Banksy’s Wall Bank: The Walled Off Hotel

 “Views like no other”


Situated on the border of an historic religious homeland, Jerusalem’s West Bank Wall provides the perfect location for any budding tourist hoping to experience the Middle East in style. Just a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean and surrounded by acres of fascinating ruins – old and new, the West Bank Wall is truly a metropolitan paradise.

From the moment, I touched down in Ben Gurion Airport, my senses began to ignite; the warmth of an eastern sun on the back of my neck, the glare of the pristine white walls almost blinding, while the scent of street food, spices and olives infuse the air with local cuisine. Bells began to ring from a local church and one is reminded of William Blake’s (1804) hymn – Jerusalem, which likens the place to heaven.

Bethlehem at sunset: Credit Last Night of Freedom

I myself, am not a religious man, but as I made way through the winding streets towards my hotel, I couldn’t help but feel a certain gravitas about the place – that it was somehow special.

As I approached The West Bank Wall, the security increased… if safety is a priority of yours, then Jerusalem’s West Bank is truly first class. The guards, dressed in their military attire make for the most fantastic photo opportunity while the wall itself presents a masterful exhibition of vibrant street art. Very few tourists come to this area… and almost no locals for that matter – if a quiet excursion from the hustle and bustle of the city is for you, then look no further than the West Bank Wall.

Israli soldiers patrol the border: Credit SOTT

Upon my arrival, I was greeted by The Walled Off Hotel’s very own bellman; he collected my bags and escorted me to reception. Ascending the stairs and through the lobby, oil paintings from the critically acclaimed Banksy provide necessary colour to an otherwise fatiguing mahogany wall.

Adjacent to the reception, lies the Walled Off Museum for which the hotel is famed. Exhibiting a range of sculptures and artwork from Banksy and various local artists, the exhibition provides the perfect opportunity to soak up the local history before making your way to check in.

I was booked into the hotel’s presidential suite, and the staff were extremely accommodating in escorting me around the hotel’s facilities. Boasting a nineteenth century British colonial theme, the hotel appeared to have been furnished by the East India company of the British Empire, circa 1850. A zebra print sofa and an array imported ornaments make up the lobby while a self-playing piano of English standards presents an ode, I am told, to Britain’s role in Jerusalem’s history.

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A pack of cheetahs crouch over a zebra-print sofa. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum for the Guardian

While all the scenic rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi, a personal safe and ensuite bathrooms, the presidential suite, is truly a sight to behold. Facilities include a plunge bath, original artwork, a library, a home cinema, a roof garden, tiki bar and a water feature. With a complementary set of Dead Sea bath minerals and an in-room dining service available upon request, the presidential suite is truly an unrivalled luxury to match its location; heaven.

The Presidential Suite. Photograph: Banksy

Of course, it should be mentioned that many of the rooms receive a maximum of 25 minutes’ natural light a day, but with views like this, who could ask for more.  In range of the military watch tower, you can be sure to sleep tight, in the knowledge that you are always being watched.

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The Watch Tower. Photograph: Hilary Foley, Instagram (Copyright free)

Fake News, Facebook and the Future of Democracy

Whether we like it or not, social media has become the de facto voice of democracy.


And in many respects, this is a great thing. It gives voice and power to people who have neither and enables grass roots campaigns to pick up steam. It forces politicians to listen and in many cases, leads to positive social change. Take the Black Lives Matter movement which brought justice to the victims of racism or Bernie Sanders who

politically engaged a generation… #FeelTheBern. The fact is, none of this would’ve happened without Facebook.

People cheer during a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at The Family Arena Monday, March 14, 2016, in St. Charles, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

I now have a confession to make.

As a journalism student of 3 years, I have never bought a national paper. Not because I can’t afford them (although the broads are very expensive) and not because I don’t read the news, I do – daily. But because I receive the news on Facebook. And the truth is, if online news didn’t exist, would I buy a daily newspaper? Probably not. In this sense, Facebook’s news services have helped to create a far more informed society than if they didn’t exist at all.

But with a total lack of editorial standards, Facebook – the world’s most popular news distributer, has become a breeding ground for misinformation and lies.

Nowhere was this more evident than the 2016 US presidential election. The leading candidates polarized a nation and once Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, anything seemed possible. Stories of pussy grabbing, prostitutes, popes and tax avoidance regularly entered the press and differentiating fact from fiction was near impossible.

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As the primary facilitator of ‘fake news’, many argue that Facebook had a social responsibility to act.

But the question still remained; do they simply block ‘fake news’, or enable it to fester?

Blocking, what is essentially free speech is a very slippery slope indeed; while, enabling it to fester could have greater consequences on society.


After months of protest and long after the election had been won, Facebook opted for the latter. Well, sort of.

In a bid to reduce the spread of false information, Facebook introduced a fact checking device which would supposedly flag up ‘disputed content’. The changes to the system would mean we’d still be able to read and share ‘false articles’, but our friends would be notified that the information was disputed.

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Facebook’s fact checker – Credit: @PrisonPlanet, Twitter

For many, this was progress. But for myself, by no means a solution. Indeed, the social network giant is at a crossroads. Either it continues to facilitate news articles and thereby adopts the same journalistic principles as any other major news outlet. Or, it discontinues news altogether.

I say this because Facebook may have started as a technology company, and Zuckerberg may still recognise it as such; but they have since become so much more. Facebook plays an active role in the shaping and characterisation of society and if law enforces are to refrain from intervention, it is essential that Facebook take responsibility for their actions. It is simply not acceptable to provide a platform for fake news and walk away.

In an increasingly media sceptic world, we (as journalists) need to be doing everything we can to restore trust in the industry. But this needs to start with Facebook.

Hargreaves: Is this the end of reliable, trusted news in a ‘fake news’ society or is the news ecology richer than ever before?


The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election saw a country in a contentious divide with no political middle-ground in sight. Tensions were high during and after the election, with record crowds around the country protesting the inauguration of the nation’s 45th President, Donald J. Trump. At the height of this divide comes a new player that has, as of recently, become more of a catch phrase than a general concern: ‘fake news.’ Not only were citizens unwilling to listen to each other, they were distrusting of journalists across the political spectrum. As the American public remains as split as it was during the campaign season, how is the news media faring to inform the people?

Major American journalism institutions have long been the trusted source of breaking and developing political stories, but these last months have seen staple political networks like MSNBC and CNN become a shouting match instead of reliable media. Add to this a network president whose goal is to make political news as entertaining as the world of sports, and political pundits on the network’s payroll to make segments ‘share-worthy’ on social media, and you have a recipe for something less of a political watchdog and more of a reality television show.

This is not to say that all US political media is to be distrusted. Continued media spectacles, however, make it difficult to know if journalists are working in the interest of American citizens or video clip views.

Digital media is seeing more trust than its televised colleagues, with online publications like Slate, the Washington Post and Politico very much on the pulse of President Trump’s first months in office. Buzzfeed, too, has become a recent addition to the political news battlefront, but stirred debate when it published an unsubstantiated dossier concerning the President’s alleged ties to Russia.

Beyond well-known publications, independent, non-for-profit organisations like Media Matters for America and ProPublica, aim to serve the public interest, with ProPublica recently having a scoop on former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

A larger issue in the notion of ‘fake news’ is how easily those who disagree with a report throw the phrase out. In an interview segment on the U.S. news programme 60 Minutes, pro-Trump blogger Mike Cernovich gave insight on the ‘parallel universes’ American citizens and media are struggling to understand. This ideology brings America’s divide to a point of concern, also serving to discredit journalist Scott Pelley in the process. It is not a matter of how the facts are presented, but whether readers are willing to trust that what the reporters are publishing is true.

The environment in which political news journalism is operating now in uncharted waters. Well put by Buzzfeed reporter Charlie Warzel, ‘[the New Right media] is a parallel institution armed with its own set of facts that insists on its own reality.’

Certain parts of the news ecology are realising the importance of reporting to the people in an administration as unpredictable as the 45th President’s. But no matter how strong their reporting is, ‘fake news’ will continue to be posted on comment threads or used as an argument against facts. The level of distrust throughout the election, whether towards reporters or politicians, has created a perpetual cynicism amongst a portion of American citizens. Some reporters are publishing their best, but is it enough for some to believe?

The Crown: How Successful was Netflix’s £100 Million gamble?


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Since its emergence, Netflix has penned many a successful series. ‘13 Reasons Why’ is currently a raging success as I write this blog, and for over a year now I myself have been absolutely in love with the US take on the classic British series ‘House of Cards’ starring an enigmatic Kevin Spacey as the devilish president making Trump look like a pussy cat.

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But perhaps the greatest series I have watched in recent weeks, and perhaps of all time on Netflix is the saga of the death of King George VI and the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II.

The creation is truly a masterpiece. Before even so much as settling to watch the first episode, it’s impossible to not be impressed by the cast, starring Claire Foy, Matt Smith and Richard Harris amongst many. Equally as impressive is its haunting score, composed by Hans Zimmer who has recorded the OST for Pirates of the Caribbean, Inception and received an Academy Award for scoring The Lion King.

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The Crown had evolved from creator Peter Morgan’s popular 2006 film ‘The Queen’ and his play ‘The Audience’. Netflix’s budget for the series was an astounding £100 Million, a big risk even for a company as big as the entertainment giant. It was a risk that has without a shadow of a doubt paid off.

In short, it was a resounding success. It picked up Best Television Series, and Best Actress for Claire Foy (pictured above) at the Golden Globe Awards 2017. Review sites everywhere have showered it with praise, and a second series at the very least had already been commissioned. It is Morgan’s vision for the there to be six series’ in total spanning the six decades of Elizabeth II’s ongoing reign. Interestingly, his vision is for the cast to change every two seasons, so that each of the Actors involved are age appropriate to their character.

Many scene’s stand out in the first series, including dialogue between the ex-King Edward VIII The Duke of Windsor and his mother the Queen Mary, and fiery tennis racket throwing clashes between Elizabeth and Philip. One of the most emotional of all are between John Lithgow’s remarkable turn as Winston Churchill (another award winner for ‘Crown) and Game of Thrones’ steely Stannis Baratheon, Stephen Dillane who plays a portrait artist. Extended dialogue between the two regarding child loss could have brought anyone to tears, and was truly outstanding.

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However the success of this series isn’t confined to the Creative Industry. Not for the first-time popularity of a film or TV series is boosting the tourism industry too. The Telegraph reported earlier this year that a study had shown that nearly a quarter of tourists who were planning on a trip to the UK said that television programmes such as The Crown had helped to make up their minds, according to a study of nearly 10,000 holidaymakers.

Therefore, with such an impressive range of actors, awards, and influence on its viewers, it’s no surprise that the killer budget of series one is set to be doubled to a cool £200 Million for its second outing! The rising budgets for The Crown could arguably even cover the eye watering public cost of renovating Buckingham Palace itself.

At a time where public opinion of the younger generation seems to move further and further from approval of the Royal Family, it’s interesting to see that this gamble from Netflix has hit off so well with the public. It’ll be interesting to see the dizzying heights it could reach when Princess Diana or the dashing Prince Harry have their turns to feature!

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A ‘tale as old as time’ given a modern twist in Disney’s 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast

When Disney announced back in 2015 that they were going to do a remake of Beauty and the Beast and that Emma Watson would take centre stage as Belle there was both feeling of joy and anticipation. Would the remake live up to the 1991 original which I had spent my childhood watching and loving? Was Emma Watson the right woman to take on the role of Belle? (Although there was never really any doubt that of course she would be)

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Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. Photo credit: Media Stinger

Above all I was mostly interested to see how Watson would make the role her own and whether she would attempt to break the mould of the stereotypical Disney Princess, something the company have come under fire for many a time, with the women always waiting around for their Prince Charming or being left to do the chores, and letting their beauty do the talking for them. Given her 2014 UN speech on feminism, her HeForShe campaign and has discussed feminism in multiple interviews, it was unsurprising that in the remake of the film Belle was a force to be reckoned with. She was not dependent on males and she was not viewed from the male gaze – and this was heavily influenced by Watson. It was she who asked for Belle’s ballet flats to be swapped to boots and got the costume department to scrap the corset.

Alongside the costume Watson had influence over parts of the plot too, being responsible for the change in Belle’s job from her father’s assistant to an inventor herself. Other than this the plot of the live action remake did not stray too far from the original, besides a scene in Paris to give the story of Belle and her father more context. The scene was touching albeit slightly random.

The highlight of the film, as with the original, was the music. The soundtrack is excellent and the singing from the all star cast which includes Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts, Dan Stevens as the Beast and Luke Evans as Gaston is surprisingly good – particularly from Luke Evans (not such a surprise as most of the Welsh population seem to be pretty good at belting out a tune). In fact his acting as Gaston is one of the highlights of the film, he plays the role of villain brilliantly whilst also bringing in humour, something his sidekick Josh Gaud as LeFou also excels at.


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Luke Evans as Gaston (left) and Josh Gaud as LeFou. Photo credit: Pintrest

As with Disney’s previous live action remake of The Jungle Book, the CGI and special effects are wonderful, bringing the household objects to life, and this combined with the voices of famous faces such as Ewan McGregor as Lumiere and Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, makes for excellent characters who make the film so joyous, as the with the original back in the nineties.

Overall the film was heart warming, funny and nostalgic with a modern twist. Despite some critics arguing that despite Watson’s best efforts it can not be described as ‘feminist’ due to the plot demonstrating Stockholm Syndrome when Belle falls in love with her the Beast as her captor and despite her having a job, as an inventor she invents a washing machine therefore arguably suggesting that doing the washing is women’s work. However the film definitely makes steps towards equality in Disney films and shows that not all Princesses sit around waiting to be saved. Endearing from beginning to end, the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast is great for taking you back to your childhood with the updated elements keeping you very much in the present.

Preaching Politics: The Music Industry as a Platform to Make a Political Statement

20th January 2017. It was an abysmal day for all as we witnessed the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.

Obviously we needed something to lessen the pain. Some music perhaps? Seems like a plausible solution, but finding the perfect soundtrack proved to be somewhat difficult.

Traditionally, performing at an inauguration is a great honour for the performers. But this year was different. With A-listers refusing to perform at Trumps’s inauguration left right and center, it raises the question as to what extent does the music industry play in making a political statement.

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The music industry has long since been intertwined with politics. There are endless examples of songs that lyrically hold political meaning, a personal favorite of mine being We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel. As well as being a great song, the lyrics are thought provoking in that they list historical personalities and events from 1949 until 1989. The music industry is a perfect way to assert a political message.

Celebs that refused to be associated with Trump


She played a prominent role in the inauguration of President Barack Obama, not only performing the National Anthem at the inauguration itself but Beyoncé also serenaded Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in their first dance at the Leodoff Neighborhood Inaugural Ball in Washington. But at Trumps Inauguration she was of course nowhere to be seen.

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This is not the first time Queen Bey has used her performances (or lack of) to make a serious political statement. Remember her explosive performance at the 2016 Superbowl? It was a direct reference to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Within the aesthetics of the performance it is hard to miss the statement the superstar wanted to make, with the performance carrying symbolic meaning that alludes to the core values held by the movement. The dancers formed an “X” on the pitch in reference to Malcom X who was assassinated in 1965. Beyoncé therefore used her access to powerful platforms to highlight the heightened racial tensions in the United States, her music ultimately acting as a way to assert an important political message.

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Rebecca Ferguson

Much like Beyoncé, the British singer made a political stance in her response to the invitation to perform, stating that she would happily sing at the ceremony if she could perform a civil rights protest song Strange Fruit, which has reportedly been banned in the United States due to being too controversial. Interestingly, Rebecca did not perform at the inauguration…

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Charlotte Church

The Welsh singer made it very clear what she thought of the invitation to sing at the inauguration in a blunt tweet in response…

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Elton John

Initially thought to exemplify Trump’s “pro-gay-rights stance” (really?!), Elton John was rumoured to be the headlining act. However all association between the unlikely pair was quickly diminished when Elton John’s publicist released a statement stating; “Incorrect. He will NOT be performing.” Nice try Trump.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The list goes on. Embarrassing for Trump that the only performers attending his inauguration, the most important day of his political career, were 3 Doors Down and Jackie Evancho. I don’t know about you but I’ve never even heard of them.

So essentially celebs are using their status and power within the music industry to make a political statement that will undoubtedly reach a vast audience. Evidently, the music industry holds extensive power in creating political debate that will inevitably influence fans to engage in politics.

Did Justin Bieber upset his Indian fans on his Purpose World Tour in Mumbai?

bbbbAs Bieber started performing in Mumbai during The Purpose World Tour, he said,

You guys are the coolest. Hope you’re ready to have the best night”.

But at the end of the night, an angry mother of a 10 year old ‘Belieber’ told PTI

“I wish I had not paid a bomb for this awful concert” (NDTV).

This response was received by a number of fans, reason being Bieber was lip-syncing his songs and it was clearly evident. While the crowd expected him to sing most if not all songs live, Bieber decided to sing only four songs live. The Canadian Singer attracted a lot of attention in the Indian media for his weird demands, which included a Jacuzzi installed for him backstage so that he could unwind before going onstage. A list of his diva demands can be found here.

After fulfilling all these demands, if he could not perform more songs live, there seemed to be lack of preparedness at the singer’s end itself. But along with the singer, the organizers of the singer’s Purpose World Tour 2017 – White Fox India also were blamed for bad arrangements. Overpriced water bottles to lack of proper washroom arrangements made the crowd unhappy.

The concert’s audience included Bollywood stars, most of whom were accompanied with their kids. Celebrities openly on their social media network shared the disappointment from the concert. For example, Sonali Bendre called the concert, “Waste of Time”.

The disappointment for the fans started from the time he announced that he is extending his time in Dubai and arriving in India three days later than the expected date. Some fans were still happy waiting for him and camping outside the airport for three days. Before the concert, he met some underprivileged children, indulged in coffee at a popular shopping mall with fans and also played football with the locals. This kept the fans full of excitement who were following his actions live on news and on social media.

But after paying heavy prices for the concert’s entry, when Bieber was seen low on energy and lip syncing his songs, the excited crowd started to frown and this was seen with live social media comments from the audience.

The journalists, who secretly or openly admired Bieber, blamed the singer’s decision to lip sync his songs on the bad weather – the heat and the humidity. Not only the singer was not used to this kind of a warm weather, even his guitar was affected by the humidity. When he started with ‘Cold Water’ track, he had to tune the guitar on stage and re start the song. Though he managed to keep the crowd happy in this time as he apologized to the audience for starting it over and explained that his guitar needed retuning.

The crowd included lucky fans who enjoyed his interaction. While we still have many fans of Bieber raving about the performance and blaming the heat for what happened at the event, I believe a star of this stature should have been better prepared for the weather, especially when the ticket prices were kept higher than any other music concert that India has ever witnessed.

I am personally not a big fan of Bieber, but an experience at the Bieber’s concert in India was not delightful for me atleast. I could have spent the night listening to his songs in a luxury lounge and paid one tenth of the price that I paid for the concert. I still look forward to hear his songs, but I might not really opt for his live concert in future.

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Big Little Lies: A Review

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Warning, there may be a few spoilers ahead!

I can’t exactly remember where I was when I first watched the trailer for the HBO comedy-drama, Big Little Lies, but I can tell you that from the moment I saw that Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz and Laura Dern were all going to be a part of this miniseries I knew for I fact that I was going to love it.

Based on the number one bestselling novel, Big Little Lies, which was written by Liane Moriarty, this television show focuses on the lives of five mothers in particular and their children who attend a public school in Monterey, California. Starring the likes of Adam Scott, Alexander Skarsgård, James Tupper and Jeffrey Nordling, as the husbands of four of the previously mentioned women, Big Little Lies has just the star-studded cast we’ve all been waiting for.

At the beginning of the very first episode the audience is dropped right into the middle of the drama and action as the series opens just after a murder has been committed during one of the schools fundraisers, “Otter Bay School’s Elvis-and-Audrey-themes Trivia Night”. Just as the audience is presented with the point of view of a police officer whilst multiple interviews are being conducted with other parents whose children attend the same school as the five main female characters of this miniseries, they are transported back to a couple of months before the incident at the schools fundraiser to another incident that involves Renata’s (played by Laura Dern) child Amabella (played by Ivy George) being choked on the first day of school.

Once Amabella blames Jane’s (played by Shailene Woodley) son Ziggy (played by Iain Armitage) and battle lines are drawn between Renata and Jane, viewers of Big Little Lies are thrust into the guessing game that lasts over the course of this seven episode long miniseries.

By revealing that Jane was raped and in pursuit of her attacker, that Madeline (played by Reese Witherspoon) had an affair on her husband during the previous year, that Celeste (played by Nicole Kidman) is being abused by her husband on a regular basis and is planning on leaving him and taking the kids with her, the writers of this “critically acclaimed” television series and evidently the author of the bestselling novel, present the audience with so many possibilities as to not only who has been murdered but also who was the murderer.

With twist, turns, secrets and lies alongside the best soundtrack and extremely high quality acting from both the adults and the kids throughout this series, I highly recommend you dip your toe into the world of Big Little Lies, even if it’s only for a few episodes I can guarantee you won’t regret it.

Although I can’t promise you that there won’t be any twists, secrets or lies throughout this miniseries, I can promise you that there are no lies within this review. If you were one of the unfortunate souls who missed out on watching this series when it was originally aired and still wish to watch it despite the amount of spoilers that were discussed in this review, Big Little Lies is now available on Now TV to catch up whenever you’re ready.

Review of The Revenant

From what I heard to the build up of the release of this movie, The Revenant was meant to be a one of a kind that’ll win endless awards throughout the 2016 year. Although I was a year late in watching this movie, it did not change the fact that it was one of the most overrated and over hyped movies of 2016. Leonardo Di Caprio had the role of a frontiersman, Hugh Glass, who was attacked by a bear and left for dead in the wilderness.

One factor of this movie that was very well done by the cinematogropher, Emmanuel Lubezki, was that he only he used natural light. Throughout the movie you catch glimpses of beautiful natural side of the United States as Hugh Glass (Leonardo Di Caprio) struggles his way back to the fort where he desires revenge on those who had left him to die. Some of the clips that are shown are genuinely captivating and give you a sense of the beauty of the world around us, and to that I give applause to Lubezki, in managing to capture beauty without these effects and lighting that most cinematogrophers use. This is a very different and creative way of producing a movie.

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Although Lubezki tried his best in making this movie a one of a kind, one thing that did not help was the horrendous, dragged out story line in which feels like the movie is never going to end (and not in a good way). In a film that takes two hours and 36 minutes to finish you’d hope that there would be an endless supply of conflict or story line that’ll capture your attention and not let go until the very last minute of the film. If that’s your hope then you haven’t got much. This film could easily be cut down from two hours and 36 minutes to an hour and a half easily. If not even less. In what the director believes is a movie changing experience for the viewers was really just a huge waste of time looking at beautiful scenery in which started to get boring after about an hour.

One thing that you can not fault in this movie is Leonardo Di Caprio’s exceptional acting. Throughout the film Glass (Di Caprio) is injured badly and can barely speak, but that’s what made this role his Oscar winning part, he had to act with his eyes and his expressions throughout the whole film. For me, what he himself (Di Caprio) had to endure throughout filming this movie is extraordinary. Some dub The Revenant as the ‘toughest movie ever to shoot’ for an actor. During the movie Leonardo Di Caprio goes into a REAL river in the freezing cold conditions where the movie was filmed and during the movie you can see the pain in his eyes and the real struggle that he endures as he tries to leave the river. Another flawless scene by Di Caprio is when he eats raw liver in a scene where he is handed food, as you watch you can see the disgust in his face as he does pretty much anything for this Oscar. But the most remarkable thing of all is that he won an Oscar without pretty much any dialogue.

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If you want to watch a film that is well directed then this is a film that you MAY enjoy. But other than that, everything about this film was hyped up so much that it didn’t quite live up to it’s expectation. Hats off to Leonardo Di Caprio and Emmanuel Lubezki for their outstanding efforts in making this film different, but overall a disappointing film.


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Vive le Paris!

From a very a young age, me and my family have visited many cities throughout Europe on numerous occasions. At the start I wasn’t very sure on why we would go so often and would be very disheartened to see all of my school friends going to Disneyland Florida for the third or fourth time whilst I travelled to Paris or Rome or Barcelona time and time again. It was frustrating especially because I was only young and found it very boring. But the older I got I started to appreciate these cities more.

It was my first time visiting Paris this year in about four years therefore my memory was a bit foggy of the city. One thing that stood out was how culturally different the city was compared to Cardiff, which was a given really, but I didn’t realise to what extend. As soon as I arrived at the Charles de Gaulle Airport my first instinct as a true Welsh man was to go for a drink, but the one thing I noticed was that there wasn’t many public houses in Paris. To be completely honest, I didn’t see a single one. This made me realise how different our societies are, where we’re considered to be ‘binge drinkers’ in the UK, where as in France they drink to enjoy their drinks. This became obvious when we realised they did not sell large measurements of Beer as they were not used to drinking them.

As a city, Paris is definitely considered very creative and cultural, and as you walk through the huge city you can see why many people choose to visit there on city breaks or on romantic holidays. The elegant façade of Paris buildings reflect the stylish architecture of European Renaissance urbanism where many of the city architecture in Britain is a reflection of post-Blitz modernism. Indeed it definitely has some very bold architecture with sights such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, but one that caught my attention was the Pyramid du Louvre. The way that a museum from 1793 was renovated in a way to have a bit of a modern twist on it by adding the Pyramid du Louvre into the architecture was very creative in my opinion and it definitely attracted a lot of people to that destination all year round.

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What made Paris different was not only how the architecture was different than in Cardiff and the UK, but how life was different. The breakfast for starters (pun not intended), were pastries and fruit, compared to the greasy spoon breakfasts that are sold in small cafe’s near local train stations that we Brits love so much. The way of life that they live is very different to the way we live and I think that contributes to the vibe of the city that tourists from all over the world love.

Being dubbed as the ‘Fashion Capital of the world’ is also another factor that adds to the aroma of the city. The Parisians have a certain “je ne sais quoi” in terms of style and panache that the general British public lack. Their outfits of linen and fine leather contrast badly with shell suits and trainers that seem to be the choice of many Brits abroad. Fashion and art are both considered to be creative fields, and in Paris you can see it all over the city, if it’s walking down Avenue des Champs Elysées and seeing all of these glamorous clothes shops or taking a stroll down to one of Paris is most iconic landmark, The Eiffel Tower, which in a way is a piece of art that stands out throughout the city and attracts millions upon millions to the city each year.


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