About Rebecca Fortuin

Rebecca Fortuin is a freelance writer and illustrator currently based in Leicestershire. She has been writing stories since she was six, fuelled by an avid love of books and a fascination with words. She was one of twenty-five finalists in the Writers Club 2012 Tournament and hopes to place next year. Her writing predominantly consists of first person fictional narratives and non-fictional commentaries of how she perceives the world around her. When she is not writing, or being a hermit, Fortuin is a passionate thespian and takes part in various amateur dramatic productions across the year with the NQSC.

Romance is Dead. Technology Killed It

As a child growing up in the nineties my concept of dating was peppered with long phone calls and confessions shyly blurted out after school. Then I got a mobile, along came Facebook and traditional dating went out of the window.

Before if you met someone attractive you would have to speak to them, or risk never seeing them again. Now with limited information, such as a name, you can cyberstalk virtually anyone and track them down. Convenient? Yes. Creepy? More so.

Next comes courting which takes place on online messengers. Never again will you say the wrong thing, as you can think before you type. Sounds great until you take into consideration that at the same time you are talking to various other people and browsing the web. Hardly undivided attention!

The relationship is then made official by a request to make your Facebook status change from single to in a relationship. This does save time telling everyone, but it also takes away excitingly screaming the news to close friends and removes the awkwardly sweet “are we a couple?” conversation from existence.

As the dating progresses the online conversations grow longer and transfer to texts, where you lie in bed impatiently awaiting the next message. Until you fall asleep because the signal is bad and it takes ten minutes for each text to come through, leaving your partner believing they’ve said the wrong thing. No more phone calls talking about nothing for hours, in fact phones generally mean bad news and are dreaded rather then looked forward to. The dependence on text based conversations means that you have to search the deepest points of your mind to remember what your partner’s voice actually sounds like.

Finally – now this is the worse part – the break up. No more heartfelt letters, no more teary meet-ups leaving you with a bittersweet pain. No, now you’re lucky if the break up is a phone call. Dumping can take place with a nonchalant text, or, the worst offensive, changing the Facebook status back. You are left heartbroken with a bombardment of messages asking for gossip when all you want to do is cry in peace.

Then again how can you be sad when you spent most of your relationship flirting with a machine?

Don’t get me wrong. Social networks are great. They keep us in touch with far off friends and unite us in ways not possible before. Technology does have a place in finding people whom you may go on to date, but it has no place in romance. Others may disagree but I find it all impersonal and cold, the invention of the telephone moved communication forward, whilst the invention of text messaging moved it back.

I want to hear every expression of every word because we’ve all misread the meaning of texts at least once before. I want to see people face to face so I know they are genuinely listening to what I have to say. I want an old fashioned romance, chanced meetings and thoughtful sentiments, less space aged technology, more fate and, dare I say it, true love.

Read more here: https://topdatingreviews.net/review/victoriadates-com-review/

 

Let’s step away from the machines and find real time for each other again.

Image reproduced from stacyknows.com

Musical Review: The In-between

Young composer Laura Tisdall is the changing face of the West End. At only 24 she has already written her second musical, The In-between and now she is bringing it to the west end with little more than a concept album. such as Lauren Samuels and Hadley Fraser, stars of We will rock you and Les Miserables respectively. Now she is taking the internet by storm, promoting her play in hope to receive funding to turn it into a full scale production. With massive online support, interviews with the BBC and the successful West-end live, which showcased performances of her show, she is well on her way to attaining her goal.

The musical follows protagonist, Flix, an underachiever who lives with her older sister Alice. Since their parents death ten years ago the bond being the two has been strained due to Alice’s responsibility as a guardian preventing her from being a sister. Flix’s attitude to life is to expect nothing and give the same in return however her world is turned upside down when she steps through the wrong doorway and enters the In-between. In this world between worlds meets the guide Callicus and discovers problems on a far larger scale than her own. Its time for her grow up and become the hero she never believed she could be.

The album itself is beautifully constructed with Tisdall playing the entire score on her keyboard alone. The score is stunning and the variety of songs on the album showcase her skills as a composer which are complimented by the amazing range of talent singing on each track. “She’s my sister” is a upbeat opening to the show sung by Dianne Pilkington & Cassandra Compton. Its fast tempo and sarcastic lyrics illustrate wonderfully the tense relationship between Flix and Alice as well being impossible not to sing along to. “Someone to be proud of” is a stunning performance by the talented Lauren Samuels, with a breathtaking climax I can see it easily becoming the shows “Defying gravity”. However the song which stands out most for me is the heartbreaking “When I was nineteen” sung by Julie Atherton as the role of Alice. The melody is soft yet impacting and Atherton clearly delivers the raw emotions of her character, showing a girl who grew up to fast, desperate to still be there for her younger sister despite no longer having anything to give. It shows the depths of her personality and presents Tisdall’s ability to make you really connect with her characters.

In all the play is clearly a product of hard work and dedication on Tisdall’s part, the little of the story she has revealed is refreshing from the clichés which have crowded musicals for too long, and the fantasy element should prove an interesting production to watch. Though there are no confirmed performance as of yet, I am confident that her talent as a writer will get her funding soon and I’m sure we will be seeing the In-between on the West End by next year.

For more information about the play and to listen to the concept album visit : http://www.theinbetweenmusical.com/

Image reproduced from lornahannah.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/in-between-new-musical.html

No More Page Three

Personally I don’t read The Sun but every day millions of others do. Concise and informative it’s perfect for those with hectic lives who barely have time to sit down, let alone read the paper. It brands itself as a “Family newspaper” which presumably entails that it is suitable for all to read and has a place at the family breakfast table. Yet in-spite of this every single day of the week, these millions of Sun readers, open up their paper to a page dedicated to boobs. The infamous page 3.

I remember as a child this page was discreetly removed before we did art projects in class, because if one of us had stumbled upon the image how would you explain to a class full of children why there was a half naked woman in a newspaper. The same unanswerable question I would imagine as your child would ask when they look over to what you are reading at the breakfast table. What could you reply? That breasts are news?

This is exactly what “No more page three” is campaigning against. A polite open letter to Sun editor Dominic Mohan to please remove page three from his paper. This campaign isn’t about slut shaming glamour models who chose this lifestyle nor is it condemning The Sun or its readers, it is simply stating that bare breasts have no place in a newspaper.

You may ask what’s the harm in it? Their just breasts and if you don’t enjoy looking at them, flip over to the next page. Unfortunately its not just breasts, its the ideas and connotations that children associate with them. Seeing such images in a respectable place like a newspaper children begin to think that it is normal, expected. Young girls are constantly bombarded with media that woman should be sexy, their idols parade half naked on music videos whilst woman in power are ridiculed for not wearing make-up. Whilst young boys are given contradicting information that you should respect women but only if they are not whores, and the definition of whore behaviour is a long one including simple things such as wearing a low cut top. By removing page three from a national paper it means there is one less place for these ideas to come from, so that the adults of the future will now that all people are equal regardless of gender. And that a woman’s worth is not measured by the size of her boobs.

If you would like to sign the petition for change please follow the link below; http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dominic-mohan-take-the-bare-boobs-out-of-the-sun-nomorepage3

Image reproduced from No More Page 3

The Erotica Phenomenon for Modern Girls

Erotica is no longer confined to the pages of Mills and Boon, read in private typically by housewives and elderly ladies who live alone. With the arrival of the internet this once hidden past time has now found a way to reach the wider community with readers being able to pen their own fantasises anonymously on sites such as Fanfiction.net. This access has lead to books such as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey storming the literacy world and while academics are puzzled to why such poorly written novels are popular the answer itself is very simple.

It’s sex.

The purpose of erotica is provide its reader with a pleasurable fantasy in which for a few hours they can escape reality. Readers can switch off, and be turned on, by these sensual stories in the same way that many do by watching porn. The only reason why this “Mummy Porn” is so controversial is because people are no longer ashamed to read such things in public.

We as a species are embarrassed by the human necessity of sex, religion portrays it as sinful, culture dictates that it should not be spoken of and on a whole we are intimidated by the power of pleasure. Now that some people are comfortable with the fact that desire for sexual stimulation is a healthy part of human nature the rest of us are running round scared. Remarks about the written quality of such books are just desperate attempts to shame erotica back into hiding. Fans of the genre don’t chose these books for their depth or intellectual insight rather they chose them for their ability to satisfy their desires. Just because one enjoys the guilty thrill of erotica every now and again does not mean they are incapable of appreciating classics as well.

Twilight for many young girls, including myself, opened the doors to sexual fantasy. Though the story itself was poorly constructed with a somewhat abusive relationship it provided the opportunity to get to grips with the confusing desires that accompany puberty. For many teenagers this a is a difficult time period because they simply have no one to talk comfortably about the strange new feelings they are experiencing which increases the appeal to hide among the safety of books.

If as society we more honest and accepting about sex these stories wouldn’t be such a big deal as we would be confident in ourselves and our desires. Even if that includes fantasizing about a 104 year old virgin vampire.

Image reproduced from digitalcitizen.ca and hammerandquill.com

5 Ways to Spend Summer on a Budget

Reproduced from http://www.benefitseveryone.co.uk

With summer fast approaching it’s time to say goodbye to studying. halls and student finance, you’re back home, you’re broke and so are all your friends so what on earth are you going to do all summer? You could get a job, though their not easy to come by and besides who wants to work in weather like this? You could borrow from the bank of Mum and Dad but you still owe them for helping out last month when you didn’t correctly work out your budgeting, again. So why don’t you try out my top five ways to spend summer without actually spending;

  1. Volunteer at a Music Festival – Love festivals but can’t afford the tickets? Not a problem, with various volunteer programs you can attend them for free in return for just a few hours work. The jobs range from litter picking to bar work, there’s no uniform, you can work with your friends, and some companies even provided you with food. There’s also the added satisfaction of listening to your favourites knowing you well and truly earned it. Check out https://www.festivalvolunteer.co.uk/ & http://www.hotboxevents.com/about/festival-stewards-and-festival-volunteers/ for the chance to attend some truly awesome festivals.
  2. Host a Frock swap: Summer means night’s out and parties galore it also means you need a tonne of new outfits which you can’t actually afford. Still we all have clothes tucked away at the back of our wardrobes that we never wear. Clothes that looked amazing under the bright lights of the changing room but transformed into monstrosities the moment we got them home. So gather all those unwanted, unworn items, get your friends to do the same and swap.
    Spend an afternoon trying on each others outfits, it’s just like shopping but without cramped, overheated fitting rooms and impatient shop assistants. Plus that one friend that insists on trying on everything can be left to it whilst you lounge in the comfort of your own home. It’s the perfect way to spend a rainy day and you can get a stunning new outfit for free.
  3. Have a Photo Shoot – We live in the age of Instragram and SnapChat the chances are that if your not a budding photographer at least one of your friends are. Local woods make great locations or skate parks for a more urban setting. Turn it into a summer project that combines all your friends strength. Have a friend whose into beauty and fashion? They can be the make-up artist, sporty friends can be the subject of fantastic action shots. Get creative and just have fun. You could even pack a picnic and make a day of it, it’s a great way to soak up the sunshine and spend time with friends. You may also get a portfolio out of it.
  4. Give back to your local community – There are hundreds of volunteer projects in the UK that run the whole year round. With so much free time during the summer months why not take part and give something back. You can find local projects at http://vinspired.com/ or why not create your own? Rally the troops for littering picking at your local park and see how quickly your tan develops . Or if you’re more artistic you could paint over graffiti with a colourful mural people will enjoy. Volunteering allows you to hang out with your friends with the satisfaction you’re doing good. There is also the added benefit of keeping you out the path of annoyed parents whose “get out of my house” hints have become far from subtle.
  5. Host a Pot-Luck BBQ – Activities involving a lot of people and food are often very pricey when providing it all depends on one person. However the idea of a Pot-Luck is that everyone brings a plate of something and everything is shared. Not only does this keep the cost down it’s also a lot of fun, you could end up with all sorts of combinations. Previous Pot-Luck’s of my own have involved a banquet entirely of pudding. Many parks and woods have there own designated barbecue areas so you an invite as many of your friends as you like, just remember to clear up afterwards.

Hopefully these ideas will help you make the most of the last of your penniless summers before we all have to get jobs and spend these months working instead.

Image reproduced from benefitseveryone.co.uk

Losing The Fame Game

Lorna Bliss unsuccessfully auditions on X Factor 2012

Nowadays I tend to avoid shows like the X-Factor but as I was scrolling down my Tumblr feed last night a clip popped up of someone’s audition on the show. Normally these clips posted around the Net are auditions that are either amazingly good or horrendously bad and I try to resist my guilty pleasure of laughing at the expense of some poor soul about to get their deluded dreams shattered. However the comments on this clip referred to a judge running away and so my curiosity clicked the play button.

A woman called Lorna Bliss wearing what she described as a ‘Body Stocking’ exploded onto my computer screen, talking excitedly about wanting to be on TV all the time. She was enthusiastic and friendly, chatting away to anyone she met, you knew this was a set up for something awful. After she had introduced herself to the judges she turned around to start her performance, receiving an mixed reaction from the audience about her thong showing clear underneath the stocking. The music started and she jumped straight into a well rehearsed routine in which she climbed up on the judges table dancing. This was the point in which one of the judges ran, undeterred she followed him, still singing and dancing into the audience. She then made her way back to the stage for the end of her song and stood nervously awaiting her comments.

The judges slaughtered her. Saying she was only in it for the fame and that was not what this show was about. She didn’t get through. This girl had been completely set up. The judges audition would have been the fourth one she had attended, going through two initial rounds and one round in front of the producers on the show, they had seen what a performance she would give and put her through to be publicly humiliated. After bad press in recent years about reality shows being fixes with pre-decided winners and bad talent put through to make good telly, this girl was set up to ‘prove’ it’s about wanting to sing, not wanting the fame. If she had entered a few years ago, she would most likely have got into the live performances. Cleverly done by the show though because despite this act being so obvious the only thing going viral is a poor girl throwing her heart into her audition and being self righteously cut down for the entertainment of thousands.

Image reproduced from ITV.com
Video reproduced from YouTube / TheXFactorUK

Backstage at a Beauty Pageant

In the last hundred years beauty pageants have become a centre piece of American culture, embodying the American spirit and offering life-changing scholarships for many of its winners. In recent years this passion for pageants has taken Britain by storm, with new pageants popping up every year. So what is the appeal of these beauty contests and will they have the staying power here as do they do overseas?

To many Britons the term pageant is alien and most refer to the film “Miss Congeniality,” which humour plays heavily on preconceived stereotypes of its contestants. However after recently attending a pageant myself I can confirm that is far from the truth. The girls I met during my time as a contestant were generally down to earth, friendly and extremely helpful offering advice to those less experienced and even spare dresses for those unable to obtain the right attire before the show. What differs these pageant girls from the rest the world is a shared interest in glamming up, wearing gorgeous clothes and presenting themselves with up-most grace, one of the appeals of the competition is being able to surround themselves with like-minded individuals.

The competition itself demands a lot from its entrants. To attend the pageant each girl must pay an entry fee, which can paid by themselves or funded by a sponsor, this encourages girls to build skills both in communication and self promotion. A big empathise of this particular competition was to raise money for their partner charities, several girls put in a lot of effort and dedication to raise staggering amounts for those less fortunate, and here you thought it was all about being a pretty face. Organization is a major factor in all pageants girls lives, not only do they have to find the right outfits, they must arrange transport and accommodation, negotiate marketing with sponsors and maintain an effortless smile at all times. The effort put in by these girls blew me away and you could tell that everyone of them weren’t there for the crown but simply for a love of the pageant world.

Community is strong within pageants, despite the girls never meeting before friendships were quickly formed and the whole group was in unison. Though there were obvious cliques all were quick to aide those in need and to include more inverted contestants. Hair tools, mirrors and make-up were lent freely with no concern to getting the upper-hand, several girls aided in doing hair and one girl took me under her wing to guide me through my first pageant. In fact it was she who won “Miss Congeniality” a title awarded to the kindest girl as voted by the other contestants, a worthy winner with genuine personality.

The show itself consisted of three rounds, jeans, party dress and evening dress. In each round girls were instructed to walk up and down the stage with elegance posing at certain points. In the final round each girl was also asked two questions about themselves to give the judges a taste of their personalties beyond their appearance. Based on their presentation they were then narrowed down by the judges to twelve finalists including the three girls who had won the titles “Miss Congeniality”, “Miss Charity” and “Miss People’s choice” respectively. These final twelve then gave an impromptu speech of why they were a worthy winner before the four runners up and the winner were announced.

Backstage the air of comradeship stayed strong even amongst the disappointed, including myself, who hadn’t got through. Losers were gracious and the winners were congratulated with hugs and best wishes for the grand final being held later this year.

In all my experience has been both rewarding and an eye opener against my poorly judged concepts of what the pageant world is like. I had a lot of fun throughout the day and met some great people and though I don’t fit entirely into the pageant world I can see its appeal. Its an fantastic opportunity for people to meet and teaches important life lessons. The future of pageants in Britain is bright and with its awareness growing each year along with its popularity it may very well become a fixture in modern British culture.

Image reproduced from www.in.com

Dylan O’Brien: Hollywood’s Next Big Thing?

Dylan O'Brien Image reproduced from wikimedia.org

Dylan O’Brien

Prior to this year, actor Dylan O’Brien was relativity unknown. He’s been in acting circuit for just two years, starring in independent films such as High Road and The First Time. However he is best known for his role as Stiles Stilinski, the sidekick in the popular MTV series Teen Wolf.

As the show entered it’s third season its popularity sky-rocketed. A bigger production budget has brought the programme to a wider audience and O’Brien’s show stealing performances have caught the attention of fans and the industry alike. Already he has had a cameo appearance in hit television show, New Girl, which has had success in both America and the UK. He also plays a supporting role in the internationally released film, The Internship which was released in July of this year. Now after bagging the main role of Thomas in The Maze Runner, set to be the next Hunger Games, it’s clear that O’Brien is going places.

O'Brien in The Maze Runner Image reproduced from MTV.com

O’Brien in The Maze Runner

However he’s not made it yet. Though his performance in The Maze Runner has the potential of allowing him to break into Hollywood, many young actors like O’Brien get lost in the wayside. The film is to be directed by Wes Ball, whose previously only worked with film shorts. The rest of the cast is also made up of newcomers, like O’Brien, though known actors Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones) and Will Poulter (Chronicles of Narnia) are among the mix. Due to this inexperience, the film’s success will depend heavily on it’s marketing. Yet with Twentieth Century Fox as it’s production company, things are likely to go well. O’Brien’s loyalty to Teen Wolf is another possible obstacle in his career. With Stiles being a central character to the story there is no doubt that they will want him to remain for future seasons.

Regardless of opposing factors, O’Brien is clearly a talented actor. Whilst on Teen Wolf, he’s brought a level of complexity to his character which easily outshines the performances of his co-stars. He also fits well into the typecast of ‘loveable dork’ a seemingly growing trend in Hollywood films. Time will tell if The Maze Runner will bring him to the mainstream market, but for now, Dylan O’Brien is certainly one to watch.

Images reproduced from wikimedia.org and MTV.com

Carrot and Orange Breakfast Muffins

Image reproduced from gulchathaii.blogspot.co.ukHealthy eating is no easy feat and fitting a healthy breakfast inside your hectic mornings can seem like an impossible task.

However I have the perfect solution, a low fat, lot calorie breakfast treat which is also pretty tasty, breakfast muffins.

The recipe is simple and you can make them on a Sunday so that they’re ready to grab and go whilst you rush to work, they even help you get your fruit and veg in.

Do you need any more convincing?

 

You will need:

  • 75ml Olive oil – Though this sounds like a lot, olive oil actually helps your body digest vegetables to allow you to fully absorb all their nutrients.
  • 100g Unrefined cane sugar – You can use regular sugar, but unrefined sugar is closer to it’s natural form and hasn’t undergone as many chemical processes so it’s better for your body.
  • 1 large orange, zest and 3tbsp juice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250g spelt flour – Spelt flour is less processed than wheat flour and does not contain the same nasty toxins, it’s also lower in calories
  • 1tsp baking powder – you can substitute this with bicarbonate of soda depending on what’s in your cupboard
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 mug of grated carrot – change the amount according to taste, using a little less will disguise the vegetable taste from fussy eaters
  • A large handful of walnuts

To make:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180oc, make sure to do this after you have prepared your ingredients or you will waste energy.
  • Pop the orange, eggs, olive oil and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl and whisk until the liquid is frothy.
  • Add the flour and baking powder. Using a metal spoon fold them into the mixture using a figure of eight movement, this will prevent air bubbles being destroyed and will ensure that your muffins will raise.
  • Pour in the carrot and walnuts, gently fold into the mixture.
  • Spoon into cases making sure you put equal amounts in each case so that they will require the same length of time to cook. Place in the oven for approximately 25-30 minutes, you can use this time to clean up, the muffins will be ready when you can place a skewer through the muffins and bring it out clean.
  • Leave to cool on a cooling tray then place them in an air tight container ready for breakfast.

Image reproduced from gulchathaii.blogspot.co.uk

Kickstarter: A Game-Changer for Independant Film Makers?

Wish I was Here - Characther Designs Reproduced from www.kickstarter.com

Wish I was Here – Character Designs
Reproduced from www.kickstarter.com

For a new unheard of film maker starting their career with no contacts and even less funds there are two routes to take. Route one, send their script to major film companies in the hope that someone will like their idea enough to create it, or route two, be funded by a private investor who believes in their film. Whilst the first option requires almost an entire loss of creative control on the film makers part, ensuring what hits the screens is yet another safe bet of Hollywood clichés, option two requires unrealistic quantities of luck. As a result of this many independent projects have never gotten off the ground, until now that is.

Social networks, once again, have made the impossible, possible. Sites such Kickstarter and Indiegogo now allow films to be funded by the fans. Donations can be contributed big or small, with certain rewards given depending on how much is donated. These can range from exclusive behind the scenes updates to VIP tickets to the première. In the last twelve months various projects have been successful using such sites. Sci-Fi web series Chronicles of Syntax received $4,525 over their target allowing the show, originally planned in 2009, to finally be produced. The project was funded last August and aired on the Multiverse earlier this year. Even more impressive was the funding of a Veronica Mars film. After it’s television series was ended prematurely, fans of the show raised a staggering two million dollars in just ten hours to watch the rest of the story unfold.

Image reproduced frpm www.facebook.com

Image reproduced from www.facebook.com

Inspired by the amazing support shown by fans, film-maker Zach Braff, of Scrubs fame, has created his own Kickstarter account in a bid to produce his film Wish I was here. Braff’s début film Garden State was funded by a single fan of his work and was well received by fans and critics alike. Braff was already offered funding for his second film but under the conditions that he’d give up casting controls and the decision of the final cut. In order to retain the same artistic direction as his prior work, Braff took a huge risk by refusing the funding and asking his fans to help instead. The risk has certainly paid off, in just three days the needed two million dollars was donated and as the account does not close until the 24th May the figure continues to raise. The film industry has been left in awe.

However is this really a feasible future for independent cinema? Though the films now can be produced there is still the obstacle of distribution and many will have to rely on a good reception at film festivals such as Cannes or Sundance for their films to be available to a wider market. Another issue is the power of fans depends on the amount of fans you have. Whilst Braff’s acting popularity allowed a large fan-base to respond to his project unheard of film-makers will have a much harder time in gaining donations. The success of Chronicles of Syntax was in part due to the fan base they had gained over time by producing a trailer and other promotions of their vision.
Despite the remaining set backs, Kickstarter has proved if you want something enough there’s a way to get it. Independent cinema may not be able to rival Hollywood yet but it’s beginning to catch up.

Album Review: Alex Day – Epigrams & Interludes

Image courtesy of dftba.comThree years since the release of his last album and now with three Top 40 singles under his belt, Youtuber & Musician Alex Day is back with a brand new collection, Epigrams & Interludes.

The album consists of a vast mixture of his older work, brand new tracks, chart toppers, collaborations, and songs he’s produced for other artists. All combined to create a incredibly addictive and complexly layered album.

Day’s style is distinctively different from other music of the moment, it’s lively, upbeat with a nod towards 90’s pop. Lyrics are not vague with hidden meaning but stories, telling us tales of love, friendship and bread. The majority of the album is heavily produced brimming with catchy drum beats most prominent in the dance anthem styled “Poison” sung by the talented Carrie Hope Fletcher. Though it also includes a few acoustic tracks, such as the beautifully mature “Losing a future” which showcases Day’s vocals at their very best.

What’s most remarkable about this album is the growth shown in Day’s work from “Holding on” to “I’ve got what it takes”. He’s become confident in the production of his songs, breaking away from the safety of his guitar to create new, more complicated sounds with a polished finish. It provides us with best of Alex Day and the perfect introduction to his music.

Tracks to skip straight to are “Bread” eerily reminiscence of “The nightmare before Christmas” with it’s Burton style of storytelling and insanely hyper “Lady Godiva” guaranteed to stay in your head for the rest of the day.

“Epigrams & Interludes” brings a breath of unique life into the monotone of the music industry and is certainly well worth a listen. Even better ten of the twenty tracks are available for free download at http://www.bittorrent.com/ so try a taste of Alex Day a musician you’ll be kicking yourself that you’ve never discovered before.

Image reproduced from dftba.com

Monsters University: Pixar & the Prequel

a mo

After Toy Story 3’s massive success, despite the trilogies ten year hiatus, Disney Pixar has decided to breathe life into yet another of it’s best creations, Monsters Inc. However will this be a lovingly told, long awaited new chapter? Or is it merely a shameless ploy to exploit nostalgia of the company’s older fans?

My biggest issue with the upcoming film is that it is a prequel. The one question on everyone’s mind at the end of Monsters Inc. was “what happened to Boo?”. It certainly wasn’t “how did Mike and Sully become friends?”. If you told me they met in college I would happily accept that explanation. I would not however sit through an entire film to find out the facts to an answer I quite frankly do not care about.

Going by the trailer Monsters University is essentially the tale of rivalry between the two protagonists of Monsters Inc. It’s your classic American college film in which two unlikely room-mates decide to make the others life a living hell for the duration of their freshman year. Which one of them will come out on top? Neither of them, we already know they become best friends, so this is a case of putting their differences aside in a bid to work together. Whether or not the film will be a success depends on this second plot point, it’s going to have to be pretty spectacular to destroy the mediocre image this film is currently projecting.

Despite it’s rather disappointing trailer, Monsters University is bound to be a sell-out film. Just as with Toy Story 3 not only will it draw in Disney’s target under ten audience it will also bring along those that where ten when the original film came out. University is something this older audience can relate to in they same way they related to Andy outgrowing his childhood toys. Yet whereas Toy Story 3 was a bittersweet goodbye to childhood, Monsters University looks set to disappoint. It’s guaranteed to be an hour and a half of childish pranks and animation clichés.

I may be wrong. Monsters University may be brilliant. After all, this is Pixar and they’re bound to have something up their sleeves, but what made Monsters Inc. such a milestone film for them was that it was a beautiful standalone piece about the monsters in your cupboard. It needed no build up, it worked that we never saw the grown up Boo, it remains a piece of our childhood. A stunning piece of cinema like that needs an equally stunning follow up, one that Monsters University cannot deliver. Though the film is set to appear this July, I will personally avoid tarnishing the original by not going to watch it.

Image reproduced from disney.go.com
Video reproduced from YouTube / DisneyPixar

Does Cinema Need Remakes? – Part 2

The comparisons made in Part 1 of this article are reminiscent of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I personally watched the 2011 American re-make first, and visually it was mind blowing. From the opening titles alone with its incredible graphics and the pulsing beat of “Immigrant song”, a cover of the Led Zeppelin classic, the audience attention is thrust upon the screen. This intensity is kept throughout the film which unfortunately ruined the suspense of the story and made some scenes unbearable to watch. The American film also added in animal the plot simply to add more violence as it had no impact on the story itself and could have easily been left out. The film as a whole though is a worthwhile watch the acting is strong particularly with the lead Rooney Mara whose portrayal of “Lisbeth” is comparison-able to that of Noomi Rapace in the original Swedish film. Another positive factor of the re-make is the attention given to flash back scenes, though there are commendable efforts in the original the Americans have down to an art building up the tension for the big reveal. Yet the big reveal itself was lacking due to the fact many details had been skimmed over throughout the film and though the end was good it was not satisfying.

The original covers a lot more ground with the story and with the characters. The opening scene of a heartbroken old man crying over a flower created questions and empathy whereas the American version just created confusion. This importance of details is keep up within the film and develops interesting characters as well as some sinister fore-shadowing which the re-make lacks. Paired with the slow sleepy atmosphere of the filming it produces a wonderful suspense highlighted in places by more violent scenes. The ending of the two films differ completely the American version and a confusing character change whereas as the Swedish is more positive suggesting a continuation with an intriguing insight to Lisbeth’s past only briefly mentioned in the re-make. Though films are spectacular to watch the Swedish version trumps the American with the story telling allowing the later film only to considered nothing more than a re-make.

It’s not just foreign films however that receives the Hollywood re-make treatment even its own films are often re-branded for a modern audience. One example of this is “Fright Night”, last year Hollywood delivered us a re-make of the 1985 original which was nothing like the former film. Though marketed as an 18 the original film is more comedy than horror though it does make you jump in places. The true horror of the original is the torment of the viewer knowing that geeky lead “Charley” is right about the vampire next door and will probably end up dead before anyone believes him. However in the modern version it is Ed that is the laughed at nerd rather than his eccentric outcast of the original whilst Charley is a hot former geek, because we couldn’t possibly have a unattractive lead who believes in vampires. This change of dynamic completely ruined the film for me as well lengthening it as first we had to wait for Charley to believe Ed and then the rest of the characters. Colin Farrels “Jerry” was sexed up rugged tradesman next door rather than the aristocratic commanding presence of Chris Sarandon in the original. The new Jerry also acted more psychopath than vampire and it wasn’t until almost the end of the film that I believed he was a mystical beast rather than a lunatic who just happened to bite people. In all the re-make was a disappointing product that was blasphemous to the original with sexed up characters all over the place.

Personally I see no need for remakes, if you loved the original then don’t hurt yourself by watching a reproduction of it, no matter how good it is you’ll always be able to find something you preferred in the original film. Yet American cinema is miles ahead in visual effects and if they could retain the story telling of the former films I believe in future they can create some fantastic re-makes. Still if Hollywood had enough decent screen writers than it wouldn’t need remakes at all.

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Does Cinema Need Remakes? – Part 1

2012 in film, the year of re-releases, squeals, prequels and re-makes. It begs the question, “has Hollywood lost all originality?” With classic films being re-marketed as 3D despite the technological gap and franchises such as Ice Age reaching its fourth instalment it does make you wonder about the future of film. I can however forgive these examples in the wake of my pet hate, the re-make.

In 2002 Tobey Maguire entertained us with the loveable nerd which is Peter Parker in the original Spider-man trilogy. Yet, just a mere five years after the last part was released, Hollywood have already thrown upon us a re-make “The Amazing Spiderman”. Though the title is certainly different the film itself does not stray too far from the original plot and a lot of the scenes in the two films are remarkably similar. You may point this is due to the fact the new series is a re-make. However with marketing promising us the “untold origins of Spiderman” I was hoping for new information in the plot, though fans of the comic have informed me it does stay true to the real story not enough has changed to warrant me essentially watching the same film twice.

I can’t slate the new film entirely though Andrew Garfield is a brilliant Parker and adds more dimension to the character than his predecessor, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy trumps Mary-Jane with her hard-ass attitude and independence compared to the former leading lady who was indecisive and whiny. Visually the film is stunning with some of the scenes looking like pieces of art adding the comic book essence to every scene of the film, however their are places in which this perfection is too much, reminding the viewer this is fiction. Whereas in the original the humdrum film quality added the sense of this could actually happen.

One factor in the new film I really deplore is the villain Curt Conner, played by the fantastic Rhys Ifans, his soft nature and rounded features gives him good guy connotations that remains for the whole of the film and has no where near the sinister effect of the green goblin in the original.

If Amazing Spiderman had been released another twenty years down the line I could easily see the appeal but the speed of which the remake has preceded the original with no dramatic improvement other than the visuals it leaves me thinking what is the point of remakes?

Hollywood seems obsessed with this genre of film, there are hundreds of them, most common place are Asian or European cinema re-made to appeal to the western culture. The appeal of Hollywood re makes is the big budgets behind them and the most advanced technical processes, however this leads to plots being watered down in an attempt to focus on the visual impacts on the film.

Take for example the 2010 film Let Me In released just two years after the original Swedish film Let The Right One In. In mind of special effects and camera angles the American film is superior with a crisp finished quality, however the actual story seems forced in places and doesn’t flow naturally, allowing for confusion in some places and too much information in others. This is a problem in a lot of American remakes the story is both vague, missing out essential scenes, and far too obvious with certain plot points which ruins the suspense and excitement of the viewer figuring out the mystery themselves. Though the two young leads do a brilliant job in Let Me In, the chemistry between them is non existent and they do not reach the close bond as the Owen & Abby in the original film. The Swedish version gives more screen time to developing the relationships between all characters key to the plot allowing the story progress realisticly. It also has an poetic nature with each scene being eerily beautiful and artistically shot, holding an innocence of the two young leads allowing the viewers to get into their mindsets. What really works with this soft style is the contrast to the sudden violence in the last scene shocking the system of the viewers and creating a film that stays in the mind long after leaving the cinema.

Read Part 2 of Rebecca Fortuin’s article on Thursday 23 August 2012

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