File under: I passed this on the way to the Grand Canyon, Dolan Springs, Arizona
File under: Thor Ragnarok, Hela, Cate Blanchett, Marvel, cosplay, Jessica Dru Johnson
Lady Bird was on my 'need to watch' list for 2018 ever since I saw the trailer last year. It has had countless awards and nominations and I just hoped it lived up to the hype.
It is a very satisfying coming-of-age film. Although it follows the story of 'Lady Bird' who is desperately trying to carve out a path for herself, I think it's more about capturing a mood or time. It certainly seems like it's been created from several real life memories sewn together; people, places, events. When you consider that the writer and director Greta Gerwig, attended Catholic school, was born in Sacramento and wanted to study in New York (sound familiar?), it's more than likely that this is based on her own experiences, with a bit of fiction probably woven in.
Saoirse Ronan is wonderful as Lady Bird. She's brash, determined and stubborn. On another person these traits could be annoying, but here they enhance her portrayal of a teenager just trying to escape small town America and go some place big.
There are quite a lot of characters to look at but aside from Lady Bird and her mother, you never really get to see any of them in too great a detail. They all play their part but once they've stopped been 'useful' to the plot, they fade into the background. And there are a few characters that I would've liked to have had their own stories and battles expanded on. Maybe this would've been more possible within a book but obviously films are limited by running times, so I understand why it didn't happen.
Also, it can feel like Greta had so many great and funny ideas stored up in her head, that she tried to shoehorn them into this film, regardless of whether they progressed the story or not. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and there are a couple of scenes or lines that feel a tad forced, but that's my only real complaint.
Lady Bird captures the sweetness and bittersweetness in life.
File under: Lady Bird, Saoirse Ronan, Greta Gerwig, film review
Oh, I don't even know how many times I have been to see Bowling For Soup play live any more. It's eleven years since I saw them on their first Get Happy Tour and even though we're all getting older (but not getting no wiser - see what I did there?), I'm still finding new ways to appreciate this band. And, as is evident by the very young members of the crowd, there is an new and upcoming legion of fans. A new generation. People that went to BFS gigs in their teenage years are now having kids and bringing them along to share in the fun. That's how you know a band is good, because they aren't bound by a single generational boundary.
Great music, a great show and a barrel of laughs are universal.
Because that's what you get when you buy the ticket. It's what you expect. And this band do not disappoint. They perform all the old favourites, but also shine a light on some album tracks that have been woefully underappreciated over the years. Their stage banter gets better and better every year.
Bowling For Soup have never disappointed me. Other bands come and go, but I think the reason these guys stick around is because they really seem like they're having the time of their life. Please go and see this band and witness the hilarity. Long live BFS!
File under: Bowling For Soup, Jaret Reddick, Erik Chandler, Gary Wiseman, Chris Burney, Manchester O2 Apollo, gig review
Black Panther is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year. Does it live up to the hype?
I'm a recent convert to the Marvel universe. I started with Spider-Man Homecoming (and the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies) and grudgingly decided that I should probably watch the rest of the franchise releases so that I would be up to speed with the story so far. I am now totally invested in this universe.
I was introduced to the character of Black Panther during Captain America: Civil War and was really intrigued as to how someone can be a superhero but also a king of a full country. How does that work out? I suppose when your genius sister is creating super speed aircraft, then you can take care of rogue weapons dealers at the other end of the world and still be home in time for a Netflix binge before bed.
As T'Challa struggles to get to grips on what kind of king he wants to be, he realises he cannot sit by and be idle, unlike his predecessors, while the world deals with issues of famine, war and poverty. This is the films underlying message about having a choice to do what is right. It boldly refers to modern day poverty within first world countries, racism and slavery. The filmmakers had an opportunity to get their thoughts across and they seized it with relish, but it never feels like a preach that is being rammed under your nose.
The film is a masterpiece to watch. It's stunning. Vivid. So much work has gone into designing the world of Wakanda. From the locations, to the gadgets, to the costumes. Wakanda feels rooted in reality.
The characters are great. It's refreshing to have a mainly black cast that don't fall into black stereotypes. Every degree of human beings is shown here. There is a black superhero in a predominently white movie universe. Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger isn't just some ghetto thug. He possesses a quiet, thoughtful determination behind him as he tries to put wrong to right in the world. His methods are seriously flawed but you can understand his way of thinking. Andy Serkis is a riot from start to finish.
Black Panther has a variety of non-sexualised, non-token, believable female characters that don't feel like they're part of a box ticking exercise. The female warriors stand side by side with their male counterparts. The head of the Wakanda science division is a teenage girl and nobody questions it. This is long overdue.
Black Panther can stand alongside its Marvel counterparts with its head held high. I found the story line to be quite predictable at times but I'm willing to let it slide because it does so many other things right.
Oh and make sure you stay for the extra scenes at the end of the film. Both of them, one mid credits, one post credits.
File under: Black Panther, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wakanda, T'Challa, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o
How To Stop Time is a story about people that have unusually long life spans. I mean, ridiculously long.
Step forward Tom. Born in France, the year 1581. Now currently a history teacher in London. Every eight years or so, when the people around him begin to really notice that he isn't ageing at the same speed that they are, he has to move to a different area, or country even, taking up a new identity. This is made possible i.e. funded, by the Albatross Society. A collection of people with the same condition, that have built up their wealth over time (something they aren't exactly short of) and use it to help the members go incognito in an age where mobile phones and video cameras make anonymity all the more difficult.
Slowly Tom grows disillusioned with the society and with his life in general. He is sick of hiding, sick of running and he is desperately trying to find his only child, Marion, who has inherited the same rate of ageing. Hendrich, the owner of the Albatross Society, senses that he is close to revealing their secret and will do whatever it takes to silence Tom.
I really enjoyed my first read of 2018. It's not a beginning-middle-end kind of book. There is quite a bit of weaving between the past and present. But each chapter is the perfect length to not skip out on detail, but not overload you with new characters or minor details that aren't essential to the story line.
I'm also quite fond of Tom. He's not a superhero. He's just trying to get by in his overly long life and be as decent as he can be. But you really feel for him. Even though he's lived through great historical moments and meant important figures in time, there is still so much that he has to miss out on because his life is at risk, particularly during the witch trials era of Britain where he's under danger of being hanged or burnt at the stake for looking too young.
My only complaint is that I was a bit short changed by the ending. It felt rushed, underwhelming and I don't think it gives the main characters the real closure they deserve.
It's still a worthy read though and that bit of 'something different' that a lot of readers are searching for. Very satisfying.
File under: How To Stop Time, Matt Haig, book review
Ever since I can remember, I have been enthralled by Wallace & Gromit. It has always been a firm family favourite and it was joined soon after by Chicken Run. I have a lot of love and respect for Aardman Animations. They have built themselves up to be a worldwide renowned animation company, yet they still hold true to their British roots.
Their attention to detail, both visually and with what the characters do and say, is infinite. Gag follows gag but the legendary British wit is spread carefully throughout the film so it never feels too much or too little. The films also carry a great deal of heart. You can feel the love that went into making them.
Early Man continues on these traditions. There are plenty of jokes for the kids, plenty jokes for the adults. When I initially saw the trailer, I had worried that it was one of those films where ALL of the best bits had been put into that 90 seconds. But even though they do include some of the funnier moments in the trailer, there is still so much humour to experience.
The sets and characters are wonderfully bright and colourful, with lots of media culture references in the backgrounds that are easy to pick up, no pause button is required.
(Yes Pixar, I'm looking at you and your overly-subtle Easter eggs that are impossible to spot without being pointed out by someone who works at your studio during an interview)
If you're expecting something new, exciting or surprising from Aardman, you might be a little bit disappointed. It does follow the Aardman formula quite rigidly and can play it a bit safe. I would also say that even though there are bits that adults will appreciate, it is definitely more a film for younger audiences.
But it's a delightful story and a worthy addition to the Aardman collection.
File under: Early Man, Aardman Animation, stop frame, film review
I did this fan art because I love Nekoama's funny little Pokemon comic strips every week. They really make my Friday work shift happier and I love her renditions of Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Charmander.
Sponsor Nekoama on Patreon HERE
File under: Nekoama, Bulbasaur, Pokemon, comic strip, Kanto, The Beach Boys, Barbara Ann
File under: calligraphy, lettering, fonts, design, Lucie Fink, Living With Lucie, Refinery29
Kel McGowan is Kelligrafie