Friday, 31 January 2014

UK to act with ‘urgency’ over Syrian refugees says Prime Minister. Change of heart concerning Syrian Refugees.

The Syrian Civil War, which has lasted for three years this March, forced refugee status onto masses of Syrian civilians. Prime Minister, David Cameron, told Members of Parliament, on the 29.01.2014 during the PMQ’s: “I think we are fulfilling our moral obligations to the people of Syria…I don’t believe that you can solve a refugee crisis of this scale when you’ve got almost half of the nine million population of Syria displaced or at risk of displacement with a quota system where countries are taking a few hundred refugees…Britain always plays the right role in these desperate humanitarian crises.”

In recent weeks the UK government has been reluctant to admit Syrian refugees into the UK. Currently, the government has administered humanitarian aid directly to refugees in the affected areas rather than offer asylum within the UK.

But with the upcoming elections next May, Conservative PM David Cameron is beginning to show a change of heart in terms of British acceptance of refugees. During the PMQ’s, Cameron stated that ‘I don’t believe that you can solve a refugee crisis of this scale when you’ve got almost half of the nine million population of Syria displaced or at risk of displacement with a quota system where countries are taking a few hundred refugees.’

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stated that Britain had a moral responsibility to help Syrian refugees, supported Cameron. The most underprivileged refugees including particularly the disabled and victims of sexual violence would be permitted asylum within the UK. However, the bracket definitions were left ambiguous. The “yardstick” by which “neediness” of Syrian refugees is to be measured was not clarified beyond those two categories. Additionally, there was no classification of length of stay either. 

The government is sticking to its guns with the refusal to partake in a resettlement scheme run by the UN High Commissioner for refugees. This agency welcomed the government’s offer to provide asylum to a few hundred refugees, stated they would cooperate with them helping to identify the most vulnerable Syrian refugees.

As much as Cameron’s new resolution will be beneficial to Syrian refugees it seems to be a classic political “spin doctor” initiative. It appears to be a typical positive public relations stunt which seems to have been decided upon in order to gain public support for the Conservative party. But, perhaps that is too biased?

And yet, later in the week Cameron proclaimed that it is his priority to resolve the new threat of chemical weapons in Syria because he believes that is a much more pressing issue. It is perfectly understandable that chemical weapons are a major social threat. BUT, is it really more significant than the human beings put at risk for long political talks to commence especially, when they never actually reach any real resolution…?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Following the death of Nelson Mandela on the 5th of December 2013, this chronicle of his life's journey is a very topical subject, and effectively provides a great desire from the public. The film illustrates his maturation from his childhood rural village to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa whilst maintaining a firm ethos of non-violence throughout. 

Idris Elba who plays Nelson Mandela acts against Naomie Harris, playing his second wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Each performs spectacularly in their roles: effectively drawing the viewer into the intensity of the hardships they individually, and as a racially-segregated group, faced. 

The film manages to depict a number of important moments throughout Nelson Mandela's life, however, because Mandela did so many important things, there is a sense in which the film is attempting to capture too much within its binding. However, the film is an earnest and ambitious attempt and is a truly captivating demonstration of a life's chronology for a truly influential political figure. William Nicholson, the scriptwriter for the film, commendably depicts the milestone moments of Mandela's life in a brisk fashion so as to ensure that Mandela's greatest achievements are all illustrated. 

In light of his recent death, the film manages to dispel the typical biased "gloss" which is shown to those departed. The film effectively recounts the events of Mandela's existence with clarity and honestly depicts both his right and wrong behaviour. For example, during his first marriage to Evelyn Mase, Mandela is shown to be unfaithful and at times negligent towards her and his first two sons. This realistic depiction of a human male who did not proclaim to be perfect heightens the authenticity of his cinematic depiction. 

It is a definite 'must-see' film, if only to comprehend the immensity of his impact to the dissolution of apartheid; I would 100% recommend this movie to all. 

Disney's New Winter Wonder: Frozen

Disney's latest release Frozen depicts the stories of two sisters, Elsa and Anna. Elsa has the magical ability to produce ice from her fingertips. When they are both very young, whilst playing with her supernatural abilities Elsa is hurt and from that point forward, her gifts are seen as a dangerous burden and she shuts herself in her bedroom until that point when she can truly control them. Anna, whose mind is erased of the near fatal tragedy which befell her is mystified as to why their relationship suddenly becomes estranged and distant. The movie places the eternal optimist Anna on a journey with the unusual and yet heart-warming Kristoff in an epic journey to discover Elsa whose icy powers have frozen the Arendelle kingdom. Along with the introduction of Olaf, a hilarious and loveable snowman whose only desire is to experience summer, Frozen becomes a thoroughly amusing cinematic performance.  His song 'In Summer' is below:

Casting Kristen Bell as Anna, Idina Menzel as Elsa, Jonathan Groff as Kristoff and Josh Glad as Olaf; this team create a miraculous and fundamentally enjoyable performance throughout. It appeals to all ages through the plot, characters, music and laughter. The veiled witticisms ensure that both children and adults will be laughing out loud at this one. 

The music throughout is carefully executed and enriching. As soon as I returned home, I downloaded the Frozen soundtrack and I have been listening to it in excess since that point...two weeks ago. Frozen is fun for all the family and like all of the Disney films, it leaves you with a warm happy glow and an irrepressible smile upon your face. Definitely a must see. 

The Wolf of Wall Street: AKA: A Mosh Pit for The Lupine Class.

The Wolf of Wall Street released in the United States on Christmas Day last year, directed by Martin Scorsese is an adaptation of the book with the same title written by the central protagonist Jordan Belfort. The story involves the development of a New York stockbroker whom builds his own dynastic firm which is fundamentally based upon peddling low-cost "Pink Sheet" stocks at inflated prices in order to reap maximal profits for the individual brokering the deal. 

The protagonist and managing director for the scheme is Jordan Belfort played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The film chronicles Belfort's rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life of the stockbroking Rock and Roll superstar (sex, lies, drugs and rock and roll), to his decline when he becomes the object of Agent Patrick Denham's criminal investigation into his economic empire. 

This three-hour American Black comedy depicts the hedonistic "devil may care" attitude of the successive stockbroker in the opening sequence. Throughout the course of the film, the viewer is situated in a position where they disapprove of Belfort's behaviour, but they are simultaneously impressed by his propensity to simply "not care" about any of his responsibilities. This ability to entirely dispel himself of his moral conscience permits the audience to condemn and yet experience "elite" hedonism.

Leonardo DiCaprio effectively captures the true hedonist completely and alongside his main co-stars, Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie, the film becomes a dark comedic adventure in which the viewer is drawn into the world presented from beginning to end. 

Furthermore, for the British viewer, Joanna Lumley makes an appearance as Aunt Emma to Jordan Belfort's beautiful model wife Naomi Lapaglia, played by Margot Robbie. With her authentic British vernacular, Lumley presents the typical British demeanour perfectly capturing the quintessential British wit and satire wrapped in the stereotypical demure noble package. 

However, having said all of this, the film does evocatively embellish scenes of nudity and drug use in excess. The abundance of naked bodies and sex scenes was too frequent and unfaltering for my personal taste. The film could have easily made the same impact, carried the identical impact of the hedonist culture it portrays without the unnecessary displays of nakedness.  I would definitely recommend this film for viewing, just watch out for all the nudity and full-frontal sex scenes. 

  • Friday, 10 January 2014

    An Acre of Barren Ground by Jeremy Gavron

    A fascinating fictionalised history of the East End which, in a very Love Actually or Crash, manner sporadically features the stories of different groups of people across many walks of life. This novel attempts to negotiate between fiction and history, creating a historical fiction in which the reader is able to emotional divest, which is denied when reading a simple history which by nature remains detached and factual. 

    The multiplicity of cultural unity is expressed through the induction of migrant culture and ethnographic spread demonstrating throughout the course of the text. Gavron effectively invokes the vernaculars of an international community through the vibrancy of the global voices present within the East End location. Historical roots from the period of the Romans are juxtaposed with the contemporary notion of the graphic novel and the boom. This fusion of old and new effectively 

    The text walks through the East End area effectively simultaneously navigating the history of East End in as yet untold perspectives such as that of a bear and an elephant. There are a number of links between the different groups and peoples which effectively indicate the delicate spider web of society with each part related by some manner, effectively demonstrating the infallibility of human interaction and connection.