Finding Isla Charity Event | Eeman Y

On Friday the 1 st of February, Finding Isla was performed in the Senior Hall, open to the staff and students, along with a successful raffle. All this was in aid of MQ. Written and directed by one of our very own students – Jane A – this play was created along with help from her very good friends. The play focused mainly on mental health and bullying, a huge topic in today’s discussions everywhere. The performance was in partnership with MQ (“transforming mental health through research”), an organisation based on the progress of mental health awareness and relief, which also received the entire £205 raised. In the play, a teenage girl finds herself in a whirlwind of depression, bullying, friendship conflicts and more with no way to survive it… something that can connect and relate to others as well. Like other patients worldwide, Isla has a spectrum disorder, which she struggles with in social media, and daily life. Isla, through the guidance and use of her friends and herself mostly, gets through the bullying and self-hate, portraying the message: ‘mental illness doesn’t change you as a person’. After an interview with the play’s creator, Jane, on her inspirations and motivations that had driven her to choose this topic, she expressed that the more awareness worldwide for this topic, the better. Jane also said on the question of “What was it like making your own play with your friends?”: “They’re amazing! I’m so happy my friends could act in it.”

Overall, I think the whole event was praise-worthy and well-organised. The portrayal on stage in terms of acting, the script, lighting and audio and the use of humour lightened a topic which may be easier to fully grasp put into a positive situation. The message they were trying to convey together with MQ was shown beautifully to the audience in a sensitive and successful way. In total, Jane and her friends made £205 in aid of MQ, which will hopefully carry the chain of mental health and disorder awareness in future days.

Orphan X By Gregg Hurwitz | Florence G

“Do you need my help?”

It was the first question he asked. They called when they had nowhere else to turn.

The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It’s said that when he’s reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them.

But he’s no legend.

Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as part of the governments Orphan program, designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence assets— assassins. He was Orphan X. Evan broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear.

Now, however, someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training. Someone who knows Orphan X. Someone who is getting closer and closer. And will exploit Evan’s weakness—his work as The Nowhere Man—to find him and eliminate him.

Evan’s training, unlike that of the other Orphans, left his deep seated moral code intact. He carries guilt and remorse with him everywhere, as well as his conscience. He’s one of the good guys, but don’t get on his bad side. His humanity is evident, but he still strictly adheres to the rules instilled within him by his handler- Jack- a man who was more like a father to him.

Still, Evan’s personality is muted, as he fiercely controls all his emotions. The secondary characters provide the dramatic dialogue, while Evan internalizes and reminds himself of how to respond to complex situations. There is no reliance on gimmicks, no slick polish or shine, the dialogue is sparse, to the point, without a lot of time spent on descriptive text. The story moves at an incredibly swift pace, formatted almost like long form vignettes. It has a unique presentation but that helps to create a tense, suspenseful atmosphere, adding just the right amount of poignancy to the story, allowing one to fall under Evan’s spell. One finds oneself cheering him on, developing a connection to him, caring about what may happen to him as he continues his lonely journey.

Orphan X hits all of the right notes – fantastic action, more than a few twists, some excellent character development, and some pretty cool gadgetry. In lesser hands, Evan could have been turned into a stereotypical assassin-with-a-heart, but Gregg Hurwitz gave him a lot of complexity, which made him all the more fascinating.

It’s a book filled with plot, action, terror, blood and guts.

“I do.” A man’s desperate voice. “Dios mio, I do more than anything. Is it true? Is it true that you can help me?”

Image Link: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/A1Nk2UrPPWL.jpg (16/04/21)

“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern | By Florence G

The Circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it… It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Two magicians of indefinite but certainly magically long lifespan – one a public performer named Prospero the Enchanter, aka Hector Bowen; the other known only as ‘the man in the grey suit’ or ‘Mr. A. H—’ – are engaged in a profound rivalry, played out over many generations by appointed pupils. In the late 19th century, Bowen elects his six-year-old daughter Celia, while his counterpart chooses a nameless nine-year-old orphan who will be called Marco Alisdair. These two are bound into a lifelong challenge, the rules and limits of which are never fully explained to them; and for years they do not know their opponents.

There is one thing the opponents do know: they must choose a venue for their part of the game to take place. And that is The Night Circus. Also known as ‘Le Cirque des Reves’ the Night Circus is a place of magic and imagination. All the tents are black and white, all the performers wear black and white and yet nothing is the same. Each tent transports you to somewhere else and each is more confounding than the last. It is as magical as its characters and will bind you to it’s world forever. All its performers have something to hide.

The Night Circus is a dazzling and enchanting novel that you will not easily forget and nor should because it is truly amazing.

The book was first published in 2011 by Erin Morgenstern. It was Erin Morgenstern’s first big hit as a writer and she herself describes her writing as ‘a fairy-tale in one way or another’.

The only response that really sums up the novel is ‘wow’. It is so rich in description and intrigue, making you hunger for every word and where the book will take you next. It is a breathtaking feat of imagination that creates a strikingly beautiful world, in spite of its occasional darkness.

I recommend this book for anyone over the age of 12. It is a book for everyone and anyone; it will leave you spellbound.

Image Link: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/815D5sneiNL.jpg (28/03/21)

“L’Intouchables” (2011) dir. Olivier Nakache & Éric Toldeano | Ezri M

An irreverent, uplifting comedy about friendship, trust and human possibility, L’Intouchables has broken box office records in its native France and across Europe. Based on a true story of friendship between a handicap millionaire (Francois Cluzet) and his street-smart ex-con caretaker (Omar Sy), L’Intouchables depicts an unlikely camaraderie rooted in honesty and humour between two individuals who, on the surface, would seem to have nothing in common.

‘The movie is overflowing with wonderful moments’

The screenplay cleverly uses the structure of a romantic comedy to frame the (platonic) friendship between the two very different men, fueled by mutual respect, a love of fast cars, and musical diversity.

L’Intouchables is full of little inspirational moments – the kinds of scenes that remind us how much joy can be found on a screen. Whether it’s Driss and Philippe speeding down the highway while “September” is blaring on the stereo, Driss dancing up a storm at Philippe’s stodgy birthday party, Driss acting as Philippe’s barber, or Driss’ reaction to his first opera, the movie is overflowing with wonderful moments. Humour and drama are well-balanced, things never get too maudlin, but, although there are laughs, this is not a straight-forward comedy. It respects the characters and their situations.

A part I really enjoy is that the film also avoids cluttering up the narrative with too many subplots. There are other things going on beyond the development of the central relationship, but they are kept in the background. This was a good choice by the director, Olivier Nakache. Additionally, the use of a flashback was well chosen and gave a very nostalgic feel to the film.

‘This is not a straight forward comedy’

As is always the case with buddy films/romantic comedies, the actors and their chemistry represent the foundation upon which all else is built. In this case, both leads are winners. They “get” their characters, inhabit them fully, and interact with each other with genuine warmth. These actors deserve praise and recognition for what they accomplish: they are the heart, soul, and funny bone of L’Intouchables. L’Intouchables was a huge hit when it opened in France in November 2011. Not only did it do well at the box office, but it was nominated for nine César Awards, winning one: Omar Sy for Best Actor.

Image Link: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/93/The_Intouchables.jpg (20/03/21)

‘A Place Called Winter’ by Patrick Gale | Florence G

A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence – until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything. Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.

In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate human drama, both brutal and breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love.

Throughout this novel Harry’s story is told simply, without embellishment, yet with beautifully descriptive writing, detailing the wilderness both surrounding Harry and within him as he searches to belong somewhere and with someone.

‘To find yourself sometimes you must lose everything’

This book is a frank look at sexuality and the battle of self-acceptance in a less enlightened time. It is a story that is both harsh and soft-edged, a bittersweet mixture, a story that doesn’t flinch from the truth.

You really feel like you are there with Harry during all he goes through and with those he meets along the way.

A Place Called Winter was first published in early 2015 by acclaimed author, Patrick Gale. This novel was Patrick’s sixteenth book. The character of Harry Cane is loosely based on Patrick’s grandfather, who, for some unknown reason, fled to Canada. Partick has referenced many books that inspired him to write A Place Called Winter but the book that has always stood out to him when thinking about influences is the classical love story Maurice by E.M.Forster. A Place Called Winter was also shortlisted for the Costa Prize in 2015.

I recommend this book to people that are above the age of fourteen because of some upsetting scenes.

“He was not a scholar – his brain seemed too sluggish or too dreamy to grasp the things demanded of it – but he was never happier than when left alone among books, and would spend hours turning the pages of atlases, novels or tales from history, alive to the alternative versions of himself they seemed to proffer.”

“Bad men you want to kiss are the worst; he had only to use the right tone of voice and you offered your throat to the knife.”

Both taken from A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

Image Link: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71noXpH2KLL.jpg (20/03/21)

Little Women TV Show Review | Lottie T

On the 26th, 27th and 28th December 2017, the BBC put on a TV series of the classic book Little Women. The television series was shown in three episodes based on the book by Louisa May Alcott. It is a tale about the March family, consisting of the March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, their father, who is away at war, and the mother who keeps control of the household. It shows the happy and difficult times of the family, the challenges of growing, that love is no silly game any more and the reality of life beyond the safe family house. Although sisters, the girls follow very different pathways, but will always be a close loving family, despite the sisterly arguments along the way.

The characters were all portrayed very well by actors sticking closely to the characters in the book. Aunt March (played by Angela Lansbury) definitely came across as the fearsome, strict Aunt that she came across as in the book. Beth (Annes Elwy) came across as the quiet, uncertain sister as portrayed in the book. The setting and costumes definitely brought the book to life, filling in all the gaps, and making it seem more realistic. In the final episode a large chunk of the book was missed out, skipping out quite a bit, although this was not a large drawback, as the storyline still made sense.

Overall Little Women was great viewing and I would definitely recommend for all to watch.

Image Link: https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/1200×675/p05r3gt8.jpg (12/03/21)

The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith | Florence G

Tom Ripley is far from a hero. In fact he’s probably more of a psychopath.

Thomas Ripley is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors and the law, when an unexpected acquaintance offers him a free trip to Europe and a chance to start over. Ripley wants money, success and the good life so much so he’s willing to kill for it. When his new-found happiness is threatened, his response is as swift as it is shocking.

His innate ability to charm, impersonate and subvert make him one of the most confusingly amazing and lovingly hated characters in modern writing. The constant threat and danger to everything he’s worked for make it near impossible not to root for him. Yet not to like him; not to want him to win, which is certainly unusual. Patricia Highsmith does an excellent job of ensuring he wheedles his way into our sympathies. It’s a classic story of someone who starts off with bad luck and is disregarded by society, but who, through force of personality, hard work and sheer determination, manages to make something of himself. He’s had a hard upbringing; he lost his parents and was brought up by an aunt who called him a “sissy”. And yet, he came out the other end polite, self-effacing and hard-working. He is endearingly shy in company and worried about the impression he makes on others. Not to mention always assessing himself, always trying to improve. In all aspects, Tom Ripley is a multi-faceted character that comes to life within the first few pages.

“He liked the fact that Venice had no cars. It made the city human. The streets were like veins, he thought, and the people were the blood, circulating everywhere.”

You can’t ever quite tell what’s going to happen. Patricia Highsmith balances the calm beauty of Italy with the violence of murder in such a way that you feel constantly on edge even though you’re enjoying yourself. It’s definitely one of the most interesting books you’ll ever read.

Thomas Ripley is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors and the law, when an unexpected acquaintance offers him a free trip to Europe and a chance to start over. Ripley wants money, success and the good life so much so he’s willing to kill for it. When his new-found happiness is threatened, his response is as swift as it is shocking. His innate ability to charm, impersonate and subvert make him one of the most confusingly amazing and lovingly hated characters in modern writing. The constant threat and danger to everything he’s worked for make it near impossible not to root for him. Yet not to like him; not to want him to win, which is certainly unusual. Patricia Highsmith does an excellent job of ensuring he wheedles his way into our sympathies. It’s a classic story of someone who starts off with bad luck and is disregarded by society, but who, through force of personality, hard work and sheer determination, manages to make something of himself. He’s had a hard upbringing; he lost his parents and was brought up by an aunt who called him a “sissy”. And yet, he came out the other end polite, self-effacing and hard-working. He is endearingly shy in company and worried about the impression he makes on others. Not to mention always assessing himself, always trying to improve. In all aspects, Tom Ripley is a multi-faceted character that comes to life within the first few pages.

You can’t ever quite tell what’s going to happen. Patricia Highsmith balances the calm beauty of Italy with the violence of murder in such a way that you feel constantly on edge even though you’re enjoying yourself. It’s definitely one of the most interesting books you’ll ever read.

Image Link: https://i.grassets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1540771547i/7853133.UY1520_SS1520.jpg (26/02/21)

The Crown Series 3 : A Review | Freya T

After discovering the recasting of the Crown on Netflix, many fans, including myself, were either delighted or anxious about how the brand new set of actors would portray the Royal Family. The answer: brilliantly. The fact that it now stars two GDST alumnae was a minor thought as I binged through 10 episodes, and became so engrossed I finished the series wondering what it would take to become a royal (for those interested: quite a lot), and became lost in the labyrinth that is YouTube, watching interviews with Olivia Coleman and Tobias Menzies, as well as Josh O’Connor and Erin Doherty, ending somehow with a five-minute crafts video (not so important for your viewing of the Crown).

One huge success of this season would be the likeness between Claire Foy and Olivia Coleman’s voice, when they portray Her Majesty. The similarity was incredible and for a split second I did wonder whether the recasting had been a very well executed reddit-ruse. Season 3 starts with Queen Elizabeth, now in the mid-sixties, looking at two stamps, one of herself as a young Queen (Foy) and as her current self (Coleman). I felt it was a nice bridge between the two casts and a quick, yet somehow in-depth scene, exploring new ideas of how the Queen had changed over the small amount of time that we had missed, other than, of course, physically.

Another triumph from Season 3 would be the chemistry between the cast. Focusing less on the relationship between Prince Philip and the Queen as a married couple, we now see development of the connection between Princess Margaret and the Queen instead. Helena Bonham-Carter and Olivia Coleman’s chemistry was immense, and the tension between the two sisters was portrayed wonderfully. We see Princess Margaret feeling overlooked and neglected, as she lacks royal duties. A holiday to America quickly changes to a political mission (not a spoiler) and we see the relationship between the sisters develop.

Throughout the series as ever, we see how the Royal Family, and the Prime Minister, deal with issues that happened in that era. I found interest in Episode 3 in the disaster of a mining slag heap collapsing on the small,Welsh village of Aberfan. Personally, I have always found that this show enlightens the viewers to the feelings of the Queen and her family, and I enjoyed seeing her response to this disaster in particular, as well as learning more about Aberfan itself.

Fear not, however, as this season has a bit of everything in there: love triangles (or in some cases squares), but also a variety of drama, with an underlying sincerity as the audience see deeper into the functioning of the Royal Family, following them through the swinging sixties. It is probable that many people find it difficult to relate to the Royals as they are in such a unique position, but I think a mention to the actors playing the newer royals is very much needed, as they seemed to create a relatability to the Windsor family.

I first came across Josh O’Connor as Larry in ITV’s the Durrells and found his portrayal very funny and was desperate to see this up and coming actor in more films. As a result, I watched the Riot Club, another of O’Connor’s projects, and quickly became a fan, as I watched his appearance in the TV version of Les Misérables, as well. Upon hearing about his new role in Season 3 of the Crown, I became excited to see his acting skills flourish in the role of the Prince of Wales. Many a heartfelt scene in Season 3, the audience grow to sympathise with Charles, especially in his inauguration speech, and I think this is due to excellent writing but also O’Connor’s excellent portrayal, as he captures all the supposed traits of Prince Charles. Adding to this, another actress who deserves a mention would be Erin Doherty as Princess Anne. The last two seasons of the Crown had never properly focused on the Queen’s children, let alone the young princess, but Season 3 was the time for a change, which was executed perfectly. Doherty’s performance as the private and defiant princess was superb, and she quickly became my favourite character. The chemistry between her and O’Connor as siblings, but also friends, was terrific, and their combined roles have caused much anticipation among many families, especially mine, as we wait to see what will happen next between the two siblings.

If you take nothing from this review but a desire to watch the trailers for the show, my job will be done, as I think you will instantly be hooked. This brilliant show deserves many a positive review, but whilst watching it, it is important to remember that it is a dramatization, and not everything is quite as it seems, as with most docu-dramas. A quick disclaimer, if you’re in Upper Five and are wanting to start your viewing of all three seasons of the Crown, maybe wait until after mocks, because I can assure you it will be difficult to get any revision done.

Image Link: https://tommygirard.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/the-crown-season-3-poster.jpg (20/02/21)

The 10 Best Films of All Time | Katie G

Memento

This is a much less well known film but one of my personal favourites. It is the story of an insurance investigator who sets out to find the murderer of his wife but in the same incident he received short term memory loss. So he is able to remember everything before the accident but not make new memories. Half the film is told chronologically providing the backstory of the characters, and in the other half the scenes run in reverse order helping the viewer unravel the mystery the same way as the main character. Directed by Christopher Nolan, it is one of the most cunning film ideas I have ever seen.

Rating – 15

Arrival

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, this film truly expresses how the pen is mightier than the sword. When 12 alien spaceships land across the world, a linguist is called on to help understand why these creatures have landed on earth. Another film that uses non-linear storytelling, it displays how language forms the bridges of society.

Rating – 12A

Terminator

Terminator In 2029 an artificial intelligence system called sky net tries to launch the nuclear apocalypse; a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator travels from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor the mother of the man who will grow up to lead the human resistance against the machines. It is one of the most creative and iconic films in movie history, directed by James Cameron.

Rating – 15

Groundhog Day

A cynical TV weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again when he goes on location to the small town of Punxsutawney to film a report about their annual Groundhog Day. Directed by Harold Ramis it is another classic loved by all.

Rating – PG

Back to the Future (Trilogy)

Films that don’t require an introduction. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Back to the Future is the timeless classic of Marty Mcfly’s adventures of travelling through time.

Rating – PG

WALL-E

WALL-E In 2805 when humans have been forced to leave their dying planet and leave robots to clean up the mess. Wall-E the heartwarming story of a robot falling in love is adored across all generations.

Rating -U

Inception

This thought-provoking film directed by Christopher Nolan involves nonlinear storytelling. It is the story of a group of thieves who steal secrets from subconscious people as they sleep. But 5 minutes in the real world is an hour in the dream. It is a mind-boggling film that is seems to change each time you watch it.

Rating – 12

Jurassic Park

In Steven Spielberg’s massive blockbuster, a select group are chosen to tour an island theme park populated by dinosaurs created from prehistoric DNA. It is another timeless classic for anyone to enjoy. ”an adventure 65 million years in the making.”

Rating – PG

The Shawshank Redemption

Arguably one of the best films ever made. Directed by Frank Darabont and based on the story by Stephen King, it is the tale of two men’s time on the inside. “when those bars slam home, that’s when you know it’s for real. A whole life is blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it.”

Rating – 15

Harry Potter (Film series)

Although this isn’t a film directly related to the time, I felt the need to include it as they are films that are just as magical rewatching as it was when you first watched it as a child. And I’m sure they are a staple of many people’s childhood. So they will,in my eyes, forever be timeless.

Rating – PG/12

The Giver (2014) Film Review | Ezri M

The Giver is yet another youthful dystopian story, joining The Hunger Games and Divergent on the ever-growing list. It serves as a metaphor for adolescence – a coming-of-age story where the protagonist learns the truths of the world that cause his innocence and naivety to fade, while adult figures of authority attempt to quash his feelings of rebellion and draw him back to conformity. And it is exactly as it sounds: an extremely similar plot template to every dystopia film ever, which everyone has seen too many times.

However, this is not the fault of the plot. The Giver is based on a novel of the same name, written by Lois Lowry in 1993, which was a trailblazer in dystopian fiction (predating Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth). Therefore, the problem with the film: it was made too late. Timing is everything – and time was not on the side of The Giver. Instead of the innovative story it was obviously meant to be, it seemed more like a replica of the others.

The film follows Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a boy living in a seemingly perfect world, who, upon graduation, is apprenticed to the Giver (Jeff Bridges). Here, Jonas will be taught how terrible the world used to be (including the ‘good’ parts, like love), before the erasure that lead to their current society. The more he learns, the more he realises how mindlessly conditioned the people around him are, and the more he wants to act, to the horror of the elders.

The theme of ‘giving’ is one that weighs heavily on the main characters. The knowledge gained by Jonas from the Giver is not one for the faint hearted – seen when the previous apprentice is unable to cope with the pressure of knowing the past. Though giving is depicted as rather negative, there are also positive connotations of giving the truth: the less time the truth is withheld, the better the reaction.

With a strong supporting cast, including Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, and Katie Holmes (with a cameo from Taylor Swift), the performance and production are solidly good, but the quality is no longer the point, due to the fact that the dystopia has missed its window, as the sub-genre is well along the way to having run its course.