Carpet with cinematic reels

Blogmas 21: Five minute review – Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Today I finally saw Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them in my local cinema and thought I would give a brief, spoiler-free review consisting of however much I can type in 5 minutes. It’s 22:35 and I start now.

Fantastic Beasts captivated me for a large part of the film. The score is what comes to mind first – the film began with a motif from Harry Potter that caught my interest immediately. Not so much the interest of many of the rest of the cinema, which included a surprising number of children – I wouldn’t really have taken my child along to this until they are at least 10, if not 12 (the film is certified 12A, meaning that children from the age of 8 can attend with their parents, although I don’t believe this is greatly enforced). There’s a lot of adult themes (mainly death) in the film, and although it has some morals contained within it, there’s a lot of peril and bad decisions. The film was also a tad long – 130 minutes, meaning that the time sat in the screen is over 2 and a half hours if you sit through the adverts.

The protagonists were good – not as strong as Harry, Ron and Hermione but these are grown-ups we are dealing with. Eddie Redmayne surprised me by being a very good Newt Scamander, and the audience surrogate of Jacob, a No-Maj (Muggle) who gets caught up in magic, was really great to see. There was a degree of inferred knowledge involved but I caught on to the American magical customs quite quickly.

The ending was sad but right, and I am quite pleased with how the film turned out. There’s also plenty of lines for the sequels – I’d like to see the main four characters return certainly! I’ll give Rowling’s first film of her second film franchise 4 stars (out of 5!)

It is now 22:40. That was very hard – I benefit from being able to type fast! There’s so much more I could say, but I’ll leave it at that. I would recommend it and the cinematic experience is excellent.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Blogmas 10: Harry Potter and the Dilemma of the Spoilers

Back in June, I had the pleasure of attending the second preview of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the hotly anticipated eighth Harry Potter story by J. K. Rowling. At the time of writing, details of the story remain mostly under wraps, only known by those involved in the production and the lucky few thousand people who managed to acquire tickets to the previews. Free badges were even handed out at the end, emblazoned with #KeepTheSecrets as a final reminder for guests not to ruin the surprises of the show.

However, given that I had the unique opportunity to see the show so early in the run, I wanted to review it for The Orbital, but in a spoiler free manner to respect Rowling’s wishes. It was actually a very hard review to write because the play was so good and it is tempting to write praise of each scene in detail, but with time and care I got the review written and published on the website.

Now that the book of the script has been released, it’s a lot easier to talk about the plot of Cursed Child, and similarly with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (a film I still have not seen so no spoilers please!). However, the release of these script books brings up another issue – is the experience really the same between book and play/film? With the original Harry Potter series, the books came first, meaning that they should be read first in my opinion – I’d far rather imagine a world for myself before seeing someone else’s depiction on screen because if you know what it looks like before you lose some of the joy of reading. However, Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts were both written to complement the play and film respectively, and the former certainly cannot recreate what actually goes on within the theatrical experience.

Of course, tickets to the Cursed Child are few and far between, meaning that the book provides a way of hearing the story when there’s no way of seeing it on stage. But your imagination will always create an altered scenario to how a play or film shows events. For instance, my script was performed at the Unscene Festival last Monday: the director, Ellie Cozens, and cast staged it far better than I had imagined, with symbolism alongside the reality, but it did not look as I had initially envisaged. The impatience to devour Rowling’s work could be, in a way, robbing the spectator of their ability to see the story with fresh eyes, having already read the full text.

This is a dilemma too large and too petty to have been fully explored here – it’s a matter of personal opinion and if knowing the full details of Harry and Newt’s stories through page is what you want, then that’s fine. But I continue to maintain my stance that the stories are best explored in their original form, whether that be on screen or on the printed page.

Pasta at Caffe Gondola

Blogmas 8: Caffe Gondola – An unexpected find

Today I took an essay break and headed down to Egham with some of the other media board members (although it basically ended up as an Orbital social with an added Insanity board member). Nevertheless, it was a lovely evening which took an unexpected turn. We had hoped to go to Baja, a great Mexican place which is usually empty, but they couldn’t seat us for almost 2 hours so we headed elsewhere.

We ended up in Caffe Gondola, an Italian restaurant tucked away at the top of the High Street next to Oxfam. With the season of Christmas meals well underway I was not hopeful we’d find somewhere to sit, but the restaurant is HUGE and we got a table easily. Slightly pricey compared to the Italian restaurants I’m used to at home (Donatello’s/Pinocchios in Brighton did a basic pasta/pizza for under a fiver) but there was pretty standard food for under £10 and the portion sizes were sizeable – I also liked the idea of a starter size pasta for £2.50 less than the main course. I got a Fettuccine Carbonara and it completely filled me up plus it was very tasty.

I wouldn’t recommend this as a venue for groups larger than 6 if you want to be able to chat to each other – it’s quite a loud environment so you tend to only talk to the people immediately around you but the staff were lovely. I would definitely return, so I guess our unexpected evening turned out pretty well!

The Unscene Festival

Blogmas 4: The Unscene Festival

Two years ago I saw my first (and currently last) Unscene Festival at Royal Holloway, the Drama Society’s showcase of new short plays and poems. My spontaneous trip was something I really enjoyed and it inspired me to try and write my own short play for inclusion in the festival. This isn’t something I ever expected to actually happen, but tomorrow my own short drama will be performed on the Jane Holloway stage! It is set in a very unique location on campus and depicts a situation that many people can probably relate to (at least according to my friend Jess when she responded to my astonished/excited messages about its inclusion).

Come down to Jane Holloway Hall at 7pm to see ‘The Conversation’ and a host of other original theatre pieces plus an Improv performance by the Holloway Players! It costs just £1 and the Facebook event is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/664398803728447/.

Reblogged below is a review of the Unscene Festival staged in November 2014, particularly ‘On The Spectrum’. The featured image above is by Dana Hudson, RHSU Drama Society’s Publicity Officer.

After Scoliosis

On Monday evening I rather spontaneously went down to the Drama Society Unscene Festival. I say rather, it was actually VERY spontaneous because I literally agreed to go about 5 minutes before I left – my flatmate was going to support his girlfriend (who I actually vaguely know) and didn’t particularly want to go alone, ergo I agreed to accompany him, on the condition that I finished my dinner (which I did).

On walking into Jane Holloway Hall it was certainly remarkably different to how it looks every other time I’m in there for a lecture – fewer chairs and no tables for a start! We saw Katie (the girlfriend) as we came in and she automatically assumed bribery had been involved; however she was in fact incorrect and I was genuinely interested in seeing what the drama society had to offer, albeit not enough to have considered going alone…

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