A Rollercoaster Ride With John Bishop…..

Thanks to Sport Relief John bishop is somewhat of a family name these days, the happy chappy from Liverpool is now a regular on comedy panel shows, and since he teamed up with James Cordon on A League of Their Own Bishop has sky rocketed to comedian fame. Having been a fan from his smaller days and in anticipation of his third UK tour I bought tickets (a year in advance) and the night has finally come round.

I will admit after the first DVD I was expecting big things, but then the second came out and I was slightly disheartened. So it was with apprehension that I took my seat and waited what could either have been a night of comedy gold, or a massive disappointment.

Luckily for Bishop (I say this as though my opinions are going to have a major effect on his career) he didn’t disappoint. Although his entrance was a bit tacky it did get a few laughs. The first half of his show was incredible, it was fast paced and not all about his kids – which I had expected the whole thing to be about; again. The second half, although still brilliant, was slower, the jokes were longer and the repetitiveness made a small appearance. Considering this I have seen worse attempts at long winded jokes so it wasn’t too bad.

Bishop was owning the stage, his speech pace was perfect and he was a real joy to watch. The best thing though, whether this was real or not, was that he looked like he was really enjoying himself. I’ve been to plenty of comedy tours, and they’re always better when the comedian is having a good time. Bishop’s jokes reflected his life, but unlike most comedians he showed us the good times rather than whining about the crap parts

If you haven’t got tickets to the tour, make sure his DVD is on your Christmas list.

Advertisements

The Joys of Full Time Employment

So, this week has seen the start of my brand new job and my first taste of a 9-5, graduate, working real life. Even though after I finished my final year I had a temporary part time job (which pretty much turned into full time), it was unsociable hours and I got used to long lie-ins so the prospect of getting up before 9am was a shock to my system, considering the last time I was in this routine was when I was a sixth form student.

The week isn’t over yet (one more day) but I’m already incredibly tired. It didn’t necessary help that I decided after finishing my day, I would then go socialise until 10/11pm at night, thus tiring myself out even further. I do however love having a job – the role isn’t necessary something I saw myself doing –it’s IT help for a global company, but without knowing all the technical information. Even though I had endless lie-ins, no sort of restrictions with my time and my endless hours camped out with my laptop, films and TV, I was getting quite bored with it all, and my lack of money was becoming an issue.

It’s a great feeling to be employed so quickly after I graduated, knowing that I am employable and that life after being a student in full time education is exciting and a new challenge. It will take me a while to get used to the job, the people and the general routine of it all, but I do know that at the minute, I feel incredibly thankful that life is still good.

Reasons to Watch Homeland

So Homeland Season 2 has just started airing in the US and the UK, and I’ve wanted to catch up with the first season after it aired last winter. Recently the show cleaned up at the Emmys as lead cast members Damien Lewis and Claire Danes both won the lead actor and actress awards, and the show took home the Best Drama ahead of Mad Men and Breaking Bad. So here is just a few reasons why you should give this drama a watch!

The show is about Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (played by the handsome Damien Lewis), who returns home after 8 years of being held captive by terrorists in Iraq. He returns home to his wife, Jessica (the beautiful and talented Morena Baccarin) and two kids, and tries to readjust back to his normal life. CIA agent Carrie Matheson (the amazing Claire Danes) is suspicious of him from the start, believing he is a sleeper agent turned traitor –is she right? Is he the real threat and in this drama about government secrets and conspiracy’s who is the real hero?

First off, the main cast of this series are fantastic, putting in solid performances every week, particularly the main 4: Damien Lewis, Claire Danes, Morena Baccarin and Mandy Patinkin (who some may know from Criminal Minds). I also particularly love David Harewood as Carrie’s boss David Estes, who particularly tries to undermine Carrie at any turn, and Morgan Saylor who plays Dana, Brody’s daughter.

Secondly, the writing for this series is superb – a collection of writers each do their fair share of the scriptwriting, although executive producing is one of the old show runners of 24, so the show is certainly in good hands. Like I mentioned at the start, the show recently swept through the Emmys and is certainly going to pick up a nomination or two at the Golden Globes.

As well as the writing, the pace of the show doesn’t let up – some shows suffer from dragging certain parts of storylines out for long periods of time, or having episodes that do not feature much progression with the story. However, neither of these happens to this show, with something happening during every episode, the audience captivated by character’s choices and the progression of the storyline. Trying to figure out whether Brody is really a bad guy or whether Carrie is simply crazy is something you are constantly asking yourself. You also find yourself questioning morals and people’s motivation for doing things.

Homeland is a fantastic, thrilling drama and certainly worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already. The first season is only 12 episodes long so it doesn’t take long to catch up with the new season that is currently airing Sunday night both in the UK and the US.

 

Why kill a man when you can kill an idea? (Abu Nazir)

Taken 2 Review

Liam Neeson is back as Bryan Mills and ready to kick ass in the second film in the Taken franchise. The first film in 2008 became extremely popular, and put Neeson in the category of ‘I want him to be my Dad’ (or is that just me that wishes that).

Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace (as Bryan’s daughter Kim) and Famke Janssen (as Bryan’s estranged wife Lenore) are all back in the sequel and this time it is Bryan that they want. While the family are holidaying in Istanbul, the relatives of the bad guys from the first movie have come for revenge on Bryan and his family, leaving Bryan to ‘do what he does best’ and save himself and his family.

The action is Istantbul doesn’t kick in til about 10/15 minutes into the movie, and before this we get a taste of the family dynamic the 3 have created. It is clear that the events of the first movies are still visible and Bryan is still as over-protective as ever, leading to some hilarious scenes (I found them far more entertaining and amusing that I should have but all the same there are some light moments in this film.) One other thing I must comment on: Maggie Grace. The character of Kim must be around 17/18 by now and Grace is actually 29! Although at one point you can perhaps see the true age of the actress,  the rest of the time the make-up and hair departments have done a great job at hiding the true age of Grace and making audiences believe she is a teenager.

The film itself is only 90 minutes long, so there’s no risk of getting fidgety in your seats, and once the action starts, the film moves quickly. There certainly are fewer fight scenes in this movie, and Neeson has no problem with dispatching some of the kidnappers (a little too easy?) but still you have no problem in believing that Liam Neeson is someone not to be messed with. The location of Turkey has also been fully utilised as the shots of the rooftop and market place chases are brilliant, capturing the hustle and bustle of the city. Throw in a great car chase sequence and the movie is still a great sequel – not as good as the first movie albeit, but still well worth a watch!

Bad Guy: (In different language) I shot some guy

Looper Review

Time travelling and specialised assassins are two major elements of this sci-fi thriller set in the future, written and directed by Rian Johnson. A ‘looper’ is the special assassin, paid to dispatch targets that are sent back in time from 30 years in the future, tied, bagged and helpless.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, our main character who also happens to be a looper; delving into his life, we see that he is learning French and enjoys going to a road side diner when he is not killing people for bricks that can then be exchanged for money.

Things get more interesting when we are introduced to the idea that even a looper can kill their future selves – once this happens then they must ‘close’ their account, and go ahead and live out the rest of their lives. Enter Bruce Willis, who plays future Joe. The transition from Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ‘Joe’ to Bruce Willis ‘Joe’ and the 30 year timeline of the character is brilliant. Levitt wore prosthetics to look more like Willis and we see the progression of the Joe who was an addict and a killer to a Joe who ultimately found a better life for himself with the help of a woman’s love. The one rule for loopers is ‘never let your target escape’ and unfortunately for present day Levitt’s Joe Bruce Willis has other ideas. The film goes into full scale action mode from this point on with gun fights, suspense and tension as audience members question which Joe, if any, they should root for.

Emily Blunt also puts in a great performance of a mother who lives in the country with a small boy (who is also great in this film). I don’t want to spoil too much for you because the film is well worth seeing, and has twists and turns in it worthy of a high-speed rollercoaster. Like I said at times you are not sure which version of Joe you are supposed to be rooting for, as both make it hard at times.  My favourite moment in the movie has to be a diner scene involving both present and future Joe – Willis and Levitt give excellent performances in this scene and the movie as a whole, and watching the two characters spar against each other is fantastic.

Rian Johnson creates a quirky and intelligent script that certainly is able to stand up on its own. The movie also has a heart to it and brings an emotional attachment (mostly brought by Blunt’s character) but certainly an attachment that makes the audience members invest in the movie. The film is just shy of 2 hours and I must admit, I did get a little fidgety two-thirds of the way in, however I think its well worth the watch, particularly if you’re a fan of sci-fi movies.

Joe: We both know how this has to go down…So why don’t you do what old men do…and die

Tacky T.V…

As I sit here and ‘save money’ (waste yet another Saturday night) I am thoroughly enjoying the TV that’s on offer…which makes a change. First I was able to watch a fresh batch of celebrities grace the dance floor with beautiful waltzes and cheeky cha cha chas; dreaming only of disco balls, glitter and thigh high dresses; seeing Brucey and being taken me back to my childhood (for some unknown reason… I assume he must have been in something I used to watch). Despite the glitter, I must admit the Olympic puns are getting pretty tiresome and it’s only week one – poor Louise Smith seems to be getting the brunt of it. And as soon as the scores are in it’s time to switch over to ITV….

The X factor actually kicked off weeks ago…but this is when it gets good; when the good, the bad and the ugly have been sifted through and the ones worth watching float to the surface. Most years there are a couple of contestants who get through clearly only to make good TV, but this year it seems they have all chosen contestants who can actually sing! (You’d have thought it was a singing competition).

I won’t lie, a month ago I was turning my nose up at the thought of spending consecutive Saturday nights in front of the TV, but here I am; hooked – despite how annoyed I am at myself. It’s not that I feel the need to watch it religiously, but I do look forward to it after my tea. And after the Olympics/Paralympics finishing I need something in my life to fill the empty void.

Merlin 5.01 “Arthur’s Bane” (part 1)

Our favourite sorcerer is back on Saturday night television, as Merlin returns for a fifth series that promises to be darker than ever, and to explore some of the more well-known Arthurian legends. I’ve been eagerly awaiting Merlin’s return for a few months now – I remember when this show first aired and I’ve watched from a distance although last series I couldn’t keep away from it on a Saturday night. Now it’s back and I’ve got to say it’s still on top form!

It’s no secret that the series is set 3 years after the events of the series 4 finale which saw Gwen take her place by Arthur’s side and become Queen, whilst Morgana licked her wounds from the battle of Camelot, defeated once more. The episode’s story starts immediately with the round table being assembled, and the sense of danger mounting as several of Arthur’s men are missing. We find out that they have been taken captive by Morgana, who has taken over the fortress of Ismere, as she searches for a key to knowledge to overthrow Arthur once and for all.

Arthur sets out to rescue his men and a sense of danger is felt throughout the episode – within the first 20 minutes we have been introduced to the ‘Arthur’s Bane’ prophecy that we have seen foreshadowed in the trailers for the series. The threat is very much prominent through the episode, and the dangers are all too serious. Series creator Julian Jones gives us a script that is not only filled with foreshadowing, but is also filled with some lighter, humerous moments – the juggling trick and the interactions between Arthur and Merlin make the episode not all serious. The epic fight scenes are also great and it seems we’ll be seeing more of the epic scale through the series.

It is clear that the characters have grown in the three years that have passed, and all the main characters convey that in their performance: Colin Morgan may still be in the same outfit but Merlin has more of a maturity and weariness now, whilst Bradley James’ Arthur looks more comfortable in his position as King, looking more regal, and conveying a sense of power. Angel Coulby can finally wear majestic and regal dresses and she also carries maturity and a level head as Arthur’s Queen. It is clear that Gwen’s counsel is important to Arthur and we can see this as she sits at the round table next to him. She also is not afraid to dish out punishment and justice as she shows by sentencing Sefa to death for treason.  Katie McGrath’s Morgana is still as evil as ever, and she seems even more determined to destroy Arthur, becoming extremely erratic in the process.

One other thing I want to touch on is the fact that Arthur and Merlin’s unlikely friendship is certainly still at the heart of the show. Their scenes together are often comic, but also show the care and love between master and servant, which turned into friendship. It’s brilliant and lovely to watch on screen and Colin Morgan and Bradley James have a great chemistry.

The end of the episode introduces us to an old friend/turned enemy in the shape of Mordred. He has been recast into an older version of the character, and is now played by Alexander Vlahos who certainly brings a sense of creepiness and threat to Mordred. I certainly can’t wait for next week’s conclusion to the two-parter and to the series as a whole – it will certainly make my Saturday night television viewing!

P.S. it’s always great to see Knights with their shirts off and performing hard labour – writers more of this please!

Leave your comments below

Arthur: I swear I’m going to rescue my men…or die trying.

Merlin: Then I swear, I will protect you or die at your side

Beauty isn’t just skin deep….


For those of you watching X Factor and feeling that some of the judges might not know what they’re on about; that all they’ve done is prance around shorts and bras, dancing like, well, sluts; this may change your mind.  I saw this video clip of Nicole last year, and it totally changed my whole perspective of her. I didn’t realise that she had s set of lungs on her that actually worked. That when she opened her mouth beauty came out of it.

Her singing is beautiful, captivating, and chilling. I have tears in my eyes and chills down my spine when I watch this.

So please, watch this clip, enjoy and see that we all have misconceptions of people.

 

Violence and Illegalities – ‘Lawless’ Review

Lawless opened in cinemas last month and I finally got the chance to see it last week, and I gotta say I wasn’t disappointed.

The movie is based on Matt Bondurant’s novel The Wettest County in the World, which is based on the true story of his ancestors, the ‘Bondurant Boys’ who during the prohibition period used to run liquor in Franklin county and because notorious for their violence and law-breaking ways. Forrest, Howard and Jack Bondurant (played by Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke and Shia LaBeouf respectively) take on Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) as he aims to bring them down. The movie is like a cat and mouse game, with gains and losses on both sides, but add in to it is violence, male macho and a hint of romance.

This film is certainly not for the faint hearted –it hasn’t got an 18 certificate (the highest rating) here in the UK for no reason; some moments are gory and just plain awful. However, if you look past the violent nature of the movie, it is a great gangster film with a great cast. Tom Hardy does a brilliant job as hard man Forrest – a man that, within the first 10 minutes of the movie, you find that he shouldn’t be messed with. As well as his leadership within the three brothers, his character has a habit in getting into near-death situations and surviving them (particularly one heart-stopping moment relating back into the ‘plain awful’ category). I particularly enjoyed Hardy’s added mannerisms to his character – his ability to be sarcastic and his clearing of his throat got laughs in a film that doesn’t have a lot of light-hearted moments. Jessica Chastain character is his romantic interest in the film and Chastain looks visually beautiful on screen. She portrays her character with poise throughout, even when her character is broken.

Shia LeBeauf’s character for me was a little difficult to warm too although you ultimately feel sorry for him for the first half of the movie because he is the runt of the three brothers – he isn’t as tough and certainly isn’t as strong as them. The movie is as much about his progression from a boy to a man (or an outlaw of a man) and the ending certainly brings him to the end of that journey. Guy Pearce may be my highlight of the movie – his portrayal of Special Deputy Raves makes you instantly hate his character from the moment he enters on screen.  He’s slick and quite positively slime personified.

Overall I enjoyed this movie, it has a great cast and I really enjoyed the music choices for the movie – it added to the overall tone and feel of the movie. It can also certainly be said that Tom Hardy looks great in a good cardigan!

 

“I’m a Bondurant. We don’t lay down for nobody” (Forrest Bondurant, Lawless)

Doctor Who 7.05 “The Angels Take Manhattan”

The final episode of this half of Series 7 is the ending of an era, with the departure of Amelia Pond and Rory Williams, and as promised Moffat delivered a tear-jerker of an episode, set within the impressive landscape of New York, and featuring the creepy, frightening Weeping Angels.

It’s no secret that the team spent time filming scenes in New York, and this episode looks visually brilliant. I also particularly liked the film noir style to the episode, including the musical score provided by Murray Gold, the stalwart composer of the show. I thought it was fitting that the Ponds’ exited with a monster with some importance in the Whoverse and I think it can be argued that the Angels are still one of the more terrifying monsters in the show.

Let’s move on to the main focus of the episode – the acting and the departure of the Ponds. Let’s make no secrets here – I definitely shed a few tears during this episode (along with half the country I’m sure). The episode was wonderfully written by Moffat, particularly the final ‘suicide pact’ style scene with Amy and Rory and the graveyard ending, Of course the writing was also beautifully acted by all four of the main players in this episode: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Alex Kingston (returning as the fabulously secretive River Song).  Matt Smith does a fantastic job throughout the episode, conveying the emotions of losing Amy – delivering a heartfelt but ultimately quite selfish plea for Amy to stay with him. Alex Kingston also gave a solid performance, particularly when it seemed the Doctor forgot that River was about to lose her parents for good – one of my emotional moments of the episode. The Doctor and River are also reunited for the first time since they married, and its brilliant to see their banterous and flirty relationship again – Smith and Kingston do a great job especially with the lovers tiff they have  when he fixes River’s wrist.

Stellar performances yet again from Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill as well, indeed they have been on point throughout the series-particularly Darvill. I’ve loved his progression in his acting and in Rory from when we first saw him in The Eleventh Hour – as soon as he marched through those doors and uttered “Where is my wife?!” in A Good Man Goes to War he instantly became a hero.  Gillan has also done a wonderful job as Amy – as the girl who waited and who spent the first episode running round in a sexy police uniform, the character has flourished and grown and the series has launched Gillan as a fabulous actress.

Both actors have successfully moved on from Doctor Who –Gillan has done a couple of tv shows including We’ll Take Manhattan which was great (well worth a watch if you can find it online) and Darvill is currently starring in the West End play Our Boys alongside Matthew Lewis and Laurence Fox (I saw this last week and also fully recommend this!)

Yes, there were tears at the end of the episode, but overall I think it was a great ending for the two characters – they did get killed off, but I felt the real tragedy was the fact they weren’t allowed to see the Doctor again as they lived out the rest of their lives – a man who had become so a part of theirs. I think it was perfect that they got to spend the rest of their lives with each other though. Their relationship was as much at the heart at the series and I think it’s fitting that they were together and got their long and happy lives together.

On a personal note, I’m really going to miss Rory and Amy (and Karen and Arthur) I think it’s clear from Doctor Who Confidential episodes and any press that they’ve done together that the three of them have got a real bond and it definitely came across on screen. The dynamic of the three of them on the TARDIS worked, Gillan’s Amy was strong, sassy female companion –often sarky and fiercely loyal. I’ll definitely look back at their time on the TARDIS with fond memories. However, Christmas now approaches and I’m looking forward to the special and what Jenna Louise Coleman brings to the show, and how the Doctor copes with their departure.

Amy and Rory…we’ll miss you!

Hmnph what will I possibly do with my Saturday nights now?

Oh wait Merlin starts this Saturday at 7.45pm –excellent

“I always rip out the last page of a book. Then it doesn’t have to end. I hate endings.”(The Doctor)