Hanx Writer app review

I love my iPad. I am a self-confessed Apple addict. I have the whole set – iPhone, iPad and MacBook. I love them all, but my iPad has by far been one of the best investments ever. I take it almost everywhere with me, and thanks to its connectivity with the rest of the Apple family, it synchs up beautifully to allow me to work on it and edit from elsewhere.

But it’s less than personal. The word processing program, like all word processing programs, is all white and dull and so many buttons and options. I miss the good old days of pen and ink, when there were no distractions except your own imagination.But I have just discovered the most beautiful of apps.

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The 100

E4 has been the channel of choice in my house for some time now. In the uni house it would be on for hours at a time thanks to The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and, towards the end of our degree, Rules of Engagement. We had the damn channel on so much we came to love programs we originally hated. I’m still not sure if thats a good thing or a bad thing.

Last week was the first episode of their newest series, The 100 (pronounced The Hundred). It’s the latest sci-if instalment from the states and the advertising push on it has been large and prominent on the channel since The Tomorrow People finished a few weeks back. The Bearded One and I presumed that this was the replacement series for that so were keen and eager to catch the first instalment.

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Book Review: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

Following on from my recent post about reading for fun, I completed the first book on the list some time ago but am only now getting around to writing about it. So is life! It was Kim Edward’s The Memory Keeper’s Daughter that was first on the pile and it was not my usual cup of tea.

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Book Review: Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Though by no means a new book, Malorie Blackman’s Nought and Crosses is a great read and one which, having reread, I felt a desire to write about. So I shall.

Noughts and Crosses is a young adult book set in a world very similar yet vastly different to our own. The story follows Sephy, a young Cross girl of the ruling class, and Callum, a ‘colourless’ member of the Nought underclass. It is our world twisted and turned on its head, where black people rule the world and the whites are their recently freed slaves.

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Theatre Review – Jane Eyre at the Bristol Old Vic

Last week I went to see the fantastic Jane Eyre at the Bristol Old Vic. I have never read the book, didn’t even know the storyline, so it was with some trepidation I headed into town to see it.

I went with two good friends and the Bearded One himself, who isn’t much of a theatre goer, but as it was my birthday he decided to join us. He was so glad he did. I have never been so moved by a theatre performance in all of years of attending shows.

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Album Review: Artpop, Lady Gaga

I’ve always been a fan of Lady Gaga. Yes, she’s a bit of an exhibitionist and she certainly knows how to get herself noticed, but she’s also a very upfront and honest celebrity, if she can be put under that label. Plus, her music rocks.

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Rather than a completely new sound, Artpop feels like a natural progression from Born This Way. Reinvention and new sounds are good in moderation, but when you have found something that works you should stick with that, at least for a while, which Gaga seems to have done. ‘Do What U Want’ in particular felt like coming home after a long holiday and making a brew in your favourite mug – delicious, welcoming, and exactly how you like it.

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Review – 33 at the Bristol Old Vic

When you go to the theatre to watch a show about 33 men encased in a mine shaft underground for 52 days you expect a sombre affair with deep messages about the meaning of life and how relationships fair under pressure. While the Wardrobe Ensemble does confront this it is with a far from sombre voice. There are moments of lightness, even humour, in the hour long performance which takes you underground, overground and through the minds of some of the most tortured men you can imagine. They are trapped with little knowledge of what is happening on the outside world and with almost no contact with their loved ones.

The actors conveyed a variety of characters convincingly, each person they became having a unique voice. Their minimalist costumes, with a patterned scarf or baseball hat symbolising a new character, was simple and effective, if a little clumsily changed at times. The actors remained on stage almost constantly throughout, most of the times blending in perfectly. Unfortunately at times their removing or putting on of overalls took the attention away from the main action. The appearance of Elvis, played with obvious delight by Edith Woolley, was unexpected and yet perfectly acceptable. James Newton’s mentally cracked Edison was as confused as the audience but his desperation was palpable throughout their reckless and at times terrifying scramble across the stage. More than one audience member jumped in their seat with each perfectly choreographed punch and chair throw. I don’t recall ever seeing a fight scene so well performed and with such trust and confidence.

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Tom Brennan’s direction shines particularly brightly during the numerous movement sections. From news reporters to ‘the masses’ watching reports on television at home, the gestures are wonderfully choreographed and performed with gusto. There is little synchronicity between the actors, but their frantic and passionate moves show that this is not the intention.

The ensemble worked well with the large amount of sound and camera equipment on stage. Showing the movement through the mine shafts on the projector was inventive and useful for the audience, with the added humour of James Newton’s running man on stage (which much be seen to be truly appreciated). On a personal note I feel the production would have been much cleaner without the added distraction of the tech desk on stage. Though it was well out of the lights and the technician was subtle my eyes strayed more than once to the distant corner when much more interesting stuff was happening right in front of me.

Live music was a great addition to the show, and performed beautifully by various members of the cast. The spanish guitar gave a great sense of place, and with the two saxophones combined to really fill the space with mood and atmosphere.

All in all 33 was a fascinating piece of theatre which tackled its subject matter with tact and sensitivity. The audience was a mixed bag but all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the evening. Though the show was completely not what I was expecting I took pleasure in trying to understand a (as the cast explained at the beginning) translation of a version of events that has already been passed on many times. I wish the company every success and urge you to catch this show, if not in Bristol then in Edinburgh next month.

33 is showing at the Bristol Old Vic until July 13th and will also be at the Edinburgh Fringe in The Aviary, Zoo Venues from 2-17 August

Oz the Great and Powerful: Movie Review

WARNING:  THIS REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS

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Sam Raimi’s vision of Oz is opulent and magnificent, like Fleming’s original Oz on speed. The colours are dramatic and the land is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Unfortunately, the over acting and tacky cgi lets it down.

Oz the Great and Powerful follows the wizard Oz (played by James Franco), or Oscar Diggs as he was known in our world, as he travels to Oz and attempts to save the land from the evil witches Theodora and Evanora (sisters if you hadn’t guessed). With the help of the good witch Glinda and a host of Ozian helpers, Oz saves the land while transforming himself into the wizard they proclaimed him to be.

The film has some touching salutes to the 1939 movie we all know and love. Beginning in black and white it has an old world feel until Franco’s arrival into Oz, where the colour bleeds into the picture until you reach for your sunglasses. Sadly, the extended opening begins to grate due to the tiny picture in the centre of your screen (we spent ten minutes adjusting the screen settings on our tv before realising it was intentional).

The scenery is, as I have already mentioned, absolutely magnificent. I can see myself being overwhelmed in the cinema. However, watching on a relatively small screen at home it already looked dated as Franco flew majestically over what was obviously a green screen. He and his balloon basket were the only realistic thing flying over the land that looked less real than Garland’s Oz from seventy years ago.

Mila Kunis as Theodora, the good witch turned bad, gives a very emotional and real performance from her first moment of meeting the great wizard. She is tender and vulnerable, nervously admitting she has never danced with a boy before. Her early scenes with Franco are both beautiful and sad thanks to his callous treatment of her. Unfortunately, once Kunis becomes the green hag we are familiar with she becomes almost cartoonish with her screeching and evil cackle. I feel a slightly softer tone would have done better than the ear splitting shriek she chose to communicate with.

Franco’s Oz is a complex character that takes quite an emotional journey through the film. He begins as the overbearing, self-centred magician at a travelling show and ends a sentimental and lovely wizard ruling the land. His relationship with Zach Braff’s Finley, the flying monkey, is particularly lovely and the development of their friendship gives you hope that he can become a better man. Regrettably some of his scenes can be wildly overacted, enough to shake you from your enjoyment of an otherwise well-acted character.

On a positive note, Danny Elfman’s orchestrations are, as always, sublime. In particular his montage music during the preparations for the final battle stir your blood and beautifully work with the screen. His music is magical and almost makes up for the shoddy computer imaging on the screen.

Overall this film was not what I was expecting. A fan of the world of Oz (I have enjoyed both movies and books), I was disappointed with the quality of what should have been an incredible cinematic experience. With an all-star cast of actors I admire, plus a world created by one of the greatest fantasy writers there ever was, I was hoping to sit back and enjoy. Sadly, too many elements of the film tried too hard and ultimately made me regret my time in front of the screen.

Ox the Great and Powerful is available to buy now on blu-ray and DVD