Black Butler (2014)

Want to see so much!

Playback Reviews

Black Butler filmLength: 119 min

Release date: 18 January 2014

Synopsis: An orphaned aristocrat summons a demonic butler to aid her, at the price of her soul.

Genre: Action / Crime / Drama

Studio: Warner Bros.

Director: Kentarô Ohtani / Kei’ichi Sato

Writer: Yana Toboso (manga) 

Starring: Hiro Mizushima / Ayame Gôriki / Yûka

MPA-Rating: 15

Black Butler (also known in Japanese as Kuroshitsuji) began life as a manga that debuted in 2006. Published by Yen Press for the English market, it is written and illustrated by Yana Toboso. It’s currently ongoing and has twenty-one published volumes so far.

The original manga of Black Butler (and later its popular anime counterpart) is set in VictoriaBlack Butler mngan London. It tells the story of a thirteen year old orphan, Ciel Phantomhive, as he strives to lead household, and solves crimes as the Queen’s Watchdog. He is accompanied by a “one hell of a butler”…

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Harry Potter’s 18th Birthday

18 years ago, a book called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling was released here in the UK, which led to the phenomenon today that defines many young people’s childhoods and created a generation of readers and writers, myself included.

Quite timely, today JK Rowling revealed that she is working on a play called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child due to open next year in London. Telling the untold part of Harry’s life, including the story of James and Lilly’s life. Find further details by visiting the BBC News story.

This is to be closely followed by the film version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November 2016, starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne.

Happy Birthday Harry and may you keep fans new and old fascinated for years to come.

Film Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Apologies for the lack of real posts. Life as usual getting in the way. This review is not promising to be well written if I am being honest.

Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a young man lost in his life and after he lands in trouble with the law, he is bailed out by Harry Hart (Colin Firth) offering him a new life: to become an agent with the Kingsman, an independent spy organisation. Plucked from a deprived background, he has to fight against the other more affluent and upper class applicants to become a Kingsman. Meanwhile, Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), an internet mogul is planning to unleash a signal that will send everyone into a psychotic murderous rage in an act of eco-terrorism.

Kingsman is a flashy comedic take on the gentlemen spy, a mix of a spoof but genuine attempt at the genre. The fight scenes are fluid and fun with amazing cinematography. The main moments that kept the audience hooked in from start to end were also the moments which had everyone in the showing laughing together. I can’t really explain which they were without spoiling the film and let’s face it, the puppies are cute.

All the characters are fun but I would say that not all are relate-able to the average audience. The upper class is heavily spoofed making it hard to relate. Later I wondered if the British characters were intended as social commentary about British society. Eggsy is from a council estate with a step father and a half-sister whilst many of our politicians are seen as out of touch private school old boys. The rivalry and hazing of Eggsy by the other applicants of upper class background was possibly there to show the divide in British society. Eggsy’s application was noted to possibly be a case of social engineering, which is frequently claimed in some circles, especially in regards to university applications.

I have to say though that I feel Kingsman was lucky to get its 15 certificate with the swearing and violence prevalent within the film. If you are not expecting it, it can be shocking whilst also being fun. In that respect, it is surprising that there hasn’t been more of an outcry over how controversial it is. The film is also somewhat clichéd with the story but if they had done the opposite, I can’t help feeling that I would still be saying that it was clichéd. Perhaps this is down to genre.

Kingsman is a fun film, definitely of its genre and possibly has more to say for itself than it seems at first glance. Despite it possibly being controversial and very violent, it was a great film.

Film Review: Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War

I know! A film review! Only a quick short one really.

Source: GoodSearch Images

Mrs Caldicot (Pauline Collins) has been kept under her husband’s thumb for years so when he dies, she thinks she has the perfect chance to become independent. Her son (Peter Capaldi, long before Doctor Who) and daughter-in-law however force her into a retirement home where she is drugged to keep quiet and forced to sign over her house to her son. However, when the drugs wear off, she incites revolution among her fellow inmates, leading to her to discovering her fire and creating more change than she anticipated.

This British film does not sound like it is going to be particularly entertaining at first however Pauline Collins soon warms you up, getting the audience to relate to the character through the themes of finding independence and fighting against a system that is wrong through, initially, small acts. Capaldi is wonderful in his role of the manipulative son (attack eyebrows included), with fellow Doctor Who star Annette Badland as the homes cook and Tony Robinson of Time Team fame as chat show host, Nick Reid. There are some laugh out loud moments, mixed in with warm moments whilst also asking questions about the treatment of our aged and elderly that are as relevant today as they were back in 2002 when the film was made.

It’s not exactly a film that would grace TV’s at prime time and is more suited to a quiet Sunday with the family to curl up and enjoy. Not all plot lines I feel are tied up, the ending comes out of nowhere and character development, away from Mrs Caldicot, is minimal, if any happens at all. It certainly could draw lessons from fellow Brit comedy-drama Keeping Mum, which also features a lot of British talent. Some fleshing out and rewriting was needed in places. Unfortunately, this does let down an otherwise funny, warm film.

Definitely a film to curl up with a slow day but certainly not the best. I know I, at least, would rather watch Keeping Mum or Call the Midwife over this.

New Years Goals

January is a good time to think of goals to achieve this year. Source: GoodSearch Images

As I said last year, I don’t make any resolutions as I never keep to them. I make goals instead because goals are things to strive for and I tend to be very goal orientated. My last post mentioned that I was frustrated I failed on my second goal and I still am. At the same time, I accept that my personal circumstances prevent me from doing as much as I would like.

So what are my goals for this year?:

1) Try to write something every day or every week. Not sure on the frequency or how much if I am being completely honest but I definitely feel the need to make this a goal to make myself write.

2) Post once a week, every week on this blog. I know, the same goal as last year but it might help to keep this as a goal.

3) For my own wellbeing:

(i) try to pamper myself if possible once a month with a little special treat of something, even if it’s just watching a film or reading a book.

(ii) keep in contact with as many friends as possible, whether by Skype, phone or in person. Sometimes, a good chat/rant and a laugh is all someone needs to keep them well.

4) Participate in as many writing/National Novel Writing Month events as possible. I know I haven’t finished many events as of late but quite frankly, writing makes me feel better, especially considering my personal issues.

Right now, I think it is best for me to keep to just these few. I may end up adding more later but I definitely think these are the most important. Have you got any goals for yourself this year? Got any advice? Share them below if you like.

Chocolate and Fiction

Things happening in my personal life got me thinking about this. Christmas being just around the corner and being almost synonymous with chocolate makes now a good time for me to post about it.

Does chocolate show the light and dark of societal inequality? Source: GoodSearch Images

Food is often read about in books, both to tell the reader more about the characters as well as to fuel the characters. I have been thinking specifically however about chocolate and it has led me to realise the possible symbolism of chocolate in children’s literature (as I could only think of examples from children’s books).

The first story that came to mind was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the obvious one. Now, I want to admit I have only seen the original and remake films of the books and have never read the book. Please bare with me! In the classic Roald Dahl story, chocolate, in my mind, represents childhood and wealth. Charlie Bucket is poor. He buys the chocolate car with the little money he has. He is one child among many. In comparison to the other children who are desperate to get a coveted golden ticket to visit the fabled Wonka factory, he merely wishes to eat the chocolate because it is so rare for him to be able to have chocolate.

The same story plays out in the most recent remake film of the story, starring Johnny Depp. This suggests that chocolate is still seen as a luxury item within modern society and possible divides the haves with the have-nots, an issue that has popped a lot as of late in America and here in the UK. This I find quite extraordinary considering that the book was first published in 1964, the original film released in 1971 (starring Gene Wilder) and the remake in 2005.

The inequalities in society that chocolate could represent in fiction then led me to think about the Malory Towers series. I will grant that the books were set in a different time frame but the same themes and ideas are represented. When chocolate is mentioned in the stories, from the first book with Darrell to the last with Felicity, it is bought as a luxury item and by brand name, Cadbury’s. When a scholarship girl or a girl who is at the school thanks to a kindly uncle or other relative sees another buy some chocolate, they are described as staring or being surprised at the ease at which the chocolate is bought.

Specifically in regards to childhood, chocolate and sweets of any kind are talked about much more often in the earlier books of the Harry Potter series. There is an element of wealth involved as Harry buys practically everything off the trolley that the witch brings down the train. In the earlier books, before the stories become very dark, Harry, Ron and Hermione are very young, childlike. There is a certain innocence in the earlier books that’s lost as they grow older and things get darker, particularly after the third book. The third book is about family. Chocolate is also mentioned as a healing substance in Prisoner of Azkaban and I read Goblet of Fire as the story that effectively ends Harry’s childhood specifically.

Perhaps I am reading too much into things but in children’s literature at least, the possible symbolism of chocolate and what it says about our society seems staggering to me. It is especially so, to me at least, that the stories that have stood the test of time (and being remade for a modern audience) still carries the same message that permeates through our society. Have you any examples in other types of literature? Am I reading too much into it or do you think the same? Don’t be afraid to comment below.

Sly Cooper Movie?

The Sly Cooper game series is getting  a movie it seems. Slated for a 2016 release, the film is being developed by Rainmaker and Blockade Entertainment but other than that, very little is otherwise known about the film.

Have a look at the trailer here:

What do people think? What are your hopes for the film? Is there anything you would hate to happen in it? Comment below.