Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Monday, 10 February 2014

Film Review: 'Her' (2014)

Spike Jonze’s upcoming film about a man who falls in love with a robot has, quite rightly, become a bit of a joke. Saturday Night Live were quick to parody the new release with their skit ‘Me’, as well as the many Youtubers whose mock trailers could almost be confused with the actual movie. Her avoids rom-com convention and earnestly portrays romance between man and machine as unsettlingly possible. The ‘operating system’ who wins Theodore's (Joaquin Phoenix) affections is designed to look close enough to the kind of technology we use today that the audience may wonder if their own 'OS girlfriend' is a few updates away.

Shot in Los Angeles and Shanghai, the minimalistic sets injected with bursting reds and oranges create some beautiful scenes, even if Jonze’s widely shot interiors and drawn-out montages seem overindulgent at times. The characters are all drenched in pastels and fans of the fastened top button, subtly equipped with minuscule ear pieces and portable computers that look like compact mirrors. Accompanied with some profound conversations between Theodore and his computer girlfriend (Samantha - voiced by Scarlett Johansson), there are a lot of moments in Her worthy of a captioned screenshot for your Tumblr page.

The screenwriting is at its best, interestingly, outside of the main romantic plot. Theodore writes letters for a living - customers request heartfelt messages sent on their behalf to their mothers, siblings and partners. Striking a chord beyond robot-romance, the artificial letters Theodore writes have so much depth and sincerity that the idea of another human or machine mimicking emotion suddenly doesn’t seem so laughable. Even if Samantha and Theodore’s romance lacks believability for some, not many can deny that if they received one of Theodore’s letters this Valentine’s day, they wouldn’t believe it came from the heart.

Her' is released 14th Feb

Reviewed by Sarah Creedy

Monday, 3 February 2014


We are very excited to announce that the first Helicon Book Club meeting will be taking place on Thursday the 27th of February at 5pm in Boston Tea Party on Park Street!

The first book will be the amazing 'The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly' by Jean-Dominque Bauby. This incredible book tells the story of how Bauby's life changed following a massive stroke which left him with locked-in syndrome.

The book is available on Amazon and AbeBooks - with some used copies for as little as £1.80, and there are also a few copies in a few of the university libraries. There is also a brilliant, award-winning film adaptation starring Mathieu Amalric which is definitely worth a watch and also available from the library. 

There are just 10  places for the group- email us at  in to let us know if you're interested. Places will be given on a first come, first serve basis. 

This group is available to Helicon members only, click here to join!
Lily x

Saturday, 1 February 2014

10 Questions with: Martha Ford

Bristol-based artist Martha Ford is the illustrator behind the beautiful image that features on the cover of our current issue. Take a look at her work here.

How would you describe your work in just three words?

Mysterious, Contemplative and Gentle.

What inspires your illustration?

I have always loved to read, I grew up on books like The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia and Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials and I think my work is highly influenced by these magical stories.

Original Illustration from Narnia by Pauline Baynes

What themes do you explore within your work?

A lot of my work also explores people and their place within nature, themes of isolation and the effects and passage of time but I also love people coming up with their own interpretations of my work.

What would you say is the best thing about your profession?

Creating work that can inspire others or that people can connect with and enjoy on different levels. I am really grateful to the people who do like my images; they say some really kind, encouraging and sometimes very insightful things and it really motivates me to develop and improve further.  It is also great being a part of such a thriving, diverse and creative community.

Do you have a favorite illustrator?

James Jean is an amazing illustrator. I first came across his work on the covers of the Fables comics (a brilliant series of graphic novels) and loved everything about them. He creates bizarre characters and creatures with beautiful flowing forms and really dreamy colour palettes; they are really mesmerizing images.  

James Jean

Do you have a favorite place in Bristol?

Quite a few but one of my favourites is sitting on the harbourside outside the Arnolfini on a hot summer’s evening, with a drink, and chatting with friends as the boats and swans go by and the buskers play. I never want those evenings to end really.

Pen and paper or digital?

I am a big fan of both. I work through my ideas in sketchbooks and in notebooks and then I either paint digitally from my pencil drawing or scan my paintings in and edit digitally. I would be lost without either.

Pandora's Boxes by Martha Ford

Working to music or silent studio?

It all depends on what mood I am in. Sometimes the right music can really focus, and sometimes influence, my work but other times, I need to fully focus and that is when I need silence.

Following the theme of our current issue, what item would you be lost without?

My computer. Not a very interesting answer but I live off this thing.

And what’s the best thing you’ve ever found?

I remember going on holiday when I was a child to this house in France and went exploring in the garden. I pushed through an overgrown gate and found a small ‘hidden’ garden with a little old bird table in the middle and lots of wildflowers. For a child who was always climbing into wardrobes to see if there really was another world back there, and who was once obsessed with The Secret Garden, this was magical.