Les Misérables

The adaptation of the world famous musical to the big screen has finally arrived and Hooper’s masterpiece, featuring an all-star cast, does not disappoint. The story is already well-known to most- set in 19th century France, ex-convict Jean Valjean attempts to live a Christian life after being redeemed despite being pursued by rigid upholder of the law, Inspector Javert, for breaking parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette, the fateful decision changes both their lives forever. This is a tale of love set against the backdrop of revolutionary France, depicting political upheaval and class divide. It is an emotional rollercoaster that will leave audiences crying out in anguish, clapping with amazement and feeling unexpectedly uplifted.

It is undoubtedly one of the best musicals to arrive on the cinema screens in a long time. The music and lyrics of Les Misérables, famous around the world, hold the film together well, driving the story on and the themes out well, with the raw energy of the musical performances being captivating in their own right. Hathaway’s performance of ‘I Dreamed a Dreamed’ is delivered from the depths of such degradation and with such force, tears are difficult to prevent. And the empowering nature of ‘Can You Hear the People Sing’ certainly succeeds in lifting spirits. Although, some may find it cringe-worthy to watch actors continually singing their conversations at one another, even the toughest of cynics will find it difficult not to be caught up in the music, stories and amazing cinematic creation that is Les Misérables. Nominated for eight Oscars, it will, no doubt, sweep up countless awards, and deservedly so.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Marian Stanton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/marirn/)

Film Releases to Look Out For In 2013

The world hasn’t ended so LET’S ALL GO TO THE CINEMA! 2013 promises to be another year full of sequels, prequels and even some brand new flicks to grab our attention. So here is a countdown of films to look out for in the next year.

  1. World War Z- Set in Philadelphia, but filmed in our very own Glasgow, this film tells the story of a U.N. employee’s battle to stop the outbreak of a deadly zombie pandemic. Starring the lovely Brad Pitt, it will be worth watching just to see the zombie invasion of George Square.
  2. jOBS- The closing film at the Sundance Film Festival 2013, this feature tells the story of one of the greatest entrepreneurs in American History, Steve Jobs. This indie number, directed by Joshua Michael Stern, promises to be a candid and inspiring tale of the last 30 years of Jobs’ life.
  3. Kick Ass 2- Kick Ass, Hit Girl and Red Mist return in June to… well, kick some ass. Kick-Ass has joined forces with a group of other normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick Ass knows.
  4. This Is The End- Featuring an all-star cast, this film tells the story of Seth Rogen and numerous other celebrities attending a party at James Franco’s house only to face the apocalypse. With the number of funny men involved this is likely to be a barrel of laughs with countless silly antics taking place.
  5. Iron Man 3- The cool, clever and funny Tony Stark returns this year in his metallic body armour with the beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow at his side. This time he must face his most powerful enemy yet: the Mandarin.
  6. After Earth- The latest in creepy sci-fi flicks from director M. Night Shyamalan, this film tells the story of a father and son exploring a planet that was evacuated by humans 1000 years earlier, after they crash land on it. Starring Will Smith and his son Jadyn, it will be worth it just to watch the Smith boys in action together again.
  7. Star Trek Into Darkness- Chris Pine return as Captain Kirk leading the crew of the Enterprise. After the crew find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organisation, Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction.
  8. Man of Steel- An alien infant is raised on earth and grows up with superhuman abilities, which he uses to protect his adopted home planet. The tale of Superman flies back on to cinema screens with Henry Cavill as Clark Kent and Amy Adams as Lois Lane.
  9. The Great Gatsby- Based on the classic book by F. Scott Fitzgerald, this film tells the story of Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner living on Long Island, who becomes fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbour, Jay Gatsby. This is the latest of Baz Luhrmann’s works and stars Leonardo Dicaprio and Carey Mulligan. Audiences will undoubtedly be unable to tear their eyes from the screen as they are drawn into a world of Fitzgerald and Luhrmann combined.
  10. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug- The first part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic novel may have only just been released last month, but the second part has already become one of the most highly anticipated film releases of 2013. In this part the Dwarfs, Gandalf and Bilbo have escaped the Misty Mountains and continue their journey to re-obtain gold from the dragon Smaug. It is a long wait until it’s release in December but hey- it gives us something to look forward to.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of BagoGames (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bagogames/)

CHVRCHES

So alternative they spell their own name wrong (apparently they hated battling Jesus for internet hits), it’s time to meet the latest of Glasgow’s homegrown talent, indie synth band, Chvrches.

Tipped to be big in 2013, Chvrches is a three-piece act made up of Lauren Mayberry, former journalist, Martin Doherty, of popular Scottish indie group The Twilight Sad, and Iain Cook, who was previously a member of Scottish alternative band, Aerogramme.

Unlike most modern bands that use the Internet to thrust their music into the limelight as much as possible before it is even released Chvrches took a slightly different approach. They generated hype by only placing two singles online, ‘Lies’ and ‘The Mother We Share, which both wreaked havoc on YouTube. That air of mystery made them one of the more interesting musical stories of 2012. Despite having little material readily available for fans, the news about Chvrches began to spread quickly and they started to sell out gigs in Scotland.

Their initial popularity may have been partially due to the members’ fame from other bands. However, it seems it was also likely caused by the unusually dark yet euphoric sound of Chvrches, which has undoubtedly captured the attention of music buffs around the country. ‘The Mother We Share’ was released in November as a single on National Anthem. There are few pop songs that grab your attention like this one with its soothing electro pop melody combined with Mayberry’s unique and delicate voice. The single propelled them from an ‘alright band fae Glasgae’ to one of the potential next big acts to emerge from its streets.

Their potential is clear from the amount of success the electro pop band has already experienced in 2012. From their rising popularity to sell-out shows to supporting massively successful band Passion Pit, Chvrches have risen in the musical ranks rather quickly. Their single ‘Lies’ ranked at number 28 on NME’s best track of 2012. The Mother We Share ranked at number 51 on The Huffington Post’s Top Songs of 2012. They also came fifth in the BBC Sound of 2013 new music list.

Their recent session on Huw Stephens’ Radio One show further showcased the raw talent of Chvrches and also revealed that they had plans for an album to be released in 2013.

I was lucky enough to see this band in August 2012 in Edinburgh, and by that stage it was already pretty clear that they were going to take the British music scene by storm. With their debut album being due for release in 2013 it seems the band are just about to do that. As the mystery around them lessens and their music becomes more available it will stand to speak for itself proving them as the latest and greatest electro pop band to emerge from Britain. Their rise is inevitable… so keep an eye out for Chvrches this year.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Viktor Rosenfeld (https://www.flickr.com/photos/helter-skelter/)

Apocalypse Now… ish?

21/12/12- The date we have feared in recent years as doomsday, the end of the world, our reckoning… or whatever you want to call it. This was the date at the end of the Mayan Calendar leading many to cite it as the end of days.

So I don’t know how you spent the 21st but I, along with many others around the globe, was having a great time at an End of the World party. So when it reached midnight and there was still no sign of the Four Horsemen, asteroids or aliens planning on demolishing our planet for an intergalactic highway, I, along with most, didn’t even notice. Things continued as normal, with no real elation that the world had not ended.

This is because no one had ever truly expected it to end. The word apocalypse carries very little weight with it these days. It has been reduced from a word capable of inspiring global terror to an excuse to have a party or make a film.

Maybe it is the sheer volume of false predictions of the apocalypse that have been made throughout history that have heightened our cynicism to the extent of complete disbelief. Because let’s face it- there have been hundreds

Let’s begin with the example of the prediction by the Assyrians. A clay tablet found dating around 2800 BC held the words ‘Our Earth is degenerate. In these latter days there are signs that the world is coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common.’ Bribery and corruption remain common but the Assyrian prediction of the end of days was inaccurate… obviously.

Over the rest of history various people including religious leaders, Columbus, mathematicians and scientists have predicted different apocalyptic events that will bring about the end of our world.  American Christian radio broadcaster, Harold Camping, has predicted six different dates for our day of judgement over the past two decades. Every time one proves to be wrong he just picks another date. You have to give him kudos for perseverance at least.

And the latest apocalyptic prediction- the end of the Mayan Calendar on the 21st of December, caused imaginations to run wild and bring about many suggestions for the end of the world. These ideas included a galactic alignment, a geomagnetic reversal of the poles, an alien invasion, the earth being destroyed by a supernova and the list goes on…

However, yet again the prediction proved false. This may have been due to a simple misreading of the calendar, as has been suggested, but it was still a little disappointing.

But never fear. There are plenty more predictions of the end of all things to look forward to. Foerster wrote in a science magazine in 1960 that on November the 13th 2026 the world’s population would reach infinity, which was a result of the ‘Doomsday Equation.’ However, he later suggested that this article was written in jest so again this date is unlikely to see our fiery demise. But don’t worry we also have the NASA prediction of an asteroid hitting the planet in 2036 and if that fails, Nostradamus pointed out that prophecies ended in 3797 suggesting the end of the world. And there will doubtless be hundreds of other predictions made over the progressing years to keep us going.

In fact, whilst we’re at it I’m going to throw one in there. I predict doomsday, the destruction of Earth and all it’s inhabitants, the day of judgement, the ultimate apocalypse will be on the 31st of July 2022. For no other reason than it’s my 30th birthday and I would love to celebrate it at another End of the World Party. The last one I was at was just thrilling.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Michael Lehenbauer (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelehen/)