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Monthly Archives: November 2011

The N64 is the dodo of consoles, deader than Latin, in the words of Alan Partridge ‘a dead duck’, and ‘who watches a dead duck? Not even its mother. She just flies off…depressed’. But this was the console of my childhood and better than the Wii any day of the week. Here are 10 games that remain pretty memorable for me in no particular order:

  1. Banjo-Kazooie

With its rich, vibrant colour scheme and insanely catchy music that mirrors the environment you find yourself strolling into, it was easy to immerse yourself as a child in one of Rares finest achievements for the console. Banjo-Kazooie was a new twist on the platform game, most likely popularised by the spate of Mario adventure games and is the name provided to any game that generally requires a lot of jumping from platform to platform (of course). But the repetitiveness of constant jumping is backed up by an action adventure, as unlikely friends, Banjo, a well meaning but relatively dim banjo playing bear teams up with rucksack dwelling Kazzooie (far more intelligent but cranky) to thwart the intentions of witch Gruntilda after she kidnaps Banjo’s younger sister Tootie and attempts to steal her beauty.

This is half fairy tale, half cartoon caper, as the friends peck and roll their way between several interlocked worlds. You get to travel the expanse of mountains, coves, caverns, swamps, freezing peaks that will reignite your sense of Christmas, valleys, mansions, bays and seasonal woods collecting jigsaw pieces and freeing jinjos. Players can alternate between Banjo and Kazooie, who both have different strengths and weaknesses as they progress through the game.

The variation of worlds, quests, themes, collectables, characters and the infectious mischief of the game make this one a true favourite of mine as well as a huge earner for the N64.

2. Banjo-Tooie

Sequels succeed when they manage to retain the magic of their predecessor, enhance it, and add in a little something extra for good measure. Banjo-Tooie does not stray far from Rares first offering as the friends reunite to prevent the restoration of Gruntilda, who is joined this time by two equally unfortunately named sisters: Mingella and Blobbelda. Sadly, some well known faces do not return, most noticeably, Bottles the advice providing Mole, who is smacked outta the park in the first act.

This game really engages itself with what children (and all of us with a very big kicking and screaming inner child) want from a game. They do not want Call of Duty. They do not want Pro Evo Soccer. They want fairy tale witches, talking animals, the possibility of transformation, enchanting music, and the freedom to move freely amongst the games worlds. Or at least, that’s what they did want once upon a time.

The Jinjos play a more upfront role, as having been frightened by the witches schemes, they have been scattered here, there and everywhere. This time around players are free to explore fairs, isles, temples, mines, theme parks, lagoons, prehistoric lands, factories, a Cuckooland and a keep. During each level, Mumbo imparts a spell upon the duo which enables Banjo and Kazooie to shift size or transform into a different being altogether (amongst other things).

To succeed in this game is less about brawn, and more about team work and brains, as during the final confrontation, the winners are decided by a trivia game rather than an epic blood and guys shoot ’em up show down.

3. GoldenEye 007

This was my generations’ Call of Duty; we got to shoot guns, throw grenades and run around karate chopping people when all the ammo ran out. Ignore the grainy graphics and quite frankly bizarre proportions of Pierce Brosnans head: this game was it.

This free roaming first person shooter was the game interpretation of the movie of the same name, but unlike many game adaptations of films – this one was actually good rather than a plodding, methodical step-by-step walkthrough infiltrated with various cut scenes that make you feeling like you are doing more than you actually are.

This was when players were trusted to know what they were doing; sneaking past guards, conserving their bullets, walking in on dudes on the toilet….as James Bond attempts to prevent a criminal syndicate causing financial meltdown globally. The random alarms and alerts that go off might just trigger a full blown panic attack and sometimes you’ll be tempted to shoot Natalya in the head just to get her to leave you alone, but this was all forgiven when you began playing the multiplayer mode to let off steam.

Running amuck amongst temple ruins throwing grenades at my friends and watching my screen degenerate into explosion filled madness like a roly-poly into hell was how I spent my childhood…and I turned out just fine.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Most would unanimously agree that the above mentioned game is the best endorsement of the N64 console. Combining the free flowing exploration of the ‘over world’ and the technical puzzle solving skills that are required to navigate the games dungeons and temples, the game also involved players with its sprawling storyline. In the land of Hyrule, young Link, a Kokiri boy without a fairy, is summoned by the Great Deku Tree to rescue the land of Hyrule from the Gerudo King Ganondorf; a benevolent thief who wishes to usurp the King’s thrown and overtakes the land.

Players get to experience the dramatic changes that occur in Hyrule during the seven years in which Ganondorf manages to wield power and control. Thanks to some nifty time travel, players can return to Link’s relatively carefree childhood days, mingling with townspeople and fairies, or they can stick to the doomed dystopia that befalls Hyrule. Completing this game felt like fulfilling your very own Lord of the Rings quest and the sense of accomplishment was unreal. The graphics appeared very advanced and stylistic for their time, the songs were catchy and charming and the story progressed at a very appealing pace, allowing players to slowly build up their experience level as they battled through the various trials and tribulations of the game. If I were to suggest any game to an N64 player, this would be it.

The side quests enabled true escapism and when exploring the insides of a Dodongos belly or the intricacies of a woodland maze got too much, you could just power walk to Lake Hylia and do some fishing or chase Cuckoos for a weird lady who collects them despite her allergies. Several races were established, the aquatic Zora, the peter pan like Kokiri who never grow up and are accompanied by fairies and the man hating Gerudo thieves. The incredible attention to detail (the air abounds with ethereal fluff in the forest) and the interaction of action, game play, characterisation and cut scenes that progress the story (unlike the yawning cinematic cut scenes of final fantasy) really revealed the potential of gaming and the expanse it could traverse in immersing us in an entirely new world.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

I mentioned before that sequels always capitalise on the success of their predecessors whilst rebooting with something new and previously unseen. Well Majora’s Mask shows us how it’s done. Fresh from his defeat of Ganondorf, Link and Epona, restored to childhood, explore some woodlands on the outskirts of Hyrule where they are attached by a Skull Kid and two fairies, Tael and Tatl who proceed to steal both Epona and Link’s Ocarina and lead him into an all new world.

Termina is a kind of separate world, an alternate dimension; it is the wonderland of Alice’s adventures as Link finds himself in a world populated with familiar faces – with a twist. The Gerudo thieves are now a race of pirates, the Zora are known for their music, Anju the mad cuckoo lady now wanders around bereft at the loss of her beloved, Ingo now has a twin brother (one was bad enough) and the rather innocuous mask salesman of the first instalment is now a far more sinister figure. This provides players with endless delicious rediscovers as well know characters pop up in unexpected places under the guise of their Terminian counterparts.

This game is a refreshing departure – there is no Ganon – instead Skull Kid is the villain who having happened upon Majora’s Mask is drawing the moon in to crush the land of Termina. What follows is a story of immediate danger and dread, as Link is plunged right into the middle of an imminent apocalypse. The game follows three day cycles as side quests are completed and temple dwelling demons vanquished, but at the end of each time cycle, we return to the first day and all good deeds are reset.

The masks now have the potential to transform Link into new characters and this new world is as enchanting and engrossing as it is terrifying and sinister. Although the ever encroaching time limits drove me to despair, you can’t help but be drawn into and entrenched in such an eerie and extraordinary game.

6. Mario Kart 64

Racing games always bring out my ugly competitive side. Whilst we sit there happily deciding on characters, tracks and go-karts, I sit their brooding and conspiratorial pondering my imminent victory and falling into internalised despair if a red shell rockets me straight to the back of the line.

Mario Kart in my opinion is the finest racing game there is, and that’s because it’s totally unrealistic. The tracks are bright and decorative and vary between straightforward, simplistic race ways to genuine death traps (I’m thinking of the Rainbow Road as I type this). The colourful host of familiar characters with varying levels of skill also make this game appealing. You can select Yoshi for instance, who is speedy and agile but easily barged out of the way, or Bowzer, who though big and bulky, goes at his own (frankly abysmal pace).

What really makes this game unique and enjoyable are the various power ups and traps that litter the tracks. Did someone just cut in front of you? Whack them out the way with a red shell. Is someone tailing you? Release a banana into their face! For this reason the winner often gets there by down and dirty means making this a wicked reimagining of the Whacky Races. Cheat, trip, barge, smash, smack and crash your way to victory in the multiplayer round and keep your eyes on the prize!

7. Pokémon Snap

When I was a child, Pokémon was a colossal obsession of mine, so you can imagine my imminent joy when the N64 released this game. You are Todd Snap (no really, you are), recruited by Professor Oak, to compile a report based on the Pokémon inhabiting an unusual island inhabited entirely by Pokémon. With its variation of climates and geographical locations, the island houses a whole plethora for your pokedex. Your task? Simply – to take photos.

You get a maximum of 60 photographs per level so you should use them wisely and try and avoid taking photographs of the lawn…at the end of each level you are then able to present Professor Oak with your favourite picture, so choose wisely.

Pokémon Snap is not the route to professional photography but it is damn good fun.

8. Turok: Rage Wars

Turok was always a bit more of a boy’s game in my eyes; it involved the dinosaur hunter doing what he does best: taking out the dinos. Although the game does involve a quest, my favourite aspect of the game was its multiplayer mode or the two player trials mode making the adventure just that much more exciting as you relied upon your buddy to help you progress.

You could bargain for bloodlust – a free for all fight to the death bloodbath where whoever can rack up the most kills wins, team bloodlust where you and a friend can destroy them all, capture the flag which endlessly drove me to the brink of madness when I’d be five seconds away from the flag site and find my brains splattered all over the floor and frag tag. Interestingly in this mode, a random player would be transformed into a monkey and have to run out the time limit escaping the other relentlessly murderous players. Me and my brother had endless fun running around in this game so it will always have a soft spot in my heart.

9. Xena: Warrior Princess: The Talisman of Fate

You might have watched the Xena series as a child following the warrior princess as she sought to redeem herself for her past of bloodlust and wanton destruction. This game allowed you to fight as all of your TV favourites; the raven-haired, baby blue eyed princess herself, blonde bard Gabrielle who can smack them about with a staff, the deliciously dark God of War Ares or the volatile newly formed Goddess Callisto (amongst a cast of others). If you had a soft spot for Joxer, who elicited a mixed response from audiences, your fighting style will literally consist of goofing off and accidentally hitting people, but there are many other recognisable faces from the series to select as you fight your way through to boss Despair, who has not previously made an appearance.

10. Perfect Dark

If you loved GoldenEye, you will love this. Would you have ever in your wildest dreams believed that this would follow on from the creators of Banjo-Kazooie? The games may be chalk and cheese but Rare certainly know what they are doing. James Bond decided to undergo a sex change and become a beautiful woman – he is now Joanna Dark, who works for the Carrington Institute, out to thwart the company’s nemesis dataDyne.

The selling point of this game, beyond the shoot ‘em up style, sexy front woman to rival Lara Croft, the seventeen levels and the hours of multiplayer fun, was the deep rooted conspiracy that slowly unravelled as the game progressed. Set in the future and caught up between the conflict between two rival alien races, the Maians and the Skedar, Joanna must prevent the Skedar rewarding dataDyne with ultimate technology enabling them to become the world’s most powerful corporation.

Here are just some of my favourites, but what are yours?

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I’ve always been a music fan…which means I like all music, of any genre. (Then again – who doesn’t like music?) You name it, I probably like it. Except Screamo. That’s where I draw a very sharp line. I stumbled across K-Pop, aka Korean Pop, when I happened upon BoA – Eat you up, and from there I fell down a rabbit hole into a very special wonderland. It was two of my very close friends however, who introduced me to the male side of K-Pop and dare I say, these guys are even more beautiful than the K-Pop ladies! K-Pop influence is spreading, thanks to the ‘Korean wave’, as Korean culture, music and fashion catches fire worldwide. With catchy tunes, endless fan service and men as amazing as these, you could say I am a bit of a K-Pop fanatic, but I am just one of many rabid fan girls. Here are my top 10 male Korean idols. I’ve added three photographs for each so we can languish on them a little longer! So…when are we heading to South Korea?

1. Jonghyun – SHINee

A Shinee girl, aka fanatical fan girl, will refer to herself as a Shawol. I can quite proudly say I am a Shawol, and the man that single-handedly converted me is the one, the only, Jonghyun aka ‘bling bling Jonghyun’. Jongy is the lead vocalist in SHINee and has somewhat of a paradoxical personality: he gives off a vibe of true badassery and yet he weeps his heart out at every turn. In fact, you will see him crying as often as you will see him smirking (which is a lot). He is the shortest member of SHINee and he explodes in a ball of energy on stage. He has true presence and panache. He is referred to as the ‘dinosaur’ or ‘puppy’ thanks to his delicious doe eyes and is also the person that his fellow members would really not want to introduce to their precious little sister! Let’s just take a minute to take in the awesomeness that is Jonghyun!

2. Key – SHINee

Now Key, otherwise known as the ‘Almighty Key’ was bestowed with this moniker due to his uncanny ability to solve any problem he is presented with. He is also known as the triple threat, thanks to his ability to dance, sing and rap in equal measure and with equal talent! He is known as the ‘nag’ and mother hen of the group keeping his fellow members in line, but he is also a huge diva who can pick up girl group dances in an instant and mimic them exactly – he also has a penchant for Kesha, and really knows how to rock the red eyeliner (and all the ladies out there will know that is a difficult look to pull off convincingly!). Any true K-Pop fan will know that fan service abounds and man on man love is always in the glare of the spotlight for hungry fan girls to lap up like starving puppies, but there is somewhat of a controversy surrounding Key, who gives off somewhat of a ‘gay vibe’ even by K-Pop standards. Nonetheless, if he is a gay dude, he is an expensive and flamboyant character who revels in his sexuality. He is frequently paired with his band member Jonghyun. If the fan girls can’t have him, they’d rather put him with Jonghyun than a female competitor! He also has a pretty good grasp of English and is an accomplished cook.

3. Jaejoong – DBSK / JYJ

Jaejoong divides opinions aesthetically. Some say he looks angelic, others that he looks like an alien. I agree with the latter camp. Prior to DBSK’s disbandment, Jaejoong and his fellow members were the hottest group out over in Asia, known as the Gods of the East, but a scandal involving a lawsuit over  payment meant that the band went their seperate ways and Jaejoong and two other band mates assembled to become ‘JYJ’. Jae was the lead vocalist with a heavenly, husky voice, and despite being gorgeous, he is deeply self-conscious of his smile. Jaejoong was initially perceived as a cold person but he was actually being ordered to keep quiet by management as he had a tendency to put his foot in it! Jae is known for his love of cooking and for being incredibly clumsy. He also has possibly one of the most infectious laughs ever. For anyone thinking he looks somewhat girly, he does come from a family of eight sisters and so is used to being fawned over and feminised! He lists his favourite sport as ‘running away’ (probably from fan girls).

4. Yunho – DBSK

The tenacious, tender-hearted leader of DBSK before they disbanded (he now fronts the group with remaining member Changmin), Yunho is the solid, steadfast type, handsome, reserved and forward thinking, he is able to bring the best out of his team mates. Warm hearted, polite and well-mannered, Yunho is a true gentleman who took the reigns of DBSK when Jaejoong absconded from the leadership role. Behind the tough masculine exterior, Yunho is a very passionate and sensitive young man who likes to keep his emotions in check behind a cool, calm and collected veneer.

5. G-Dragon – Big Bang

I have only recently happened across G-Dragon and oh my lordy, it was like bumping into Jesus Christ in the woods. This cheeky chappy is literally on the verge of exploding with energy, hyperness and effervesence. Mere flesh and bone alone is not enough to contain this fireball. He is the leader of group ‘Big Bang’ and possesses an unnatural level of self-confidence. He knows how to smirk, smile, pout and prance his way through an interview and trust me ladies, when he smiles, you will melt. FLAT OUT MELT. With his slightly androgynous looks, he miraculously manages to pull off any fashion trend, much to my envy. It’s hard to keep track of him on stage because he is literally running to and fro before re-emerging somewhere far off out in your peripheral vision. G-Dragon is a very liberated and free thinking individual, but also a bit of a rebel – there was a controversy slightly earlier in the year surrounding supposed marijana use.

6. T.O.P – Big Bang

T.O.P….where to start? Some fans claim T.O.P stands for ‘the original pimp’ and it’s not hard to imagine that if he weren’t a K-Pop idol (and the idols have an almost God like status amongst fans) that he might very well be just that, chaperoning hookers from street corner to street corner like a gaggle of geese. T.O.P is the rapper of Big Bang and has a low, tiger like tone. He branched out with some solo material, the most memorable of which for me was ‘Turn it Up’. Check out the video and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve had it on continuous repeat for the last week. Help me.

7. Junsu – DBSK

Junsu was the first male idol I came across when my friend introduced me to DBSK. She asked me which one I liked and my eyes automatically went to Junsu. For that reason he will always hold a special place in my heart; kookie, cute and kiddish, Junsu is essentially a big child. Junsu knows how to raise low spirits being a constant source of light-heartedness and amusement. His naivity, innocence and general adorableness are all incredibly endearing. He is obsessed with soccer and sites his non-identical twin brother Junho as being his best friend. Despite his sweet appearance, Junsu metamorphosises on-screen and on stage, transforming into a slick and sexy dancer who is well aware of his sex appeal. He intended to debut much earlier but due to difficulties during puberty, his plans were put on ice. His voice still sounds unbroken but it has afforded him a beautifully melodious voice which sounds unusual and distinctive. He is also famed for his laugh, which is possibly the best I’ve ever heard.

8. Taeyang – Big Bang

I’ve always had a thing for the ‘strong and silent’ type and Taeyang fits the bill. He is referred to as a ‘practice bug’ because he will literally train and train AND train until he gets it exactly right. He is also known to possess ‘soft charisma’ *melts*. Perhaps what makes him even more attractive is that despite his drop dead gorgeous looks, he is shy as anything around the fairer sex. Before he made it big with Big Bang he wanted to be a pianist (he just gets sweeter and sweeter doesn’t he?). Its okay – he can play the piano at our wedding…

9. Yoochun – DBSK

Yoochun might be the member of DBSK you bypass in comparison with the others – he isn’t as much of a looker but there is something pretty winning about his dimpled smile, and he has a ‘knowing’ more experienced manner than some of his more innocent band mates. He loves rocking a hat and shades and used to be the best at speaking English (those skills seemed to degenerate before disapearing entirely almost overnight). He is probably the weakest singer of the group but he has a unique charisma that you can’t help but be spellbound by. Yoochun doesn’t have the highest self-esteem and has suffered bouts of depression. Despite his romantic compositions, Yoochun doesn’t want to get married (perhaps because his own parents divorced). He was scouted over in Virginia and brought to SM’s attention!

10.  Changmin – DBSK

My friends ultimate bias – Changmin is the baby of DBSK, but actually the eldest in his own family. As such his personality has an interesting cynicism to it. He is known for his ‘chang-gasms’ (yes it’s exactly like it sounds). According to his fellow members, Changmin enjoys sitting in the park…drinking…alone (old man in the making). Changmin changed virtually over night into a suave Casonova so don’t be deceived by his baby-faced appearance.

Any fellow K-Pop fans out there?

Who are your biases?

Music is a pretty powerful tool and sometimes when the world gets too much, zoning out and tuning into a tune is all that’s needed to make everything well again. Here are some songs that I think suit some common (and some particularly random) moods:

When you need to get away: Frank Sinatra – New York

If the ‘little town blues’ are getting you down, you can dream big on this song and start planning your worldwide adventures and escapades. I don’t know how many trips I’ve booked on the back of listening to this. If you already live in New York and hate it, either get a little more patriotic or don’t bother with this one. This song always sends shivers down my spine and makes me antsy for the big wide world!

When the glass is half empty: Monty Python – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

There’s not much worse than being crucified right? So if these guys can find something to sing about, we surely can put our blues to one side! Aside from being an incredibly hilarious and life affirming film, the ending song really will have you whistling and head bobbing along. After all – we never have it that bad.

When you’re in need of some energy: BoA – Energetic

K-Pop Queen BoA, aka best of Asia, released an American album back in 2009 that didn’t really make a huge impact on the market. Nonetheless, if you are pounding the treadmill at the gym, need to stay up late, or are attempting to run away from angry villagers with pitch forks (or chavs from the local council estate), this song will put a dramatic spring in your step and make you desperate to dance! This song is just liquid energy for your ears!

When you need to focus: DBSK – Keep your head down

Another K-Pop track, I present you with Changmin and Yunho, formerly part of DBSK (well…they technically are still DBSK, just minus members Junsu, Yoochun and Jaejoong). If this all sounds like gobbledegook to you I apologise, but this song is the one to listen to if you need to keep focused and on track when the b******s are grinding you down. You won’t understand any of the words due to the language barrier, BUT the chorus is the only part that needs to be reiterated to ease your mood: KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!

When you’re frownin’: Nat King Cole – Smile

How can you look at this photo of dear Nat and not smile like a damn goon? It’s all too easy to frown, but frowning gives you wrinkles, and for that reason alone, whether your cats been run over by a truck or you’re all out of Cheetos, you should shrug it off and smile.

If you’re feeling homophobic: Village People -YMCA

Now, granted, true homophobia can’t be tackled with a song alone. Otherwise, blasting Kylie Minogue over the middle east would have the boys flooding the streets in droves with declarations of love for one another. Nonetheless, you can’t hate man on man love when it dresses and sounds like these guys do. Can you?

When bitches be hatin’: Frank Sinatra – The Lady is a Tramp

Nowadays it would be ‘the lady is a skank’ but that’s beside the point. If you find yourself the victim of an all girl gang fronted by someone much like Regina George from Mean Girls, then this is the song for you.

When its chucking it down on your wedding day / BBQ:  Gene Kelly – Singing in the Rain

There are some times when you just don’t want it to rain, but Gene looks like he’s enjoying it a little too much. There isn’t much we can do about the weather, so you might as well make the best of it, though I wouldn’t recommend doing what Gene’s doing or you’ll probably end up in a hospital with pneumonia, or the nut house for generally parading the streets like a nut job.

When you need some alone time:  Michael Jackson – Leave me Alone

People that like to be alone are labelled a lot of things by society: introverts, loners, spinsters….oddjobs. But sometimes you just need to be left to your own devices. MJ managed to ask for it in this single that called out the media for their invasive advances. It might not have helped his case much, but it will make you feel better if you find yourself turning down that big night out.

When you feel lonely: Randy Newman – You got a friend in me

This is a pretty comforting song from a pretty awesome movie, and though this song has a little bit of a melancholic lilt to it, it might remind you who your true friends are!

When you feel scared:  Michael Jackson – Thriller

Nobody likes to be scared…except adrenaline junkies, but Thriller will make you dance along in abject terror. The world went mental when MJ released this single and with good reason, but it might help you see the more frivolous side of your fears.

When someones calling you a whore: Madonna – Human Nature

Now I’m not suggesting anyone would, nor am I suggesting you might not deserve the reputation, but this is the song to stick on should the W, B or S word make an appearance. Madonna has probably heard it once or twice (well her name is a pretty big thing to love up to and she did release that ‘Sex’ book), but this song will take the sting out of the slander.

When someones done you wrong: Chicago Soundtrack – Cell Block Tango

Chicago provided us with some amazing songs to sing along to, but none better than the above. If you’ve been wronged, and chances are you have, you don’t need to wail about it from behind bars. Don’t do what these girls did and bump anyone off for popping gum too loud or having an affair, just enjoy their sultry performances as they regail you with their stories from the comfort off your own home.

When you want to hate on your ex: Janet Jackson –  Son of a Gun

Is your ex really p***ing you off? Just look at the hilarity of Missy and Janet above for five seconds….now listen to the song. These ladies will put him (or her) in his place…even if you don’t have the guts to.

When you’re stressin’: Bob Marley – Three Little Birds

I think its impossible for anyone to listen to this song and feel anything even remotely close to ‘not perfectly ok’. This song captures the chilled vibe of Jamaica and will transfer it to wherever you are and get to working on however you’re feeling. Drink whilst sipping on an alcoholic beverage and imagining you are staring out at turquoise waters.

When reflecting on a holiday romance: Grease Soundtrack – Summer Lovin’

Looking back on a summer romance can be a depressing prospect as it fills us with nostalgia and melancholy, especially if your present is looking a little less rosy. We can’t all end up with a happy ending like Sandy and Danny so you might as well appreciate the fact that you experienced a romance of any kind at all and treasure the memories.

When you need to feel like you’re somewhere else: Gavin Friday – Angel

This song will instantly transport you far, far away. It is pure bliss in music form. I may need to kidnap Gavin to sing to me in my stressed moments. After listening to this song, should you agree and wish to be my accomplice, please contact me privately. We can share him on a rota based system.

When you feel trapped in a bad relationship or an even worse job:  Candi Staton – Young Hearts Run Free

Feeling trapped in ‘deadend ville’ is one of the most depressing prospects there is. We have ‘relationship, marriage, kids, work’, drilled in to us at such an early age that sometimes, out of pressure, we dive into situations that don’t satisfy us or make us content with our lot, but seem to keep everybody else happy. Honey, if you’re in a bad relationship, bad job or bad mood, remember you’re a young heart and run free sweetie, run free!

When you need an instant boostLesley Gore – Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

There is no specific mood that this song can instantly improve upon, it is there for all ‘general maladies’. Brimming and bustling with good mood magic, play it in desperate moments i.e. getting out of bed on a monday morning, being barged across the train tracks by a fool, being chased by rabid dogs across arctic wasteland…(I don’t know).

These are just some of the songs that can solve your stresses, but what music gets you out of a mood?

Child stars have an uncertain fate. At best they fall into irrelevance and their careers die a remote and reluctant death. Some accept this blithely, like seagulls flying out to sea, looking back on their superstardom as a dream. At worst, they degenerate into a drink and drugs free fall like a skydive into hell (Lindsay Lohan anyone?). But some child stars weather the storm and somehow emerge the other side of adolescence relatively trauma free and with a glittering career trailing out behind them like a peacock’s tail. Kirsten Dunst is one such star, and though for a while it may have seemed that she had flourished in childhood and was merely floundering in light and un-challenging roles thereafter, she has since made a much welcome return in a film that shows some of her earlier, ‘side tracked’ promise finally being pushed to the fore. Its time to delve into ten memorable roles from one of my favourite child stars, the divine Ms Dunst, who has the appeal of being the sunshine starlet, with darker, deeper substance:

1. Interview with the Vampire – Claudia

This was Kirsten’s ‘break through’ role at the tender age of ten, the role with which, without, there might have been no Kirsten. This was an explosive start for the young actress in her role of Claudia, the child vampire, transformed by ‘parents’ Lestat and Louis, part of Lestat’s diabolical scheme to bind Louis to him eternally. To make a child vampire is to break the rules because to trap an ageing spirit, soul and mind in the body of a child is rather than being some Peter Pan like miracle, a type of torture. Sure enough, after coming across a beautiful creole woman, Claudia grows to resent the limitations of her childlike physicality and begins to despite her surrogate parents, whilst plotting revenge on Lestat. She finds herself committing one of the worst sins imaginable for a vampire: killing her maker, and is locked away with fledgling Madeleine as punishment, who having lost her own child, wishes to care for Claudia, who is harbouring fears that her beloved Louis will leave her for the more worldly Armand who tempts him away with secrets of their origin. Kirsten is truly beyond her years in this role, capturing the hopeful and blind acceptance of youth that enable her to be a manipulative and cunning killer, the fury and frustration of adolescence and the cynical, hopeless boredom of adulthood that stretches on forever. Not only did she receive a golden globe nomination for the part, she also got to kiss Brad Pitt, although she was far too young to be suitably impressed…

2. Little Women – Little Amy

After assuring everyone she really can play a ‘little woman’ in her portrayal of Claudia, Kirsten won the role of ‘younger Amy’ in the movie adaptation of the novel ‘Little Women’ alongside a troupe of other cast members who grew up to have cataclysmic careers. The film follows the trials and tribulations of the March sisters in the aftermath of the American civil war. Kirsten manages to capture Amy’s romantic and idealistic spirit in childhood and looks cuddly and adorable throughout.

3. Jumanji – Judy

Jumanji was one of my favourite childhood films. It had everything: suspense, fear, monkeys and mischief, all contained and controlled by the throw of the dice as siblings Peter and Judy find themselves inadvertently freeing Alan Parrish (who was sucked into the game as a child) and having to continue to the bitter end in order to be rid of the game forever. If you want monkeys riding motorbikes, stampedes, monsoons and mosquitoes, then this film will certainly keep you entertained. Kirsten manages to hold her own with some pretty big names and establishes herself as a certified movie cutie. I think this film was Kirsten’s very own ‘Home Alone’, securing her in the minds of many as a nostalgic part of many adults childhoods.

4. Kiki’s Delivery Service – Kiki

Kirsten might not lend her appearance to this role, but she does lend her melodious voice to the part of witch Kiki (ironically one of Kirsten’s nicknames). This film has Miyazaki’s distinctive style slathered all over it from the bright and chirpy landscapes to the intriguing cast of characters. Witches traditionally must live alone for a year at the age of thirteen and so Kiki travels far from home to Koriko with her black cat Jiji. In order to support herself financially she starts up her own delivery service (hence the film’s title). Miyazaki’s films always have a strong moral centre and this one most certainly encourages innovation and independence, particularly amongst young women. Kiki’s year off is littered with peaks and troughs but everything works out in the end and she decides to make Koriko her permanent residence. Miyazaki once famously claimed that children should watch just one movie a year and that movie should refuel their curiosity and encourage them to go out into the world and make memories. This might not be the only film you watch all year, but it should be one of them.

5. Small Soldiers – Christy Fimple

Kirsten establishes herself as ‘underage eye candy’ as cutie-patootie girl next door Christy, the object of Alan Abernathy’s affections. The two ‘would be lovers’ find themselves caught between Gorgonites and the Commando Elite, two sets of warring military themed action figures. If you want to watch Kirsten being attached by dolls and riding a motorbike, you’ll find all that and more here. This is the role in my opinion that for a while ‘doomed’ Kirsten to the sweet and fluffy girl next door parts, and though she shimmers in the role thanks to her all American girl looks, we all know she has far more substance than that!

6.The Virgin Suicides – Lux Lisbon

Lux is the perfect girl next door with a twist and this is the second role after Interview with the Vampire that gives her the opportunity to portray a darker style of teenager. In this mystery that is concluded in the title, the Lisbon sisters take their own lives in unison following the successful suicide attempt of youngest Cecilia and the film simply tells the tale from the perspectives of the neighbourhood boys who loved them, without really examining why. The daughters are beautiful and privileged but suffocated by their small town life and over zealous, fanatically religious parents. Lux is the most blinding of the daughters, androgynous, indefinable, indecipherable, she turns to chain-smoking and promiscuity on the roof after her high school romance with dream boat high school hunk Trip Fontaine falls to pieces and he leaves her cold and alone on the football field after doing the deed. This is a surreal, dreamy tale, deeply unsettling and melancholic that captures all of the paraphernalia and cotton candy inconsistency of young girls on the cusp of becoming women. Blurring the boundaries between the girls innocence and their growing worldliness, the tone of this film is uneasy and disconcerting, but certainly memorable and impenetrable, as we never really understand the sisters motivations for departing this world.

7. Drop Dead Gorgeous – Amber Atkins

You might be noticing a theme emerging here; blonde, blue-eyed, dimpled Kirsten is the maddeningly unattainable girl next door that every boy wants and every girl likes. In Drop Dead Gorgeous, a comedy that falls somewhat flat, she is entered into a beauty pageant with a smattering of other memorable faces i.e. Denise Richards, but the contestants are taking things somewhat seriously, in their attempts to be crowned most beautiful. Styled as a mockumentary, the girls battle it out in the rather elaborately titled: Sarah Rose Cosmetics Mount Rose American Teen Princess Pageant.

8. Crazy/Beautiful – Nicole

This is an interesting take on a love story that blurs the boundaries that exist between ethnicity, culture and class. This relationship is doomed to fail in every way, so polarised are the two romantic leads, and yet somehow their love affair seems to survive (or reach the end credits at least). It’s unusual to see Kirsten play the rebellious one in the relationship and deviate entirely from her cookie cutter image.

9. Marie Antoinette – Marie Antoinette

Sofia Coppola produces a crayola world of colour in this retelling of the life of the French Queen Consort (and it takes a whole hell of a lot of artistic licence when it comes to historical accuracy). Kirsten manages to be adorable, precocious and entirely hedonistic as she enjoys the car crash of luxury and extravagance. History mingles with the MTV generation as Marie is portrayed as a more charismatic Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian. Of course, a life lived with such reckless abandon can’t go on forever especially as the French revolution draws near.

10. Melancholia – Justine

Von Triers movies are mirrors into the innermost workings of his dark and morbid soul. Indeed the insides of his brain must look like a musky old attic. Nonetheless, although he doesn’t exactly make the malady of melancholy mainstream, there is something eerily and obtusely beautiful about Lars perception of the world through the filter of depression. Despite the fact that she was portraying Lars distinctive experience of depression, she surely connected on some level with her own earlier experiences, for which she attended rehab. Melancholia marks a welcome return for Kirsten who is refreshing as Justine, the bride who has everything (much like Dunst) on a surface level, but who cannot find fulfilment or contentment.  Her bleak, flat portrayal was streaked through with real notes of hysteria and a profound if nihilistic view of life in her portrayal of Justine in the midst of a depressive episode, but she still manages to sparkle and shine as the ‘happier’ Justine, still parading her mask of ‘normality’. its unusual to see Kirsten, despite a couple of darker earlier roles, in anything less than bright and beautiful because she suits those roles to a T thanks to her sunny, positive disposition and All American girl ways. This is why she is so suitable to play such a contrasting role, because she shows us that anyone can suffer from depression, no matter their social standing or accomplishments.  Anyone who thought this was the end of Kirsten’s career, after Spider man is set to be rebooted, is in for a shock.

Here are a few of Kirsten’s roles that didn’t make the list, but are still worth a watch:

* Bring it On – Torrance Shipman

Snarky cheerleaders face off to be the best. Unfortunately for ‘The Torros’ their former squad leader has swiped their ‘winning routine’ from a group of rival competitors. The girls must put a rough and ready routine together in order to stand a cats chance in hell of victory.

* Get Over It – Kelly Woods

Girl dumps boy, boy enters play, boy begins to fall for new girl – that’s the 1-2-3 synopsis of ‘Get Over It’. Of course, Kirsten is the new girl who begins to steal his affections away from his heartbreaking ex.

* Spider-Man – Mary Jane Watson

She might not be the obvious choice for Mary-Jane, but she is the cute girl next door type. The Spider Man series is undergoing a recent reboot, but there are still memorable moments to tune in for, such as the upside down kiss (as pictured).

* Mona Lisa Smile – Betty Warren

Back in the traditional 50’s, a free thinking arts professor decides to try to shake loose the Wellesley girls. Betty is harder to break than most, as she has her heart set on the conventional life of a picture perfect wife. When her husband commits adultery, she slowly begins to transform into her true self. It was through staring alongside Maggie G, who spent the duration of the film ‘Secretary’ crawling across the floor with an envelope in her mouth, that Kirsten was introduced to future love interest, Jake G.

* How to Lose Friends and alienate People – Alison Olsen

A British journalist makes it as a big shot after endless attempts but finds it hard to fit in with all the shiny, sparkly stars that now form the bulk of his social circle. Kirsten plays his eventual love interest, when he can finally ease off the sheen projected by Megan Fox’s character.

* Wimbledon – Lizzie Bradbury

A high-ranking tennis pro slowly finds himself falling down the tables. His interest in rising star Lizzie, helps him rekindle his love for the game.

* Elizabethtown – Claire Colburn

Kirsten gets to sizzle alongside Orlando Bloom as the two embark on a love affair during bizarre circumstances.

* Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Mary

This story belongs to Jim Carey and Kate Winslet, as Joel and Clementine, the couple who wish to erase all memories of their traumatic love affair from their minds. Kirsten’s side story is that she is being chatted up by a man who is mimicking all of Joel’s moves to woo Clementine. She might also have had a turn on the old memory erasure machine herself for having a fling with her married boss…

Every actor, whether they are churning out rehearsed lines in a waiting room fringed with competitors or bright eyed and bushy tailed fresh out of drama school, dreams of establishing an all encompassing career that enables them to play a wide spectrum of characters. One such actor whose star is set to rise in 2012 is Tom Hardy, a home grown British talent with a rough and ready streak which is reflected in the roles he has been offered. With the perfect mix of physical masculinity and ability to reflect heartfelt inner turmoil, Hardy has emerged as a hunk, an anti-hero and a villain. Here I look at ten of Tom’s most memorable roles:

1.       Wuthering Heights – Heathcliff

Certain roles present themselves as gifts to the actors that take them on. Heathcliff is one such character that comes steeped in tradition and expectation, in being a role that has been done to death but never really ‘captured’ in essence on screen. Many believe that Tom’s turn as the tortured and embittered lover comes closest. Though he speaks with a brawling Londoners accent, Tom managers to come over all ‘Yorkshire’ (and rather convincingly) and this is also the film that persuaded Tom to ditch his long term love interest and mother to his child and test out a new relationship with co-star Charlotte Riley, which adds a dimension of plausible reality to their simmering on screen chemistry. With his wild, windswept looks, Hardy brings an interesting quality to the bitter and brooding Heathcliff.

2. Warrior – Tommy Conlon

Tom as Tommy Conlon in 'Warrior' - tom-hardy photo

A role that Tom was born to play – gritty, grim and gruesome, Tommy Conlon is estranged from his family and harbours a few grudges against his brother and father. Little does he know he must battle brother Brendan in order to win a rather handsome fortune in a mixed martial arts competition. Tom perfectly becomes the brutal and unbalanced animal of a man that Tommy morphs into in the fighting arena, whilst managing with great sensitivity and grace, to depict the tender fragility of Tommy’s past whilst never losing the manly, masculine slant of his personality. The raw, wild tenacity of Tom’s adrenal performance established him as a man’s actor in one respect, but by capturing the heartache of Tommy’s tragic past, Tom secured himself as a favourite with the ladies. It didn’t hurt one bit that his shirt was off practically the entire time.

3. Inception – Eames

Inception is loaded with big movie star names – you’ve got Leo, you’ve got preggers from ‘Juno’, Michael Caine (who will forever be Scrooge to me), but Tom manages to own the character he is bestowed with and really hold his own. Eames is an identity forger who joins Cobb’s team as they perform the feat that is inception. The plot for me was crazier and more complex than a box of frogs attempting to knit a scarf but even with his role as a sideline character, Hardy demonstrates sincerity and naturalness in his performance.

 4. Bronson – Charles Bronson / Michael Peterson

That rough diamond London Boy gleam that Tommy boy gives off does not go unnoticed. Charles Bronson has been described as one of Britain’s most notorious criminals, having spent forty years in prison for his various crimes. If you’re looking for the bad boy with charm, Tom can most certainly deliver. He transforms in this role, to deliver a sneaky, sinister, slow paced way of speech that verges on the very cusp of insanity and psychosis. Bursting with effervescent personality, Hardy manages to be funny and frightening and even manages to look kinda sexy with that mammoth tash. This role single-handedly set Tom up for the many villainous roles he has been bestowed with since, as he adds a human touch to what could be construed as very black and white roles.

5. Star Trek: Nemesis – Praetor Shinzon

Tommy boy portrays a clone of the well known and well loved Captain Picard as all Star Trek fans will know. Possibly a good set up for his role as Tommy in Warrior, Shinzon is the ultimate test tube baby, brewed, bottled for a purpose and discarded when he is no longer of any use. The exchanges between Shinzon and Picard are memorable as Tom displays a growing confidence and command of his craft.

6. Layer Cake – Clarkie

This is a true all boys club bruiser of a film, so who better to cast than Tom, with those chavtastic charming looks? With a double first from Cambridge, Clarkie is in cahoots with Daniel Craig’s ‘XXXX’ as a supplier of cocaine. The film takes an interesting angle and you really have to pay attention to delve into the layers of society and its criminal underbelly that seems to permeate through all classes and spheres. ‘Clarkie’ is not a huge role but Tom establishes himself as ‘generic bored and suave criminal’ rather well. This was the first film I witnessed Hardy in and it’s amazing to see how far his career has since spanned.

7. Scenes of a Sexual Nature – Noel

Tom’s career could have gone in a very different direction had he followed the rom-com route, but this seems to be one of his few forays, as various strangers meet and mingle in a Hampstead Heath park. Tom is gawky, awkward and a little cringy as he attempts to pick up the ladies (which must have been a real stretch for him), but there is something quite endearing and disarmingly sweet about him as a ‘park dwelling creep’. I for one am glad he took the route of badassery.  There is definitely a place for him should the chiselled, hot damn sexy thing fail to work out for him.

8. RockNRolla – Handsome Bob

Once you’ve been in one movie that explores London’s intricate criminal underworld, chances are, you’ll probably be in them all. Directors tend to get all nostalgic and whimsical about home-grown English criminals and they love a bit of banal, bad boy banter. Naturally, Tom has a place here with his half cocky, half naive eyes. As part of the ‘Wild Bunch’, Handsome Bob does a lot of smoking and swearing. The interesting twang to Hardy’s character is that in the smack talking, gun toting world of crazy crime – a world that just screams MANLY MEN – Handsome Bob is a closeted homosexual harbouring a massive crush on member One Two (well he is played by Gerard friggin’ Butler).

9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Ricki Tarr

By now, Hardy has established himself as ‘one of the boys’ so no doubt calling on his experience from earlier bit roles in Layer Cake and RockNRolla, Tom is yet another part of a complex crime puzzle. Tom is fairly unrecognisable as a blondie and without giving away too much of this intricate espionage movie (for those who haven’t seen it) he plays his part well.

10. The Dark Knight Rises – Bane

Fair enough this film has not been released yet, but I just know that this film will do for Hardy what the Dark Knight did for Heath Ledger. Not much is known of Bane’s character, although we do know that he is Batman’s new adversary eight years after the events of the Dark Knight and Batman has somewhat lost his edge after the tragic death of Harvey Dent.  Hardy became a sheer machine for the filming of this movie, bulking up to great effect and has explained that he wishes to portray Bane as a ‘menacing’ character. Tom certainly looks the part, but he is sure to become it too, promising that Bane will be an exhilarating antagonist with a brutal and unforgiving vendetta against Gotham City.

There is something naturally silly about the torso of a woman merged with the lower half of a fish, and yet there is also something prevailingly dazzling and enchanting about the fabled mermaid, who has intrigued and captivated  audiences for a long time. Mermaids abound in literature, legend and folklore, and though there are many mermaid movies, there aren’t nearly enough. Here are some of the more interesting movie interpretations of these sensational creatures.

1. Hook

Peter Banning returns to Neverland to recapture the adventurous and sprightly spirit of his youth. He re-aquaints himself with the Lost Boys and pesky pirates, but also with the beautiful mermaids, depicted here as benevolent and frankly ‘free with the lovin’ types who return him to the world above the water with a whimsical kiss. This short scene really captures as a cameo the serene and ethereal nature of the mermaid. There design and makeup, though simple, shimmers and shines.

2. Peter Pan

Disney never disappoints with its maidens. Characters tend to be polarized as all good or all bad, and the mermaids as depicted here, are childlike, spiteful and jealous, and can afford to sit around all day combing their hair and looking pretty. They are happy to be reunited with piper Peter, but are a little more reluctant when it comes to Wendy, but its okay, they were ‘only trying to drown her’. They fit the traditional depiction of mermaids as gorgeous, unknowable and vacuous.

3. The Little Mermaid

Ariel, underwater princess and daughter of King Trident, sacrifices the life she knows to gain a human soul and the love of Prince Eric. The first mermaid I witnessed on film (this movie was released the year I was born), Ariel was unique amongst Disney princesses as a rebellious, free-spirited and unconventional soul, right down to her flame red hair and skimpy attire. Most little girls might dream of being princesses or make-believe that they are mermaids, but Ariel dreamed to be human. Disney doubters see the story of the Little Mermaid as the tale of a young girl who sacrifices her independence and individuality to give herself over to a life of convention and tradition, but there is still something endearing about this story, which is the epitome of ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome.

4. Aquamarine

A mermaid with a valley girl twist, the consequence of two best friends wish to not be separated, Aquamarine is the ‘miracle’ that emerges as a result of their wish. She is able to take human form during the day so long as she makes no contact with water. She has arrived on land in order to understand the human emotion of love and quickly captures the attention of lifeguard Raymond. This is a fresh take on the mermaid story and interestingly depicts the mermaids fascination with humanity, which rivals that of mans preoccupation with the sea. Think ‘The Little Mermaid’ meets Clueless.

5. Splash

Everyone knows this mermaid movie. Daryl Hannah is Madison the mermaid, who befriends a young boy named Allen, and captivates him for all of his days until she reunites with him in adulthood. Unlike ‘typical tails’, which are quintessentially turquoise and relatively aquatic, Madison’s tail is reminiscent of that of a large goldfish jumping into the setting sun and is memorable because of it.

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The saving grace of this otherwise dire movie, are the mermaids, who prove to be the scene stealers. Erotic, exotic…oh and flesh-eating, these mermaids lure men to their dooms, similarly to the sirens, and drag them to their deaths in the depths by coaxing them in with a kiss. These mermaids are both innocent and evil, captivating and crafty, but yet frustratingly underused in the movie and in the promotional material. Hopefully, Disney will catch on to the fact that the world needs more mermaids!

6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The merfolk of J K Rowling’s world are a complete reimagining. They lack the glamour, instead appearing as rather grotesque, and most certainly not wizard friendly. The merpeoples’ language exists as an ear-piercing screech above water, but appears as a lulling melody below. Any director when told that mermaids will be making an appearance in their movie, would be tempted to resort to the tried and tested clichés of the beautiful female mermaid (that is, after all, what most movie goers want to see). Not so in Harry’s world, where mermaids appear more androgynous and indecipherable. Harry has to venture into their world to conquer his second trial in the Triwizard Tournament.

7. Ponyo

Ponyo is Studio Ghibli’s imagining of the story of The Little Mermaid. Originating from a castle under the sea, Ponyo who is enlivened with great curiosity after a trip in her fathers submarine, slips away to see more of the world above the waves. Here, she befriends Sosuke and transforms into a human child.

8. Fishtales

Most men probably dream of seeing Kelly Brook embodying the role of a scantily clad mermaid. With this film, their fantasy can reach fulfilment. Here she portrays the stunning mermaid Nereid, who is in danger of being poached for her rather expensive tail. Like many mermaids before her, Nereid sacrifices her existence as a mermaid to become a human woman.

9. Peter Pan (2011)

The mermaids of the 2011 interpretation of Peter Pan are an unusual combination of sensuous and eerie, with their flame red hair (before Rihanna made it mainstream) and pale blue skin. The mermaids are aware of everything that occurs in Neverland and are notoriously evasive (somewhat different to the Disney mermaids, who enjoy a chat and catch up and act more like sorority sisters). The mermaids still have it in for Wendy (poor girl).

10. Night Tide

Slinky sailor Johnny Drake falls in love with Mora, who plays at being a mermaid for a living. As the film progresses, we cannot be sure if Mora really is a mermaid, or whether she is simply a little lost in her own fantasies. Mermaids don’t usually feature in thrillers, so this is well worth a watch.

There are iconic lovers that seem to capture something of the nature of love; Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Jack and Rose, but none cut through the sentimentality and slush quite like Cathy and Heathcliff. These two have always been the wild and untameable beasts of the moors who in each other find an obsessive and dizzying equal that cannot be contained. Emily Bronte’s classic novel has faced countless adaptations and now it faces another, in the capable hands of Andrea Arnold. This is gothic love, without the fluff and sweetness of Hollywood rom-coms; these are hard, raw, real characters, who for me come the closest to representing the dark underbelly of our sweetest intentions. This is perhaps why it is one of my favourite romantic novels, and why it endures today, as a simple tale that packs a profound punch.

Arnold has made some interesting choices with her adaptation, the most obvious one being her
decision to cast Solomon Glave and James Howson as her leading man in both his childlike and fully grown forms. Initially, I had my doubts about this. This was not the Heathcliff I envisioned, and it seemed to make the dubious and vague nature of Heathcliffs ethnicity in the book stark and startling. It added a racial motive for me, which did not colour the books (pardon the pun). This isn’t Othello. It also gives Arnold the excuse to throw in the N word (as well as the C word and a few others), which for me felt like adding a spark of controversy for the sake of it, and did not suit the setting. I never envisioned the characters as saints, but the ‘effing and blinding’, did not suit my idyllic, picturesque vision of Bronte’s Yorkshire. Any objections I might have had to the choice of lead actors evaporated when the chemistry between the characters became apparent.

I don’t envy the person whose job it was to cast Cathy and Heathcliff. They have perhaps, the most insistent, passionate and all-consuming chemistry of all – not an easy thing to find and create between two actors. Nonetheless Arnold manages it, by pairing the striking Glave with mischievous Shannon Beer, as the two frolic as children. In adulthood, Howson reunites with Kaya Scodelario (only after a few scenes did I manage to place her face – its only Effy from SKINS!). Arnold is known for recruiting unknown talents and I believe Glave will emerge as one; he has a quiet, simmering intensity and a very memorable face. At times, his delivery feels wooden and inconsequential. By contrast, Howson (not my automatic choice) grew on me slowly as the film progressed, and Kaya might just carve out a career for herself yet!

The tone of the novel is captured perfectly. Life on the moors is savage and cruel and the cinematography of the ugly and the natural reflects this. Stark, bleak, hopeless – nature courses
unbound. The camera obsesses itself with animals colliding in pairs, clear symbols of the cacophony of the combining of Cathy and Heathcliff as horses whinny, corralled by their owners, birds soar and insects gather at window panes for escape. The camera rushes at us like the wind, spinning and whirring like a lover’s homemade video footage. By running on the moor, they are flying. This is a tactile film that captures taste, feel, touch – the camera languishes through Cathy’s autumn hair, Heathcliff bites his lip, the two lock hands in the squelching mud. These scenes are for the senses. This film is like being buried alive in the earth, agonizing to some, sensuous to others, as we are pushed directly into the flame of their candle. The symbols and alludes are clear – Cathy and Heathcliff are nature and are animalised. Even the colour choices are straightforwardly simple; Cathy rides in red, Heathcliff in black, Isabella in white. Some viewers might see this as a bit of ‘directing for dummies’ – I was quite enchanted by its easy style. Cathy is shown to be air, mercurial and flighty as the wind that ravishes the moors – her hair abounds all about her and she collects feathers belonging to the birds. By contrast Heathcliff is the steady, unmoved yet volatile fire – he can only burn dependably in the grate of the home with his love.

This story has always been one of love, and the destructive potential of our passions. If the animals
of the moor reflect the vivacity of the pairs love, then they can never truly be happy with the likes of Edgar and Isabella, who represent civilized, stable, dependable love, which though consistent and loyal, can never make us feel true exhilaration. Isabella and Edgar are subordinates to Cathy and Heathcliff, but when the childhood soul mates are together, they are true equals. There are not
many love stories today that capture this sort of true, natural equality where man and woman are one another’s confidant and counterpart. In adulthood Cathy may be conditioned to be the lady of the house, but Heathcliff becomes only more and more animal. I felt the suspense of their reunion – the anticipation, barely concealed tension, the reigned in desire to possess, know, clash. Blindingly bleak, this is the slow burning tale of a love, obsession and lust that is never allowed to be, but also one of the purest friendship and acceptance. Arnold manages to be unsentimental – sleek as a knife and bustling as the wind in bringing to life this refreshing take on an old tale, saturating and intoxicating us as we sink into the mud with them. Unfortunately, this adaptation does not have the endurance of the novel and won’t be one I will watch again.

You’ll like this if:

* You like a tale that takes its time  to be told i.e. Death in Venice

* You are a diehard Bronte fan

* You enjoy picking apart cinematography

You’ll hate this if:

* You are expecting Twilight

*  You are expecting Titanic

* You are expecting Claire Danes and Leo