Posted in books, films & DVD, Television

Our Kind of Traitor by John LeCarre

imageI would like to read Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carre, which is also being released on film soon. It features a British university lecturer named Peregrine “Perry” Makepiece (Ewan McGregor) and his lawyer girlfriend Gail Perkins (Naoemie Harris) who meet a shady Russian business oligarch and money Launderer named Dmitri “Dima” Vladimirovich Krasnov (Stellan Skarsgård) and his family while on holiday in Antigua. Dima, who describes himself as “the world’s number one money launderer,” has an unusual proposal for Perry. Dima fears for his life because “The Prince”, the new leader of his criminal Mafia, had a friend of Dima’s murdered and now The Prince wants Dima to come to Bern to sign over control of the money-laundering operations to him. So Dima gives Perry incriminating evidence concerning The Prince to give to MI6.

Back in the UK, Perry consults a colleague in the British intelligence community and hands over Dima’s notes. Since these implicate a high-ranking decision maker in the UK, British intelligence decides to put government fixer Hector Meredith (Damien Lewis) in charge of a secret semi-official investigation. Hector recruits intelligence officer Luke Weaver to handle the investigation.Soon Perry and his girlfriend Gail are lured into a Russian oligarch’s plans to defect  and find themselves stuck between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom can be trusted

Perry and Gail travel to Paris and are present during a meeting between Dima and British intelligence in during the 2009 Roland Garros final.After Dima signs the papers handing over his assets to a representative of “The Prince”, he meets with Luke and is extracted, to a safe house in the Swiss Alps then British intelligence insists that Dima travel to the UK Dima reluctantly agrees and travels to the UK, however things don’t go to plan…

Posted in Uncategorized

May the Fourth be with you (groan)

imageMany Star Wars fans celebrate Star Wars culture, books and honour the films annually on May 4th, which has been dubbed Star Wars Day because of the popularity of a common pun “May the fourth be with you”. If you wanted To prolong the celebrations you could also try Revenge of the 5ith or Revenge of the Si(x)th. The original quote is derived from the famous quote ‘May the Force be with you” and was first used in an advertisement placed in the London Evening News when Margaret Thatcher was elected Britain’s first female Prime Minister on May 4, 1979, and The Conservative political party placed an advertisement in The London Evening News which read “May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations.” The line was also recorded in the UK Parliament’s Hansard.

Star Wars creator George Lucas was also asked to say the famous sentence “May the Force be with you” during a 2005 interview on German news Channel N24 and the nterpreter simultaneously interpreted the sentence into German as Am 4. Mai sind wir bei Ihnen (“On May 4 we are with you.”). This was captured by TV Total and aired on May 18, 2005. In 2011, the first organized celebration of Star Wars Day took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the Toronto Underground Cinema. Produced by Sean Ward & Alice Quinn, festivities included an Original Trilogy Trivia Game Show; a costume contest with celebrity judges; and the web’s best tribute films, mash-ups, parodies, and remixes on the big screen. The second annual edition took place on Friday, May 4, 2012. In 2013, Disney’sHollywood Studios is celebrating the holiday with several Star Wars events and festivities.Honoring the day the humanoid robot Nao created a unique greeting to all Star Wars fans.

Star Wars

The next movie in the saga: Star Wars episode VII The Force Awakens takes place approximately 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi and is directed by J.J.Abrahams. Carrie Fisher reprises the role of Princess Leia Organa, alongside Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford alongside Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Max von Sydow, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis and Domhnall Gleeson, with Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker reprising roles from previous films.

Disney executives are also planning to release follow-up movies “every two to three years” after Episode VII. The Force Awakens in a planned third Star Wars trilogy, which was announced after The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in October 2012.J.J. Abrams is directing and Producing alongside long-time collaborator Bryan Burk. George Lucas is involved as Creative Consultant And Larry Kasdan, writer of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and Simon Kinberg, producer of This Means War are also working on them. Abrams, , and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy are also involved. John Williams returns to compose the score, and Star Wars creator George Lucas serves as creative consultant. Disney boss Bob Iger has also hinted at several spin-off films based on individual characters. However the planned release of Star Wars Episodes II and III in 3D has been shelved in order to focus on the new movies

Posted in books, films & DVD, Television

E. Nesbit

railway-childrenCelebrated English author and poet Edith Nesbit sadly passed away on 4 May 1924. born 15th August 1858. She wrote or collaborated on over 60 books of fiction for children, several of which have been adapted for film and television. She was also a political activist and co founoded the Fabian Society, a precursor to the modern Labour Party.Nesbit published approximately 40 books for children, including novels, collections of stories and picture books. Collaborating with others, she published almost as many more.According to her biographer Julia Briggs, Nesbit was “the first modern writer for children”: “(Nesbit) helped to reverse the great tradition of children’s literature inaugurated by Lewis Carroll, George MacDonald and Kenneth Grahame, in turning away from their secondary worlds to the tough truths to be won from encounters with things-as-they-are, previously the province of adult novels.” Briggs also credits Nesbit with having invented the children’s adventure story. Noël Coward was a great admirer of hers and, in a letter to an early biographer Noel Streatfeild, wrote “she had an economy of phrase, and an unparalleled talent for evoking hot summer days in the English countryside.”

Among Nesbit’s best-known books are The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1898) and The Railway Children. This concerns a family who move to “Three Chimneys”, a house near the railway, after the father, who works at the Foreign office, is imprisoned after being falsely accused of spying. The children befriend an Old Gentleman who regularly takes the 9:15 train near their home; he is eventually able to help prove their father’s innocence, and the family is reunited. The family take care of a Russian exile, Mr Szczepansky, who came to England looking for his family (later located) and Jim, the grandson of the Old Gentleman, who suffers a broken leg in a tunnel.The theme of an innocent man being falsely imprisoned for espionage and finally vindicated might have been influenced by the Dreyfus Affair, which was a prominent worldwide news item a few years before the book was written. And the Russian exile, persecuted by the Tsars for writing “a beautiful book about poor people and how to help them” and subsequently helped by the children, was most likely an amalgam of the real-life dissidents Sergius Stepniak and Peter Kropotkin who were both friends of the author.

The Railway Children was also adapted into 1970 British drama film based on the novel byE. Nesbit. The film was directed by Lionel Jeffries, and stars Dinah Sheridan, Jenny Agutter (who had earlier featured in the successful BBC’s 1968 dramatisation of the novel), Sally Thomsett and Bernard Cribbins in leading roles. The film was released to cinemas in the United Kingdom on 21 December 1970.The film rights were bought by Lionel Jeffries. It was his directorial debut, and he was also responsible for writing the screenplay for the film. The Railway Children turned out to be a critical success, both at the time of its release and in later years. It has gone on to gain a place in several surveys of the greatest films ever made, including surveys conducted by the British Film Institute and Total Film magazine.

Nesbitt also wrote The Wouldbegoods (1899), which recount stories about the Bastables, a middle class family that has fallen on relatively hard times. The Railway Children is also extremely well known. Her children’s writing also included numerous plays and collections of verse.She created an innovative body of work that combined realistic, contemporary children in real-world settings with magical objects – what would now be classed as contemporary fantasy – and adventures and sometimes travel to fantastic worlds. In doing so, she was a direct or indirect influence on many subsequent writers, including P. L. Travers (author of Mary Poppins), Edward Eager, Diana Wynne Jones and J. K. Rowling.

C. S. Lewis wrote of her influence on his Narnia series and mentions the Bastable children in The Magician’s Nephew. Michael Moorcock would go on to write a series of steampunk novels with an adult Oswald Bastable (of The Treasure Seekers) as the lead character.Nesbit also wrote for adults, including eleven novels, short stories and four collections of horror and has left a long lasting legacy in the form of some great novels and Poems

Posted in music

James Brown

Often referred to as the Godfather of Soul, the late great American singer, songwriter, arranger, and dancer, James Brown was born May 3rd, 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina. He was a prolific singer, songwriter and bandleader and became one of the most iconic mportant and influential figures in funk and soul music from 1956-2006. This remarkable achievements earned him the sobriquet “the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business” and helped him become one of the most popular entertainers in 20th-century popular music. Among his most popular songs are “It’s A Man’s World” “Try Me” “Night Train” “Please, Please, Please” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” “I Got You (I Feel Good)” “Cold Sweat ” “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud” “Get on Up” and “Super Bad.

Brown was raised mainly in Augusta,Georgia, by his great-aunt, who took him in at about the age of five after his parents divorced. Growing up in the segregated South during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Brown had a really impoverished upbringing and this probably explained his later penchant for wearing ermine coats, velour jumpsuits, elaborate capes, and conspicuous gold jewellry. Neighbours taught him how to play drums, piano, and guitar, and he learned about gospel music in churches and at tent revivals, where preachers would scream, yell, stomp their feet, and fall to their knees during sermons to provoke responses from the congregation. Brown sang for his classmates and competed in local talent shows.At age 15 Brown was sentenced to 8 to 16 years in prison after being arrested for breaking into cars but was released after 3 years for good behaviour.

While at the Alto Reform School, he formed a gospel group named the Flames (later the Famous Flames), which soon attracted the attention of the legendary Little Richard , whose manager helped promote the group, and they went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to record their first song “Please, Please, Please” which went on to sell three million copies and launched Brown’s extraordinary career. Along with placing nearly 100 singles and almost 50 albums on the best-seller charts, Brown broke new ground with two of the first successful “live and in concert” albums— Live at the Apollo (1963), and the follow-up, Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal.During the 1960s Brown was known as “Soul Brother Number One.” His hit recordings of that decade have often been associated with the emergence of the Black Arts and black nationalist movements, especially the songs “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud”, “Don’t Be a Drop-Out”, and “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothin’ (Open Up the Door, I’ll Get It Myself)”. Politicians recruited him to help calm cities struck by civil insurrection and avidly courted his endorsement.

In the 1970s Brown became “the Godfather of Soul,” and his hit songs stimulated several dance crazes and were featured on the sound tracks of a number of “blaxploitation” films. When hip-hop emerged as a viable commercial music in the 1980s, Brown’s songs again assumed centre stage as hip-hop disc jockeys frequently incorporated samples from his records. He also appeared in several motion pictures, including The Blues Brothers and Rocky IV, and attained global status as a celebrity, especially in Africa,where his tours attracted enormous crowds and generated a broad range of new musical fusions.Brown’s uncanny ability to sing soulful slow ballads as well as electrifying up-tempo tunes, often blending blues, gospel, jazz, and country vocal styles together, made him one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. His extraordinary dance routines featuring acrobatic leaps, full-impact knee landings, complex rhythmic patterns, dazzling footwork, dramatic entrances, and melodramatic exits redefined public performance within popular music and inspired generations of imitators. The musicians associated with him (Jimmy Nolan, Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, and Maceo Parker) have also played an important role in funk music. in 1986 Brown was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution to the world of Funk and Soul Music . Brown sadly passed away on December 25th 2006 but he made such an outstanding contribution to the world of Funk and Soul Music that he will not be forgotten and his legacy will live on for many years to come.