Sheffield street art Battlefield 4 Local Natives interview 50 years of Dr Who
Friday November 8 2013
short fuse. comments and rants on entertainment news.
First time’s the charm?
f you switched over to E4 right now you would undoubtedly catch a re-run of Charmed, a sort of Charlie’s Angels meets Sabrina the Teenage Witch hybrid that premiered at the end of the last century. Now something wicked this way comes: news that the show might be remade. Ex-cast members are already scrambling to condemn the rumours but, despite the fact that it is almost certainly not going to be remade, the idea is not actually a bad one. Charmed did the fantasy genre a disservice with its clunky dialogue, one-dimensional characters and haphazard CGI. Fantasy provides endless oppotunities but Charmed reduced itself to lazy, daytime tel-
evision. Remaking it might actually save it. Buffy the Vampire Slayer started off as a horror-comedy movie in 1995 which embarrassed Joss Whedon so much that he eventually abandoned the project. Thankfully he managed to save his masterpiece and recreated the chosen one, as the tv show, in his own image. In a similar vein, Charmed should be rescued from the depths of mediocrity. A paranormal show headed by three female characters is desperately needed when the cock-infested Supernatural is currently clogging up the genre. Joanne Butcher
R.I.P. Lou Reed
rian Eno said of 1967’s Velvet Underground & Nico “the first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” 46 years on, there isn’t a single worthy rock musician that doesn’t have a profound respect for the Velvet Underground and their enigmatic frontman, Lou Reed. Reed, who died from liver disease in October, lived a long, full and complicated life filled with ecstatic, creative highs and dark, isolating lows. He was forever a fascinating, if difficult, presence in the world of music. Never was he destined for a normal or easy life. Receiving electroconvulsive therapy as a teen in an effort to ‘cure’ his bisexuality, darkness followed him from the off. Throughout his life, he was difficult to talk to and mired in substance abuse. Forever an introspective, poetic soul, Reed’s work was never the easiest to get on board with. From his awkward, half-spoken singing voice to the hour-long mess of guitar feed-
back that was Metal Machine Music, he was forever someone with only one foot in the real world. But from his other-foot world, he brought back some true wonders. His second solo album, Transformer, is full of them. ‘Perfect Day’, ‘Satellite of Love’ and ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ are amongst many immortal classics. Of course, there were many misstakes. There was the aforementioned Metal Machine Music in 1975. Then there was the pretentious, plodding awfulness of Lulu, his collaboration with Metallica. Despite Lulu being, tragically, Reed’s final recording, it will never dirty his name. Lou Reed’s diverse, controversial career is packed full of pop perfection, amongst the missteps. Like a musical Woody Allen, his career has been bumpy and inconsistent. But his contribution to pop culture and the world have ensured his immortality. Rhys Handley
ey there Fuse readers! We hope you’re having a great week and aren’t getting at all stressed by uni work. You might even be reading this in reading week! We’re honoured to be part of your busy reading schedule. We’ve got some awesome features this issue, including one for the ‘Whovians’ amongst you and a look at our incredible Sheffield street art. It’s a great week for reviews, too, with some huge game releases including Assassin’s Creed IV and Battlefield 4, and be sure to read Christopher Smith’s hilarious review of the flamboyant musical, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. Until next time, we’ll go back to stalking our neighbourhood cats. See you in two weeks. XOXO Amelia Heathman Kaz Scattergood
This amazing cover is definitely one for your bedroom walls. It was drawn by our new Head of Visuals, Caitlin James, and is inspired by local street art. Fancy drawing next issue’s cover? Email us at email@example.com!
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Can an ‘everyman’ console ever exist?
ired of being turned away from exclusive clubs or bars because you don’t have ‘the look’? Why not take refuge from the world in a darkened room, fire up the PlayStation and settle in for a night on the eagerly anticipated, next-gen shoot ‘em up Titanfall. Oh, you have a PlayStation? Sorry, you’re not welcome here either. Console exclusivity has enjoyed a journey of highs and lows, in the early days of home-gaming Nintendo flaunted the universallyloved Super Mario Bros., to the chagrin of its rivals Sega. Recently however, console exclusivity has
largely disappeared; to me this is highlighted most by the re-release of the Metal Gear Solid series - a firm favourite of Sony fans since the original PlayStation - on the Xbox. However, with the announcement that Titanfall will be a Microsoft exclusive, are we seeing a renaissance in console polarity? Console exclusivity will probably always be a feature of the gaming industry, whether it is prominent or receding depends on the times, and I think ‘time’ is what is crucial to this announcement. Only a few weeks away from the next generation of PlayStation and Xbox consoles, both can
be expected to be flaunting their wares hoping to emerge victorious in early Christmas sales. Especially Xbox, with their countless PR nightmares of 2013. We’ve seen a transition in recent years of the ‘everyman’ console, a title held firmly by Sony during its PlayStation 2 reign, and the eventual balancing in popularity of the two top dogs at the end of this generation has made that title even more crucial to Microsoft and Sony. Jack Beal
he opportunity to gain unparalleled work experience in your absolute dream career- telephone customer service. Have you ever watched BBC Three’s The Call Centre? Do you dream for the glitz and glamour of call centre life? You won’t get there without the skills. This session will teach you the ins and outs of picking up
Mon Nov 11 5-7pm Gallery Room 2 £7.50
phones, speaking to customers, hanging up phones, and valuable communication skills useful to any workplace. The workshop will be delivered by a professional trainer from the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, and you’ll even get a certificate. Can’t guarantee it’ll be laminated. Bring a bottle of water.
Friday November 8 2013
q&a. We interviewed sci-fi folk band, Maia, who will play at the Hop in Sheffield on November 20
all the way to edge of the Earth for them.
As always with an up and coming band, could you tell us a bit more about your name, why you chose it and what it means?
Very diverse: English folk songs, contemporary classical, and a love of the finely crafted pop song. Three members of the band are not fans of jazz-funk.
Maia is a Greek goddess and a star in the Pleiades constellation. We liked the sound of it as much as its meaning!
Your debut album was Time Out’s ‘Album of the Week’, how did that make you feel? We appreciated it greatly! Thanks, Time Out.
“It’s folk as imagined 50 years into the future”
Yorkshire is obviously part of your heritage - what is your favourite thing about Yorkshire?
Orange juice spilt on the keyboard during post-performance celebration at Cambridge Folk Festival. Also, the mandolin once attacked Simon, completely unprovoked - we keep it in the case now.
The beautiful moors - a lifetime of inspiration to be found there.
What’s going to be next for you guys after your Yorkshire shows?
You’ve got a few gigs coming up in the Yorkshire area in the next few weeks, including in Sheffield. What has been the friendliest place you’ve played in?
So, we have our Yorkshire shows including a show at Korks, in Otley on November 7 and at Wharf Chambers in Leeds on November 21. And then it’s back in the studio for a month, to reimagine Maia for 2014.
How did you all meet and come together to make a band? The four of us met while studying in Huddersfield. Coming from different backgrounds of rock band, orchestra, trad folk sessions and jazz drummer, we all felt like a change. What are your major influences as a band or do you have different individual preferences?
You describe your sound as ‘sci-fi folk’, could you tell us a bit more about that please? It’s folk as imagined 50 years in the future, looking back to a time when music was played with real instruments.
Coastal towns such as Whitby, Bridlington, Broadstairs and Falmouth, to name a few from this year. The coastal towns seem to appreciate us, perhaps because we drove
Any gruesome gig stories for us?
Catch Maia at the Hop on November 20 Amelia Heathman
Available from the SU box office
Repo Man: Friday Nov 15 19:30
Man of Steel: Saturday Nov 16 15:30 & 19:30
The Heat: Sunday Nov 17 15:30 & 19:30
50 years of
Friday 8 November 2013
wo Ar rds : L tw au or ra k: Lo S uis tan Ko ley se da
ith t h e date of its unveiling looming ever nearer, the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who is easily the biggest thing to happen to the series since it was brought back onto our screens in 2005. The BBC has named it ‘event drama’, singling it out as more than just a special, and raising ‘Whovian’ expectations to an all-time high. The anniversary will be marked by a series of big events, taking a voyage through 50 years of a show that has become a British institution. An Adventure in Space and Time, a drama penned by long-time fan of the show, Mark Gatiss, is set to air on BBC2 a week before the episode is broadcast, documenting the series in its humble beginnings in the 1960s. Additionally, the BBC are putting on a number of other specials, with The Culture Show and Blue Peter sending their own congratulations in time for the big day itself. The anniversary episode will be shown in both 2D and 3D, on television and in cinemas across the world. This has caused controversy among many fans, some of whom think it is a betrayal to watch the Doctor cavort across the screen in any other medium than the one first intended by the makers of the show back in 1963. The majority of fans, however, as the sold-out tickets would suggest seem more than happy to see their favourite show on the big screen. Clearly, Matt Smith’s chin in 3D has never had so much demand.
The rest of him is certainly in demand too. This is Smith’s penultimate outing as the Time Lord and the anniversary is sure to define him, committing him to Gallifreyan legend. What happens in the 50th special, an episode centred on the Doctor himself, is likely to be strongly linked to the Christmas special, when we’ll say goodbye to Smith and welcome in Peter Capaldi. It is safe to say that many will miss him – he has sustained a franchise that could have bowed under the pressure as the central role and the writing team changed hands all at once. Indeed, Matt Smith has had a very tough job in becoming the 11th incarnation of such an idolised character, especially considering the popularity of his predecessor, fan-favourite David Tennant, who also returns in this episode with long-time love interest, Rose (Billie Piper). Never a group to shy away from a fandom discussion, Whovians are often divided on favourite Doctors, which is hardly surprising when there are 11 to choose from. This is something that will be severely put to the test when Tennant and Smith come face to face with one another. It’ll be interesting to see how they interact, whether they both vie for our attention or instead, work together as a formidable team of comparatively youthful Time Lords in order to defeat their enemy. Their enemy, in this case, will be an as yet unseen incarnation of the Doctor, played by John Hurt. Introduced at the end of the last episode, ‘The Name of the Doctor’, we can glean that Hurt will play a darker version of the main character, one that both Ten and Eleven are keen to forget. Three Doctors in one episode is ambitious; writer, Steven Moffat, is playing a dangerous game by crossing time streams so blatantly. No doubt this episode will be among his most per-
plexing. However, Hurt is not the only enemy the Doctor(s) will have to face, and he’s certainly not the most familiar. The iconic Daleks are confirmed to be making a comeback, as well as the Zygons, creatures which haven’t been seen in their monstrous form since Tom Baker was helming the TARDIS. The Cybermen are also strongly rumoured to be appearing, which makes three villains for three Doctors. Undoubtedly, this outing will be as packed as a police box that isn’t bigger on the inside – we have to worry a little about how they’ll fit it all in. It’s rare that an episode of Doctor Who is actually about the Time Lord himself. As with Harry Potter, trouble usually finds the Doctor without him looking for it. It seems only fitting, then, that his birthday episode is all about him. The trailer is littered with classic Doctor Who references, some hidden and some not, from Bessie (the yellow car Jon Pertwee’s Doctor drove) to the Fez worn so proudly by Matt Smith in more recent episodes. The anniversary will evidently be a celebration of the past, while still working towards the future, and let’s be honest, these references are cool. Many will already have their bag of Jelly Babies and sonic screwdrivers at the ready, in preparation for the big day on November 23, but for others, the anticipation may be nothing short of a concern. With expectations already so high and almost three weeks still to go, only time will tell whether celebrations of such a huge anniversary will be the success story that brings Who to life, for new and old fans alike. In any case, it is sure to be unmissable.
Friday November 8 2013
t’s been three years since Local Natives last visited Sheffield but the boys are back, now boasting a worldwide following, a wealth of die-hard fans, and a unanimously adored album Hummingbird. It’s been a ridiculously ambitious tour that’s taken the band across Europe, snaking through America towards Canada, down under to Australia, onwards to Japan, then back over to the UK. We asked bassist Ryan and keyboard player Kelsey whether they hate home. The two chuckle. “We love home,” Kelsey replies, “we started touring at the end of January and basically we’ve had three weeks off since. We’ve literally toured as much as we physically could without going insane. The record came out in January though, so we’ve been expecting it;
we’ve been planning for it so we could really hit it really hard.” But what have been their favourite places? Ryan immediately thinks of home in LA. “We’ve played the Greek Theatre in LA which is this really big outdoor amphitheatre, which for us was a big milestone. We also played this small town in the US called Atlanta, and I don’t know if you’d expect it to be such an indie-rock funzone, but it was easily the most energetic crowd we’ve played to all year.” But when Ryan starts reminiscing about Copenhagen and Stockholm, Kelsey struggles to remember all of the gigs they’ve played. “There’s been a lot of shows”. Touring does have its downsides, with so little chance to explore the cities they’re stationed in, gigs start to merge together. “You kind of have to push yourself to see the city, because you’re so tired and you’re trying to sleep more somehow, but we’ve been trying to make ourselves get up earlier, so that we can actually look around,” Kelsey adds.
“Nick was trying to bro-down with the Tame Impala dudes, and we were like, ‘we have to go to the hospital’” Riding on the success of Hummingbird, we begin to wonder whether all this touring will mean a time-out for song writing. “We’ve been writing on tour, but we definitely need more time in a room together just jamming. We’ll have some time during a sound-check or something, and It’s always felt so good to be creative together, even for just like three minutes or something. “We’ll jam off someone’s initial idea. We won’t tell anybody what to do. It will usually be Ryan like, ‘stop stop stop...wait..keep going, that’s awesome.’” No doubt there are hilarious tour stories the boys will take home and tell everyone. One particular story at a festival in Italy comes to mind. “We were trying to make a music video, and we were filming in this forest. “Jeff, our director, had this big, bright light in the dark, so all these bugs were swarming around, and this bug just flew into his ear. At first he was kind of freaking out, kinda
laughing, but then he started really freaking out. It got really fucking crazy, and he’s running around, and Taylor was cradling him, trying to find a straw to suck the bug out, and we kept having to reassure him that the bug wouldn’t go into his brain. Nick was trying to bro-down with the Tame Impala dudes, and we were like, ‘we have to go to the hospital!’” Unfortunately, the bug did not survive the ordeal. What a way to go. The tour has given the band the chance to see some pretty special cities, as well as meet some pretty cool people. Wild Nothing is amongst one of their recent tour buddies. “We thought they were all quiet guys at first, and then quickly found out they’re like the nicest dudes in the world, and we ended up having a really fun time with them. They’re not wild guys, they’re all really mellow,” Kelsey adds. For their UK tour, the Australian Cloud Control and London-born Breton take to the stage in support. “We’ve toured with Cloud Control before, and they’re on the same record label as us over here in the UK and we’re big fans with their music. Breton are friends of friends. We’ve all had shows together at some point.” At the Leadmill later that evening, the band played together seamlessly. Breton’s pulsating synths precipitated Cloud Control’s reverberating vocals in tracks like ‘Promises’ beautifully. When Local Natives arrived on stage, their fans swarmed forward in devotion. It’s clear that the band like to mix up the structure of their songs, as well as their positions on stage. At one point, Kelcey moves aside for Ryan, whose bass-playing and vocals enrapture the attention of the room. The band hand out anecdotes here and there, professing their love for Sheffield as the home of meat pies, reminiscing about a guy who befriended them on Myspace, met them in Sheffield and took them to his pie shop, giving them their first savoury pie. Needless to say, the crowd returned the love two-fold, with manic dancing and zealous singing to much loved singles ‘Airplanes’ and ‘Sun Hands’. Extensive touring certainly hasn’t left any songs bereft of passion; each track writhes with raw emotion and a daring that make this band such a priviledge to watch.
Nicky Crane met Local Natives before their gig to talk about their world tour
Friday November 8 2013
Fuse. games Assassins Creed IV
Xbox 360/PS3/PC/Wii U 8/10
vast! Ubisoft’s latest in the Assassin’s Creed series has left behind the surly, obsessively moral protagonist and has taken a turn on the high seas with Connor’s sexy, swashbuckling grandfather. Edward Kenway saunters onto screen with far less of a need for answers or revenge, and far more of a fixation on the drinking of rum, the singing of sea shanties and the plundering of booty. Alas, the Templars are still set on world domination and Edward soon finds himself thrown into the company of the secretive assassin order. Black Flag is set in a vast area of the Caribbean around Cuba, featuring a huge number of locations, reachable by sailing your merry band of singing pirates in Edward Kenway’s ship, the Jackdaw. The naval controls, combat and graphics have been improved from the last game, with the Jackdaw being nimble enough to control with ease, but large and heavy enough to
Xbox 360/PS3/PC 9/10
attlefield is a first person shooter developed by Swedish developers DICE and published by EA and stands out among other shooters out there providing all-out war on a massive scale. Throw into the mix tanks, jets, jeeps and jet skis and you have the makings of an incredible multiplayer experience. The game’s core mode is 64 player conquest where the two teams fight for control of several points on the map to build an advantage over the other team. First impressions of the beta were immense. It’s like Battlefield 3 on steroids. The graphics have been improved, the destruction of the maps is insane and the sound is, as to be expected from DICE, incredibly immersive. In making Battlefield 4, building on the things that made Battlefield 3 great, DICE went back to their roots, bringing back crucially important elements that make Battlefield truly a battlefield. Squad play is a massive part of the Battlefield experience
deal substantial amounts of damage in battle. With an endless supply of ships to battle, board and pillage with a smooth transition between cannon firing and sword swinging, the journeys on the high seas are rarely dull, not to mention the changeable and often challenging weather, shipwrecks to explore and smuggler’s dens to ransack. The game has improved on its predecessors in regards to the fast travel, with points available on each island, cutting out any tiresome long-distance journeys. The assassin recruit system has returned in the form of Kenway’s Fleet of pirate vessels which are sent to various locations outside of the map in order to complete tasks and kill a few templars. With not much innovation aside from swapping singular assassins for ships of pirates, this feels less like a libertarian revolution and more like a 40 hour long minigame. On land the usual rooftop running and side street sneaking is as breathtaking as ever. The combat system remains roughly the same as its predecessor except for the change from a bow and arrow to a subtle blow pipe developed by the assassins, with poisoned darts that can turn a vigilant guard into a snoozing baby or even turn him against his own co-workers in a
and it has been re-revamped after some pretty glaring omissions in Battlefield 3 and BF: Bad Company. Squads have in-game voice chat again (strengthening the squad based tactical play), squads are now five man (as opposed to four or six in previous games) and the commander is back.
“It’s like Battlefield 3 on steroids” Although the commander wasn’t available in the beta test, it’s clear to see that DICE is making this role just as an integral part of the experience as it was the last time we had one in Battlefield 2142. Weapon and vehicle customisation is really impressive. Little things like a battlecam showing the POV of the squad mate or control point you want to spawn on set the game
frenzied fit. The storyline missions show the slow change of Edward into a conscientious leader, from his beginning as a man whose only motivation is the shallow desire for gold. He may not be as charming as Ezio, but he’s certainly a lot more fun than his grandson Connor. Though the encounters between the pirate captain and his friends are often amusing, the actual work of the main missions is sometimes trivial. A few too many eavesdrop missions leave you wondering what’s actually going on, as it’s difficult to listen to your targets as you search frantically for the next bush to hide in, or the next rooftop to leap onto. With so much fun to be had with side missions and exploration, the game’s occasionally tedious main missions and a storyline somewhat lacking in motivation are completely forgivable. This game’s a fine treasure and a rum-soaked thrill. Assassin’s Creed with pirates? Aye me hearty! Frankie Morshead
apart. Maps now feature interactive elements such as lifts and closable doors and shop window shutters and even retractable road bollards. DICE also included another ace up its sleeve by bringing in something they dub ‘Levolution’. In the map available in the Beta, ‘Siege of Shanghai’, an entire skyscraper can be taken down (or not) during the course of the round. Levolution promises dam bursts that flood the map to the running aground of a battleship into the tiny island group you are fighting over whilst hurricane force winds batter the islands. There is also a comprehensive battleviewer, so you can watch other people play, which should allow Battlefield to become more of a competitive eSport. Another new neat feature is to have your phone/tablet/ second monitor synched up to the multiplayer game you are playing and it acts as an interactive map and kit editor, so you can switch your kit about or follow the game’s progress whilst you are waiting to respawn. Or once you reach level 10 you can fancy your chances as a commander of a team. Now you can sit on the toilet calling in tomahawk missile strikes on unsuspecting enemies. This is a game of thrones. James Walley
Batman: arkham Origins
Xbox 360/PS3/PC/Wii U 6/10
oming after Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Arkham Origins has a lot to live up to. As a game, it is fully aware of this, and the change in developer to Warner Bros. Games (inheriting the Arkham mantle from Rocksteady) has intensified the spotlight on the game attempting to fill these boots. The game wastes no time in the introduction to the familiar formula – Batman starts with all the main gadgets, and the short sequence serves as a refresher to the gameplay, displaying short pieces of combat, stealth, and a short boss fight to get back into the Arkham groove. The gameplay is solid, and the familiar satisfaction from smooth combat returns from the previous titles. The combat and stealth systems are largely inherited from the past, and it is a shame, however, that no real new developments have been made in this area. The lack of innovation is shown most clearly in the boss fights, which at times are simply responding to prompts in what feel like glorified quicktime events. The tactics are banal (often punch, counter, rinse, repeat), leaving a stale taste for
CULT CORNER New Star Soccer 5 PC
any will be familiar with the hit mobile game New Star Soccer but this series goes back much further to 2003 with the release of New Star Soccer 1, a text based football sim. The fifth instalment in this series carries on from these modest grounds, keeping up with traditions while innovating with new features. You take the role of a young amateur footballer on a trial day. After some basic training drills, you are signed to a professional club. From this moment on your career is whatever you want to make of it. You can become a money grabber, moving between the biggest clubs in the world, or you can try and work your favourite lower league club to the heights of Champions League glory. The 2D match engine is minimalistic yet nostalgic, drawing on the cult classic Sensible Soccer. You quickly fall in love with it as it becomes one of the resounding features of the game. This simplicity of the controls doesn’t conform to the modern football game normality of complicated multi button control schemes. You can pass, lob or shoot with the press of one button - something that makes you smile when you score
each boss completion. This comes off as laziness, rather than sticking to the tried-and-true Arkham formula. This is an issue that pervades much of the game. The map is more or less a larger version of City’s map with some additions; detective mode is near-identical and the encounters feel like nothing has changed between the two games. However, complaining that a game is too similar to an excellent past release is by far not the worst thing that could be said. There are a few novel elements to the game which are good additions, for instance the changes to detective mode make it a tad more interesting than the previous ‘look here, now follow this trail’. None of these changes are ground-breaking, but make just enough of a difference to avoid being a clone of City. Some of these feel like simple cop-outs, such as simply adding snow to a nearidentical map, or changing the XP system slightly, so it can feel a little hit-and-miss at times. Plotwise, the story is steeped in intrigue, peppered with twists. Origins therefore feels more like a noir-esque detective thriller, rather than a beat-em-up superhero farce (see Deadpool). The choice of characters may be seen as controversial for how little-
the goal of the millennium from just inside the opponent’s half. The AI is also simple; it’s not elegant but it’s beautiful. It will be how many people remember the football they played as a kid and that resonates strongly throughout the game. Outside of the football matches you can buy cars, houses and phones, bet on horses, go to the casino and even bag yourself a Wag. These features add hours of fun as you perfect your skills on the pitch while improving your relationship with your sponsors. A new feature to the series is the online leader board. The top valued players from each team are downloaded to your game so you can play with or against them through your season. It’s a well thought-out feature that avoids licensing laws while making the game feel much more personal. New Star Soccer 5 is an all-time favourite because it plays up to the fun parts of football with its offensive AI and adds a cheeky touch by letting you live a footballer’s lifestyle. A near-perfect game, which will have you hooked for hours, from an indie developer who is finally getting the praise it deserves. Jake Stothard
known they are, but only serves to heighten the mystery. Black Mask, never having been portrayed in a Batman film, is almost a complete unknown, which rarely happens in Batman games, which allows at least the plot to feel new. Similarly, the lack of flamboyant supervillains allows the game to be taken a bit more seriously, which is a nice touch to the increasingly dark and gritty Arkham series. As a standalone title, it is hard to say that Arkham Origins isn’t a good game with plenty of fun to be had. For big fans of the past releases, however, don’t expect much more than what could easily be an expansion to Arkham City. Theo Cole
Papers, Please PC 8/10
t seems in recent years that indie developers have discovered the magical formula for taking absolutely ridiculous concepts and turning them into some superb games. Case in point: Lucas Pope’s Papers, Please; a 2D retro-looking bureaucracy simulator that’s also one of the most intelligently designed games of 2013. You are a nameless, faceless bureaucrat who has been made a border inspector of the fictional former Soviet state of Arstotzka. As wave after wave of hopeful immigrants arrive at your little booth, you have to look at their documentation and decide whether to let them in or turn them away. It’s essentially an Orwellian game of ‘Spot the Difference’, which becomes more complicated as the days pass. Immigrants are forced to bring more and more documents with them, and the mistakes become more and more difficult to spot. What’s completely unexpected is how riveting this turns
out to be. The stakes are kept high in a dozen different subtle ways. The newspaper bulletin you read every morning hints at an extremely complex political situation, and at the end of every day you may come home to find that your family members are cold, hungry and in dire need of medical attention. The hours are short, the wages are lousy, and as you’re only paid by the number of applicants you get through per day the game becomes a tense race to scrape together enough cash. Few things in gaming have ever frustrated me as much as the sound of the printer telling me I’d been docked $5 pay because the last applicant of the day had listed an invalid height on his entry permit. But it’s not just your home life that makes the days more difficult. The immigrants are more than just faces and photos; they have more than their fair share of sob stories, and Papers, Please revels in throwing difficult moral conundrums at you. Do you allow a woman with an expired passport through the border to receive life-saving surgery, knowing that your wage will be docked?
Do you help start a revolution, or keep your head down and look after your own in the oppressive regime you’re working for? The options are never easy, and you may be surprised at the choices you find yourself making. To be sure, there are problems. There are multiple possible outcomes, but because some of the story threads happen so subtly, some of the abrupt endings can just feel like a punishment for not paying attention. And no matter how well you dress it up, paperwork is paperwork; the repetitive gameplay takes away something of the game’s replay value. But none of this changes the fact that Papers, Please is one of the most interesting games to come from the indie circuit recently, with a fascinating premise and one of the most cleverly-presented moral choice systems in gaming. This one gets a big green stamp of recommendation. Phil Bayles
Art for the people, art for the street F
riendly-looking, multi-coloured worms brush shoulders with discoloured historical figures. Elegant and tranquil blue-haired girls meditate alongside prehistoric skeletons. Elsewhere, a tattooed hippo with a gold chain glares out from under a baseball cap and a pearlescent hyena guffaws out loud from a misshapen mouth. These are paintings for which Sheffield itself is the canvas. This is street art. Adorning the sides of abandoned warehouses and crawling up the walls of underpasses, this is artwork that refuses to be confined to the cobweb galleries of yore and instead chooses to seep in to the soul of the city, becoming as much a part of the metropolitan landscape as the shops, signs and bars. Bleak, vibrant, surrealist, natural and entirely urban; there are simply no rules for the art movement which shrugs off the high-brow criticisms of the traditionalists and embraces the idea of a free and unconstrained platform for which to communicate w i t h t h e public. Street art is exactly what its title implies: artistic pieces, painted and designed in public places. This incorporates all kinds of art which fall under this description, be it a simple territorial name tag on a wall or a satirical and intricate stencil on the side of a tower block. It is a decidedly metropolitan phenomenon, cropping up in civic areas worldwide. Also known as graffiti and urban art, this visual ideology maintains a balance between legal and illegal, actively seeking out permission or disregarding it completely.
Friday November 8 2013
Despite its modern resurgence throughout the 20th century, the general concept of street art is not a new one. From the perfectly preserved ancient Roman graffiti recovered from the ruins of Pompeii, right on through to the ‘Kilroy Was Here’ motif of world war II and beyond, urban art has been used as political activism, art, satire and public slander in a universally approachable place. Perhaps the most famous contemporary artist comes in the form of the elusive Banksy, whose darkly humorous and tongue-in-cheek images champion the stencilled style of his predecessor, Frenchman Blek le Rat. Yet the roster of eminent street artists is a constantly changing one, as is the variety of cities and location in which street art can be found. Our very own city of Sheffield is the undiscovered gem of the street art scene. Take a brief walk down from the University, past the Hicks building and you might notice two jolly cartoon faces and a grotesque, neon bat on the side of the Harley. Pop down Sidney Street in the city centre, and you might stumble across a solemn Sadhu, gazing forlornly across the street at the ruined building with its motley collection of bizarre and multi-coloured characters painted on the side. These pictures become the tattoos of the city, an expression of freedom and identity over regulation and conformity. Sheffield’s claim as one of the bigger players in the graffiti scene is validated by a legacy of iconic street artists who claim these streets as their stomping grounds. None more so than the unique and incessantly prominent artist Phlegm, whose works crop up across the city. Phlegm, like many graffiti connoisseurs, maintains his own distinct motifs and style. Each of his paintings are set apart by Phlegm’s use of a distinctive black Indian ink as well as the clear cartoon influence upon each image. His work draws on a number of creatures and objects which lurch between a variety of styles including sinister, surrealist and industrial. Many of Phlegm’s designs are linked by a certain character. Swathed in a knitted jumper, pulled right up to the face and wearing what would seem to be a black pair of high heels, this genderless character can be spotted gazing through telescopes, manning the helm of a galleon and leading a procession of nightmarish, warped animals. Originally a cartoonist and still releasing self-published art books, Phlegm’s distinct technique echoes his cartoon roots and his murals have spread across the world, from his native Wales right across to Sri Lanka. Another major artist who calls Sheffield home is Kid Acne, whose immense slogans are drawn in
Friday November 8 2013
a unique font stretch across various walls and buildings, splashing vibrant colours across a bleak urban landscape. Born in Malawi and raised in Leicestershire, Kid Acne is perhaps best known for his text-based works and his minimalistic female warrior figures which populate a number of cities across the globe. The attraction of these two motifs is to be found in the way that they manage to own the parts of the city in which they are painted. The slogans, combining film quotes and slang, grip the attention of passers-by and pin it down thanks to the stark contrast between the lively colour of the paint and the cold concrete which surrounds it. The somewhat appropriately named ‘Stabby Women’ work on an entirely different level to achieve the same effect; lurking inside doorways and peering out from boarded windows, with short, sardonic smiles on their Japanese-inspired faces. Unlike many graffiti artists, Kid Acne has expanded his empire beyond the world of street art. His other notable activities include creating a range of t-shirts for various big name fashion brands, designing the cartoon character ‘Zebra Head’ as well as writing, recording and performing hip-hop across Europe. In the end, this diverse spectrum of occupations stems from a deep understanding of urban art and its application to other mediums. One of the more traditional urban artists of Sheffield comes in the shape of coLor, whose art is set apart from the others with its focus on bright, cheerful surrealism. There are no trademark characters here, no recurring monsters and no discernible theme. This is where a red squirrel with an aerosol can and a flat cap go toe-to-toe with taps gushing out ice-creams and eyeballs. CoLor is responsible for the invasion of the ‘Ay Up’ ducks on the outside of twenty-five Sheffield pubs, one of which can be seen on the Nottingham House blackboard. The man himself was born in Hebden Bridge near Bradford, under his real name John Dowswell and his work falls definitively under the ‘art for art’s sake’ brand of street art, promoting enjoyment of art as opposed to contain any specific social message. CoLor admits this to the BBC, describing his work as ‘just something to stick a little smile on people’s faces’. This of course, is just as good a reason as any. Ultimately, street art remains the punk rock of the art world, taking traditional forms and subverting them in a way which adapts to the ever-changing dynamic
of city l i f e . There are no fees and there is no gallery. There are no restrictions and there is no snobbery. This is art in its purest form. So next time you find yourself down in the city centre, do check out the man with the telescope on Brown Street as well as the titanic Richard Attenborough portrait down on Charles street. While you’re at it, have a look at the happy couple over on Broad Lane and the bearded pipe-smoker in the Great Gatsby bar on Division Street. But remember, graffiti is best stumbled upon rather than actively sought out. Also, if you see the eightball-laying duck on Cemetary Road, tell him I say hi.
Friday November 8 2013
E E R F NT EVE
THURS 14th Nov
vintage clothing vinyl - retro homeware INDOOR R food t shirt brands MARKET 40 stall BESPOKE jewellery holders cards & MUCH MUCH MORE...
THE FOUNDRY/ STUDIO & FUSION 11-4pm
Friday November 8 2013
Fuse. arts Love your soldiers Studio Theatre 6/10
n uneven, flawed play, Love Your Soldiers is still worth seeing. The story centres on a love triangle between a student from London called Gemma (Charlotte Beaumont) and two brothers stationed in Afghanistan called Roly (Jordan Bright) and Ken (Chris Leask). Roly loses his legs because of an IED and is sent back to the UK. This further complicates the situation these characters find themselves in, especially since Ken is unaware of Gemma and Roly’s affair. The main problem with the story is that the inclusion of a side-story involving Ken and his young Afghan friend Babur (Farshid Rokey) makes the whole plot uneven. This story touches on the practice of Bacha Bazi, where young boys like Babur are forced to dress as girls and dance for older men. The play chillingly opens with Babur being dressed up by an older man called Atash (Nabil Elouahabi) and made to perform. This part of the play is almost completely forgotten before the halfway mark. Instead, the show focuses on the British characters, while the Afghan characters are pushed to the sidelines. This is partially redeemed by the engrossing love triangle story, which touches on the difficulties of overseas relationships and adjust-
Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Lyceum 3/10
s the cast took their final bow and the music reached crescendo, the audience rose to its feet like components of a broken ‘whack-a-mole’ machine. However, this audience was always going to enjoy the show; the songs and cultural references were completely catered towards older generations. The standing ovation was almost guaranteed. Priscilla is the story of Tick/Mitzy, Bernadette and Adam/Felicia, three nightclub drag act performers who make the 1,256 mile journey from Sydney to Alice Springs ostensibly to take up a four-week residency at the Casino but also so that Tick can meet his son for the first time. Priscilla is the name of the bus that they purchase and renovate for the purpose, and becomes ever present in the background as
ing to injury. Still, it seems a waste of Elouahabi and Rokey’s acting abilities. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the writing by Robin Hooper is the character of Gemma. It would be all too easy to make her a hate-figure, but Hooper treads carefully. His skillful dialogue, along with Beaumont’s acting, ensures that the character retains the audience’s sympathy.
“It works as a whole but there are flaws which drag down the experience” Leask impresses as Ken, swinging from soldierly assertiveness, to child-like vulnerability. Unfortunately, Bright is a weak presence as Roly. He simply does not deliver lines with much emotional heft, which greatly hurts the play as a whole. That being said, he and
they go on their journey; which predictably is a life-changing one. Visually it was an interesting show. At times it felt like attending a karaoke disco in the mind of Christopher Biggins whilst your drink had been spiked with hallucinogenic drugs by a devious triumvirate of Bruno Tonioli, the ghost of Leigh Bowery and the cowboy from the Village People. But not in a fun way. The production made use of over 500 outrageously camp costumes, and the wardrobe department definitely deserves a pat on the back. But it would take an infinite amount of sequins to cover up the show’s inherent lack of substance (and they didn’t quite have that many). Noel Sullivan’s Tick is pleasant enough, as is Richard Grieve’s Bernadette, but Graham Weaver’s Adam/Felicia is without a single redeeming feature whatsoever. The script seemed to be lifted almost wholesale from ‘The Big Book of Pantomime Joke Cliches’ whilst the impact of the quite touching scenes in which the characters con-
Leask have tremendous chemistry when they share a scene. You can believe that they are actually brothers. Again, Hooper’s dialogue is partially to thank for this. One of the strongest aspects of Love Your Soldiers is the set design. James Cotterill astonishes as he transforms the modest Studio Theatre into an elaborate army base. Overall, Love Your Soldiers is a frustrating experience because it could have been so much more. However, the play is noble for telling an adequate story about the physical and mental horrors confronted by British soldiers every day. Joseph Brennan
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template the often violent homophobia that they face on a daily basis and the consequences of their life choices was immediately shattered by the inevitable subsequent gaudy performance of another ‘dancefloor classic’. The music took absolute precedence and the song choices were to be expected. However, the orchestration was so nauseatingly over the top that instead of leaving the theatre with the warmed heart that is promised, some might feel like they’d been repeatedly kicked in the head by all of the X Factor contestants who’ve ever failed to get past bootcamp. Christopher Smith
BOOK CORNER The Jolly Pilgrim Peter Baker 6/10
his book is centred around two years and several months in the life of Peter Baker - the author of the novel and the jolly pilgrim himself. The book describes how he takes a bike and a few belongings and heads off to Istanbul. It promises to be the perfect mixture of travel adventures and meaningful reflection, questions like “is there such a thing as God?” and “is civilisation ever going to be civilised?” are posed to the reader. Peter Baker continues his soul-searching in the company of larger-than-life characters who take him from one alcohol ridden night to another. They retreat to places of solitude to reflect on the ideas portrayed in this novel. However, the excitement the reader experiences at the start of the pilgrimage begins to wane after a while. Whilst the practice of informing the reader about the background to each location is helpful at first, it lapses into unenjoyable lecturing on the history of every aspect. Ultimately, the novel promised much more than it delivered. It seemed to be caught between trying to be an engaging travel account and an informative philosophical musing. It would have worked solely in either form as both seem inconsistent and
disjointed. The reader wants answers about his pilgrimage but the narrator goes onto tangents that dilute the experience the novel offers. It is advised to read The Jolly Pilgrim and reflect on the profound views offered and sample some of the flavours of other cultures through Peter’s eyes, but not to expect an epiphany. It’s mainly just the author having a long-winded jargon-filled conversation with you. In the end, you just want him to get back on to his bike and we can pick our own pace for enlightenment. Megan Myer
Friday November 8 2013
Fuse. music WHAT’S ON YOUR PLAYLIST?
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
Transatlanticism (10th Anniversary Edition) 9/10
I Joseph Carr Astrophysics Favourite band: Arcade Fire Favourite track right now: ‘Bipp’ - Sophie
t really is hard to believe that Transatlanticism is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month. A decade is an enormous gulf of time in the music industry, perhaps more so than any other artistic field. H ow e v e r,
Transatlanticism stands out like a wonderful sore thumb against this outdated torrent. The angst and naivety the lyrics capture still translate to the feelings and worries of twenty-somethings in 2013, and they become something more when Ben Gibbard’s angelic voice projects them. The end result is still a beautiful and reassuring study on love and loss and how hope remains through it all. Musically, the album is still remarkably relevant and crisp. The title track, which layers and grows into a haunting anthem
to longing, and the final track, ‘A Lack of Color’, are the standout moments; they easily could have been released yesterday and have the same hold over the listener. Even when the album strays into early-noughties indie sound with ‘The Sound of Settling’, the syncopated drum kicks in and you frankly don’t care if it’s dated because it’s such a fun sound. The demos that come with the album are a great insight into the writing of some of the songs we’ve come to know over the years, (the title track in particular is so alien to the final cut), but the origi-
nal songs are what really sells the anniversary release, and give us a great chance to remind ourselves how fantastic a group Death Cab For Cutie remain even after a decade and a half together. Keir Shields
David Bell Chinese and Business Management Favourite band: Haim Favourite track right now: ‘Flutes’ - Hot Chip
PICK A PIPER Pick A Piper 7/10
P CUT COPY
Free Your Mind 8/10
he Australian four-piece Cut Copy have received six award nominations and one ‘Best Dance Release’ win for their tremendous album, Zonoscope. Following an inventive advertising campaign, the fourth album, Free Your Mind, has not let fans down. The title song is the perfect opener for the LP, following a short psychedelic intro. The track exhibits a heavy nod to early 90s euphoric synthesisers and feel-good lyrics, which frees the minds of listeners through the medium of dance, and perhaps a few more synthetic means. Cut Copy have stated that this predicted dance-floor filler “creates a fantasy of the next youth revolution”, which makes you wonder if this had been what comedian Russell Brand listened to before he spoke to
Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight recently. Once hurtled out of ‘Free Your Mind’, you find yourself immediately falling back into Dan Whitford’s world of dance, where dayto-day strife doesn’t seem to matter anymore, with lyrics like “we are explorers when the beat goes on, we’re on a journey to the morning song.” These are lyrics that may seem contrived on paper, but when mixed with ecstatic major chords and strings, you cannot help but punch the air, whether in a club or at home in your living room. Four albums in 13 years may seem lazy, but the extra time has given the band deftness, nurturing their sound and perfecting the production. Also, for a neat eight pounds, Cut Copy’s album costs less than freeing your mind in your next yoga class.
ick A Piper’s eponymous debut is an album to be slowly chewed and pondered. It showcases a multilayered sound that rewards you with repeated listening. They describe their sound as “poised between the organic and the synthetic.” It is an apt description, and, for the most part, this ideology works extremely well, through the use of bubbling synths and looping vocals over live drums performed by Caribou’s Brad Weber. The music ebbs and flows in great heaving breaths. Songs are structured like dance music, with patient build ups reaching of-
ten chaotic climaxes. This works to brilliant effect; for instance, on the album’s centrepiece ‘South to Polynesia’, the use of spiralling saxophone creates a sense of designed commotion. Brad Weber’s percussion work, fantastic throughout the entire album, adds a level of pandemonium to the music. While the complexity of the sound is impressive, something is missing from this album. Pick A Piper describe themselves not as a band, but as a “collaborative project.” It seems to be primarily an experiment, an ad-hoc attempt to create what Pick A Piper call “organic electronic” music. The main issue is that its melodies skirt the boundaries of electro-pop but lack its catchiness, and while it uses the structures of dance
music, it lacks the punch. It is certainly not a conventional work, and so this album won’t appeal to the average listener. However, for those ready to listen to something different, this album is nothing short of beautiful; the sound is marvellously constructed and intricate. Most importantly, it is distinctly fresh and original in a time where originality is increasingly hard to find. Samuel C Ralph
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UPCOMING: DEADMAU5:WE ARE FRIENDS VOLUME 2 / LADY GAGA:ARTPOP / EMINEM:THE MARSHALL MATHERS LP 2 X
Friday November 8 2013
Fuse. music EVERYTHING EVERYTHING O2 Academy October 22
wash in strobe lights at Sheffield ‘s O2 Academy, Everything Everything thankfully remember to bring their A-game. Over a 90-minute set, the twitch-pop quartet muster up plenty of tight tunes and an impressively choreographed light show. The results are hypnotic. Preceded by fantastic support from indie upstarts Outfit and Suede-like weirdos Dutch Uncles, the band open with ‘Undrowned’ - a highlight from their new album Arc. Everything Everything: Katherine Hodgson
Silhouetted by low lights, they stand astride the stage while the song quietly builds its intensity. This effective and atmospheric opener then leads to an euphoric explosion in energy when followed by far more driving classics like ‘MY KZ UR BF’ and ‘QWERTY Finger’. Singer Jonathan Higgs is known for his vocal acrobatics, which are on display here. Stronger than earlier live performances, he mostly manages a staggeringly broad range of notes with apparent ease. There’s a few bumps, but less than there should be. His voice is at its strongest on the entrancing slower numbers ‘Duet’ and ‘The Peaks’ or when backed up by the strong harmonies of bassist and guitarist Jeremy Pritchard and Alex Robertshaw. The entire band remains impressive throughout. Drummer Michael Spearman moves like a machine and plays with soul while his colleagues bound around the stage with limitless energy. Destroying any preconceptions of them
Honeyblood The Great Gatsby October 22
oneyblood’s name is instantly evocative, linking images of nectar and gore; sticky and sweet and incongruous. It’s quite a good indication of the Scottish two-piece’s sound, which is in equal parts pretty and abrasive, marrying warm, fuzzy distorted guitars to vicious sentiments. Stina Tweeddale’s vocals are raw, impassioned and frequently furious the whole thing is red-blooded and earthy. ‘Kissing On You’, the b-side of their debut 7” is less smitten and more aggressively, dizzily enamoured, boasting an urgent, Ramonesy chorus that avers “I don’t think we can ever stop / ‘cause I don’t know how to turn you off.”
ALUNAGEORGE Plug October 29
lunaGeorge have had a buzz surrounding them ever since they came second in the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll and, having released their debut album in July, it was definitely time to showcase this collection of energetic electronica in a live arena. London’s Mausi are a fitting warm up for AlunaGeorge, rousing the rather subdued crowd with their dance-pop mix of fun. AlunaGeorge take to the Plug stage and launch straight into ‘Just A Touch’. Singer Aluna is donning a bandana and pigtails combination - perhaps subconsciously playing up to her gentle yet powerful childlike voice.
Forthcoming single ‘Best Be Believing’ is impressively delivered with strong lyrics and an extremely catchy chorus; it’s poppy in a good way, and impossible not to move your feet to. After a mellow instrumental interlude, the atmosphere is cranked up a notch with their version of Montell Jordan’s classic ‘This Is How We Do It.’ The result is catchy, but it still has nothing on the classic. Highlights of the set include ‘Attracting Flies’ and ‘Lost and Found,’ which stands out with its more garage-inspired feel. By the time we reach the encore, the crowd only want to hear two songs. As the opening beats of ‘White Noise’ blast out, Aluna orchestrates the crowd into the biggest dance-along of the night, before finishing on ‘Your Drums, Your Love,’ a song which
as an introverted group of indie kids, the quartet offset their complex, intelligent sound with an approachable and accessible attitude. Despite a sparse crowd - which is surprising as other dates on the tour are sold out - they manage to strike up a rapport with the audience and whip up incredible frenzy. The light show is also worth a mention, being incredibly orchestrated throughout. Simple lines and flashes of light cut through the air to add visually to the dancelike atmosphere. The technician deserves a lot of praise for their work. Closing on the muscular ‘Cough Cough’ and the soaring ‘Weights’, Everything Everything leave Sheffield on a high. Despite the odd vocal glitch, their set is effective and impressive. Hopefully next time, they’ll fill the place. Rhys Handley
It’s a rough-edged and recklessly, a Breakfast at Tiffany’s quote, simply horny paean to the first heady rush promises “I will hate you forever”, while closer ‘All Dragged Up’ deof lust, and also very good. New single ‘Bud’ appears strik- mands “why won’t you just grow up?” It’s not perfect, by any means – ingly early in the set, and is a touch gentler than the songs surrounding the crowd is largely reserved (bar it, giving Tweeddale and drummer one attendee who is blissfully unaShona McViccars a chance to stretch ware that a band is even playing), themselves in slightly more relaxed the sound doesn’t do the band justice, and the impression left at the surroundings. The central metaphor, in which end is very much one of potential the flaws in a failing relationship rather than fully-realised achieve“bloom” like flowers, is lovely, as ment. Rosalie Bower is the resigned and weary “it’s not your fault at all” refrain. McViccar’s drumming is sturdy and deliberate, and when ‘Bud’ blooms, it does so like bruises under the skin. More reviews online Of the unreleased material showcased in their short and immediate Read more set, the standouts are two of the an- reviews online griest songs in Honeyblood’s arse- at Forge Today nal. ‘Super Rat’, taking its title from DOT COM
accentuates Aluna’s strong vocals to maximum effect. Despite being undeniably fun and energetic, AlunaGeorge have nowhere near perfected their live set quite yet; Disclosure have proved themselves far better at performing ‘White Noise’ live in the past. But there is a lot of potential to be seen here tonight, and with such a strong first album, it would be a surprise if we didn’t see a lot more of AlunaGeorge in the near future. Zoe Antell
AlunaGeorge: Lanty Zhang Studio
UPCOMING: GARY NUMAN : O2 ACADEMY NOV 11 / LOW : QUEENS NOV 16 / BROLIN : THE HARLEY NOV 21
Friday November 8 2013
Fuse. screen Ender’s Game Dir: Gavin Hood 6/10
dark, uncomfortable film, Ender’s Game attempts to touch on moral ambiguity, which is refreshing for a high-budget major release, though doesn’t quite fit when considering its billing as an action/sci-fi for children. Set in the near future, the film follows the eponymous Andrew Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a high-intelligence child groomed for command in a war against ‘Formics’, a hostile alien race. He is monitored continuously by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), who is defined by his morally grey attitude. Ender is continually placed in dangerous situations with standoffish fellow students in his quest to progress from ‘battle school’ to ‘command school’. The film offers cheesy lines, slapstick, and corny action, which makes for fun, tongue-in-cheek action. But there’s also ham-handed delivery of a wrestle with the morality of war, retalia-
tion, and exploitation, all steeped in mistrust. The latter contains the weaker aspects of the film – dialogue intended to be thought-provoking is poorly written, and the cast deliver it without emotion, rendering these scenes stale. Furthermore, the visuals in these scenes are clichéd (sitting in solitude by a lake, staring out into space, and so on), which continues to strip the immersion away from these moments. Though these moments are clearly intended to define the film, they, thankfully, do not. The majority of Ender’s Game is filled with striking visuals, well-choreographed action sequences, and semi-likeable characters. The problem lies in the translation from the source material, Orson Scott Card’s novel of the same name, and the more intricate philosophical points have been executed poorly on the big screen.
The main characters, Ender and Colonel Graff, are not likeable characters. Both are deeply lacking in compassion, seeking to serve their own goals, such that most sympathy for both is lost in the closing scenes. This is not helped by the lead actors. Butterfield (Hugo) comes off as immature, lacking both the depth to carry the more emotional scenes, and the charisma for the more fun scenes. Ford, sadly, fails to demonstrate the commandeering screen presence which he’s previously pulled off effortlessly. This is redeemed by the support cast, who steal most of the scenes through their interactions with Ender and Graff. Ender’s Game is not an inherently bad film. It has charm in a lot of places, exciting action in others, and can be beautiful at times. Its problems are twofold: poor execution of scenes requiring emotional depth, and lacking a clear view of what it is as a piece of cinema. By all means see Ender’s Game for a fun film, but don’t expect to be impressed by any thought-provoking messages. Theo Cole
Dir: William Friedkin
illiam Friedkin is known for his mastery of the twisted and suspenseful, counting The Exorcist and The French Connection amongst his extensive catalogue of directed features. However, arguably one of his best films, is criminally overlooked – 2006’s Bug, starring Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon. The plot sees Agnes White (Judd), a waitress working at an Oklahoma diner, struggling with the dual horrors of her son’s disappearance and her abusive ex-husband’s release from prison, who is introduced to drifter Peter Evans (Shannon), and the two lonely souls start a romantic, but in
SMALL SCREEN Dracula
Creator: Cole Haddon 6/10
racula (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) returns to our screens in yet another reinvention of the legendary vampire as he wreaks havoc on London. Disguised as an American entrepreneur he has arrived with the false objective of developing Victorian society and revolutionising the science industry. Really he just wants to sink his teeth into everybody and get his revenge for the injustice he feels he was dealt centuries ago when his wife was killed. After being reawakened by Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann), who has been acting as a professor, it’s time to put his vengeful plan into action. Rhys-Meyers delivers a strong performance in the lead role as he adjusts to Dracula’s new persona as Alexandor Drayton, which shows him in a new light for audiences. He appears civilised and socialises with humans; he even befriends them. This new take on Dracula positions him as an anti hero rather than a villain, through his charisma. He comes
the end destructive relationship. Peter is convinced that in his time in the military, he was the subject of biological testing, and strives to discover the ‘bugs’ inside him. This leads to murder, paranoia, and some disturbing (though ingenious) bodily horror. Bug was a critical and commercial hit in the US, but barely touched down on this side of the Atlantic. It’s now time to give it the recognition it deserves. Better late than never. Both Shannon and Judd give powerhouse performances – Shannon’s sheer force of silent creepiness in the first half of the film, descending into frenzied delusion and outright madness by the conclusion, arguably make it his best film role so far. Judd provides a superb counterpoint – her character could have been a stereotype, but is taken in a direction that will constantly keep you guessing, and her portrayal of
across as a ladies’ man and is instantly the centre of attention. The lack of violence may disappoint die-hard fans as we don’t see a lot of action and the opening is slow-paced. The pilot episode centres round the complexity of its narrative which sees Dracula develop an enemy known as the ‘Order of the Dragon’, as well as becoming more subdued in his actions. His character has conflicting traits; at times he appears more vindictively savage in his plotting and attacks, while his list of enemies and allies grows fast, but we do not see enough of this side and it feels too restrained. Although the storyline uses an interesting new angle it could have been executed better. It fails to create the action you would expect from a show focused on a horror icon such as Dracula, and lacks that extra bite. The show does promise more bloodshed, and if the opening is anything to go by fans will want to sink their teeth in before Dracula becomes so domesticated he forgets how to bite. Die-hard fans turn away now. David Conway
aloneness, becoming insanity, is fantastic. The film is set almost entirely in Agnes’ motel room, which starts with the appearance of a safe haven from her disordered life, where she and her best friend – and possible lover – can relax and get high. However, as Evans infiltrates her life, it becomes more of a bunker, an isolation chamber, covered strikingly in tinfoil as the pair’s fear of the unknown and non-existent takes over. Bug is a film that has to be seen to be understood, and then seen again to make sure that what happened could actually have been real. One of the most outstanding studies of madness, fear and self-destruction in cinema, it is one of the most underappreciated films of the century. Bug really does get under your skin. Matt Smith
Friday November 8 2013
Thor: The Dark World Dir: Alan Taylor 9/10
his Thor... I like it. Another! Thor: The Dark World sweeps into cinemas like a whirlwind, knocking the audience for six and stunning them with action, romance and plenty of laughs. The film opens a year after Avengers: Assemble, with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in chains and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) fighting within the nine realms in order to reinstate peace amongst them. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), meanwhile, is down on Earth, trying to forget her dalliance with Thor and failing miserably as she searches for him at every available opportunity. What a shame then, that when she finally finds him, she is thrown into danger again after rediscovering the most powerful weapon in the nine realms and absorbing it. Evidently, life’s not easy when you’re in love with a Norse god. With his roguish grin and dulcet tones, Hemsworth is once again on fine form. He underplays perfectly in tantalising moments of comedic genius. Scenes of Thor amidst London provide considerable amusement without being too contrived, and there’s subtlety in his acting that brings the audience to laughter and even, at times, to tears.
Certainly, the film is not merely a silly superhero film. The plot is less concerned with vengeful villains and is far more about exploring familial relationships and to a lesser extent, romantic ones. Once again, we see Thor at odds with his aging father but in a much different capacity to the quarrel in the first film. Whereas Thor was the reckless playboy prince before, he’s since become incredibly wise, with a high regard for life, human or otherwise. It shows a maturation that would test even the finest actor, and luckily, Hemsworth is more than capable to fill those shoes. Unsurprisingly, however, it is Loki who steals the show. Hiddleston is exquisite as the chaos-revelling madman, striking a delicate balance between vulnerability and hard-hearted villainy, giving Loki a moving narrative that speaks volumes for his epic character development over the course of three films. His relationship with his adoptive brother is thrown into sharp relief by unforeseen circumstances as Thor is once again required to trust the sibling who betrayed him. What follows is brotherly bickering and witty sniping that befits such an obviously complicated love/hate relationship between the two. It’s wonderful to watch and a testament to the chemistry between Hiddleston and Hemsworth that the
audience care quite so much about them instead of focussing on the actual villain of the piece, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). The pace of the film is unrelenting and while this is good for numb bums everywhere, it is less good for Malekith whose scenes are few and far between. He is a worthy villain but his presence suffers from a lack of screen time. Indeed, amongst all the witticisms, effects and clever cameos, Malekith’s presence is sadly a little forgettable. Action, trickery, and tears are all things to expect from Thor: The Dark World, as it delivers the best Marvel sequel yet. The film proves that Norse gods don’t need franchises to remain exciting; Asgard is a world of its own and Thor, as its hero, is brave and likeable enough to carry his own weight, without the help of others. Laura Stanley
he latest film from director Steven Frears, Philomena, looks like another of those British films aimed squarely at the ‘more mature’ audience, but actually turns out to be a universal story about the significance of blood relations. The brilliant Dame Judi Dench plays the titular Philomena Lee, an elderly Irish woman who in her youth was forced to give up her baby and work in a laundry by some horrendous nuns. The unknown Sophie Kennedy Clark plays the young Philomena expertly through a series of powerfully moving flashbacks in which her child is sold to rich Americans. Now, fifty years later, Philomena goes to look for her son accompanied by Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan). The set up in which they meet is done in a workmanlike way only
taking up the first few minutes of the movie, thankfully. It’s smart pacing decisions like this that mean the film comes in at a lean 94 minutes, so we never get a chance to become bored. Coogan plays an unlikable, cynical journalist who at first seems more interested in the salability of Philomena’s story, but inevitably he goes on his own journey to become a more reasonable person. It’s interesting seeing him playing a journalist in a slightly caustic manner after his heavy involvement with the Hacked Off campaign. The relationship between Dench and Coogan’s characters drives the film, with their mutual and simultaneous admiration/frustration for each other being charming and funny. The film’s humor is the most surprising aspect; it manages to cram in a lot of comedy (with a high hit rate), despite its sad subject matter. In a scene where Martin tries to sympathise with Philomena after a frustrating confrontation with the nuns, he delivers the quip ‘fucking
army of cars. Eventually, tragedy strikes both Arbor and Swifty for being involved with the unsavoury Kitten, leading to a devastating climax. Both boys deliver revelatory performances that are raw and memorable. Although Kitten likens them to comedy duo Cheech and Chong, Arbor and Swifty have more in common with George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men. The entrepreneurial, feisty Arbor resembles the former while the slow, kindly Swifty serves as a parallel to the latter. This is the first film for both young
actors and they share a chemistry which drives the entire film and makes it such an arresting watch. Gilder is a slimy presence as Kitten, but the film belongs to Chapman and Thomas. The film was shot in Bradford and it doesn’t do the tourism industry there any favours. Despite this, Mike Eley manages to inject the grim landscapes with a fairytale quality through his cinematography. “Grim” is a word which has and will come up a lot when describing this film, but tenderness is also an important element to it. The scenes
Dir: Stephen Frears 8/10
The Selfish Giant Dir: Clio Barnard 9/10
nspired by an Oscar Wilde story of the same name, The Selfish Giant is a resounding triumph for writer-director Clio Barnard. Her second feature film, Barnard has created a bleak and heartbreaking tale about two poor, Bradford boys called Arbor (Conner Chapman) and Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Arbor is small and brash, paying no heed to anyone who dares to pose as a figure of au-
thority. In contrast, Swifty is a sensitive boy, who is more cautious than his friend. After being excluded from school for attacking bullies, the two friends try to earn a living by stealing copper wire for Kitten (Sean Gilder), an unscrupulous junkyard dealer. Kitten runs illegal horse-cart races and he sees potential for Swifty as the driver for his horse, Diesel. The most spectacular set piece in this mostly dour film comes when we witness one of these awful races. Boys in makeshift carts drive horses over stretches of road, while being chased by screaming men in an
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Catholics’ in droll, Partridge-esque fashion to great effect. Some of the laughs are less clever however, resorting to crude class gags (Philomena frequents the Harvester, while Martin prefers his Knightsbridge local). The pair head to Washington, where the film is turned on its head through the best computer-screen based scene since The Social Network. The weakest part is Alexandre Desplat’s score, a celtic tinged piano based affair, which is really nothing to write home about, but dutifully does its job. It may well be a film with cartoonishly evil nuns and lazy gay jokes, but these are significantly outweighed by it’s more subtle humor and fascinating plot. Imaginably, it will compel many to read the source text: ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty Year Search’, written by the real life Martin Sixsmith, to get a more complete picture of this tragic true story. Jack Ross
that show Arbor and Swifty just playing with each other act as a refreshing reprieve from their depressing surroundings. It is difficult not to lavish The Selfish Giant with clichéd appraisals, but it is simply that good. One of the best films so far this year, it’s an intensely moving portrait of male friendship. It showcases the best of British realist cinema. Joseph Brennan
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