Colchester United – A True Community Football Club

The 2015/16 Football League season begins at 3pm tomorrow with Colchester United kicking off their Sky Bet League One campaign at the Weston Homes Community Stadium against Blackpool, and fans will be hoping that this is the season where fortunes on the pitch see the club achieve the kind of success we all dream of. But there is much more to Colchester United than just the activities on the pitch, as the club’s Media Manager, Matt Hudson tells Colchester 101.

Photo by Richard Blaxall, Colchester United Football Club photographer.

Photo by Richard Blaxall, Colchester United Football Club photographer.

The new Football League season gets under way on Saturday – and Colchester United will be hoping that their on pitch record this season can reflect the off pitch successes the club has enjoyed over the past year.

The U’s will begin another campaign in League One after their dramatic late escape from relegation against Preston back in May in front of a national TV audience.

And yet it is the club’s off field activities that are starting to make headlines of their own.

The Weston Homes Community Stadium recently celebrated its 7th birthday following the club’s switch from their former home at Layer Road back in 2008.

At that time, the club was only able to trade on matchdays, had hospitality for about 30 people and no opportunity to make additional revenues.

Photo by Richard Blaxall, Colchester United Football Club photographer

Supported by Colchester Borough Council with funding for the construction of the 10,000 all-seater Weston Homes Community Stadium, the club was charged with making the stadium a true community hub and figures from 2014 show that we have made significant headway in recent years.

Over 260,000 people visited the stadium during the course of 2014, making it one of the most frequently visited venues in the local area, but only 92,925 of those came to watch the U’s in action.

Elton John at Colchester United

Photo by Richard Blaxall, Colchester United Football Club photographer

That leaves some 170,871 having attended for non-football events, with the piece de resistance the Elton John concert in the summer of 2014.

An international music superstar he might be, but the first concert at the Weston Homes Community Stadium had a very local feel on a memorable June evening.

Some 61% of the 16,500 tickets bought were acquired by people in a CO postcode, with a further 14% from CM postcodes as music fans from across the local area came to the stadium to watch Elton in action.

Whilst the real Elton caused waves at the home of Colchester United, we have also enjoyed some fantastic imitators over the last few years at the Weston Homes with our popular tribute nights.

Artists of all musical bents have been given the chance to wow the crowds in the stadium’s Layer Suite and, in 2014, 44,886 people came along to watch tribute nights and comedy clubs at the home of Colchester United.

On top of that, the club’s hospitality facilities saw 3,409 people enjoy their Christmas festivities with the U’s as the stadium continues to be a popular place to hold Christmas functions.

Those activities are just the tip of the iceberg for the wide range of community engagement activities that take place at the stadium. Boxing dinners, darts events, school proms, tattoo conventions, mens’ health events and more have taken place in the last year to continue to bring in a wide range of the local community to the stadium.

And whilst they’re key financial generators for the club – with revenues well into seven figures now, the stadium has also been a key hub for community and charity events, too. Charities of all sizes have been able to use the club’s facilities for fundraising activities, with tens of thousands raised by events held by the U’s in 2014.

“We are hugely proud of what we’ve achieved in our seven years at the Weston Homes Community Stadium,” General Manager Tim Waddington told Colchester 101.

“With every year that passes, we engage with a wider range of people within the local community and continue to establish the stadium as a real hub locally.

“From children attending birthday parties through to our Christmas functions, we attract people of all ages and backgrounds and this grows every year.

“The relaunch of our Football in the Community programme in 2013 has also allowed us to take that message about the stadium out into the local town and beyond, with our coaches working in 60 schools a week and engaging with over 5,000 children a week.”

Photo by Richard Blaxall, Colchester United Football Club photographer

And it is with school age children that the club are continuing to build for the future – with efforts on and off the pitch bearing fruit.

Off the pitch, the club were crowned as the Football League’s Family Club of the Year in 2015, providing the best family experience for supporters out of any of the 72 league clubs.

Nearly 7,000 U11s attended live first team football for free during the course of 2014/15 and crowds overall were up 4% on the season before, despite spending much of the campaign at the wrong end of League One.

Key to that success on the pitch and ultimately survival in League One were players who themselves had watched from the terraces in seasons gone by.

The club have gone to great lengths in recent years to build a strong Academy, with an open pathway to first team football.

Last season, 122 first team appearances were made by Academy graduates with the likes of Alex Gilbey (Gilberd School) and Sammie Szmodics (Stanway School) wearing the kit of their home town team with real pride.

Sammie has been with the U’s since he was seven and exemplifies what the club are trying to achieve with their young players.

A recent friendly game against Fulham in pre-season saw the U’s finish with seven homegrown players out of the eleven on the pitch, with ten in total having had some match minutes at some stage that afternoon.

The Col U team for the coming campaign is truly one that is ‘made in Colchester’ and the successes of the stadium all told mean that the club are well placed to grow for the future.

Matt Hudson

 

 

 

 

Matt Hudson
Media Manager, Colchester United

Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks

Our Classical Music columnist Liz Leatherdale, founder and owner of Colchester Classics, brings you her pick of August’s Classical Music events in, and around, Colchester.


Enrique Granados and Isaac Albeniz

Two of the most well-known composers of Catalan music from the last century are Enrique Granados and Isaac Albeniz.  On Thursday 6 August at 12.30pm, Peter Dollimore presents a concert of this style of piano music in St Peter ad Vincula, Coggeshall. Lunchtime concerts start at 12.30pm.. Light lunches available from 12 noon.

Admission is free – retiring collection

 

Gilbert and Sullivan’s – Iolanthe

On Sunday 9 August at 2.30pm Illyria Theatre Company returns to the beautiful walled gardens at The Minories, Colchester for Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera, Iolanthe, set half in Fairyland, half in Westminster will be performed. In typical G & S style, its surprisingly topical satire pokes fun at love, class, politics and how those from different backgrounds form uneasy relationships. All llyria productions are performed by a reduced cast with live piano accompaniment. Having seen Mikado at the The Minories a couple of years ago I can highly recommend Illyria Theatre productions of Gilbert and Sullivan. Iolanthe will be staged outside with some unreserved seating, so be prepared for an outdoor performance! Sunday August 9 at 2.30pm.

Tickets: £14 or £36.00 for a family ticket.  The Minories, 74, High Street, Colchester.  (01206) 712437

 

Organ Fest

Colchester Town Hall’s majestic Edwardian organ in the magnificent setting of the Moot Hall has been recently renovated to its former glory.  The inaugural ‘Organ Fest’ a series of four lunchtime concerts, began with organist Dr Gillian Ward Russell on Tuesday 21 July.  The final concert is on Tuesday 11 August when Andrew Cantrill performs Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on ‘Greensleeves’ and Walton’s Coronation March ‘Orb & Sceptre’. Full details on the restored organ and all the organists involved in this mini-festival can be found at www.moothallorgan.co.uk. Colchester Town Hall, High Street, Colchester.

Admission is free to the Organ Fest recital with a retiring collection for the Mayor’s Charities.

 

Summer Lunchtime – St Botolph’s

Summer Lunchtime concerts were recently launched at St Botolph’s, Colchester on 22 July and continue until 23 September. This month there is a Harp recital on Wednesday August 19 with performances by Louise Binks and Maria Creasey.

 

Roman River Festival – The Glories of the Moot Hall Organ

Tickets are now available for The Glories of the Moot Hall Organ – the Roman River Festival’s first ever organ recital. Young organist Tom Bell presents a varied programme including music by Bliss, Bridge, Duruflé and the winners from the Pipeworks competition (John Furse’s Moot Points and Mark Bellis’ Graduation Toccata). During the concert Tom will accompany the Colchester Chamber Choir in some popular music including Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine. Sunday 27 September, 5pm, Colchester Town Hall. Tickets: £12 (01206 729356). The Roman River Festival (17 September – 4 October) covers a wide range of music and actively encourages anyone under the age of 30 to enjoy concerts.

Tickets priced from £3 www.romanrivermusic.org.uk

 

BBC Proms

Last but not least, do dip into the greatest Classical Music festival on earth, the BBC Proms: an eight-week summer season of classical music concerts held predominantly in the glorious Royal Albert Hall and available on TV, Radio and the iPlayer.

Yasmin Rowe

Young international pianist Yasmin Rowe presents an eclectic mix of music from Bach to Piazolla in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester, later in August. Yasmin’s family is celebrating various significant birthdays and this free concert will make these events even more memorable.

Yasmin was last heard in Colchester in 2008 as soloist in Grieg’s Piano Concerto.  Since then she has performed at various concert venues worldwide and recovered from surgery to her left hand.   The first half of the concert will be solo piano music and after the interval Yasmin will be joined by the highly regarded international cellist, Yelian He.  Saturday 22 August at 7.30pm, St Botolph’s Church, Colchester.

Admission is free with a retiring collection.

 

The same venue continues its Summer Lunchtime Concert series with a recital of Harp Music with Louise Binks and Maria Creasey. Wednesday 19 August at 1pm.

Admission is free with a retiring collection.

 

If you have a forthcoming concert of classical music, you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994.

 

Start your love affair with Classical Music at www.colchesterclassics.co.uk and take a minute to watch their company video:

 

Liz Leatherdale

Liz Leatherdale

 

Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible

In many ways this latest instalment of the Tom Cruise starring, all-action, espionage franchise feels very much like a throwback: it’s an “analog” movie in a digital age. You can’t have helped seeing that footage of Cruise hanging onto the side of a plane, it’s been everywhere, what’s really remarkable about it though is that it’s really real. Other movies would probably gone the route of using a cgi actor pasted onto a cgi plane. Mission: Impossible has gone the route that must give insurance brokers nightmares and gone for a real movie star hanging onto a real plane (yes, they’ve probably used cgi to take out the wires and harnesses post production, but that’s not really the point, is it?). Whether it’s Cruise hanging onto a plane, riding a motorcycle at breakneck speed, fighting on precarious hanging platforms or diving into a ridiculously dangerous looking desalination pool (probably a stunt man in this case, but you get the point) it is all real, it’s all “analog”; it’s not computer generated; it’s not digital. And the point of all this? It makes for one of the best, most viscerally exciting and entertaining movies of the year.

Following on from the events of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (or M:I 4, if you prefer), where the Impossible Mission Force’s actions led to the destruction of The Kremlin, the American government decide to close down the activities of Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and the IMF, integrating them into the CIA. Close to exposing the rogue nation of the title, an evil anti-IMF known as The Syndicate, Hunt goes rogue in an attempt to finish his mission, so begins an exciting and twisting three-way game of cat and mouse.  Staying one step ahead of the CIA with the help of his former team mates Benji (Simon Pegg), Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Luther (Ving Rhames) and “Is she goodie/Is she baddie?” femme fatale, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Hunt is closing in on The Syndicate. But will he catch up to the bad guys before either he’s brought in or they enact their nefarious plan to enact a new world order via an escalating series of terrorist attacks?

Mission-Impossible-Rogue-Nationette

To tell you any more of the plot would be spoiling the movie for you and, to be honest, I’m not sure I even could. If you’ve seen any of the other Mission: Impossible movies you’ll know what to expect plot-wise: twists, turns, double-agents, triple-bluffs and really great action set-pieces.

It’s difficult not to like Cruise in this kind of role and, in general, it’s difficult not to like Cruise. Sure, some of his off-screen shenanigans make him easy to scoff at, but he genuinely loves making this kind of movie and he genuinely loves it when audiences love seeing, and more importantly enjoying, this kind of movie. Cruise obviously enjoys playing Ethan Hunt and it shows, he throws himself wholeheartedly into playing him and keeps Hunt from straying over into cartoonish hero territory. But, while Cruise is the star of the franchise, Rebecca Ferguson is the star of this movie. Ferguson, as Ilsa Faust, is remarkable in this, she’s gorgeous and lethal and, above all, she’s human, she’s more human than Ethan Hunt has ever been. She stays not only one step ahead of Ethan but one step ahead of the film’s bad guy, the mysterious and almost omnipotent head of The Syndicate, Lane, played by Sean Harris with restraint and cool evil.

Mission Impossible

There’s plenty of able support by Renner, Rhames and Alec Baldwin, but the majority of side-kick screen-time goes to Simon Pegg’s Benji. Pegg is such a likeable screen presence and it’s all up there in Rogue Nation, every time Benji outsmarts the bad guys or the slimy bureaucracy of the CIA you feel like punching the air, score one for the little guy! Ethan and Benji’s “Bromance” is such a beautiful and realised thing, I would be crushed to discover that Pegg and Cruise hated each other off-screen (they don’t, phew)

Director Christopher McQuarrie, best known as a screen-writer (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie, Edge Of Tomorrow), has come of age with Rogue Nation. There’s an old fashioned feel of craftsmanship to his direction and everything feels like it was worked by an artisan, with time, care and, if not affection, a love for great action cinema. There’s so many great action sequences and it would be hard to pick a favourite, but each sequence has its own story, its own beginning, middle and end, they’re not just thrown in there to keep the film ticking along, they’re there to move the story along, they are there because they need to be there.

You might feel like going to see Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation because there’s nothing else on that you fancy, but you’d be doing it a great disservice. This film deserves to be seen on its own merits, not viewed as just another Summer blockbuster. It’s great. It’s really great (and it’s still got the most exciting theme music ever to come from a tv show).

If it weren’t for Mad Max: Fury Road, Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation would easily be the best action movie of the year. “Damn You, George Miller” – Tom Cruise*

*Not an actual quote, but he probably thought it

For show times and booking visit Odeon Colchester.

Andy Oliver

 

 

 

 

Andy Oliver

Winter Wonderland is coming to Colchester!

Winter Wonderland & Ice Skating LogoAfter months of hard work behind the scenes by the organisers to meet the long list of requirements to put on a major public event in the grounds of an historic monument, last Thursday Colchester Council finally gave the green light for Colchester’s first ever Winter Wonderland in Castle Park, complete with an ice skating rink. Ben Payne of Illuminate Design, the man with the vision to create this amazing event, and who was also behind the giant television screen in the park during the Wimbledon fortnight, tells us about what we can expect at Winter Wonderland & Ice Skating.

So the day that we have been working to finally arrived on Thursday 30th July when we gained planning permission for the Winter Wonderland & Ice Rink. This was a day that, at times, we never thought would come, but after what seemed like months and months of hard work it did!!

So what can you expect when you come to Winter Wonderland & Ice Rink? Well quality, and we hope a fantastic few hours on the site.

It’s important to us that everyone has a good time and feels that everything is great value for money. Every year somewhere there is a story about of some park or event where the entry is £20, the Santa’s just out of school and the paint’s still wet. This won’t be the case in Colchester.

The people behind this project have worked in the theatre and entertainment market for years, we know what’s needed, how to deliver it on time, and ensure that you have the best time possible.

We’re not in to make a “quick buck” we’re here to put on an event that does Colchester proud and is something that is firstly talked about as THE event to do, and secondly one that can grow from year to year.

Winter Wonderland

Putting on this sort of event isn’t cheap at all. By the time the last person leaves the site at the end of January after everything’s been packed up it’s likely to have cost in excess of ¼ million pounds just to run the event. We have to provide the ice rink, the staff, 24/7 day a week security, huts and outlets for all the food, catering and winter market, provide protective matting for the ground around the castle, diesel for the generators – the list goes on.

There are many revenue streams to the site, but sadly one of these has to be the tickets! We would love to provide the skating for £3 a time but by the time you have taken VAT of 20% off the ticket, then additional things like credit card fees and ticketing charges, we would need to get about 90,000 people skating – that’s nearly ¾ of Colchester’s population which just isn’t going to happen!!

We’ve tried to strike that difficult balance that we know it’s an expensive time of the year, but we’re needing to cover the cost’s to put on the event!

So what is going to be on the site?

Well the main feature is the 20m x 25m real ice, ice rink. We’ve been asked on lots of occasions if it’s plastic – no! It’s the proper thing!

There will be a building for you to change your skates and also cloakroom facilities to drop your bags. Next door will be a café serving teas, coffees, sandwiches, cakes.

Winter Wonderland Colchester

Behind the castle there will be a selection of other catering outlets offering a mix of hot food and drinks throughout the day to cater for all your needs. Also behind the castle will be the fun fair. These won’t be fast moving “thrill rides” but more your traditional fun fair carousel, helta skelta, and other small rides.

 

Winter Wonderland

On the other side of the site will be 25 winter market huts selling a mix of local produce, toys and other quality items.

There are also a couple of other items we still have to announce – but rest assured it’s all going to add to the environment and enjoyment of the Christmas period.

Entrance to the site is totally free. So you can come in, watch people skate (or slide) around the rink, look at the produce in the market and walk away not having spent a single penny. We of course hope that you’ll join in the fun by skating or going on a ride – but if not just enjoy the atmosphere!

We’re expecting the event to cater for all ages. Be it the primary school that wants to do something for an end of term treat, or the office party that wants to come and enjoy skating before heading off for a meal in town, through to the family taking the kids skating. It’s there for all the people of Colchester and the surrounding area to enjoy!

There are still plenty of ways you could be involved (apart from buying tickets!) We still have some fantastic commercial sponsorship opportunities available, you have until the 31st August to apply for a market stall, and in October we’ll be looking for choirs and musicians to come and sing on our stage at weekends and some selected evenings. We want this event to bring together all aspects and walks of Colchester life to one big Christmas celebration.

ice rink

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this insight into the Winter Wonderland & Ice Rink. You can find out more about things like opening times, and prices, on our website www.colchestericerink.co.uk which also contains a booking link for tickets. If you would rather pick up your tickets in person you can do this by contacting the Mercury Theatre direct.

The whole event opens on the morning of 27th November at 10am. We hope between then and 9pm on the 3rd January we’ll be able to give you a warm welcome at the Winter Wonderland & Ice Rink.

Ben Payne

 

 

 

 

Ben Payne

Photography – Capture Time in Motion

Those of you who remember the original Colchester 101 magazine will recall our amazing resident photographer Adrian Multon’s monthly column. Wivenhoe based Adrian is a freelance commercial photographer and we are delighted to have him back on board helping our readers to hone their photographic and Photoshop skills.

The photograph isolates and perpetuates a moment of time, according to American master Edward Weston. But why limit yourself to a single moment?

Timestacking gives the appearance of motion to a scene standard photographic technique would render static. It involves blending multiple shots of a scene that contains both static and moving elements. A favourite of time-lapse photographers – the cloudscape makes a great place to start your experiments with time.
image 1What kit are you going to need for this? Your camera will need interval timer functionality. This allows you to create a regularly-spaced sequence of exposures with a single press of the shutter release button. Many dSLRs have this built in, but others require software downloaded from the web and run from your memory card.

A sturdy tripod will help your camera remain motionless, especially on blustery days. It is also a good idea to set out with an empty memory card and full battery; you do not want to be interrupting a great sequence of shots to swap out either of those items.

Back home you will need image editing software that utilizes layers –  so Adobe Photoshop / Elements are okay, but Adobe Lightroom does not implement layers, so will not do the job in this instance. The notes here refer to Photoshop CS6. A basic understanding of layers will also serve you well for this technique.

image 2

So, you have found the perfect spot to plant your camera and point your lens at a sweeping North Essex vista. It being a British summer, plenty of dramatic cloud is being chased across the sky by a stiff breeze. Study your composition and choose an element to focus on. By all means use auto-focus, but switch to manual focus before starting the timer to ensure the camera cannot change or lose focus in the event of the focal point being temporarily obscured.

Fire off a few single-frame test shots to get your exposure right. Manual exposure will give consistent exposures when the light level is constant, but aperture or shutter priority modes may be suitable in situations where light levels are changing rapidly.

Once you are happy with the composition and exposure settings, all that remains is to set the interval timer. This feature allows you to specify the number of images exposed in a sequence, and the amount of time between each exposure.

Experiment! Shorter intervals make moving elements appear smoother, but may require more shots overall. Ensure your tripod is secure, set off the interval timer, and stand back….

image 3

Card brimming and battery drained, it’s time to get back home for some serious editing. ‘Serious’ because you’re likely to stretch your hardware when combining dozens (or hundreds) of images into one.

After downloading images to a computer, divide them into sets, placing each set in its own folder. Load the first image in a set into your image editing software, check it is sharp, and immediately save it. This is your base image.

Open the next image exposed. Hold down shift and drag the layer from this new file to the base image (shift ensures the frames line up). Repeat this process of adding new layers to the top of the layer stack in the base image until you notice your computer start to creak and slow down (this point will vary depending on available resources and size of image files).

Select all layers apart from the bottom ‘background’ layer and set the layer blending mode to ‘lighten’ or ‘darken’. The choice will depend on the moving elements in your images; when the moving elements are brighter than the static background (e.g. white clouds in blue sky) choose ‘lighten’, and when darker (e.g. storm clouds) choose ‘darken’.

image 4

Ideally, if your tripod did its job, all the static elements in each exposure should line up nicely. If not, you may need to mask out areas in some layers. Once created, a mask can be duplicated to other layers if needed.

Flatten the image and load more exposures – repeat until all (or enough) exposures have been incorporated.

image 5

If you like to make colour or tonal adjustments to images, apply the same adjustments to all images in a stack. Apart from RAW adjustments, I prefer to see what the merged sequence looks like before tinkering with saturation and contrast.

Put in the time and you will be rewarded with vivid and slightly surreal imagery.

The timestacks here were my first try with this technique. They employed 5-10 second intervals and a very modest number of shots (between 30 and 80), but when I find the time I hope to experiment with stacks of several hundred frames.

Please take a few minutes to take at look at Adrian’s website www.adrianmulton.co.uk

Adrian Multon

 

 

 

 

Adrian Multon

Inside Out

Inside Out

What makes a movie great? What is it that makes a movie an “all-time” great? Is it action? Is it memorable characters? Is it an affecting story? Is it the emotion?

Well yeah, it’s all these things, you need all these things in place, but for a movie to be really great it has to affect you, the viewer, it has to tell you something about you that you were unable to express yourself and, most importantly, tell you something about others that you were never even aware of.

Inside Out is really, truly great.

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a 12 year old girl uprooted from her home and friends in Minnesota when her father (Kyle MacLachlan) has to move the family to San Francisco. Her new world is strange and frightening; a new house, a new school with new, unfamiliar kids; a new family dynamic. That’s the basic set-up, but inside Riley’s head there’s a whole other movie playing out. Inside Riley’s head there are five emotions helping guide her through life: Joy (Amy Poehler), the first emotion she ever felt and also the most dominant one; Sadness (Phyllis Smith), whom Joy tries to keep to the shadows of Riley’s sunny headquarters; Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) round out the quintet trying to keep her happy, safe and productive. The emotions also collect Riley’s experiences and file them in her memory, making sure each memory is uncontaminated by any of the four other companions. When something goes catastrophically wrong at HQ, Joy and Sadness are whooshed off to the memory banks leaving Fear, Anger and Disgust in control until the other two can find their way back and restore emotional balance.

Riley must stumble through her day, her only responses to the world being afraid, angry or snarky while Joy and Sadness travel the length and breadth of her mind to get back to HQ. And what a landscape Riley’s mind is, from Long Term Memory Storage to Imagination Land through the Dream Factory via Abstract Thought. Along the way they meet Riley’s forgotten imaginary friend, Bing Bong (Richard Kind), a kind of pink candy floss elephant who cries wrapped candy tears and acts as their guide. Bing Bong is an all-time great character, one of the best Pixar have ever created, so when… well, never mind, I don’t want to spoil this movie for anyone. Every place the trio visit sheds new light and understanding on how our own minds work, a staggering achievement and a breath-taking concept for a cartoon – it works so well that you might not even be consciously aware of what it’s doing.

Inside Out

Inside Out is up there with Pixar’s best movies, I’d even go so far as to say it’s actually the best! Big statement, I’ll explain: Inside Out is easily the most exciting, intelligent, inventive and ambitious movies the studio have ever made; on an emotional level it’s never cheap or maudlin, it’s deeply affecting, imagine a whole movie that has the same emotional punch as the first tem minutes of Up; the stakes are the lowest Pixar have ever laid out before us: a young girl’s happiness; the stakes are the highest Pixar have ever played out before us: a young girl’s happiness; nobody’s life is on the line but a young girl’s whole life is on the line.

At one point we get to see inside Riley’s parents’ minds and we realise that Joy doesn’t necessarily have to be the dominant emotion, Riley’s mum (Diane Lane), for instance, has Sadness as her dominant one and we understand that this is the emotion that gives us empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of others. It’s almost a throwaway moment but, in the wider picture, it’s one of the film’s most important messages: Sadness is good and helps us understand the way others hurt, we need sadness in our lives. It’s a simple, almost revolutionary, message that, like all the best moral messages, is true because it’s so simple.

Have I made it sound like Inside Out lacks laughs? It doesn’t. It’s really, really funny, there’s great comedy performances from some top level talent. The characters are cute and unforgettable and the animation sublime. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be glued to your seat. The late, great film critic, Roger Ebert, called cinema an Empathy Machine, Inside Out is an Empathy Interface, you need to interact with it, Inside Out is certainly not designed to be a passive experience. Plug in.

Directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen have created a beautiful, deceptively simple must-see movie that you’ll come out of a better person than you were when you bought your tickets. That, for me, is why we should be talking about Inside Out as one of The Greats.

By the way, the BBFC have rated Inside Out as a “U” certificate. That means it is suitable for everyone. Everyone should see Inside out. Every living person on the planet. It’s that good. It’s that important.

For show times and booking visit Odeon Colchester.

Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver

 

ANT-MAN

Ant-Man

In many ways Ant-Man, Marvel’s latest big screen offering, feels like a do-over of the original movie that kicked this thundering behemoth of a studio into gear, Iron Man: It’s about a guy with a particular set of skills who acquires a super-suit, learns to master that suit, then has to battle a guy with a similar, but over-powered, suit. In many ways Ant-Man, Marvel’s latest big screen offering is something unexpectedly different to every other movie that studio has yet offered us.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has languished for three years in jail for burglary, a Robin Hood-ish crime that reimbursed the investors of a conniving corporation with the funds extorted from them. Three years away from his ex-wife (Judy Greer) and his poppet daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Now all Scott wants is to rebuild his life, pay his child support and spend time with his little girl. Life, though, doesn’t work that way, especially for an ex-con, and Scott is once again drawn into a life of crime. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately) the crime he becomes involved in involves breaking into the home of scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Pym, it emerges, was once a super soldier who worked for Marvel’s go-to super-espionage agency, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the inventor of a device that allowed him to shrink to the size of an ant whilst maintaining his ability to punch like a boss. Scott steals the super-suit, and the macro-to-micro adventures begin: Pym and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), need Scott and his cat-burglar skills to destroy an attempt to replicate his Ant-Man suit and, effectively, arm the highest bidder with an army of super soldiers.

Paul Rudd is one of the most likeable big screen presences working in movies today, but don’t expect one of his mumbling comedy performances here (although he is still very funny here), Rudd plays Scott as a regular guy, an everyman looking not to atone to society in large but rather to his daughter in specific. Michael Douglas has great fun as aging hero, Hank Pym, punching out one bad guy in particular time and again and embracing the whole silliness of the concept but never hamming it up. As Hope van Dyne, Evangeline Lilly provides us with another strong Marvel female character, no shrinking violet (sorry) or damsel in distress here, she’s strong, spunky, ambitious and not afraid to let her fists do the talking. Corey Stoll, as bad-guy Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, does his best with a slightly under-written, generic villain whose character and arc is a little too much like Jeff Bridges’ character, Obadiah Stane, in the original Iron Man movie. There’s terrific support throughout, but it is Michael Pena’s Luis, the small-time crook with big ambitions chum of Scott, which you yearn to see more of, you can’t help but smile every time he’s on the screen.

Ant-Man

The first twenty minutes of Ant-Man has a tendency to drag a little (although there’s little in this movie to upset smaller children, it might be difficult for them to maintain their attention after the exposition heavy opening), but once (director) Peyton Reed finds his footing the movie cracks along at an exciting, an occasionally exhilarating, pace. There’s a lot of fun in the back garden training scenes and the heist portion of the film is thrilling and inventive, as is the final battle between Scott and Yellowjacket. Ant-Man was originally developed for the screen by Edgar Wright, writer and director of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost Cornetto trilogy and there’s a lot of his “DNA” in evidence here: the fast talking; the quick cutting; the inventive, zingy fun.

The macro-to-micro, and back again, effects provide something completely new to the action scenes, with Scott constantly shrinking and growing where the action is appropriate. There’s a lot of fun in playing with everyday objects suddenly scaled to enormous sizes, iPhones, bathtubs and the grooves on an LP all providing fun highlights. These are the few scenes that make 3D seem worthwhile, there’s a slightly disorienting effect that makes it feel like the viewer is shrinking or growing alongside Scott.

Although he might be a secondary character in the greater Marvel Universe, Ant-Man shouldn’t be regarded as a lesser hero, he’s the most human of the lot, so far. It’s not Guardians of the Galaxy great, but Ant-Man is a huge amount of fun and has the biggest heart of any superhero movie yet. If you’re mildly interested and, maybe, thinking about waiting until it comes out on dvd, I would urge you to watch it at the cinema, it might seem small but it’s really rather large. Don’t brush it off.

For show times and booking visit Odeon Colchester.

Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver

 

The Carnival is Coming!

With the 2015 Colchester Carnival now just over a week away, Emma Harisson from the hard working Carnival Team previews this year’s event.

 
The Carnival is coming to Colchester this July, bringing a unique brand of fiesta spirit to our Town Centre streets! Saturday the 18th will see the more vibrant side of the Colchester community come alive, with everyone invited to get involved and celebrate summer!

 

Colchester Carnival

In its fifth year of being run by Colchester Ladies Circle and Colchester Round Table the event is a fantastic community occasion and has raised over £27,500 in the last four years for local good causes.

Weston Homes Plc has been the main sponsor for Colchester Carnival for the last four years.   The event is run entirely for the benefit of the local community and all profits go back to good causes in the Colchester area.  The generosity of Weston Homes has meant that many of the costs involved in putting on Carnival have been covered, ensuring more money goes to support good causes.

Colchester Carnival

The Carnival has been a huge success over the years.  Last year Colchester Carnival was attended by over 12,000 people, the procession had over 60 entries and 1,200 performers.  Lower and Upper Castle Park had more than 100 trade stalls with bands, dance and theatrical groups performing throughout the day.

This time around Colchester Carnivals theme is ‘Heroes and Villains’, with people from across the town invited to join in.

Colchester Carnival

The Carnival itself is split between a Family Fun Day in the Castle Park and a Procession that runs from one end of the town through to the other. The Castle Park events start at 11am and finish at 8pm and will include local bands, choirs and dance groups performing in the Arena, kid’s rides, trade stalls, food outlets and a beer tent.

The Procession will begin earlier this year 1pm to give spectators the opportunity to visit the Park after the Procession.  It starts from Abbey Fields, travels up Butt Road, down the High Street and end at Castle Park.

Colchester Carnival Leaflet 2015

The whole event is looking to be one that brings our community together, a day where we can all enjoy some Carnival spirit and hopefully some sunshine! So head on down, cheer the floats, try the rides and enjoy the bands.

You can find out more about this year’s Carnival on the official Colchester Carnival website.

Colchester Carnival Team
The Colchester Carnival Team

 

 

Parklife

Dragon Colchester Castle

When I was a teenager I lived in Riverside Estate, with Castle Park right on my doorstep, so I have many memories of playing football in the lower park, being chased on our bikes along the riverside path on our way home from school by the park keeper in his little Bedford van  – Colchester wasn’t so cycling friendly then and riding a bike in the park was forbidden – not forgetting sledging down the hill from the upper to lower park and trying to avoid a collision with the Roman wall at the bottom. I think maybe that familiarity at the time prevented me from appreciating what an amazing asset the park is to Colchester, and it is only since returning to live in the town after nearly twenty years spent in Wivenhoe, and living almost by its gates once again, that I truly understand the important role Castle Park plays in the town.

Park Smaller

Park

Over the past few months since my return I have really grown to love this wonderful green space that begins right in the heart of our town centre, behind the magnificent gates by the war memorial in Cowdray Crescent where the High Street meets East Hill, greeting us with its ornamental gardens, before sweeping down the hill to the Roman wall, then the wonderful green space beyond it that stretches along the river, with further grassy areas beyond the gates creating a swathe of green almost from East Mill, past Riverside Estate and Leisure World, taking in the cricket ground then onwards almost to North Station Road.

Castle Tower Reduced

Band

The jewel in the park’s crown is of course Colchester Castle. Built on the orders of William the Conqueror, the castle is the largest Norman Keep in Britain, and was the blueprint for its smaller relative, the Tower of London. The sheer size of the castle always amazes me, as does the thought that it stands on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius which was built by the Romans after they invaded 2000 years ago and made Colchester the country’s original capital. What a breathtaking sight that building must have been! And these days there is something special about seeing people sitting on the grass, enjoying the sun, just feet away from those castle walls that have stood there for nearly 1000 years.

Weir Reduced 1

Canoes

 

Weir

Living so close to the park these past few months, since the weather has become warmer it’s been a pleasure to take the longer walk home from town via the park after a Saturday afternoon lunch or shopping trip, with the occasional Sunday afternoon walk along the river thrown in. And in recent weeks there always seems to be something going on, whether it’s a brass band providing free entertainment in the bandstand, or the Food and Drink Festival bringing locals and other people into the park from the surrounding areas. And of course we still have the Free Festival to come, which this year we are promised is to be held over two days. But for me the park has really come into its own this past week since the giant television screen has been stalled for the duration of Wimbledon. What a wonderful idea this has been. Watching Wimbledon for free while sitting on the hill in the sun, armed with a picnic, a bottle of wine or couple of beers. Although I’m sure that hill has got steeper as I’ve got older! On days when I’ve been working from home it’s been hard to resist the temptation to slip off for an hour or so to watch the tennis with a cold drink. And, in even better news, Illuminate Design, who provided and installed the screen, are hoping to put on Colchester’s very own Winter Wonderland over the Christmas period to rival the one in London’s Hyde Park, complete with, yes they are serious… an ice skating rink. Fingers crossed they get the green light for this ambitious event which will bring people to the town from far and wide, many of whom will also spend money in the town’s shops, restaurant and pubs, putting money into our local economy.

Drink

Gym Reduced

 

Burgers Reduced

Fence

Ducks

As the weeks go by I find I love Castle Park more and more. New York’s Central Park may be the most famous public park in the World, but it’s got nothing on Colchester’s Castle Park.

Simon
 Simon Crow
Simon runs Media48 sponsors of Colchester 101

Classical Music Picks

Our Classical Music columnist Liz Leatherdale, founder and owner of Colchester Classics, brings you her pick of July’s Classical Music events in, and around, Colchester.

July 2015

This month hear the Colchester Symphony Orchestra under Chris Phelps perform an important early Romantic work: Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique or Fantastic Symphony. This was the first music to use over 90 orchestral players and history suggests Berlioz may have written some of the music under the influence of opium. Berlioz’s gentler masterpiece the song-cycle Les Nuits d’Ete with soprano soloist Verica Grmusa and the orchestral  Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, without doubt Debussy’s most famous work, will be performed at 7.30pm on Saturday 11 July 2015 in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester.

Tickets: £14 (01206 271128)

 

On 4 July the Hervey Benham Young Soloists concert offers some of our gifted local musicians the opportunity to perform with an orchestra. Soloists include Sam Marde (Organ), Kerenza Newcombe (trumpet) and Zachary Kleanthous (tenor). Zachary, a former pupil of Colchester Royal Grammar School, starts a chorister scholarship at Chelmsford Cathedral in September. St Botolph’s Music Society Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Abbott.Tickets: Saturday 4 July 2015 in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester at 7.30pm.

Tickets £12.50

 

The Harwich Festival ends on Sunday 5 July 2015 with the Royal College of Music  Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir performing exhilarating period favourites such as Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, Purcell’s ‘Come Ye sons of Art’ and Handel’s Zadok the Priest. Sunday 5 July at 6.30pm, St Nicholas Church, Harwich.

Tickets: £12.00

 

The weekend of 3 – 5 July, the Roman River Festival has its first mini-festival: a Schubertiade with three concerts, bringing James Gilchrist and other distinguished musicians to the idyllic villages of Wivenhoe, Boxted and Fingringhoe.

Tickets: £15. Telephone (01206 729356 for details on both the mini and also main festival)

 

Colchester Town Hall’s majestic Edwardian organ in the magnificent setting of the Moot Hall has been recently renovated to its former glory. This month sees the launch of Organ Fest on Tuesday 21 July with a concert by Gillian Ward-Russell and the following week a concert by Colchester’s Borough Organist, Ian Ray.

 

The Thaxted Festival is held each summer in the magnificent setting of the church at the heart of this small medieval town. The festival includes concerts by Red Priest, the wild and extraordinary interpreters of Baroque and early music, a family concert with the Brandenburg Sinfonia and closes on July 12 with Tenebrae performing some beautiful choral works from Allegri to John Tavener.

Telephone: (01371 831421)

 

Start your love affair with Classical Music at www.colchesterclassics.co.uk and take a minute to watch their company video:

 

Liz Leatherdale

Liz Leatherdale

 

 

 

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