Feature One

Blogging about Film, Global Issues, Photography and the Natural World.

By C J Porter
Non-Stop (2014)
Liam Neeson stars in another full blooded action thriller as an air marshal caught up in sudden events upon a passenger jet.
The brilliant Julianne Moore is the supporting actress in this action epic. An actress who was superb in Children of Men (2006).
In One Sentence: Edge of your seat thriller if you pardon the pun.

Non-Stop (2014)

Liam Neeson stars in another full blooded action thriller as an air marshal caught up in sudden events upon a passenger jet.

The brilliant Julianne Moore is the supporting actress in this action epic. An actress who was superb in Children of Men (2006).

In One Sentence: Edge of your seat thriller if you pardon the pun.

12 Years A Slave (2013)

This extraordinary true story of Solomon Northup, the free man abducted and forced into slavery is a brutal, unflinching and powerful historic account .

1841. A gifted violinist and family man living in Saratoga, Solomon Northup (Ejiofor) is lured to Washington, D. C. by two entertainers promising work. Yet after a night of carousing, Northup wakes up in chains and is sold into a life of slavery.

This film will certainly be regarded as one of the all time modern classics and a truly powerful and moving feature.

Steve Mcqueen directs this masterpiece which has a wonderful cast. Mcqueen who has only directed two features before this has really produced a wonderful piece of film. His previous work on Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011) both of which he previously worked with Michael Fassbender, are dark, detailed and graphic, elements of which can be seen in this new feature.

The all star cast who is lead by Chiwetel Ejiofor, known for his work in Love Actually (2003), Children of Men (2006), American Gangster (2007), 2012 (2009) and Salt (2010) is finally given a title role in a major feature which is a long time coming for such a talented british actor.

The supporting cast include the superb Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds (2009), X Men: First Class (2011), A Dangerous Method (2011), Prometheus (2012) and The Counsellor (2013)), Brad Pitt who needs no introduction, Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement (2007), Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011), War Horse (2011), The Hobbit Franchise (2012-2014 and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)), Paul Dano (Cowboys and Aliens (2011), Looper (2012) and Prisoners (2013)) and the brilliant Paul Giamatti (Saving Private Ryan (1998), Planet of the apes (2001), Sideways (2004), Cinderella Man (2005), The Ides Of March (2011) and Saving Mr Banks (2013)). 

In two words: Masterfully gripping

 

 

Faroe Islands Pilot Whale Massacre Exposed by Undercover Activist

While Japan may be in the hot seat with the international community for it’s annual Flipperkilling-spree, recently exposed by this year’s Academy Award winning film The Cove, it is certainly not the only nation guilty of gruesome cetacean massacre. Last week, The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society captured shocking and highly disturbing images of 236 pilot whales brutally slaughtered in the town of Klaksvik in the Danish Faroe Islands. Ah yes, something is indeed very rotten in Denmark.

"An entire pod that once swam freely through the North Atlantic has been exterminated in a single blood bath," stated Sea Shepherd’s Peter Hammarstedt on their website. 

"Unborn babies still attached to their mothers by the umbilical chord had been cut out of their mother’s dead bodies and left to rot on the docks," added Hammarstedt, who photographed several dead pregnant females, infants and fetuses. "Pilot whale groups are strongly matriarchal; I can’t imagine the fear and panic that these mothers must have felt as their families were wiped out in front of them."

"One whale had five to six brutal chops to her head. The islanders basically used her as a chopping board. Her death would have been slow and extremely painful. Some whales are hacked repeatedly for up to four minutes before they finally die."

Furthermore, The international Whaling Commission, the only supposed regulatory governing body of worldwide whaling practices, does not recognize small cetaceans such as the pilot whale, which contrary to it’s name is actually a member of the dolphin family.

When asked what people could do to become actively involved in bringing an end to the senseless thrill kills, Hammarstedt suggested hitting the Faroese in their wallets, a tactic not at all unfamiliar to Captain Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd who are well known for their successful efforts to bankrupt rogue maritime industries including the collapsing Canadian seal hunt and illegal Japanese commercial whaling. Noted Hammarstedt:

Forty thousand people visit the Faroes as tourists every year. There is huge potential for the tourism industry to grow. Iceland gets over half a million tourists a year. It’s a shame for Faroese business that when you do a Google search for the Faroe Islands, images of dolphin slaughter are the first to come up. I would contact the Faroes Tourism Board and state that you won’t travel there until the grind is stopped.
The Railway Man (2013)
A truly compelling and moving feature film that delves into the psychological scarring left on countless prisoners of war who, in parts of the British Empire on the other side of the globe, were forced to work on the railway being built by the occupying Empire of Japan.
What starts as a newly found love between two people on a train abruptly switches to the psychological trauma faced by Eric Lomax and flashes back time and again to the horrific times that he faced including his torture which is horrendously brutal.
A superb cast accompanies this moving picture including Academy award winner Colin Firth (King Speech (2011), Bridget Jone’s Diary (2001) & A Single Man (2009)), Academy award winner Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge (2001), The Interpreter (2005) & Australia (2008)), Jeremy Irvine (War Horse (2011) & Great Expectations (2012)), Stellan Skaarsgard (Good Will Hunting (1997), Bootstrap Bill in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Mamma Mia (2008) & Thor (2011)) & Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai (2003), 47 Ronin (2013) & The Wolverine (2013)). 
Definitely one not to miss.
In one sentence: A superbly told true story that is both moving and brutal.

The Railway Man (2013)

A truly compelling and moving feature film that delves into the psychological scarring left on countless prisoners of war who, in parts of the British Empire on the other side of the globe, were forced to work on the railway being built by the occupying Empire of Japan.

What starts as a newly found love between two people on a train abruptly switches to the psychological trauma faced by Eric Lomax and flashes back time and again to the horrific times that he faced including his torture which is horrendously brutal.

A superb cast accompanies this moving picture including Academy award winner Colin Firth (King Speech (2011), Bridget Jone’s Diary (2001) & A Single Man (2009)), Academy award winner Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge (2001), The Interpreter (2005) & Australia (2008)), Jeremy Irvine (War Horse (2011) & Great Expectations (2012)), Stellan Skaarsgard (Good Will Hunting (1997), Bootstrap Bill in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Mamma Mia (2008) & Thor (2011)) & Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai (2003), 47 Ronin (2013) & The Wolverine (2013)).

Definitely one not to miss.

In one sentence: A superbly told true story that is both moving and brutal.

Nature conservation – why bother? By Jeremy Owen

I used to work as an accountant.  But I increasingly found the world of high finance and profit dispiriting.  So I took two years out to find out what I really wanted to do in my life.  I had already decided to go to Australia and become a backpacker.  But, ever wise, my girlfriend said “why don’t you do something that you’re really interested in while you’re out there – how about getting involved in some environmental projects?”

So I did.  Within a week of leaving my office in London for the last time, I found myself sitting in a small dinghy off the East Coast of Queensland studying humpback whales as an intern with an American whale research foundation.  A couple of months later, after the whales left for Antarctica, I found myself searching for the Hastings River Mouse, one of Australia’s most elusive little creatures.  It was part of an Earthwatch project, supporting the Forestry Commission of New South Wales, to feed into an environmental impact assessment prior to logging.

It transformed my life.  I vowed never to work in an office again, returned to the UK and went back to university to study the nature conservation Master’s course at UCL.  My first degree was geography, which I loved, but seemed to lack a purpose.  My degree in nature conservation helped me to make sense of it all, and at last I could sense a mission in my life – I knew what I wanted to do.

I finished my Master’s degree in the early 1990s at a time of recession.  So I never did get that job working as a nature reserve warden, or studying some exotic species in a far flung location.  I could not really call myself an ecologist – my field knowledge wasn’t up to it – but I did understand where nature fitted into the grander scheme of things.  My strengths were in policy and strategy. 

I ended up working for an environmental consultancy, set up in 1966 by the much celebrated Max Nicholson, who coincidentally had also helped to found the Master’s course at UCL.  I started at the bottom, and worked my way up, and now am fortunate enough to be both a Principal and Director – helping to run a company of passionate individuals – ecologists, planners, landscape designers, landscape planners and managers – people who want to make the world a better place in which to live.  I work with the government and local authorities, statutory agencies and charities.  I understand environmental regulations, and over the years have developed a certain expertise in strategic environmental assessment of plans and programmes.

But twenty years on, my views about nature conservation and why I do it have changed.  I originally became involved because I was concerned about what we, as a species, were doing to this beautiful and remarkable planet.  I wanted to save the world, or at least play my part in it.  I wanted to help to conserve nature and the countryside for its own sake.  I signed up to all sorts of campaigning organisations, including BANC.

Then I heard of the Gaia theory.  I read James Lovelock’s books, and I soon became persuaded.  I began to understand and believe that the Earth is, indeed, a self-regulating entity.  It is how life, the air, the oceans, and the rocks have become so inter-twined that they have formed a powerful force that determines our environment.

Then it began to dawn upon me.  How presumptuous of me, and my fellow humans, to believe that we can save the planet.  The planet doesn’t need saving.  It will continue quite happily long after we have gone, just as it did when the meteors hit it and the volcanoes roared and flowed all over the globe, and just as it did when dinosaurs became extinct (and let’s face it, they were around a lot longer than us).

No, the planet is absolutely fine.  Of course, climates will change, species will come and go, whether or not we humans are around.  We may accelerate things a bit, and there is no doubt that there are too many of us living or wanting to live lifestyles that are simply impossible to maintain for more than a few generations.  There will be disheartening and upsetting events, catastrophes and disasters, famines and floods.  There always have been, there always will be, and they will break our hearts.

Yes, this is about us.  It is about the human species.  Many of us working in conservation did so because, as children and young adults, we had a love of nature – some of us were fascinated by the plants and the trees.  Others fell more for the birds, the butterflies, or the mammals.  Some even preferred bugs, worms and snails.  It was only when this initial wonderment and fascination turned into one of fear and shock about how we are treating this very special place, that we began to realise it was all under threat.

And this, in turn, meant we began to question what effect this will have on the planet and ultimately us.  Not only did we become concerned that there would be no birds to watch, no butterflies to flutter by, and fewer and fewer wildflowers to admire.  We began to wonder whether this would mean that the very ecological functions that they perform will begin to break down.  Would we have enough water?  Would it be fit to drink?  Would our soils become useless and our crops unable to pollinate?  Would we lose the spiritual nourishment that nature provides?  We began to fear that our physical and emotional well-being were under threat.

So I have come to realise that nature conservation is important.  In fact, it is essential.  But it is not because we need to save the planet.  It is because we need to save us from ourselves.

Jeremy Owen.

Noah (2014)
Starring the Academy award winner, Russell Crowe (Gladiator (2000), The Insider (1999), A beautiful mind (2001) & Cinderellla Man (2005)) to name but a few.
The film has a wonderful cast including Sir Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the lambs (1991), The Mask of Zorro (1998), Thor (2011) & Hitchcock (2012)). It also includes Ray Winstone (Quadrophenia (1979), Beowulf (2007) &  The Sweeney (2012)), Jennifer Connelly (Also; A Beautiful Mind (2001) & The day the earth stood still (2008)) and Emma Watson (Harry Potter franchise).
This feature looks epic on a biblical scale…ok i couldn’t help it. However it genuinely looks phenomenal and should be a huge blockbuster. This really is a film at the beginning of humanity.
In two words: Biblical blockbuster
(UK Release: 28th March 2014)

Noah (2014)

Starring the Academy award winner, Russell Crowe (Gladiator (2000), The Insider (1999), A beautiful mind (2001) & Cinderellla Man (2005)) to name but a few.

The film has a wonderful cast including Sir Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the lambs (1991), The Mask of Zorro (1998), Thor (2011) & Hitchcock (2012)). It also includes Ray Winstone (Quadrophenia (1979), Beowulf (2007) &  The Sweeney (2012)), Jennifer Connelly (Also; A Beautiful Mind (2001) & The day the earth stood still (2008)) and Emma Watson (Harry Potter franchise).

This feature looks epic on a biblical scale…ok i couldn’t help it. However it genuinely looks phenomenal and should be a huge blockbuster. This really is a film at the beginning of humanity.

In two words: Biblical blockbuster

(UK Release: 28th March 2014)

Marine Conservation Zones…Do we have the solution to Overfishing?

The marine protected area network is still in the very early stages. As of October 2010, The World Database on Protected Areas indicated there were approximately 6800 Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) throughout the world. This is 1.17% of global ocean area.        

The International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) have defined a MPA as “a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated, and managed through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.”

The UK government announced the designation of the first 27 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in English waters. MCZs are a new type of Marine Protected Area designation in the UK. This is a significant step to towards creating a network of protected areas. There are recommendations for a further 127 MCZs in English and Welsh waters which were published by Defra in September 2011. However, whether these MCZs are designated remain to be seen.                                                                                          

Globally, there are very different approaches to marine conservation and the strictness of restrictions differ greatly throughout the world. Marine protected areas are one approach. However the facts do not lie. The establishment of the 27 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ’s) in UK waters have exhibited very positive results towards the recovery of the marine ecosystem. 

Although the issue of unsustainable fishing practices such as Seine Fishing need to be addressed and controlled, these proposals of an increased abundance of MCZ’s demonstrate that when the fish populations are given an opportunity to recover, there is a positive benefit to both the conservation status of each population, but also this in turn has a positive future impact on fishing fleets, who in the long-term will have a wider variation of species and greater abundance of fish of which to catch from.

It is clear that there can be degrees of protection and that when viewing this from a global perspective, nations will have their own rules and regulations on what constitutes a Marine Protected Area or area of conservation and where these might be able to be established. However, focusing on research attributed to the establishment of current Marine Conservation Zones in UK waters have indicated that there establishment has had a positive impact. 

Nonetheless, a consolidation of active conservation projects and their rules would only aid global conservation objectives, as having a uniform approach and implementing mirrored regulations between nations would result in a stronger overall approach. This is strengthened by the fact that the term ‘protected’ is a relative term as what the area is protected against is not specified. This leads to the point that whilst establishing these protected areas, there needs to be strict guidelines as to their enforcement, in addition to clear objectives that the area is protecting and prohibiting.       

Furthermore, the issue of overfishing also needs to be tackled along side the new proposal of MCZ’s. Without overfishing being controlled and limited, this will only further destroy the positive results that conservation sanctions and MCZ’s have had on the UK marine environment. 

In summary, as was previously mentioned, this argument is not simply focusing on unsustainable fishing practices, but instead indicating that with a considerable increase in the number of MCZ’s, there would be significant relief and recovery of overfished populations of many marine species present in UK waters. This in turn could be said to have similar potential benefits if applied globally. 

What is clear is that without significant action now towards limiting the depletion of fish stocks, there will be irreversible and permanent species loss for future generations. 

“The evidence presented in this report suggests that there are considerable wider benefits associated with the designation of an MCZ network and that these benefits are likely to be more secure and substantial if they exist within a network, rather than in a small number of unconnected MPAs.”                                                                                                                                                      (Fletcher, S., Rees, S., Gall, S., Jackson,E., Friedrich, L., Rodwell, L. (2012)  Securing the benefits of the marine Conservation zone network, A report to the Wildlife Trusts by the Centre for Marine and Coastal Policy Research, Plymouth University.)

Some benchmark!….

World Photography Organisation - 2013 World Photography Awards

fro-do:

Rest in Peace Uncle Phil :( 
James Avery, who played the character of Phil Banks on the hit sitcom ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air,’ died at the age of 65 on Dec. 31.

fro-do:

Rest in Peace Uncle Phil :( 

James Avery, who played the character of Phil Banks on the hit sitcom ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air,’ died at the age of 65 on Dec. 31.

(Source: frxdo, via wild-earth)

Nelson Mandela - 1918-2013

The former South African president and Anti-apartheid civil rights pioneer Nelson Mandela has died aged 95. He was the man who delivered South Africa from the dark days of apartheid.

His health had been in decline for some time and at the age of 95, it can be said that a long and significant life has been led.

"Our nation has lost its greatest son," said South African president Jacob Zuma, who praised the Mandela family for sacrificing so much "so that our people could be free".

"Our thoughts are with the South African people who today mourn the loss of the one person who more than any other came to embody their sense of a common nation," he said from Pretoria.

"Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Mandela as their own and who saw his cause as their cause.

"This is the moment of our deepest sorrow.

What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human - we saw in him what we seek in ourselves and in him we saw so much of ourselves.”

Zuma ordered that Mandela will be given a state funeral and that all flags will lowered to half mast until after the service.

Nelson Mandela - A True hero

C J Porter Photography