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Showing posts from January, 2016

In Conversation with Virginia Macgregor

On a cold Thursday night, I find myself squirrelled away in  the small office of Waterstones nervously preparing myself for an interview with the delightful Virginia Macgregor. Virginia is with us to celebrate the launch of her latest book, 'The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells', nearly a year on from when her first novel 'What Milo Saw' was released to unanimous praise from critics and readers alike. Macgregor captures the real essence of what living in contemporary Britain is like at the moment, mixing contemporary issues with heart-warming prose. Before the event begins in which she will give a talk about her new novel, we take a few minutes aside so I can begin asking my questions.

   The first thing I note from Macgregor is that she effortlessly radiates kindness and affection, her trademark smile never fades from view; she speaks with such passion and enthusiasm about both her readers and her work. She thinks highly of her readers, "I think I'm just comp…

Resonating with Lisa Simpson

Way back in 1990, The Simpsons aired it's sixth episode 'Moaning Lisa', primarily fixating on why Lisa is sad though she cannot say why, and through her pairing with Bleeding Gums Murphy she finds the hope to be herself again. To this day, the episode hits hard with me because it tackles many difficult topics for a cartoon without ever becoming patronising or despairingly bleak.

   Like Lisa, I find myself waking up some days feeling defeated and hopeless. I cannot pinpoint a reason or a cause as to why I feel that why, I just simply do. Then sometimes, when I'm getting dressed for work, or trying to find my wallet I hear the voice in my head that says "You're lonely. No one is here. Everyone has gone away and left you." This becomes a daily battle with myself, one half of my brain telling me that I'm fine and I'm having an off day, the other twisting it in the most melodramatic fashion, "You have no money. Your degree is pointless. Why are yo…

The Revenant Review

Continuing my reviews for the Oscar-nominated pictures, we find ourselves at 'The Revenant', a strikingly bold and unforgiving film by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, best known for his masterpiece 'Birdman' which swooped the Best Picture Academy Award last year. Iñárritu continues to push such boundaries in a film that is relentless with it's story of one man's thirst for revenge. Iñárritu plunges right into the action from the off and refuses to let go of the viewer; this is all directed in an extremely immersive way to heighten the senses and leave you flinching but somehow lacks something in terms of a cohesive story.

As told in Michael Punke's source novel, 'The Revenant' recounts the exploits of a group of upright American men in the early 1800s, presumably in a trading situation but it is never really explained, bar the fact the team is lead by the honourable Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) and there is a shift in the group, lead notably by the cruel J…

The Danish Girl - Review

As Award Season frantically begins, where better to start with the film that has caught the headlines and grabbed people's attention before even buying a ticket. Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' tells the story of Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne), a well respected artist happily married to his loving wife and wannabe artist Gerda (Alicia Vikander). What starts off as a simple game of modelling Einar in dresses and make up leads to a reawakening of Einar discovering her true self, though her body is biologically male, on the inside she is Lili Elbe.

Hooper has a track record of dealing with sensitive subject matter, and the approach was always going to be observed with such scrutiny from critics and audiences alike, especially in a time where the topic of transgenderism is at an all time high, brought to the mainstream thanks to women like Caitlin Jenner or Laverne Cox. However, Hooper delivers another masterpiece of a film, handled with such sensitivity and fragility withou…

Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig

"You are in a hurricane. Hurricanes run out of energy eventually. Hold on!" This is one of the many valuable pieces of information Matt Haig offers to his readers in his first piece of non-fiction, 'Reasons to Stay Alive'. Haig's conversational tone about his struggles with depression and anxiety make for a very important, and at times utterly heartbreaking read. As someone who has dealt with anxiety over the last year or so, this is an incredibly poignant book with the power to help those who see no way out.

Haig is openly candid about his depression, the opening chapters recall his days of living in Ibiza, where he stood atop a cliff and contemplated about ending his life. What follows is half memoir, half self help as Haig's charming, funny and straightforward prose sets to straighten out the stigma that surrounds mental illness, but without coming across as self indulgent or pretentious. This is a brutally honest account, with short bursts on each page sur…

Untitled Short Story

“From the BBC news centre at 12. Three people were found dead today in the North London Area, after what sources believe was a potential targeted attac-” Before the announcer can finish, Sam switches the radio off and it crackles out, submerging everything into stillness, save his quivering bursts of breath. It was well into the early hours of morning and Anthony hadn’t been spotted in over nine hours, he hadn’t been home in over fifteen. Sam often tried not to count the hours in meticulous fashion, Anthony didn’t like it, said it made him paranoid, uneasy. Well if you hadn’t heard from your boyfriend in nearly a day wouldn’t you worry too? Besides, it’s not the longest he’s been gone for. A memory resurfaces for a moment, hazy phonecalls, sterile hospital rooms and mind-numbingly long conversations with the police that he didn’t especially care for. Sam freezes for a moment and every single bone in his body feels locked into place, as if he was wired to the ground or part of the newl…