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Harry Potter

By Azfarul Islam

We've come dangerously close to the end. The book series concluded merrily two years ago - it's been that long, indeed - and now we wait with fevered anticipation for the film versions to come up on stage, act their bit and bow out gracefully. It's a bittersweet feeling.

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, as a film, is made up of many parts of saccharine sweetness all coated by a thick black bitterness. Hormones are all the rage now with many Hogwartians engaged in the act of furiously locking lips and squealing sweet nothings. These provide lighter moments of humour, warmth and in the case of “Lav-Lav” - a kind of strangled, horrified mirth. Even within this happiness there is sorrow as feelings are hurt and relationships broken. However, all these antics keep reinforcing Dumbledore's belief in the power of love and let you appreciate the more beautiful things in life.

Encapsulating this affection, wicked forces are hard at work. Voldemort is nowhere to be seen but the shadow he casts throughout this movie is palpable; the Orwellian atmosphere is as compelling as it is oppressive. Instead, we delve into his past - a past where he was still human - so that we can truly understand the nature of the beast, and there are unsettling exchanges to be witnessed.

This is a far more mature film compared to all prior versions so it's a shame that the romance is occasionally portrayed as whimsical. I had some real issues with the way Order of the Phoenix was dealt with but there's so much to love here that even naysayers of that outing will probably come away intensely satisfied. The pacing is mediated with more care and it's encouraging to see that the tender moments were performed gracefully; equal attention is paid to the way that darker scenes are depicted. In particular, Draco Malfoy's slow and terrible plunge into desperation became increasingly uncomfortable to watch, his pain masterfully cast.

The entire chapter dedicated to the events at the cave was a genuine tour de force: the raw ferocity of Dumbledore's power, the deeply disconcerting bits where Harry is forced to make him drink poison and the true terror of the Inferi. There was almost no musical score during these scenes and the audience - who had graciously tittered at the more humorous exchanges between the Headmaster of Hogwarts and the Boy-Who-Lived - found themselves lulled into a horrified silence. One can easily imagine many of the viewers holding their breaths; I know I was. It's also depressing that the one time Michael Gambon manages to embody the persona of Albus Dumbledore, this after three films' worth of harsh criticism, is the time that he leaves us for good. However, that the bugbear of his acting was reconciled is a testament to the film's quality.

One aspect of this movie, alongside its many operatic merits, that truly shone was the visual presentation. While the special effects were truly a sight to behold, it was the digital colour grade that truly astonished. From warm, sepia-infused hues to clever de-saturations, the overall veneer was a muted one - this, ironically, helped establish each scene vividly into memory.

I'd all but lost faith in director David Yates after the forgettable blur of events that was the fifth film. With Half-blood Prince we witness the series adroitly tackle larger themes whilst paying reverent attention to the smaller ones. Despite being marred only by an inconsistent ending which doesn't know how to set up the next duo of films, the manipulation of the viewers' emotions is consummate and the film overall is seeped in magic.


By The Anarchist Kitten

The speed and complexity of 'Brainless Wonder', the phenomenal bass line from 'Rags and Bones', the drum pattern in the chorus of 'Life In Hell', and the utterly simple effectiveness of 'Stocktaking' are just a few small examples of the stuff here that's breathtaking.

When I think of what punk rock should be, the first image to enter my head is this album - Wrong by NoMeansNo. The true spirit of punk has always been about trying to reach new heights, about innovation and change (be it musical or social). NoMeansNo, taking that very spirit to heart, have attempted to do just that- keep things progressing.

When punk first came out, it was eclectic, outrageously off-beat and crazy. It was the Ramones, Blondie, Iggy Pop, Television, The Talking Heads and Patti Smith among others. However, the Ramones went to England, and people there began to think that punk was specifically what the Ramones sounded like, resulting in a hundred imitations and a huge blow-out; punk has not recovered since.

It's been one rip-off band after another, following a given set of rules (which is at the polar opposite of exactly what punk stands for), such as three chords only and no guitar solos (which wasn't even an aesthetic decision for the Ramones, Johnny Ramone just couldn't play solos.) So, around 1981, NoMeansNo came along, a power trio playing a bass-heavy, rhythmic brand of punk that has never been duplicated.

Their best album, Wrong, is the ultimate tribute to the sound of a bass guitar. Rob Wright's vocals and lyrics are captivating and lays out a morbid story that you don't really want to picture, but you're forced to. This album reaches the pinnacle of hardcore punk- from the ambiguous album cover to Rob Wright's bass mastery, the album oozes excellence. The best songs here are the best of an entire genre, and the worst still highly respectable tracks.

Wrong represents the band at their most creative and energetic. Everything on this album seems like a fully formed idea taken to the max. It's as if the planets were aligned just right, the date was predicted centuries ago, the band members were all chosen before birth, and the band was at the peak of their powers at the exact hour of a magical eclipse. The opening track 'It's Catching Up' starts off the album with an urgency that doesn't let up until the very last track. This is a band of watertight musicians that listen to each other and weave a web of musical interplay that leaves one dumbfounded.

The speed and complexity of 'Brainless Wonder', the phenomenal bass line from 'Rags and Bones', the drum pattern in the chorus of 'Life In Hell', and the utterly simple effectiveness of 'Stocktaking' are just a few small examples of the stuff here that's breathtaking.

If you play in a, or are a fan of a, local cover band that covers stuff like Green Day and Sex Pistols, then unfortunately this album is a little above your league. If you're a self-obsessed style freak that spends considerable time deciding what to wear, and ends up wearing a black T-Shirt with the words 'Punk's Not Dead' in large letters, then again, unfortunately, this album's not quite for you. Wrong deserves to be one of the top five punk records of all time. And anyone who doesn't appreciate it doesn't know squat about punk.

Anime review:
Skip beat

By Kokoro-chan

25 Episodes, 13+
“…Even if my heart is to skip a beat, rather than pray for a miracle, I'll lay footsteps towards my goal.” 'Renaissance', second opening by the Generous

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. The one specialising in the angelic art of care and compromise is also the one perfectly capable of, when driven into a corner, strangling those very angels and getting carried away by vengeful bloodlust. So once the mystical Pandora's box loses all its locks, beware, for even the 'plain, boring woman' can transform herself into a frightful enigma overnight, leaving you transfixed in awe and skipping over your heart beats wildly!

The Story In Short:
Yes, it's the same old story all over again. Boy uses girl to get into showbiz and after getting famous throws her away like garbage. So what does the girl do then? Cries and cries and lives the rest of her life in perpetual misery? Not THIS girl. Kyoko Mogami has set out to break free from her miss-goody-two-shoes image with the fiery intensity of hell itself, after being brutally betrayed by the one guy she had entrusted her whole life to. The idiot in question, a budding singing idol Sho Fuwa, must now face her all-consuming wrath and accept her challenge of surpassing him in stardom. And thus begins a brand new adrenaline-pumped journey full of delightful twists where constant sparks will surely fly and “Grief, pain and even love will find their remedies one day” ('Namida', first ending by 2BACKKA).

The Reviewer's Prattles:
A classic Asian soap-formula, a super-cliché love triangle, passable oh-well-okay animation and Yoshiki Nakamura's somewhat intriguing artistic experiment with human anatomy (seriously woman, people just CAN'T have legs that long!)- so what is it exactly that makes this anime so popular and its manga version a constant tenant of the 'most visited' section of renowned sites? Simple.

First of all, the central character Kyoko is a bomb in herself. Nakamura originally sketched her as a scary bad-a*s woman, but then her editor said the readers won't like that look and she half-heartedly changed her into a cutesy teen. However, some of the original essence remained and Kyoko Mogami turned out to be an interesting character righteously titled 'eccentrically weird'. She is cute like a clueless bunny one moment and the mother of hell the very next. To top that off, Kyoko's seiyuu (voice-actor) in the anime, Marina Inoue, has done a brilliant job, the abrupt mood changes complimented adequately and adding more flavour to the whole series.

On an interesting note, the anime feels too much déjà vu-ishly like reading the manga, more like a moving colour version of it. The manga-style chibi (baby face) humour and on-screen pointers (e.g. in ep 3 where Kyoko says, “Even that idiot has his uses” and a massive arrow appears above Sho's head suggesting 'that idiot') are kept unchanged and they actually make the anime more fun. But even so, SB has its fair share of serious and sad episodes as well. The main hook-up factor, as the storyline demands it, reveals itself in ep 6 where the characters start showing off intense acting spells. Meanwhile, relationships start to bloom and in no time we have Sho, Kyoko and her acting idol Ren Tsuruga stuck in a super-charged love triangle.

Drawbacks, if you ask, SB has a major one. The ending to season 1 was so absurdly abrupt! The series proceeds into the 'Dark Moon' arc, Ren discovers his actor's block and BAM- Kyoko is reminiscing about all the people she's met, the end. That seriously felt like being murdered at the peak of ecstasy, Sheldon-style (excuse the comparison).

But criticism aside, if you want a good laugh, the series is absolutely worth checking out.


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