Film Review: The Keeper of Lost Causes

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 28 Aug 2014

The tropes of the grizzled detective drama just don’t get old, do they? As the ongoing proliferation of Scandinavian crime thrillers shows, audiences just aren’t tired of browbeaten alcoholic cops struggling against their demons to crack that elusive case. Show the rest of this post…

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret in its native Danish), adapted from Jussi Adler-Olsen’s novel, features another one. And you know what? It still works.

That cop is Carl, played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas, a curmudgeonly detective whose decision in the opening scene of the film causes him to lose his detective’s badge and be consigned to the police station’s basement, where he’ll be tasked with closing and filing old cases. A lot of old cases. There he meets his new partner Assad (Fares Fares), who is well meaning and good natured. Naturally, they clash.

Carl’s job is supposed to entail simply tieing up and filing the cases, but his attention is drawn to the mysterious suicide case of a politician, Merete (Sonja Richter), which he believes was never adequately closed. He’s right, of course; there’s something amiss, and he and Assad get drawn deeper and deeper into finding out what happened, while their bosses aren’t best please with what they’re up to.

Kaas and Fares prove a likeable and believable pair of leads. The film is pretty dark for most of its runtime, but the two of them have an endearing odd couple act which works nicely. Nor does Carl’s drinking and unbelievably surly attitude – Assad points out about half way through that he’s never seen him smile – ever fall over into charicature. It’s in the performances of the two leads that the film really shines. The mystery itself is well staged and involving, but feels a little more run of the mill – more reminiscent of previous entries in the genre.

The film is directed by Mikkel Norgaard, who has worked on the Borgen TV series, but it’s pleasantly cinematic and avoids feeling like an extended TV special. A mention, too, for the soundtrack, which is effectively understated and adds weight to the plot.

There’s a gag in here about ex-cops writing crime novels – a playful nod to the explosion of interest in the genre, particularly stories of Scandinavian origin, though this author actually wasn’t a police officer. Norgaard’s adaptation brings to life the latest in a long line of embattled detectives with confidence and efficiency. There are one or two eleme nts that don’t quite work – in particular some of the flashback scenes, and the rushed ending – but overall it’s another compelling Nordic mystery to unravel.

3/5

Photographer Stephanie Noritz captures life off the field of a high school sports team

Posted in Art, Photography
By Sam Bathe on 25 Aug 2014

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Capturing the life of two high school sports teams away from the sports field, New York-based photographer Stephanie Noritz visited a high school in Brooklyn to tell the stories and emotions of the young sportsmen. Show the rest of this post…

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Check out more of Stephanie’s photographer on her site: www.stephanienoritz.com

Film Review: Lucy

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 22 Aug 2014

Often, a film can live or die based on how seriously it takes itself. How many times do we see self importance suck the life out of a project, or a film which lacks the daring to stick to its guns and follow an idea through? Lucy is far from a perfect film, but it does at least know what it is, and what it is trying to do. Show the rest of this post…

Scarlett Johansson stars as Lucy, a young traveller who, through no real fault of her own, pretty much immediately finds herself in the clutches of a gang lord played by Choi Min-sik, probably still best known in the West for Oldboy. Before we know it, Lucy has a stomach full of designer drugs. She’s to be a mule, or so her captors think, until she’s roughed up and the bag splits, filling her body with performance enchancing blue crystals.

It’s a high-concept thriller based, as so many of them are, on a single idea. In this case: what would happen if human beings could use the whole power of their brains, as opposed to just the 10% which the film takes to be ‘average’. Never mind the debatable veracity of that figure: for the purposes of the film, the average human uses 10% of their brain, and Lucy finds that she can use increasingly more of hers.

The film is pacy and doesn’t outstay its welcome. The only real character is Lucy, with a couple of supporting roles for Morgan Freeman, as a scientist whose primary role is to (literally) give an expository lecture on brain usage theory, and Amr Waked, as a police officer. Lucy is the focal point, and her presence remains likable and mostly convincing thanks to a charismatic and sensitive lead performance from Scarlett Johansson, who makes the whole thing more plausible than it has any right to be.

Lucy is more of a thriller than an action movie, despite what the trailer wants us to believe. Indeed, having seen the trailer, I went in expecting a knock-off of various action movies from the last decade or so, but was relieved to find that Lucy is much less derivative than it was sold to us. By the time the minimalist plot runs out of steam and goes all sorts of barmy, the thing wraps itself up and doesn’t give us time to ask too many questions.

It’s an interesting thriller, a good role for Johansson, and the most interesting thing Luc Besson has directed in years. It wo uld be a stretch to call it smart, but it isn’t stupid either, and Besson is sensible enough to allow the film to sprint with its idea until starts to get tired, and then stop.

3/5

Photographer Emma Hartvig uses food in unusual ways in her photography

Posted in Art, Photography
By Sam Bathe on 21 Aug 2014

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A recent graduate from the London College of Communication, photographer Emma Hartvig already has shows in New York, Amsterdam and Sweden to her name. Using texture and light to create a very sensual feeling to her images, Emma also uses food in unusual ways to display her message. Show the rest of this post…

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Check out more of Emma’s photography on her site: www.emmahartvig.com

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are back in business together in comedy short ‘Barely Legal Pawn’

Posted in Film, Short Films, TV
By Sam Bathe on 21 Aug 2014

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Produced to promote the Primetime Emmy Awards this Sunday, after their exploits in Breaking Bad, Emmy-winning actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul go back into business together, this time running a pawn shop. Barely Legal Pawn sees Julia Louis-Dreyfus drop into the store, hoping to strike a deal for her ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Seinfeld Emmy. Sharply written and filled with satire, the short is a great idea rather than a traditional commercial to build anticipation for the event this weekend.

Adidas celebrate 20 years of their iconic Predator series with the limited edition Revenge Instinct 94

Posted in Sport
By Sam Bathe on 20 Aug 2014

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Celebrating 20 years of Adidas’ iconic Predator boot series, the German manufacturer have released the celebrated first model. Part of the Revenge Pack re-releases, the Predator Revenge Instinct 94 updates the original heavy design for a slick upper body while maintaining the Predator Instinct control frame and extended tongue that gave the boots their classic look. Limited edition of just 1,825 pairs, the Adidas Predator Revenge Instinct 94 boots are priced at £260 available from Pro-Direct Soccer and select online retailers: http://www.prodirectsoccer.com/responsive/adidas/revenge/adidas-limited-edition-predator-revenge-pack-football-boots-1994-accelerator-mania.aspx

Nobumichi Asai’s remarkable real-time facial projection mapping project pushes the boundaries of technology

Posted in Art, Design, Technology
By Sam Bathe on 19 Aug 2014

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Pin-pointing the shape, size and contours of the model’s face, plus tiny dots to aid the camera, Nobumichi Asai’s remarkable project maps and projects in real-time onto her face. Using incredibly precise light projects, Nobumichi is able to digitally alter the model’s face as she moves around in the 3D space, a first for such complexity while using this technique. For more from Nobumichi, head to his site: www.nobumichiasai.com

Jason Reitman looks at how technology has changed our relationships in the multi-generational ‘Men, Women & Children’

Posted in Film, Previews, Trailers
By Sam Bathe on 19 Aug 2014

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His fourth film in six years, writer/director Jason Reitman continues his rapid run of movies with drama, Men, Women & Children. Starring Rosemarie DeWitt, Judy Greer, Ansel Elgort, Emma Thompson and an Adam Sandler still hoping to prove Punch-Drunk Love wasn’t a one-off, the film explores how the internet has changed the way a group of high school teenagers and their parents see themselves and interact with one another. After the tonal shifts between Reitman’s recent films, it will be interesting to see where Men, Women & Children falls when it hits theatres later this year.

Talisco go on a gorgeous road trip in the video for new single ‘Your Wish’

Posted in Music, Music Videos
By Sam Bathe on 18 Aug 2014

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On the run, on the road and in the pool, Talisco take in the stunning landscapes of the USA in the video for their new single, Your Wish. Directed by Zack Spiger and Matt Larson, the video is beautifully shot on KODAK Motion Picture Film and wonderfully graded. Against lush cinematography, the track is full of pace and this is a hugely impressive collaboration. Talisco’s debut album, Run, is out now.

The London List Review: Weekend getaway at Homewood Park Hotel & Spa, BathThe London List

Posted in Hotels, London, London List
By Sam Bathe on 18 Aug 2014

Set within 10 acres of gorgeous parkland and gardens, Homewood Park Hotel & Spa is the perfect, peaceful escape from the city. Show the rest of this post…

Location

Situated six miles outside of the historic city of Bath, Homewood Park is a short drive away from the centre of town. By train, Bath Spa is just an hour and a half from London, plus a quick taxi ride to the hotel or a connecting train to nearby Freshford.

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Bath

Homewood Park is set against the beautiful Limpley Stoke valley but the real draw of the area is of course, Bath. A world-famous spa town, Bath has heritage and history around every corner. From the Royal Crescent and Bath Stone buildings to the museums, theatres and great restaurants, Bath is a hugely romantic city and perfect for both couples and families.

Rooms

Homewood Park has the character of a country farmhouse. Big, homely antique furniture and wood-burning fires in the drawing room make you feel right at home and the charm continues into the rooms.

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The hotel offers 21 individually-designed bedrooms, all with views out onto across the gardens. Our bed was supremely plush and we were out in seconds for a fantastic night’s sleep.

At the end of the bed was a daybed, perfect for getting ready or relaxing in the room, while there was also a large flatscreen TV and desk in case you need to catch up on emails.

Bathroom

Our bathroom was recently renovated with modern fittings and a great shower/bath. The long countertop either side of a big basin was perfect for two people getting ready and a plentiful supply of bathroom products was a real plus too.

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Spa

The spa is undoubtedly the hotel’s jewel in the crown. Free to access for all guests, the spa boasts an outdoor heated swimming pool and indoor hydrotherapy pool, plus sauna and steam room. After a few minutes with a book or relaxing in the pool, all your worries will be gone.

Though the spa doesn’t offer a couples room, two solo treatment rooms and an extensive list of massage treatments, facials, wraps, manicures and pedicures are all available.

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Restaurant

Homewood Park’s restaurant, The Tides, occupies one of the larger rooms on the ground floor. Tables and booths are spread comfortably to allow privacy to dining guests, treated to Head Chef Wojciech Nowalka’s Modern English menu. To start we had the Pan Seared Langoustine, Pork Belly And Apricot Terrine and Caraway and the Sauté Scallop, Creamed leek, Samphire and Béchamel, both of which were excellent. The 6oz Beef Fillet, Mushroom Duxelles, Truffle Pomme Purée and Spinach was more than impressive for main course too, plus some great thick cut chips on the side.

However, the real star of the show was our sensational desert. The Banana Mousse, Roasted White Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Caramelised Banana was unique, clever and utterly delicious, with the thick mousse cut to hold its shape like segments of real banana. The roasted white chocolate was the icing on the cake, cutting through the tart mouse with a moorish, sweet flavour.

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Venue

Homewood Park Hotel & Spa holds a civil marriage or partnership ceremony license and can be booked exclusively for weddings and events. The property boasts three function rooms and can cater for weddings of up to 150 guests, spilling out on to the terrace and private grounds.

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Verdict

Homewood Park Hotel & Spa is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway within the UK. Nearby Bath is a romantic and interesting compact city, with much to do and explore within a relatively small town centre, although you’ll want at least a day to relax and crash out at the spa too.

The homely rooms and shared space were effortlessly welcoming, while fantastic food at the restaurant rounded off a fantastic experience. This is a place to be pampered and get away from the stresses and strains of life in the city.

FAN THE FIRE is a digital magazine about lifestyle and creative culture. Launching back in 2005 as a digital publication about Sony’s PSP handheld games console, we’ve grown and evolved now covering the arts and lifestyle, architecture, design and travel.

We’ve been featured on the front page of Reddit and produced off-shoot club night Friday Night Fist Fight, launched a Creative Agency and events column The London List.

FAN THE FIRE is edited by founder, Creative Director and Editor-in-Chief, Sam Bathe. Site by FAN THE FIRE Creative.

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