What a mesmerising, gripping, insightful and thought provoking film, and one that has been saved for the perfect moment, autumn 2012.

Seriously….I can not recommend this film enough. My colleague was correct when she said it’s a brilliant film! The film, based on a true story, is shot beautifully and very sympathetic to the situation that was in place at that time. I especially loved the history lesson at the beginning, which also seems to be shared by one of my law school friends, Zoha. While it is around 2 hours, its definitely not a ‘Twilight’ experience (as per my review below). This film does not drag, but instead keeps the viewer gripped right in the centre of the film and in their seats. The length is just right, and you couldn’t ask for a better cast with the likes of Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin. Ben Affleck gave a solid performance in his character role of being the ‘rescuer’ if it were (I know, I’m probably not using the correct word), and the suspense created throughout the film was electrifying. I could feel myself tense up at times, I was completely sucked into the film the action and forgot my surroundings, and the fact that I was actually in a cinema with around 100 other people.

So in summary….three words….’GO WATCH IT!’

If that isn’t enough then just watch the trailer.

 

This is an interesting question, which was recently posed through a contact I have made via Kaliido, a gay social community primarily founded to network with others around the world, without the usual baggage associated with dating sites. Kaliido is a place to get to know one another in a comfortable and relaxed online environment, actually find out about others, share views, gain a broader mindset and further information can be found here.

Now there are many ways that this question can be answered, and I am not going to pretend here that my answer is in anyway the correct one, nor absolute. Being gay and the issue of spirituality falls on a wide spectrum of views, thoughts and beliefs, and hinges particularly on ones religious values. So I am going to tackle this issue the way I was taught by a lecturer from my days at law school, and that is by starting out by looking at definitions. My view is, if you define the words you understand what they mean, can place them in context, and then argue a particular view point depending on how you sit on the issue. But before I do so, I will give my initial view: gay spirituality does exist.

Now many definitions are ascribed to the word ‘gay’, and I am not going to list them all here. Instead I am going to take two definitions from Princeton’s WordNet: ‘having a sexual attraction to persons of the same sex’ and ‘bright and pleasant, promoting a feeling of cheer.’ Against these two definitions I am going to place it in the context of ‘spirituality, the first from Princeton’s WordNet and the other from US National Library of Medicine. The former defines it as ‘incorporeality and heavenly-mindedness’ and the latter, as ‘sensitivity or attachment to religious values, or to things of the spirit as opposed to material or wordly interests.’

On balance it would appear in many ways to contradict with one another. Coming from a Roman Catholic background myself, to have a sexual attract to persons of the same sex, is a mortal sin and is bulwark to its very foundations. On this basis, you can not assign the word ‘gay’ and connect it to spirituality as the two defy each other, especially if you set it in the context of the definition provided by the US National Library of Medicine. However, if you take the definition provided by Princeton’s WordNet, i.e. being gay is ‘bright and pleasant, promoting a feeling of cheer’ then clearly this seems to coincide with what spirituality is all about, ‘a feeling of heavenly-mindedness’, as defined above.

However, perhaps the words are not to be fashioned. Instead it could be a question of merely saying that yes, you are gay i.e. attracted to the same sex, and you are spiritual. These can be deemed as two separate things, you can be both. As they say, being ‘gay’ is just part of who you are, it does not define what you are. Therefore, they can both live together harmoniously. Take me for example, whilst I am gay, and whilst I cannot exactly say I am Roman Catholic, as I am basically cast out from my church, I do believe in a greater being. Whether a great being is real, or just a manifestation to keep people in check and to live their life to the fullest, I do not know. However, I am gay, and I am spiritual when I want to be, and I do consider things greater than myself.

So in summary, yes gay spirituality does exist if you define it broadly. If you define it narrowly however, with a religious slant, then questionably it does not. But ultimately you can be both: you can be a ‘gay’ and you can be ‘spiritual’.

Its ironic, saga is an apt name for this film as it is one that went on and on and on. I in fact chuckled when it ended with the words ‘forever’ appearing on the screen. It felt like forever; that is two hours of my life that I will never get back! Apart from gorgeous Jacob, there was very little to keep me entertained and amused. It was mushy with repeated scenes of kisses between Ed and Bella, and then a mushy ending with a montage of their love story…it got so bad that my stomach started to churn, you know… like when you have a bad bout of norovirus! Yes I haven’t been particularly nice with my description of the film, but alas it is mine. Overall I’d rather stick needles in my eye, but what do I know. Out of 10, well I wont be too harsh…will score it a 5 with the redeeming feature of Taylor Lautner. Scrap that…just buy a pin up of Taylor, put it on your wall etc, be happy and then strip 4 points from my score and overall rating 1/10. That way you get peace and enjoyment at the same time!

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Now this one was a book I picked up one day when amiably walking through Foyles at their Charing Cross branch. I guess the curiosity got the better of me, and before I knew it I was at the till paying for it.

Now I will be frank, it is not the most easiest of reads to get through. It definitely is one to come to read a bit at a time and have some time out from. Truth be told, probably one of the hardest books that i’ve pushed myself through. But nonetheless it is a worthwhile read. Indeed, this is such a fascinating book that shows how one man came from the other side of what we would deem ‘sanity’ and back again, and so on and so forth. Schreber writes his most deepest and inner most thoughts, and as you read you see how intricately and detailed he speaks of his lucid and interrupted states.

If you’ve had an interest in psychosis and psychiatry then this is something to seriously consider. However, do be warned, it is not for the faint hearted, and, as mentioned previously, it is one I found myself struggling to read at times. But if you want to venture in a safe way to the other side, to try an comprehend what it may be like, then it will give you a deeper sense of how we should not judge those with mental illness. Indeed it’s an illness that can afflict us, and silently strike one down. Indeed, as once commented by Ruby Wax on TED, it’s one surrounded with much taboo and one where people don’t bring you flowers, cards and say get well soon; and instead say in a judgemental tone, ‘snap out of it!’ – as if that’s gonna cure you.

So a great book if you want to become more enlightened and challenge your preconceptions and misconceptions on this very sensitive and polarised subject.

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I couldn’t agree more with Stefan Sterns words, director of strategy at Edelman and former FT management columnist. To quote him: “…we need his wise, calm and reasonable voice to put some sense back into the debate on corporate governance.” And boy does Bob Garratt do it.

This book is more so relevant with the recent trials and tribulations that have hit the news over recent months with the News of the World scandal, and most recently with the resignation of George Entwistle at the BBC.

The book sets out in a clear and coherent manner how companies should be governed, what makes good corporate governance, and how companies can prosper by following some key and simple principles. The title of his book, an Ancient Chinese saying, is true, if the people leading the company are allowing the rot to settle in, how can you expect those of your employees to act in the interests of the company, and how can you create shareholder and stakeholder value with the long term viability of a company? One only needs to cite such scandals as Enron, and it’s financial creativity that brought about its demise to the detriment of so many.

If you have an interest in corporate governance this is a definite book for your reading list, and one that should be placed firmly at the top of it. It’s one in which you can form a foundation of knowledge on, and build upwards from.

If you’re not into corporate governance, pick up the book and by the end of it, you will be. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Franzen has written an epic book an one you just won’t want to put down. I loved every minute of it, and have to say a huge thank you to Joseph for making this book recommendation to me.

What will you learn? Well everyone will read it differently and have their own take on things. But the key message that I took away is life is unique, it flexes and freedom is yours and you can shape it by your actions, your inactions and the decisions that you take. I have never read a book which is more real and in tune with our daily lives.

What I love is it characterises life brilliantly in 595 pages, and each page you will savour reading. It shows that life is dysfunctional, that it isn’t a textbook process that you follow. It is real and it’s what you do with it. ‘Freedom’ is a must to read, so go read it. You truly won’t be disappointed.

So in closing, read, read and read some more. Let me know what you think once you have read it, I look forward to hearing your take. ‘Freedom, freedom indeed!’

In the United States people may be frantically voting in the Presidential Election, but for me Tuesday 6 November, my final day of annual leave before returning back to the office, was spent having a cultural day.  No, it’s not a national day, but just a name I attributed from a personal level for the day that was.

First destination – The National History Museum.

Situated between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn Underground stations, I had a pleasant walk along the back streets to the museum having exited for the former tube station.  As opposed to Friday, the footfall on the streets was less as schools have returned back, and therefore it was a more pleasant walk.  Now the museum itself is a magnificent building and apt for the contents contained within.  Now, I like popping in and out of this place from time to time, and I looked at different collections on an ad hoc basis.

Todays visit entailed the room of ‘Enlightenment’, and enlightened I was.  This name attaches itself to the period between the mid 17th century and late 1800s, and one whereby those of the time endeavored to collect, decipher and understand the past.  In the series of connected rooms, you will find works originating from Egypt, China, Greece, from the Roman Empire and the Maya people.  I have to say I was overwhelmed by the creativity of the times, and how delicate objects could be made for finely and with such skill and craftsmanship.

I then headed to the upper floors of the museum to see the collections pertaining to China, both modern and ancient periods, along with the upper floor housing a small and yet an eclectic collection of works originating from Korea.  What impressed me was that such a vast country as China, which has been subjected to periods of social unrest an invasion from outsiders, is the creativity that existed even during these periods.  While people in Great Britain were still beating each other with sticks and living in caves, they were producing near perfect pieces of porcelain that can even meet the high standard achieved by modern day machines.  I was also shocked at the amount of detail that went into these works, along with the vibrancy of colours, that had been very much unrivaled in the western world until such an impasse of time.

 

My second, and final destination for the day – The London Transport Museum. 

This museum is situated in Covent Garden in the main square area surrounding the market place, which is now filled with bars, restaurants, stalls and little shops.  The last time I ventured to this place was a back in 2009, so it was quite nice to have a wonder around, and on this occasion with more time to myself to inspect the exhibits in more detail.

It was a very intriguing journey that started on the upper floors, and descending to the various floors before ground floor level, and seeing how primitive the modes of transport were at the beginning of the 18th and 19th centuries.  Yet over short passage of time, and to date, we have a very comprehensive and fantastic transport system in operation.  We have gone from a point of the majority of people walking to work, and therefore living within walking distance of their work place, and through the evolution of the hackney carriage, stagecoaches and omnibuses, all the way through to modern day times with buses dotting throughout the Capital, the Underground and Overground; just as a handful of example of modes of transport.

It is definitely a place for people to visit, and realise how perseverance, commitment and focus can achieve great things.

So yes overall, a great day of insight, and one in which I learnt quite a lot because I switched off from the main happenings of my main life to see history, read and learn.  It’s very uplifting.  So if you have a spare two hours or so, have a walk around and discover.

This horror film, released this year, direct and written by Michael Bassett is more than a revelation. It is deep, it is dark and most importantly it hits worst nightmares possible. Indeed the creatures and strange characters that are depicted in this film would fit right in with images depicted by the Swiss surrealist, H R Giger, the man behind the series of films – Aliens. More can be found out about him here.

This film is definitely worth watching in 3D, so if you are thinking of skipping paying the little extra to watch it in this format, as opposed to 2D, then don’t. You will be transferred into the film, as opposed to being an observer you’ll feel part of the film.

So if you’re in the mood for a horror then I’d suggest seeing this as you wont be left feeling disappointed. I jumped throughout, and at times turned my eyes away from the screen.

Warning…only view the trailer is you’re not of a weak disposition.

Two preliminary words to say about Sinister, and that is ‘loved it’. This was a great film and one that I did not hold out much for, but that doesn’t detract from what I’ve just said. The film had me gripped from the beginning, with my senses heightened and the fear factor activated inside me!

From the opening scenes I knew this film was going to deliver, and would fulfill all the prerequisites of a horror film: to frighten, bring our most vivid nightmares to fruition, create terror and cause shock and panic. This dark film delivered from scene to scene as the suspense and questions we build up in the back of my minds. I had hairs standing up on the back of my neck and my arms at certain points.

So if you’re in the mood to be horrified, or looking for an excuse into jumping into the lap of the person you fancy and get close to, then you must see this film. If you’re faint hearted, have a heart condition or get easily frightened, then this perhaps isn’t the film for you to watch. I hear they have some animated films showing at the cinema at the moment, and you may find these more suited.

Fifty years may have passed by since the showing of ‘Doctor No’ in October 1962, starring Sean Connery, but the latest Bond film, ‘Skyfall’, shows that Bond has a future ahead and is very much alive and kicking.

While being a fan of both Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan for their portrayals of the fictitious character James Bond, Daniel Craig has demonstrated that he is more than a one hit wonder. Now I have to be honest, I wasn’t very enamored by ‘Casino Royale’ which I found very haphazard at best and at worst…well I had better not say. However, in this latest film, Daniel brought a new spark to the eye of Bond and very much hope he has many more performances ahead. This time he seemed to make the role his own, and actually left an impression, and for his age, well he is looking rather hot!

Overall I’d rate the film 9 out of 10, and very much look forward to what comes next. It was action packed and had me gripped in my seat as the film went on. I loved the new Q, rather dashing with his glasses that would not be out of place in the film ‘A Single Man’, with a vision of the future with James’ Walther PPK. If only we had the technology available to the armed police for, it would ensure that guns could only be used by those licensed to use them. I also liked the nice touch flashing back with a bit of nostalgia with Connery’s Aston Martin used in Goldfinger (if I remember correctly). Yes, it is definitely one to watch, so why are you still here?