Into Film Project: 18 – Private Peaceful

For Remembrance Day (11th November) Into Film suggested the film Private Peaceful, which I have not had a chance to look at until now. However, it is not the film that I was able to peruse, nor the book, but the Radio 4 audio drama, adapted by Simon Reade. Yes, it is not a film, but I thought it would be a good format to review, especially considering my love for Torchwood audio plays during my recovery.

I own the Michael Morpurgo novel that the film and drama are based on and I feel like I must have read it as a child, but it clearly didn’t make much of an impact on me. However, having listened to the audio version I find it hard to understand how it didn’t make more of an impact. Set in World War I, it follows two boys thrust into the world of adulthood as soldiers, both too young to serve overseas but keen to do their bit for the war effort.

Knowing it was a story about the war, there was a considerable amount of detail before war even broke out, something that I surprisingly enjoyed, despite meaning that the main portion of the story about Private Peaceful did not begin until what seemed like halfway through. I really managed to connect with the brothers and their friends and family because of this and the nature of an audio play meant that there were only a select few characters involved, so no confusion between minor and major players in the story. The incidental music clearly defined the chapters of Tommo and Charlie’s lives, and was a beautiful addition to this beautiful story. The composer of the film score, Rachel Portman, is one of my favourite composers, previously known for One Day and Never Let Me Go – one reason I hope to one day watch the film.

Poignant, thought-provoking and full of twists, Private Peaceful is one of many productions that brings the horrors of World War One to life, with happiness and tragedy in equal parts. Four stars.


A-Z of 2015

Happy New Year! In the spirit of ends and beginnings, I thought I would write a post about 2015. First I thought I could do 2015 in numbers and then felt like that would need too many nice pictures and figures. So instead I thought I would do it in letters.

A is for After Scoliosis РHaving caught up with all the backlog of operation stuff in 2014 and with few appointments in 2015, the future of this blog was uncertain. But I published 92 posts, which is on par with 2014 and greater than previous years!

B is for Baptism – I renewed my baptismal vows this year with a wonderful service at St John’s Egham where I got very wet, and I am so grateful I was able to make that public declaration of faith.

C is for Camp – Bredon was replaced with Oswestry but I made it through my 6th camp with the wonderful AL team and wider camp family and am looking forward to next year!

D is for Discharged!! РI was discharged from the Evelina on 14th July!

E is for Election – 2015 saw the General Election, my first chance to influence who runs the country and a night that shocked everyone. It was my first experience of the election night coverage and I made it to 2am, mainly because we were also celebrating the end of English exams.

F is for Faith – I am still very grateful for the Christian faith I hold. It has been strengthened and challenged but I keep trusting Jesus to keep me going.

G is for Grades – I passed my first year of university with a high 2:1!

H is for House – We successfully found, signed for, moved into and are living in my first student house, and are signed up for next year as well. And my housemates are still very wonderful.

I is for Insanity – October saw me present my first show on Insanity Radio and I have now clocked 16 hours presenting and guesting on the station, plus 8 news broadcasts. I cannot express how much I love it, and the amazing insane people involved!

J is for Jobs – In January 2015 I applied for 2 Saturday event based jobs and by the end of the month I had been interviewed for and accepted both positions. I also returned to the temp job I had last summer for two weeks.

K is for Kinder – I ate a lot of Kinder chocolate.

L is for London – I’ve been to London a lot. From Les Mis to libraries and lectures, not to mention the week I spent 4 days in and around the city, I’ve negotiated commuters and the underground but still find joy in seeing the capital every week.

M is for Music – Not only have I had multiple concerts with the Symphony and Chamber Orchestra playing beautiful music, I also have greater knowledge of current pop music thanks to Insanity.

N is for Nine – I have had nine articles published on the Orbital website, many of which also appeared in print. Because…

O is for Orbital – I spent a magnificent 7 months on the Orbital board where I made great friends and gained many skills and improved my confidence. Gutted as I was that my tenure ended abruptly, it has opened so many doors for me and given me time to write much more.

P is for Post-its – My diary lasted a whole 9 months, especially thanks to the many post-its I used for to-do lists, planning and general notes.

Q is for the Queen – I saw the Queen at Royal Ascot. It was glorious.

R is for Reunions – Despite being away from home and old friends for most of the year, there were great reunions with all kinds of people – those I’d seen weeks before and those with a gap of years.

S is for Summer Ball – June was our first experience of Summer Ball. Dressing up in a beautiful dress and spending time with my lovely flatmates and friends were better than the event itself, but glad I went.

T is for Travels – I have branched out in my travelling. We returned to potentially our last family holiday to Spain, but I also tackled multiple solo train journeys, visiting Cambridge, Gobowen and Northwich to name a few new(ish) places.

U is for Union Shop – The campus shop relocated annoyingly close to my old halls and is now run by the SU. It was an exciting news day for the Orbital. It remains pricey.

V is for Volunteering – I’ve done a wide range of volunteering activities. Making mosaics and stewarding the Magna Carta 800 celebrations were highlights, as is my recent work on Coastway Hospital Radio.

W is for World Cup – This year heralded the Rugby World Cup and I had the privilege of working for most of the matches at Twickenham, including seeing England get knocked out and watching New Zealand’s victory. I scanned Prince Harry’s ticket unknowingly, saw Boris Johnson twice, saw Kate and William, and had a conversation with broadcaster Rhodri Jones about sweets. Phenomenal experience with great people.

X is for X-Ray – I had a back X-Ray with a student radiographer who was probably my age, and teeth X-Rays that show my wisdom teeth making an appearance.

Y is for YikYak – YikYak got big on campus, I got a free poster. Once someone made up a rumour the Queen was here. She wasn’t.

Z is for Zzzzz – I love sleep, and you are probably feeling that after ploughing through 900 odd words.

So there you have it, 2015 summed up in less than 1000 words (and yes, I struggled with X, Y and Z!) Bring on 2016!


2015 in review

I am so pleased with my blog this year! Better post to come tomorrow

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,300 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Into Film Project: 17 – Brave

A month after St Andrew’s Day on 30th November, here is my review of Brave, the 2012 Disney Pixar film following the adventures of Scottish princess Merida. This was actually my third time watching the film and it holds happy memories of pre-GCSE Results Day and the EPIC Weekend Away. On seeing Brave on the Christmas Day schedule I knew it was time to watch it again and write this review.

Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, it is the first feature length Pixar film to be directed by a woman and the strength of the first Pixar princess clearly reflects this. The complexity of the mother-daughter relationship in the film shows how Chapman drew on her own experience with her daughter. It is this relationship that is at the centre of this story and it is Merida’s defiance of her mother’s regulation of her life that is the most refreshing aspect of the 90 minutes.

As a cartoon the casting directors have much more freedom with who to place in each role. I was surprised with how fantastic Kelly Macdonald was at portraying the young princess despite being in her 30s when the film was produced. Emma Thompson was fantastic as her mother as well and I wonder how much her and Macdonald interacted in recording the dialogue between them. Combined with the fantastic animation you really see the troubled but loving relationship between them. The Scottish accents are incredibly good too and add authenticity to the film.

The film itself is slow to start and on a first watch seems in two parts, but is very enjoyable none the less, and needs to contain the slower contextual background at the beginning to truly understand the storyline. Another part of the production that deserves a mention is the fantastic score by Patrick Doyle. It is music that I would listen to outside of the film, especially while studying, and depicts the dramatic action particularly well.

Brave is a family film with an important view of women that everyone can enjoy. Four stars.


Into Film Project: 16 – Shaun the Sheep (sort of)

Today is the Winter Solstice and the suggested film was Shaun the Sheep. However, as a very new film I don’t have any way of watching it, so instead I will be reviewing the TV series.

I watched this particular episode of the TV series on BBC Alba, which I though may pose a problem, being in Scottish Gaelic. This is not something that is an issue with this Aardman animation though, as there is no speaking involved from Shaun and his sheep friends (and the farmer and dog). I don’t have a clue whether dialogue actually exists in the film version, but I feel like I would get fractious about it if there was no speech for the entire 90 minutes or so.

With only 7 minutes to go on, it’s hard to get the gist of the programme from one episode, but the premise is that the sheep cause havoc for their farmer and manage to get away with it without anyone noticing. I’m not sure how this will work on the big screen with the inevitable increase in length, but I imagine it could. From a TV point of view, 7 minutes seems the optimum time to spend on an episode of Shaun the Sheep – I didn’t get bored but it wasn’t over in the blink of an eye either.

Funny and perfect for children, Shaun the Sheep on TV has intrigued me for what the film has in store. Three stars.


The Sound of Music Live

Sunday night saw the broadcast of The Sound of Music Live on ITV. It had mixed reviews and I caught up with it last night (with this post taking yesterday’s spot in Blogvent).

Firstly I was appalled by the song order, until I realised that it was based on the stage musical and not the film. As most people who know me will know, I know The Sound of Music inside out because in year 6 I was in the class production of it – based on the film rather than the musical. Personally I prefer the film version even though I have now seen this production as there is a much greater period in the film where Georg was away and the children’s relationship with Maria could develop and the viewer can see their transition from controlled to free children.

With the storyline of course remaining much the same, once I got over the songs, which happened about halfway through, especially after the appearance of Alexander Armstrong as Herr Dettweiler. In fact the entire cast were great, especially Kara Tointon as Maria. Her voice was as strong as Julie Andrews and she really managed to express all the nuances of the character, and the love she holds for her husband and adopted children.

Overall it was very hard to tell that the production was indeed live with no noticeable slip ups. Although it’s no replacement for the film for me, it was a fantastic introduction to the stage version of the popular story and well worth watching.