Peter Rabbit (2018)

As is probably the case with most Britons of the last century, I was brought up reading the books of Beatrix Potter. So, when I first saw the trailer above my heart sank. My initial reaction was to cry sacrilege. Things would only get worse as I read reports that it was making fun of people with allergies, and heard the review from Mark Kermode. So I vowed never to see this film.

But I had a problem, one that would kibosh any chance of me not seeing this film. I have a three-year-old goddaughter, a goddaughter who had never been to the cinema before - a goddaughter obsessed with Peter Rabbit... How could I say no when she asked me to accompany her and her mother to see it!

Of course, I had to go... 

And you know what... I was wrong! I'll readily admit that now. What I wanted from a Peter Rabbit film was similar to what we got from the Paddington films (though saying this, at the time of writing this review, I have yet to see Paddington 2) by this I mean, I wanted a movie that captured what was special about the books, but brought something new to the table, and that is exactly what I got. 

I think the problem here was bad marketing. all the trailers showed were the goofier elements of the film, but the film also captures the spirit of the books, while modernising it at the same time. The way they did this was by setting the film after the books - something else not communicated by the trailer. This, for me at least quashes any issues I may have had with James Cordon voicing Peter, for Peter is now more of a teenager than a young rabbit, so it makes sense. 

For me, Peter rabbit managed to take some of the best elements of the Beatrix Potter books, Paddington films, and even elements of the original Babe movie and created a delightful little picture that was well worth my time. I think it is a shame it got such a bad press, as I believe it deserves more credit that it has been given. Afterall, my goddaughter sat there entranced pretty much the whole of the way through - and that in itself is n mean feat!

Your Name (Kim No Na Wa) 2016: Review

 

I am a huge anime fan, but I don't often get to see anime movies until they have been released for quite a while. This was definitely the case when it Comes to "Kim No Na Wa", or to give it's english speaking title "Your Name. I first heard about the movie through film critic Mark Kermode who had raved about the film for quite some time. I don't know about you, but hearing so much praise for a movie, even if it is only from a single source can put a dampener on your viewing of that movie - sometimes you are let down because either the person raving about it has an inflated view of the movie or they look for different things in a movie than you do, so your perception of the film will be different. Equally, though the movie might be as good as they said, because they have gone on, and on - and on - about it, you go into the viewing biased one way or the other. I must admit I did go into viewing this film worried this may happen. Thankfully it didn't

Following the well trodden body-swap trope used regularly in the teen movies of Hollywood (such movies as Freaky Friday, 13 Going On 30 come to mind) Your Name manages to bring something new to the table. Often with these films, the two people who swap bodies know each other somehow - such as being mother and daughter in both Freaky Friday movies. In this film the protagonists have no idea who or even where they are when they swap. This adds an intriguing dimension given that initially they have to find these things out before they can start discovering the main question of why it is happening. The other marked difference is that the swap only happens while they are asleep - therefore they also have an impact on the others life, with immediate impact on the other person. Meaning they have to work out how to live without making changes to many changes the others life while they are there. 

From the way the trailers play out, it can be easy to invisinge this movie to be romantic in nature, and while there are indeed elements of this in the film, I would say anyone seeing it for that reason maybe slightly disappointed as it is to my mind far more of a film about discovery than anything romance.

It would therefore be wrong of me to say much more than that. This is wonderfully directed movie by Makoto Shinkai, who manages to capture the same beauty as his previous masterpiece 5 Centimeters Per Second, all while bringing something unique to the table.

A movie is only as good as it's ending, and I can certainly say that this movie has one of the most satisfying open ended endings going. It really is a movie one should, and must see!

Xpand Laces Review

There are a lot of normally two-handed tasks that over time I have learned how to achieve by using only my one working hand, but very occasionally there comes a task which I find completely impossible to achieve with one hand. One such job is tying shoelaces. Sure, there are quite a few one-handed techniques for accomplishing the task out there, but if you take a closer look most of them are only achievable if you have strength in either your other arm (ie taking the "one-handed" term literally, and is only useful for amputees.) or in both of your legs. 

Added to this the need to buy certain shoes in order to put a raise on the left shoe (ie shoes with flat soles which can easily be sliced off.) which rarely come with fastening that is easier and securer than laces, I'm pretty much screwed.

Therefore, over the last few years, I have been trying out various so-called "no tie" shoelaces. 

Greeper Laces

I started out trying Greeper Laces, these looked good as they appear like normal laces. The problem was that the device that replaces the actual tying of the laces is only really designed for ease of unlacing, as opposed to lacing and unlacing., though I could just about make my shoes tight by contorting my fingers, I could never really get them tight enough.  

The other issue was that to fit the laces, you needed to cut the laces at the bottom and secure them with a knot, and a clip to cover them ( as seen in video below.

This not only means once you've secured them you are stuck with the choices you have made, but you also need to get someone to do it for you. (and then explain how to tie them.) So I was quickly looking for a replacement.

Hickies

It is hard to describe exactly what Hickies are, so please watch this video

On paper, these looked perfect, no tying, plus I could easily fit them myself. But unfortunately, I found these didn't live up to expectations. Before I explain why I should add the caveat that of course these were not designed with AFO's in mind, and therefore they can be forgiven somewhat for the first issue, which was they were not as adaptable as I would have hoped. I'd have to link two or more together to get my left shoe lose enough. However, my biggest gripe is that after about 3 months they would begin to snap, and this would be on my right foot, where there would be no extra strain. Though the pack you bought would have some spares, you would quickly run out - and at around £15 a pack, they are not cheap!

QuickShoeLace

I was recommended QuickShoeLace by my cousin who works as an Occupational Therapists, but yet again they looked great in theory. One thing I came to realise with all these products was, though they had thought about the fastening of the show, the other thing they should have put more thought into is the securing at the opposite end. Much like the Greeper Laces, QuickShoeLace secured itself by way of a knot at the bottom. The annoying and frustrating thing, however, is that as it came out of the tin, this shoelace had almost the perfect stopper. Unfortunately, as with the Greeper, you have to cut to size, therefore making that stopper irrelevant. If they had somehow engineered a proper stopper this could very well have been a contender. 

There was one other aspect that ruled this one out. Again, I must repeat the previous caveat I made about Hickies, they were not designed to get around AFO's. However, there is a general issue with all elastic based laces and that is they often have too tight a fit. When you are dealing with getting over something cumbersome like an AFO, you want something that is adjustable, so the shoe can be easily put on, but then can easily stay on as well. The QuickShoeLace did allow for this, except that the ring, which isn't something you can tighten, would slip off because the lace wasn't taught enough. Infact this would occur in both shoes, and usually at the most inopportune time.

Xpand Shoelaces

So we finally come to the Xpand Shoelaces. These laces are probably the closest thing you could get to proper laces. They are threaded exactly the same way as normal laces, the only difference being that instead of needing to be tied, they have a clasp which holds both ends in place at the top. It is up to you whether you have the lace ends discreetly hidden inside, or hanged down on the outside. Like the QuickShoeLace you do have to trim them to fit, they do recommend wearing them tied for the first few days to make sure of the fit but this wasn't an option for me. I must admit giving the issues I had with the previous laces this did worry me, but actually, I needn't have been. As, Xpand allow you to have them extended slightly, so if I found them initially to lose, it wouldn't have been too hard adjusting them. Saying this, as I got the fit right pretty much the first time I haven't yet tested how easy it is to unfasten these laces. 

If like me, you do choose to have the fastening on the outside, because the lace is looped around, it isn't noticeable that you are wearing anything unusual unless someone looks closely, which for me is huge. The biggest thing, however, is that they have thought through every little detail, including creating tabs which you can place on the end of the laces once they have been trimmed down, enabling longevity and decent appearance. 

At the moment the only downsides I can currently see are, firstly, not being able to fit them myself, and having to ask a friend to accomplish this for me. Secondly, at £9-10 they are not as cheap as normal laces, but then again none are - and these are pretty much the cheapest you will find. Therefore I recommend these to any person with similar impairments to mine. You can buy these off Amazon below.

Anime TV Review: ReLife

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I would suspect that for the majority of us the idea of returning to our teenage years would be our idea of a nightmare, and probably given the chance we would decline. But that is exactly what the protagonist of ReLife - a twenty-seven-year old NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training.) called Arata Kaizaki is offered. Effectively having dropped out of society Kaizaki instead jumps at the chance, and is soon re-entering school as a seventeen-year-old.

I am relatively new to anime TV, the other series I’ve seriously watched are Fairy Tail, both iterations of Fullmetal Alchemist and Death Note. The reason I am stating this is because it became obvious watching this series that there are a couple of cultural differences between western and Japanese cultures that are perhaps important to grasp when watching ReLife. For instance at one point I got a little confused when Kaizaki said that he’d been at school a month, but it was May 1st. (Japanese school years apparently start in April.) Then of course there’s the fact that doing well I’m class goes hand-in-hand with popularity - this, of course I had picked up watching early episodes of Death Note, but it is still something important to register when watching ReLife.

 

The first two thirds of ReLife simply play around with the conceit of the initial idea of a twenty-seven year returning to High School. Looking the part, but with the mind, knowledge and experience of an adult. Such as the awkwardness of interacting with High School girls and the like. But it is in the last third where is gets interesting. At this point the events occurring at the High School start to uncover things in Kaizaki’s past which empower him to not only deal with what went on, but how to support the teenagers around him that have now become his friends. 

The fact this change happens so late in the proceedings frustrates me, as it is at this point that I feel the series hits its stride, it’s got through the set up and is now running with it. It just ends too soon.

As many anime series it is based upon a Manga. In this case it is based on the first 100 chapters of a manga that I believe is still going on. I’m unsure how many chapters have now be published, but it is evident there is far more story to tell. We are going to have four more episodes in 2018, but I personally feel there is way more mileage here, so wonder not only why they are not carrying it on further, but also how on Earth they are going to wrap it up so quickly without shortchanging all of the characters. I will wait and see what they pull off before making my final judgement, but I must confess to being apprehensive.

 

Overall ReLife is a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking series, I just hope it gets the send off it deserves.