krum arrived at Hogwarts for the Tri-Wizard tournament Ron was dumbstruck. There are, naturally, celebrities in J.K Rowling’s immersive and fully formed wizarding world and Krum is probably the one we learn the most about.
Personally, I find Viktor Krum a particularly interesting character because he is an incredibly successful and famous athlete whilst still being a student at the Durmstrang Institute. If Harry holds the record for youngest Gryffindor seeker in a century, surely Krum must have a few of these unofficial titles to his name as well! Despite his celebrity status, Krum travelled to Hogwarts along with his peers in order to take part in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. This resulted in him spending a lot of time in the presence of normal wizards, including one of his biggest fans Ron Weasley.
Krum’s role in The Goblet of Fire is, largely, to be a plot device. He fuels Ron and Hermione’s ongoing romantic tension and ends up hexed in the maze in order to clear the path to the Tri-Wizard cup for Harry and Cedric. Putting his role in the actual tournament aside, Krum’s impact on both Ron and Hermione is an interesting one.
Perhaps unrealistically, Krum sets his sights on the quiet, pensive Hermione Granger (who has her head in a book 80% of the time) instead of on one the hoards of girls following him around everywhere. His quiet and understated demeanour means that Harry and Ron do not find out about his relationship with Hermione until the Yule Ball. Instantly Ron, who had previously adored Krum (and famously stated: “There’s no one like Krum! He’s like a bird the way he rides the wind! He’s more than an athlete! He’s an artist.”), now immediately despises him for bringing Hermione as his date to the ball and, in doing so, shattering both his assertion that Hermione is completely undesirable and desperate for a date and his own ego (because we all know he would’ve been more than happy to go with Hermione).
This characterisation of Krum is clever in that it humanises a celebrity and reveals his desire to live a quieter and less glamorous life through his choice to pursue Hermione. He frequently displays his sincerity through acts such as rescuing Hermione from the Black Lake in the second challenge and asking her to write to him one he has left Hogwarts. Despite Ron’s newfound hatred of him, Krum endears himself to the reader/watcher.
Ron’s reaction to Krum, however, adds depth to Rowling’s depiction of celebrity culture. It demonstrates that fans put their idols on pedestals. They expect them to be perfect at all times. Ron expects that because Krum is a brilliant seeker that he will be equally as brilliant in every aspect of his life. Quickly, however, when Krum does something that damages Ron’s pride he reverses his opinion and decides that Krum is now “the enemy” rather than an “artist”. In doing this Rowling suggests that when you hold somebody to such an unattainable standard you will always be let down when meeting them in reality. Ron’s experience, despite being entirely self inflicted, left him jaded and disappointed.
On a positive note this experience worked out pretty well for Hermione. She bagged a date with a celebrity and also pissed off Ron doing it, which I imagine is one of her favourite past times 🙂
Hope you enjoyed this silly post!
Until next time,
I am currently lying in my bed, trying not to feel guilty about it because it’s Sunday, still suffering from Friday night when I went to see The Addams Family Musical (followed by a big night out) as my birthday present from one of my friends.
Since then I have been
hungover singing the songs, thinking about the performance and what it must be like to perform in a professional touring show like that.
The opening number of the show “The Addams Family Theme” was an amazing number and the choreography was awesome. I immediately thought that the casting of Cameron Blakely as Gomez and Samantha Womack as Morticia was spot on. I’ve linked to a video of the opening number with the current cast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jum02Ku4ylU
I loved the story that was chosen for this musical, Wednesday’s sort of coming of age story which I don’t think has really been told before. Songs like “Crazier Than You” and “Pulled” are absolute classics and Carrie Fletcher’s (who played Wednesday and who I’ve watched on youtube since about 2012) voice was so strong and clear. It was amazing to be sat in the audience watching.
Going to see things at the theatre is not something I do often. I went to see Wicked in London a couple of years ago and going to see The Addams Family in Glasgow is the only thing I’ve seen since, however, I’ve decided I definitely want to go to more shows like this. The rush it gave me was amazing. I spend a fair bit of money on going to music concerts and the feeling I had when leaving the show on Friday night was the same feeling I have when I leave a particularly good concert (such as Lorde who I saw recently, but that’s for another time).
Actually seeing this show live took me back to when I used to take drama classes. I tried to imagine what it must be like to have thousands watching you every single night. I can’t even imagine the nerves of standing in the wings waiting to begin a show, I’m not sure if I could cope with that. I did a few shows with my drama group but only to an audience of friends and family. I remember one time I had a costume change where I had to put a shirt on and button it up in the space of like one minute and I didn’t quite get it done so you could still see my red t-shirt underneath when I went on stage. I don’t think anyone really noticed or cared but it was enough to nearly send me into full on panic. I also remember one time I was doing a short performance from a section of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with a few other young girls and we got on stage, the lights went up and one of the girls (who was to start the whole piece off) muttered under her breath “I can’t remember my lines”. Luckily after a few seconds of sheer panic she remembered them and began, but what if that were to happen on stage at an actual theatre?! Obviously these actors/actresses are professionals and have done it hundreds of times but there’s nothing preventing somebody from just having a mind blank one day.
Anyway enough of my rambling because none of that happened, the show went flawlessly and I left feeling exhilarated and wishing I could go again the next night (until I woke up with my hangover).
Until next time,
Today’s post isn’t really a review, more just an appreciation post for, what I consider to be, one of the best hours of TV I’ve ever watched.
Black Mirror is a unique show in many ways. Every episode is self contained which allows viewers to dip in and out where they are interested and takes away the sense of “commitment” to starting a new TV series. It’s accessible and deals with a subject matter that is relevant to pretty much everybody living in the modern world – technology and techno-phobia.
Many of the show’s episodes have sparked conversation and controversy, some of the most famous ones being “White Bear”, “Nosedive” and “Shut Up and Dance”. Viewers are accustomed to the dark, pessimistic undercurrent of the show. Most episodes end in some form of disaster as a result of some futuristic technology that seems uncomfortably realistic and possible given society’s rapid technological advancements.
San Junipero, however, offered something different. It was a risk for the show because it deviated from a tried and tested formula. Charlie Brooker, show creator, decided to inject some optimism into the otherwise bleak landscape of his show. Of course, viewers don’t know this at the outset of the episode.
In a, fictional, vibrant 80’s beach town called San Junipero we are introduced to Kelly and Yorkie. Kelly is an extroverted party girl and Yorkie a shy, inhibited and slightly gawky girl. These are the two protagonists drag us through a colourful, romantic and surprising episode.
I don’t want to describe everything that happens in the episode, if you haven’t seen it it’s on Netflix and if you’re going to watch only one episode of Black Mirror I would recommend this one. As I slowly started to piece together what was going on in this, seemingly fun, lighthearted town I was, once again, in awe of Brooker’s imagination and ability to construct an immersive and convincing fictional reality. Of course, the technological aspect played a key part in conclusion of the story. [SPOILER] This time it allowed a person’s consciousness to be “uploaded to the clouds” after they die. They can then live out eternity (or as long as they wish) in San Junipero, in their younger and fully functioning bodies.
This concept taps into one of our most basic human fears, the fear of death and being mortal. It also allows an escape from the effects of aging which plague us as we grow older. The idea of being able to visit another place where you are young and immortal as long as you choose to be is fantastic and the way it’s depicted on screen is artistically beautiful. Despite the tone of this episode being overwhelmingly positive in it’s final conclusion, the thoughts it leaves in the viewer’s mind afterwards are, perhaps, less positive. Of course, this technology isn’t (yet) possible and after the TV is turned off and we return to solitude, we are all still faced with the inevitability of our own mortality.
Not to leave on a negative note, this episode was cherished in the lgbt+ community. A story so universal being told through the eyes of a queer couple is exactly what the world needs more of. On top of that, the characters were individual, interesting and didn’t pander to dull, inaccurate stereotypes. What we were watching was two people falling in love. It could have been a straight couple but it was all the more special for not being.
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this.
Until next time,
A couple of weeks ago, after my 21st birthday, my cousin Ellie and I decided to get our asses out of our beds for once and go to the cinema. We’d both been dying to see Dunkirk because we’re both quite interested in history and I love going to see films. I had high expectations for this film which, to be honest, often leads to disappointment.
I am in awe of this film. From the moment Fionn Whitehead came onto the screen walking around the city of Dunkirk, looking in abandoned shop windows and drinking water from a hose pipe, I was on edge. There was a sense of foreboding. Next thing I know gun shots are going off, very very loud gunshots. I think one of my favourite things about the film was the level of noise. It was almost like they’d amped the volume up to increase the realism and shock factor.
When the planes flew overhead, about to drop bombs, and there was literally nothing the soldiers could do and nowhere to hide so they all just fell to the floor and hoped for the best. It really made me think about what is must’ve been like to be there. It must have been terrifying. I can’t imagine anything scarier than that moment when you hear the plane coming and realise your life could be over within a minute if you’re in an unlucky spot. The British and French were cornered into a tiny space by the German army and that area was being routinely bombed.
Christopher Nolan’s direction was really the thing that made the film for me. His clever use of chronology in order to tell three stories within one 2 hour film was incredible (and slightly reminiscent of one of his other films Inception). He also managed to convey some of the difficulty the pilots faced, trying to tackle the enemy from the air, by filming from their perspective. It was clever, loud and apparently mostly filmed on location (and that means that poor Harry Styles probably really was suffering in the picture below). I don’t think anybody else could’ve done a better job.
Speaking of Harry Styles, casting him was a massive risk for Nolan to take. It could’ve completely taken the focus away from the massive historical point of the film. Also, if done badly, it could’ve made a bit of a mockery of the whole film. I was VERY pleasantly surprised though. Styles seemed to take the role really seriously and actually pulled it off very well. He wasn’t a scene stealer, but I think for the first feature film role of his career post One Direction that’s the way it should’ve been. The only moment I found a little bit comical (for the wrong reasons) was when he was accusing Gibson of being a German spy and said something along the lines of “he’ll have an accent thicker than sauerkraut sauce”. To be fair to the guy though, that’s just not a very good line.
At points the plight of the characters felt entirely hopeless, as I’m sure things must have felt for the soldiers at the time. Despite minimal dialogue (another choice that worked brilliantly and built tension) I became very attached to most of the characters. When they boarded another boat hoping to finally get home only to be bombed again it was incredibly distressing. Sometimes, however, the film was heart warming. Mainly in Mark Rylance’s scenes where his character Dawson showed the real courage of civilians who headed straight into a war zone to try and save their men. At the end of the film, when Harry Styles and Fionn Whitehead are on the train and begin to read Churchill’s famous “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech while locals run alongside the train passing them cider through the window to welcome them home, It was just so uplifting and I found it quite emotional.
When I came out of this film I was pretty much speechless and it’s been on my mind since. I’ve seen it once again and would probably go see it again given the chance (and if it didn’t cost like £9 at my local cinema). Although I think it’s a little early to say, I feel like this may be one of my all time favourite films.
I would give this film 5/5 stars. I hope you all get a chance to see it.
Until next time,
Again this is slightly on the late side so sorry about that but this is a round up of what I’ve been listening to recently 🙂 I have to admit that over the past month I’ve been listening to slightly less music. I’m not really sure why that is but it might be to do with work and other commitments like trying to watch Game of Thrones right from the beginning 🙂
Ariana Grande – Sometimes
To be honest I’ve been listening to all the songs on Dangerous Woman. Ever since the Ariana’s massive charity concert in Manchester following the terror attack at her concert I’ve had a newfound respect for her as a person, and that seems to have affected me love of her music. She’s the queen of pop at the moment and every time she releases a single it’s a hit. Sometimes wasn’t released as a single but to me its one of the standout tracks on the album. Right from the get go with the “la la la” vocals (by an unknown person) I was interested to see where the track would go. It was something a little bit different, and more mellow, compared to the other big tracks on the album. Instead of being a cynical ballad about a failed love or a high paced hit chronicling flirtation and sexual tension, this song is unashamedly optimistic and is about a love that lasts. Sometimes it’s nice to listen to something like that 🙂
Tom Odell – Wrong Crowd
On a different note Wrong Crowd by Tom Odell is decidedly melancholic. It reflects on a turbulent childhood, failed relationship and essentially an inner turmoil that results in both a mentally and physically unhealthy lifestyle. The whistling and melody at the start of the song is what really captivated me (much like Sometimes) but Tom Odell’s effortless, understated vocals are what really carries the song and adds depth to his, already emotional, lyrics.
Twin Atlantic – No Sleep
I listened to Twin Atlantic a fair amount in July in the lead up to Belladrum Festival (which my last post is about, click here to read). They’re a Scottish rock band (with very noticeable accents) and are really pretty popular up here. I’m not sure of their success outside of Scotland but every time I’ve seen them here the venues have been packed out. No Sleep is my favourite song from their album GLA because of the roaring chorus. It feels quite epic, particularly when performed live. There is no getting away from the cringey lyric “I take pills and I drink alcohol”, I mean way to be subtle about it. Other than that though, I like this song very much.
Oasis – Don’t Look Back in Anger
Ever since I watched the documentary Supersonic about Oasis’ career and the… difficult relationship between Noel and Liam Gallagher I’ve been listening to Oasis a lot more. This was heightened when I began following Liam on twitter, I think I followed Noel as well but let’s be real Liam’s twitter is far more entertaining. Liam’s nickname ‘Potato’ for Noel ‘because he looks like a potato’ is pretty much perfectly catered to my sense of humour and I’m trying hard not to laugh writing this. Other than making me laugh these two have created some classic hits over the years. Despite Wonderwall probably being their most referenced hit I’ve been listening to Don’t Look Back in Anger and Rock n Roll Star a lot recently. Liam’s rendition of Rock n Roll Star at Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester concert was the most exciting part of the evening for me and, as per usual, his percussionist skills were impeccable (tambourine AND maracas).
Niall Horan – Slow Hands – wasn’t a fan of other song
I didn’t really have high hopes for Niall Horan’s solo career, probably because he always faded into the background of One Direction somewhat (at least from my perspective). When he released his first single This Town I wasn’t blown away. I found it quite forgettable and didn’t really make much further effort to keep up with his music. Then I heard Slow Hands on the radio once and it got stuck in my head. The guitar riff is catchy and I found myself thinking I had an old rock ballad stuck in my head, only to remember it was actually little Niall. Despite thinking it was “Small Hands” for a few weeks which, in hindsight makes absolutely NO sense and is pretty hilarious, I not have the lyrics right and enjoy this easy listener.
Harry Styles – Sign of the Times
Sign of the Times is just an AMAZING song. I couldn’t have imagined that Harry would release something like this. I firmly believe that he has the strongest career prospects of any of the One Direction leavers. Also after seeing Dunkirk for a second time last night I am massively impressed with not only his vocals and lyrics but has acting skills as well (who knew). I actually think Sign of the Times and Dunkirk have quite a few things in common. Mainly, they’re both understated and rely on the sheer quality of the content they’re based on (in Sign of the Times case, strong chorus lyrics and Harry’s vocals and in Dunkirk the raw, real story being told and the astounding direction). There’s no unnecessary eccentricities to either of these works and, in my opinion, that is the best thing about them.
London Grammar – Strong
I think I’ve spoken about London Grammar before on this blog but that’s because they are unique and brilliant. Hannah Reid’s clear vocals manage to make every song far more thought provoking and memorable than they perhaps would have been. Live, they are touching and a sight to behold. Hannah stands relatively still by her microphone throughout the performance and the boys (Dan and Dominic) do not move around much either. Their concert is a display of pure talent with no need for bells and whistles. I’ve been listening to every song on their album If You Wait but Strong (their most successful single) is the song I always find myself humming in my head and wanting to go back to the most.
I hope you enjoyed having a little peruse of what I’ve been listening to the past month. Please let me know what you’ve been enjoying as well, I’m always looking for recommendations!
Until next time,