Category: Opinion (Page 2 of 2)

Akira

12th April 2021

By Devin

While many debate whether Akira is a good film due to its bizarre plot, one thing cannot be contested: the cinematography, full of colour and expression, is beautiful. Despite the fact that the post-apocalyptic cyberpunk action film came out in 1988, it is a timeless film that was way ahead of its time. It was directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, written by Otomo and Izo Hashimoto and based upon Otomo’s epic 1982 manga of the same name. The film is all hand-drawn at 24 frames per second. The film, therefore, has incredible attention to detail. Whether you enjoy the plot or not, its colour and fluidity of movement are uncontestable. 

The film follows the story of a biker gang, with the two main characters Kaneda and Tetsuo, in dystopian 2019 Neo-Tokyo filled with corruption, riots, new religious movements and scientific military experiments. However, the film is only based on part of the manga, leaving those who have read the behemoth of a manga more satisfied at the ending of the film due to a fuller context of the plot.

The main problem with the film is not the fact that it was based on the manga but rather that it leaves full explanations and key moments to the manga while only bringing hints of those aspects to the film, leaving many viewers feeling puzzled. While some can analyse some coherent meaning behind the film and reflections into Japan before, after and during WWII, the plot breaks down due to insufficient explanations and characters that seem unnecessary. If you would like to watch around two hours of beautiful images, a coherent plot up until the 80-minute mark and the inspiration for Kanye West, the Matrix or Inception, or would just like to know what the fuss is all about, this is the film for you. Be careful, if you watch this and blink, you’ll miss hundreds of hours that the artists poured into those frames.

Ed Wood

11th April 2021

By Devin

“Ed Wood” is a 1994 film directed by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp. Despite incredible critical acclaim and developing a cult following, it tanked at the box office. However, that does not deny its genius. It tells the tale of Edward D Wood Jr, considered by some to be the worst director to ever live. Shooting off minimal budgets, stealing props, filming illegally, he created a large number of camp films. Films that are so bad, they are quite enjoyable. The film documents his creation of three films, his relationship with Bela Lugosi, the fading star of the original 1931 Dracula film and Ed Wood’s transvestite nature and the effect of that upon his romantic relationships.

There are many merits to this film. It is a very humorous and heartwarming film with beautiful black and white cinematography which add stylish additions to the aesthetics of the film. With an outstanding performance by Johnny Depp, this is a very well rounded film and a good investment of 2 hours.

Furthermore, I consider this film a gateway drug of some sort to Ed Wood’s own films, which would be inaccessible to most people who have the fortunate or unfortunate chance of stumbling across his films. The three Ed Wood films shown being shot are, “Glen or Glenda”, “Plan 9 from Outer Space” and “Bride of the Monster”. They are all free on YouTube and very fun watches due to the amateurish nature of Ed Wood’s film making. “Bride of the Monster” and “Plan 9 from Outer Space” are decent camp films with a generally coherent plot and are ironically enjoyable to watch. On the other hand, “Glen or Glenda” is an incoherent mess that made me think, “what the hell am I watching?”

Who is the beloved Baron Helmut Zemo?

7th April 2021

Warning: Spoilers

By Laird Gavriel

Baron Helmut Zemo, the new “Jimmy Woo” of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier series, is a character which for some reason not many know much about. Perhaps it was the distraction of Tom Holland and RDJ (there are others too) squaring off with Team Cap during Captain America: Civil War, but now the character is getting the recognition he deserves. Having masterminded the collapse of the Avengers, Zemo was held up in jail until Bucky orchestrated his escape pulling Zemo to the centre of our screens.

Zemo and I share one thing in common – two if you include the massive fanbase – and that is our aristocratic titles. Yes, I am a Laird. No, I am not Scottish. I also decline to admit that I spent £50 buying my title off of the internet. Zemo was born into an aristocratic family in Sokovia from which he inherited his title. Their death following the events of Age of Ultron – another Marvel movie people seem to forget – motivated his vengeance against the Avengers. His private jet and glorious collection of cars echoes his undeniable affluence though it is a shame that the Red Skull Car did not make an appearance.

At the start of the episode, Bucky asks Zemo what book he is reading. The answer? Machiavelli: author of The Prince and the father of manipulative and deceptive political ideology who popularised the idea of “the ends justify the means”. Zemo uses this to justify framing Bucky for the murder of King T’Chaka and the ensuing events of Civil War. Zemo is an expert on Hydra and the Super Soldier Programme, having destroyed the latter during Civil War, so his importance is recognised by Bucky. Who better to help fight Freedom Fighter Super Soldiers than a manipulative villain with a hatred for all things Avengers? 

Zemo is the former leader of Sokovian secret military elite unit EKO Scorpion. This military background is the source of his expert conniving and fighting skills. He acquired knowledge about Hydra from Vasily Karpov at the beginning of Civil War. Want anything done? Try robbery and torture. The acquisition of the Winter Soldier Book gave him control over Bucky, and after framing him for murder, Zemo gained access to the Winter Soldier by posing as psychiatrist Theo Broussard. After Zemo spoke the command words, Barnes broke out and gave Zemo information about the deaths of Howard and Maria Stark.

During the ensuing conflict over Bucky and the Sokovia Accords between the Avengers, Zemo travelled to Siberia to the base of the Winter Soldier Programme. He allowed a maid in Berlin to find the real Broussard’s corpse, allowing the Avengers to learn his identity and follow him to Siberia. Zemo killed the Super Soldiers in Siberia whilst waiting in a bunker for Iron Man, Cap and Bucky. Upon their arrival, protected by his bunker, Zemo revealed the dead soldiers and the video of Bucky killing Tony’s parents.

Zemo was then arrested by T’Challa before he could commit suicide and incarcerated. Everett Ross asked: “so, how does it feel? To spend all that time, all that effort and to see it fail so spectacularly?”. Zemo’s response: “Did it?”

This leaves us with a Zemo motivated by the destruction of the Super Solider and (maybe) willing to help Sam and Bucky. His dance moves bedazzled us all but are those enough? What is his new “ends” and how will he change the MCU? The book he reads is actually about the friendship between Machiavelli and Leonardo Da Vinci – is there a chance that Zemo has a hidden Da Vinci? Arnim Zola is a definite possibility given the insofar digital nature of The Powerbroker. Perhaps Zemo could orchestrate a Zola cameo. Zola’s obsession with the Super Soldier Serum and the perfect human form echoes Da Vinci definitely sets him up for an appearance in the series.

PS: If you want to buy yourself a title and be cool like me follow this link – https://www.highlandtitles.com

Oktoberfest

6th April 2021

By Otto

The Oktoberfest is the festival of the year for Germans and party enthusiasts across the world; a two-and-a-half week constant flow of music and traditional Bavarian pints to excite the party animals. 

This festival takes place in mid-September and finishes on the first Sunday of October. It is held in the famous German city and the Bavarian state capital of Munich where over 6 million people attend the festival each year. Not only is there the main event in Munich but most major cities will hold their own “Mini-Oktoberfest” like London where they comparatively attract a measly 5,000 people each year.

One of the most famous and significant parts of the festival is the beers. Choice of beer is definitely not taken lightly in the state capital of Bavaria. Due to this only six locally sourced beers are allowed to be served at the festival; these being Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten all of which must present their newly brewed beers a few weeks before the festival commences to increase the anticipation of the highlight of the year. Most of these breweries have been going for a long time – Augustiner for example has been brewing since the early 14th century. In 2019, 7.3 million litres of beer were poured out at the Oktoberfest which apparently was a poor year compared to the numbers of 2014: then a record 7.7 million litres were poured. And all of this beer is being consumed before 7pm, which is the traditional closing time in the evening – drinking starts at 11am most days. While beer is a crucial part of the Oktoberfest, it’s also becoming a luxury if price trends continue to develop the way they have in recent years. The prices for a Maß (a traditional 1 litre mug) have been going up, amounting to almost 12 euros per mug in 2019.

The original Oktoberfest was in celebration of the marriage of King Ludwig the first and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on 12th October 1810. The festival began as a horse racing event but later quickly developed into more of a festival, with beer quickly overtaking horses as the main attraction.

Another tradition of the Oktoberfest is the dress code. It is custom for the men to wear the classic Lederhosen, short leather breeches, and for women to wear a Dirndl, a Bavarian dress usually blue or green. These outfits will assure you blend into the crowd even if you are just a tourist visiting for the thrills of the Oktoberfest.

Elliot’s Songs of the Week

6th April 2021

By Elliot

Magpie – Lava La Rue

Up and coming Ladbroke Grove local Lava La Rue has released arguably her strongest single to date with ‘Magpie’. Lusciously layered soul samples dunk the listener into what can only be described as a dreamy psychedelic RnB experience. Lava’s vocals weave in and out of the contagiously likeable beat, with her rap verses flowing effortlessly. While, at face value, it would seem this song is devoted to past lovers, once examined, it is clear through lyrics such as – ‘hear the beat // London city set me free’ – Lava is celebrating the historical diversity of the city she has grown up in. Not a love song to a partner; instead a love song for her city. With heaps of self-confidence, Lava has once again shot herself into the limelight with this single especially in the UK scene and I look forward to hearing more from her. 

Sisyphus – Quadeca 

To say that Quadeca has come far from his days of dissing and collaborating with YouTubers would be an egregious understatement off the back of his recent single ‘Sisyphus’. The depth and grandiose nature of Quadeca’s production on this track is the first thing that took me by surprise. The combination of choral vocals, synth arpeggios and glitchy blemishes adds to the mountainous feeling throughout. Quadeca’s introspective and mature lyrics use the Greek myth of Sisyphus to explain how he only loves his significant other when he is working or ‘pushing the boulder’ so to speak. The song comes to end with a huge crescendo of jarring drums and distorted guitar something not too dissimilar to Deftones with its metal/hard rock influences. Quadeca has very clearly pulled out all the stops to produce something as gorgeous as ‘Sisyphus’ is and I cannot wait to hear more out of his camp. Whether you have not liked or listened to Quadeca in the past this track is a must-listen for anyone who enjoys good music. 

Born in Luton – Shame 

‘Born in Luton’ is a delightful new track by Shame a band hailing out of South London. Riding the wave of a fresh EU post-punk movement spearheaded by bands like Idles and Viagra Boys. With its screeching heavily distorted guitars from start to finish, the song almost diverges into noise rock at points. The song reaches its climax by the end where it seems to implode as Steen, Shame’s lead singer, with anguish, screams his vocals to outro the song. A really enjoyable listen and definitely worth a shot if you are enjoying the sort of post-punk revival that is happening currently. 

The 2021 Grammys

5th April 2021

By Shyam

The biggest night in music, the Grammys, were held on Monday 15th March. After what was a long and polarizing year, many fans (including myself) were looking forward to a night of celebration. A celebration of music, of people and the art they produce. However, as usual, they arrived amid a cloud of controversy.

The Recording Academy’s decision to snub multiple major artists once again brought up questions about their selection process. This year, however, was the most controversial. The Weeknd released his fourth studio album “After Hours“, which was received well by critics and fans alike for its immersive production, flawless songwriting and well-crafted tracklist. A notable highlight was the track “Blinding Lights” which peaked at number one in thirty-four countries and shattered record after record on its way to 2 billion streams (and counting). To state it in no uncertain terms, The Weeknd was the biggest personality in music this year. It’s easy to understand the backlash when the Grammys chose not to include him in any nominations while offering a weak and quite frankly insincere apology when confronted about it. Many artists over the years mentioned the “lack of transparency” in the voting process and have alleged that favouritism and prejudice play a role when deciding which artists get nominated. The Weeknd echoed these thoughts, calling out the “opaque election process” and stating he would no longer be submitting his work to the Grammys. The Grammys losing the support of (arguably) the biggest artist in the world right now, and numerous others is a pathetic reflection on how the industry as a whole treats artists and the work they produce.

However, it wasn’t all bad. Women made history at the 2021 Grammys with Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish winning Album and Song of the year respectively with “Folklore” and “Everything I Wanted”. Megan Thee Stallion also won Best New Artist (although I would have preferred Phoebe Bridgers for Punisher) and H.E.R picked up her 3rd Grammy for her powerful single “I Can’t Breathe” which came in light of the police brutality that plagued America across the year. A big step in the right direction. In a year characterized by hardship, political turmoil and the pandemic, creators used their platforms to speak on issues that resonated with people and they deserved to be recognized for their work. The under-representation in the Grammys is not only insensitive but irresponsible. We can only hope next year is better.

Sleep: Man’s Greatest Superpower

5th April 2021

By Nilesh

“Men who sleep 5 hours or less a night have significantly smaller testicles than men who sleep 7 hours or more a night.” Yep, that is what did it, the fact that made me snooze my alarm to get the recommended 7 hours a night. All jokes aside, sleep bequeaths many more prizes than not feeling drowsy and lethargic the next morning. For example, having bigger testicles, as aforementioned.

Ever had to pull an all-nighter in order to complete that history essay you had left until the last minute? Yup, me too. I gotta tell you, I could hardly concentrate in class the next day. I was spending every waking moment trying not to dose off. Content absorbed from the lessons: zilch. Matthew Walker (Professor of neuroscience and psychology) conducted an experiment with 2 groups of people. One group had 8 hours of sleep, whilst the other group pulled an all-nighter. The next day an MRI scan was undertaken by both groups, revealing that the group that pulled an all-nighter absorbed 40% less information than the group with 8 hours of sleep. This is a staggering deficit for only 1 night. Now imagine countless school days operating on minimal sleep. Borderline criminal. Moral of the story kids, if you want straight As you must put in the work. By work, I am referring to getting your nightly 8 hours, although revision may also play some role in exam performance. But that is not the title of the article though, is it?

We live in a world where vaccines are more sought over than pizza. Pizza, really? Nonetheless, the pandemic has shone a newfound light on improving our immune systems. Well, there is no better way to turbocharge your immune system than with sleep. 4 hours of sleep can reduce immune cell activity by 70%. That is mind-blowing. A concerning state of immune deficiency if you will. Neurologists are now finding a strong correlation between a lack of sleep, and the development of various cancers. The link between the 2 is so strong that the World Health Organisation has classed any form of night-time shift work as a probable carcinogen. Who knew that getting that extra hour of sleep could do such good for your health? 

Now you may be “quaking in your boots” at the thought of a lack of sleep doing so much harm to your wellbeing. You may be wondering how to improve the quality of your sleep. Well, your wish is my command. Step one is regularity. Establishing a sleeping pattern is essential. Simply waking up and going to bed at the same time is powerful. I know it may be tempting to slack on the weekends and watch that Netflix series you have been meaning to watch but did not manage to get round to over the week, but don’t. Secondly, ever found it damn near impossible to sleep on holiday when the temperature is up, needed to strip off all your layers to merely get in the zone. This is because your body needs to drop its core temperature by 2-3˚F to initiate sleep. Thus my second tip is to make sure your environment is cool enough to sleep in. 

I am going to round off with a quote from Matthew Walker, “Sleep is the greatest performance-enhancing drug that not enough athletes are abusing.”I would like to challenge everyone reading this to try and squeeze in an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Despite not seeming like a lot, the effects on your health will be game-changing.

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