Colchester

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

BBFC 12A 2hrs 32mins

 

 

Full disclosure: I have never been a Star Wars fan. I don’t own any toys; I have never read any of the extended universe novels; no posters adorn my walls; the prequels (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and The Revenge of the Sith) didn’t upset me, only bored me; I don’t own any of the dvd’s; I even had to look up the names of the prequels just now.

This, of course, does not mean I don’t recognise their value or, that in any way, I dismiss them as fan-serving fluff. The job of a film reviewer is to try to honestly convey to the reader what they’ve seen up there on the screen, to give a completely unbiased opinion based upon a number of criteria (such as storytelling, direction, acting and technical merits), to be as informed as possible and to try not to bore said reader in the process. Oh, and avoid spoilers… yes, definitely avoid spoilers.

I tell you all of this for one simple reason. I want you to know that Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is not just a great Star Wars movie, it is a really, really great movie in its own right: it achieves exactly what it sets out to do and does so in a way that never is boring, flabby or uninteresting; moves its characters and plot forward in a satisfying and, sometimes, moving arcs; it stays true to the series ethos and mythos whilst introducing new and interesting riffs upon them and, along the way, it corrects a course-direction that the prequels (and even The Force Awakens to some extent) managed to muddle and muddy.

Yes, The Last Jedi works… with a few caveats.

Picking up directly where Episode VII: The Force Awakens ended Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found the now reclusive Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on Ahch-To and seeks answers to not only her heritage but to her place in the universe. The Resistance, led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher), is on the run from The First Order and fiercely outnumbered. New alliances must be forged and old questions beg answers.

So far, so Empire Strikes Back.

Where The Force Awakens was basically A New Hope remastered, The Last Jedi shares a whole heap of DNA with The Empire Strikes Back. But, unlike its predecessor, Jedi manages to shine despite its familiarity and not because of it. It’s the difference between a Woolworth’s Top of the Pops collection and something like Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions… (the former being a cover version album, the latter taking the familiar and creating something new and exciting with it). Replace Ahch-To with the Dagobah scenes of Luke’s training; the neo-Vegas glitz of Canto Bight with Cloud City; the shock revelation of Rey’s true ancestry and cliff-hanger ending and you’ve got Empire 1.2. What writer/director Rian Johnson manages to achieve though is something always fresh, sometimes surprising and, ultimately, emotionally satisfying.

New layers have been added to familiar characters like Rey, Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and even Luke Skywalker. Existing characters are expanded upon giving them both motivation and weight, specifically General Hux (Domhall Gleeson), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) – a villain so repulsive he could easily have risen to power wearing a red “Make The Galaxy Great Again” baseball cap. New characters are introduced that will immediately become fan favourites like Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), DJ (Benicio Del Toro) and purple-haired Resistance fleet Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern). There’s plenty of spectacular battles, an all-timer light sabre duel, emotional highs and devastating losses. There’s even a new shade of grey introduced into what is, essentially, a universe of black hats versus white hats that, if carried forward and expanded upon, will move the Star Wars Universe in a deeper, more nuanced direction.

I’m desperately trying not to give too much away but I have to address the elephant in the room: That The Last Jedi is the slam-bang in the middle of a three act story and, as such, it struggles to be anything but the set-up for the final chapter. This is a problem that all trilogies face and, though it is probably the best instalment since Empire, it’s difficult to judge it as its own thing. The whole Canto Bight storyline will become clearer in the context of the whole, I’m sure, but here it feels slightly crow-barred in and excessive to the needs of the story despite introducing new characters Rose and DJ and that much needed shade of grey. It’s not that the Canto Bight sequences are bad, far from it, but here they tend to feel like something you’d get in an extended edition dvd rather than an essential part of the story.

There’s also a fear that new elements of the film have been added simply for their merchandising potential than as necessary plot points. I’m thinking specifically about the Porgs (cute rabbit/penguin hybrid critters, plushie-toy-friendly creations coming to a Christmas stocking near you) which add little to the plot but potentially enormous earnings beyond the movie.

The tragic loss of Carrie Fisher hangs heavy over The Last Jedi and it would take a hard heart not to break over her final scene as Leia, a scene that even without the actress’s death would have audiences reaching for the handkerchiefs. It’s the kind of emotion we should have had in the previous episode for Han Solo but were denied through awful writing and direction, but alas.

So, did Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi make a fan of me? Only for its two and a half hour running time, but during that time I was as thrilled and invested as any fanboy. It’s a transportive experience, the kind that only great cinema can offer and, trust me, this is great cinema.

Andy Oliver

 

Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for December 2017

OUR CLASSICAL MUSIC COLUMNIST LIZ LEATHERDALE, FOUNDER AND OWNER OF COLCHESTER CLASSICS, BRINGS YOU HER PICK OF DECEMBER’S CLASSICAL MUSIC EVENTS IN, AND AROUND, COLCHESTER.

Classics

Celebrate, rejoice, rise up and praise –  the festive season has arrived!

This month is full of music celebrating Christmas with a cornucopia of concerts – some crammed full with carols.

Here Comes Christmas is the popular annual concert of music for voices, brass quintet and organ held in the Edwardian splendour of Colchester’s Town Hall. Colchester Choral Society, conducted by Ian Ray, will be joined by children from both Birch Primary and Heathlands Primary Schools and accompanied by organist Dr Gillian Ward-Russell. After the concert there is a chance to pop to the Mayor’s Parlour for some mulled wine and festive treats. Sunday December 10 at 4pm in Colchester’s Moot Hall.

Tickets: £8 from Manns Music, Colchester.

Next Saturday (16 December), Gillian Ward-Russell will be conducting the Maldon Choral Society in a Christmas Carol Concert featuring the choir of Elm Green School.  Saturday December 16 at 7.30pm in All Saints’ Church, Maldon.

Tickets: £7 on the door.

Often considered to be the music for Christmas, Handel’s popular oratorio, Messiah, is sung in full or part at this time year. On Saturday 9 December, the Choir of St Mary’s Maldon will be joined by its favourite orchestra, Pegasus Baroque, in a full performance of the famous oratorio conducted by Colin Baldy. The performance is on Saturday 9 December at 7.30pm in St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Maldon. CM9 5HP.

Tickets are available from the Maldon Tourist Board (01621 856503) and on Eventbrite.

Also on Saturday 9 December Philip Smith will be directing the St Botolph’s Music Society Orchestra from the keyboard in music by J S Bach. Scarlatti’s Christmas Cantata and the world premiere of Nativity Thoughts, composed by the Society’s founder Colin Nicholson, will be performed by the society’s choir and orchestra.  Saturday December 9 at St Botolph’s Church, Colchester from 7.30pm.

Tickets: £12 www.sbms.org.uk

Conductor Patrick McCarthy and his orchestra, the Colchester Philharmonic, will be accompanying Christmas concerts on the next two Saturdays.  On December 9 they will be at Witham Public Hall with Witham Choral presenting Sing Christmas! at 7.30 p.m. including excerpts from Messiah, audience carols and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols with baritone soloist Alastair Merry.

Tickets £12 and £5 (full-time education) at the door or phone 0345 017 8717.

On 16 December the Harwich & Dovercourt Choral Society will perform Messiah Part One with mezzo Elaine Henson and famous carols by Holst and Rutter plus carols for audience. The concert starts at 7.00 p.m. in St Nicholas’ Church, Harwich.

Tickets are £12 and £3 (full-time education) at the door.

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

www.colchesterclassics.co.uk

www.facebook.com/ColchesterClassics

Twitter @ClassicalCDs

www.linkedin.com/in/lizleatherdale1/

www.instagram.com/ColchesterClassics

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

Turtle Bay Preview Night

I’ve been lucky enough to have visited Jamaica a few times, though sadly not in more recent years, and I’m a huge fan of the island, its charming people, the laid back culture and its delicious food. So I was delighted to receive an invitation to the VIP Preview Night of Colchester’s newest dining experience, the Caribbean themed Turtle Bay.

Located in Greytown House next door to the Town Hall, this previously drab building has been wondrously transformed into three brand new restaurant units, the first of which to open, in time for Christmas, is Turtle Bay.

The Caribbean vibe hits you the moment you walk in and get your first look at this cool beach shack themed restaurant that transports you to sunnier climes. The ‘island hut’ bar takes centre stage at the front of the restaurant, ideal if you are waiting for a table or just popping in for a cocktail (more about them later) or a glass of cold Red Stripe lager. With reggae music playing in the background you really could be in a Jamaican beach bar.


Reclaimed wood and chequer-plate, lights hanging from beer crates, giant paintings on brick walls along with the open ‘street kitchen’ and a raised veranda seating area at the back of the dining area are just some of the features and little touches that give this restaurant its charismatic vibe for your unique dining experience.

And what an experience it is! Let’s start with the cocktails. They have over forty, yes FORTY, different rums from across the Caribbean which they use to make classic cocktails with, of course, a special Turtle Bay twist. I had a fair crack at working my way through the cocktail list, aided by the very friendly and knowledgeable Turtle Bay team who were happy to recommend their favourites, which of course it would have been rude not to try. Now I’m not really a rum drinker, in fact I would go so far as to say I’ve never really liked it very much, but each of my cocktails beautifully hit the spot, and after also trying a couple of neat rums too I’m now a convert.

But enough about the cocktails. Every single item from the selection of mouth-watering dishes we were served was a delight to eat. From the crispy panko coated whitebait nibbles on the bar, the sweetcorn fritters, crispy okre, and sweet plantain in the vegetarian platter, to the jerk chicken were as delicious and authentic as you could hope for. But the curry goat stole the show for me. Every trip I’ve made to Jamaica has begun with curry goat and a Red Stripe, and Turtle Bay’s take on this classic dish was up there with the best of them I’ve eaten in the Caribbean. With Sean Paul playing in the background happy memories from trips gone by soon came flooding back.


Just when I thought I couldn’t eat another morsel along came a selection from the Puddings menu (yes they do call it that) which included their rum and raisin bread pudding and sticky black treacle pudding. Now I’m not really much of a dessert (or pudding!) eater but I gave in and tried a couple and they really were absolutely delicious, and the staff happily offered to pack up what we couldn’t eat to take home with us, which delighted my daughter to find she had Caribbean puddings to add to her lunchbox this morning.


Talking about home, we were glad it was a fifteen minute walk away which gave us a chance to walk off some of the food we had eaten as I really did have that Christmas Day stuffed full feeling!

Special thanks go to all the staff who worked so hard last night to make our preview night so memorable. Turtle Bay is going to be a welcome addition to Colchester High Street when it officially opens on 4th December, expanding the town’s dining options as well as a few waistlines I should think!

www.turtlebay.co.uk/colchester

@turtlebayuk

www.facebook.com/TurtleBayRestaurants/

EMAIL

Simon Crow

 

A Taste of the Carribean Coming to the High Street


After months of speculation about who would be moving into the three restaurant units that have been created in Greytown House next door to the Town Hall in the High Street we can reveal that Turtle Bay Caribbean restaurant will be opening on December 4th.

Established in 2010, Turtle Bay has 40 restaurants across the UK employing over 1000 people, with a further 50 jobs now being created in Colchester. An £800k investment has created a 160 seat restaurant with its own design which will be unique to Colchester featuring an open ‘street kitchen’ and a raised veranda seating area where they will be bringing their trademark jerk spices, sunshine-inspired cocktails, and island spirit to the town.

Turtle Bay offers an eclectic menu of 50+ authentic Caribbean dishes offering a huge choice of bold flavours and rustic dishes. Signature dishes that Colchester diners can look forward to include their famous jerk chicken and curry goat, but there’s plenty for all to choose from including burgers, salads and a great collection of dishes for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diners. All inspired by the laid back vibe of the Caribbean

The menu also includes ‘Cutters’  – inspired by Beach Shacks and Street Hawkers of the Caribbean Islands which are perfect for sharing over cocktails – the Jerk BBQ Pit, Curry One Pots, a fabulous Lunch menu, and a dreamy desserts collection.

This is fuss-free soul food for individuals that love, and live, to eat!

The standalone ‘island hut’ bar will offer a staggering 40+ hand-picked rums (yes 40!) from across the Caribbean used to create classic cocktails with a Turtle Bay twist, as well as a magnificent mix of signature cocktails too. And even better news, the whole list of cocktails are available as 2-4-1’s during Happy Hour.

We can’t wait!

www.turtlebay.co.uk/colchester

@turtlebayuk

www.facebook.com/TurtleBayRestaurants/

EMAIL

Simon Crow

 

Then&Now – Tribute to the Fallen

Last Summer Paris born photographer Xav Marseille gained something of a celebrity status in Colchester when his Then&Now images began appearing on social media and in the press. To create the extraordinary images of Colchester, his adopted town, Xav combined old and new photographs to create stunning fusions of the town as it was in years gone by, and as we know it now in the 21st century. All in one image.

With Remembrance Sunday coming up this weekend Xav has put his talents to good use again to create two extraordinary images as a fitting tribute to the fallen.

In Xav’s own words:

“I was keen to create some exclusive Then&Now artwork for Armistice Day to celebrate and remember what others did to allow us to leave in a free world. As a kid, growing up in France, I was often reminded that our country, and Europe, could’ve been ever so different and I think it’s important not to forget the soldiers who survived but also the ones who didn’t.

Although the old photographs weren’t taken on the same location, I’m hoping these two new ‘Colchester Then&Now’ pieces help make Remembrance Day even more relevant and connect us, visually, to our history.”

If you would like to see more of these amazing photographs, along with Xav’s other work, pay a visit to his website www.about.me/xavmars and follow him on Twitter @XavMars.


Xav Marseille

Xav

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equality for People with Disabilities in Colchester

 

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.

For those who are not familiar with the the act, it recognises nine ‘protected characteristics’ with disability being one of them. The others are:

  • age
  • being or becoming a transsexual person
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

In a nutshell it protects people who have a disability from discrimination in the workplace and wider society. It builds on the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995.

One provision relating to Disability is harmonising the thresholds for the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

It goes even further, under The Equality Act 2010 section 20 there is a duty:

“Where a provision, criterion or practice of A’s puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to relative matters of comparison with persons who are no disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to avoid the disadvantage”


My aim is a challenge that the refurbishment of toilet facilities in Castle Park in Colchester should include Changing Places toilets, so that people with disabilities can enjoy the same advantages of toilet facilities as those who are able bodied.

The debatable point will always be, is it reasonable?

In my opinion Castle Park provides playground facilities and sensory experiences for people with disabilities. These facilities are also enjoyed by able bodied children and adults. They enjoy toilet facilities to compliment their experience, so therefore it is reasonable to have equality for people with disabilities and additional sanitary needs to also have the same provision.

I will be bringing this to the attention of Colchester Borough Council, and have already started initial discussions through the back channels with several key council figures to gauge reaction.


In 1970 Lord Morris wrote what was referred to as the ‘Magna Carta’ for the disabled, and he soon became the First UK minister for the Disabled in 1974 (the year I was born). It faced heavy opposition from within his own party and his vision almost died when Harold Wilson PM called a General Election.

He was successful in making Britain the first country in the world to make a law to improve access and support for people with disabilities.

We should be proud of that.

The 1986 Disabled persons act and later the 1995 Disabled Discrimination Act built on Lord Morris’ original vision. It was not until the mid 1990’s that we started to see Disabled Toilets for people in wheelchairs start to become commonplace in public spaces and businesses.


As a nation we have only had Wheelchair accessible toilets for just over 20 years. It is my vision that we complete the circle and go further to include Changing Places toilets, and that in 10 years time Changing Places are commonplace across the UK.

I will also challenge Colchester Borough Council to fully endorse changing places to make Colchester not only a sanctuary town for refugees, but also for people with disabilities and all other characteristics of the Equalities Act.

Previously published on MEDIUM.

Scott Everest

Autumn Around Castle Park

I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to to take some autumnal photographs in and around castle park. Until the sky did that weird red/beige thing.







Simon Crow

Blade Runner 2049

 

 

(BBFC 15 2hrs 43mins)


I’ve already booked a ticket to see Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 again.

Not because I loved it, at least not yet. I want to see it again to cement in my mind whether it’s a truly great movie or merely a mediocre picture draped in a hallucinatory coat of many colours; whether, or not, there is actually anything resembling life in its sterility or just an affectation of life; whether there is substance in its style or whether it’s an empty, albeit beautifully crafted, vessel. Or, maybe, the truth lies in all these things.

Set thirty years after the events of Ridley Scott’s original, Blade Runner 2049’s central character is K (Ryan Gosling), a limited-life replicant working as a detective (or Blade Runner) for the LAPD, tracking down the first-generation models who can live as long as, and live as, humans. During a routine mission to apprehend/eliminate one of those rogue replicants K stumbles upon a secret that, if given the oxygen of publicity, could destroy the delicate sense of order that exists between humans and the now million strong sub-caste of androids. Ordered by his police chief Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) to forget what he has learned, K disobeys and begins an investigation that takes him to the ruins of Las Vegas and directly to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) who is hiding therein. Meanwhile creepy oligarch Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who now owns the replicant manufacturing corporation, Tyrell, has his own bizarre and ruthless interest in K.


Gosling is back in zero-emotion, Drive/Only God Forgives mode, doing a fine job of channelling Le Samourai era Alain Delon, both enigmatic and unreadable. Harrison Ford is great as the haggard misanthrope Deckard (not really a stretch, I guess, but still…). I’m still not convinced by Jared Leto, he will forever be the poor man’s Daniel Day-Lewis to me, he’s not terrible but he does seem to suck the oxygen out of his every scene. A terrific, and overwhelmingly female, supporting cast is led by Robin Wright as the stern and severe Lt. Joshi, but there’s more than a few performances that one would struggle to describe as other than breakthrough: Sylvia Hoeks as the ruthless Luv, Ana de Armas as K’s designed for pleasure hologram Joi and watch out for an all too brief, but impactful, appearance by In Syria’s Hiam Abbas.

If you’ve seen this year’s earlier entrants in the unofficial competition to melt the audience’s eyeballs, Ghost in the Shell and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets you’ll have some idea of the colourful visual flair on display, but Blade Runner 2049 possesses some things neither of those earlier two seemed to understand: Composition. Through the eye of cinematographer Roger Deakins’ camera lens (director of photography on such classics as Fargo, The Assassination of Jesse James, The Shawshank Redemption, Skyfall amongst many, many others) the images have depth, context, a sense of the surreal, a sense of the monolithic and, above all, an understanding of stillness and beauty. Seriously, virtually every frame is breath-taking, see it on a big screen and take in every inch of neon-lit artistry as you would the work of a great master in a gallery.


Director Denis Villeneuve returns to two of his favourite themes, two recurrent ideas that power all his films: How does man fight monsters without becoming a monster and the inherent hopefulness of female nature. He’s a director whose opus tends toward the exhaustingly tense (Incendies, Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival), so why, many might ask, is Blade Runner 2049 so slow and (I hesitate to say it, but) boring? I think it’s an interesting choice to slow everything down to a crawl, to allow time for the audience to really think about the film as it unfolds, in many ways it’s an imitation of the work of Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, Stalker, Andrei Rublev). It’s deliberate, thoughtful and packed but it’s very, very long. People with short attention spans or who hate having to put any thought into a movie might want to avoid and sit at home with their Explody-Robots IV dvd. If you enjoy sci-fi as allegory, fill your boots, there’s plenty to tuck into here.


Despite its undisputed influence on not only movies but upon design and culture, I’ve never really been much of a fan of the original Blade Runner. It’s just too full of holes, lacks a believable through-line, it’s an exercise in design over content and chucks in things because they look or sound cool rather than having any importance. There are multiple versions out there and it took Scott five attempts at recutting it before he actually understood what he was trying to say. Blade Runner 2049 builds upon the aesthetics of Scott’s original, cherry picking the best ideas and expanding upon them to reach a natural conclusion. It’s much closer to Phillip K. Dick’s dystopian vision, in its existential ponderings if nothing else. In fact, the less familiar you are with the original the better, I think it works best if you are not wedded to the mythology of Blade Runner and everything that has been written about it.

Like I say, I’m genuinely torn by Blade Runner 2049 and maybe I should have written this after that second viewing. I think it might be one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made, but I’m not sure.

Andy Oliver

 

Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for October 2017

OUR CLASSICAL MUSIC COLUMNIST LIZ LEATHERDALE, FOUNDER AND OWNER OF COLCHESTER CLASSICS, BRINGS YOU HER PICK OF OCTOBER’S CLASSICAL MUSIC EVENTS IN, AND AROUND, COLCHESTER.

Classics

Christina Johnson – Blessing

Although this is all about concerts taking place in October, I would like to kick-off this column with information on a young Suffolk Soprano soloist Christina Johnson who will be singing in Colchester’s St Botolph’s Church on Saturday 30 September at 7pm. Christina is mid-way through her tour promoting her debut CD, Blessing and here is a sneak peek for you to hear and see Christina before her concert on Saturday.

https://youtu.be/8B0hSeeDPDw

Christina Johnston (originally from Framlingham, Suffolk) is said by many to be one of a kind in the vocal world. Despite her young age she is already making a name for herself in the classical world with her vocal range that most could only dream of.

On Saturday, she will be accompanied by the Russian coach, Inga Goldsmith who works with the likes of, Valeri Gergiev at the Marinski Theatre in St Petersburg.

Tickets are available to buy at:

www.ticketline.co.uk/christina-johnston or on the door.

Colchester’s Roman River Music Autumn Festival

Over the last few weeks, the Roman River Music Autumn Festival has brought a wealth of music to the heart of Colchester, such as outstanding international classical musicians, pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, Natalie Clein, The King’s Singers making its festival debut and much, much more.

Not only does it attract outstanding international musicians to our area but the festival continues to form relationships and assist in the development of our aspiring local musicians. The festival ends on Sunday 1 October at 6pm showcasing work with young players from the Colne Valley Youth Orchestra plus contributions from local singers and other musicians joining the Festival Orchestra for its finale.

On Thursday 28 September, The King’s Singer’s made its debut at the festival with music ranging from William Byrd to Bob Chilcott.  This concert kick-started the festival’s residency at St Mary the Virgin in Stoke by Nayland, one of the largest churches in Suffolk, with a history stretching back to the 10th century.  On Friday 29 September at 8pm there is a re-orchestration of another of Mahler’s symphonies and tomorrow evening there is a performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor.

Visit www.romanrivermusic.org.uk

Lunchtime recitals

Early next month, Charles Hine will be performing Clarinet music accompanied by pianist Ian Ray at the launch of the Lion Walk Lunchtime Autumn concert series. Wednesday, October 4, 1pm, Lion Walk United Reformed Church, Colchester. Free concert with retiring collection.

For information on all of the weekly concerts, please visit  www.lionwalkchurch.org/lunchtime-concerts

Ian Ray is also involved in the Moot Hall organ and he will be busy the day before at the launch of the Autumn 2017 lunchtime recitals on the magnificent Edwardian Organ in Colchester’s elegant Town Hall . On  Tuesday at 1pm Daniel Gárdonyi  will be performing music by Kodály and Mendelssohn.

Click here to find out more about the series  www.moothallorgan.co.uk

Music for Children

It seems that every month a new study is published confirming the benefits music can bring. A recent survey carried out by YouGov stated that 47% of people said more children should be inspired to learn an instrument and have the experience of playing and hearing music. Here are a couple of ways to hear Classical Music this October.

Over the October school holidays, the City of London Sinfonia presents its Lullaby Concert series in both Essex and Suffolk. The idea is to present orchestral music in a friendly way to youngsters aged 2 –  7. The first concert is at the Tendring Education Centre on Saturday 21 October.

Further information available from the Clacton Tourist Information Centre (01255 6866633).

The family concert, Around the World in 60 Minutes, presents a musical world tour inspired by each continent. James Mayhew will be providing live illustrations on the stage capturing the spirit of each land to be visited musically. This concert takes place in the award-winning Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden at 3pm on Sunday 1 October.

Tickets: £12 (0845 548 7650)

String Quartets and more

If you enjoy Chamber music, there are plenty of concerts to enjoy in and around Colchester. Here are just a few for you!

Now in its 92nd season, the Ipswich Chamber Music Society continues to hold concerts in the Great Hall in Ipswich School. The Nash Ensemble, a most distinguished group, constantly appearing at London’s Wigmore Hall, are coming to Ipswich to perform Beethoven’s Septet and Schubert’s Octet, opus 166. The venue is intimate with excellent acoustics and fine views of the performers. Tickets are £15. For all details see www.ipswichchambermusic.org.uk

The Castalian String Quartet will be performing at Stour Valley Arts & Music on Sunday 22 October at 4pm. For more information and tickets please visit www.svam.org.uk or telephone 01206 298426

And just like buses ….. there are two concerts on 29 October! First up, The Kingfisher Ensemble will be performing at the Lion Walk United Reformed Church in Colchester at 2.45pm on Sunday 29 October.  Please visit here for www.kingfishersinfonietta.co.uk

And last but by no means least, over in the beautiful church in Wrabness, The Solem String Quartet will be performing String Quartets by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven also on Sunday 29 October at 4pm.

Tickets £12 from Liz Connah  01255 886163

For full information please visit www.romanrivermusic.org.uk

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

 

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

 

 

(BBFC 15 2hrs 21mins)


Oh dear.

There’s no easy way to say this but Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the follow up to director Matthew Vaughan and writer Jane Goldman’s fun, breezy, occasionally off-colour, occasionally shockingly violent but always exciting spy-spoof Kingsman: The Secret Service, is a bit of a slog. It’s a “Tough Mudder” of a movie, an exhausting trial of endurance, and the only prize waiting for those crawling across its finish line is to sniff a bucket of poop. It’s not without a few fun moments but unfortunately, as a whole, it’s a disappointment.

Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the council estate raised hero of the first movie, returns as a now fully-fledged member of ultra-dapper secret service organisation The Kingsmen, to face an all-new super-villain and an all-new threat to World peace. Poppy (Julianne Moore), the Martha Stewart/Kirstie Allsop-ish head of a major drugs cartel has been lacing her product with a lethal virus thereby infecting her entire userbase, an antidote to which will only be forthcoming if the US President (Bruce Greenwood) ends the war on drugs. The problem here being that POTUS sees Poppy’s plan as the way to solve the drugs problem once and for all.

Tired of the Kingsmen’s meddling Poppy destroys the organisation leaving only Eggsy and Kingsman Quartermaster Merlin (Mark Strong) as the surviving members. The pair then bounce around the world, team up with their US counterparts The Statesmen and discover that veteran Kingsman Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is still alive (despite being shot in the head at point-blank range in the first film), albeit suffering amnesia.

If you’ve seen the first movie or, indeed, any James Bond movie ever you’ll know where this is all heading: set-piece upon set-piece leading to an all-out, mega-action finale.

The problem is that it takes so long to get there and those set-pieces become increasingly tiresome, one extended sequence in which Eggsy has to… ahem, how should I describe this?… deposit a fingertip mounted tracker inside the genitals of a bad guy’s girlfriend (Poppy Delevingne) at Glastonbury becomes a particularly wearing test of endurance. So much time and effort is put into that sequence and none of it is really worth the pay-off, which, in many ways, sums up the whole movie.

The introduction of The Statesmen is a pleasant enough diversion but they are so poorly served that they feel like a wasted opportunity. Stars like Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry are painfully under-used and only Pablo Pascal gets a decent amount of screen time. Bizarrely Elton John (yes, Elton John) gets more to do in The Golden Circle than many of the other extended cameos, that’s how weird this movie is. The wonky use of The Statesmen is sort of resolved in the final third of the film but by then patience and suspension of belief has already been stretched to their limits.

Much of the criticism of The Secret Service was aimed at a particularly jarring and ill-advised gag at that movies end and chances were that The Golden Circle was always going to respond to those complaints by gleefully asking, “You think that was bad? Here, hold my pint…” And it certainly doesn’t hold back in its attempts to shock, in fact it tries way too hard (as evidenced by that Glastonbury sequence) and as a result sinks to Sacha Baron Cohen’s Brothers Grimsby levels of lad-mag humour. Great if you like that sort of thing, alienating if you find it don’t and, whatever you feel about it, it adds very little except bum-numbing minutes to an already too long movie.

It’s understandable that they’d want to bring back the always likeable Colin Firth as Eggsy’s mentor Harry but the way it’s done is a cheap cop-out (apparently the application of some super-Savlon can repair the damage of being shot in the face), a cheat which removes any life or death tension. Harry believes he’s a lepidopterist (butterfly collector) because of his amnesia and is perfectly happy and content until Eggsy forces him to relive a past trauma to snap him out of it. It’s a stretch to believe that the Eggsy of The Secret Service would be the callous Eggsy of The Golden Circle to take that away from him. It’s all too contrived and jarring and sells out the characters for a plot that doesn’t deserve them.

For all its fun moments, of which there are too few, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is too dogged by forced motivations, forced situations, increasingly weightless action sequences (all of which try to be as iconic as the church massacre of The Secret Service, none of which are successful), flaky CGI and wasted opportunities to hang together as an enjoyable whole. It’s a shame and I hope that it’s not a franchise killer, I’d love to see more of The Kingsmen, The Statesmen, Eggsy, Merlin, et al. Vaughan and Goldman just need to understand that more is not always necessarily more, sometimes you need to touch the brakes to get around the corner with speed.

Andy Oliver