2016: Review

This year has been very busy and emotional. Work has been very hectic and stressful and this will continue for the first part of the year at least. I was hoping to get round to doing some filmmaking this year but due to unforeseen circumstances, I was just never able to get round to organise something.

IMG_1650In May I went on holiday to Spain as normal. I spent a few days in Barcelona and then went up the coast to Lloret to visit friends. When I got to Spain the weather was not the best (it was than back here!). It was raining and there were a couple of storms. However, I still had a great time and the weather did eventually clear. Whilst I was there, I did something new and Girona (a filming location for Game of Thrones) during the Temp De Flors, a flower festival where the city is decorated with flowers in various exhibits and settings. This was amazing and the impact Game of Thrones can clearly be seen [Sic].

It’s no secret that I love Barcelona and want to live there but people find it hard to understand why I love it so much. The only way I can explain it is that Barcelona feels like home. I am more relaxed there. I know my way round (I know lots of good places to eat and drink) and I have friends just up the coast who are like family. That is why I have the goal of living there, I don’t feel like this at home or anywhere else in the UK. I feel awkward, I never seem to get comfortable – always on edge. It’s hard to explain. It’s just how I feel.

When I got back from Spain, a curveball was thrown at me – work asked me got to Boston for 5 weeks to work at a suppliers office for the Project I am working on. The opportunity to go to America and work was something I could not say no to. The experience was very helpful and the work I did with my coimg_0283lleagues has been very beneficial to the project. Boston is a great city (we stayed in a nearby town called Burlington). It was about a 30 minute train journey into Boston and I managed to get a few day trips in over the 5 weeks we were there. I loved the area of Cambridge (where Harvard is) and the fact that I can honestly tell people now that I went to Harvard! [sic] I particularly looked forward to attending a baseball game – as I have become a big fan of the game over the last few years. I have also been following the Boston Red Sox  and I was not going to miss a chance to go to Fenway Park. The game was great and I although I did not see a home run; I was able to see David Ortiz (aka Big Papi) hit an amazing shot in his farewell season. I also made a couple of visits to The Cheesecake Factory times and had a some great steak.

14051834_10153822705112688_5434941402416404245_nWithin 2 weeks of returning from Boston I was off on holiday again. But before that, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of 2 close friends, Rich and Anne-Marie. The wedding was amazing and held in the stunning St Audries Park. I wish them both many years of happiness together.

The first part of my holiday was in Milan, where I would spend a few days before heading on to Switzerland where I was staying in Lugano to attend the Locarno Film Festival and then a weekend on Zurich. I had a great time and really enjoyed each part of the trip, although I was a little disappointed by Milan. The Duomo in Milan is amazing on the outside but I did not get the same feeling of “Wow!” as I do with Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or I had with the Cathedral in Seville. The food was good though, and it was not as expensive as I thought it would be.

image1Switzerland was amazing! Lugano is a lovely city and really did feel like the “Monaco of the  Mountains”. The weather was great my entire time there and I had chance to explore some of the nearby towns. I also took a few long excursions by train. First, I went up into the mountains to First in Grindelwald. That was amazing and I got some amazing photos of the mountains views from the top. I would love to go back. I also loved my short stop over in Lucerne (Luzern) and will be going back there again. When in Zurich I took a short train journey to Bern and spent a few hours walking around the old town which was really enjoyable and I got some great photos.

The Locarno Film Festival has always been on my bucket list and I was not disappointed. I was amazed at the films I saw and it really has inspired me to follow my ambitions and get back into doing film stuff. Watching films in the Piazza Grande was a fantastic experience and I would urge you all to attend and experience what I think is the most amazing communal cinema experience in the world – 8000+ people watching a film on the worlds larger screen, outside – under the Swiss night sky!

When I got back from Switzerland, work was really became busy but I still managed to attuned my 10 year university Reunion that I had organised in London and managed to catch up with some of my great friends. In November, my Granddad passed away and this really was a shock. Although he had been  ill for sometime and we knew that he could pass away. The shock, is still so overpowering. My mum has done amazingly well to manage and cope with everything and day by day we are getting by. However, it still feels strange. He is missed by all of us and we will never forget him.

Next year, I am going back to the Locarno Film Festival, where I will be staying in Ascona (in what should be a Lake front room of the stunning Lake Maggiore!). I will be heading to Spain for my usual holiday in September to see friends in Lloret and for a few days in Barcelona. I hope I get chance to go to another Barcelona game (if the dates work out!)  I am not sure what else will happen but I am sure there will be some more surprises.

I am very excited about what 2017 will bring for me but I need to start focusing on my goals and what I want in life.

I wish you all a happy new year and I hope 2017 brings you good fortune!



Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

rogueone_onesheetaThe opening titles of Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (1977/1997) is a major handicap for Rogue One – they let slip ending of the film – so there is no escaping the films ending but as the old saying goes (“it’s not where you are going but how you get there”) Rogue One has opportunity to throw up a few surprises.

In short, Rogue One tells the story of how the Rebellion recover the Death Star plans. We have never been given details of this happened before. The setting of the film has given writers a great opportunity to introduce new characters and also to provide more background to some more familiar faces. There are subtle references to “what is to come” in the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Moments where you honestly think to yourself “Isn’t that [Insert Character]?”. This is fun, but what is interesting is the differences to the other films.

The special effects are exceptional as you would expect for a Star Wars film. All the sets are densely layered full with lots of details – the transformation of Canary Wharf underground station is unbelievable.

For a Disney film, this is quite a departure. Rogue One is darker and more violent than you may expect – it is a war film. You may be shocked by some of the actions and motivations of the characters of the Rebellion. This I feel is refreshing and reflects reality and ugly truth we must face about humanity.

In the original trilogy, the Rebellion are full of Heroes, fighting the good fight against the evil Galactic Empire. But in reality – as we have seen through TV during the civil war in Syria – a rebellion is dirty business and although it is hard to understand at the end of the day and when you appear to have no hope, you may begin to believe that the ends justify the means. Now on to the new characters…

Felicity Jones, who plays Jyn Erso, is a little underwhelming at times in my opinion. In a film universe, where the heroes are force wielding Jedi, a princess and a dashing rouge, she is an ordinary girl and understandably she has a lot to live up to. I think this expectation may have hindered her performance.

I would love to have seen more of a back story for Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). There are moments where we begin to scratch the surface of a tired soldier but we don’t get chance to go any further, as we are rushed off to a new star system. I feel is a he had a darker past to explore, and believe this was a missed opportunity.

Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen – who play Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus respectively – are fantastic and its again disappointing that we don’t see more of them on screen. Disney, if you read this you should do a TV series about them – The Adventures of Baze and Chirrut!

My only criticism of the film is that the pace of the story is simply to fast. All Star Wars film have a fast pace (ignoring parts of Episode’s I-III) bur Rogue One did not need to have a fast pace and I cannot think of a reason why it has to be fast paced. This may have impacted Felicity Jones performance and contributed to the lack of screen time and character development mentioned above.

The pace of the film is likely the product of the re-shoots. I am also left wondering what was left on the cutting room floor and what did the re-shoots change about the film? We may never fully know the real reasons for the re-shoots but I hope those scenes make it onto the deleted scenes for the Blu-Ray/DVD release.

What Rogue One does really well is to show the potentail of the Star Wars Universe to tell a differnet story and I am excited about the possibity for new films and TV series.

Gareth Edwards has gone a long a way since making Monsters (2010). Monsters was an amazing accomplishment for an independent film. He has done a good job with Rogue One but I get the feeling that he is would be a more confident and comfortable director without a bunch studio executives looking over his shoulder.

3.8 / 5 – A good film. However, the pace of the film is just a little to quick and this makes the film feel more like Episode 3.5 rather than a stand alone film.