Eddie The Eagle Review: An Uplifting Triumph

Eddie The Eagle

There’s nothing quite like a proper feel good film to give you both the warm and fuzzies as well as a real sense of inspiration. It’s a tricky concept to nail; often running the risk of being too sickly sweet or cheesy beyond repair. Famous Brit actor and director Dexter Fletcher (WILD BILL and SUNSHINE OF LEITH) seems to have perfected the feel good flick genre with his latest feature EDDIE THE EAGLE.

Staring KINGSMAN actor Taron Egerton as notorious British underdog ski-jumper Eddie Edwards, EDDIE THE EAGLE tells his charming story as he triumphantly makes his way from amateur skier to hopeful pro, when he attends and competes in the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Born in Cheltenham in 1963, Eddie always dreamed of being an Olympic medal winner, despite his lack of natural athletic talent, and worked hard to become a good downhill skier. After missing out on representing Great Britain as a down hill skier, the never-say-die enthusiast sets his sights on ski-jumping and stumbles his way to Germany to train.

Eddie meets hip-flask toting, former ski-jumper Bronson Peary, played by Hugh Jackman, and manages to convince him to ditch the life of regrets and hard liquor ato train him up to be successful enough to attend the 1988 Winter Olympics. Throughout the narrative we witness Eddie’s many ups and downs, cuts and bruises and failed attempts to make it as a worthy ski-jumper and it makes for a heartwarming, entertaining watch!

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Written by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton, the screenplay is an absolute delight, with a really brilliantly uplifting narrative created from an otherwise simple story. There’s a joyous sense of quintessential British humor that runs throughout the narrative, with brilliant dialogue that leaves you laughing out loud at one moment, then tearing up the very next.

With Fletcher helming the project, the film follows the general codes and conventions that one would expect to find in your traditional sports biopic. However, he makes it a truly down to Earth and very human viewing experience, so that even the slower moments within the narrative feel absolutely detrimental to Eddie’s story and therefore make a real emotional connection with the audience.

The fantastic score includes original music from Matthew Margeson, while featuring songs from the likes of Hall & Oats, Deacon Blue and Van Halen. Combined with the brilliant aesthetic that often mirrors that of an 80’s video game, the film feels entirely nostalgic while effortlessly timeless.

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What really ties all these positive qualities together is the outstanding performance from our main man Taron Egerton. He is absolutely  hilarious as Eddie and completely enigmatic as he magnificently portrays such a quirky character. His facial expressions, body language, deliverance and general performance embodies everything we’ve heard about and seen from Mr. Edwards himself. It really is a joy to watch this young actor completely outdo himself with each new performance.

With Egerton himself just being generally likable and a pleasure to watch, he makes this charming character even more lovable and it’s near impossible not to watch his performance with a huge grin plastered on your face.

Staring alongside Egerton, our favorite Aussie Hugh Jackman plays his part as the gruff and disagreeable Peary with ease and his usual effortless charm. While Peary begins as the stereotypical fallen star that indulges in too much drink and self pity, his grumpy disposition soon transforms into one of pride and joy as he see’s Eddie succeed. While his character is one we may have seen a thousand times, Jackman’s chemistry with Egerton makes for a pleasurable viewing experience and stops the character from being too much of a cliche.

You really don’t have to be a major sports fan to enjoy Fletcher’s EDDIE THE EAGLE.With its great score, flawless script, brilliant direction and outstanding performance; it really is an all round joy to watch. It’s uplifting spirit will attract a varied audience but it’s the wonderful execution from all involved that will keep you planted firmly in your seats, smiling like fools.

 

 

 

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Batman v Superman Review: A Flawed But Enjoyable Superhero Flick

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The highly anticipated Zack Snyder flick BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE hit theaters this month, taking a whopping estimated $424.1 million worldwide in it’s opening box office weekend. However, despite the impressive takings the film itself has divided critics and fans as it’s received both scathing reviews and floods of praise.

With Britain’s own Henry Cavil reprising his role as MAN OF STEELS’ Superman/Clark Kent and Hollywood hotshot Ben Affleck donning the famous cowl as Batman/Bruce Wayne; BATMAN V SUPERMAN revolves around the tension between these two superhero heavy weights as Batman begins to fear Superman’s real intentions for man kind, as he witnesses the destruction that comes with the red caped hero’s valiance.

While Batman gears himself up for battle, Superman deals with the pressure from his adorning fans and fearful critics all while trying to keep his love,Lois Lane (Amy Adams), safe. While the two hero’s nurse their egos and flex their impressive muscles, villain Lex Luther (Jessie Eisenberg) worms his way into their lives by creating the devastating Doomsday which threatens to destroy Metropolis.

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Let’s get the immediate opinion out of the way so that we can get into the nitty-gritty issues and joys to be found in the film. Do I think BATMAN V SUPERMAN was perfect? Nope. Do I think it deserves all the bashing it’s getting? Nu-uh. It really is that simple for this passive superhero fan. This film is so obviously not Marvel, there is no bright pop of colour or witty comeback round every corner. It’s dark, stormy, brooding and serious. Yes, at times, it feels like over kill but generally I found it to be an enjoyable and interesting aesthetic and tone.

One of the biggest worries when casting news broke out all those months ago were the capability of Affleck as The Dark Knight himself. Coming from a girl who originally said she’d “rather shit in my hands and clap” then see Affleck as Batman; I really liked him in the role. I take my potty mouthed words back, Affleck! I’m sorry, man. Affleck made a fine Batman but an even better Bruce. His salt and pepper hair, ginormous frame and intense personality suites this role perfectly and every time he was on screen I found myself feeling both protected by him but strangely fearful of this older, serious Bruce.

At times the intensity of his character did indeed feel a little overplayed but that felt more to do with the script from Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer. The dialogue in general felt a little stilted and many lines were delivered with any real sense of direction or delivery. Whether this was trepidation from the actors or just badly written dialogue is hard to tell but the narrative is one of the film’s weakest elements and that speaks volumes.

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Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luther was another casting choice that split fan’s opinion and I reacted to the news with a long, bored groan. Eisenberg played the character with a clever little rich boy arrogance, mixed with a genuinely unhinged edge that was better than I had imagined he would play it. With his quick wit, twisted sense of self entitlement and vast intelligence; Eisenberg played a very passable Lex Luther. Unfortunately there were times where he became a cartoon character of himself and that often felt awkward to watch. Despite this, his performance was enjoyable and there was good chemistry between our villain and our heroes.

Throughout the two and a half hour running time there were some really brilliant visuals that pushed the often lackluster narrative along nicely. Scenes such as the introduction to Justice League characters, such as Ezra Miller‘s The Flash and Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman, were great and orchestrated in a way that didn’t feel like an obvious push for the future Justice League movie. It slotted well within the plot and looked great too.

Other scenes such as Batman’s dream sequences were a little hit and miss. The problem is there was just too many of them and therefore they lost any real power within the narrative. It was interesting to see what Batman imagined the future would be if Superman reigned supreme, the soldiers bowing down to him as he rips off Batman cowl made for a nice little inclusion. However, other scenes like The Flash bursting from the screen to warn Bruce about the future felt absolutely unnecessarily and, unless you’re a fan of the comics, pretty much went straight over the audience’s heads.

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One of the biggest flaws to be found in BATMAN V SUPERMAN was what most of us flocked to the cinema to see. The actual fight between Batman and Superman, while ridiculously cool and great to watch, only really lasted around fifteen minutes. Call me greedy but I just wanted more. The choreography, performance, score and visuals for their fight were all brilliant but it just felt like it was over too quickly. With one quick mention of Martha and her impending death, Batman forgives all immediately and it just feels too easy. I wanted to see more difficultly over his decision but alas he was swayed pretty quickly.

While there are flaws to be found in the film one of my absolute favorite things about BATMAN V SUPERMAN was, without a doubt, Gal Godot‘s Wonder Woman. She was incredible and really aided the narrative with her presence. With Amy Adams’ Lois Lane had more to do than she did in MAN OF STEEL, the film was desperate for more positive female energy and Gal Gadot delivered! That brilliant electric score when she appeared on screen in all her glory really summed up her fantastic presence as Wonder Woman. Her costume was spot on, she wasn’t there as a glorified love interest and she actually plays a real hand in saving Metropolis. She was a real triumph.

I really don’t believe that there is some kind of critic conspiracy behind these negative reviews. The film is a flawed one, it really is that simple. However, despite it’s problems, I found myself sinking into my seat, drunk on pure, passive entertainment and enjoyed what I watched. They’ve got a lot of work to do before we see our characters again and hopefully they’ll learn for their mistakes in BATMAN V SUPERMAN. For now thought, if you liked it then do so without outrage at the negative reviews. If critics don’t matter, as so many are saying, then surely their opinion shouldn’t sting so much. Film is an interpretive art form- enjoy it for what it is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Pieces Review: An Ambitious & Intriguing First Feature

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Director: Adam Nelson

Staring: Finnian Nainby-Luxmoore, Matt Jones, Isabelle Glinn, Graham Cawte, Peter Oliver

Running Time: 80 mins

Rating: N/A

 

There is a specific joy in emerging yourself into the world of independent cinema. Without the dizzying heights of a blockbuster budget, independent filmmakers must rely on their talent for storytelling to truly connect with their audience and when they do, it creates a wholly intense and intimate affair between director and audience that is not so often found in mainstream cinema.

It’s with great ambition and natural talent that director Adam Nelson dips his toes into the world of independent cinema with his feature directorial debut; Little Pieces. From Apple Park Films comes a story of two  brothers, Michael (Finnian Nainby-Luxmoore) and Eric (Matt Jones), who find their brooding resentment against their alcoholic Father bubbling to the surface with real danger of violently boiling over.

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Told in a non-linear fashion, Nelson relies on character development and audience interpretation to tell the story, rather than traditional narrative form, and this pays off in creating an impressively ambition first crack at tackling a full feature narrative. It gives way for more in-depth character analysis, allowing a simple but effective narrative to speak louder than perhaps a more traditional forms of story telling; mirroring already well regarded British independent flicks in their uniqueness.

While this technique does make for a more interesting and challenging watch, it doesn’t always pay off in ensuring that it’s intentions are always clear and this is where stronger dialogue could have enabled a little more focus and clarity between the characters; particularly between the two brothers as their bond would have perhaps been stronger.

The film immediately introduces a varied and skilled use of cinematography, with Nelson proving an immediate talent and knowledge of story telling in visual communication. There are some lovely shots with great composition and it’s pleasantly clear that Nelson has a clear and keen eye for cinematic aesthetic.

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Performances from the likes of Nainby-Luxmoore and Matt Jones aid to the subtle nature of the films communication, with their emotive but downplayed performances giving way for emphasis on tone. Some characters are a little like cartoon versions of themselves, Jerry (Peter Oliver) for example, but that is not necessarily fault on writing but perhaps an acute case of overacting. The brother’s father, David, becomes a catalyst for devastation and Graham Cawte plays the part very well. He’s a very strong presence throughout the entire narrative and his dramatic performance feels both genuine and committed.

An incredibly impressive aspect that really gives the film a professional edge is the brilliant original score from Imraan Husain. He opens the film with a suitably ominous tone and continues to help pull the narrative together with an outstanding score that mirrors the likes of bigger independent flicks.

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Much like any independent film, Little Pieces often suffers slightly due to budget and shooting time but there is a heartwarming amount of passion and potential that spill from every scene. It’s quite clear that Nelson has a natural talent for storytelling and it’s with pleasure that one is able to witness the beginning of what appears to be a promising step onto feature film making.

Black Mass Review: Weak Narrative Derails This Gangster Flick

Black Mass

Director: Scott Cooper

Staring: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard

Running Time: 2 hours 2 mins

Rating: 15

Release Date: 27th November 2015

Johnny Depp‘s fantastic career has seen him play an array of weird and wonderful characters, from swashbuckling heart-throb to a leather clad cry baby. This year, however, he’s swapped fantastic costume for facial prosthetic as he plays Boston super gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger in Scott Cooper‘s latest feature Black Mass.

The gangster biopic begins in 1975 and introduces us to South Boston’s most notorious and violent criminal, Jimmy Bulger, as the leader of the Irish-American Winter Hill Gang. When Jimmy’s power position in the South is threatened by rival North end gang the Angiulo Brothers, he becomes an unofficial FBI informant, working with childhood friend and current FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton).

With Connolly and Jimmy working together, both turning to Jimmy’s State Senator brother, Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help, the mission to destroy the mafia goes ahead but soon the entire gang find themselves directly in the FBI’s firing line.

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Cooper takes a pretty traditional biopic route and, unfortunately, the safety doesn’t particularly work in his favor. While Jimmy is an interesting enough character, the  narrative doesn’t feel overly committed to his story as Cooper struggles to juggle both this central narrative and the weaving testimonials of the FBI informants. It leaves the film and its flow feeling a little clunky and disjointing, leading to a rather slow paced narrative.

While the film as a whole is disappointing, the performances are not; specifically Depp’s central role. It’s rather refreshing to see Depp in a role that strays from his more type-cast ‘wacky’ characters, instead seeing him in a new chilling light. His portrayal of Bulger comes with a real hard edge, a sense of unnerving controlled fury but a hot rage that pours from that stern psychotic stare. He plays it very well and it’s easy to see his physical commitment to embodying the terror his character well represents.

Dakota Johnson gives a great performance as the Mother of Jimmy’s child, despite her small screen time. We only really get a quick glimpse at her role in Jimmy’s life and it feels like a missed opportunity and failure on the writers part not to have seen much of their backstory. Still, she’s particularly impressive during the hospital scenes; giving a wonderfully emotive performance with great chemistry between her and Depp.

Alongside him Edgerton and Cumberbatch do a perfectly fine job of giving audiences a glimpse of how else a ‘street kid’ might have turned out. The difficultly with these two characters however is that there’s nobody among Bulger’s gang to empathise with or even truly like. This especially applies to Edgerton’s character, who initially starts out as a little naive but continues to fall deeper into his loyalty with Jimmy; leading him to be completely unlikable.

Without somebody, anybody, to be rooting for, it’s difficult to really care about how the narrative progresses; why should we really care about justice when there’s nobody to want justice for? This really comes down to the writing and direction, as it’s not difficult to see that the cast are doing the best with what they’ve got. However, it often feels like the focus is paid too much on creative a generic gangster flick that the real narrative drive is neglected.

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The film is terribly frustrating as it’s not hard to imagine a better movie if only they’d gone in a different, less predictable direction. Themes like Jimmy’s vastly different career to his Brother’s or his relationship with the Mother of his child peak your interest but they’re never fully explored and it does leave you with a cloudy head to disappointment.

Ones own love for gangster movies perhaps looks upon Cooper’s attempt with harsh eyes and I don’t doubt that Black Mass will find an appreciative audience who will be more than thrilled with his style and direction; I’m just not one of them.

 

 

Steve Jobs Review: Sorkin, Boyle & Fassbender Are A Match Made in Heaven

Steve Jobs

Director: Danny Boyle

Staring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan, Jeff Daniels, Micahel Stuhlbarg,

Running Time:  2 hours 2 mins 

Release Date: 13th November 2015

Rating: 15

You’d struggle to find somebody in the Western world who hasn’t heard of Steve Jobs, let alone his various Apple products. iPods and all it’s variants are firmly attached to our body like separate appendages and Jobs is seen like a Godly figure to so many tech lovers. With Steve Jobs being such an idol of creation and a public figure that held so much attention, it’s no surprise that Danny Boyle‘s latest flick, Steve Jobs, is the second film to be made about the main man.

The film isn’t told within the traditional narrative form of beginning, middle and end; opting instead to cherry-pick three major product launches, creating the narrative from said events and unveiling the central story line through the drama of backstage preparation. This method feels like it shouldn’t work, running the risk of losing audience engagement due to the simplistic, subdued form of story telling. Thankfully, the combination of Danny Boyle’s brilliant vision and Aaron Sorkin’s masterful script completely steers the film clear of being anything but captivating, gripping it’s audience from the very beginning and refusing to let go until the bitter end.

 Boyle really does do a wonderful job of steering this huge Steve Jobs ship and there are delightful moments of visual engagement that scream his name. Instant recognition towards his previous work spills from many scenes, a particular highlight being a scene involving Jobs and Hoffman conversing in an unremarkable corridor. As Jobs is giving another one of his impassioned speeches, wonderful images cascade the curved walls of the corridor, scooping the audience up into an atmospheric moment of epiphany; soon finding ourselves believing whatever it is Jobs is saying.

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Fassbender does a stand out job of embodying everything we’ve come to believe about Jobs. He transforms into this complex character with ease, proving his talents to be growing with each new performance. Fassbender does a brilliant job of conveying not only the development of Jobs, especially when related to his relationship with his daughter, but also relates the varied, eccentric sides to his personality. Whether we’re witnessing moments of absolute tyranny, such humor in his back and forth with Hoffman, unbearable patronising or even tenderness; Fassbender makes the character so overwhelming in the very best sense.

Alongside him, a varied range of top performances creates this incredibly impressive cast. Playing Jobs’ confidant and marketing executive Joanna Hoffman is the ever brilliant Kate Winslet, who’s character helps us see the softer side of Jobs, as well as representing much of what we’re thinking about the man himself i.e lighten up, man.

Seth Rogan gives an equally great performance as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Michael Stuhlbarg plays engineer Andy Hertzfled, Jeff Daniels appears as CEO John Scully and Katherine Waterston plays the troubled mother of Jobs’ daughter. Each of these tremendously written and played characters allow us to get an outside look at Steve Jobs, how he functioned as more than just the famous Apple co-founder; as a friend, lover, boss and father.

One of the films bigger side stories revolves around Jobs’ relationship with his daughter Lisa, played by Ripley Sobo, Makenzie Moss and Perla Haney-Jardine. It’s quite rewarding to see just how Jobs’ turbulent relationship with Lisa adapts, grows and eventually blossoms, especially after revealing his initial denial of paternity. There are moments where it feels as though the relationship is slightly forced to incorporate a sentimental ending but this mostly comes down to personal preference and it’s never enough to tarnish the stellar film as a whole.

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The film’s ultimate triumph is the outstanding, punchy and completely addictive script from Aaron Sorkin.  Every word of dialogue feels like shots being fired and as soon as you’ve heard one line, you’re desperate for another. Like a Western, each word fly’s from Fassbender’s mouth like a pistol and he won’t stop until somebody is dead. Sorkin completely outdoes himself and manages to make such heavy, constant, abrasive dialogue sound like poetry.

Scenes with Jobs and John Scully are particularly impressive, seeing how their relationship heats, cools and mediates. It’s so thrilling to watch as their meetings develop, from calming words of trust and wisdom to how their their fork tongues spit words of war at each other with such venom. Sorkin wowed with his work in THE SOCIAL NETWORK but this script is truly something all together masterful, an astounding example of how the right words can propel  good film to a great film.

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It’s with real bemusement that one hears STEVE JOBS has struggled to find it’s audience in the US, as this audience member struggles to find real fault with it at all. With a director who’s skill spills from each scene, outstanding performances and one of the smartest, sharpest scripts of recent cinema; STEVE JOBS is truly remarkable.

Netflix Review- The Stag: A Charming Allbeit Simple Irish Adventure

Director: John Butler

Cast: Andrew Scott, Hugh O’Conor, Peter McDonald, Brian Gleeson, Michael Legge, Andrew Bennett, Amy Huberman

Running Time: 1 hour 34 minuets

Release Date: Friday 7th March 2014

 Sherlock Holmes fans will be well aware of Irish born actor Andrew Scott‘s formidable talent from his stint as the enigmatically menacing and utterly psychotic Jim Moriarty. A nation became wholly hooked by his supreme performance and soon fans across the globe celebrated as Scott bagged a BAFTA for his Sherlock supporting role in 2012. Despite this being his arguably break out role, Scott has appeared in a number of different productions, including the 2014 John Butler flick The Stag.

With the hugely popular Scott at it’s centre, The Stag follows the story of enthusiastic rambler Davin as he’s roped into organising a last minuet ‘Stag Do’, or bachelor party for our friends across the pond, for his best friend and frenzied groom, Fionan; played by Hugh O’Conor. With some much needed persuasion from the groom’s brother, his boyfriend and best friend (Brian Gleeson, Michael Legge, Andrew Bennett) ; Fionan agrees to an extreme-walking stag do, as long as his fiancé’s manic brother doesn’t attend.

Nicknamed ‘The Machine’ (Peter McDonald), Fionan’s soon to be brother in law is known for his widely inappropriate behaviour, short temper and love of all things risky. Well what do you know, the big guy finds out about it; what are the chances? With The Machine tagging along for the adventure, Davin, Fionan and the boys must tackle their way through the Irish wilderness for two days of freedom, all while trying to keep The Machine from driving them all crazy.

With the script written by Butler and McDonald, the dialogue has a sharp and edgy wit to it that marries well with some more traditional, juvenile forms of comedy that go so well with a narrative such as this. There are both moments of physical comedy, slight satire and sarcasm; a range that works well with the varied collection of character types.

While the dialogue is written with great thought and remains consistently good throughout the entire film, much of the action and general pacing of the remaining content often feels slightly disjointed, often rushed and at times a little boring. The beginning on the narrative gets off to a slow start. As the audience are introduced to the main character’s, it feels particularly sluggish; despite some of the humorous back and forth in dialogue.

Luckily, the pace quickens as the boys set off on their Ireland adventure and the central section of the film is by far it’s strongest. Much on the narrative takes place within the wilderness of Ireland’s forestry and Butler and McDonald do well to integrate the character’s backstories and unseen relationships into the relevant scenes, so that the audience are able to quickly interpret the hidden looks and off-hand comments of the conflicting characters.

The cast really is a smorgasbord of comedic talent as each actor brings a different energy to the films general tone and comedy formula. Scott in particular is a joy to watch as his sometimes subtle, often exaggerated facial expressions and body language mirror the audience’s own shock and delight at The Machine’s behaviour. As a pairing, Scott and McDonald are a brilliant and funny duo. The comedy really picks up when the boys all take a hit of MDMA and begin a drug fuelled night of nudity in the dark and lonely forest. The guy’s physical comedy is hilarious and these scene is without a doubt the strongest and funniest moment in the entire narrative.

As funny as it is, Butler and McDonald attempt to create a sincere and touching emotional storyline of unrequited love and the strength of friendship. While this is perfectly justified within the narrative and, at times, has a slight emotional impact on the audience; it often feels forced and weak. This can distract from the initial narrative as the film works best as a light comedy.

While the narrative is simple and the pacing feels a little blurred; Butler’s The Stag is a witty and charming Irish affaire. With a great, humble sense of humour and brilliant performances, the film may not be changing the face if cinema anytime soon but makes for a perfectly fine escape into the silly lives of some silly men.

Catch Up

Hello readers! I have been a terrible blogger recently but you have my word that it’s all been because I’ve been very busy with my Film & Entertainment Journalism. If you haven’t had the chance to be following my bits, you can visit my Facebook page to keep up to date. There you’ll find news stories, reviews, feature posts and a couple of editorial posts from various sites.

Also, this week I’ll be headed into central London to work at a BANG Showbiz to get some in-house experience because at the moment I’ve only had experience working from home as a freelance writer. I’m seriously looking forward to it because I’m actively looking for a permanent place somewhere.

In the mean time, I’ve been watching/reading some brilliant stuff that you seriously need to get in to! I’m currently reading The Farm by Rob Smith and I have to say, it’s absolutely thrilling! I’d seriously recommended. I’ll make sure I get a review up here as soon as I’m done.

In the mean time, remember to keep visiting for all my past posts as well as all those on my own site; here.

Thanks, guys!

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