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VENUE

Concrete’s fortnightly culture pullout

issue 262 | 06/12/2011

arts | talk walt disney | p.11 film/tv | suggest some christmas viewing | pp. 19-20

Photo by Laura Smith

music | review livewire unsigned | p. 6


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Wanted 6 Union Part Time Elected Officers (4 non-portfolio, Environment and Ethics) Contract period 1 year April 1012 - March 2013

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We are looking for 6 UEA students of any age or nationality who have the dedication, energy and enthusiasm to volunteer help us take the Union forward in very uncertain times. If you are interested in making real change for students UEA gaining a unique experience that will set you up for virtually any career – then this might be the role for you. You will receive training, be able to attend conferences and gain a variety of work-based skills, experiences and development opportunities.

Wanted Union Full Time Elected Officers

Successful candidates will be expected to:

Contract period 1 year July 1012-July 2013 Salary: 16k Hours of work: variable

Support a variety of activists and volunteers

We are looking for 4 UEA students of any age or nationality who have the drive, energy and enthusiasm to help us take the Union forward in very uncertain times. If you are interested in representing the interests of students to the university and wider community, and improving students day to day university experiences, as well as meeting new people, being challenged on a daily basis and gaining a unique experience that will set you up for virtually any career – then this might be the role for you.

Wanted 6 Union Part Time Elected Officers (International, Mature, Disabilities, LGBT,

(Academic, Communications, Community and Student Rights, Finance)

The Student’s Union is an £11mn turnover charity run by students for students. We employ 100 permanent staff and up to 500 student staff. With the decline in alcohol sales in the LCR and Pub, the introduction of £9k fees the future will be challenging. Our full time Officers will help shape the future direction of the Union. Alongside you salary you will receive full training and offered fantastic development opportunities. You will be expected to: Successful candidates will be expected to Lead Union Campaigns and Democracy Improve the day to day experience of students at UEA Represent Students at University Committee’s Be Trustee of the Union AND the University* Be a director of the Unions two limited companies Support and train a variety of activists and volunteers *Finance and Communications Officers

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UEASTUDENTELECTIONS.COM

Become a member of the Unions Student Officer Committee Implement Union policy agreed by Union Council Be a Trustee of the Union* Lead Union Campaigns and Democracy to improve the day to day experience of students at UEA *2 part time officers are elected by the Student Officer Committee to sit on the Unions trustee Board

Womens’, Ethnic Minorities)

Contract period 1 year April 1012 - March 2013 We are looking for 6 UEA students to represent our Equal opportunities groups on campus. If you have the dedication, energy and enthusiasm to volunteer help us take the Union forward in very uncertain times. If you are interested in making real change for your students peers at UEA and gaining a unique experience that will help you develop real skills – then this might be the role for you. Our equal opportunities officers represent the voices of their peers through campaigns, awareness, and bringing their own experiences to the Union If you are a students who self-define as Gay, Lesbian, bisexual or transsexual, a student with disabilities, from British ethnic minority, International, mature, or a woman and want to ensure that your peers a represented effectively to the Union and the University then we want to hear from you.You will receive training, be able to attend conferences and gain a variety of work-based skills, experiences and development opportunities. Successful candidates will be expected to; Become a member of the Unions Student Officer Committee Implement Union policy agreed by Union Council Leading Union campaigns based on the needs of their peers Support a variety of activists and volunteers

Wanted 4 NUS Delegates

Every year, the Union sends four elected NUS delegates to the National Union of Students’ National Conference. This year, it’s taking place in Sheffield from Tuesday 24 April to Thursday 26 April 2012. The role of an NUS delegate is to represent and vote in line with the policy of the Union of UEA Students. It’s a really good way to get involved with the national student movement, vote in the presidential and vice-presidential elections and represent the views of the Union on a national level. The Union of UEA Students is a registered charity England and Wales no 1139778


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www.concrete-online.co.uk

VENUE CONTENTS

ssue 262 | 06.12.2011 ditor-in-Chief | Chris King | concrete.editor@uea.ac.uk

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enue Editor | Alex Throssell | concrete.event.uea.ac.uk Muffgate was a laugh, wasn’t it? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then don’t worry. For everyone else who actually read the last issue of Venue and spotted the errors in Hannah’s Fashion article (I don’t know how you could really miss them), this is my chance to shout “Soz guys” from the balcony in Union House to all of you. Pages get lost, things don’t get proofread; it’s all part of the editorial experience on deadline day. We’ll live, I’m sure you will too. However... ... Intentionally ridiculous disclaimer: if any of you were particularly affected by the terrible content in the last issue, especially the shocking utterances of “vagine” and the like, please don’t hesitate to call Concrete’s free support hotline on 01603 593466. That aside, Christmas can fuck off. It’s barely December and people are going mental. Christmas trees in flat windows, tinsel appearing everywhere and some overly-twee woman ruining The Smith’s classic Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want on that John Lewis advert. It’s not cool. This issue of Venue is cool though. How about we celebrate that instead?

Alex Music | Editors | Alex Ross & Jordan Bright Music Contributors> Oliver Balaam, Jordan Bright, Christopher Ogden, Callum Pawlett-Howell. Wired | Editor | Josh Mott Wired Contributors> Josh Mott, Leo Hunt, TImothy Bates, Andrew Wilkins, Thomas Mott, Phillip Jones, Joe Fitzsimmons. Fashion | Editors | Hannah Britt & Milly Sampson Fashion Contributors> Hannah Britt, Jess Beech, Melissa Rushworth, Verity Snow. Arts | Editor | Emma Webb Arts Contributors> Emma Webb, Harriet MacDonald, Susanna Wood, Emily Pearse, Sarah Boughen, Rachael Lum

Film | Editors | James Burrough & Anna Eastick Film Contributors> A. J. Hodson, Callum Watson, Saul Holmes, Tim Bates, Eliot Fallows, Tom White, Leo Hunt, Matt Francis, Drew Nicol, Julia Sanderson, Kieran Rogers, Joseph Murphy, Beth Wyatt TV | Editor | Matt Tidby TV Contributors> Matt Mulcahy, Callum Smith, Ellissa Chilley, Beth Wyatt Competitions & Listings | Editor | Sam Tomkinson.

Photo by Laura Smith

Creative Writing | Editor | Ella Chappell Creative Writing Contributors> Matt Mulcahy, Abby Erwin, Katherine Duckney, Sarah-Joy Wickes, Ben Rogers, .


MUSIC

06.12.2011

concrete.music@uea.ac.uk

04

The Vaccines 30.11.11 UEA LCR

Hyperbolically held up by critics as the saviours of British guitar music, it’s easy to write off The Vaccines as little more than the overhyped indie band of the minute. This would be a tragic oversight however as, whilst they don’t revolutionise indie rock and roll, they do a far better job of it than any of their contemporaries. Proof of the chasmic divide between The Vaccines and similar bands came in the form of the evening’s support acts. Howler plodded out interchangeable indie tunes from the bottom of the bill as the sold out

LCR quickly reached capacity. Frankie & the Heartstrings stepped things up a notch, but unfortunately the only person who was really into their set was Frankie himself. Indeed before closing the set with their standout track Photograph, he raised his largest cheer of the night by remarking: “We’ll get out of your way as you’re only here to see one band.” It’s sad, but he’s right. Kicking off the set with If You Wanna and Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra), when The Vaccines band did finally hit the stage, they brought a volley of adrenaline with them. Just as tight

and punchy live as they are on the record, the formerly static crowd couldn’t stop moving and singing along. The band gets through songs just a quickly live as they do on the record too, knocking out hits for 15 minutes before even saying hello: that’s nearly half their album. As a result, it wasn’t the longest of sets, coming in at under an hour. A few non-album tracks helped stretch it out a bit, but none were just filler. The B-side We’re Happening was surprisingly well known and received and a pair of up tempo new tracks suggested

the second album is going to be more rock and roll than indie pop. Family Friend mellowed things out nicely towards the end of the set, showing off the band’s often overlooked penchant for dusky melancholy, and Nørgaard ended it with a bang. Overall it was a tough show to have too many gripes with but its length was a sore reminder that it’s going to take the all important second album to cement The Vaccines as a truly great live band. Oliver Balaam


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06.12.2011

Jordan Bright caught up with Freddie and Arni from The Vaccines before they played their show at UEA...

MUSIC

concrete.music@uea.ac.uk

The Vaccines Interview

together.

You’ve had to postpone gigs because of problems with Justin’s vocals. How is he now? What was the problem? Freddie: Yeah, he’s ok. Really it was just the fact that we’ve been touring so much. Vocal cords are really delicate anyway and I think with all the strain of the schedule we’ve had it shouldn’t have been a surprise that it happened.

You’ve mentioned a little about plans for your second album. Have you been working on new material? Freddie: Yeah, all the time. Actually, with postponing shows due to the issues with Justin we had a couple of months to work on things. Obviously we didn’t want to cancel gigs but we made use of it. At the moment we just have very little time. Well, we do have time now, just not time that we can use.

Albert Hammond produced your new single Tiger Blood, how did this happen? Arni: We got an email from him while we were in New York, it was completely out of the blue. At first we didn’t think there would be an opportunity, with his touring commitments and ours, but we both had time. We went over to his studio, driven by the most racist taxi driver in New York, and worked on the track

Are you looking to take a different direction? Freddie: Not actively. I think it’s just an organic progression. Arni: Obviously with the first album the whole thing was to keep things stripped down, back to basics. Freddie: We’re really proud of the first album, but at the same time we don’t want to just rerecord it. There will be a sense of continuity,

but there are other things we want to put into it. It seems hardcore and punk bands often start with an extremely basic sound and then move on, often because they’ve improved as musicians. Freddie: I don’t think we’ve improved much as musicians, we’re tighter, but there isn’t much time for practice. Arni: It does happen a lot, you do get people like Ian MacKaye who have very different, distinct sounds. Freddie: Yeah, if you look at The Clash, the way they changed in such a short space of time. For the Wetsuit video you asked fans to send in pictures. Now that your playing to much larger crowds is it important to maintain some kind of connection with fans, keep them involved? Freddie: Yeah, we’ve still got away without

paying them (laughs). Arni: It is important to us, you can’t talk to everyone anymore. Freddie: It just seemed like a good idea and it was much easier than shooting something. Is the design side of things something that interests you? Are you involved with videos, artwork, tshirts that kind of thing? Freddie: Definitely, we are very involved. All of it comes from us, we all approve what’s going out. The art that’s associated with music is a very important part of it. Are there any projects you’re keen to pursue, inside or outside of the Vaccines? Freddie: Of course. The only thing is that there is very little time to use. The Vaccines are always going to be the priority and it’s always going to be a case of putting all of our efforts into that first.


MUSIC

06.12.2011

concrete.music@uea.ac.uk

Livewire Unsigned

For anyone unaware, Livewire Unsigned is an annual competition run by UEA’s student radio station, Livewire 1350, that aims to promote local artists without a record label: the clue is very much in the name. Adopting a “battle of the bands” format, this year saw 5 bands fight it out in the Blue Bar: competing for the first place prize of two days recording at Future Studios and a music video produced by media students. Up first were Astral Void, the only band to be chosen by the public (gaining 74.9% of the vote to beat out The Promenade and Cassetto UK). As an alternative rock band, who cite Biffy Clyro and Foo Fighters as influences, Astral Void played a set that sums up their “back to basics” ethos of no-frills, yet high thrills. Tracks like Forever were simple, but maintained enough momentum to keep the audience interested, especially thanks to Chris Gedge’s extremely capable work on lead guitar. As Astral Void reached the tail-end of their allotted 20 minutes it was clear that while their setlist was lacking both variety and originality, it was underpinned

by a professionalism and showmanship worthy of praise. Next to take the floor were Port Isla. Essentially a folk-pop quartet, they naturally draw knee-jerk comparisons with Mumford & Sons: in reality they are more a potent blend of Fleet Foxes, The Shins and Belle & Sebastian. It was clear from the start that, as the closest thing to last year’s winners Inlay, Port Isla had a legitimate shot at victory. The bands setlist showcased their versatility and, as a significant contrast to Astral Void’s raucous opening, their emphasis on carefully crafted melodies added an extra dimension to the evening’s proceedings. The music of Port Isla was captivating, but essentially it did not translate well into a competition format: the band are probably best appreciated alone, rather than judged alongside others with strikingly different styles. The Reasons Why were placed in the middle of the bill. Formerly known as Alex Ross and the Reasons Why, the band underwent a recent name change after a rare lapse in the egomania of their lead singer

(Ed. Only because I’m amazing). Now fairly established in the local music scene, the three-piece are Alex Ross (guitar and vocals), Josh Bowker (bass) and Patrick Oddi (drums). Facing the additional challenge of a piercing fire alarm, The Reasons Why wasted no time in encouraging a crowd to join them down on the bar floor, providing a level of intimacy that had previously been missing between the bands and the audience. The band proceeded to knock out a tight, energetic set with consummate ease to place themselves at the forefront of the competition. Their material was direct and to the point and for the first time in the evening it was clear that it resonated with the audience. Kodeta (pictured) are in many ways the perfect act to follow on. A tense, energetic performance keeps the audience on their feet, but it’s songs like The Fight, creating a singalong though nobody had heard it before, that tip Kodeta over from being a good band into being a genuinely great rock trio. That generation of great British rock bands may have petered out (read Hell is

06

For Heroes, Reuben, Biffy) to be replaced by twee pop posers, but on this showing Kodeta have more than enough in the bank to put a stick of dynamite up the proverbial arse of this country’s music scene. The judges award them first place and it’s hard to dispute. Speaking of dynamite, Wild Front Tears are a bit of a shock. Conspicuously enigmatic through the internet before the event, their set struck the crowd like a very enjoyable slap round the chops. William Phillips’ vocal stylings will be compared favourably to Zac de la Rocha, and their cover of Bulls on Parade will only strengthen that, but Wild Front Tears are far more than a Rage tribute. Closing with a seven minute epic with guest female vocals won’t hurt that either. Their fan base agree too, earning them second place in the audience shoutoff. So, if you want that enjoyable slap round the chops, it’s worth checking out their wellearned headline slot at next year’s Hearing Aid concert. Jordan Bright


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06.12.2011

MUSIC

concrete.music@uea.ac.uk

The Darkness

Photo by Chloe Hashemi

24.11.11 UEA LCR

Yuck

23.11.11 Waterfront There lies an inherent struggle in constructing anything: an edifice may look graceful but it must hide enormous pressure in standing up. This was not a lesson lost on the Waterfront crowd when by the end of this concert Yuck and their support failed, adorably, to build

an on-stage human pyramid. Before this wry collapse, the band managed to put on an impressive show. Frontman Daniel Blumberg and his bandmates appeared oddly unresponsive as they opened with Holing Out, the singer’s head constantly slumped to one side as if feigning indifference to Max Bloom’s melodic effectspedal fuzz and Mariko Doi’s bass rumble. As Blumberg opened the ballad Suicide Policeman alone, one realised that their music does the emoting, with barbs of energy and honesty winking through lyrics which make listlessness sound incredibly accessible. “What’s up, y’all?” he quipped afterwards, downplaying the sentiment of this show;

the last of the tour for one support band. The band were at their most relaxed when chatting with the crowd, the comparable youth of their members explaining their self-consciousness as they sought to defend themselves behind humour. Yuck’s 90s indie sensibilities, so evident in Georgia’s bright tri-partite harmonies, the mellow Shook Down, the crunching dynamics of Operation and the screeching The Wall, give them a catchiness that is very hard to dislike. In a set entirely mined from their successful first album released earlier this year, Blumberg and co also played a few tracks added to the recent deluxe edition, the shoegaze-inflected The Base of a Dream is

The lights go down at the LCR and Thin Lizzy’s The Boys are Back in Town plays through the speakers, a more suitable song there is not, and The Darkness’ second Norwich gig of the year starts in emphatic fashion. They do not disappoint the sell out crowd from herein either, playing every song from 2003’s hit album Permission to Land and even breaking out the festive cheer early for the one audience member who calls out for their Christmas song. The Darkness certainly know how to put on a show, as the pyrotechnics nearly burn the eyebrows off the people at the front, ticker tape snow falls from the sky and looks of horror flash across the faces of the security as Justin Hawkins is carried through the crowd by them. After a five year hiatus the band and their songs are still as strong as ever. They focus primarily on their early work; only playing two songs from their second album and four new songs which still go down well. Perhaps the strangest song of the night is their cover of Radiohead’s Street Spirit (Fade Out) which enters into the territory of so wrong it’s right, as Justin’s falsetto vocals and 1970s classic rock sound reinvents, in the words of Thom Yorke “one of Radiohead’s saddest songs”. However, given thast tickets sold out in a few hours for their homecoming gig, the audience lacked the enthusiasm that you would expect. Apart from the opening of their hit single I Believe In A Thing Called Love, where the electricity was almost visible, they were relatively muted. That’s not to say that they weren’t enjoying themselves. This was still the best show that Norwich has seen for a long, long time and it reminds everyone why The Darkness were such a success and why they are so loved. Callum Pawlett-Howell

Empty hinting towards a moodier direction for Yuck’s next record. Rubber ended the concert, the dirge building in intensity around bending guitars and the almost detached drumming of afroed American Jonny Rogoff, Blumberg asking “Should I give in?”, before the song collapsed in glorious resignation, and the pyramid in light-hearted camaraderie. For a band whose songs explore the tribulations of trying to be cool, the bittersweet desire to be always well designed, Yuck themselves only continue to make that task look effortless. Christopher Ogden


WIRED

06.12.2011

2011 Game

concrete.wired@uea.ac.uk

of the

Year

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It is that time of the year again, when every gaming website and magazine under the sun announces their game of the year, however Venue’s game of the year is the only one voted for exclusively by students at UEA. The Wired team of writers has declared their nominations. They cover a wide spectrum, including games from the three major home platforms, as well as a multitude of different genres. What is interesting is the inclusion of two fantasy role playing games in the form of Dark Souls and Skyrim, both superb games in their own rights. The lack of any conventional first person shooters is notable, has the Call of Duty era come to an end? Some of the games that narrowly missed out on the top five are Uncharted 3, L.A Noire, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Infamous 2, all superb games but not quite good enough for the Wired team. Here are the nominations:

Dark Souls

Dark Souls is the anti-Skyrim, replacing Bethesda’s often aimless open world with a meticulously crafted web of linear, interlocking paths. It is the only game in which one can be fatally devoured by a treasure chest. Developed by giggling sadists whose idea of fun is to pit the player against a hostile world of instant-death falls, booby traps and ravenous monsters without

a single sliver of advice on where to go or how to survive, Dark Souls is the first time Wired needed an online walkthrough. This is one of few games which contains dungeons and dragons and where it seems that the artists actually bothered to research medieval armour and architecture. Dark Souls contains the most ingeniously grotesque boss monsters since Resident Evil 4, and a combat system so perfect one

honestly can’t compare it with any game in recent memory. Original multiplayer features seamlessly integrate with the single player game in a complex system of hint messages, lonely co-operation and hilarious institutionalised grieving. Dark Souls is by turns beautiful and terrifying, engaging and frustrating, inspired and deeply satisfying. Leo Hunt

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

In the midst of one of the worst years in Nintendo’s history, Hidemaro Fujibayashi and his designers have, quietly and without any development issues, commemorated The Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary, not just by producing the greatest Zelda game, but by producing the greatest Nintendo game. It is the game to show motion control sceptics just how plausible the promises made five years ago about transforming the game industry really are. It is a game to show Wii

Batman: Arkham City

The Dark Knight found revitalised success in the video game market in 2009 with the release of Arkham Asylum. Following its success, the developers RockSteady announced a sequel where players would once again take control of the Batman in an open world called Arkham City. In terms of a superhero adaptation, Arkham City is one of the best of all time. It retains all the controls and movements of the original

Asylum but sprinkles it with new gadgets, environments and enemies to produce a highly ambitious and entertaining video game experience. The roster of classic Batman villains was substantially beefed up this time around with the likes of the Joker, Two-Face, Penguin, Mr Freeze, and the Riddler all making their mark. The open world experience of Arkham City gives players the freedom to either progress with the epic storyline, or explore the large

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

It is hard to write a nomination for such a gargantuan game without using several pages, a bunch of screenshots and a pie chart, but we’ll give it a go. The game is the fifth Elder Scrolls instalment from Bethesda and is set in the snowy province of Skyrim, which is in the grips of civil war. Skyrim itself is absolutely huge, with countless unique dungeons, caves and

developers that a weak graphics chip does not mean weak graphics if your aesthetic design is strong enough. Each new character, gadget and location, from the dozens of floating islands above the clouds, to dungeons in the darkest depths of the surface world, is sharp enough to remind you that the designers know what they’re doing. This is the game Zelda fans have always been waiting for, without even knowing they were. Game of the year? This is the game of 25 years. Timothy Bates

island suburb to complete side missions, or find secret trophies scattered around by the Riddler. Arkham City raises the superhero bar to new heights and firmly places the caped crusader at the forefront of game releases this year. Not only does it appeal to the die-hard Batman fan, it’s a game anyone can immerse themselves in and is a worthy contender for game of the year. Andrew Wilkins

ruins to explore as well as nine major cities. The cities range from Whiterun, which has a striking resemblance to Edoras from Lord of the Rings, to Markarth, an epic city made of towering carved stone buildings, roaring waterfalls and crawling ivy. When it comes to gameplay Skyrim is great improvement on Oblivion. The player can now equip whatever he wants in either hand, whether that is a sword in your right and a

ball of fire in your left, or a lightning bolt in your right and a healing spell in your left. The possibilities are endless in this incredible game; you can turn werewolf or vampire, massacre a village or marry the barmaid, smith a steel great sword or join the Mages guild. Skyrim is easily the most immersive gaming experience out there and is a profound contender for game of the year. Thomas Mott

Wired’s winner is Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. With more votes than the other three nominees put together, one of the most anticipated RPGs of all time was actually able to live up to the hype, providing one of the most expansive and immersive gaming experiences in history. Overall 2011 has been a good year for games, with superb titles like Portal 2 and L.A Noire gracing the earlier months, an extensive drought of titles over the summer, and then a mad rush of outstanding games over the last quarter of the year. As shown by our nominationas, the gaming industry appears to be breaking away from the grip of first person genre which has existed for the past three or four years. As the current generation of consoles draws to a close we look forward to seeing a broadening in the genre and game mechanics spectrum. Next year is expected to bring the announcement of the next Sony and Microsoft consoles, the release of the Wii U, and the release of Grand Theft Auto 5? It certainly is a great time to be a gamer!


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06.12.2011

Appy Corner: Minecraft

Preview: Star Wars: The Old Republic

20th December 2011 will see the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic. The story is set about 3,500 years before the events of the films, and 300 years after the events of Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic. In the newest instalment, the Jedi have moved from Coruscant back to Tython in order to seek guidance from the Force; they are being held to blame for the victory of the Sith in the 28 year long Great Galactic Civil War. The Sith have regained control of Korriban and have rebuilt the Sith academy. A fragile peace is held between the Republic and the Sith but conflicts soon arise. Players will be able to choose from a variety of races including human, Twi’lek and Cyborg (depending on which faction they choose at the beginning; Sith Empire or Galactic Republic) and a diverse choice of classes. Republic players will be able to choose from Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler, and Trooper. Meanwhile, Empire players can choose between: Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter, and Imperial Agent. The usual light side/dark side dynamic has been tweaked to allow players from both factions to make their own moral decisions,

WIRED

concrete.wired@uea.ac.uk

so it is possible to be a Jedi Knight with full dark side alliance. Each player will receive their own star ship that differs in correspondence with their class. With these you will be able to explore lots of the well-known worlds from the franchise including: Coruscant, Tython, Korriban, Nar Shaddaa, Alderaan and Tatooine, as well as other lesser known worlds. After criticism that the previous two instalments lacked in multiplayer options, Bioware has made SW:TOR an MMORPG. This allows for multiplayer gaming, but interaction with non-playable characters has not been eradicated. You will be able to have companions who will aid you in combat, form bonds with the NPCs and, in true Bioware style, even romance them. The recent beta testing has held good reviews from those lucky enough to get a place, and has shown a move from other popular MMORPG World of Warcraft. Star Wars: The Old Republic is guaranteed to be more than just a highly promising game: it is one which could dominate the MMORPG market. Phillip Jones

There can be no doubt Minecraft is one of the biggest success stories in gaming in recent years. Released by indie developer Mojang, it has clocked over 4 million sales before even moving past the beta stage. Most surprising is the fact it has gained such popularity despite being a very unconventional game. There are no victory conditions in Minecraft and no “end game.” It is more like a creativity tool than a video game. The player is simply given the means to craft and shape the game world as they see fit using a variety of tools, and the rest is left to their imagination. The player can level mountains, build a house or construct a mine. The only limit is their level of dedication. This has led to some very interesting creations by particularly committed people, with videos of working CPUs, sprawling metropolises and even a 1:1 scale reconstruction of Middle Earth circling the internet. Recently released on the App Store, Minecraft Pocket Edition is essentially a cut down version of the PC release. Monsters and animals have been removed, as has the ability to craft objects such as swords and pickaxes, but the core principle of Minecraft remains. You have a vast expanse of land in front of you, a variety of building materials at your disposal, and the opportunity to let

your creativity run wild. This will all feel very accessible and familiar to veteran Minecraft players, but newcomers may be left wondering what they are supposed to be doing, or how to go about doing it. However, despite the lack of an introduction or tutorial the controls are extremely intuitive. Using the touch screen to place blocks and move the player through the on screen D-pad can be quickly mastered and functions without any major problems. The graphics are as basic and as blocky as the full release but retain a certain cute charm. Overall, Minecraft Pocket Edition is a great buy for Minecraft fans who want to craft on the move, and a brilliant supplement to the full game. Joe Fitzsimmons

Retro Column Special: Final Fantasy Bosses Phillip Jones counts down his top 10... 10. Seymour Starting the list off is Maester Seymour Guado, the seemingly unstoppable character from Final Fantasy X. The team must fight this boss four times and then once more in the sequel (Final Fantasy X-2), before he finally stays dead.

9. Edea

6. Beatrix

5. Jenova∙LIFE

4. Barthandelus

Fan favourite Beatrix is Queen Brahne’s general in Final Fantasy IX. The characters face her on multiple occasions and she wipes the floor with them every time. She earns her place on the list for being undefeated and because players eventually get to wield her character for a short time, seizing a rare opportunity to play as a truly fearsome warrior.

Jenova is an other worldly life form whose DNA is used to create super soldiers in Final Fantasy VII. Jenova∙LIFE is an important battle as it occurs directly after the death of one of the main characters. The fight is tough and fraught with emotion for a fallen comrade.

Battles with Barthandelus in Final Fantasy XIII are a daunting task. He is a fal’Cie and therefore has unimaginable power. He will put your team through their paces before you defeat him. You’ll face him on three occasions, and will most likely have to attempt the battles multiple times in order to win.

3. Ultimecia

Edea is the primary antagonist of the first half of Final Fantasy VIII. She is a powerful sorceress and seems intent on world domination. When the team face her, all they can do is hold their own until she ultimately totals them.

Ultimecia is the final villain of Final Fantasy VIII. She gains her place on the list because she travels through time so as to alter reality. The battle is hard as the team have to face her in three forms, each more difficult than the last.

8. ExDeath

2. Sepiroth

ExDeath is the final boss of Final Fantasy V. His obsession with “The Void” makes encounters with him fairly amusing; which is partly the reason he makes this list. Battling him is challenging but you’ll struggle to find him intimidating

Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII makes the list at number two because his first form is possibly one of the most challenging in the franchise. His second form, however, is somewhat laughable due to the ease with which players can beat him.

7. Kuja

1. Kefka

Kuja is the mysterious antagonist of Final Fantasy IX who travels from his own world to Gaia to reap souls. The characters do not battle him until late in the story and although he is not the most difficult boss, his back story makes him interesting.

Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI is arguably the most popular villain. Renowned for his one liners. He develops over the game into a formidable enemy, and earns his spot as number one as he achieves his ultimate goal and causes apocalypse and becomes god of magic.


ARTS

06.12.2011

concrete.arts@uea.ac.uk

Glyndebourne On Tour - Theatre Royal Don Pasquale Donizetti’s Italian opera Don Pasquale has arrived in Norwich on its Glyndebourne tour for the very first time. Under the direction of Mariame Clément, the comedy tells the story of Don Pasquale who has disinherited his nephew because he is in love with the flirtatious Norina. Her brother, the manipulative Dr Malatesta, casts revenge on the old bachelor and tricks him into marrying Norina, making her entitled to half of his fortune. As her materialistic nature is exposed, a series of comic events follow as Don Pasquale gets more and more bewildered by his demanding wife. This comedy, first premiered at the Theatre Italien in 1843, is not as remote from our world as it seems. The stereotypical characters are not unrecognisable: Norina is obsessed with spending money, Don Pasquale is an old man seeking a young, attractive wife, and Ernesto resembles a sulky teenager with a messy bedroom to match. Mariame Clément saw its modern potential, but claiming that “the loss of elegance would be too great” she decided to place the 19th Century opera in an 18th Century setting, cladding her characters out in magnificent traditional costumes. Not only did the actors have spectacular voices but they acted exceptionally well, making the plot easy to follow. The revolving set created an imaginative way of seeing all the action simultaneously and the chorus provided welcome commentary throughout. The chorus, who were originally cast as servants, were transformed by Clement into

glamorous socialites. Dressed in all white traditional costume, it was almost as if they were watching an opera within an opera. Jonathan Veira, who played Don Pasquale was particularly excellent; his theatrical portrayal of the old fool didn’t fail to translate the comedy that was intended. His

Harriet Macdonald

Dear Santa... Concrete Arts

has been very

good this year, so please can we have...*

Illusions Richard Bach

The Sense of an Ending Julian Barnes

The Marraige Plot Jeffrey Eugenides

A Humument Tom Philips

La Boheme What better way to warm your cockles on a chilly November evening than watching what must surely be one of the most passionate operas ever written? Puccini’s melodrama was first staged in 1896, but remains relevant today, as its themes of youth, love and death are truly universal. As part of the Glynebourne Opera Company’s 2011 tour, La Boheme came to Norwich’s Theatre Royal on 15 October. The irony of the majority of audience members being over 50 was not lost on this writer, but it is testament to the emotional majesty of Puccini’s music that the entirety of the audience was swept into the drama of La Boheme’s world from the first soaring notes of the first act. Featuring stand out performances from Atalla Ayan and Keri Alkema as Rodolpho and Mimi respectively, the cast were able to bring a contemporary feel to this century-old opera. Lukas Jakobski was particularly good as Colleine, looking truly the picture of student intellectualism with his overcoat, heavy boots and stringy hair. Natasha Jouhl made for a pouty, preening Musetta, bringing some comic relief to the serious themes of the opera.

fast-paced duet with Andrei Bondarenko, who played Dr Malatesta, impressively stood out and completely absorbed the audience. There is no denying that Don Pasquale is as funny now as it was in 1843.

10

The Commitments Some of the most majestic moments in the production were the ensemble pieces, including a surreal market scene where raucous school-children and frantic shopping mothers dissolve into a nightmarish, glamourous procession: firebreathers and circus performance heightening the contrast between the garish Christmas celebrations and the austerity of the students’ lives. The famous final scene was truly heartbreaking. Beginning with the character’s jubilation at scrounging enough money for some cocaine, which they joyfully snort off dirty tabletops (drugs forming an apt metaphor for the heightened mental state that is described in the libretto to allow the men to escape from their direst poverty) the scene ends with Mimi dying in Rodolpho’s arms, the worst of all comedowns. While university life may not be as extreme as the melodrama presented on Puccini’s stage (one does not need to ask the Medical Centre to be sure that death from consumption is pretty unlikely here), La Boheme offers some reflection on the act of being young. Susanna Wood

Roddy Doyle

The Damned United David Peace

The Tiger’s Wife Téa Obreht

England, England Julian Barnes

*you should read these too.


11

06.12.2011

Why it’s Greased Lightening! The classic cheesiness of Grease hand-jived its way into Norwich last week with its all-singing, all-dancing cast sending its audiences back to 1950s America to follow the love story of Sandy Dumbrowski and Danny Zuko. Everyone left with smiles on their faces as they found that Grease really is the word. The band’s bright pink jackets created characters that could be felt throughout the production, giving an extra sense of involvement and enjoyment from the start Any musical fan will know the

ARTS

concrete.arts@uea.ac.uk

Grease - Theatre Royal unforgettable numbers from this 1971 hit: Summer Nights, We Go Together and Shakin’ at the High School Hop, amongst many others which wowed audiences and captured the spirit of 1950s American youth. Although full of cheesiness, Grease fans will know that this is all part of the experience of the all-American musical. Fans seemed to love the catchphrase lines and celebrated songs that make Grease what it is: an entertaining and fun show. The choreography, by ex-Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips, entirely complemented the upbeat songs, reminiscent of those dance moves of the typical care-free all-American 1950s teenager. Although all the cast and creative team deserve full credit for the first-class performance, it is Richard Vincent who played the character of T-Bird member Doody who shone, with his excellent character interpretation and outstanding vocals. Other actors who deserve more recognition include Grease is the Word hopeful, Kate Somerset who played Rizzo, fellow hopeful Danny Bayne who played Danny and Jason Capewell who played radio DJ, Vince Fontaine. The box office draw, Rhydian Roberts of X Factor fame, played the heart-throb, Teen Angel. His vocals were effortless throughout his rendition of Beauty School Dropout, but putting this aside, his acting skills were

lacking, his interpretation of Teen Angel appearing overacted at times. Overall Grease is a fun and pleasantly cheesy musical in which the audience receives exactly what they wanted. Grease truly is a guilty pleasure. It is the show’s title and its memorable songs that draw the crowds; it does not need

This Week In Arts History ... 1901 If you have no idea who Walt Disney is, you are likely to have come from a different planet. Disney’s empire stretches from his canonical cartoon characters to awardwinning blockbusters and soundtracks to amusement parks all around the world. Who would have thought that December 5th 1901 had welcomed the cultural phenomenon of the world of animation? Born in Chicago, Illinois as Walter Elias Disney, the boy discovered his talent for art when the family moved to Marceline, Missouri, the town that became the model for Main Street, USA in his theme park. It was also here that he developed a love for animals, including a pet mouse that would someday become the muse for his greatest achievement. In 1917, he pursued art and photography in McKinley High School. Towards the end of the First World War, he worked as a commercial artist with cartoonist Ub Iwerks and later set up a studio in Hollywood with his brother. As a cultural paragon, he is an emblem of imagination and perseverance. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was the brainchild of Disney

and Iwerks but Universal Studios forced them to choose between lower pay or losing the rights to the franchise. Picking the latter, he replaced the character with the international icon we now know as Mickey Mouse. This led to the succession of Disney as a multimillion dollar enterprise. Incidentally, the company regained the rights to Oswald in 2006, 78 years after the contract disputes. Disney’s persistence is also reflected in his decision to create their first full-length animation, which was initially quipped “Disney’s folly” by the entertainment industry. In 1937, the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves began the Golden Age of Animation. Today this is followed by a string of feature films and songs that fall under the distinctive Disney genre. Even after his death in 1966, his vision continues to touch both children and adults alike. “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing,” says Walt Disney, “that it was all started by a mouse.” Rachael Lum

nor benefit from any other gimmicks such as TV personalities or X Factor runner-ups. Grease remains a favourite musical to this day, almost 30 years after its debut. A wop ba-ba lu-mop, a wop bam boom!

Emily Pearse & Sarah Boughen


FASHION The Hotlist Smokin’ Eating chocolate for breakfast Officially acceptable at Christmas.

Christmas jumpers Now is the only time of year you can wear a reindeer on your chest.

06.12.2011

The

Chokin’ Festive earrings Please stop dangling Santa from your ears. He has work to do.

on what to wear over the festive

Christmas Day

Boxing Day

This is usually the time to awkwardly bump into all the people from home you had blocked from your memory, and show them how well uni is treating you. Catching up with friends after a long time often ends up in a big night so dress accordingly. Dress flirtatiously: think leather trousers or shorts with floaty chiffon tops and boucle jackets to smarten the look. Or, if you’re feeling brave, go for a sequined mini with a white shirt or cute cropped jumper tucked into it. Statement bags are a must. Choose an oversized one in a clashing colour to brighten a monochrome look, or take the challenge and see just how much you can really fit into those teeny-weenie structured bags. Keep hair and makeup sexy but understated, maybe a high bun or loose waves with vampy deep red or pink lips and subtly shimmering highlighted cheeks.

If you can bear to get out of your festive onesie, a Christmas jumper is the next best thing. Alpine prints in festive colours, metallic knits and slogan jumpers are all over the high street right now. H&M, Topshop and Henry Holland at Debenhams all have a really good selection. Tuck these into miniskirts, or in order to fit in more dinner, wear them over leggings or stretchy body-con skirts and chunky tights. Patterned tights are also a really fun way to jazz up a jumper and skirt combo. Go for stars, spots, flowers or even stripes; comfortable but cute is the idea. If you’re venturing outdoors or having family over you can easily accessorise the look with a blouse collar poking out, or layering a pearl or fur collar over the top. This look will keep you warm but chic as you curl up with your box of Roses watching the Christmas specials.

Try to avoid wearing the offensive items that your relatives bought you to keep them sweet. Instead, go for something a little more dressy than Christmas day, but still capable of hiding a massive food baby. Boxing day tends to involve visiting family and many trips to the pub. Vintage floral midi-dresses look great with ankle boots and work well layered beneath block colour scarves and cardigans to keep you toasty. Alternatively, go for something which would usually count as party wear and dress it down. Think satin playsuits or embellished dresses with thick cable knit tights and pumps or boots. It’s also the perfect occasion to consider ponchos and large wraps, there are so many around with gorgeous Aztec prints in deep reds and creams. The loose fit will also hide a multitude of mince pie related sins.

DECEMBER

DECEMBER

DECEMBER

24 25 26 new

LBD: How

As we approach the party season, the question on every girl’s mind is always: “What am I going to wear?” As long as I can remember, and in fact dating all the way back to the 1920s with designs by Coco Chanel herself, the solution to this question has always been the LBD, the infamous little black dress. Short, simple, affordable and timeless, this dress is the essential wardrobe staple that all women swear by. However, as 21st century girls should we not be trying to shake it up and break the mould? Some might say that this is a rule that will never be broken, but dare I say it, I think there are other solutions to this problem: dresses that are equally as

Santa Claus

to rework a classic classic in length, cut and colour as the LBD. The goal is a dress that can be worn time and time again, won’t ever go out of fashion and can be both dressed up and dressed down. Therefore, the search is on for a dress that is almost unremarkable, but one that fits well and, more importantly, can be accessorized to create any look you so desire. So, how about... The LBD: the long black dress. Cinch it at the waist, accessorise with a statement necklace, put that hair into a chignon and just add heels for that dramatic, show-stopping outfit for a night out on the tiles before we all disappear home for crimbo. Alternatively,

For

those who are nice

Still a classic: the Mulberry Alexa: £795

Chelsea boots, a leather jacket and tousled bed-head hair equals laid-back cool for that Christmas shopping date with the girls. Or, if you’re not feeling the length... The LWD: the little white dress. Tanned bare legs and killer heels create an instant hit for that work party or, on the flip-side, knee-high socks, brogues and a denim jacket equals campus-ready, for that oh so long day of studying before the final deadlines. Whatever dress it may be, make it classic, make it timeless, and make your LBD more unique than just that little black dress. Melissa Rushworth

is coming to town

making a list and checking it twice.

Alexander McQueen classic skull scarf: £165 Ill-fitting Christmas presents Is it rude to take back that bra your aunty bought you which was two sizes too small...?

Christmas

12

Christmas Eve

He’s Slutty Santa outfits What are you going to do with them come Boxing Day...?

three days of

Jess Beech

The

Spell check After last issue’s “Muffgate” we have become obsessed.

concrete.fashion@uea.ac.uk

For

He’s

going to find out who is naughty

those who are naughty A sweater vest from the bargain bin at Quality Save: 50p

Kiss me? No thanks. Novelty tie from Poundland: £1

...

Concrete

loves

Christmas

Lifestyle’s Rianne Ison: loving Concrete, loving Christmas.


concrete.fashion@uea.ac.uk

FASHION

Photo by Laura Smith. Thanks go to The Assembly House for the use of their venue.

13

06.12.2011

Showering: Verity Snow

a harrowing experience in winter

discusses the art of “suction dressing” to combat the cold

8.30am. Tuesday morning. Outside temperature: 3 degrees. Indoor temperature: 3 degrees. Temperature of my nose: minus 3 degrees. I’m lying in my cocooned bedcovers considering the likelihood of attempting a shower. The shower is a place of constant fear: lovely getting in, absolutely abysmal getting out. The condensation literally drips down the inside of my bay windows, giving the effect that on this wonderfully sunny, crisp dry day that it’s raining ice inside. As booming buses drive by outside, the windows rattle, and shuddering drips fall on my face. I’ve decided it’s too cold for a shower. A morning like this I fear, for most of us, is the norm. We all know the joys of student accommodation, the single glazing, the landlord’s attempt at painting over damp

patches, as if that will really fix the problem. In the corners of my bathroom, those greenygrey patches of grime slyly creep out from underneath the plaster. You look at them, and think: surely something should be done … but instead you promptly ignore the problem, only guiltily reminded when I find myself rather depressingly hoovering up bits of wall. But once you’ve crawled out of your cocooned bed, and once you’re safely dressed (and by dressed I mean that kind of suction dressing, where you avoid all possible air vents by tucking your socks over your trousers, vest into trousers, that kind of thing) nothing feels like such an accomplishment. You’ve managed to smoothly and quickly move from the warm incubator of your bed into a new skin of clothes, without getting cold.

In this Christmas season, however, there are ways you can dress without looking like a walking duvet. Being practical and fashionable is one of the most satisfying looks you can achieve. I say this because there is nothing that provokes more bitchy remarks then those types that sacrifice their health in the name of fashion. Believe me I know, because I’m the one making the bitchy remarks. On nights out, those girls who shamelessly bare all, despite gale-force winds, lusty tramps, and the threat of pneumonia. You know who you are. It is important to realise it is possible to be both stylish and comfortable in the festive season. This is why I love Christmas fashion: it is both warm and extremely loveable. Even the most austere person is immediately softened by the flash of a festive tie, sock, or jumper.

The trick is to get it right. Don’t just buy that averagely designed grey jumper. Instead buy the averagely designed grey jumper with the Santa-fied penguin splodged on the front, and instantly you will have improved your look. Or with Christmas socks: don some tasteful snowflake-covered ones and you’ll feel instantly jollier. Or, if you’re super fashionable, one of those adorable novelty hats, the faux-furry cat/ mouse/bear ear ones. Honestly, nothing is cuter than the idea of a scalped rodent warming up your head. After all, it is the season of good will. My point is, generally speaking, I like dressing up for the cold outdoors. Because once you’re out of bed, you grab your big coat, crush on your bear hat, wrap your two metre long scarf five times round your neck, all you have to worry about is your nose.


CREATIVE WRITING

06.12.2011 concrete.creativewriting@uea.ac.uk

Flash Fiction!

14

Fireworks in Liverpool

Board With It All

Your eyes followed cracks in the ceiling as we lay there, you and me, in your bed. I waited. Waited for the sharp intake of breath, and the turning of your face towards mine. For the words to messily splutter from your lips like a sloppy death sentence. Such delicate lips.

It’s amazing how a tiny action can represent such importance. A reputation, a life’s work, a person’s passion, can hang in the balance of a tiny movement, just the gliding of a piece being pushed across a board. My life’s approach to the game had been like playing the game itself. Subtle and calm, yet always thinking several moves ahead. Making the right choices, the right decisions and the right moves. He had me. I knew he had me, and, more painfully, he knew it as well. He was staring at me across the board, the eyes trying to be calm and blank, but the traces of a smirk where in them. The pride and energy an athlete feels when he sees the finishing line. I had known how to play at two, that was Grandad’s work. Teaching me the different pieces and how they moved whilst I sat at his feet. I had missed studying because of it, going to competitions, or just hiding a book of techniques in my exercise book, so I wouldn’t have to listen to the teacher. Champion of the school club; the chairperson of the society, when I got to university. Working my way up the circuit, to this point. Apparently when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. That’s what this felt like. All that ambition; now there was just resignation. I couldn’t help the layout of the board – it had been a fair game, he had just played better. He was better. That’s all there was to it. What a horrible feeling, spending your whole life in first place, then being flung into second. I just pushed pawn at random. I didn’t care where it went, it didn’t matter anymore. Maybe, I thought, by some vain stroke of luck, I’ll have made the right move by accident, so random that neither of us had thought it through. It was possible, I suppose. His eyes darted down to the board, but the smirk remained. He moved his knight, and shrugged. “Checkmate.” Well, that was that then. Ben Rogers

And you know, I always thought of us as a child. A little bit of you and a little bit of me; a child who grows and makes mistakes and learns; a child who was bruised by those falling alarm clocks and scarred with paper cuts. He was abused, and learnt how to abuse. But he smiled. Yes, right up until the end.

As you looked at me then, somewhere in Liverpool people were gathering around a bonfire. They were laughing and clapping, and someone was lighting a fuse. Someone told them all to step back. They looked up and watched the colours splatter across a Liverpool sky in November; Gunshots. Gunshots. Sarah-Joy Wickes

Hasina: Fractured Discourse is basically what happens when five poets spend way too much time together! Since we all seemed to be performing at the same spoken word gigs in Norwich and knew each other from the Creative Writing Society it made sense to lump us all together under a group name. L.Eaves: As for what we are, that’s rather difficult to say; we’re still working that one through ourselves. I guess you could say that we’re a comedy group who use poetry as our medium. All our shows are based around poetry but at the end of the day our aim is to put on shows that make people laugh.

Fractured Discourse are the latest poetry collective to emerge from the concrete dungeons of the UEA! A quintet of stand-up poets whose work explores the finer points of modern life, modern death and pretty much anything else that takes their fancy. Venue caught up with them to find out a little more about this new group and their upcoming Christmas Extravaganza. First though let’s put a few names to the group, five to be precise, seeing as how Fractured Discourse is a quintet. Hasina Allen was once described as deceptively “filthy, but sweet”, sadly she is now described as neither, a part storyteller, part dictionary fanatic she splits her time between studies, poetry and helping to edit this very newspaper. Laurie Eaves’ chief activities include apologising, waking up and weeping profusely (usually in that order). His alter-ego, the performer L.Eaves spends its time writing performance poetry and wowing crowds with

incredible lyrical dexterity. Laurie denies all knowledge of L.Eaves’ proclivities. John Simpson Wedge is Norwich’s answer to Dr. Seuss. Exactly what that means he isn’t sure, but he likes the moniker so he’s sticking to it. When he’s not on stage he’s writing a PhD on why we should be nice to killer robots. Catherine Woodward is a Northern lass with a penchant for Pikachu poems and Ballads about Big Bird. Being a pocket-sized poet she finds it easy to spring out ninja-style and assault random passers-by with haikus. Chris Ogden completes the ‘Northern’ quota of Fractured Discourse, hailing from the delightful town of Salford. He is the group’s answer to Mr. Tumnus and can frequently be found stroking his neck-beard or acting shy. Anyway, on with the interview... What is Fractured Discourse?

How did the idea for Fractured Discourse come about? (and were you inspired by the success of other poetry collectives that have stemmed from UEA?) John: I’d performed a few gigs for Paul Knight in Norwich and when the Norwich Fringe Festival put out a call for acts he asked me if I was interested in doing a full 45 minute show. I figured that people would get pretty sick of me long before the end of the show so I asked L.Eaves and Hasina if they were interested in forming a group to put on shows. As for inspiration we’re all definitely inspired by our poetic forefathers so to speak, but that probably plays out more in our actual poetry. L.Eaves: Yeah, performing in Norwich meant we’d worked with poets like Tim Clare and John Osborne which is really inspiring. It was great to see that poetry was not only alive and well in Norwich, but that the Norwich crowd were taking things to a national level. It sort of gives you the feeling of, ‘if they can, we can too.’ What approach to you take to writing as an

ensemble? Chris: John sits down next to me and beats me until I’ve written something. L.Eaves: Seriously, he does. Catherine: As for the rest of us, we basically work out how the show is going to fit together then go off, write our own separate poems, bring them back to be critiqued and tweaked by the rest of the group and eventually we come up with a working show. We’ve seen fliers advertising your Christmas Extravaganza around the city, can you tell us a bit more about it? Chris: Well we’re going to be performing two shows, Sex, Death and Stuff which just has Laurie, John and Hasina in it, and our brand new Christmas show called A Very Fractured Christmas which bears an uncanny resemblance to A Christmas Carol, just with more poetry and jokes. Plus there’s support from the Creative Writing Society too. John: The whole thing will basically be a night of poetry and stand-up, taking place in Dragon Hall (across the river from the Odeon). It’s a new venue for us, and this is the first time they’ve hosted anything like it so we’re really excited. What’s next for Fractured Discourse? Catherine: Well that depends on how well the show goes! We’re definitely looking to do a Blind Date style show at Valentines next year, and we’d love to take it further afield. Who knows, maybe we’ll start with the Leicester Comedy Festival and end up at Latitude!


15

06.12.2011 concrete.creativewriting@uea.ac.uk

CREATIVE WRITING SPOTLIGHT

Writer’s Block

Holiday

He sat almost perfectly still, index fingers hovering over the keyboard. His hands trembled ever so slightly, his chest moved in and out as he breathed. An exasperated sigh escaped his lips, right before his head slumped forward and his hands fell to the side of the laptop. He had been sitting at the computer desk for approximately two and a half hours, thus far having typed only three words that were promptly deleted: ‘The’ and ‘A’ and ‘The’ again. His right hand shot upwards, seemingly of its own accord, and ran slowly through his greying hair. He sighed again, loudly, briefly warming the air in front of his haggard face. The chair screeched against the floor as it was pushed back. He stood, legs aching, and stretched his arms out satisfactorily. His editor would not be pleased, but quite frankly he didn’t care. He just didn’t feel like writing today. He looked over at his drinks cupboard, then at the bookcase, smiling widely. No, he didn’t feel like writing today. He was going to get pissed and read some Kafka.

“As you reached out,” she says, “your shirt ripped.” It’s my favourite shirt too, and damn her for noticing. The sleeve caught on a nail on the bar and nearly ripped clean off. It’s a hot day and I’ve lost the effort to argue. I pick up my drink, hand her hers; she didn’t offer to pay. When we sit down, I fish an ice cube out of her glass and slide it around the inside of my collar. “What the hell did you do that for?” I drop it back into the glass, part-melted. “Disgusting.” “Then buy yourself another. And one for me while you’re at it.” By the time she gets back I’ve taken the shirt right off and I know she’s about to tell me I’ll burn. “You’ll burn, you know.” “We’re in the shade.” She picks up her glass and cradles it protectively. I watch the sea as it hurts itself onto the shore over and over again; it must really hate itself. Her sunglasses perch mockingly on top of her head and I want to rip them off and throw them in. There’s a white boat a little ways out. The manager comes over and asks me to put my shirt back on. “But this is the fucking beach.” He shakes his head with his lips pressed closed and she smiles away from us, as if she’s spotted a friend she’s waiting for and she’s not actually with me. I shrug the shirt back on but don’t button it and the manager leaves. He’s sweating, there’s a dark damp patch between his shoulderblades. The boat swings closer to shore, smaller than it looked. It’s pulling something, one of those hanggliders, windsurfers, whatever you call them, a tiny man dangling from a brightly coloured sail. As I watch and she drains her glass, the sail lifts up in the air, the man soaring, so high it makes your stomach lurch.

Matt Mulcahy

Q&A with UEA writers.

Platform Poppies

Abby Erwin

I dropped my suitcases and turned around. You had been watching from the entrance, with tears in your eyes and a strangled ‘Goodbye’ on your lips. But you weren’t there anymore.

This week - Sarah-Joy Wickes

What are you studying?

I’m a first year BA Scriptwriting and Performance student.

What’s your favourite word?

I use the word ‘languid’ a lot. It was from when I first read ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ and the word just kept popping up every couple of pages. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked it up. It’s one of those lovely words that sounds so much like its meaning.

How do you defeat writer’s block?

I like to read little anecdotes on the internet. I often skim through postsecret.com in search of inspiration. Otherwise, if the block occurs half way through a project, usually doing a bit of research sparks my interest again.

What inspires you?

Lyrics. My best work is usually inspired by a song or album. Bob Dylan is good for this, but i also get a lot of inspiration from artists such as The Antlers, Modest Mouse and Neutral Milk Hotel.

Who are your favourite writers?

I love Louis de Bernières. He has a really strong narrative voice. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is my favourite book, mostly for the reason that you become so endeared to the characters - you feel like you know them to the point that you’re always rolling your eyes at the typical things that they do and say.

They were selling poppies on Platform Nine. A pound for a poppy, to remember the heroes of war. Those people who fell defending that which they loved. I bought two poppies, one for each of us. I will remember you.

Sarah-Joy Wickes

To Kindle or not to Kindle?

Poetry Corner

Sloe Berries - Katherine Duckney I smile at what I think is nature’s cunning as I probe for the hidden bead-sheen sloes which tumble, preciously heavy into the palm.

they are meant to be found by the birds. They will send out the seeds. They are not protected like you think they are. Now come down from there, Kate.

There is a fierce heart in these leaves, isn’t there? There is a snapping Motherbird which shuffles the eggs in close, and takes my fingers to pieces with her talons of twigs when I try taking what is hers. It exists everywhere; now I am utterly sure that there is such thing as a love so natural it needs no mind.

Why is my love for you so sad now in the sudden Autumn? Why do my own thorns shroud you like the forest that kept the world away from the beautiful sleeper? I know that with the coming of the hearth colours, with the wind that sends scarves ribboning you will leave home again. We are picking these berries for the brandy and gin, and I do not want you to take it away and drink it by yourself.

But a frown sits strangely between your eyes as you watch me. I sense your diagram-knowledge of the earth standing warily on the path as I climb, as I wildly make, as I force a warm heart into the mouth of everything. No, no, you say softly, once I am too high,

So when your back is turned I bend to pluck a night-blue berry, and with my face in the leaves so you cannot see I whisper all my sorries; I felt that little cling as I pulled your fruit away, mother. I know that we should not, but we do all the same.

Definitely ‘To Kindle’. I was given one for my 18th and it has been amazing. Sure, you don’t get that ‘used book smell’ but I’ve never called myself a prescriptivist about anything. The books are cheaper, it’s easy to read (no squinting into the spine for that last word!) and if you go travelling then you have plenty of choice without the extra baggage. I definitely recommend them.

Do you prefer handwriting or typing?

For everything but extended works of prose I write by hand. My handwriting’s terrible, but the advantage of writing by hand is that I can make notes and scribbles all over my latest piece so that when I come back to it I know what needs changing.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s inspired you? There have been situations where i really should have been concentrating to what was being said and getting more emotionally involved with what was going on around me, but in my head all I’ve been doing it imagining how i would write this particular moment as a scene in a book.

Read Sarah’s flash fiction in this issue!


FILM

06.12.2011

concrete.film@uea.ac.uk

Moneyball

Director: Bennett Miller Country: USA Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill

Starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, Moneyball tells the true story of Billy Beane, the manager of Oakland Athletics baseball team. Beane, after losing three key players to richer teams, enlists the help of Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) who has a new recruiting strategy based on game statistics as a means of assessing player value, as opposed to the usual biased selection of the team scouts. People expecting the usual sports underdog story will be surprised as Moneyball cleverly plays to these expectations and then subverts them. There are a lot of moments where the script is seemingly heading in one obvious direction and then takes an unprecedented route. The script cleverly utilises Beane’s policy of never watching his team play an official match. In turn this helps to distance the audience from the activities of the baseball field and the clichés of sports on film to focus more on the characters. This is not to say that the film in any way neglects the sport of baseball, there are tense scenes on field, but the main focus is elsewhere. Perhaps one criticism viewers might have is the film’s tendency to reduce players to numbers and monetary values but, again, the film tries to elude these problems by

giving us a few scenes where both Beane and Brand confront the problem of dismissing and transferring players from a manager’s perspective. Pitt, as usual, exceeds in the role of Beane and, likewise, Hill gives a strong performance in a role that is surprisingly different from his previous roster of films. A special mention should go to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s phenomenally uncanny performance as the Oakland Athletics coach.

Sorkin’s script, creating a sports film that fully encompasses the trials and tribulations of an entire sports organisation. In this reviewer’s opinion, Moneyball is a genuine sporting film, giving a detailed overview of not only what happens on-field, but what occurs behind the scenes, particularly in the manager’s office. Fans of The Damned United will enjoy this as it treads familiar territory, only from an American perspective. A. J. Hodson

50/50

Hugo 3D

Martin Scorsese’s first foray into both 3D and the family picture is, at its heart, a film about the history of film-making. In this adaptation, Scorsese manages to capture the advent of film as a medium whilst simultaneously pushing the boundaries of contemporary film technology. His use of 3D is seamless and it stands as a testament to what it can achieve when it is used properly. Hugo depicts the story of a boy (Asa Butterfield) living in a railway station in picturesque 1930s Paris. With the help of Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), he unravels the mystery behind his late father’s automaton, embarking on an adventure to uncover a story about one of films great pioneers.

It is true to say that it is more of a character study but this doesn’t make it any less of a baseball film. Instead, Moneyball successfully manages to diagnose the problems between various levels of a sports organisation, from manager, to coach, to the individual team players, delving into the psychology of such an organisation, which is something Venue hasn’t seen before in a sports movie. The focus is on the tensions between each of these levels off-field, in which lies the brilliance of Aaron

16

While the large sets are stunning and magical, and the slick camerawork breathtaking, the film is still dependent on its young actors. They do not disappoint, Butterfield carrying the story and Moretz, impressive with an impeccable English accent. Sacha Baron Cohen, as the station guard, is at his comic best and a whole plethora of colourful secondary characters are introduced, with particular mention going to Christopher Lee who is warmly received as a not-so-sinister bookseller. If there is to be any criticism it is that the early stages of the film are quite slow, and the latter stages may be lost on young children. Callum Watson

Among topics which any film maker would find difficult to tackle, cancer has to be pretty high on the list. It is a surprise then, that 50/50 does so with apparent ease. It comes as an even greater surprise that a large amount of comedy is tastefully integrated into the film. Director Jonathan Levine’s style seems unassuming, however, this simply allows both the script and the acting (both of which are generally excellent) to speak for themselves. Adam (brilliantly portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is just an ordinary guy stuck in an awful situation, struggling to deal with the isolation which his illness imposes on him. Similarly, Anna

Kendrick impresses as bumbling young doctor Katie, contributing to both the comedy and drama of the film with a very natural performance. Only Seth Rogen fails to impress in terms of acting. He fills his typical jester role well, buts fails to do anything original or really contribute to the story. Other than this, the only real weak point of the film is the slightly clichéd ending. Despite these issues, 50/50 remains an effective and tasteful film which gives a heartfelt, and surprisingly original, perspective on the struggle against cancer. Saul Holmes


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06.12.2011

My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn is nothing less than what you would expect from a BBC film charting Marilyn Monroe as she ventures to England. Based on the diary of Colin Clark, the film follows Marilyn Monroe’s troubled visit to England to star in Laurence Olivier’s The Prince and the Showgirl. Monroe and third assistant director, Clark, soon develop a surprising and endearing relationship that is, as the title suggests, also rather fleeting. British countryside location and a large British cast managed to take a dark story and keep it relatively cheery. The aces in the deck of British acting

talent are Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh. Taking on the impossible task of Monroe is Michelle Williams, one of the few Americans in the film. Williams captures Marilyn’s greatness, and her flaws, perfectly and pulls off a great portrayal. My Week With Marilyn is a charming and entertaining watch, particularly if you’re interested in Monroe’s life. However, sometimes the film seems out of its depth and feels too British to closely depict the stardom of Marilyn Monroe. You’d expect more glamour and more excitement, but instead it feels a little flat and slightly forgettable. Matt Francis

The Big Year

In The Big Year, Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson star as three intrepid ‘birders’ (that’s people obsessed with birdwatching for anyone who doesn’t know, which is probably just about everyone), competing to spot the highest number of birds in twelve months, thus winning the titular Big Year. And that’s about all that happens. The Big Year seems unsure of itself, its genre, and its audience, which taints the whole film with the kind of blandness that occurs when a film tries to appeal to everyone and ultimately no one. Being based around such an obscure premise does nothing to improve its universality. Non-

FILM

concrete.film@uea.ac.uk

The Deep Blue Sea

This film is exactly the sort of thing you would be asked to study in an A Level literature lesson. The story follows the events of a unhappily married woman who tries to find love in the arms of a charming RAF pilot who never really let the war go. Director Terrance Davies has gone to lengths to make sure every word of every line of dialogue carries intense meaning and there are no throwaway lines. However, this results in very unrealistic interactions where characters overdramatise every line and action, seemingly aware they are being watched.

The tone and atmosphere is set through the mournful violin music and subtle emphasis on sound over visual. This ranges from the graphic sound of the wife (Rachel Weisz) vomiting following a suicide attempt, to the constant sound of a nearby playground to remind us endlessly she sadly remains childless. This film smacks of a director who lost his nerve halfway through. Themes hinted at in the beginning are stated outright in the third act. By the end we are being heavily hit over the head with them, and it’s painful! Drew Nicol

Dream House

bird lovers will find the characters’ blind devotion to winning The Big Year hard to relate to. Furthermore, the key leads are all playing characters they have played before. Jack Black is still the likeable but unlucky misfit, Steve Martin is still the harassed but well-meaning family man, and Owen Wilson’s nose still steals the show with its distracting crookedness. Overall, the film just felt like it was lacking something. It wasn’t funny enough, moving enough, appealing enough, or inspiring enough to make any lasting impression. Julia Sanderson

Like dreams often are, Jim Sheridan’s Dream House is ludicrous, unfathomable, and convoluted. Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton, a man who relocates with his family to an idyllic suburban home. Here he learns about several murders that once took place and begins a search for the truth. Preposterously, Dream House’s trailer foretold everything that occurs in the first half of the film, eradicating any drama, or any point in watching the story unfold. For those that haven’t had this blissful foresight, the numerous twists are still painstakingly predictable. The film illuminates a concept that may have proven interesting but for

terrible execution, as the narrative descends awkwardly into a blend between the real and fantastical. If anything, it seems intent on frustrating the viewer, a point only accentuated by its ambiguous conclusion. Dream House longs to be a genre piece (there are clear horror archetypes on display), yet there are elements that could identify it as a love story, character study, or ghost tale, meaning it’s an unspecific and unsuccessful farce. Its only redeeming feature is a talented cast (that includes Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts) who, try as they might, could never have saved this film. Kieran Rogers


FILM

06.12.2011

The Popcorn Chart Top 5 Movies Never Made

Films

Napoleon (Stanley Kubrick)

Fresh from the success of 2001, Stanley Kubrick began work on his dream project: a historical epic detailing the the life of Napoleon Bonaparte that he claimed would be “the best movie ever made”. Kubrick went to extraordinary lengths to meticulously research and plan the film, and he had decided that David Hemmings should play the Emperor. Although its cancellation was officially due to high costs, its not entirely clear why it was never realised. Kubrick expressed his wish to finish it right up until his death, but its possible that his vision was simply too much, even for him.

Dune (Alejandro Jodorowsky)

In 1976, Frank Herbert travelled to Europe to find out how cult legend Alejandro Jodorowsky’s adaptation of his epic space opera was shaping up. When he got there, most of the budget had been blown on preproduction. Salvador Dali had been cast at an astronomical fee, Orson Welles had agreed to star but was making extravagant and incredibly specific demands, Pink Floyd had been commissioned to provide the soundtrack, H.R. Giger was busy sketching designs and Jodorowsky’s still unfinished script would have resulted in a 14 hour movie. Fearing an incoherent mess, the panicked studio decided to pull the plug.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (Terry Gilliam)

This entire list could be full of films that Terry Gilliam never finished, but his time travelling tale of a modern businessman and the 17th Century Spanish hero was his most ambitious and disastrous project. After struggling for years creating a screenplay and finding backing, he started work in 2000 with Johnny

Depp and Jean Rochfort as the leads. Within a month, production had been wrecked by floods, Rochfort was too ill to continue and the project collapsed. Gilliam is still determined to complete the film, and he’s proved before that he will face impossible odds to get his way.

Leningrad: The 900 Days (Sergio Leone)

Sergio Leone’s follow up to his sprawling crime epic Once Upon A Time In America was due to be an account of the gruelling, 900 day siege of Leningrad during the Second World War. Leone intended to cast Robert De Niro as an American photographer trapped in the city, who documents the entire siege and falls in love with a Russian woman, only to be killed on the same day as the German surrender. Sadly however, Leone died unexpectedly just two days before he was due to officially sign on for what could have turned out to be his masterpiece.

concrete.film@uea.ac.uk

18

Preview

to look forward to this winter

For those of us with a particular distaste for the frosty weather winter brings, the cinema (unless one of those which is permanently cold) becomes a welcome refuge. It’s not the most festive place to spend your time but, nonetheless, December’s pick of films promise to see out 2011 in style. Hot on the heels of the Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s ever-popular Millennium trilogy comes Hollywood’s take on the first novel in the series. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo mark two is set in Sweden, but director David Fincher chose our very own Daniel Craig to play journalist Mikael Blomkvist, and The Social Network’s Rooney Mara for the role of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. The two characters become embroiled in the mystery of a girl who disappeared 40 years previously. The trailer looks promising, but the adaptation does pose the question of whether it is necessary for Hollywood to remake foreign films. This debate also cropped up recently when Hollywood repackaged Sweden’s Let the Right One In as Let Me In. Niels Arden Oplev, director of the original Dragon Tattoo, certainly seems to think so, with his argument that Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth Salander will never be beaten. Another highly anticipated release is Guy Ritchie’s second film featuring the masterful Sherlock Holmes and his loyal companion Watson. In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the inner workings of the mysterious Professor Moriarty are hopefully to be revealed, as Holmes once more battles against his adversary’s equally sharp mind. The

trailer indicates that Jared Harris, son of the late Richard, will be a more austere Moriarty, compared to Andrew Scott’s wonderfully psychotic version in the BBC’s modern adaptation, but that makes sense seeing as Ritchie’s production is set in Holmes’s usual home of Victorian London. A Game of Shadows also stars the aforementioned Noomi Rapace in her first English-speaking film, and Rachel McAdams returns as Irene Adler, one of the few people to outwit Holmes. Once again Robert Downey Jr. has made a fool of himself for our entertainment. In the first film we saw him handcuffed to a bed naked (aside from a well-positioned cushion), and in the trailer for A Games of Shadows he has disguised himself as a frightful-looking woman. One character who will probably never be caught in such a bizarre situation is Tom Cruise’s action man Ethan Hunt, soon to be back on screens in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Hunt probably shouldn’t have returned to the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) as he and his team find themselves outcasts when the Kremlin is bombed. The US government formally shuts down the force, but allows its members to escape first. Hunt and his colleagues embark on a challenge to clear their names, knowing that if caught they face being charged with responsibility for the attack. With Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames also reprising their roles, Ghost Protocol looks set to entertain fans of the franchise once more, completing the hat-trick of Christmas’s must-see films. Beth Wyatt

Inferno (Henri-Georges Clouzot)

Annoyed by the arrogance of the French New Wave directors of the 60s, HenriGeorges Clouzot decided that he would put them in their place by outdoing them all. He began work on his own kaleidoscopic masterpiece, an ambitious tale of jealousy using state of the art aural and visual technology and narrative tricks conveying states of mind. An unexpected heart attack meant that Clouzot abandoned the project three weeks into filming, but its reputation as a lost classic was secured. To make things slightly better, the remaining footage was used for the fascinating recent documentary Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno. Joseph Murphy

Visit our website over the Christmas break for the latest film news and reviews


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06.12.2011

Venue

FILM

concrete.film@uea.ac.uk

Christmas Classics recommends

4

films to watch over the

Christmas

break

The Santa Clause (1994) The Santa Clause doesn’t get off to the most typical Christmas family movie start; Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), a disgruntled, divorced advertising executive, accidently kills Santa Claus. Before the kids in the audience have time to well up, though, Calvin and his young son are whisked away to the Christmas base of operations in the North Pole, and informed of the back-up plan, known as the ‘Santa Clause’. This is activated in the case of ‘The Big Guy’s’ death; whoever puts on the legendary red suit has nine months to get his affairs in order, then literally transforms into Father Christmas. As Calvin had already accidently put on the clothes, it’s a contract he can’t back out of, no matter how hard he tries to resist.

A lot of family movies have tried to recapture the magic of this movie by making the same ‘mean-spirited’ businessman character the emotional heart of the holiday. Literally, the film gets to have its cake and eat it too. Tim Allen dives into the role with aplomb, as a normal man trying to get on with his life, even as the fluffy white beard he’s just shaved off grows back beneath his fingers. It’s a film without any ‘bad people’ in it; there’s nothing there to harsh the Xmas buzz. It helps that this is easily the best Tim Allen film not to star an astronaut action figure. Tim Bates

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Despite being one of those films which is nearly ruined by a small subsection of its fanbase (in this case goth kids who would probably buy Jack Skellington toasters if they were commercially available), The Nightmare Before Christmas has, for this reviewer, stood the test of time to become the ‘classic’ christmas film. In case you’ve never seen it, Nightmare is an animated musical film, centering on Jack Skellington, the ‘pumpkin king’ of Halloween Town. Growing tired of scaring children, Jack stumbles into Christmas Town and is entranced by the snow and joyful atmosphere. Jack decides that his Halloween cohorts will take over the production of

Christmas, with hilariously macabre results. Although the concept is interesting on its own, for this reviewer Nightmare is one of those things you have to see in motion. Animator Paul Berry (whose short The Sandman is a truly scary must see) brings his delightfully warped vision of Halloween Town and its residents to life. Nightmare’s art style has often been imitated, but for sheer charm it has yet to be bested. Throw in an adorable ghost dog and a menacing jazz singer boogeyman, and you have yourself a dark little gem of a Christmas musical.

Leo Hunt

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

The Muppets have always had the ability to bring a poignant twist to even the craziest story, and there’s no better example of this than the 1992 classic retelling of Dickens’ most famous tale. Paul Williams’ musical pieces work surprisingly well with the haunting mood and sometimes heartbreaking scenes (especially regarding the fate of Tiny Tim and the loss of Scrooge’s one true love, Belle). The Muppets themselves are cast perfectly with the grouchy Statler and Waldorf leaving their residence in the balcony to become the gruesome “Marley and Marley” and Gonzo the Great playing Dickens himself, narrating the story almost verbatim from the original novella. Even Michael Caine’s turn as the miser Scrooge hits all of the right notes, moving from an

My favourite Christmas film is undoubtedly Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, as to me it truly sums up the joyousness associated with the festive period. Made in 1946, it is considered one of Capra’s finest achievements. This reviewer has watched this film almost every Christmas and never found it boring. Whilst some find it a cheesy family film, to others it will always be associated with the excitement and joy of Christmas. The plot focuses on the life of George Bailey in the run up to Christmas as he struggles with thoughts of suicide. However, after meeting his guardian angel, Clarence, who shows him what life would be like if he had never lived, George is reminded why life is worth living. The film

angry, lonely figure and transforming over 90 minutes into a lovable man with some rather smashing singing chops. The area that the film really excels in, however, is its ability to deliver the heart of the original story. The meaning of A Christmas Carol is that family, friends and goodwill are fundamental elements of the festive period but these things aren’t limited to the winter months; indeed, Scrooge discovers (through song) that “wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas”. It’s only through watching and re-watching that you can notice all of the nuances and in-jokes, but you only have to see this film once to fall in love with it. Eliot Fallows

is quintessentially festive. George is a family man struggling to make ends meet, but the film shows us that money is not everything and that the true spirit of Christmas will always prevail. It is a well acted, touching film and most importantly of all, it has a happy ending that would make even Scrooge’s heart warm. A true Christmas classic. Tom White


TELEVISION

06.12.2011

concrete.tv@uea.ac.uk

STEP INTO CHRISTMAS

20

DON YOUR SINISTER POLYESTER SANTA BEARDS AND FOLLOW VENUE INTO THE EXCITING WORLD OF FESTIVE TV!

QI

Doctor Who

BBC2, 10pm, Wednesday 28th December

BBC1, Christmas Day, 7pm

Since first airing on BBC Four in 2003, QI has been the thinking person’s panel show. With an emphasis on giving “quite interesting’”answers before correct ones, and contestants being penalised for providing answers which are not only wrong, but pathetically obvious by quizmaster and national treasure Stephen Fry, QI is British broadcasting at its finest. The current “I” series has been one of the best to date, with the introduction of one question per episode to which nobody knows the true answer and an increasingly broader array of comic talent on the panel, including brilliant guest appearances from the likes of Professor Brian Cox and Ben Goldacre. The Christmas special, to be entitled “Icy,” will feature the talents of the ever-present Alan Davies, stand up legends Sean Lock and

Science fiction is not the genre of television you’d most readily associate with Christmas, but it’s hard to remember a time when Doctor Who wasn’t the most touted show of the BBC’s Christmas schedule. Its cross-generational appeal and slightly more upbeat tone than certain other shows’ Christmas specials have seen previous festive outings draw staggering audiences of as many as 13.3 million viewers. This year’s Christmas Special, entitled The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe is, pretty obviously, inspired by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Previews suggest it will be as dark and complicated as the series that preceded it, but with a guest cast from mostly comedy backgrounds including Claire Skinner, Alexander Armstrong and Bill Bailey. There

The Bleak Old Shop

of

Ross Noble, and the first appearance of stage and screen legend Brian Blessed. Davies and Lock have never failed to deliver in the past, providing a slew of witty anecdotes and deliberately stupid answers, whilst Noble has gained a reputation for taking over the programme with his hilariously surrealist rants. The only unknown entity here is Blessed, but if his appearances on other similarlyformatted shows are anything to go by (check out his brilliant turn hosting Have I Got News For You), he promises to be both hilariously loud and uproariously inappropriate. Fingers crossed that QI stays on our screens until it finishes the alphabet; then every Christmas will be worth waiting for. Matt Mulcahy

Stuff

Callum Smith

Alan Carr: Chatty Man

BBC2, Monday 19th December, 8.30pm

C4, Christmas Day, 9pm

Victorian London and comedy: two things that no Christmas television schedule is complete without, but this year the BBC are treating us to a two-in-one deal. The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff is a new comedy that combines the two and promises a plethora of stars while they’re at it. Furthermore, with the bicentenary year of Charles Dickens’ birth incoming, it is perhaps more essential than ever for the nation to get its Dickens fix this Christmas. Devised from creator Mark Evans’ Radio 4 series Bleak Expectations, the four part series kicks off with a festive hour long special of “ridiculous Victorian adventuring”. Despite the award-winning reputation of the radio series, the television version will follow the hilarious drama and misfortune of a whole new set of characters. The impressive cast is led by Robert Webb in the role of Mr Jedrington Secret-Past, a successful shop owner who is thrown into prison in the first episode by Malifax Skulkingworm, an evil lawyer played by Stephen Fry, until they can pay off a mysterious debt. Alongside Fry, the Christmas episode will feature appearances from Pauline McLynn (Father Ted), Johnny Vegas and Webb’s comedy partner David

As another year draws to a close, the inevitable Christmas mania has once again foisted itself upon the nation. But forget that John Lewis ad with the cute little boy, all you need this festive season is a big dose of Alan Carr’s Chatty Man. Expect the usual hilarity, as Alan offers his guests dubious-looking drinks and asks cheeky questions no other interviewer would dare to. His light-hearted approach has gained him a wide audience and celebrities are queueing up to spend their televisual Christmases with him. There are no Americans in this episode, thankfully, as a few previous transatlantic visitors have been taken aback by Carr’s waspish sarcasm, leading to awkward moments. After all, Christmas is all about fun and cheer! Oh no, wait... It turns out that the recording of this year’s special didn’t quite go as planned, with Jedward tipping hair gel onto Gavin and Stacey’s Ruth Jones, who had to record her interview covered in the stuff. Oops. There have also been rumours of Jedward being bullied, so let’s hope that Alan eventually managed to unite his guests for a nice sing-song around the Christmas tree.

Mitchell. With the rest of the series featuring, amongst others, Tim McInnerny (Blackadder) and Sarah Hadland (Miranda), it promises to be a must-watch for lovers of British comedy. Only at Christmas do programmes with such a wonderous variety of stars appear, and if four criticallyacclaimed series of Bleak Expectations are anything to go by, Bleak Old Shop is not to be missed. The stars seem to be excited too. On the subject of the Christmas episode, Robert Webb said: “I’m really looking forward to working with my all-time hero David Mitchell. Apparently Stephen Fry is in it too, which is nice.” Ellissa Chilley

are few shows on television which boast the intelligence and ideas of Doctor Who whilst maintaining its mass appeal. Of course, it might be guilty of occasionally drifting into overly festive sentimentality at Christmas, but then criticising family-orientated Christmas television for being sentimental is a bit like criticising UEA for being grey. The good Doctor’s success shows no obvious signs of waning and it remains as funny, clever, and inspired as ever. For those yet to be converted, tune in on Christmas Day. For the previously enlightened amongst you, it looks like we’re in for another treat this Christmas. Long may it reign.

Or you could hope not, if festive bickering is more your thing. You know who you are. Cynics. In all their seasonal benevolence, Channel 4 have also granted us a New Year’s Eve extravaganza, featuring guests such as Gok Wan and JLS. After their hilarious collaboration on a previous episode, fingers crossed that Alan and the boys will serenade us at midnight. I’m sure there will be a somewhat atypical alternative to Jools Holland, at least. With the extended show also including sketches from an array of other stars and Alan himself, Chatty Man is set to be the definitive chat show this Christmas. Beth Wyatt


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COMPETITIONS

06.12.2011

Crossword

concrete.competitions@uea.ac.uk

Across

22

2. A Christmas tradition rooted in the 15th Century (13)

1

2

3

6. Traditional meat for an English Christmas dinner (6) 4

5

6

8. Former Soviet Union of State who resigned on Christmas Day (16) 9. 5th Day of Christmas on the famous song (13)

7 8

10. Winner of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here 2011 (13) 12. Current female number one tennis player (17)

9

16. A yuletide drink (6) 10

11

12

13

18. The protagonist in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (15) 19. The star most searched for on Bing 2011 (12)

14

20. East 17’s Christmas number 1 (14) 15 16

Down

1. US megastar recently turned 30 (13)

17

3. Third gift from the Wise Men (5) 18

4. Name of one of Santa Claus’ first reindeer (6) 5. Record Wales Rugby Union try scorer (13)

19

7. The colour of the bag for Nice ‘n’ Spicy Nik Naks (6) 20

11. Multinational Corporation specializing in optics and imaging (5) 13. Capital of Greenland (4) 14. Biggest selling singer of the year so far (5) 15. Social networking and micro blogging service (7) 17. First continent to bring in the New Years (7)

Sudoku Beginner

6 2 8

8

4

Competition

5

3 5 6 3

3

3 4

5 1

2

6

9

1

2 7

9

7

2 1

8

5

5 8

6

3

9 6

5

3

7 6

Expert

8

1

4

5 2

8

9

4 3

5 9

9 1

4

8

This week we are giving away tickets to see Shed Seven at UEA’s LCR on 14th December! To be in with a chance completed crossword to 12pm on Tuesday 13th contacted by telephone won.

of winning, bring your the Concrete office by December. You will be and email if you have

Name: Telephone number: Email address:


23 Tuesday 6th LCR Club Nights: Go Commando (10pm) Price: £3.50 UEA LCR The Fractured Discourse Christmas Extravaganza (7pm) Price: £8/£6 NUS Dragon Hall

06.12.2011

DECEMBER 2011 Wednesday 7th Waterfront Gig: 101% Pantera presented by Metal Lust (7:30pm) Price: £10.00 The Waterfront Studio Media Ball (6:30pm) Price: £20 Ramada Jarvis

Thursday 8th Waterfront Gigs: The Beat (7:30pm)Price: £16.00 The Waterfront Shutter Island (7:30pm) Price: £2.80 Lecture Theatre 1

LCR Gigs: Professor Green (Date Change) (7:30pm) Price: £16.00 UEA LCR

Friday 16th LCR Gigs: Adam Ant & The Good, The Mad and The Lovely Posse (7:30pm)Price: £25.00 UEA LCR

Monday 12th Waterfront Gigs: Ginger Wildheart & Friends (7:30pm)Price: £12.50 The Waterfront

Saturday 17th Waterfront Gigs: Metal Lust Xmas Party feat. Guns 2 Roses + The Dirt + Bad Touch + Pole Dancers (6pm)Price: £12.00 The Waterfront

Friday 9th

Tuesday 13th LCR Club Nights: The Christmassy LCR (10pm)Price: £3.50 UEA LCR

Sunday 18th Waterfront Gigs: Napalm Death (7pm) Price: £14.00 The Waterfront Swing into Christmas (7:30pm) Price: £12.50 (£10.50 concessions) The Forum

Saturday 10th

Take The First Step: Dancesport (7pm-9pm) Price: FREE Congregation Hall

Achtung! Cabaret (8pm) Price: £15 The Talk

LCR Gigs: Dappy (7:30pm) Price: £15.00 UEA LCR

Waterfront Gigs: The Doors Alive (7pm) Price:£12.00/£10.00NUS The Waterfront

Waterfront Club Nights: Color’s Xmas Bash! (10pm) Price: £12.50 / £9 NUS The Waterfront

UEA Drama Degree Programme presents Macbeth (7:30pm) Price: £6/ £4 NUS Uea Drama Studio

Sunday 11th

LISTINGS

concrete.listings@uea.co.uk

Wednesday 14th

LCR Club Nights: The A List (10:30pm) Price: £4.50 UEA LCR

Thursday 15th

LCR Gigs: Shed Seven (7:30pm)Price: £18.50 UEA LCR

Waterfront Gigs: Oli Brown (7:30pm) Price: £14.00 The Waterfront

Waterfront Gigs: Vintage Trouble (7:30pm)Price: £9.00 The Waterfront

LCR Club Nights: Last Chance LCR (10pm) Price: £3.50 UEA LCR

Black Swan (7:30pm) Price: £2.80 Lecture Theatre 1

Source Code (7:30pm) Price: £2.80 Lecture Theatre 1

Monday 19th The Comedy Store (8.15pm) Price: £12.50 (£10.50 NUS) The Forum

Tuesday 20th Sleeping Beauty: The Pantomime (7.30pm) Price: £5-£19 Theatre Royal



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