ALL THINGS BEING UNEQUAL

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Denzel Washington is a very likeable actor. He usually manages to lift things that he appears in that would be rather pedestrian without him. The Equalizer, loosely based on the Edward Woodward TV show of the 1980s, reunites Washington with director Antoine Fuqua. He plays Robert McCall, a man with a very menial job but a secret past that implies that he was some sort of special forces operative. So when he gets sucked in to helping a young girl who is under the control of evil Russian gangsters, McCall is forced to call upon his previous skills. Washington is watchable as ever but The Equalizer is basically  a very conventional revenge thriller. It’s entertaining in a very over-the-top way while you are watching it but none of it stays with you once you leave the cinema. The rest of the cast are pretty forgettable including Chloe Grace Moretz as Teri, the girl who forces McCall to utilise his previous skills, and it’s also far too long (over the two hour mark). If you like Denzel Washington, then you’ll enjoy The Equalizer. But don’t come to it with particularly high expectations…

WATCH THE BIRDIE

birdie-conf-pic#1-13th-sept-2014 birdie-conf-13th-sept-pic#2 birdie-conf-13th-sept-2014-pic#7 birdie-conf-13th-sept-2014-pic#6 birdie-conf-13th-sept-2014-pic#5 birdie-conf-13th-sept-2014-pic#4 birdie-conf-13th-sept-2014-pic#3Last Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural Birdie Conference, which took place in Shoreditch. Celebrating photography, the conference was organised by photographer Dan Rubin and events company White October and hosted a series of speakers connected to the world of photography (except perhaps my friend Stevyn Colgan who was there to put a different spin on the history of photography in his capacity as regular contributor to TV’s QI and Museum of Curiosity on the radio). I missed the first two talks but the rest were well worth listening to. Music photographer Katja Ogrin gave us a little bit of an insight into the world of music photography, a world she can talk about with authority. Next we had Naomi Korn, a copyright expert to try and get us to think about the many pitfalls and problems to consider as a photographer. Taking us up to lunch was photographer Conor MacNeill, who shoots amazing pictures of the night sky and shared some of his spectacular photos of places like the Northern Lights in Iceland. We broke for lunch and then we were treated to Stevyn Colgan’s entertaining alternative history of photography. Then film stills photographer Agatha A. Nitecka gave us a glimpse into the world she works in, that of the movie photographer who captures images from films while there being shot. Finally we had Chris Wild aka the Retronaut, a man who curates the past through unearthing photographs. It was a genuinely interesting day and it made me reenergised about photography. It was great to chat to people of like minds and hopefully they’ll be doing another one. I am hoping that if they do, I may get to do my own presentation about being a journalist photographer…

MAGIC MOMENTS?

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Despite being well into his seventh decade, Woody Allen continues to make a film every year. They aren’t all memorable (for every Blue Jasmine, there’s a Small Time Crooks). So in 2014 we have Magic in The Moonlight, a light drama starring Colin Firth as stage magician and professional debunker Stanley who is brought in by friend Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) to unmask young medium Sophie (played by Emma Stone). The thing with Woody Allen is that he is wildly inconsistent but Magic In the Moonlight, set in 1928 mainly in the South of France, is no classic but thanks to Allen’s usually sharp script, a beautiful setting and some extremely likeable performances from Colin Firth and the gorgeous Stone, who is a pretty decent actress, this film ticks all the right Allen boxes. It doesn’t have the dramatic heft of its predecessor Blue Jasmine but Magic in the Moonlight is a pleasant enough confection. At the age of 79, it’s impressive  to see that Woody Allen is still driven to make movies and his latest is a worthy enough addition to his canon. If you like Woody Allen, you’ll like this…

RETURN TO OZ

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2014 is the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz and so the film has been rereleased in 3D. I don’t need to spend much time on the plot here as I’m pretty sure that everyone on the planet has seen it (Dorothy finds herself in the magical land of Oz after a twister hits her town) but it is nice to see it out there again. The opening sequence, where we are introduced to Dorothy and the three main players in Oz has been restored to its sepia glory and it is a pleasure to see Victor Fleming’s film on the big screen. However the 3D lends nothing to proceedings and perhaps it may have been better if they hadn’t added the 3D to it. So nice to see on a big screen but it would have been improved if it was just a restored version rather than a 3D one…