Month: May 2014

American Horror Story: Coven – a review

American Horror Story is a recently aired television series that seems to have taken the world by storm.

Based on tales of horror and fear, it is currently in the process of having a fourth series made, as a follow up to the frs_634x873-130918103524-634.Amercian-Horror-Story-coven4.jl.091813irst three instalments – Murder House, Asylum, and Coven. So far, I have only seen Coven, but it impressed me so much that I couldn’t wait until I had watched the other two series to write about it.

The third segment out of the three (all of which are entirely independent stories, so they do not need to be watched in any specific order), Coven follows the lives of a group of witches living in New Orleans. While it begins in 2013, it flips back and forth between the present day and the 1800s, showcasing the age-long battle between witches and voodoo masters. It also illustrates the conflicts between the witches themselves, with battles for dominance and power causing rifts in the dynamic of the coven on multiple occasions.

One very prominent reason why this show hooked me in from the moment I began watching it is the abundance of female protagonists. More and more shows these days are female-centric (Orphan Black, Orange Is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars) but it is still so refreshing to see a show in which women are the headliners, and are not dependent on male characters for story lines or justification of their character’s presence in the story. One scene in particular really stood out to me in terms of female empowerment and shedding the notion that men are needed to be the heroes and the saviour for women – in episode 12, a scene occurs where the witches are under attack, and the only male in the house, Kyle, steps in to help; but he is rapidly pushed aside by Misty, one of the witches, before she delivers the line, “We really don’t need a man to protect us.” This line really resonated with me because for too long, women have been perceived as weak and needing a man in order to survive, when really, that isn’t the case at all, and Coven has done a brilliant job in showing that by having a group of formidable women fighting for themselves and doing a bloody good job of it.

coven

Also, in keeping with the theme of ‘women’, this show isn’t just a group of female characters shoved together to form a crowd – each woman is an individual, with her own plights and issues to overcome. And while some of their actions may be cruel at times, they all possess very human emotions and traits, which allow them to retain an essence of humanness, which makes them all relatable in one way or another. I mean, the characters themselves are all just a huge reason to watch this show; they all have aspects of their personalities that make them brilliant individuals, whether it’s Queenie’s sass, or Zoe’s innocence, or even Madison’s obnoxiousness, and it all makes for wonderfully entertaining television, and definitely makes the show more than just a horror spectacle. The characters also undergo rigorous developments, with some of the character arcs being utterly fulfilling to watch – we see frightened young girls grow up into strong, powerful witches, who take on their enemies and any danger that may befall them, and I’ve found that this gives the viewer a great feeling of gratification and pleasure.

Additionally, the show is great when it comes to its addressing the horrifying events that occurred back in the 1800s – from the hangings of witches, to the persecution of innocent African-Americans, this series does not hold back in its portrayal of some of the atrocities that took place. It must definitely be commended on its historical accuracy – unbeknownst to me when I first began watching it, some of the characters featured in Coven are, in fact, based on real people from history. One character in particular is especially loathsome – the role of Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie, played by Kathy Bates, is based on the woman of the same name who lived in New Orleans in the early 1800s. A wealthy socialite harbouring an immense hatred for people of colour, LaLaurie was infamous for her horrific Chamber of Horrors, in which she used to capture, tie up, and torture African-American slaves until they died. She committed countless murders in her chamber, and during the show, when the character of LaLaurie finds herself alive a few decades later after waking from a spell that put her to sleep, her heinous crimes do not go unpunished by the strong women of colour who now reside in the New Orleans area and who are fully aware of the acts that Madame Delphine carried out on numerous innocent slaves. This historical accuracy continues throughout the show, with multiple characters being based on real-life people from New Orleans around this time. This all adds to the authenticity of the show, and makes it both even more engaging and terrifying to watch.

Also, in regards to casting a wide range of women, the show has characters belonging to all kinds of groups, including having people of colour as main protagonists and as regular recurring cast members – this in turn makes the show more accurate in terms of representation of society, and this diversity is both important and necessary.

All in all, this is one fantastic show – it has variety, characters aren’t restricted or oppressed due to their gender, and, most of all, it’s a damn good piece of entertainment. While it may not be for the faint-hearted, Coven has certainly impressed me, with an all-star cast including Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, Angela Bassett, and even the incredible Stevie Nicks, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has yet to see it.

5/5 – Complete with zany witches who spout hysterical one-liners, this show is definitely something to be revered and remembered.

dont be a hater ahs

~Steph.

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Two Faces of January QUICKPICKLE

Oscar_Isaac_Viggo_Mortensen-Two-Faces-of-January-618x400

 

“A very stylish, very well played and enjoyable film, but not a lot in the way of depth.”

 

Two faces of January is Hossein Amini’s directional debut, which can be said to take a lot of inspiration from the Iconic “The Talented Mr. Ripley. “ This profoundly suave and handsome film is a more of a drama than a thriller. It focuses on a husband and wife who, after becoming embroiled in the murder of a private detective, make a fragile alliance with a local scamming tour guide, in a gambit to flee.

 

The film focuses on an affluent, elegant couple named Colette (Kirsten Dunst) and Chester (Viggo Mortensen) MacFarland. After spending the day holidaying in Athens, they retire back to the hotel for the evening only to be approached by a private Investigator. He claims to represent some clients of which invested some money with Chester and demands that the money be returned. After a brief altercation, in which Chester was held at gunpoint, he accidentally kills the PI. This sets in motion a dilemma, in which the couple enlist the help of a local tour guide and scam artist to escape Greece and return to America.

 

The style and setting of the film is done with great poise and sophistication, being a medley of suits, dresses, scotch, cigarettes and iconic landscapes filling the screen. The film does a great job in portraying the early 1940s and 50s very well.

 

Such style is accompanied too by solid acting performances throughout. Mortensen gives a stellar performance of a ruthless, calculating money swindler alongside his convincingly played innocent wife by Dunst. The Tour guide (Oscar Isaac) gives perhaps the most intriguing performance of them all, leaving you unsure as to why he is helping the MacFarland’s escape justice. Is it for financial gain? Is it out of fear? Or is it because he loves Colette?

 

Strangely enough however these solid performances are both the films best friend and worst enemy. Whist they give a convincing portrayal of each character, you can help but notice that the film really doesn’t delve deep into each of the characters enough. Little more than castaway lines are used to make what felt like a slap-dash approach to each of the characters pasts. As an audience, you never really feel like you’re allowed to delve deep into the mind of each of the protagonists, and thus cease to feel as part of the action.

 

Verdict

 

A very stylish, very well played and enjoyable film, but not a lot in the way of depth. Whilst this is determent to the story somewhat, it is by no means a very good first big budget attempt for newcomer director Hossein Amini.

 

3.5/5

Luke

‘Skin Game’ by Jim Butcher, REVIEW

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If I haven’t mentioned this before, I am a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. It is easily one of my favourite book series’ and is still going strong upon the release of it’s fourteenth book. You’ll be hardpressed to find other long-running series’ holding up so well.

At midnight last night, Skin Game, book fourteen, was released and I’ve already completely devoured it. And it was mind-blowing!

After a very, very goddamn rough few years, in which Harry Dresden has actually died, Harry has had a year break away from magical beasties and bullies trying to literally eat his face, even as a parasite has grown within his head and risks bursting out of his skull any day now. But hey, small victories, right?

I wasn’t too sure what I was expecting from this book, but as the last few have been heavy and extreme and have put Harry through a lot of shit, I think I assumed that it would  be a kind of fast, funny and cool sort-of filler book for introspection on Harry’s life and experiences and a break in the increasing trajectory and pace of the series.

Boy, was I wrong.

Harry’s new boss, good old Queen Mab of the Winter Court of Faerie, needs to settle a debt. And of course, she uses her new Knight to do that. This would turn out horribly for Harry anyway, because it’s Harry and because it’s Mab, but it just so happens that the debt collector is Nicodemus Archleone, host to a Fallen angel, old enemy of Harry’s, and all-around murdering psychopath.

And the job he wants doing?

Yeah, breaking into the vault of Hades, Lord of the Underworld.

A lot happened in this book.

It was still hilariously funny, of course, and had me snorting and giggling out loud more than a few times. Of course, it also had me lapsing into tears a few times, though I think I did so more out of happiness than actual pain and sadness for once. Very unusual for a Dresden book, let me tell you. The book as a whole is beyond intense and I genuinely feared for the lives of some characters several times – cue panicked animal noises from myself – because of the very frightening circumstances they found themselves in, in quick succession. The pace never let up and the action and adventure was constant. I was never bored or felt myself skimming words, which I would rarely ever do in a Dresden book in any case, but the intensity of the story kept me utterly enthralled throughout and I’ve successfully bitten my nails to stumps. Despite that, Skin Game is an oddly uplifting book! Upon finishing it, I felt good about Harry’s choices, his losses and his victories. His ‘lost’ talk with Michael brought back a wonderful return of the ‘old’ Harry. He still has his scars and his past to battle through and carry with him, but there was something lighter about him and the return of something he lost through the hell of his recent years. Though I felt frightened,too, for what’s to come, because this is Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden we’re talking about here. I mean, come on.

A few things I very much enjoyed:

We get to see Subconscious Harry! Yay! The visual incarnation of Harry’s inner-self is a total dick, complete with all black outfit and goatee, but I really love that guy and his frank sass. Along with this, we get some serious insight into the parasite that Harry’s been harbouring. Talk about your bundle of joy, eesh! But I am way excited for what’s to come in regards to the ‘parasite’ after the end of Skin Game.

I was so glad to see the Carpenters made a great comeback, too. I adore that family, and Charity’s attitude to life is everything I hope to gain. What a badass. Molly shows up, too, more awesome than ever and seemingly recovering from her own hellish experiences. However, Harry hasn’t seen her in the year since she gained the mantle of Winter Lady, and there are some… changes. And worries. Molly is my baby and any possible harm to her character makes me want to curl up and cry. So just a warning on that. Still, she was awesome as all heck when we did see her in action, even if she didn’t get much.

Speaking of the Carpenters, Maggie’s appearance was surprising and yet not, because it was so long overdue, but suddenly Harry turned around and was faced with her, just there, and he couldn’t run from his daughter anymore. And I could not be more thrilled about how that turned out. You go, Harry. And you go, Mouse! Mouse, Harry’s Tibetan Mastiff-like magical, mystical Foo dog was as brilliant as ever. I would give so much for my own Mouse, let me tell you.

Weirdly, I enjoyed Nicodemus’s role in this book. He’s as awful and horridly evil as ever, a true villain in every way, but weirdly enjoyable as one. He got no sympathy from me whatsoever, but I can’t wait to see his next appearance in the series. And to see his butt get kicked all over again, hopefully!  Though I have to admit, the Genoskwa terrified me a bit.

The many confrontations Harry found himself in the middle of (or starting, dammit Harry) started to show to what extent he’s beginning to exert control over the Winter in him. He pulled back the violent instincts a lot easier this time around, and seemed prepared for it. And Harry Dresden? Prepared for things? That’s character growth right there.

And if anyone is wondering about an appearance by the Lord of the Underworld himself, seeing as his vault is the target of the heist, then I’ll say yes. We get a little personal time with Hades himself, but I’ll say no more on that. It’s too cool to spoil.

I will say that I missed a few things, namely Thomas. He’s always a great character and I missed his snark and own brand of drama. Similarly, I also wished we’d seen more of Molly and Bob, though what little we did see was a promise of great things to come, I think. I do wonder what will happen with Bob now, what with Butters, his current boss, having this whole new position? Hmm…

The Outsiders and the Nemesis, too, were something I could’ve done with hearing more about, after that huge conflict Harry had with them previously. But a few certain things in Skin Game definitely promised more to do with them, and Mab’s war with them was referenced.

And the questions I was left with about that ‘parasite’! I will not be over that until the next book, which cannot come fast enough. I see many re-reads in the near and far future. Bravo, Mr. Butcher. Bravo!

5 / 5 Stars, easily!

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Jim Butcher

– Meg

 

X-Men: Days Of Futures Past – Review!

poster-trio

 

 

Hey everyone! I was all ready to do a review today about a game but then I went to see the new X-men film last night and thought that I had to write about it. Now im gunna keep this review no- spoilers  which means I can’t really speak about all aspects of the film in detail so there are gunna be a few points that I really wanted to speak about (and I probably will do at a later date) that I am going to leave out to save you from having the film spoiled. So here goes.

 

First off this film is great and you should go see it. The film itself is well paced and directed and Brian Singer does a great job bringing to life the X-men we all know and love while also showing Brett Ratner how its fucking done! This is up there challenging for the best X-men movie rather easily but I still feel it needed to do a little more. The trouble with a film world this big with so many mutants available to use is that you can’t fit them all into a normal length movie so what the film does is just show you small glimpses of certain characters, rather than setting up actual character development, more in line with a cameo. Now this is a sort of bitter sweet thing because if you’re a fan of the comics and know the characters that they show you’re delighted that they made it into the film and then kinda disappointed that they couldn’t have been in it for longer. but that’s just a nitpick more than anything.

The storyline is tight and well constructed and a lot of the time doesn’t hold your hand the whole way like some comic films do. The story jumps around a lot so you do have to keep track of multiple storylines but it’s not too much of a bother because the film keeps you engaged and interested in what’s happening with the main characters. The film itself is kind of a strange one to place as it seems like it’s trying to take itself more seriously with some much heavier themes but then also contain the wit and humour we’ve grown to expect from marvel films. Personally I like it and I think its pulled off really well in this film but I can see that it might worry a few fans and maybe some parents that take their children to see this thinking it’s a nice family film which is exactly what it seems it’s trying to get away from.

However because of all the jumping around between characters the film feels a little hollow in some places and does leave you wanting more, but not in a good way. Now don’t get me wrong as a comic book movie this is great but as a movie its good. It is taking a step in the right direction where people will think of marvel films as great films rather than just great super hero films. It may not sound like there is difference their but trust me there is a big one.

As I said though you should definitely go see this film and im gunna end the review their before I go into spoiler mode. I give this film a 8/10 and is a must see for any super hero fan.

 

Joe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

spoiler-alert

 

 

 

Spoilers be here! Do not read this final tid bit if you don’t want the ending spoiled in some way, no major details but just sort of in general. So Yeah stop reading if you want to stay pure and innocent.

Sorry I just had to say this one last bit otherwise I’m gunna explode, I think I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say thank fuck that the ending wiped out all events of X-men 3 and Wolverine- Origins (I assume), but after the ecstasy left me that those shitty films are no longer cannon it also made me sad that we have no idea what IS canon anymore, did X-men 1 and 2 even happen? in this new future are Magneto and Charles still frenemies? Ahhh the questions without answers! anyway that’s all that I wanted to say. If you’ve seen the film please let me know what you think, also one last bit before I sign off, how disappointed were you with the whole rogue thing?! Use her in the adverts and then have her for not even 5 seconds at the end! Im not even sure if she says a line! Sorry rant over thanks for reading and im sorry if this bit spoiled anything for anyone but I did warn you.

Thirteen – a review

One of the most intense movies I’ve come across in a very long time, Thirteen is a journey that creates a roller coaster of emotions within its audience from start to finish. thirteen

Focused on the life of thirteen-year-old Tracy Freeland, the movie was written by Catherine Hardwicke and Nikki Reed, who also stars in the movie as the other protagonist. It is a semi-autobiographical film inspired by Reed’s life at age 12 and 13, with, interestingly enough, the character of Tracy being loosely based on Reed, as opposed to her own character, Evie.

The film begins by giving us a brief glimpse into Tracy’s life – living at home with her brother and her mother, who is a recovering alcoholic and who isn’t very involved in her daughter’s life, Tracy is quiet and reserved. This doesn’t seem to bother Tracy at the start, however, as she seems content to spend time with her young-minded friends doing homework and being typical thirteen year old girls. This is until Evie Zamora, one of the beautiful ‘popular’ girls at school, makes a negative comment about Tracy’s outfit – this upsets Tracy, who immediately races home and throws away anything she deems ‘uncool’, in an attempt to rid herself of her childish things. She then begs her mother to buy her better clothes, which she does – this results in Tracy receiving a compliment from Evie at school a few days later, which sends her spirits soaring. She relishes feeling accepted by the girls who are admired by everyone else at school, and so sets out to impress them further, hoping to win their friendship, and, in turn, obtain some of the shine that seems to surround Evie and her friends.

But then, what begins as a little scheme to get noticed blossoms into something much more serious – Tracy ends up falling into a pattern of bad behaviour, and adopts the attitude to go along with it. Encouraged by Evie, and her own desire for acceptance and praise, Tracy starts spiralling downwards into a whirlpool of theft and violence. This soon escalates to severe drug and alcohol abuse, and even results in Tracy having sex with a boy who is much older than she is.

tracy and evie

Tracy (played by Wood) and Evie (played by Reed).

All of this starts to have an effect on Tracy as a person, and this definitely does not go unnoticed by her mother. She sees Tracy stumble in at all hours of the night, always with Evie tagging along right behind her, and this then puts a strain on their relationship as mother and daughter. Tracy herself gets lost somewhere along her journey, and we see that the pressure to grow up too fast becomes too much for her at times, and she becomes self-destructive as a way to cope with that. Everything then comes to a boil when the truth is revealed, resulting in Evie moving away and Tracy’s mother being left to pick up the pieces of Tracy’s broken soul.

This movie caused much debate during its release, due to its addressing of topics such as substance abuse, underage sex, and self-harm. However, from the moment it begins, it is simply breath-taking – featuring scenes scattered with a rawness not often seen in bigger Hollywood-style productions, this film goes the extra mile in telling a story in a way that is tragic and yet, utterly enthralling. The cast, too, are exceptional – Nikki Reed is brilliant as the enigmatic yet manipulative Evie, while Evan Rachel Wood is captivating as Tracy. Tracy’s mother is also a role that deserves bountiful recognition – portrayed by Holly Hunter, she is the perfect example of a mother who is simply desperate to find the girl she once knew to be her daughter. While trying to get through to Tracy and get her back on the right track, we see her also struggle with issues of her own, with her dependency on her ex-drug addict boyfriend causing a major rift between her and Tracy.

While Thirteen may not be a typical movie for a group of friends to watch together on a Friday night, it is definitely a film that encompasses depth, emotion, and honesty throughout. And in no way does it glorify the illegal activities carried out by the young teenagers – instead, it portrays them in a way that is true, and showcases just how lost a person can get when they’re trying to find themselves. This is a movie that I think everyone can relate to in some way or another, because really, it’s all about the lengths people will go to in order to fit in and feel accepted. This film is astonishing in its deliverance, and while it can be a little unpolished at times, this only adds to the realness of it.

4/5 – A brutally honest film that will stick with you for a very long time.

~Steph.

Zeitgeist Addendum

Zeitgeist Addendum

Zeitgeist-addendum-poster

Created by Peter Joseph

 

“An intriguing documentary that puts the modern systems of today’s society into a damning perspective.”

 

Zeitgeist Addendum is a 2-hour documentary divided into 4 parts, outlining the truly corrupt nature of modern democracy and capitalism in today’s “Free World.” The first part explains how the monetary system operates. The second part discusses how multinational corporations and first world governments economically cripple poorer countries to seize their precious resources (such as oil.) Part three discusses the need to leave this current socioeconomic system. Part four is a final statement to boycott banks, corporations, and political systems and to join the Zeitgeist movement.

 

When I first fired this documentary up (which is available to all freely on youtube courtesy of the creator,) I was sceptical at first. I assumed this was going to be another ludicrous David Ike-esque conspiracy theory, telling of lizards in human skin suits and illuminati world domination dates. I was very much mistaken. This is an intriguing documentary that puts the modern systems of today’s society into a damning perspective.

 

As a student I have no money, in fact I have less than no money. I, like so many others, have a debt. And to discover that the money we work for the most better part of our lives to get, is actually an instrument of debt designed to keep us working in menial jobs to power the 1% elite, is quite a sobering thought. Not only that, but also the banks that loaned you the money in the first place didn’t have the money begin with only further leaves you speechless, and actually quite angry. For in reality, what the banks are doing is illegal and nullifies the loan contract that you have with them. In short, we are under no legal obligation whatsoever to pay back ANY of the money loaned to us. Banks that seize your property due to default are, in effect, doing so illegally. It is even further frustrating to discover that these defaults are built into the system and inevitable for the poorer persons of society which for all intensive purposes are people like me, the debt ridden student.

 

Twin this with illegal wars and political corruption (which is abundant in today’s world) and you end up with an alarming look at the kind of people shaping our modern world. This documentary is by far the most startling and intriguing documentary I’ve seen this year. Every graph, quote, statistic, and piece of data is sourced and backed up with footnotes to verify their reliability, culminating in a frightening proof that wealth gap and inequality in society is vastly expanding.

 

The documentary itself is incredibly well put together, with aspects and systems being explained in clearly laid out diagrams and concise jargon free wording. You need no background knowledge at all on economics or politics to understand any of what is being said; even when the film covers legal cases which (as a former law student) I can confidently say is sometimes a jargon minefield. All the participants and interviewees have sound credentials and clearly spell out some of the frightening things that are happening as we go about our day.

 

This documentary doesn’t hold back, and aims to tell it to you as it is with no fumbling around the edges. The narrated content throughout is incredibly engaging and dives straight into facts. Barely a moment into the documentary you find yourself already startled by a short excerpt of the opening segment, which outlines just how unequal today’s world is- “In a world where 1% of the population own 40% of the planet’s wealth. In a world where 34,000 children die every single day from poverty and preventable diseases. And where 50% of the population lives on less than $2 (£1.60) a day, one thing is clear. Something is very wrong.”

 

However this documentary isn’t perfect. After two thirds of the way through, when it starts to discuss changing our current capitalist system, I felt it to be overly preachy and wishy-washy. Gone are the hard facts and proven flaws, replaced instead by what seems to be simple romantic ideals of what life could be like, if you wiped the omnipresence of corruption from the face of the earth. At this point, when they start shovelling drawn pictures of cities inspired from Mass effect and Star Trek onto your screen, you really wouldn’t be missing much if you just turned off the TV, went to your loan manager, and told them to f**k themselves with a large cucumber.

 

Verdict

 

An absolute eye opener for two thirds of the way in. Despite the preachy ending, I would strongly recommend this documentary as a startling educational experience.

 

4/5

 

Luke Hall

Throwin’ Out a Quickie

Just a Quickpickle post from me today, sadly, as I’m only halfway through the book I want to review and am currently ass-deep in preparations for London MCM Expo this weekend, which is going to rock!

I’ll be posting next week, though it will be on Tuesday rather than my regular Monday, and it could be about Expo or about this lovely new book I’m buried in. Who knows? (Hint: It’s me. I know.)

For now, here’s the synposis of a great Urban Fantasy book to go get your hands on. It’s funny, clever, heralds both noir and Westerns with a healthy side of Hellions and angels, and is a fantastically gritty and dark opening to the series:

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadry

Life sucks, and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles. 

Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future. 

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse. 

Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author

 

– Meg

‘FIT’ – a review

fitI first found out about ‘FIT’ when a friend of mine sent me a list of movies focused around LGBT characters and stories, because I had expressed interest in watching more movies with queer protagonists but wasn’t quite sure where to start. After receiving her recommendation list, I began looking up the movies she’d suggested to see what would take my fancy, and ‘FIT’ definitely caught my eye.

Produced by Stonewall in 2010 and described as ‘a gritty version of shiny E4 drama, Glee’, ‘FIT’ is the film adaptation of the highly successful Stonewall play, which was made to educate students in schools, and the aim of which was to tackle homophobic bullying and open young people’s minds. This movie has been critical in spreading awareness and acceptance for LGBT youth in schools over the past few years, and has provided teachers with a way to enlighten their students while also educating the teachers themselves on issues such as equality and homophobia.

‘FIT’ is set in a college in London, and follows the lives of a group of teenagers who take Dance and Drama. The film kicks off with the teacher, Loris, an out-and-proud gay man who doesn’t know what to expect from his new job teaching these students who have all been kicked out of their other classes for one reason or another. Right away, we get a very clear idea of the personalities of some of the more unruly students – we see Isaac, a mouthy young man who heads a trio of ‘lads’, who at first all seem very one-dimensional and ignorant. However, as the film progresses, we are shown different sides to the boys, and while I’m not going to reveal any spoilers, I will say that we get some wonderful twists and turns along the way as we see these boy’s story lines progress.

One pair of female characters in particular have a very interesting story throughout the movie – Lee, a tomboy who loves basketball and tracksuits, is best friends with Carmel, a very girly girl who is the epitome of ‘straight’. But, while everyone (including the audience) assumes that Lee is gay, that is then revealed to not be the case – one of the biggest surprises in the movie, we find out that it is in fact Carmel who is a lesbian, and her character arc is heart-breaking, to say the least, because she has to keep her secret hidden from her extremely conservative and homophobic parents for fear of negative retaliation. I think this is something that a lot of queer people can identify with, and so I believe that this is one of the many reasons why this movie is so ground-breaking. Also, it is important for all types of LGBT people to see themselves represented in the media, and so for ‘girly girls’, or ‘lipstick lesbians’, as they are sometimes known, Carmel’s storyline is relevant to them and can offer them a feeling of solidarity and inclusion, which I believe is very important.

‘FIT’ also addresses issues such as ignorance, what it ‘means’ to be gay, and the different experiences LGBT people can have when realising who they are – some of my favourite scenes are those which occur in the youth group that Carmel attends; during these scenes, we see a medley of young people discuss their individual experiences with realising who they are and, eventually, coming out, and it can be quite comical at times while still managing to be educational and informative. This movie has some of the typical themes you see in a lot of films – love, heartbreak, jealousy, fear – but what makes FIT so great is that it is focused on both straight and LGBT people, and it gives both sides a chance to speak and tell their stories.

This film also manages to show how people can learn and change their negative way of thinking, which is demonstrated in Isaac’s character development, and portrays the (very true) idea that nothing is set in stone and that people can change with the times and learn to accept others no matter how different they are.

From the moment I first watched ‘FIT’, I knew that I had found a new favourite movie, and since watching it for the first time about two years ago, it’s definitely earned its spot near the top of my most-loved list. So, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, I highly suggest you watch it – the only downside to it is the disappointing exclusion of transgender people (the T in LGBT should be represented, after all), but, taking that into consideration, this is still a great film with a brilliant lesson to be taken from it.

4/5 – The ‘chavvy’ London slang used by the students only adds to this movie’s golden shine, making it a learning experience wrapped up in a comedy ribbon, and the ridiculous amount of Adidas sported by the cast can be a little overwhelming, but that’s a minor negative amidst a sea of positivity and change.

~Steph.

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Damned

Damned_Palahniuk

 

Written by Chuck Palahniuk

 

“Fans of otherworldly demons, Hell and I, Lucifer should definitely have a look at the debauched, dirty world that is Palahniuk’s Damned.”

 

I’ve read some “imaginative” material in my time, but Chuck Palahniuk’s “Damned” is definitely one of those books you have to tell someone about, even if they aren’t into books. This read is definitely unique in its setting, style and downright filth. So much so in fact, that I read it cover to cover in one uninterrupted sitting (excluding the wincing that occurred on page 76.)

 

Damned tells the tale of a 13-year-old whip tongued girl named Madison, who is the daughter to billionaire parents and has an “ample” frame. Whilst her parents leave her behind to gallivant around adopting orphans left right and centre, Madison dies of what she suspects to be a marijuana overdose, and awakens to find herself in hell. Of course you read this and think “Marijuana overdose? Boll*ocks!” I know I did. Not to sound like “a bad ass gangsta” but I have in the past smoked the old Marley Magic in the past. Good stuff too, not that dodgy sort from the inner cities that just makes you feel hungry and leaves you with a due sense of exhaustion and dread. And despite all the hot boxing, hollowed out cider bottles with biro casings sticking out of them, and woman wearing little more than a pair of bunny ears on their heads (it was a chuffing interesting party I assure you,) I never once felt as if the dope was going to make me croak. But before I bound on and rip into what seems to be a major plot hole, I am pleased to say that actually there is more to Madison’s death than meets the eye, and the actual cause of death unfolds as the book transpires.

 

Upon waking up in the sinister domain of hell, Madison finds herself incarcerated in a prison cell with countless others in a mass prison. In the cell next to her she meets the first of her motley crew of young sinners, a vain aloof girl named “Babette” who-even in the fiery pits of hell- talks with Madison about eyeliner. After a quick look around the prison’s other inhabitants, Madison soon meets a nerdy young boy named Leonard who has since had an obsession with the beasts and demons in hell. According to Madison he also has “Dreamy brown eyes.” A punk named Archer who brandishes a big Mohawk, and Patterson who appears to be an American football player.

 

Together the group break out of their cells, and Madison decides that she wants to traverse the infernal landscape of hell in search for Satan. It is here where Palahniuk’s unique style really becomes apparent. When most people think of hell they think of torture, blood, screaming and blazing fire. Chuck however decides to take a different approach. In Palahniuk’s hell, there lies candy on grubby floors, lakes of vomit, mountains made entirely from toenail clipping and (probably the most disgusting of them all) the sea of lost wasted sperm. Archer remarks that since the invention of Internet pornography on mortal Earth, the sea of spunk has been rising at record rates and has become Hell’s very own version of global warming. Along their way in search of the infamous devil, the crews have run-ins with various beasts and dangers. It is here where the book takes an “exotic” turn to say for the least.

 

Fans of otherworldly demons, Hell and I, Lucifer should definitely have a look at the debauched, dirty world that is Palahniuk’s Damned. For in it you witness Madison respond to an attack from a giant female demon, by climbing up her leg and (how do I put this) “pleasure” the demonic being with a living, talking severed head. You also see Madison discover that there are only two methods of employment in Hell. The first is to do live webcam sex shows, and the second is to cold call people on earth and ask them to fill out meaningless surveys, and this is just to start.

 

From the strange happenings in Hell, to the dramas on Earth involving one of Madison’s sinister adopted siblings, the bizarre adventures that occur on Madison’s quest to find the devil are at the very least memorable. It also treats you to a serious twist as the story draws to a close that is sure to leave your jaw by your ankles. It could almost be Keyser Sozeesque in its delivery.

 

However, this book isn’t without fault. One or two of the characters within the book I felt were unnecessary, and didn’t really add anything to the story. The most obvious example is the American footballer “Patterson”, who says very little or virtually nothing for the most part; to the extent you could almost forget he was ever there at all. Another issue is at times Madison’s voice comes across as too eloquent for a sinning 13 year old and can detract that much needed teenage element within a few of the pages.

 

 

Verdict

 

Regardless of a few hiccups with character and voice, if you like the idea of something a little unusual (such as a thirteen year old girl beating up Hitler and nicking his moustache,) or are a fan of dark comedy and the supernatural, then this is a book worth taking a look at.

 

4/5

 

Luke Hall

Mirror Sight, by Kristen Britain, REVIEW

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I’ve reviewed the first book of this series, Green Rider, before, and now I’m skipping right on ahead to the newly released fifth book, Mirror Sight, which I have been desperately waiting for since early 2011 after a horrifying cliffhanger ending from Ms. Britain.

In Blackveil, the previous book, we left Karigan G’Ladheon, seasoned Green Rider, fresh from a confrontation with Mornhavon. She’d denied him literally astronomical power and the fallout left her blasted through the layers of the world, trapped in a sealed stone coffin who knows where, injured, her air supply dwindling and supposedly no help forthcoming. Imagine waiting three and a half years for that to be resolved!

Thankfully, here we are picking right up where we left off. You know, our beloved Karigan about to die horribly and all that. She of course survives – where would we be without the heroine of the story? – and finds herself almost 200 years in the future where magic no longer seems to exist and an empire has all but erased Sacoridia and everything she knows and loves. Though this sounds pretty flaky for a high fantasy series, trust me, trust the writer, and don’t fret; Britain has integrated time travel shenanigans into the series before, and she continues to carry it on marvellously.

The previous few novels have explored the POVs of other various characters, which was fascinating, fun and important, but I have to admit that it was great getting back to Karigan more in this book, with just enough outside POV to spice it up and keep the other plot threads moving along. Despite this, I still rather missed hearing from a few well-loved characters as the book progressed.

As usual, Kristen Britain’s writing was brilliant, a great blend of intensity, drama, action and hilarity come together to make Karigan’s story shine. The description of so many new and amazing, if terrifying, things within her world was something I eagerly ate up, particularly the steampunk-ish elements of the magic-and-otherwise-powered technologies of this awful future in which Karigan has found herself. As a reader, the more you see of this future, the more you whole-heartedly agree with her urgent need to get the hell back to her own time and prevent it from coming to pass.

Although I adored this book, as I always will with anything Britain creates, I was left yearning for more. And not just because of the three year wait between books! Many questions were left unanswered, even un-attended to, from previous books. Though I totaly understand this, seeing as the heroine has been tossed into the far future by a death god who is up to – well, only he knows what. Still, I was hoping to hear more about Alton, Estral’s loss of her magical and evidently extremely important voice, the other Green Riders, their history, about what that awful Grandmother and her crew are up to in Blackveil Forest, about King Zachary, and about Amberhill, especially after his last chapter in the book in which he woke up them.

But, for anyone who has read Blackveil and was as interested in Yolandhe the Sea Witch as myself, boy are you in for a treat towards the end of Mirror Sight. It’s not morally right or pretty, what she does, but new personal idol? Hell, yeah. Talk about girl power.

Overall, I was blown away by this book, and I’m already sitting around pining for the next instalment.

The romantic choices were surprising, but enjoyed (if painfully), the ending was beautifully painful as is becoming the norm for Britain, the foreshadowing throughout the book had me shaking in fear but clueless as to where it would lead up until the moment it happened (‘Mirror sight’ – you’re not bloody kidding!), and the story was a fantastic adventure, even if it started of a teensy bit slow and had the vague feel of a ‘filler’ novel, though I by no means believe it unnecessary to the series as a whole. It is more that it has added a whole new urgency to it.

[4.5 / 5]

Please go read this series!

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kristen Britain

P.S. Look at the breathtaking full image of the US cover art by Donato Giancola and check out his website and gallery!

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– Meg