Birmingham Books: Must Haves

Looking for ideas on original book presents? Here are some Birmingham infused book recommendations put together by city tour guide, Ian Braisby in 2013. Birmingham Books and Writers

Mainly regarded as a city of commerce and industry rather than culture, there is actually a very good reason why Birmingham’s coat of arms offsets the man with hammer, anvil and crucible with a lady carrying a pallet and a book.  Over the years, it has been the birthplace, home and inspiration to many well-known and hugely successful poets, playwrights and novelists.

At The Flix with @Timmy66

Hello, it's #AtTheFlix time and I'm in a very kung fu state of mind. Maybe it has something to do with one of the movies out this week.

So, let's kick some *** and delve into this week's releases ....

The Raid 2 (18)

The Raid was one of those rare films which fit under the category of "genre defining". With its sequel out this week, the Raid is now becoming a franchise to reckon with. Welcome back rookie Jakarta cop Rama who clearly thought it was done and he could resume a normal life. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Let's not beat about the bush, let's beat about the amount of beatings! The original Raid was an awesome spectacle - violent, brutal, relentless energy and martial arts sequences to make you whoop and wince in equal measure. As action films go, it was arguably one of the more important action films in the last ten years and all in one tower block (a nod to Die Hard?).

Expanding the canvas beyond a building, the platform for something even more all-encompassing is there. I'm excited to see it. The Raid 3 is also in the works.

The Quiet Ones (15)

The Quiet Ones is based on a true story of an unorthodox professor played by Jared Harris who uses controversial methods and leads his best students off the grid to take part in a dangerous experiment: to create a poltergeist, much like my history lessons at University.... kidding!

This is the first Hammer Film since Daniel Radcliffe's star vehicle, The Woman in Black, which I thought was an effective suspense fest for Radcliffe with its fare share of appropriately placed jump type scare sequences and decent characters. If The Quiet Ones can follow similar and scary plot lines and the characters are strong, then it should be another success for Hammer

The Last Days On Mars (15)

There's something in this film's title which fills me with a certain level of dread, along similar lines to when De Palma's Mission to Mars came out. Let's hope The Last Days on Mars isn't as lost in space as that film.

The plot follows the first manned expedition to Mars as it uncovers a discovery - namely that of  fossilized evidence of life... had it escaped their attention that Bowie was already here on Earth?

A series of disastrous plot developments then ensure…. to paraphrase another space classic, "in space, nothing is quite what it seems!"

In the words of Arnie, I'm not about to utter "get your ass to Mars!", more get your ass out of the cinema. This release doesn't inspire.

Half Of A Yellow Sun (15)

No doubt Ejiofor's now much propelled star factor as a result of 12 Years A Slave has enabled this film to get a wide release this week. Half of a Yellow Son is a war drama focusing on prosperous Nigerian twin sisters Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose). Set against the backdrop of the harrowing Nigerian civil war in the 1960s, the consequences of their chosen life paths are explored including the "revolutionary professor" played by Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The jury is out on this one. Outside of the Film Festival circuit last year, there has been relatively little press on this film, but the film's civil war context, powerful plot and famous leads make this a hopefully enticing draw this week.

Khumba (3D) (U)

It's the holiday season, so yes, time for another animated feature. The tagline - "Khumba’s gotta earn his stripes!" - is a hint at what the film is about! The story follows Khumba, a young zebra, born with only half his stripes, rejected by his superstitious herd and blamed for a sudden drought affecting the land.  What a mean bunch of zebras!

Anyhow, Khumba sets out on a mission across to find the waterhole where the first zebras got their stripes meeting a host of colourful characters along the wide. I'm sure there will also be some ecological and vaguely educational context in which to influence the kids watching too.

On a bit of observation, I've spotted very few cinema reviews but plenty of DVD or Blu Ray review, which makes me suspect this is a 'straight to blu ray' film which has managed to secure a big screen slot. Most of the time this is a reason to be reticent, but I hope to be wrong ... for the kids sake.... there's always Rio 2 as an alternative option though.

The Lunchbox (PG)

Showing from 11-22 April at the mac, this looks a fun feature. The plot follows a mistaken delivery in Mumbai's famously efficient lunchbox delivery system which connects a young housewife to an older man as they build a fantasy world together through notes in the lunchbox.

This film just oozes the characteristics of a heartwarming love story and it has been widely praised everywhere. Sounds like a definite watch at the mac this week.

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So that's it from me. As always, any comments, please send them my way @timmy666 on twitter or to @BrumFaves.

Have a great cinema viewing weekend! 

Birmingham for Nature Lovers - Fox Hollies Park

When I first arrived on a drizzly and grey Monday morning, I was curious to see the park for myself, as, on the map, it looks pretty huge (indeed, it covers some 40 acres of parkland, which, back in 1929 when it was acquired by Birmingham City Parks Department, was valued at £250) and it sounds lovely on the website. 

From the car park by the leisure centre on Gospel Lane, I admit that it doesn't look particularly impressive.  There is a children's play area just off to the side of the car park, and some open land which goes off into the distance, with a neat grey path leading between equally neatly lined trees.  The path disappears on the horizon, and appears to end abruptly at a clump of trees. 

However, like the magical lamppost that shines it's way to the doorway between our world and Narnia, the clump of trees hides hidden gems!

Behind the trees I mentioned, Round Pool can be found, and apparently, it is home to a wide variety of fish (there was a chap fishing there on my visit).  There are small areas of woodland throughout the park, and plenty of large open spaces, ideal for playing, picnicking, running the dog or simply relaxing with a book in the summer! 

Westley Brook meanders its way through the park too.  I found Fox Hollies Park to be very quiet, meeting only man with his Doberman and Greyhound, and a couple with two soppy waggly tailed Chocolate Labradors.   I was warned to watch out for vicious Staffordshire Bull Terriors in the park, who have allegedly attacked and killed smaller dogs, like my dog Finn - thankfully only when it's sunny?! 

I will admit that it did cast a bit of a dampener on my visit, as I felt I had to be on extra high alert, however, we didn't meet any unfriendly dogs at all, and in fact, Finn had a great time playing with a very friendly Doberman! My verdict - a pleasant park with plenty of open space and a descent path which makes for a good circular route. 

Definitely quiet during the day time when the sun isn't out, and like anywhere in the city, it's a good idea to keep a close eye on your dog at all times, just in case there are less well behaved canines out there!

Address: Fox Hollies Park, Gospel Lane, Acocks Green, Birmingham, B27 7EG
Getting there - car parking is at the address above Bus - The number 31 stops on Pollard Road, approximately 3 minutes’ walk away
There is now a Rangers Service, and so many more improvements are planned for the park.
 
Words and photos by Debra Jane who can be contacted on @debracreates  or read more on her website.
What parks do you visit? Please add your recommendations below of tweets us on @BrumFaves

Birmingham for Nature Lovers: Brookvale Park

When I arrived at Brookvale Park, the second inner city area of 'nature' for these articles, I realised that I'd driven past it a few times over the years.

Apparently, it is a former drinking reservoir, created to provide clean water to Birmingham residents - at the time, it was located in the countryside, so was ideal.  It has also been used as an open air swimming pool in the early part of the 19th century, so has had varied uses.

It has a very sizeable car park and there is one disabled space, before you actually get to the car park.  As parking is up a slope, this makes sense, so it's well thought out and very suitable for wheelchair users to enjoy. Whilst now surrounded by houses on both sides, the reservoir is huge, tree lined, and enjoys plenty of grass all the way around. 

There are also numerous benches, so plenty of space to sit and enjoy the wildlife.  Despite a main road running alongside Brookvale Park, I found it to be very peaceful, with the sounds of birds dominating my time there.

A few squirrels raced around playing chase (and tormenting my dog, as squirrels always seem inclined to do!).  There is a flat, wide pavement that runs the full circuit of the lake, and a bridge that passes over the water at the far end, where you cross over the brook that feeds the lake.

There are tennis courts, and a children's play area there, so something for everyone!

As for access, aside from parking, it can be accessed by the number 11 bus passes the far end of the park on Marsh Lane (A4040). Alternatively, the number 65 travels along Slade Road, both less than 10 minutes’ walk from the park.  The car park is accessed via Park Road, Erdington B23.  

Overall, it was a lovely park, very peaceful, and makes for a lovely and leisurely dog walk.  I will go again!

By Debra Jane who can be contacted on @debracreates  or read more on her website.

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Greetings one and all and welcome to this week's At The Flix. As the Awards Season looms, we're seeing a whole swathe of potential contenders continuing to drip through the celuloid and into our local cinema .... as well as films starring Vince Vaughn (see below). Let's peekaboo!

12 Years A Slave (15) This powerful study of slavery, and Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance as Solomon Northup, has been widely praised across the States, critics and audiences alike. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon, is a free black man from upstate New York, who is ultimately abducted and sold into slavery. What follows is an emotionally charged, brutal and heartfelt portrayal of Solomon's predicament to stay alive and to maintain his dignity. Director Steve McQueen's brief cinematic career trajectory with Hunger and Shame demonstrates a zeal for complex portrayals of male leads, in particular his partnership with Michael Fassbender. Fassbender's characters in Hunger and Shame had their deeply emotional complexities but are probably nothing compared to his role as brutal slave owner Edwin Epps. 

Yet this is about Northup's journey. Expect an emotional, unflinching and formidable portrayal of slavery, a time of a society ravaged by social and economic inequality where even the most noble of men are dogged by such inequalities. With its ten BAFTA nominations and no doubt upcoming raft of Oscar nods, this is about cinema delivering a message and leaving an impression not easily dispelled or forgotten.

The Railway Man (15) The second powerful film of the week is The Railway Man. Colin Firth plays Eric Lomax in a true story of a World War 2 victim of the "Death Railway" and sets out to find those responsible for his torture. Lost and still affected by the torture of WWII, his chance encounter and romance with Patti, played by Nicole Kidman, brings an inkling of normality to his life. Yet still haunted by his past, he goes out on a mission to find his perpetrators.  The film is shown over two time frames recounting the atrocities of war as well as Lomax's love story and mission. I will be very keen to see what tone the film delivers in its portrayal. Given Lomax is played by Firth, I am expected many layers of subtlety countered by more eccentric and extreme moments.

Delivery Man (12A) By contrast, Vince Vaughn is back. In Delivery Man, Vaughn plays one of cinema's typical 'underachievers' who finds purpose in purpose through an outstanding means. He finds out he has fathered 533 children following donations to a fertility clinic 20 years previously. A whole bunch of them want to reveal his identity so he must decide whether or not to come forward. Cue to tale where he encounters and meets with these children. If you didn't know, the film is a remake of a 2011 French-Canadian film called Starbuck which I haven't seen but I'd be curious to know how the original source material stands up to this remake or whether it just takes verbatim from the original film and doesn't even make it as good? I haven't seen or often wanted to see many of films of recent years. There was a time Vaughn did some great stuff. Yes, it's true, going right back to the excellent Swingers. Is this film likely to buck the trend? Mmmm. Not convinced.

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Elsewhere over the next week, I'm delighted to see the mac are doing a run of really interesting films over the next week including the most brilliant Nebraska (15) (one of my picks of 2013); the excellent transcendental and existential survival film All is Lost (12A) (already a potential pick for 2014). and finally Gloria (15), Chile's official entry for this year's Oscars,  with a performance by Paulina Garcia which won the Silver Bear Best Actress Award at last year's Berlin Film Festival. Ok, that's it from me.

As is usual, please drop me a tweet @timmy666 if you have comments or views on the above and of course comment here on BrumFaves. This is @timmy666 signing off. See you next week.

At The Flix with @Timmy666 2013

Top Films of the Year 2013

I've struggled with a Top 10 this year basing this on my knowledge of having missed a number of films that I reckon could have figured prominently in this list. As always, this list is based on what I have seen.

  • Gravity
  • Before Midnight
  • Nebraska
  • Captain Phillips
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Philomena
  • Enough Said
  • Love is All You Need
  • The Way, Way Back
  • Django Unchained

A few honourable mentions

  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • Rush
  • Frozen
  • Arbitrage
  • Behind the Candelabra
  • Star Trek Into Darkness

These are 10 films that I have not seen yet that I reckon might have made a real impact on the list:

  • A Field in England
  • Blue is the Warmest Colour
  • Only God Forgives
  • Mud
  • The Act of Killing
  • The Great Beauty
  • The Kings of Summer
  • To The Wonder
  • The Hunt
  • The Selfish Giant 

Did you see any of these? Do let me know below or as always tweet me on @Timmy666

'If this is their idea of Christmas, I gotta be here for New Years'

Trampled Under Foot: The Power and Excess of Led Zeppelin by Barney Hoskyns

I’m sure most readers are familiar with the great Led Zeppelin, although you may not be aware that both the vocal and percussive powerhouses of the band (Robert Plant and John Bonham) were West Midlands boys, and cut their teeth on the vibrant music scene of the region in the 1960s.  Barney Hoskyns’ new oral history of the biggest band of the seventies provides us with a fascinating insight into those days, where bands would traipse from venue to venue performing multiple gigs a night.  The region is more than just a jumping off point for Plant and Bonham, with the industrial heritage of the area being cited (not for the first time) as a driving force behind the “heaviness” of the music, competing to be heard with the roar of the factories.  Lest we forget, it is perhaps no coincidence that Birmingham and the West Midlands are widely regarded as the birthplace of heavy metal, with Led Zeppelin (arguably) the first metal band.

Barney Hoskyns’ book is based on exhaustive interviews with a wide range of people who “were there” as Zeppelin conquered the world. As well as the band there is testimony from roadies, friends, musicians, management, and many others.  The result is a book that leads the reader into feeling like an insider, from the first gigs as the band rose from the ashes of the Yardbirds, through to the death of John Bonham, the end of the band and their endeavours since.

Zeppelin were renowned for their excess (as the title suggests), and this is presented unflinchingly, painting a rather tragic image of how this side of success ate away at the band.  However, there is also plenty of time devoted to how powerful the band could be (especially live) and how much joy they gave in their huge performances.

The book is divided into four sections which broadly cover the origins, formation and rise of the band, then covering their demise and the subsequent work of the surviving members. Each section is prefaced with a short description of the bare bones of what happened in the period but most of the text is made up of word of mouth descriptions of the action, which leads to a patchwork view of the events in question and a real sense of immediacy.

At 552 pages, the book is heavy in more than once sense, but well worth the effort of picking up.

Blake can be contacted on Twitter  @brum_enthusiast or take a look at his blog.

At The Flix with @Timmy666

.... Here's Timmy!!

Hello gang. So, are you ready for another diatribe of film-related gumph related to what's out this week? Well, you should be, as it's At The Flix time.

This week's releases are a decidedly mixed affair, a few of which I am somewhat curious to see and another few I'd rather substitute for a daytime antiques show instead. Which ones do you think I'm talking about?

Saving Mr. Banks (PG)

One of the big films out this week, this is the story of when  P. L. Travers went to Walt Disney during the production for the adaptation of Mary Poppins, leading to a reflection of her difficult childhood.

There's much that appeals about this film, first and foremost the cast with its acting talent. Messrs Thompson and Hanks in the lead roles seem so ideal. This film also hints at having far more weight than just the coming together of Travers and Walt Disney, principally because it is a character examination, it reflects on each of the main character's childhoods and is very open about the power of storytelling in all its multiple guises here.

I'm hoping that the film doesn't bog itself down in sappiness, sentiment or self-congratulatory, but is actually an affirmation of the power of the story. Fingers crossed.

Carrie (15)

Another remake and another question mark placed against why we need to see another version of the great book after Brian DePalma's classic exists in the pantheon of horror films.

Of course, this is not described as a remake but as a reimagining! With the great Chloe (Hit Girl) Grace Moretz in the lead role of Carrie White and with Julianne Moore as her mother Margaret White, there are definitely the acting chops in play here but I'd rather see Sissy Spacek going to the prom instead.

I'd like to be proven wrong but I've found myself so frustrated at classic horror films or books being adapted, sorry, re-imagined over recent years.

Rather than see remakes, go see great horror films made by original directors like Ben Wheatley, Neil Marshall and the like.

The Best Man Holiday (15)

Christmas movie number one this week is a follow up by director Malcolm D Lee to his 1999 film The Best Film. I never saw the original. College friends reunite after 15 years over the Christmas holidays and discover how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be ignited.

On initial glance, I thought it would be dreary but reviews have been strong Stateside for this film and that it's a properly acted, well written and timely Christmas drama, tapping into social issues that people face, not overplaying stereotypes but dealing with something of weight or substance.

Free Birds (U)

This is not the bio-pic of Lynyrd Skynyrd but a animation about two time-travelling turkeys who go back in time to get turkey off the Christmas menu.

Yes, it's Christmas, so unless you eat nutloaf on Christmas Day, turkey is an absolutely must. With this in mind, how much of a stuffing, yes I said stuffing, will this film get critically and popularity wise?

Either way, it's going to be a turkey whether on the screen or on your plate this Christmas!

I'm not excited about this one but it will be the only time you will get to see animated turkeys in 3D .... I'm pretty sure about that?

Generation Iron

Making its UK premiere at The Electric Cinema on Sunday 1st, Generation Iron is a new documentary from Vlad Yudin following the extreme world of modern-day bodybuilding. At the time of writing this, it is worth noting that are no tickets available but it will be shown on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th December at 3pm.

A great coup for The Electric especially given the generally strong reviews for this documentary.

Ok, did you get a ticket for Generation Iron? You're a lucky so and so!

Anyhow, that's it from me this week! As always, send your quips, remarks and disagreements on twitter @timmy666 and keep cinema watching prominent in your calendar of entertainments.

Till next week! See you at the party Richter.

Do comment below or tweet Tim on @Timmy666

 

Bringing History to Life!

By Deborah Broomfield

The Ladypool Road Trail uniquely takes participants back in time and tells the story of this area through role play bringing history live!

The historical guided tour is performed by The Birmingham History Theatre Company and The Balsall Heath Historical Society.

I was fortunate to be on this tour as a Still Walking volunteer and I’m amused and enthralled by the commitment and knowledge of those acting, especially as this was a particularly warm day!

Travelling through time from the 1800s through to 2005, I met Anthony Pratt, the inventor of Cluedo and Mrs Charley whose husband William Charley built the Brighton hotel in c1900. Motorcycle champion, Howard Davies was born on the Ladypool Road in 1925 and I was entertained with his exploits too! We also were brought back to the First World War and introduced to the landlord of the Clifton Pub in 1914. Coming up to date, the current significance of the Ladypool Road as the Balti Triangle is also recognised.

Anyone interested in local history would love to be on this tour with a difference.  There is a rumour that they may be taking this to the stage. I can’t wait!

More info about The Balsall Heath Historical Society can be found here or on Facebook.

Photos and words by Deborah Broomfield who can be contact via Twitter

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Welcome to this week's slice of cinematic pie so let's see what delicious filmic treats lie in store beneath the crust (note to editor - does that sound dirty?).

Let's face it, this week's offerings are really exciting, well at least a few of them are, and certainly far more so than last week's very mixed bag.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (12A)

I really liked the first Hunger Games film, not only because I think it had a terrifically dark underbelly and premise for something considered to have a 'teenage' audience. It pushed every bit of its 12A to the limits - and I liked that. Jennifer Lawrence who is pretty much great in everything was the perfect person to play Katniss Evergreen because she is full-blooded and believable. She is supported by a well-considered cast, including the great man Donald, I think it was far, far more than what reviewer has called a "bloodier version of It's a Knockout".

I hope that the drive of the first film is continued and stepped up another gear - keeping the brutality, working up the love angle with Peeta Mellark, and we get to see more of the world under the power of President Snow. I am looking forward to seeing how Francis Lawrence (taking over the director's chair from Gary Ross) handles it all.

PS. And Stanley Tucci hamming it up is worth the admission ticket in its own right! :)

Blue is the Warmest Colour (18)

The second film I really want to see this week is this - this Palme d'Or winning powerful drama is an art-house portrait of a young girl and her experience, in particular that of falling in love. Much has been made of the film's unflinching sex scenes - but this is the deal, it is a close portrait of actress Adele Exarchopoulos, close-up,the camera follows her every move in virtually voyeuristic detail, and her relationship with Lea Seydoux.

The film is three hours long and this is the invitation for a cinematic audience: to embrace following another person's life for a few hours and be capitvated by it. It's bravery from the leads and commitment from a director to ask this of his leads.

Given that critics and audiences have all been raving about it so far, I'm for one looking forward to it.

The Family (15)

As a teenager, I was a huge fan of Besson. He was a rare French director prepared to embrace his American directorial heroes whilst still having a complete respect for his Frenchness. Over a period running from Subway through to Leon, he made one eye-catching film after the other. He had an ability to make every scene feel like a set piece.

Nikita is one of my favourite films - far more classic, in my opinion, than Leon - it's a point in time, where the sexy Gallic chic and Hollywood style just meshed together deliciously. His output since the mid-90s then has been a more mixed bag - he set up his own studio Europa and has made his name far more as a producer and writer, including a lot of B-Movie action stuff, which have benefited from likeable leads like Jason Statham.

It's the fandom of Besson in my teen years that keeps me coming back with films like Angel-A and The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (yep, remember them!) and he remains prolific in quantity if not quality of output.

Perhaps a similar tale can also be said of DeNiro since the 90s, where we have not seem anything like his classic output, and once in a blue moon, he gets a role that hints of something substantial.

So with the story of the Marzoni family, a mafia clan relocated to France, and struggling to fit in, I'm not feeling at all hopeful of classic Besson or DeNiro, but maybe that's not the point - maybe it's just to have fun and get flourishes of humour, action/violence, and parody

Let's see if that blend works, but I'm not hopeful, sadly.

Parkland (15)

50 years since Kennedy's assassination, Parkland recounts the events leading up to and after his death with an all-star cast playing a number of ordinary people put into extraordinary situations - from the nurses attending to Kennedy to a cameraman, who little did he know, would capture one of the most viewed and examined pieces of film footage in history.

A part of me feels it is a little opportunistic or ideal to have managed to bring out a film about the subject matter at that time, and the film has received ok reviews but nothing amazing.

The big thing for me is - does the film having anything new to say? Is it just a faithful account of what happened or does it dare to take a new stance? If it is the former, then the stories and performances of the characters need to be extremely strong.

Let's make parallels to JFK. One of the things that makes JFK such a captivating film, and possibly Oliver Stone's best film, is that is totally had an opinion, it wasn't afraid to be conspiratorial and take sides. It was controversial film making and it was so gripping!

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Finally, I'm really jealous of those of you going to watch Doctor Who's The Day of the Doctor at the cinema over the weekend. I shall be celebrating my birthday whilst watching it on the old school terrestrial box, as it were.

That's it from me. Remember to keep your juicy orange running like clockwork!

Happy cinema viewing. Till next week!

Do comment below or tweet Tim on @Timmy666

Book: Tourmaline by James Brogden

Tourmaline is the second novel by author James Brogden. Brogden faces quite a challenge due to the success of his debut novel, The Narrows. He set the bar so high with his first publication and must now follow his own critically-acclaimed, accomplished piece of writing. As with any second novel, fans want to see everything they loved about The Narrows but they also demand something new and improved. As such, Tourmaline was set to be Brogden's difficult second album.

Suffice it to say, Brogden has made this second album look easy. Tourmaline is every bit as masterful as The Narrows. It is grounded, gripping fantasy, with strong elements of horror, plenty of dark humour and a cast of beautifully-realised characters.

If The Narrows was Brogden's Reservoir Dogs, then Tourmaline is his Pulp Fiction. Or, to use a literary reference, if The Narrows was Carrie, then Tourmaline is Salem's Lot: bigger, bolder and more ambitious.

The Stephen King reference is apt because Brogden shares the prolific storyteller's talent for inserting humour into the darkest of moments. There are many laughs to be had from the hradix, for example, which is essentially a reptilian monster stuck in the body of a child, who the heroes adopt as a pet halfway through the novel. Brogden also has King's flair for depicting scenes of utter horror. A scene where a swarm of floating bones and tendons attacks the heroes like ravenous wasps instantly springs to mind. And the monstrous araka is a fearsome creation, perfectly introduced in the opening prologue.

However, King-sceptics needs not fear. Brogden bypasses King's penchant for over-writing and Tourmaline is therefore a lean, mean, fast-paced and well-edited read. Equally, those not keen on fantasy should not be put off. Tourmaline is not high fantasy. There are no dragons and wizards. The story is grounded in reality, with recognisable characters, much like George R R Martin's first entry in A Song of Fire and Ice.

Indeed, half of the action is set in our everyday world. Brodgen takes the ingenious decision to adopt a dual narrative structure in the early chapters to ease newcomers into the idea of another world. We glimpse this new world a piece at a time: at first, it contains only one man lost at sea. Then, gradually, other characters are introduced in the form of a small crew on a scrap-ship. This softly-softly approach makes the reader comfortable in another universe so they won't even blink when Part Two arrives, set almost entirely in the other world.

Ironically, it is the action in the real world which is one of Tourmaline's greatest USPs and an author trademark that Brogden established in The Narrows. Specifically, the story takes place in Birmingham (UK), second largest city in England, jewel of the Midlands, home of the balti curry and a place with more canals than Venice and more parks than Paris. It is the perfect place to set a fantasy novel: large, diverse, cultural, modern but traditional and rough around the edges.

Locals to Birmingham can enjoy references to the Sea Life Centre, Hagley Road and the infamous Spaghetti Junction. Meanwhile, University of Birmingham students and alumni will be excited by the opening which is set in the campus-based Barber Institute of Fine Art. Even better, a University of Birmingham security guard saves the world. Now that's something to put in the 2015 prospectus.

The vast ensemble is brilliantly put together. Brogden skilfully captures the voices and personalities of dozens of characters, making us feel sympathetic to all of them, hero or villain. It is testament to the characterisation that the inhabitants in the fantasy world are just as relatable and recognisable as those in the real world. Brogden switches between their perspectives with admirable dexterity. Brogden's talent for language is worth a special mention. With so much story, action and snappy dialogue, a lesser writer may have skimped on the poetry but this is not a luxury that fantasy writers can afford. After all, they have to build a new world in our mind's eye. Brogden accepts this mantle with relish. A ship encounters "a maze of beautiful but navigationally perilous coral reefs which rose into thousands of shimmering pillars, as if the microscopic creatures which built the coral had one day decided to build up towards heaven." The Birmingham locations get their own share of Brogden's poetic pen. Describing the Sea-Life Centre as echoing with the "shrieking of children, tinny ocean-themed muzak and the pervasive thunder of water" is one of many observations that will have local readers nodding.

Tourmaline is one of the finest books published this year: addictive, thrilling, fantastic, saturated with imagination and brimming with story. It deserves a long print-run, critical acknowledgement and commercial success, as does the talented James Brogden.

So tell your friends, tell your family, tell yourself: go read Tourmaline.

Tourmaline is published by Snow Books and available as a paperback from Amazon, currently priced at £7.16.

By Simon Fairbanks who can be contacted via @simonfairbanks

At The Flix with @Timmy666

In cinemas, everyone can hear you scream! So here's to collective "aaaarrrrgggghhh" as we bring you a preview of what's coming out in Birmingham this week.

So whilst last week (in Hollywood terms anyway) was all about one film with Gravity, this week is much busier, if not necessarily high in the quality stakes.

The Counsellor (18) Ridley Scott's latest film is about a lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking. When word got round that Scott was directing a script by Cormac McCarthy, one started to pay attention, and with an A-List cast consisting of Messrs Fassbender, Cruz, Diaz, Bardem and Pitt, you're expecting something substantial, darkly comic, brooding and violent.

My anticipation has been tempered somewhat because reviews over the pond have been mixed, criticising a messy film which is self-indulgent and laboured. This is married up by the promotion for this film which has been relatively muted from stars, director and distributors in equal measure.

I'm still going. Everyone was looking forward to this and yet even with Scott at his most self-indulgent or flawed, or where style overtakes substance, this is still gonna be watchable with a Cormac McCarthy script. Surely? The Butler (12A) ....or Lee Daniels' The Butler* to give it its proper name is an American historical fiction drama film with a huge ensemble cast, all about the real-life of (or loosely inspired by) Eugene Allen, with Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, an African-American, witnessing the world as the White House butler for four decades.

*The film's title was renamed due to a MPAA claim from Warner Bros., which had inherited a now-lost 1916 silent short film with the same name. Yeah, thought you'd like to know that!

I was impressed with Lee Daniel's tough redemption feature Precious and here's hoping for something hard-hitting, emotionally affecting and well acted and not lost in mushy melodrama. Alan Rickman as Reagan though. That's curious casting!

Don Jon (15) Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars and directs in his debut feature as Jon, a New Jersey guy who becomes affected from his addiction to porn and the impact this has on his happiness, his friends and his love life with Scarlett Johansson.

I'm a fan of the hugely talented Gordon Levitt - and he's tapping into something which is prevalent, hopefully darkly comic, hopefully conversational and also hopefully which is relatively hard-edged (sniggering like Quagmire!)

Dom Hemingway (15)

Cor blimey gov'ner! The British gangster flick is back. Jude Law plays out of control Dom Hemingway, a recently released criminal who is back in employment as a safe cracker under the eye of his boss Richard E Grant.

From the trailer, it clearly odes to Sexy Beast, which is even mentioned in the fore-said trailer. Jude Law and Richard E Grant trading off lines, monologues and out of the ordinary situations.

Aside from this, and a few interviews in the press over recent days, there's been little said or anticipated about this, and it isn't on saturation release either. Don't let judge you though or Dom will have ya!

In addition to the mainstream releases this week ....

Cine-Excess Festival, mac Birmingham.

Back for its seventh year, check out films from the Cine-Excess Film Festival and conference from the 15th to 17th. The annual event examines traditions of European Erotic Cinema. This year, the guests of honour are controversial French filmmaker Catherine Breillat (Romance, A Ma Soeur!) and cult auteur Francesco Barilli (The Perfume of the Lady in Black).

There is a conference during the day featuring talks from international critics and scholars on the subject of European Erotic Excess. These talks and discussion forums are open to the public. For more on screenings and what's happening, click here and for tickets and delegate passes, click here.

Send in your comments as always or tweet me at @timmy666.

That's it from me. I'm off to do something other than what Don Jon does. After all the girlfriend's watching and editing this piece! :) [Had to leave out the photos, sorry. - Ed]

Till next week....

All American Menu at Rose Villa Tavern

By Deborah Broomfield

I recently had the privilege of being invited to a tasting of the new menu at Rose Villa Tavern by Birmingham Favourites

The menu has an American feel, with generous helpings and tastes and  influences from the different  States of America. This is in part being due to the influence of the new Head Chef who has spent there and the new menu shows a depth of flavour that illustrates some of what American food is about. Some of the exciting dishes are spicy and tangy and the menu is not just for the carnivores among us; vegetarians are also catered for!

I was one of a fairly substantial group of people who were treated to samples. I arrived a little later so did not sample all the choices but the dishes that I did experience left me pleasantly full which left me to conclude that normal size dishes will be generous and provide good value for money!

The surprise of the evening were the battered pickles spears. This dish may not sound appetising but the batter was flavoursome and the texture of the pickles was crispy and not soggy as I envisaged.

I sampled two types of hot dog the Chicago Hotdog topped with sauerkraut and yellow mustard and the New York. The beef hot dogs are of a great quality and my favourite turned out to be the Chicago - without the sauerkraut! There's also the Ohio and Arizona hotdogs which both have a “chilli kick” to them. The menu on the whole appears to have a lot of cheese as an ingredient but hey, it’s American diner food!

There are also sharing dishes on the menu which include Nachos Grande  plus the Sloppy Joe burger,which was apparently Evis’s favourite sandwich; ground beef cooked slowly with tomatoes and spices and topped with cheese. Unfortunately I didn’t taste this one but just describing it makes me feel like tasting it!

The range of burgers representing different states include the Philly and I sampled the RVT Mush 'n' Swiss - without dressings.

I had a really nice conversation with the Head Chef and came looking for feedback. I happened to mention that I had not tasted the chicken wings. He was really great and went and brought me some to try even though the sampling session was officially over! They were Buffalo wings New York style deep fried in herbs and spices with a hot sauce and blue cheese dressing.

I had a good American round trip in the Rose Villa Tavern and I have booked to do it again!

By Deborah Broomfield who can be contact via Twitter

More info on Rose Villa Tavern here or contact via @RoseVillaTavern

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Welcome to this week's At The Flix with your humble cinephile @timmy666. After a brief absence last week (erm, I was away), I'm pleased to be back to provide a glance over this week's cinematic offerings. Not a great number of films out this week, yet there are a few films to relish.

Gravity (12A)

This is the film that James Cameron has reportedly said is the greatest sci-fi ever made. High praise indeed. I too profess to being rightly excited about this, as it has garnered much initial critical acclaim and the trailers have similarly impressed. Alfonso Cuaron, director of fantastic films ranging from Y Tu Mama Tambien, Children of Men and Prisoner of Azkaban (the best Potter film), is a master of tension, suspense and horror conventions. The high-end cast featuring Messrs Clooney and Bullock look ideal to reflect a tale of being adrift in space.

Philomena (12A)

Whilst out in a few cinemas across the land already, this film directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan has also definitely caught my eye. A lot of people have mentioned how interesting it is that Coogan, who co-wrote the film, has chosen to play a journalist, given his recent real life action to highlight the various wrongdoings that the press have been up to. In the story of real-life journalist Martin Sixsmith's story of a woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent, this is perhaps Coogan's exemplar of demonstrating an actual story, which shows how a journalist can do something for the public good. The trailer hints that the film will display the right level of humour and sentiment and it looks like Judi Dench's genius is all over this film too.

Kelly + Victor (18)

Screening at the mac for a few days from Friday*, this is Kieran Evans film set in Liverpool telling the story of two young people who meet at a nightclub and start a sexual relationship, which removes them from the stark and illegal realities of their ordinary lives - she is escaping a brutish former lover, while he is being dragged into a world of drugs. It's when they make love that their darker instincts take over. It's again great to see the mac supporting young filmmakers whose films wouldn't ordinarily get any attention, and worth people to support what is a undoubtedly challenging film, what one critic has described as "a classic tale of boy meets girl, boy invites girl back to his place, girl strangles boy whilst having sex."

*Note the film features as a Departure Lounge with a special Q&A on Friday and regular screenings Sunday through Monday.

So, some real variety this week. Just a few offerings but let us know what you see and be sure to send a tweet if you go to Kelly + Victor in particular!

Book: Million Dollar Dress by Heide Goody

Book review by Simon Fairbanks Million Dollar Dress is chick lit packed with quick wit by local author Heide Goody.

It tells the story of Justine, who obtains a high-tech dress which can change the body shape of the wearer. Once Justine masters the technology, she can alter her slightly plump body image to match that of a Hollywood supermodel. Meanwhile, a host of interest parties are looking to take the dress for themselves.

The synopsis may suggest this is targeted at a female audience and it would certainly please this market. However, Million Dollar Dress offers a rich plateau for readers of any demographic and genre: the plot moves with the pace of a thriller, the dress itself is pure science-fiction and its comedy is universal.

It is this comedy element that propels Million Dollar Dress above the rest of its canon. Heide Goody has a particular knack for delivering an ensemble of sharply-observed characters and executing comedy set pieces with the chaos and energy of a Carry On film. Anagram fans will note that Million Dollar Dress contains two LOLs and you will certainly be laughing out loud as the story escalates.

The titular dress is a clever concept. As with all best science-fiction, it introduces a futuristic notion that addresses everyday concerns, specifically those relating to the body image culture which keeps certain magazines and reality shows in business.

The dress also acts as the MacGuffin and provides the perfect excuse to bring together an unlikely ensemble, ranging from fashion designers to military operatives. Particularly memorable characters include Blake Charwood (Sutton Coldfield's answer to Justin Beiber) and Justine's interfering mother figures, Pat and Irma. Their recreation of a scene from Alien to scare off an interested party is hilarious.

And best of all, the novel is set in Birmingham so there are plenty of regional references (the Bullring, the Jewelry Quarter) which act as an extra reward for local readers.

You can download Goody's novel for Kindle for a reasonable £2.05. And Million Dollar Dress is worth every penny.

By Simon Fairbanks who can be contacted via @simonfairbanks

Contact Heide Goody via @HeideGoody

Stuart Maconie: The People's Songs

By Blake Stuart Maconie, for those not familiar with his work on radio and print, is warm, witty and erudite, and an unapologetic champion of pop music.  Through his radio 2 series “The People’s Songs” (and accompanying book) he has explored the role of music in shaping and reflecting the realities of modern Britain.

Birmingham Town Hall is an iconic venue marking the edge of Victoria square, and will be familiar to many Brummies.  The hall opened in 1834, with one of the architects being Joseph Hansom, later the inventor of the Hansom cab.   The Town Hall project actually bankrupted Hansom, the experience of which may have led to him later becoming a radical socialist.

I mention this as the Town Hall is therefore an appropriate venue for Maconie’s discussion of music, politics and everything in between, with particular focus on ‘ordinary’ people, as the building has served in the past as a forum for political debate and a meeting place for local government.  During his talk, Maconie drily noted he felt the pressure, knowing that Charles Dickens gave readings at the Hall (apparently, the first public reading of a Christmas Carol).  The venue symbolises the grandeur and optimism of the city in the 19th century, and we should remain proud of it today.

Maconie is an engaging speaker, and his talk this evening is fairly fluid, structured loosely around some of the themes from The People’s Songs radio programme, a good format for a raconteur used to performing on live radio. As well as The People’s Songs, the talk includes excerpts from Maconie’s amusing and insightful books on music, food and The North, all of which he links well to his personal stories – his tale of being taken to see The Beatles as a small child is particularly hilarious.  In the hands of a less likable host, some of the tales could have descended into grating “here’s a story about my famous mates” anecdotes, but Maconie is unpretentious and grounded and these instead become fascinating insights.

The only downside of the evening, ironically, is the venue itself.  Despite being a spectacular building, both outside and in, the Town Hall is too large and “showy” for Maconie’s warm and inclusive manner.  The hall was less than full and this did give rise to a slight sense of being present at a sparsely-attended political gathering.  Overall, this reviewer felt that the event would have felt better in a more intimate setting.

This is, however, not a criticism of either the Town Hall, or of Maconie himself – both are things to be treasured.

During the evening, Maconie noted with glee that The People’s Songs programmes are on the iplayer for 800 years (I’ve checked, and it seems he was getting ahead of himself – the latest episode is due to expire in 2099…).  Let’s hope that the heirs to this warm chronicler of the modern world are appearing at the Town Hall then.

Were you at this event? We would love to know your thoughts so please do add your comments below.

Blake can be contacted on Twitter  @brum_enthusiast or take a look at his blog 

Photos by Blake & Brum Faves.

Storytelling at Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath

Tucked away on York Road in Kings Heath behind Fletchers Bar and Eatery is the delightful Kitchen Garden Cafe, a wonderful and cosy venue offering excellent food, a range of fine ales, delicious soft drinks, great coffee, amazing cakes and a wide variety of entertainment.

In October, I headed along there for the Storytelling Cafe, a wonderful event that takes place on the third Wednesday of each month.  It's been running for a number of years now, and was recently taken over by some lovely lady storytellers, a few of whom were performing on Wednesday night.

Adult storytelling is something that I was first introduced to in 2012, and I was immediately smitten. We are all used to stories being gifted to us as novels, television shows and movies.  However, there is something unique and almost magical about sitting in an audience of eager listeners, as a storyteller continues with a tradition as old as time, weaving their tales around you like soft, silken threads of words.  I really do highly recommend giving it a go!

As for Kitchen Garden Cafe, well, they offer a special menu for Storytelling Cafe, and food is available from 6:30pm for approximately 45 minutes.  As well as storytelling, they also host live music nights, comedy and cabaret, details of which can be found via their website.

On my most recent visit, I didn't eat (well, okay, I had coffee cheesecake, and it was divine, but I was too eager to taste it and forgot to take a picture!).  When I visited in the summer, I enjoyed this delicious mezza platter, which as well as being a carnival for the taste buds, was also very reasonably priced!

Needless to say, I shall be returning again and again, and ensuring that I arrive in enough time to enjoy a meal when I do!

To find out about Kitchen Garden Cafe, visit their website.

Written by Debra Jane who can be contacted via @Notaskinnymini or her blog

Get Spookily Good Skin This Halloween

Got your lantern carved, but wondering what to do with all that lovely pumpkin flesh?  Our beauty guru, Beth is here with some cheap but effective autumn skincare tips.

Pumpkin flesh has loads of skincare goodies in it: Vitamin A to cleanse and soften; antioxidants Vitamin C and Zinc which can also help boost collagen; AHAs to exfoliate and detoxify; Phosphorous to strengthen cell structure.  So, fight premature ageing, unclog pores and brighten your skin with these home-made body treats!

The Cooking Bit

Remove the seeds and slice your pumpkin into large chunks.  Bake chunks at 200 degrees Celsius (gas mark 6) or steam until soft enough to puree, then cool and blend to a puree.  Use in the following recipes.

Pumpkin Body Scrub

Blend 100g pureed pumpkin with 100g Demerara sugar and 50ml sunflower or grapeseed oil until smooth.

Pumpkin Body Mask

Blend 100g pureed pumpkin, 50g runny honey, 2 beaten egg yolks, 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt  and mix in enough olive oil to make it spreadable but not runny.

Home Spa:

  • Warm your bedroom, lay some towels on the bed, put on relaxing music and light scented candles.
  • Run a warm bath or shower, jump in and dampen your skin.  Apply the body scrub in small circular motions then rinse off.
  • Lightly towel dry leaving skin warm and damp.  Quickly apply the Body Mask.  Wrap yourself in the towels on the bed and wriggle under the duvet to stay warm.
  • Relax for about 10-15 mins.
  • Wash off the mask with warm water.
  •  Lightly apply pumpkin seed oil to your body when dry (sunflower or grapeseed oil will do if you can't get hold of pumpkin seed oil).

PS Remember, these recipes are fresh and need to be stored in the fridge and should not be kept for more than about 2-3 days.

By Beth Davies. Get in contact with via At One Day Spa or @AtOneDaySpa

Beth's 36 Hours in Birmingham

I'm fairly new to Birmingham - I've only been here 5 years and seem to have spent most of that hiding in the Great Western Arcade trying to get At One Day Spa up and running!  So in my 36 hours I would like to explore.  I'm not interested in shopping (unusual for a girlie I know) and my budget is low so exploring sounds like a good way to go.  I've got my daughter, Daisy (2), and partner, Stuart, with me - it's a rare treat for us to get 36 hours together!

First of all we would start with a nice relaxing hot chocolate and butterscotch pecan cookie from the fabulous Six Eight Kafe in Temple Row and a chat with the manager, Hannah.  OK, so not the healthiest breakfast, but it's my 36 hours of indulgence.

Then we are heading off in the direction of the ThinkTank at the Birmingham Science Park.  I've been wanting to go here for ages but never seem to get round to it.  Daisy's now old enough to enjoy the interactive exhibits so I'm expecting a couple of hours of her running round like a loon and cackling (she has the most evil laugh ever for a two year old).

Then we will, no doubt, need to find something to eat and drink, so I'd head back to Great Western Arcade and take Stuart and Daisy to the new Bistro 1847 vegetarian restaurant.  I had lunch there with some of the team from the Spa last week and it was brilliant.  Fabulous cocktails and inspired veggie food - a million miles from quiche and salad.  Stuart will love the smoky potatoes and cocktails that really do smoke.

Lunch over, we're heading to Victoria Square to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and then go and visit the new Library.  All of which I've walked past and heard great things about, and promised I'd visit, but just never seem to have the time.

I particularly want to see the Staffordshire Hoard in the Museum before it finishes, and if we visit now then Daisy can enjoy the Julia Donaldson exhibition too.  In the Library of Birmingham I want to seek out the archives so that I can do some research on Great Western Arcade as I've been waiting months to do that.  I suspect that Stuart and Daisy may disappear at this point and find something more entertaining to do in the Library!

We are going to head home for the night so that we can feed the cat, but we're taking Birmingham with us.  A bottle of wine as recommended by Phil from Loki who always recommends something I love, a big plate of meats, cheeses and olives from Anderson & Hill, a few lovely chocolates from Chou Choute and something from Mr Simms Sweet Shop.

Every Sunday when I walk into work from parking my car, I go past the most amazing singing coming from a church. I've not been able to work out which building it's coming from - but I'm going there!  Sounds like my kind of place.

And then I'm going to finish off my 36 hours by walking along the canal in the direction of Solihull.  I know that sounds weird, but I once walked along the canal from Solihull into Birmingham and went past the most amazing array of environments - from run-down industrial areas to upmarket developments.  l just really would like to do it again.  I don't get much time to just walk and be in my own space these days.  I might even leave my iPhone behind so I don't miss the views by constantly checking my email!  And I'd take along some water and a tomato and mozzarella ciabatta from the Bread Collection in Great Western Arcade.  Yum Yum!  Just need someone to collect me from Solihull and take me home now....

Beth is owner and masseuse at At One Day Spa and and can be contacted via @AtOneDaySpa. Read her blog here.

At the Flix with @Timmy666

Greetings fellow cinema following brethren! Here's the lowdown of what lays in store for you at the flix this weekend .... and as always mixed bag. The forecast might even be cloudy. Let's have a cinematic rummage .... celluloid at the ready .... and action!

Ender's Game (12A)

I was watching Graham Norton's show the other day and listening to Benedict Cumberbatch admitting directly to Harrison Ford that he fantasised about him as a kid! Uncle Harrison was (and might still be) the biggest grossing star in movie history and as boy of the 80s and 90s, there were few things more exciting than watching Indiana Jones and Han Solo in action, well James Bond being a personal exception.

Ok, there's a truly sad admission out the way! Moving quickly back on topic ....

As Ford's 'tenor' has gone distinctly gruff over recent years, so has the quality of his recent output, a series of distinctly 'meh' efforts. Admittedly I didn't get to see the generally well received baseball flick 42, which only got a limited release. Perhaps signing up for The Expendables 3 will enable us to see some of the old Ford charm and humour ... until then there's Ender's Game.

In this sci-fi adventure, with Planet Earth ravaged by an alien race apparently determined to destroy humanity, lots of folks band together to fight back. Young British Actor Asa Butterfield (most brilliant in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Hugo) stars as the boyish Luke Skywalker type-figure (sorry, I couldn't resist it!) and potential saviour figure to come humanity's rescue.

Expect lots of special effects, hopefully suitably hammy acting from Mr. Ford and Sir Ben Kingsley. I am hoping this should be a lot of fun and not a dirge! Let's hope it's worth keeping the Ender's Game up!

Closed Circuit (15)

Not be confused with Short Circuit, Closed Circuit is the latest film written by Who Wants to be a Millionaire creator (yes, really!) Steven Knight, who penned the excellent Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises and recently the TV series Peaky Blinders.

According to imdb, the story is thus - "A high-profile terrorism case unexpectedly binds together two ex-lovers on the defense team - testing the limits of their loyalties and placing their lives in jeopardy." With a great cast and talented director John Crowley on board, you would expect a high-class intelligently written thriller although reviews Stateside have not really been that great citing a film which isn't any particularly original alongside other political thrillers and which invests more in the plot and story than the characters.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (15)

Jackass is back .... and watching Johnny Knoxville and his merry gang committing crazy acts is your thing then go for it. Actually, I probably do Knoxville a disservice, I think a lot of what he does is more about pointing out the absurdities of society but in a good natured way. Furthermore, he is very good not only at framing and shooting set-pieces but more importantly the human reaction to it. There's a lot more than may meet the eye with what Knoxville does.

So, Bad Grandpa is wrapped up as a road movie of sorts, as an 80-something grandpa goes on a trip of a lifetime (well, speak for yourself!) encountering all sorts of 'craziness' on the way including bumping into the likes Knoxville and Nicoll.

The film hasn't had many reviews yet and, who knows, this film will hopefully run counter to any Jackass stereotypes that may exist.

One Chance (12A)

One chance ... that's a bit extreme isn't it? Anyhow, James Corden plays Paul Potts, the opera singer who went from South Wales nobody to Britain's Got Talent legend via Venice, Pavarotti, a love story and a touching, human element.

If it sounds cheesy, it is because it probably is!

I have got to admit that this film really doesn't appeal to me despite its intentions to be a feel good (romantic) comedy, clearly taking a lot of its influence from Billy Elliot and maybe a large slice of Richard Curtis-ish positivity. It's because of who the film is about is his story. No doubt as it is the film adorning every bus (other than Captain Phillips), it is likely to do okay in the UK and good luck to it - and no doubt, it's a great vehicle for James Corden.

Top tip - if you want to see a great comedy set in South Wales, watch Richard Ayoade's delightfully funny Submarine - one of the best films from 2010.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (3D)(U)

At the time of writing, I admit I have never seen the original so I'm not the best person to judge but let's hope it can follow precedence - sequels can often be better than the originals, references to Shrek 2, Toy Story 2 and Madagascar Escape 2 Africa being a few cases in point, or in the case of a few others like Monsters Inc University, less so. This is the half-term film! One for the kids and I'm sure it's heart will be in the right place.

Question for this week - In the spirit of the captions, what's your favourite Indiana Jones or Han Solo quote?

Ok, that it from me! As always, please add your comments below or tweet me your cinematic quibbles to @timmy666.