Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Film: Tyrannosaur

Tyrannosaur is arguably a social realist depiction of contrasting stereotypes. The narrative is powerful and intriguing – it removes rose tinted glasses from the different shades of society.

Joseph (Peter Mullen) is an unemployed man who is overruled by his own anger and and volatile temperament, he lives on a council estate where he bears witness to a child being bullied by his own parents and forms a loving friendship with Hannah (Olivia Colman), a Christian woman who runs the local charity shop.

Hannah is married to a man with a well paid job, she works in a charity shop and appears to have the perfect life at the beginning of the film – as the film progresses, we see past the happy wedding photograph and see a woman in a desperate state – abused by her husband she puts on a brave face daily and endures personal hardship (in contrast to the financial hardship that Joseph faces).

As the film progresses, a strong bond is felt between the individuals – without giving away too much of the narrative, we see a relationship blossom through the twists and turns of the lives of both characters, both singularly and as a ‘couple’.

The story is powerful - the concept of the narrative is carried by talented actors who make the film feel real. Arguably, the audience is made to feel compassion towards characters that in reality would perhaps not have our compassion. With a gripping story that could so easily be applied to individuals in wider society rather than identifying differences between social classes, it sets out to identify the similarities and in essence celebrates the similarities thus bridging the gap between working class and middle class people.

Tyrannosaur could be perceived as a romanticised dystopia – like Ken Loach, Paddy Considine has represented a version of reality in an artistic manner. From an outsider looking in, the audience is encapsulated in a powerful wave of on-screen emotion – a hybrid of redemption, violence and social realism tied up with a bow of elegance.

If you enjoy drama, give Tyrannosaur a try – it will leave you wanting more.

With Sympathy: The Dark Knight Rises

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sorrow for the community of Aurora – in particular, passing on my thoughts to families and friends of the victims. As we all know and understand, it was an unjustifiable and heinous crime that has deeply touched people around the globe. 

The Dark Knight Rises is a film that should be enjoyed by all - it is unfortunate that it will now be forever associated with a time that has been disturbing for so many people.

It is a great film that unravels gradually (albeit a bit long in places). Anne Hathaway's portrayal of Cat Woman was outstanding - she balances the tenacity of Cat Woman with the innocence and desperation of Selina perfectly. The action and special effects of the film were colossal.

Cinema is something that society has enjoyed for generations - it offers us a release from reality, if only for 90 minutes. These are things that should be celebrated - it is a shame that one individual has made it cause for such grief and misery. Once again, I offer my thoughts and sympathies to those who were targeted at the cinema on Friday.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Entertainment: Pocket Planes - the 'Class A' drug of the app world

I have spent far too much of my time jetting all over Australia, shipping cargo and people on my little planes made of pixels - finally I think it is high time to put down my busy flight schedule and tell the world what I think.

Pocket Planes – it’s time for rehab

It has taken me approximately a year to untangle myself from the sticky web of Tiny Tower, and now Nimblebit has struck me with the world in a 9.7in (diagonal) screen. This highly addictive, but somewhat basic little game has got the world transfixed and burning away at time like there is no tomorrow.

This game, like Tiny Tower, is what I like to call a farming game - you essentially stock your planes with the correct shipment (of either people or cargo) and jet them off to a destination with tasks being completed in allotted amounts of time. The more you fly, the more money and experience you gain - which in turn allows you to advance through levels and expand your global empire. At this point I would usually be ridiculously bored of this type of game, but somehow Nimblebit seem to have my attention span in a chokehold - every time I pick up my iPad I am eagerly checking to see the status of my flights, seeing if the market has any new plane parts and taking a look at the current 'global events'. 

Unlike Tiny Tower, the events that come with Pocket Planes come in the form of two separate strands – with the first strand you have 'global events' which as the name indicates are global. I, for one, think this is one of the more intriguing aspects of the game because you can team with other players to form a ‘Flight Crew’ (regardless of whether you know them or not) by simply putting in the team name and joining the battle for the top team in the global events chart. Being at the top isn’t without its rewards – there are prizes ranging from plane pieces to fully built planes for simply being in the league table. In some ways it brings out competitiveness (and more than likely addiction or compulsion) within an 8-bit environment.

The second strand comes in the form of personal events – these events are individually assigned to players and can determine other aspects of gameplay. Personal events have targets of 1000 jobs – unfortunately, I am nowhere near 1000 to figure out what my reward will be.

Like all fremium games there are plenty of opportunities to spend your real hard earned cash on ‘Bit Bucks’. It seems that the game relies on these bucks more than its big brother game (Tiny Tower) ever has. Every airport upgrade and plane upgrade costs mega bucks, but luckily Nimblebit stays true to their fans (and although it can be time consuming to collect all of those flying bucks or shipping passengers with bucks) it remains free play… until you get bored of waiting that is!
So the concept is simple. The gameplay is simple. The graphics are simple. On the whole, it is an enjoyable game that in many respects I wish I had never laid eyes upon.

Right, now I must see if my plane made it to Sydney. Bye.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Music: Ganda Boys perform at Support4Schools Charity Event

The heart of Uganda was seen and heard at the venue every artist wishes to perform at. Friday 6th April 2012 saw the return of the Ganda Boys (Denis Mugagga and Daniel Sewegudde) to the stage where they graced the audience with culture, fun and stunning on-stage presence at IndigO2 within the O2 complex.

The trio became duo (for one night only) opening with Africa, a song with very traditional and organic sounds. Although audiences were sparse to begin, they appeared in awe of the energy and performance that these two talented young men offered them. As more people arrived and those in the VIP areas made their way down to the main stage the audience began coming to life. People in the audience were lapping up the enthusiasm that Ganda Boys had to offer – they even managed to get a few people dancing.

By the time Mugagga had introduced the second song (One Love), the roots of the talent on the stage entranced the audience, by the third song (Kachiiko) the audience had filed in to see more of the boys on stage. So, judging by audience reactions there is a general desire to see them on stage more often – boys, get your act together and find more venues to play. Audiences obviously want to hear more from you – you have found a gap in the market!
This event was organised and coordinated by the dedicated charity UK Travel Goods Industry Support for Schools to help raise money for their cause – helping to strengthen and in many cases rebuild schools and communities and provide the essential amenities that we take for granted. The charity is focussed in its objectives to provide four schools in Shurugwe, Southern Zimbabwe with the support they need to become self-sufficient and raise awareness for orphaned children.

To find out more information about the Ganda Boys visit www.gandaboys.com. For more information about the work carried out by UK Travel Goods Industry Support for Schools visit www.support4schools.org.