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Album Review: Bjork – Vulnicura

Wrote this a little bit ago and meant to post it, heres a review of the new Bjork album.

Björk_-_Vulnicura_(Official_Album_Cover)

Bjork’s latest and ninth album is a record of her divorce from husband Matthew Barney, and the songs contained within it are unflinchingly vulnerable and wrought with heartache. It’s a side we’re not used to seeing from the woman who once cut such a ferocious, imposing figure on albums like Post and Homogenic. Sonically, however, we’re in more familiar territory. Vulnicura contains the same mix of icy electronics and expressive strings that made Homogenic so singular, but the relatively straight-forward pop structures of that album are pulled apart and sent spinning into orbit as sprawling, six to ten minute pieces.

The interplay of these two separate but harmonizing elements neatly reflects the albums lyrical themes, its obsession with examining duality and companionship through the minutiae of a crumbling marriage. There are some moments of hypnotizing beauty to be found in the rubble, such as album highlight ‘Lionsong’, where mournful strings grandly follow Bjorks voice as she sings: ‘Maybe he will come out of this loving me / Maybe he won’t / I’m not taming no animal’.

Her dedication to capturing the chaos of this collapse is perhaps to her own detriment, however: as the album goes on, and the story it tells becomes one of increasingly painful separation, so too its instrumental elements seem to have little to do with one another. Songs such as ‘Mouth Mantra’ become a mess of aimless beats and erratic strings which build towards nothing, and offer no kind of resolution. But maybe resolution was not the point. Vulnicura, as its name suggests, is a process of emotional healing for both creator and listener, rather than a conclusion. It is an attempt to answer the question which Bjork so candidly asks on ‘Family’, looking as much at the listener as at her ex-husband: ‘How can I sing us out of this sorrow?’

7/10

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Lawless QUICKPICKLE

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“I don’t understand what the fuss was about.”

It was a late addition to my must watch pile and one that people kept raving about. “Oh Luke” they said; “It was great,” they said. “You must watch, I heartily recommend it.” Lawless stars Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, and Gary Oldman in a film set in depression-era Franklin County. And for the life of me I don’t understand what the fuss was about.

The story revolves around three bootlegging brothers (Hardy, LaBeouf and Clarke) during the prohibition in America. Things are all well and good, until the brothers are threatened by a new special deputy (played by Guy Pearce) and other authorities angling for a cut of their profits. I felt Guy Pearce to be the strong element in the film, successfully pulling off a sinister malevolent psychopath, hiding under the virtuous veil of the law. However the same cannot be said for Hardy, who adds little more than grunts and brooding stares to the film. The other worthy mention is Shia LaBeouf who pulls off a much more convincing role as the youngest and most ambitious brother.

For me this was a film that took far too long to cut to the chase. Scenes of people sat in bars or on front porches looking moody were used to excess, and really didn’t add much to the film. When it does finally get going, and piece-by-piece the malevolent special deputy kills and destroys what the brothers hold dear, the climax of the film doesn’t really end with the impact I’d thought it would. Instead it opted for the cliché happy go lucky ending where the fate of the main characters, is all summarily summed up in a single voiceover. As for Gary Oldman, what little (and I really do mean little) time he has on screen, his character really didn’t seem to have any real purpose other than to buy booze off LaBeouf. This is a shame as his character really did show signs of stylish promise, and could’ve made for a memorable ending as opposed to a Hollywood-esque attempt to but more bums on seats in theaters.

Final Verdict

An interesting premise that comes off half-heartedly and really could’ve done more.

2/5

 

Grim: A New Musical – a review

GRIM “A love story to die for.”

 

I’ve always been a lover of the theatre. From a young age, I remember my parents taking me to various shows, ranging from my sister’s school plays to outstanding plays performed in the West End. So when my mum told me that she’d booked us tickets to see a brand new show in London this week, I was over the moon.

On the surface, ‘Grim’ already looks like a rather interesting play – it follows the character of Grim (otherwise known as the Grim Reaper) who goes to a little town to fulfil her tasks of taking the souls of the dying, but her plans are firmly thrown off-course when she meets none other than Cupid himself. And then the story takes a turn for the unexpected. Cupid finds himself instantly taken by Grim, and vows to have her return his bold affections. However, Grim is unused to the behaviour of others; being the Angel of Death, she is accustomed to darkness and loneliness, and so at first, Cupid’s advances are unwelcome and she quickly rejects him, much to his dismay.

But then, she meets Amelia. A timid girl who is often ridiculed by her classmates, Amelia is more withdrawn than ever after the devastating death of her baby brother, of which she blames herself for, due to his dying in a fire after she left him in his room with a candle so he wouldn’t be afraid of the dark. But then, after admitting all of this to Grim, Amelia is given some precious advice from the Reaper, who tells her that as long as her intentions were never bad, then she has nothing to feel guilty for. She never meant for her brother to die, and so she is not responsible for the tragic happening. Grim reassures Amelia that her brother’s death was a severely grim2unfortunate accident, but that it was not Amelia’s fault. This moment forges a strong bond between the girls, and for the first time in their lives, they are both thrilled to have someone to call a friend. Amelia then talks some sense into Grim and convinces her to talk to Cupid, which sparks some much-overdue feelings of affection between the pair.

But then, things take an ugly turn. The other students are wary and fearful of Grim and her strange aura, and they’ve noticed that the death toll has risen noticeably since she moved to town; they vow to be rid of her before she can wreak any more havoc, unaware that she is bound by her responsibility as the Angel of Death and that taking the souls of people causes her a great amount of pain and guilt.

As the story builds to a climax, Grim realises that she cannot be with Cupid, for anyone she ever gets close to ends up befalling a terrible fate. She bids him farewell, saying the same to Amelia, who is grief-stricken at the loss of her friend, but knows that it’s for the best.

However, Grim does not anticipate the sudden consequences of her rejection of Cupid; so when she finds him close to death after attempting to take his own life, she is horrified. But, she knows that if she doesn’t take his dying soul to be with her in the afterlife (as was his plan) then he will be forever lost in a state of limbo; and so she takes him.

This is a surprisingly happy ending, though – Cupid’s death, while sad, means that he and Grim can finally be together. Clad in matching black robes, they exit the stage together during the final scene, their love plain for all to see.

All in all, this was a highly enjoyable production, with beautiful staging and a wonderful cast; it was captivating from start to finish, and had some surprisingly funny moments too. So if you’re ever in London and you fancy seeing a show, I definitely recommend taking a trip to see ‘Grim’. With an enchanting vibe that extends to other great productions like Wicked, this is one event that is not to be missed. And if you’ve never been to the theatre before now, then you could use this as your first experience – and I’ll be damned if you don’t leave the theatre with a huge grim– I MEAN, grin, on your face.

5/5 – Oh, and just to add further incentive – did I mention that it’s a fantastic musical too?! Showcasing a cast with voices as sweet as honey and as powerful as a herd of stampeding bulls, the soundtrack to this show is hauntingly beautiful and will make the hairs on your arms stand on end in the best way possible.

~Steph.

5 Early-Access games to watch out for (Joe)

For those of you who don’t know Early-Access games are games that aren’t finished or even in beta testing stage that you can buy and play while they are being developed. Some of you are thinking why the hell would I pay full price for an unfinished game? But there are a few perks for instance some developers might give extra incentive and content like concept art or soundtrack downloads etc. while there is still the obvious reason which is to help support the team making the game. Because of the huge growth of the Indie game genre more and more developers are looking to making their game early access to help not only cover cost but to get as much community feedback as possible so that fans can actively take a part in shaping a game.

I have always felt that reviewing early access games is a little unfair because game builds change so often and the developers even admit themselves that their games aren’t finished so instead of reviewing an Early-Access game I’m going to give you a list of 5 of them to keep a watch out for.

*Disclaimer: This isn’t a top 5 or my favourite 5 this is just a short list of potentially good games that I am excited to see when they are finished. I have not personally played/own all of the games listed but have done my fair share of research on each one.

prison

1)   Prison Architect. Prison architect does exactly what it says on the tin, you build and managed a simulated prison. Simple enough? Nope! There is so much to this game that is continually being added too that you will be kept entertained for hours. Not only re they always adding new features but it is also integrated with the Steam Workshop so there are also lots of mods available from already built prisons to re-skins and community bug fixes. For anyone who enjoys simulator games or management games this is the game for you.

Overgrowth

2)   Overgrowth. Overgrowth is a game that in premise sounds ridiculous but in practice plays amazing. It is currently an open sandbox game where players create their own levels and play and share them but it is scheduled to have a full campaign and many more features added before it is finished. You play as a ninja rabbit, yes a NINJA-RABBIT! Where you can free run, explore and fight either hand to hand or with weapons. Now even though the game is visually very appealing the real gold is in the combat system, it flows brilliantly and the impacts feel weighted and control very fluid.

Starbound-Logo-new

3)   Starbound. Now a lot of people have criticised Starbound for just copying Terraria but the game itself is a lot more than just that. The exploration and customization even in such an early stage is very good and I can’t wait to see it once they have fully fleshed out the story and added the features they have gone on record to say they are going to. They are currently overhauling the majority of the farming and building mechanics though so I can’t say that the final game will be anything like the current build but if its anything to go by it could be the next big indie game.

pixel piracy

4)   Pixel Piracy. Re-Logic, the creators of Terraria, are currently helping produce the game which looks set to forever change the face of pirate games. From fully customizable ships, pirate battles and even parrots this game tries to give the player the full pirate experience. With features like perma-death playing a major part in the game it seems reminiscent of other indie games such as FTL and rogue legacy but with a pirate theme. Currently the game is rather bare but still with enough features and content to keep you entertained but the reason this game makes my list is because of the mechanics they are trying to introduce in the future such as being able to find and loot your previous characters ship once they have died.

bro

5)   BroForce. Last but by no means least is the game that is in a rather finished state. BroForce looks to take everything we love about macho action movies and combine it all in to a game. Taking characters from all areas of Bro-dom, such as Brobo-Cop and Indiana Brones, and has players fight together to liberate each level from a devil type villain. Each Bro comes with his own weapons and style and the amount of characters and level of detail put into this game is truly astonishing. This is the kind of game that you and your friends can play while you drink a beer and just bond. It perfectly encapsulates the era of 80’s action movies even down to the kind of campness only the most muscle bound men could pull off.

 

Anyway that was my list of games to watch out for! Thanks for stopping by make sure to like, comment and subscribe and tell me what games you’re keeping an eye out for?

 

-Joe

Apologies for lack of content

I am sorry to say that there will most likely be a lack of content this week and any that is posted might be short. As you may know this time of year is assignment hand in time for a lot of University students and unfortunately we are no exception to the rule and our attention is having to be directed elsewhere. Now before you pick up your pitchforks and torches I will say that this is not a regular thing and we will be back to posting as usual by next week! Whats more we are now ready to get going with our video reviews over on our YouTube channel and you can expect one as early as next week! So fear not fellow pickles we shall be back shortly!

 

-Joe A.K.A The Grand Pickle

The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel

grand-budapest-hotel

4.5/5

“A charming, funny, and profoundly eccentric film”

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a comedy drama written and directed by Wes Anderson and inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. The film recounts the adventures of an eloquent and charismatic concierge named Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) who runs the legendary “Grand Budapest Hotel” amidst two great wars. To accompany Gustave on his adventures is his dutiful lobby boy Zero Mustafa (Tony Revolori), who soon becomes Gustave’s most loyal friend. The story centres on Gustave’s inheritance of a priceless work of art by one of the guests who, shortly after becoming infatuated with him, dies and leaving the painting in his possession. The rest of the family take hum bridge to this decision and try by any means necessary to get the painting back. Aware of this tricky situation, Gustave decides that the best course of action is to steal his own painting and thus set sail a series of events, which sees Gustave end up in prison over the suspected murder of the recently deceased guest.

The Grand Budapest hotel is a film brimming with innovative and clever Ideas, which help this film to stand out from the rest. The plot for example starts in the present, moves into the past, then even further back in history to where it all started. In the opening of the film, a teenage girl approaches a monument to a writer in a cemetery. In her hand she is carrying a memoir written by the author regarding a trip to that he once made to “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Here the film then cuts to the hotel which has clearly fallen on hard times due to the war, with the place being under furnished and the guests few. From here the film follows the author as he explores the hotel and meets with an elderly man who happens to be the owner. From here the elderly man then begins to recount the story of the Legendary Gustave H. (a former concierge of the Grand Budapest.) From here the film then cut to where a majority of the story takes place, during the life of Gustave. Essentially it’s a story within a story within a story. Storyception.

This unique narrative approach also has a profound effect on the way in which the film is made. Clever work with the cinematography of the film has given the landscape a two-dimensional look about it, to give the impression that the setting is an illustration in a book. This charming feature pays homage to the fact that the entire film is in essence a story coming to life.  It is all done beautifully well.

The acting throughout the film is solid. From Fiennes giving a convincing performance of a concierge serving the upper classes, to Defoes rather creepy portrayal of a “family hitman,” there were no characters within the story I felt were stilted or uninteresting.  Many of the characters within also had strange or otherwise amusing mannerisms that served to further bring alive the story as it transpires.

However, this film isn’t without its pitfalls. At times the rather libertine structure of film caused some parts of the plot to not fit together comfortably, and consequently making it seem as if events and dilemmas are being pulled out of thin air. This is at it’s most notable point towards the end of the film, when the story of Gustave seems to just come to a very abrupt halt as the story claws its way back up to the present. Regardless, it is still a charming, funny, and profoundly eccentric film that has been done so brilliantly, that these pitfalls wont detract from this otherwise terrific film.

Verdict

 

A creative and innovative piece of filmmaking, backed by a solid cast and colourful plot- It is almost reminiscent of a Monty Python film

4.5/5