Friday, 25 May 2012

We are all Misfits

The Fab Five
There seems to be a consensus around the idea that when it comes to mainstream audiovisual creativity, TV is nowadays far more avant-garde, relevant and daring than cinema.A flock of talented writers, directors and producers seem to have deserted the Hollywood headquarters and favour now other media,enabling them to craft series that have conquered loyal audiences all over and who thanks to the joys of the Internet are able to watch them as soon as they are released.Gone are the days when people would impatiently have to wait for a channel to buy their favourite series broadcasting rights and then screen them. As a result, I keep coming across people who have made a habit of devouring series after series, most of them of  remarkable quality. I tend to be quite slow when it comes to jumping to new trends so I'm rarely in a position to follow friends' conversations about the seemingly unending TV series output, which is why I was (still am) very excited to stumble on the much-lauded and critically-acclaimed series Misfits.It was a couple of years ago when I first heard about the adventures of this group of 5 youngsters who- while serving community service- develop superpowers after a thunderstorm; since I'm not a fan of superhero stuff, I ignored it until now. I realised how wrong I was because Misfits is a gem.A brilliant and original script, combined with clever direction, five unique and distinctive characters make of Misfits a thoroughly enjoyable production and a must-see for those who love series and are now wondering what to watch next. It took me  almost three years to discover it but believe me, the wait has paid off. 

Friday, 18 May 2012

What a carve up!

A satire on the corrupted ruling elites

Thanks to an unexpected gift, I found recently myself reading-and enjoying- Jonathan Coe's brilliantly named book What a carve up!. Despite being one of Britain's most read and established writers, I had only managed to read one of his books, The Rain Before It Falls, which I'd found interesting and entertaining but didn't feel compelled to delve further into his successful and acclaimed works.It was, however, with a sense of expectation that I approached this one, perhaps because the blurb on the back had given me a few hints on what to expect.
Using Pat Jackson's homonymous film as a starting point, the novel tells the story of a Yorkshire upper-class family, the Winshaws, who have literally a finger in every single part of the British establishment; from the (gutter) press to government, without ignoring the art world, farming, the powerful arms industry and of course banking.Being possessors of, it would seem,an inherited and unforgiving moral bankruptcy, the Winshaws rule a country in which its elites have no moral qualms whatsoever about how to achieve power and glory. While this despicable family go on about their senseless business, only one character is aware of how much harm his family is causing.Mortimer Winshaw will change the course of history by changing the family's story. The family's farcical attempts to control everything are complemented by the story of a soul-searching and lonely writer,Michael, who has been commissioned to write the infamous family's biography.
What a carve up! is a parody of the British running elites and an indictment of how the Thatcher's years transformed a country, bringing a new political and economical approach in which greed and low moral standards became the norm.
This book is the first one of a trilogy that depicts Britain's recent history so I hope to write here soon on the remaining two books.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Educating for change

Nothing is wasted at CAT
What is now regarded as Europe's leading eco-building is situated where a slate quarry used to be, near the market town of Machynlleth,in Mid Wales.CAT (Centre for Alternative Energy or Canolfan y Dechnoleg Amgen in its Welsh version) is an extraordinary place to visit and find out about a wide range of initiatives and projects that cover topics such as sustainability,renewable energy and organic agriculture.Its visitor centre is both entertaining and informative and children won't be bored,far from it actually,as the centre has a hands-on approach,as you would expect given the nature of the centre, which has a strong focus on environmental education.It is an amazing achievement that this centre has been going on for so long; its origins can be traced to 1973, at a time when such concerns were dismissed by mainstream society and would only interest very few committed mavericks.Nowadays, and despite what the oil industry wants us to believe,more and more people throughout the world are aware of the fact that a different lifestyle and approach is needed;different ideas and initiatives trying to offer an alternative view and mindset, include the ever-growing Transition Towns movement (this will be further detailed in a future post here).Much of this awareness owes a lot to projects such as this one, a centre that has been leading the way on practical solutions to environmental issues for over three decades now.It is a more than recommended place to visit if you have the opportunity.A day spent at CAT is definitely a well spent one, an invigorating visit that should inspire anyone with an interest in an alternative way of doing things.On top of all that, a trip to this great project is the perfect excuse to visit Wales.