Monday, 23 February 2009

Film Review: Taken

Director: Pierre Morel

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen

If your after a multi-dimensional plot full of twists and turns then this probably isn't going to be a film for you. In fact, this film synopsis can be very easily summarised in one manageable sentence.

Daughter gets kidnapped, father (and ex-CIA agent of course...) spends entire film shooting, punching, electrocuting and just about every other unspeakable thing to bag guys in a bid to get her back.

Ok so maybe that sentence doesn't roll off the tongue but you get the idea.

Its important to stress that this is certainly an easy watch and can't be taken too seriously. Which is a shame as its from the same writing team who brought us Leon, a film which managed to be a shoot'em'up and heart rendering at the same time. Taken though couldn't be more different.

The script is not a strong one. The dialogue is at best acceptable, and Liam Nesson puts in a respectable performance, but with so many descrepancies and loose ends never tied up, you can't help but think about what was happening five minutes ago rather than following with the narrative.

It also is seems really rushed in places. Kim (the daughter played by Maggie Grace) runs around like a spoilt five year old from what little we see of her in the opening scenes, that when it comes to her being kidknapped I don't actually care. It just doesn't seem to have been thought through. Surely you would build up the person who is at the centre of the story! Ransom is an excellent example of how to do this effectively.

Thankfully, the action sequences to an extent make up for the hole filled plot. The fights are so real its as if your in them and being punched and kicked as well. But there was so much violence caused by Neeson's character, its difficult to be able to fully back him in his attempts to find his daughter. Can we really support someone who has brutally killed 100 or so people?

All in all this is an ok watch if you switch your brain off, and as long as your into blood, guts, guns and gratuitous violence then generally this is 90 minutes well spent.


Thursday, 19 February 2009

Review: The Brit Awards 2009

Ah yes, the Brits. The awards ceremony which is supposed to represent the pinnacle in British and international music. And in fairness, it terms of who was performing and present at the show, this was a very British affair. Certainly an improvement on the internationally dominated affairs of previous years. But the ceremony just came across too cheesy, and at times was truly cringe worthy.

Lets start with the positives, and the majority of the live performances were brilliant. The Kings of Leon were excellent, Duffy was pitch perfect and Take That stand out although I strongly suspect they mimed. There were, sadly, some exceptions (I'm looking at you Ting Tings and Estelle), but on the whole these were the highlights of the evening.

Unfortunately the rest seemed just too tacky to be taken seriously as the highlight of the British music year.

Kylie and co generally did a good job of hosting. But some crash and burn one liners and constant unnecessary references to Craig David often let them down.

Meanwhile how the presenters of the awards were chosen is mysterious to say the least. They were either incredibly famous (and more importantly music related) or personalities who simply looked lost and out of place.

Joe Calzaghe, a true sporting great, couldn't even remember what award he was presenting when being interviewed backstage, Jamie Cullum looked utterly dour while presenting Best British Male, and actor Nic Frost came out and said he didn't like live music...and then presented the Best Live Act award. At least guys like Sir Tom Jones and Lionel Richie were around to pick up the pieces.

The worst kind of crash and burn television though was the horrifically awful backstage segment sfronted by Ferne Cotton. I know you've got to fill time during these things, but this left a lot to be desired. Flanked by a plastic foliage and backed by a tacky caravan, Ferne's interviewing technique consistently came up short, a typical segment went as follows:

FC: How are you?
Interviewee: Fine.
FC: Are you having a good night?
Interviewee: Yes.

Ask open ended questions and you might get longer answers! Surely she does this all the time on her radio show and at places like Glastonbury?

All in all though, it was a solid live show, but let down by the chaos and just about everything else that was going on around it.

Verdict: 6 out of 10

Monday, 16 February 2009

Profile: Jillian Drouin

The British University Championships in Sheffield represent the pinnacle of varsity sport. With over 24 sports taking place and over 5,000 athletes involved in competing, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Matthew Kiernan caught up with one of Bournemouth’s top medal prospects, Canadian heptathlete Jillian Drouin.

To fight to the finish and never give up. That’s the attitude of Jillian Drouin, Bournemouth’s highly rated multi-eventer. Last year proved to be the Canadian’s best season of her career, but after also simultaneously facing the anguish of missing out on qualification for the Beijing Olympics by the smallest of margins, she almost walked away from the sport altogether. Now though Drouin is back stronger than ever, and has London 2012 firmly in her sights, and hopes that the Indoor Championships in Sheffield later this month, is the first step to her achieving her Olympic dream.

Drouin has already enjoyed unprecedented success in varsity athletics, across the Atlantic in her native Canada. While representing Syracuse College she won back to back Eastern Universities titles in the heptathlon in 2007-8. In the process, she also recorded an Olympic B qualifying standard of 5,890 points, agonisingly close to the A standard 6,000 mark needed to automatically qualify for Beijing. Unfortunately for Drouin, she would ultimately just miss out on selection.

“At the time, it was a big disappointment”, said the 21 year-old. “But it was also a big jump up in points, and it was a real improvement for me, so I’ve got to be happy.” Such optimism is pleasing to see after what could have been a potentially fatal blow and cause some athletes to leave the sport completely. Not Jillian though. Despite not being at the Games and having to watch fellow countrywoman Jessica Zelinka power to 5th place in the heptathlon, Drouin is now targeting London in three years time. “My goal is definitely 2012. I want to reach for it. It was tough not being in China, but now I’m more determined than ever to get there.”

Having arrived in Bournemouth in September to pursue a chiropractic career at the Anglo European Chiropractic College at Lansdowne, Drouin took a cautious approach when returning to training. “I took three months off in the autumn, to settle down, get my studies in order and adjust to living in a new country. But it was also to recover after such a demanding

 season. The heptathlon is so demanding, you can only ever do three or four competitions a year.”     

Things also haven’t been easy in terms of re-locating. New students are almost always accustomed to swapping cities to move here to Bournemouth; Drouin though also had to swap continents. But while some may miss the traditional home comforts like television and home cooking, Drouin misses something else, namely her political activism. “I do miss being active like I was at Syracuse. Obviously there was a lot going on with George Bush was President, as a lot of people disagreed with what he was doing. But I still keep up with the latest while here.”

Now though the Canadian is fully settled. Having based herself at Kings Park athletics stadium in Boscombe, training has been going well and is injury free. During her three-month break she has also been part of the university basketball team, who currently lie in third place in their division one conference. “It was tough starting up again, but I’ve been steadily getting back into it and things have been going well. Competing in multi-events is so different and your always prone to injuries, so that was part of the reason for why for not committing to 2012 right away, as it takes a lot of work and commitment to get there.”

This is an important factor. Britain’s number one decathlete Dean Macey retired last year after battling with injuries for over a decade. Olympic heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft is now just concentrating on single disciplines because of injury worries. With a history of tendonitis and previous sprained ankles already in her career, Drouin may also follow suit. “I have thought about stopping heptathlon and specialising in high jump. Its certainly my fav

ourite event and enjoy the most. I started out as a high jumper before switching to multi-events so to return to it is always a possibility.” For now though, the heptathlon will continue to be Drouin’s event of choice. 

With no multi-events available at the BUCS Championships in Sheffield, Drouin will be having a busy time over the two-day event, as she’ll be competing in no less than five events; the 60 metres, 60m hurdles, high jump, long jump and shot putt. But ever the professional, she’s not fazed at the challenge before her. “For indoor competition it’s always hard to predict. You always look to peak for the outdoor season and use the indoors as a comparison. At this time of the year, I would just like to be in decent shape. Obviously I’m going to try and win as many of the events as possible. I’ll just be happy if I’m at the same level that I was last summer.”

With such confidence and self-belief, it would be hard to bet against her.

The BUCS Championships will be held in Sheffield between the 11th-15th March. The indoor athletics will be held over the weekend.

Note: This is set to be published in Spring edition of The Wire and on

Photos taken by Jeff Chui and Rich Predoncelli

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Facebook Debate

Facebook has taken over the world. Surely this is just stating the obvious?

Now though the social networking site is causing a furore on campus at Bournemouth University after an official motion for a blanket campus ban is set for discussion at the latest Union General Meeting.

The debate is likely to be a fierce one, after all, this is the site that provides the staple diet of student's daily lives.

I for one, think this could be the ideal opportunity to rid Facebook from the campus for good as its largely counter productive for being available.

At the end of the day, we've all been there. With a few hours in hand between lectures, you need to find a computer to work on an essay or tackle some group work.

The likelihood is that you'll be unsuccessful in finding one available, especially in the peak hours from 10am-2pm.

Most people put this down to the lack of PC's on campus as a whole. A valid point. But what is even more frustrating is the sheer volume of students that aren't even doing work, but updating their status or messing around looking at drunken photos from the previous night.

If you ban this possibility altogether then this would surely put off people from dossing around and actually encourage them to do some work! Goodness forbid. Its not as if we're University students or anything...

The problem is also in classrooms of course. I can recall numerous occassions when a workshop in a computer room has had to be halted because a lecturer has had to tell people to exit the site.

Despite this though, a blanket ban is not the right way forward. Manchester University may have gone down this route, but Bournemouth shouldn't follow suit.

There are students who don't have Internet access at home and solely rely upon the use of the Internet on campus. It wouldn't be right to remove this access.

What Bournemouth should do is have dedicated Facebook computers. How about banning it from the library (a place of work after all?) and making it solely available in the Open Access Centre?

Or how about banning it from classrooms (where the problem persists) and keeping it available everywhere else?

Its a complicated issue, and one that is sure to reach boiling point when the UGM on Thursday comes around.

Monday, 9 February 2009

TV project - 2012 grass roots Olympics