Film Travel

Back on the Road with Torsten

The life of a travelling salesman is not one that should be taken on lightly.

You sacrifice a lot for the job. Due to your constantly changing surroundings, it can be incredibly difficult to keep close friends, let alone develop any kind of romantic relationship.

planes-trainsWith a life spent on the road, you also lose the advantages of having a home. Sleeping in the same bed every night, caring for your home and feeling comfortable.

You trade these standards for the imitations of comfort that various Budget Hotel companies offer around the world.

Instead of a welcoming family waiting on your return, you are received by a practiced smile that exists out of necessity. Rather than your own bed, enriched with your own scent, you have a sterilised and starched linen cot – clean but not comforting.

What do you get in return for these sacrifices? You get the opportunity to travel the world, like the nomads of old. Sampling the local traditions, customs, delicacies and quirks of every small town and village that you visit.

My recent trip to Wales, for pleasure now rather than work, reminded me of the joys of travelling – and had me almost yearning to call up my old company and get back on the road again.

road-mapsIn the old days, we didn’t have GPS systems or mobile telephones to aid us in our travels. As a result, our jobs were made easier and harder in turns. Driving through the winding roads of mainland Europe, it could be incredibly difficult to simply travel from one town to another. However, once you arrived, some places were so remote that not only would the entire community buy from you, but you’d also be put up for the night there.

Now, of course, there are a myriad of tools to aid you in planning and executing a road trip. Thanks to my laptop and mobile phone, I could easily book the accommodation I wanted to stay in (using http://www.visitnorthwales.co.uk/), find a few restaurants that were worth eating at (if you eat anywhere in Wales go to Sosban & The Old Butchers and indulge in some outdoor activities that might have been a little too extreme for this 57 year old.

wales-landscapeWales is a worthy place to visit for anyone living in the UK.

For a seasoned traveller like myself, the 7 hour drive from Weardale was a more of a joy than a chore – I’d recommend leaving yourself plenty of time for stops – you never know when you might pass a place of interest on the way down.

To really make use of your time whilst your there, you should aim to at least drive through Snowdonia National Park. The roads are scenic, the mountains are stunning and (if you drive from North to South) you can pop out at the charming seaside town of Aberystwyth.

Although I don’t like to stay away from my home of Weardale for too long, Wales provided me with an 3 days worth of scenic driving, wonderful food and exciting activities.


Valentin’s Three Must-Watch Foreign Horror Movies

As a lover of languages and film, I’m in the unique position to be able to watch many more than other people.

Of course any dedicated cinephile will make a point of watching the hot new independent foreign film, but many people will have to settle for watching subtitles. As much as these achieve their goal of informing the viewer on what is going on, there is a certain amount of focus that is inevitably drawn away from the images on the screen, to make time to read the endless reams of text.

The genre of Horror films particularly suffer from this problem. Although, each year, there are always a handful of Horror movie success stories at the Box-office – it’s very rare that these are written in a foreign language.

In the lead up to the Bram Stoker International Film Festival, held annually in Whitby (just under a 2 hour drive from our valley here in Weardale), I’m going to be looking at 3 of my favourite foreign language Horror movies.

Let The Right One In

Back in 2008, The Twilight Saga had just begun its loathsome journey on the multiplexes of the World. After the books had sold in their millions, a movie adaptation of the entire series (following in the footsteps of Harry Potter and laying the ground work for The Hunger Games) was almost inevitable.

Those lucky enough to avoid watching that particularly dry and joyless first entry in the series, might have also been lucky enough to catch Tomas Alfredson’s stellar adaptation of the less known Let The Right One In.

Based on the Swedish novel from 2004, this movie made a small storm upon it’s release, because of it’s brutal portrayal of gore, violence and sexuality – all involving children. Far from being a gratuitous splatterfest, the film adaptation treads the right line of tension, tragedy, humour and horror – to wonderful effect.


ilsA film less concerned with meaningful character development and more interested in scaring the living daylights out of the audience, Ils is an underrated foreign language gem.

Although the home-invasion genre is one that was growing slightly tired by 2008 – there was still room to innovate, and that’s exactly what French writer-director team David Moreau and Xavier Palud.

The title card of the movie claims that it is ‘based on real events’, but the truth of the matter is not the source of the horror here. The violent, destructive nature of youth is on display here. A Mother and Daughter are laid siege to in their remote country house by a group of silent, aggressive youths – the results are not for the faint hearted.


rec_posterOf course, no horror movie list would be complete without a selection from the found-footage genre. Although the genre feels like it’s reaching the end of it’s tether, with shaky cameras and loose story lines losing the novelty that they once had, the Spanish team of Balaguero and Plaza hit the nail on the head with this Zombie Horror-Faux-Documentary mashup.

The premise is simple, a local news team riding with the Fire Department on a routine call out to an apartment building, become trapped inside a quarantine and must fight to survive an onslaught of the undead.

The film is a master class in tension and mystery. Instead of feeling forced or unnatural, the handy-cam footage serves a purpose in the plot and Manuela Velasco’s award-winning performance as journalist Anna is truly convincing.

kate bush zoe williams
Travel Uncategorized

Benedict’s Guilty Pleasures of the 80s Incarnate

Throughout my 25 year-long career in the Security business, I’ve had to hide the passion I have for the Arts.

Working internationally as a security expert throughout the 70s to the 90s, the notion of divulging my love for Romantic-Comedies, Modern Paintings and Pop Music seemed insane – a form of professional suicide.

My secret shame was in direct violation of, what was at the tine, a certified standard of masculinity. Especially amongst middle aged men, who either remembered those lost in the world wars or had been directly involved in it, the idea of revealing my obsession with Prince would’ve seemed almost disrespectful. As if I was dishonouring those that had died in the Wars that engulfed our planet, only a handful of years ago.

There remained in Germany and America, where I did most of my work, a gold standard for the way men are suppose to live. It often meant open enthusiasm for sports (which I’ve never enjoyed) and women (whom I love but have never been in love with), usually in the form of some kind of debauched display of ‘locker-room talk’.

madonnaHad I been born a few decades later, I might well have been able to express my love for all the guilty pleasures that I was forced to accumulate – especially during the 80s. So many wonderful female singers came to prominence during this time. Instead of being able to buy tickets for their shows, or proudly display their posters in my home, I had to settle for surreptitiously tapping my toes whilst in a restaurant or café.

Idols such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, although heavily sexualised for a male audience, were not the kind of music that men openly listened listened to at the time. So, it was with a heavy heart that I missed seeing wonderful female performers in there prime – such as Whitney Houston and the irrepressible Kate Bush, when they came to the towns I was working in.

Thankfully I had the chance to see the next best thing this evening at the Georgian Royal Theatre.

maaikeMaaike Breijman is a performer from Haarlem in the Netherlands, a beautiful country that I’ve had the good fortune of working in before. At the theatre, where I had the good fortune of meeting my fellow writers just a few months ago, I saw her and her band perform songs from Kate Bush’s back catalogue – complete with costume changes, scenery and props to match.

Breathlessly transforming from one song to the next, Maiike embodies what I remember seeing of Kate in the music videos of the time. Often overly theatrical, interweaving Bush’s rich narratives with an inventive and varied stage performance, Maaike understands how to make the most of her source material.

A dark intensity emanates from her eyes as she roams the stage with her backing band playing the role that they’re meant to: providing note perfect backing, whilst allowing Maiike to take centre stage and slip into the role seamlessly.

The stage show, taken as a whole, is almost cinematic in it’s scope. Considering the relatively small size of the space here in Richmond, it’s truly impressive to see what this small company can achieve on, what we presume, is a pretty tight budget.

Leaving the theatre tonight, I was struck my a number of emotions.

Elation was the chief of them.