LISTED Film Previews – March 2010

Because of changes in the printings for Listed Magazine, these will actually be going out monthly now, as opposed to covering two months in one go – which means more movie previews packed into a months space than before, making your movie-going choices even more difficult than before! I love being helpful!!

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (PG) (Dir. Tim Burton)

Tim Burton, master of the wierd and gothy, has struck once again – this time turning his hand to Lewis Carroll’s famous masterpiece! Taking on a slightly different storyline to the usual concept, this version sees a 19 year old Alice returning to Wonderland to fulfil her destiny of ending the Red Queen’s reign of terror over Wonderland. Burton has given the film’s visuals his own unusual-but-accurate approach, and with a star-studded cast including Johnny Depp (of course) as The Mad Hatter, Stephen Fry as The Cheshire Cat, Michael Sheen as The White Rabbit and Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen to name just a few, this is definitely one (acid) trip you’ll want to go on! Miss this, and you’ll miss out! Released March 5th.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (15) (Dir. Neils Arden Oplev)

After having a huge reception, this Swedish adaptation of the bestselling book is reaching our shores soon! A journalist (played by Michael Nyqvist) and a computer hacker are paired up to investigate a girl’s disappearance. But the more they investigate, the more they uncover about the families history and a string of murders from the past… Even though Sony have already optioned for a remake, you’ll want to check out this original version first and foremost! Released March 12th.

THE RUNAWAYS (15) (Dir. Floria Sigismondi)

A chronicling of the rise to fame of LA rock band The Runaways, who were an all-girl band in a man’s rock world in 1975. Written and directed by Sigismondi, this film sees Kristen Stewart break FAR away from her previous Twilight Saga role to play teenage lead singer Joan Jett, as well as Dakota Fanning looking surprisingly grown-up playing Cherie Currie. A must see for drama lovers and music lovers alike! Released March 19th.

CLASH OF THE TITANS (12A) (Dir. Louis Leterrier)

Whilst 2010 seems to be “The Year Of The Bad Re-Makes” (stay tuned for future months for more on those…), the Clash Re-make starring Sam Worthington (of Avatar fame) looks like it could satisfy anyone having withdrawal symptoms from 300! Loosely based on Greek myth, Perseus (Worthington) embarks on a mission to destroy Hades (Ralph Feinnes) before the underworld can spread to Earth and seize the power of Perseus’ father Zeus. The visual effects in Clash Of The Titans looks fantastic from the trailer, so you can definitely get more bang for your buck in this one than any other action film this month. Expect every other re-make this year to look awful compared to this! Released March 26th.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (PG) (Dir. Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders)

From the same studios that brought you Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon is an adaptation of the children’s book of the same name that follows a young Viking named Hiccup Horrendous The Third as he finds his very own wild dragon, Toothless. If you’re a fan of kid’s films with things for the parents included, then this is a great comedy adventure for the family. Catch it in 3D if possible, too! Released March 31st.

As printed in Listed Magazine Issue 25 and on www.listedmagazine.com

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Frank Turner – “Poetry Of The Deed”

Winchester local Frank Turner has been out making quite a name for himself in the last few years. Previously a member of the hardcore rock band Million Dead, he now writes and records his own unique blend of acoustic/country/folk/punk-rock songs which are both bitter-sweet and truly empowering at the same time. Now whilst that might seem like a lot of genres rolled into one, Frank Turner pulls all of it off amazingly well, and after a previous two albums worth of material he has now released Poetry Of The Deed, which cements his status as a unique artist along with the rest of his band.

I’ll openly admit that my buying this album has been a long time coming, but now that I own it, I truly don’t regret getting it! Poetry Of The Deed, as an album, is an eclectic mix of emotions as far as the songs and lyrics take you. The joyful, piano led opener Live Fast Die Old is both an uplifting punk-rock song about living your life to the fullest, but also doing for so long that you never stop enjoying it. The line “You’d rather burn out than fade away? Well why not both, I plan to stay” sums up the spirit of the song, which in turn is closely followed by Try This At Home, another folk-punk mix that encourages all listeners to “turn off your stereo, pick up that pen and paper, you could do much better than a half-arsed skinny English country singer”. For all the talent and charisma he has, Frank Turner doesn’t lose his sense of humor or irony throughout Poetry Of The Deed, and that just makes the songs all the more interesting. For instance, Dan’s Song is just a song about him and his friend Dan taking some beers to a park to drink, and inviting people to join them. A simple, humorous little song, but the way that it’s sung gives it more meaning than what you would otherwise realize.

The title song Poetry Of The Deed itself is one of the more rock-led songs, Tuner’s punky vocals giving power and lift to the chorus lines, and all the interestingly phrased lyrics that paint a picture of not being held back in wanting to live dreams, such as the line “let’s grab life by the throat and live it to pieces”. The Fastest Way Back Home is the closest thing on Poetry of The Deed to a love ballad, but it’s still one that rock with its piano led folksiness. Right after this, though, is Sons Of Liberty which is a total turn as a political punk song which drips not only with Irish folk balladry (especially with the violin accompaniment at the end) but also with malice and scorn for the government with the lines “Stand up sons of liberty, and fight for what you own. Stand up sons of liberty and fight, fight for your homes”.

Recent single The Road is a beautiful little country-style song about the people Frank Turner meets and the stories he can tell from being on tour and seeing the places he’s seen, which then gives way to a couple of darker-tinted songs such as Richard Divine which could easily deceive you as a less dark song if you were less attentive to the lyric content about suicide. However dark these may be, there’s Sunday Nights to lighten the mood with its slow, melodic verses.

Closing off Poetry Of The Deed is Journey Of The Magi, an almost mournful song that speaks of stories of Moses and Greek Gods that only have stories to tell because they didn’t take the easier road – a message that speaks true not only of Frank Turner himself, but for anyone who cares to listen enough to the messages thread throughout these songs, ending with the line ” So saddle your horse and shoulder your load, burst at the seams, be what you dream, and take to the road.”

There is an eclectic mix of messages and songs on Poetry Of The Deed, ranging from the uplifting and empowering to the dark and political. Frank Turner has done a fantastic job threading ideals and messages throughout these songs, and the music that he’s made to go with them is just as great. Poetry Of The Deed is definitely an ideal listen for anyone who enjoys City And Colour but needs a bit more energy to the acoustics, or anyone that enjoys punk-rock songs but feels they may need a break from all the angst! Definitely one to give a listen to, at the very least!

Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief (Contains Spoilers)

Based on the popular series of kids books by Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief follows Percy Jackson who finds out he is the son of Poseidon, and that Greek Gods are all real… and… stuff… Ok, so basically, a lot of people have been saying “Isn’t that just Harry Potter, but different?”, and they’d be right for questioning that if they hadn’t heard anything about this before. In fairness, it does take a similar approach to the “boy finds out he has really cool powers and get whisked away on an epic journey which ends with him saving a bunch of people and being all heroic and junk”, and is directed by Chris Columbus who did the first two Harry Potter films. But it’s actually NOT like Harry Potter almost at all…

To start with, I found The Lightning Thief to be a lot more grounded than the magical world of wizards. As far as wizards go, everything and anything can be explained with “all this is possible because it’s magic”. In The Lightning Thief, there’s history and mythology that has to be factually correct before there’s a legitimate story. The theory of the Greek Gods being real takes less suspension of disbelief than there being a whole parallel world of wizards that no-one knows about or can see, purely because the history is there – the Gods would come down from Mount Olympus to interact with humans, which brought about the existance of Demi-Gods, which a lot of Greek myths stem from. So, already, this film is a lot more grounded, and for the most part takes place in the real world.

The fact that Percy Jackson (played by Logan Lerman) as a character is flawed (in the way that he has both dyslexia and ADHD) adds a sense of realism to him – kids DO suffer from this, and its not belittling that. The fact these later turn out to be useful (his dyslexia is how he can read Ancient Greek) is obviously a way of showing kids that suffer from these that they can still have underlying talents. Which I thought was very clever, in its own right – taking something bad and turning it on its head.

I’d like to mention here that I have not read the original book, so I am going into this in a purely fresh mindset. However, my source of information on the book (in this case, my teenage brother) is perfectly reliable, and I now have a certain understanding of the differences from screen and scripture. As I am led to believe, there is actually a fair amount of difference between the two, but with understandable reasoning behind this. A lot of things happen within the first 30 minutes of the film (including Percy getting attacked, finding out he’s a Demi-God, leaving home with his Mum and his friend Grover, who turns out to be a Satyr, who then takes him to Camp Half-Blood – a summer camp/training ground for Demi-Gods – and being told his father is actually Poseidon and that people are out to get him because they think he stole the lightning bolt of Zeus – played by Sean Bean, no less), and it seems to almost fly by too quickly, but this is actually to get all the set-up of the characters done and out the way so that the ACTUAL story can be covered. Films can suffer from too much set-up, but The Lightning Thief dealt with it pretty effectively.

The Lightning Thief also doesn’t hold back on the brutality, which sets it apart from a lot of other kids films. Camp Half-Blood trains the kids in battle, and they fight each other to the point where blood gets drawn. Again, this grounded the film more for me, because it’s not all “nicey-nicey” like some others. This was harsh, and it had action. The pace that the film sets towards the start never really gets lost – things get explained as the film progresses, in ways which mean you don’t lose interest in what’s being said.

Where the film apparently differs from the book (according to my resource… ahem…) is in a few places. Firstly, the quest to find the pearls that will allow them to escape the underworld, doesn’t happen in the book. Yes, they do find themselves at the places where they get the pearls from in the book, but it’s all coincidental, and I liked the fact that the characters have reasons behind finding these places. Everything gets explained, and there’s very little in the way of plot holes. Secondly, there’s apparently a big debacle about the three main characters meeting Ares in a café and he gives them some sort of bag, which is linked to the ending in the book. This tangent storyline was obviously ditched from the movie as it creates a whole new underlying story, and would take longer to end the film. Which leads me to the third point, which is the big finish.

By the end, Percy has found the master lightning bolt hidden in a shield given to him by a friend at Camp Half-Blood (which resource tells me doesn’t happen until the second book), and found out who stole it and a fight scene ensues. I feel its right to explain here that I actually liked this also, as the way it was explained to me from the book is that the lightning bolt “appears” in said bag. Had this happened, I probably would have felt cheated – cheated in the same way that at the end of many of the Harry Potter films, after all the events that have occurred, someone says one magic spell and everything is over. As it happens, a more straight-forward but no less effective explanation is given, and the action is allowed to swiftly continue, ending with Percy Jackson (obviously) saving the day and making new friends in the process.

Overall, The Lightning Thief didn’t talk down to its audience at all, and it stayed grounded and didn’t take itself too seriously. I’d be tempted to give this film a 6 out of 10 (but if you’ve read the book, it would probably be a bit less), but its worth seeing at least once, even if it’s for the star-studded cast that appear.

Twin Atlantic @ The Joiners 10/02/10

“I’m not going to even give that an answer,” says Twin Atlantic’s frontman Sam McTrusty to whomever thought it was clever to shout “’Mon the Biffy!” at them in between their first songs. And he’s completely justified in doing this, too, as Twin Atlantic (though from the same town of Ayrshire as Biffy Clyro, and mastering in a similar brand of angular rock music as them) have been trying hard to make a unique name for themselves. And they’re not just trying hard – they’re succeeding…

But before tonight’s headliners take to the stage there’s local band Until We Sleep, added to the bill for tonight. As soon as they begin their set, their influences are clear – their jerky, chop-and-change, At The Drive-In style rhythms and sound are attention grabbing, but the lighter tint to their songs makes for a more interesting listen, and sets the evening off on the right tone. And with an upcoming Maida Vale set for BBC Introducing…, it might be worth keeping an eye on them for the future. Not bad for a band of self-professed “laziest bunch of bums”.

 Touring support Canterbury have clearly built up an impressive following after big-time support slots. Their synth-led pop-rock is so happy and perky, you’d have to be a manic depressive to not watch them. Or, apparently, above the age of 20. The band themselves are all floppy-haired and bouncier than rubber balls, which is fine for the younger members of the audience that are perhaps feeling nostalgic for Panic! At The Disco, but the people that came for the headliners seem to need more impressing.

This tour has apparently seen Twin Atlantic draw some thinly spread crowds at some venues. No wonder, then, that they give this show 110% for the crowd that has gathered and completely filled the space at The Joiners tonight. As Sam McTrusty (who coincidentally, has the best name ever!), Barry McKenna, Ross McNae and Craig Kneale take to the stage, they thrust straight into You’re Turning Into John Wayne, which immediately gets the crowd moving and singing along as they do for the rest of the evening. Every song announced tonight is met with applause and cheers, and the same goes for two new songs that no-one here could possibly have heard before! Such is the fevered reaction to Twin Atlantic’s presence tonight, that even the technical difficulties that plague their entire set don’t dampen the bands spirits at all. They simply laugh it off, sort it out and play another song – Twin Atlantic came to play a show, and they’re clearly determined to do it!

Current single Lightspeed and crowd favourite Audience And Audio make for a good show as they’re what people have turned out to see tonight, but the surprises truly come when guitarist Barry McKenna puts down his guitar and picks up a cello for two beautiful numbers (including Vivarium closer Better Weather) mid-set. So tense is this atmosphere that when some kid tries not once but twice to crowd-surf during these songs, they both simply stop playing and watch him until his mates put him down again before carrying on. “Don’t get me wrong, I fully endorse crowd-surfing” says Sam McTrusty in his thick Scottish accent, “but when we’re trying to make a genuine connection, you just end up looking like a fool!” It’s not that Twin Atlantic are overly artistic in the slightest, it is simply that they’re so passionate about giving these shows their all for the people eager to see them play. “What about the muses at the back? Are we impressing you yet, or do we need to work harder?” is some more of Sam’s banter throughout the evening, “See, we love you guys at the front because you’re passionate, but it’s the muses at the back that buy CD’s.”

Original breakthrough single What Is Light? Where Is Laughter? is met with huge applause and promptly sets the crowd singing along again before they announce their last song and are met with an almost pantomime “awww” from the crowd. The smiles on the faces of every member of Twin Atlantic have steadily gotten bigger and bigger throughout the evening, and by now they’re grinning from ear to ear and you can tell that they are genuinely passionate about their work tonight. “Thank you so much for coming out tonight, we really appreciate it” is almost a clichéd term for bands now, but by the look on Sam McTrusty’s face, you know he means it!

Twin Atlantic have worked hard to be able to sell out this venue – and if they continue to write songs as amazing as these, and their up-coming US tour goes well for them, you know that they are destined to get much, much bigger in the future!