Category Archives: entertainment

Music: Reading Festival 2010 Special – Headliners


August’s arrival can mean only one thing – the countdown to Reading Festival 2010 – this year’s alternative music extravaganza has well and truly begun.

Over 100 artists from various music genres and levels of commercial success will take to the six stages over three days at what Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighter’s described as “The best festival in the world”.

Unfortunately with so many countless bands to chose from it can be difficult to choose who to see to guarantee maximum musical enjoyment (and subsequently drunkenness). So, in order to avoid potential panic, This Is Entertainment presents the the first part of the essential Reading Festival ‘Must-see’ Guide.

The big names

The reason people go to festivals is to see the big headline acts right? Perhaps…but it’s not true for everyone.

The beauty of festivals is that so many acts are available all at once, meaning you might wander aimlessly into a tent at 2pm on the Saturday to discover a band you never would have listened to otherwise. The point of this guide as a whole is to give direction to your aimless wanderings, but before all that let’s start with the basics and look at the big names.

Guns ‘n’ Roses

A band out of touch and out of its time grace the Reading Festival stage for the first time – despite appearing at Leeds in 2002, which is surprising considering the bands worldwide fame. In their heyday at the end of the 80s they were one of the world’s most intimidating rock groups, even providing a tune for Terminator 2: Judgement Day in 1991.

Now though, they are a shadow of their former self, with frontman Axl Rose recovering from a decade-long ego trip trying to piece together his magnum opus Chinese Democracy and the fighting between Axl and former band members has dragged on for decades.

Still, there is a new line up – with only Axl remaining as founding member – and fan response to their latest album wasn’t terrible, but I still can’t see them being as fun as Alkaline Trio.

Tracks to catch: Sweet Child O’ Mine, Paradise City, Shackler’s Revenge
Verdict: Miss

Arcade Fire

The radio-friendly indie band of the festival takes control on the Saturday, a theme which echoes down through the rest of the main stage, though more will be overjoyed by the resurgence of drug-fuelled Pete Doherty and The Libertines.

For Arcade Fire though the appearance couldn’t have come at a better time, with their new album The Suburbs assaulting the charts at this very moment after jumping to the number one spot after its release last week.

If you’re wondering what songs the band sing then it’s quite difficult to nail down a song you may have heard of, the style is very much that of modern hippies, a swaying, laid back sort of pop/rock, though one or two tracks might be familiar from BBC television show adverts.

Tracks to catch: Rebellion (Lies), Wake Up, Keep The Car Running
Verdict: Maybe

Blink 182

Another reformation but this time a welcome one, the nasally voiced teenage heart-break-ridden trio have returned to give us a reason to smile as the last act of the weekend.

The pedigree of the band is sketchy at best – strangely people don’t take a band seriously if they run along a road naked in their videos… – but that’s the point of Blink, they entertain first and foremost.

During their last appearance in 2003 the band made even the most tight-faced Blink-haters soften a little with their mixture of boyish banter, catchy tunes and audience participation – at one point they had the audience hold up their phones instead of lighters because “it’s the 21st Century now kids.”

With a new album nearing completion (expected early 2011), fans will be hoping to hear some new songs, and praying they are as good as they remember. It’s been a long time since their last self-titled album in 2003 and the fans are all grown up now, their spirits dampened with years of recession, war and no new pop punk heavyweights around to liven things up.

Tracks to catch: Carousel, The Rock Show, All The Small Things
Verdict: Must See

Stay tuned to This Is Entertainment for more crucial band details…

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Advertisements

Film: Review – Toy Story 3

The 2010 summer blockbuster season continues with a return to Andy’s room in comedic adventure flick Toy Story 3.

After a decade away from UK cinema screens (save some fancy 3D re-releases in the past year) Woody and the gang are up to their old tricks once more.

Andy, who’s voiced by John Morris (the same chap as in the first two films and now a 25 year-old!), is leaving for college and his beloved toys don’t want to be forgotten or thrown away.

Despite their best efforts the gang can’t tear Andy’s attention away from the all-too-familiar vices of modern life and after a mix-up they find themselves being donated to a daycare centre.

Here there’s a host of new, and often familiar, characters, but things aren’t as ‘sunny’ at Sunnyside as they seem.

In typical Disney (well…Pixar) style the story unfolds as organically as a modern fairytale, with some impressive little touches showing the depth of their characters, such as Jessie’s claustrophobia from her trauma in TS2.

The climax swaps the airport setting from its predecessor for a waste disposal plant, frighteningly realised as the fiery Hell on Earth for all toys, as well as alluding to the chilling dystopia from previous work Wall.E, but on a far larger (relative) scale.

The villain of the piece Lotso’ Huggin’ Bear pushes the limit on evil as well as teaching Disney’s usual lesson about why jealousy and bitterness are bad.

Stand-out character is easily Michael Keaton’s Ken, who defines the modern ‘metrosexual’ stereotype with some unusual fashion choices, while pig money box Hamm is graced with his usual selection of cynical quips and Buzz finds a whole new level of comedy after a botched factory reset…

With the rivalry between Woody and Buzz long forgotten the team work together seemlessly as the film builds to a climax with an incredibly touching moment as they are held on the brink of oblivion.

This proves to be only a hint at what’s to come though as the final coda sets tear ducts on maximum as the characters and audience alike say goodbye to a group of characters who they’ve known for over 15 years.

While some suggest the film is merely a vehicle for further merchandising; it’s obvious writers John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich (who also directed) have put heart and conviction into this (surely) final chapter to a series which sparked the beginning of a new age of animation.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

, , , , , , , , ,

3D or not 3D? The future of cinema is…the past?! This Is Entertainment looks at Ice Age 3 through 3D specs

I saw my very first ‘Real 3D’ film yesterday. I felt as though it should have been a massively significant moment, as if it would change the way I looked at films forever and warp my mind in ways never before experienced.

So, I got to the cinema, fashion-disaster 3D glasses in hand, went into the screen, sat down to enjoy the Odeon Digital 3D experience and…

…got a headache.

The film itself, Ice Age 3(D), was reasonable. Your classic kids’ film mix of cliché, parody and talking animals sees Manni, Sid and Diago return in another slapstick adventure with added family, another inevitability in kids’ film sequels.

While the endless toils of the acorn seeking Scrat raised a smile or two, if hand-in-hand with some eye-rolling moments, the deminishing return of the jokes from the first film was now began to show.

That said, Simon Pegg quickly turned a limited stereotypical role into a filled out comic relief machine. As the other characters collected and toyed with their collective baggage, Pegg’s ‘Buck’ (“short for Buckington”) riled off one-liners and delightfully mad mannerisms to keep adults, as well as kids, entertained.

The 3D effect though is an interesting beast. At times the effect was sublime, drawing you into the picture with perfection to make the events on screen grab your attention and ‘come to life’ all the more. One particular highlight was when the camera flew right through a torrent of molten lava, peppering the screen (your eyes) with intense colour and forcing you try to move your head to dodge it.

Often though, particularly when changing scenes, the action moved too fast for your eyes to keep up with, making the 3D animations blurry and difficult to concentrate on. Too often I found myself longing for characters to stop moving to save my retinas.

The glasses are reasonably comfortable, compared to the red/green specs of old, but if you didn’t have to wear them things would have been far more comfortable, particularly since the 3D magic stopped at the edge of the film screen and not the glasses.

The only comparison to make is with IMAX, the only significant 3D experience I’d had before, and it was so much more immersive. Part of that is the far-bigger-than-a-standard-screen aspect, but in Odeon’s favour their film was far more entertaining than watching underwater creatures.

Since 3D has been around for so long, Hitchcock famously imagining Psycho and Vertigo in 3D back in the mid 20th century, it’s staggering it’s taken so long to get from the early stages of the technology to where we are today, and the fact that it still underwhelms is disappointing.

For glasses wearers the toil and trouble is even worse, since you’re forced to balance them precariously on the end of your nose to fit your own glasses on in between. Price is another factor, with even a student 3D ticket costing a meaty £8.50.

All in all there is definite glimmers of potential in the technology, but we’re not quite to virtual reality film-watching, and with the escapism of film being one of its strongest points, do we really want to be?

Feel Good Hits Of The Summer: May’s Blockbusters

Summer has always been a big release time for film, with films released July 4 weekend smashing records on an almost yearly basis, but does this years crop of films look to stand up to the pedigree of past years.

Last year was dominated by the superhero, as Iron Man and The Dark Knight stole the world’s attention, and putting in yet-another case for why comic book films are a serious business.

May is the big month this year, with almost all the big name releases being thrown at us relentlessly amid the (hopeful) sunshine.

Wolverine is the first big contender, or Xmen Origins: Wolverine, to give it its full, overblown title. Originally planned for release May 1, the date was rushed forward after a massively hyped piracy scandal, which saw the film leak prematurely on the internet, to which Hugh Jackman was reportedly very disappointed, since the version which got out wasn’t 100% done, and obviously you don’t get the full affect of all the nifty special effects.

Jackman is big in terms of star quality and he’s a very talented actor, so the film stands to do well merely rested on his shoulders (though Baz Luhrmann may disagree with this logic…), but if you add to that the vast fanbase of the Xmen franchise, both film and comic book, then you’ve got a massive potential audience before a metal clawed punch has been thrown.

Another film which has a huge, perhaps even epic, potential fanbase, is the latest incarnation of Star Trek directed by JJ “Help I’m LOST” Abrams on May 8. Those who haven’t heard of the starship Enterprise by now have surely been hiding under an astoriod, since the plight of the Galactic Federation of Planets has been played out in (at least) five series and nine previous films over the last 40 years.

With veteran Leonard Nimoy back for a cameo as the cooly logical poity-eared Vulcan Spock, hardcore Trekkies will already be unable to resist, while big budget sci-fi has been off the table long enough for it to make a comeback at the cinema.

This leads us inevitably on to Christian “husky voice” Bale in Terminator Salvation on May 21. Not technically a sequel, but a “re-boot” – to translate this industry jargon, it basically it means the last film didn’t do quite so well, so they wanted to distance themselves from it and start afresh (see also Hulk, Casino Royale and Batman Begins).

Judgement day has finally come for John Connor and those of humanity who’ve decided to fight back against evil supercomputer software Skynet and its company: all-round robitics-controlling-nasty Cyberdyne Systems.

Last in May is Disney Pixar animated tale Up, about a…I’m not sure, is it a floating house with a small child an old man going for a walk? Anyway it’s set up as being the most impressive Pixar spectacle yet, and since they keep raising the bar with every film (except perhaps Cars, but we’ll ignore that – talking cars? That’s madness!), we can expect some great things from the team.

In terms of vocal talent the film includes Christopher Plummer of A Beautiful Mind and as OAP with altitude Charles Muntz, along with newcomer SyrianaJordan Nagai as Russell. Family films often tend to do well, since they appeal to a wide audience by their very nature, and Pixar have proved their pedigree numerous times over the years, meaning young’uns will be clamouring for this latest story.

Crashing out of May and into June is Michael Bay’s Transformers sequel Revenge of the Fallen, but perhaps we’ll look into that a little more another time. Essentially all you need to know to appear up on the latest social trends is that is has Shia LeBouf, Megan Fox and giant transforming robots, simple!

Potential big hitters are Angels & Demons, an adaptation of another book from The Da Vinci Codes Dan Brown, and Drag Me To Hell, a horror flick directed by Sam Raimi, who helmed the Spiderman trilogy.

So, if you decide to see a film this May then you should have a bit more of an idea what to expect, chances are you’ve already decided what you like the look of and don’t but if you choose not to take the big names at face value, who knows?, you might be presently surprised.

I do, I undo, I redo


You may have noticed a change around here. On the other hand I suppose you may have never been here before, in which case welcome along, but the big change to the blog today is the name.

Yes, that’s right, I’ve finally realised that no one except me and old people in Vatican City with big beards understands Latin anymore, so it was out with “Ex virborum auditorum” and in with “This is Entertainment”. I thought I’d opt for a name which reflected a little more the content of the page, something which I hope to build up on in future.

Also there’s a snazzy banner at the top (comments?), which I knocked up on trusty Photoshop Elements (6.0, none of this archaic 4.0 University nonsense) so hopefully it gives things a little more cohesion, I suppose only time will tell.

The name of the post, for those who are interested, is from an artistic work I saw (above) in the Tate Modern in London a few years ago by Louise Bourgeois, which consisted of three large metal towers called “I Do”, “I Undo” and “I Redo”.

I just the symbolism reflected here quite nicely, I hope you’ll read on…

A life in film: Heath Ledger

The death of Heath Ledger on January 22 came as one of the biggest shocks to the film industry in recent years. The news travelled quickly, with candlelit shrines being erected, tears being shed and mournful tributes held.

To most he will be remembered for his Oscar Nominated performance as quiet Ennis Del Mar from Brookeback Mountain or perhaps the sadistic psychopath the Joker in the upcoming sequel to Batman Begins: The Dark Knight, but for every admirer there is another person who has never heard of him.

This mixed reaction has been echoed amongst students: “I barely knew who he was until he died.” Said second year Cheryl Pennant-Jones, “As someone who’s only ever seen him in 10 Things I Hate About You, I didn’t know too much about him before.

“It’s a tragic incident though, and I especially feel sorry for his daughter Matilda [2].”

Keen fan Elizabeth Norman, a first year Philosophy and Media student added: “He was someone with great talent, who loved his daughter and will never get to see her grow up which is tragic. He wasn’t afraid to show his emotions and express how much he loved her…in fact it was his unfailing power of emotion that made his name.

“Whatever the film it is clear Heath could both feel and express what he feels deeply on screen.”

Born in Perth, Australia, on April 4 1979, Ledger was only 28 when he was found dead in his Manhattan apartment by his housekeeper. Police Commissioner of the New York Police Paul Browne said “there were pills within the vicinity of the bed” and there was a possibility of drugs being related, but they had no suspicion of ‘foul play’ in his death.

The latest reports suggest Ledger may have suffered a heart attack, since the level of drugs in his system was apparently too low to cause an overdose.

Ledger’s family described the traumatic event as “accidental”, his father Kim said: “We, Heath’s family, can confirm the very tragic, untimely and accidental passing of our dearly loved son.

“Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life that few had the pleasure of truly knowing him”

Ledger’s impressively vibrant career began on Australian television in 1992 as an extra, but his first breakthrough was on 1996 TV series Sweat, which saw a group of athletically gifted youngsters training in an academy tackled their personal problems.

The first well-known show for Ledger to come into contact with was down under take on Baywatch: Home and Away, when he joined as Scott Irwin. This performance gave him the credibility he needed to play a part in the US-financed series Roar, a medieval drama inspired by Braveheart which earned him a cult following in the US, despite quickly being axed by its US distributor.

Ledger also met the first of his older female partners Lisa Zane, 14 years his senior, who he shared a relationship with in 1997 and followed across the Pacific Ocean to Los Angeles in an attempt to find work.

Unfortunately the now 18 year old actor was less successful in Hollywood than in his native country and was saved when he made his name in the film industry through the Australian film Two Hands in 1999.

Shortly after came one of Ledger’s most well known roles, as Patrick Verona in 10 Things I Hate About You, a modern take on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew alongside teenage heartthrob of the day Julia Stiles.

With this first wave of international success came a downside, Heath felt he was at risk of being typecast into shallow teen-movie roles, and turned down numerous scripts over the next year, his increasingly low finances forcing him to live on noodles and water.

His resolve paid off though when he was cast alongside Mel Gibson in millennium success The Patriot. Ledger played Gabriel Martin, the son of Gibson’s Benjamin Martin, which went a long way in shaking his ‘toy boy’ image and established him in Hollywood as a well-rounded actor.

Along with his latest step up the showbiz ladder came relationships. The first came during the filming of A Knight’s Tale in Prague when Heath met actress Heather Graham (Austin Powers 2) but it went on for only a few months.

In 2001 Ledger began a two year relationship with the star of The Ring Niomi Watts after they met on the set of Ned Kelly. The American, 10 years older than Mr Ledger, was unphased by the age gap: “I think it’s about life experience and not about age. I fell in love with a soul and a person, and his life experience was rich enough that it stimulated me.”

By 2004 Ledger had faded a little from the spotlight as The Sin Eater (a.k.a. The Order) floundered at the box office and he focused more on his private life. The filming of Brookeback Mountain the same year threw Ledger together with Michelle Williams, with whom he had a serious two year relationship and his daughter Matilda.

The film itself had been often dubbed ‘that gay cow boy movie’ in the industry since the story had been floating around for years before it was taken on by the director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee.

Ledger teamed up with Jake Gyllenhaal, who’d previously auditioned for his part in The Patriot, in a story which earned him the Best Actor Oscar Nomination and Best Supporting Actor nominations for his co-stars Gyllenhaal and Williams. Unfortunately for the cast, the films only win was Best Director.

Soon after the media frenzy surrounding Brookeback Mountain died down, Ledger was approached and asked to portray one of the most iconic villains of all time: The Joker.

Seemingly epitomised by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s original Batman film in 1989, Ledger made it clear he wasn’t going to try to ‘do a Jack’ and would play a far darker and more psychotic character, in line with director Christopher Nolan’s gritty re-vision of Gotham City in Batman Begins.

Internet servers went into meltdown when the first picture of how Ledger would look in the film found its way onto the internet in May 2007, and every trailer, poster and interview since has had fans and critics alike ripe with curiosity as to how it will turn out.

However history remembers him there is no doubt that the death of such a young actor is significant, particularly in such delicate times with the recent strikes and the annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

To his fans in particular, Heath Ledger will remain a symbol of the achievements of the film industry in recent years and proof that the talent seen in glory days of Marlon Brando and Cary Grant’s Golden Age live on through the performances of young actors and actresses.

Introduction and Britain’s water supply

So, ‘blogs’, they tell me.

I was under the impression they were just something to update people about the latest Big Brother gossip or rant about things they don’t like, like a glorified letters section of a broadsheet or, heaven forbid, electronic agony aunt stories.

In fact there’s a code of conduct, a list of ethics by which we should all abide. Many are obvious such as don’t copy people without asking or clearly distinguish opinion from fact, but others are more cryptic, such as ‘recognise common standards of decency’, which raises the question what the definition of all those words is in this complex modern world.

I suppose in order to fill the aforementioned criteria I should point out that they came from an information pack for my Journalism module, for which this blog was created.

We have been split into groups of our own choosing and must each tackle a topic from the following four: Sport, Entertainment, Health and Politics. Since my group members (who’s blogs you can find in the links list on the right) chose politics and entertainment, I chose health, since I have no strong interest in sport whatsoever.

So, without further ado I must endeavour to educate about health, but first what is health? It could mean the National Health Service, which has had numerous trials and tribulations over the last decade to do with improvement of services and efficiency, or perhaps it refers to the day to day health of people and the onslaught of healthy eating and living, or even how new diets and new packaging on products in our supermarkets drive us towards ‘the healthy option’ in a move by government watchdogs to attempt to combat obesity.

Today health ministers have said they back plans to add fluoride to drinking water, because it strengthens children’s teeth. Fluoride itself, commonly found in and advertised on toothpaste tubes across the country, is found in around 10% of the country’s water supply, but only a couple of areas, namely Hartlepool in the North West and parts of Essex, have high enough level to benefit dental health. (source: http://www.dentalhealth.org.uk/faqs/leafletdetail.php?LeafletID=17)

This is what has led to the idea of intruducing it into the water supply as: “effective and relatively easy way” to reduce tooth decay among children in poorer areas. (source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7224743.stm) Opponents to the idea claim there is risk of bone cancer from increased levels of the element, and it’s difficult to know how long-term exposure could effect children, since the 6 million people already benefiting from the increased levels in the North West are a minority of the total population, and many water companies are apprehensive to take the idea forward, despite MPs making the process easier in 2003.