Two Nights with Rival Sons, “Live” from the Historic Catalina Casino

If I were to name the very best moments of my life, getting to see Rival Sons live in Derby would definitely make its way on there. The experience of finally watching my favourite band in person was indescribable and absolutely irreplicable.

So when they announced Pair of Aces – two nights of live performances on screen, the tickets were an easy decision. I might’ve been screaming before waiting impatiently for the day to arrive.

Last weekend (or 5am on a Sunday morning here), the band finally performed Before the Fire in its entirety, the album that started it all. It was exactly what the concert-deprived me needed. (In fact, I was so amped up I had to write about it.)

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Movie Review: Night in Paradise (2021)

Night in Paradise / Nagwonui bam (dir. Park Hoon-jung, 2021) – A hitman sets on a path of vindictive violence after his refusal to switch sides ends in personal tragedy.

4/5

Violence is a vicious cycle. Those who make a life out of it eventually find themselves imprisoned by its infinite loop, trapped in a bloodbath that starts soon as it ends until death. Night in Paradise chronicles this brutal fate of Tae-goo (Uhm Tae-goo), a hitman whose sister and niece were murdered after he rejected the offer to join the rival gang of Chairman Doh (Son Byung-ho).

To exact revenge, he kills Doh and his men and flees to Jeju Island. There, he finds shelter with arms dealer Kuto (Lee Gi-yeong) and his niece Jae-yeon (Jeon Yeo-bin). But peace doesn’t last long. Chaos re-ignites when the new leader hunts him down in a final act of retribution.

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Movie Review: The New Mutants (2020)

The New Mutants (dir. Josh Boone, 2020) – Superpowered teens fight to escape the secret facility keeping them against their will and unexpectedly, their darkest fears.

2/5

What can you say about a movie that never really had a chance to truly begin? Taking more than an hour to settle into any semblance of a coherent story, The New Mutants turns out as bland as rumoured, squandering the huge potential of a supposed horror-skewed X-Men chapter.

Laying bare its lack of interest in storytelling, the opening scene launches straight into the eye of an unnatural storm, as though its leading mutant needs no introduction. Young Native American Danielle Moonstar (Blu Hunt) comes into the picture screaming and confused as she witnesses her father’s death during their attempted escape.

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Book Reviews: May 2021 Reads

What better way to escape the semi-lockdown than into fiction? All that free time means 6 books on last month’s list, so let’s just jump into it.

Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein, 2012)
5/5

Code Name Verity

With her words in my mind while I’m reading, she is as real as I am. Gloriously daft, drop-dead charming, full of bookish nonsense and foul language, brave and generous. She’s right here. Afraid and exhausted, alone, but fighting.

Code Name Verity is a fictional war story told in 2 voices – of Julie, an agent under arrest and interrogation by the Gestapo, and of Maddie, her pilot best friend trying desperately to find and rescue her.

Julie’s account is a tense read with every event inked under watchful, prying eyes. In her supposed confession, her breakdowns reveal cruelty in her unseen predicament. In her recounting of their past, we also see her unexpected friendship with Maddie and feel the emotions of loss, now that they have been separated.

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Movie Review: Oxygen (2021)

Oxygène / Oxygen (dir. Alexandre Aja, 2021) – Waking up in a cryogenic unit with no recollection of who or where she is, a woman struggles to remember her past before she runs out of oxygen.

4/5

Single-location movies aren’t exactly a new concept. Mainstream fare like Buried, Devil, and Phone Booth all had their turn at inducing claustrophobia in their leading men, trapping them within various confined spaces for the entire runtime, save for intermittent flashbacks.

In the absence of landscapes and set pieces to hold the audience’s attention, sustained tension is key to the success of these movies. So is a good leading performance that will convince you of their nightmare and pull you into it.

Oxygen has both. Director Alexandre Aja is no stranger to suspense, his mastery of which had elevated his work in the horror genre to classics, including Haute Tension and Mirrors. Lead actress Mélanie Laurent has herself delivered a masterclass in Inglourious Basterds, as if that one scene in the presence of Hans Landa isn’t enough. 

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Movie Review: Army of the Dead (2021)

Army of the Dead (dir. Zack Snyder, 2021) – A hardy team ventures into the zombie-infested quarantine zone in Las Vegas to pull off an impossible casino heist.

3/5

Army of the Dead starts off in a more comfortable place than most on-screen zombie apocalypses. For starters, the flesh eaters in question have already been contained within the city of Las Vegas, not long after the opener. The government has also planned a nuclear strike that will clear out the infected once and for all.

And so survivors who stay behind aren’t doing it out of desperation. Former mercenary Scott (Dave Bautista) makes that choice willingly when casino owner Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) tasks him to recover $200 million from a highly secure vault. In the diverse team that Scott puts together for the job, they come aware of the risks to varying degrees and ready to rush swarms of zombies for their share of the reward.

What insane and stupid things Man would do for money, though not all is in it for the greed. His daughter Kate (Ella Purnell) has a different quest in mind, setting her heart on rescuing her missing friend Geeta (Huma Qureshi) along the way.

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