Hillsborough

It only seems right to speak about this as it is the 28th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, however it isn’t the easiest thing to speak about. It’s hard to find the words to describe just how much of a tragedy this was. It was a total disgrace how the families of the 96 and the people of Liverpool were treated from that day, right up until now. It is crazy to think that after all this time, it is only the first year that the world knows the truth that the people of Liverpool knew all along.

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After all the years of fighting for justice the families got what they deserved. They were never alone though, despite rivalries in football, whenever it came to the Hillsborough disaster the football world has always been united. Every anniversary other football teams pay their respects, there’s no sign of people forgetting the 96, every year there seems to be more and more done to pay tribute to the 96. Not just in England, many teams from around the world pay tribute, especially Borussia Dortmund, who Liverpool seem to have a special connection with, but the club that stands out when it comes to this is Everton, Liverpool’s local rivals. Despite there being a massive rivalry between them, the Hillsborough disaster had an affect on both clubs, the people who died were friends and family of evertonians. Everton have always shown support to Liverpool when it comes to this, just this week they have banned the sun from all areas of the clubs operation, albeit for different reasons. In my opinion it should have been banned a long time ago, and more clubs should follow, because time and time again they just prove themselves to be a disgrace.

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Nathan.

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A review of Beauty and the beast.

On the weekend where the Irish celebrate our welsh, snake banishing patron saint by getting blind drunk, what movies does one go to see? Turns out Hollywood’s answer is a little underwhelming, a remake of a Disney classic, a remake of King Kong from the thirties and a movie by American comedian Jordan Peele.

Beauty and the beast is the latest live action film from the super media conglomerate known as Disney. Despite George Lucas giving the company the title of “White slavers” they have continued to find success in their recent string of live action remakes of their vast library of classic animated feature films from the 20th century. The move away from kitsch subject matter like The lone ranger and into adapting old classics like Beauty and the beast has opened up a far more viable audience of young children and middle age women who are often under-served by a Hollywood that continues to chase the young male demographic.

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Watching the film with its target audience gives an interesting insight into the film’s appeal to families and nostalgia seekers, it kept them from screaming and running around or looking into their phones. Instead they seemed to be mostly enthralled by the singing and over the top visuals. For me though, I would prefer a far more creatively impressive fusion of live action and traditional hand-drawn animation as seen in Who framed Roger Rabbit. Yet another CGI driven film where Emma Watson struggles to interact with all the green-screen characters she cannot see, is not something that could be given top marks for effort. However there is some great voice acting talent such as Ian Mc Kellan and Ewan McGregor, who give life to their inanimate characters.

In fact the film reeks of the smell of ‘Passable’. It is a very faithful adaptation of a classic story. The story itself is perhaps the most unassumingly odd thing about the film, an allegory for the process in which women should be attracted to wild and unruly men so they can soften and tame them. This is not a message that really melds well with the female liberation slant that shows its head from time to time in the film. Whether the writers knew about about the allegorical meaning of “Beauty and the beast” is inconsequential. What does matter is that the media did not care and decided the film was automatically politically correct for having a gay male caricature for comic relief, in the foreground of the film’s plot.

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In conclusion to this review, Emma Watson was foolish to pass up La La Land for this. I doubt she had more fun on this set than she would have in Damien Chazelle’s camp, however I do not doubt she was paid a pretty penny to do this picture. As for recommending this to the regular viewer, go see “Get out” instead which I will talk about at some stage but not before I talk about  John Carpenter, who I think Jordan Peele copies and builds upon in many ways. Finally, for families; go watch the original animated film first before seeing this.

Thanks for reading.

Peter Allen.

 

Eight years on, what has changed?

When I found out a few days ago that it had been eight years since Liverpool knocked Real Madrid out of the champions league after cruising to a 5-0 aggregate win, I got a bit of a shock. It’s a bit sad really, from a Liverpool fans point of view to think it has been this long since we last properly challenged in the champions league, having being knocked out in the group stages in both the 09/10 season and 14/15 season, which simply isn’t good enough for a club like Liverpool. I don’t think any Liverpool fan could have predicted back then how little success we would have in the following eight years.

At the time we were definitely one of the best sides in Europe. We had the likes of Gerrard, Alonso, Torres, Mascherano, and Carragher, even some of the lesser players back then were a lot better than most of our players in the following years. But for me the most important thing was the manager, Rafael Benitez. When it came to big European games he knew how to get a result even if the odds were against us. He pretty much put Liverpool back on the map in European football, after winning the champions league in his first season. After that season all Liverpool fans had become accustomed to big European nights again, something that is quite rare nowadays.1413873308316_wps_1_Rafael_Benitez_Liverpool_

Despite there being massive differences to the Liverpool team now and the Liverpool team eight years ago, there are also a few scary similarities. In the 2008/09 season, despite doing the double over Manchester United, Liverpool still finished second, just four points behind United. And after being top of the table at Christmas, dropping points against the smaller teams is what ultimately cost Liverpool. Eight years later and the exact same things are happening. The current Liverpool team have been slated all season for being up for the big games but then having a mentality problem against the smaller teams, but any Liverpool fan would tell you that this isn’t really anything new, and that we have always struggled against weaker opposition for some unknown reason. So in that sense, not a lot has changed in eight years.

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The reality is, in the last eight years Liverpool have won one trophy, the league cup in the 2011/12 season. The cup is often called a Micky mouse cup, but any Liverpool fan would tell you how happy they were with winning it, simply because it had been so long since anything good had happened at Liverpool, and for me this was the biggest change in the last eight years. As fans we went from expecting big trophies and challenging on all fronts, to being happy with a league cup, and almost accepting mediocrity, something that should never happen at a club of this size. By 2011 Benitez had been sacked and Alonso, Mascherano, and Torres had all left, which left Liverpool looking a totally different team than the one that could beat the likes of Real Madrid easily. Roy Hodgsons short stint certainly didn’t help either. In my opinion that has to be seen as one of our lowest points ever as a club.

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When Kenny Dalglish came back he certainly did lift morale, won a cup, and got us to another cup final, but ultimately wasn’t good enough. Brendan Rodgers was the next man to be in charge, and to be fair I was a fan of him. After two seasons we were back in the champions league and we had almost won the league in 2013/14 after a remarkable season, but just as you think we are back on track, Luis Suarez leaves for Barcelona, and we have a miserable season, seeing us get knocked out in the group stage of the champions league and finishing sixth in the league. The following season Rodgers was sacked in October and replaced with the man who is in charge now, Jürgen Klopp. The main goal for him has to be get Liverpool back to the way they were challenging eight years. Last season we saw a bit of that, beating the likes of Manchester United and Dortmund in the Europa league, but unfortunately losing in the final to Sevilla. Winning that would have meant champions league football would have been back at Anfield, but it wasn’t to be. On Klopps arrival he said he wanted Liverpool fans to change from doubters to believers, despite losing two cup finals and no real success under Klopp yet, there certainly has been massive improvement and a big change in the mind-set of Liverpool fans. The race for top four hasn’t exactly been straightforward for Liverpool this season but we are in a decent position going into the last ten games of the season, and I think with Klopp in charge it isn’t long before we see Liverpool challenging on all fronts like they were eight years ago.

jurgen-klopp-liverpool_1Nathan O’Connell.

A Clockwork Orange: An ultra-violent classic.

This film is certainly one of a kind. I’m not sure if there is another even a small bit like it, which is what makes it so unique. Despite this, Stanley Kubrick’s classic is very controversial. It was the center of a lot of controversy when it came out in 1971, and personally I think it would still cause a lot of controversy if it came out in this day and age. I’m sure this film would definitely divide opinions, but it is definitely one film that is  worth watching.

The film is set in a future, dystopian Britain, and the story is told through the main character Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell). Alex is accompanied by his three ‘droogs’, Pete, Georgie, and Dim. Their idea of fun is violence, rape, and all sorts of crime. The film begins with the four drinking in the ‘korova milkbar’. The milk acting as a stimulant for the ultra-violence they had planned. This was basically a hobby of the youth of this future Britain.

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The violence in ‘A clockwork orange’ is extreme. There are multiple implied rapes, murders of homeless people and similar acts of debauchery throughout the film. Themes of sex are prevalent within S.K’s films from the phallic bombs in ‘Dr.strangelove’, to the entirety of Eyes Wide Shut and Lolita. The appearance of extreme sexual themes in this film could perhaps be attributed to the censoring S.K had to put up with during the production of ‘Lolita’, where much of the sexual taboos intrinsic to that particular story was contextualized instead of shown outright to the audience. Therefore an underlying contempt of the government in its quest to shield its citizens from free thought and expression is present in this film.

Unlike Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’ which follows the adventure of a passive member of a authoritarian nanny state, Clockwork portrays an anarchist who riles against it. Alex is a smart young lad who just likes a bit of violence, he does not seem to be aware of the context of right and wrong, good and evil. This was S.K’s main goal with the film, to talk about free will and how much rules are linked to our humanity and civility. If we are deprived of a choice do we become as the film suggests ‘A Clockwork Orange‘?

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S.K does at least entertain the idea that watching violent images and content can distance the viewer from real life violence, for instance Alex chants the the song”Singing in the rain” and dances like Gene Kelly in the musical of the same name, whilst taking part in a gang rape. Other scenes such as when Alex is subjected to images of sex and violence for an extended period, he remarks it looks so much more real on a television screen. However in a society where exposure to such things is limited, the government can make use of such individuals, who’s heightened psychopathic nature can be used to control the less Machiavellian public.

The advanced themes of the film were written off by Roger Ebert who called it an “Idealogical mess” and gave it 2 out of 4 stars. Even if one did not resonate with the themes, one can still appreciate the fierce skill of Stanley Kubrick behind the camera. The compositions of each scene are top notch and the famous attention for detail is present to allow for the allegory and hidden meanings that fans of Kubrick like to tease from every frame. Because S.K believed film to be photography at 24 frames per second, the quality of the cinematography is perhaps unmatched by any other director.

Even if one were to disregard the film for being ‘pretentious’ This humble critic would appeal to your sensibilities and hope you at least consider the immense effort and skill that went into the production of an undeniable classic like this film.

Thanks for reading.

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Nathan O’Connell

True Romance:A retrospective of Quintin Tarantino’s real second film project

True Romance is a film that is fun to watch and well made, yet resigned to the mainstream sidelines. The definition of a cult classic, being a box office failure upon its release. To people who have seen it and continue to champion it, the characters of Clarence and Alabama in this Bonny and Clyde style caper are role models for what the basis of a romantic relationship should be.
The fact that Alabama was a call girl, only doing her job, when approaching the unassuming Clarence watching a Sonny Chiba Kung Fu film, is inconsequential to Clarence. What matters to him is that they met at all. The fact Clarence in a bout of gung-ho mascalinity, kills Alabama’s former pimp, and accidentally steals a suitcase of cocaine from the mob is inconsequential to Alabama. What matters to her is the gesture, in fact she finds it romantic
Clarence and Alabama do not expect each other to be perfect, and with self awareness comes the ability to forgive the flaws of other people. We are our own devils, but no one is beyond being loved.
As the story continues to get darker, our two heroes relationship grows stronger. True Romance says one can find love in the space of hours, get married the next day and live happy ever after. The real world increasingly says one will find love, and get married later, but it will all eventually end in tears and a day in court over who gets the dog.
This dichotomy is always in the back of one’s mind while watching something like True Romance. The film’s confidence in the strength of relationships can come across as naive to the likes of me. But it turns out that that the films tone was a mistake of sorts.
Quintin Tarantino had just broken into the industry at the beginning of the nineties, True Romance was the first script he ever finished, which he proceeded to sell to the studios. The movie we got was directed by the late Tony Scott who saw the word ‘romance’ and ignored the word ‘true’ resulting in the super upbeat tone permeated by what would become the Tarantino filmic style of relatable, witty dialogue and absurd cinematic violence.
When you listen to the various interviews Q.T gave concerning True Romance, a different movie comes to light. A film that had a Pulp Fiction style Non-linear narrative and a much darker characters complete with a different ending. Instead of Both characters escaping to mexico with the cash and the wonderful man-tear inducing final monologue, it would have come to light that Alabama was only using Clarence. She would have fucked him over and left for mexico alone with the cash.
In a lot of ways the character of Clarence is a caricature version of Q.T. An introverted pop culture enthusiast working in a store selling the objects of many a nerd’s infatuation, with no close family and little money. Q.T knows that if suddenly your dream girl spills their popcorn all over you and you proceed to spend the night hanging out with her like you’ve known each other forever, then it has to be too good to be true. The young Q.T knew that she would probably leave you dying on the floor rather than pick you up and patch up your eye wound with an awesome eyepatch.
I feel some of this pessimistic attitude at times, and I think it affects a specific type of early twenties male. If Q.T had directed the film as originally intended I would have been forced to agree with the more melancholic depiction of the reality of having personal relationships with other humans. That reality being that there will always be a conflict of interest between two people, and then a betrayal of some kind, a classic mean spirited ‘to have loved and lost’ narrative.
To someone who can read the language of film, True Romance flip flops between speaking perfect Tarantino and perfect Tony Scott with long intervals where the film speaks the broken hybrid language of both. This lead Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert to write off the film as Jumbled and thrown together, back in the nineties. However, this holy union is always consentual and positive, unlike “Natural born killers” with which Q.T ended up claiming his script for the film was bastardised by the director.
Tarantino saw the different ending for True Romance and conceded that it was better, for the film that had ended up being made. Tarantino had perhaps escaped his pessimistic tendencies when he found professional fulfillment, so why can’t his theoretical past self find romantic fulfillment also?
Even with my bias towards the infectious style of Tarantino, I am ultimately glad to have experienced the roller coaster ride that is the Tony Scott version. Scott was a very visual director and Q.T’s wonderful script and character dialogue is the skeleton upon which Tony Scott builds the visuals, the giant chain lamp in Dreskyl’s brothel is pure Tony Scott brand cinema, how is something that looks so silly presented so threateningly? Tony Scott can just do that.
True romance is not a light hearted film in truth, people die, sometimes good people die, all so our heroes can find their own happiness. However there is something forever charming about a film that starts in downtrodden Detroit and ends on a Mexican beach topping off an ultimately positive tale about how love at first sight for two dirt poor individuals might not end in tragedy, and instead with True Romance.
Thanks for reading.
 
 Peter Allen.

Brief history of Paris Saint-Germain FC.

Paris Saint Germain or PSG for short, has finally reached the big deal status reserved for teams that beat champions league stalwarts such as Barcelona FC. The road has been long, since the clubs takeover by an oil rich Qatari consortium in 2011.

But what is the history of this French Ligue 1 side? It has been everywhere on the success spectrum, relegation and promotion,to being one of two french clubs to ever have won a European title (the other being Olympique de marseille) As regard to the number of trophies won, PSG is the most successful French club, with 31 titles in its history including 31 titles including; 6 Ligue 1 titles, 10 Coupes de France, 6 Coupes de Ligue, 6 Trophees Des Champions and one Ligue 2 title. All this in addition to a UEFA cup winners cup and UEFA Intertoto cup. Their club ground is called the ‘Parc de Princes’ with a capacity of 48,583.

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All of these credentials means the club is the second most supported in France after Marseille, with which PSG have an arch rivalry. A hyper competitive derby known as “Le Classique” with Marseille occurs every year. However the club is a fairly recent creation with a merger of two clubs, Paris Fc and Stade Saint-Germain FC in 1970, creating the large club we have today.

Being a French club, red, white and blue are the primary club colours, often making an appearance on the club kit and crest. The crest usually has an Eiffel Tower symbol and a French lily in addition to its colour code.

Club fan chants include “Ici c’est Paris” or “Here is Paris” and “Paris est Magnifique” or “Paris is magic”. The picture below gives you a taste of the passion of PSG fans.

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The first team has a large mix of nationalities playing in it, due to the club’s vast buying power. All high class players, an example being Angel De Maria of Argentina. The teams current manager is the very capable Unai Emery.

The point of this piece was to give the average layman a crash course on the story of PSG. Should the club’s star continue to rise in international football. Thanks for reading.

Peter Allen.

 

Taxi Driver: A retrospective of the 1970’s cinema classic.

The sociopath is often times a very compelling character in fiction. However it is almost always a destructive mindset in real life. However, nowadays we have safety nets with which extreme cases can be identified and hopefully assisted with their condition. However at the time and setting of Taxi Driver (1970’s New York), acquired mental conditions such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) were only recently getting attention and medical research due to veterans of the war in Vietnam coming home displaying symptoms, one such Vietnam veteran being Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro).

Travis has clearly been through traumatic experiences as this fantastically intricate film shows us, his upper torso is disfigured and he cannot sleep at night. His honourable discharge coupled with his injury suggests he faced heavy combat at least once, and he has clear ability with firearms. He was a soldier, but like so many others, he had to re-adjust to civilian life, so now he is a taxi driver.

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A side character states to Travis that you are what you do, but it seems you can take the man away from Saigon, but not Saigon out of the man. Travis cannot interact with other people properly. This was a well documented problem with how Americans treated their fighting men coming back from the war, the shift to liberalism, at the time, drove the population to treat the veterans unfairly, somehow blaming them for for unethical military policy in Vietnam. Disenfranchisement with the America they came back to was par for the course for many veterans returning home to a seemingly thankless American public.

So, the movie shows his attempts at civilian life, he charms a woman to come on a date with him in a rather awkward fashion. He does what he can to tell her what she might want to hear, to like and support the same things. However he has been away a long time, he admits he has no great knowledge of anything. So he takes her to a cinema that shows porno movies, the few avenues of entertainment that would have been found in the service. This is too much for her so she leaves, Travis can’t interpret what went wrong and pursues her later, being turned away once again.

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This is where the psychosis begins to show, literally even. Martin Scorsese and his editor,in a stroke of genius, set the president for how psychosis would later be portrayed in the visual mediums. They use an editing trick where they loop footage back and forward for a second or two, with some kind of sharp sound effect to accompany it. A look at the character’s warped perception of what is happening. A nod to the acting brilliance of Robert De Niro is necessary at this point, he delivers a truly damaged character with mannerisms that reflects the mental state of Travis perfectly.

Travis thinks, with no malicious intent, that women are objects that need to be saved from the filth he sees in every alleyway and at each street corner. So he rejects civilian life again, throws on his iconic marine corps jacket, buys a bevy of handguns from a traveling salesman and sets to work preparing for his new role as a vigilante.

The film makes a shift in tone from here on in, up to this point the film has been stifling the watcher with the uncomfortable character that is Travis, I sympathise with him deeply, but his life and his interaction with the world around him is always off putting. The lighting is almost always dark and the cinematographer lingers on silences and distressing images, helping to keep my stomach churning.

The tonal shift announces itself, as Scorsese films often do, with a explosive outburst of violence. Travis shoots a man who happens to be robbing the store he frequents. This is somewhat of a justifiable killing if you are that way inclined, but is Travis a hero? Travis failed a hooker who earlier tried to get away from her pimp in his taxi once before, he must track her down so he can atone for his earlier inaction.

And that he does, pays her for her service and she takes him to a nearby motel. However, Travis has no interest in the sex that he paid for, its questionable if he knows what emotional function sex serves at all. He thinks this young woman needs to be rescued from evil men. She insists she does not need saving, her employers are shown to be rather pleasant, for criminals. But the vitriolic disdain for everyone, even the hooker he wants to ‘save’, manifests itself further into his delusional new ego as a vigilante. There will be blood.

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So, he kills the pimps in a mighty tension-releasing bout of gunpowder and adrenaline fueled violence, with the poor young woman bearing witness to it all. In the end he lies wounded as the police crowd in, shocked at what lies before them.

Travis survives, somehow. Newspaper clippings on Travis’s apartment wall proclaim him a hero, surviving his mortal wounds. A letter from the young woman’s parents thanks him for saving their child, with no excerpt of how the young woman feels about all this. I got an impression she is not necessarily better off now, she is still trapped, but in a more socially acceptable sort of way.

Socially acceptable, what does that mean anyways? Travis goes back to his civilian job, his vapid friends. The woman he was infatuated with earlier comes back to him, but he flips her off. Perhaps she was a figment of her imagination so he could continue his paranoid viewpoint of people, perhaps the whole film was a fantasy played out within his damaged mind.

When he loses the ability to interpret reality, and his empathy is lost, can anything the psychopathic Travis says or does be taken at face value? Am I in anyway like Travis? Is my moral compass pointed in the right direction? Is my sense of righteousness tainted by contempt?

I believe there is a bit of Travis in all of us, and that is why I think Taxi Driver is such compelling viewing. It lets us indulge in our least civil thoughts. In any case, this is one of the pinnacles of the silver age of cinema, a must see. Thank you for reading.

credit:Waxwork RecordsPeter Allen.