Mindal spent most of her days cleaning the bathhouse. It didn’t pay well but it kept a roof over her head while she studied. She had to come to the capital bright eyed, with the hope that she could escape her parents farmhouse for good. Her mother had lived here when she was younger. Now though It was definitely the place to be for people of means, and she wondered how her country bumpkin mother had survived a day here. Her words lingered in the back of Mindals mind, Go make friends, I loved living in Ildercrest when I was your age. Something had definitely changed in that time but was it her mother or the city? The streets were caked with filth and anywhere she could afford to live, walking alone at night was an invitation to be mugged. The lawbringers didn’t even bother to venture into this part of the city anymore. It was contained in a rocky valley, and as long as they guarded the way out then the well to do people that lived in the wealthier areas of town could sleep soundly.

She had seen a lot of things happen in her stay so far, the bathouse itself was a meeting place for the criminals from both parts of town to discuss business. The kingpins from up the hill must have thought the steam would at least protect them from the stench to an extent. Mindal passed amoungst them unnoticed, her once white gown was now a dirty cream. Short black hair didn’t help her either, on a farm it was practical, in the city it was the trademark of a prostitute. She had won the provinces scholarship to study engineering with the brightest minds in Arrecrest, she had thought it a dream. What they failed to tell you was that it only covered the school fee and actually living in this pit was up to her. The week was considered a success if she could make it to half her lectures. Although making a point of never missing one of Proffesor Niles legendary ‘arcane containment’ classes though. Magic was rare in the world now, and Niles considered it extinct within Arrecrest. Rumours of it still being widely used across the sea still made good bedtime stories for children though.

“Mindal, the big bathroom needs cleaning.” The voice came from down the corridor and no doubt belonged to Urey. He wasn’t the worst person to work for, but he didn’t believe in overtime and said she should count her blessings that she even had a job.

“Yes, Urey do you want me to wipe your arse as well?” She shouted back at him. He wouldn’t reply, he never did. It would be easier for her to just grab the mop and bucket and do as he said. The walls of the building were tiled green on top with blue below and the red clay floors were made hazerdous by the run offs from the bathrooms. Cheap soap would cling to the brick work and no amount of scrubbing would remove it once it had possessed the clay.

She turned the corner towards the presidential bath, one of the other girls was staring through the doorway not moving. Mindal walked towards her, poking her long neck around the corner to see the state of them room. It was covered in blood. “By the six” she gasped. The other girl still stood silent, before looking at Mindal.

“I’m not cleaning up one of these rich fucks mistakes again.” She sighed, and walked past Mindal heading towards the front desk. “Urey one of your idiot friends has killed another whore.” Mindal had seen things like this before here, it wasn’t unusual for someone to be found bleeding on the floor. This was a lot of blood though, more than one person could hold. The more perculiar thing however was the lack of a body. She had been cleaning around the entrance for the last half an hour. The only person that had left was one very large man. He certainly wasn’t carrying a body though. Murder victims don’t usually walk away, but the alternative was they had disappeared. The pooled blood circled towards the centre drain, and in the middle of it was a short metal canister. Mindal was shocked, she stumbled backwards, hitting her head against the wall. she knew what it was and what it was used for. Sliding down the wall to the floor she wept, knowing that someone had died, and she was to blame.

Enrog took five paces into the musty tavern. He removed his heavy duster and shook the dirt of the road off. He took a long drag of the air around him. The atmosphere of the room was perfect, heavily saturated with hops and sweat. A sign hung at an angle on the wall, ‘Best Tavern In Arrecrest’. It was a load of horseshit but Enrog liked the place all the same, it was the easiest place to get a half decent beer unnoticed in the capital. He’d lost too many games of cards at most of the others to show his face again, a reputation for losing your temper and not paying up makes a welcoming party unlikely.

“Enrog. Not here to make I trouble I hope?” The bar keeper was a short man but the rifle he kept on the wall wasn’t just for show. Enrog had seen a man attempt to pass on his tab, then had left instead without his wallet and four of his fingers.

“I keep well enough Pender, maybe it’s your shitty beer that keeps me looking young” The scars on his face stood more prominently at that moment, embossed in his worn skin. Each word left his mouth as if it were full of sand. Pender finished pulling his ale in silence as Enrog dumped a fistful of coins on the table. He received a distasteful look as Pender counted each coin before handing him his beverage. He dragged himself to his usual corner with the hope to put the day behind him. He’d been sat down for no more than two minutes before the door burst open. The problems he thought that he had buried in a building earlier that day had managed to catch up with him it appeared.

“Outside please gentleman” Pender declared, never looking up from cleaning the bar. The four men gestured at Enrog, pointing him to the door. They obviously knew of Penders reputation but not his own. They weren’t with the group from earlier, so he assumed it must be from a separate incident. They had interrupted his evening either way so he wasn’t going to be soft if they wanted to cause trouble.

The street dimly lit by orange lanterns along the pavement cast his shadow over the men. The pack seemed uneasy as they gauged how big he really was. A walking wall of muscle and the sword on his back was bigger than the shortest amongst them. He could tell two of them were already casing the easiest escape routes and were putting several feet of space from him. Enrog reached over his shoulder, his gloved hand slowly pulling the blade from its sheath, the sharp steel glowing like the sun as it caught the reflection of the street lights.

“Which one of you lads was looking for private dancing lessons then?”

Until about two years ago I hadn’t seen much outside of Hong Kong when it came to Asian cinema. It’s something that I now regret fiercely, as its fast become my favourite. The liberal movement of the nineties is now really starting to show with some very talented directors putting out some splendid work. 

I’m really enjoying cinema in general at the moment. While I don’t particularly enjoy the avengers movies themselves, their stand alones are a lot easier for me to enjoy. I don’t think the main selling point of the films should just be the star power. Just because you’ve enveloped all the characters into one film does not mean it is going to be good. That being said I’d much rather watch any of these films over some poorly crafted family film, and they seem to have fizzled out of mainstream cinema to streaming services like Netflix. If these trends are linked in anyway then I’m happy the marvel universe has a dominance now.

My first film like many others was Oldboy and man it’s a good movie, but I didn’t want it to be my only experience so I did some intense googling to try and find something to bridge the gap a little. ‘Snowpiercer’ was newly released and being a western sci-fi hybrid it seemed like a good choice. It’s newly easily one of my favourite movies of all time, I love nearly everything about it. The choice of colour, the mix of Korean and Western acting and styles. It all makes for a really good experience. Being based on a pretty popular book already I won’t praise its plot too much, but it’s definitely well executed.

This was the start of my love affair with Bong Joon Ho, I’ve worked my way through nearly all of his films now, and the guy struggles to get it wrong. ‘Mother’ is an incredible thriller from start to finish and through my excessive consumption of media I can usually guess the outcome of most films of its ilk. I was never certain while watching this though, I can’t tell you what it was about the experience but never have I seen a camera used so effectively to throw you off. Every trope that western cinema has taught me to look for when identifying the bad guy was irrelevant. It’s just a solid movie watch it. As political as the academy is I would be incredibly surprised if this guy doesn’t pull in an oscar at some point. At worst he’s going to put this tiny country on the map for good.

If your more than just a casual watcher of movies or can tolerate subtitled films, go and check this new world of creativity out. It’s mind blowing how much culture that is so readily avalible is still so easy to ignore. I started writing this midway through ‘Train to Busan’ and I’m going to say preemptively that this is the movie I expected War Z to be. Just watch it all you filthy muggles.

In a world of magic, where the impossible is made possible by the mere flick of a wrist. In a world where people don’t pay more attention to sentient chocolate. In a world where children are trained to defend themselves from murderers at the tender age of eleven at a school which prides itself on the Caliber of teaching offered. We find ourselves immersed in the world of Mr Potter, a seemingly average boy for all of nine pages in the seven book epic tale.

If your level of Potterfandom disallows you from listening to any active criticism of the plot, characters, locations and general premise of the narrative. Then please do stop reading because it’s impossible to charm the notion that these books aren’t a detailed account of extreme negligence and child abuse.

We’ll start at the beginning as we follow a bunch of wizards, who after their friends were the victims of a double homicide decide to leave their orphaned son with a couple that take it upon themselves to ruin this boy’s life. I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that growing up in an abusive household isn’t as fun as the brochure makes it out to be. Knowing full well your parents had both died, it’s a miracle that Potter grows up without abandonment issues, and a personality riddled with survivor guilt. Instead we have a plucky individual that can talk to snakes and other people with more confidence than a man from the future betting on horses. Let’s take into account that this little empty headed twat doesn’t even know he’s got a seriously high midiclorian count until the largest homeless man you’ve ever seen, presents him with an arse warmed birthday cake. 

I don’t want to protect the “Muggle” aunt and uncle as they artfully escaped having their faces on watchdog for over a decade, but these wizards aren’t much better harassing a family to the lengths where they feel the only escape is to retreat to a cottage on a rock that can only be reached at low tide. This poses two possibilities. They just abuse anyone that doesn’t want to open the letter of acceptance to their school for the gifted or they having been observing Potter being abused, and have only now decided to sort it out because he’ll be a good boost to the school prospectus.

Once the homeless man takes Harry to a major banking institution (Barclays or Santander?) to retrieve his parents fortune we realise that while this is the first time Harry has been to the vault he never even ponders the idea that Dumbledore dips in whenever he fancies a few in London. That pile of money could have been several times larger when James and Lilly last laid eyes on their pension pot. 

He then goes around talking to some of the shadiest rogue traders ever seen, offering him all sorts from animals to bits of wood to channel his magic. The fat homeless man disappears for a time to probably gamble away what little cash he gets paid for, looking after the monsters in the wood. Once he’s got all his bits and pieces together he’s abandoned in Kings Cross on his own with a mountain of belongings until he’s saved by a horde of ginger children and their obviously well worn mother. They run through a wall which nobody outside of the wizarding world seems to notice. I know Londoners are eyes down walk fast people by nature, but you would think somebody might leave a trip advisor review wondering about the hundreds of children that are disappearing into a wall.

Harry “The Leader of Men” Potter then has a rather uneventful train ride on a novelty railway which takes him back into the custody of the scruffy bum Hagrid (What sick parent names their child Rubeus?). They are then piled into boats to cross a lake to the school that obviously doesn’t meet health and safety standards as these eleven year olds are trusted not to rock the boat at all. Then once inside a magical hat determines if your destined to become a criminal or not. They have a very normal schooling experience bar for the fact they change out geography for broom riding. Obviously at a school of magic they have to deal with subjects that aren’t always going to be safe but you would think that a background check on the dark arts teacher for any terrorist associations would be standard procedure. What’s the wizarding equivalent of dbs checks? At this point of the story though we are unaware of this and apart from a few kids getting knocked about all is well. That is until a Troll gets into the school. Now I’ll just work on the basis that trolls in the HP universe are not the most intelligent beings and somehow this one has just wandered on the school campus without even an alarm bell going off. Bollocks. No one seems to care that the school most definitely has sleeper agent that’s actively working on killing students. So they gather all of the children in the main hall and don’t bother to take a register so Harry the bright spark decides to take his best mate Ron on his mission to further fuel the ego and legacy of Harry Potter the boy with a magical spell reflecting forehead. So they go off and find Hermionie who is having a breakdown in the toilets because these two dickheads abused her for the fact she actually came to school to learn. They manage to scamp out of this situation by the skin of their teeth and no lasting disfigurements. Although I have to say that their on site medical team is incredible and never gets an ounce of the respect they deserve, a bit like the NHS.

The kids gets punished and go on their way, Dumbledore probably throws Harry a creepy uncle wink telling him to keep up the good work and that’s the end of that. The school doesn’t close though, it’s not audited for being unfit for the students and we just quickly forget they had a creature with the power to murder students cruising into bathrooms. The plot goes on and once again Potter is suspicious of Snape. Admittedly he has got the demenour of a child molestor but Potter doesn’t like him, and because of this he becomes suspect number one. I’ve always thought that Harry just wanted Snape out of the way because he was the only teacher that taught him that he couldn’t do whatever he liked just because he had been in the newspaper a few times. The little shit talks in class when the guy is probably trying to explain why you shouldn’t mix bleach and ammonia and Potter looks at him like Snape had just pissed in his cheerios. I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that Harry suffers from a latent mental health condition that will remain untreated until he’s old enough to buy himself a bottle of scrumpy jack to bury his problems anyway.

I’m going to skip a lot of the bollocks until we get to the end with the unicorn ext because of course something lives in the woods that sucks the life out of a horned horse. As a form of punishment being sent into the forest of death is obviously a poor choice because Hazza has been playing hard and fast with the rules anyway, and it probably isn’t his first trip into the glades. If that school has any sort of a drug ring then that’s were those kids are stashing it. You know it’s a fairy tail when no ones attempting to smoke in the quiddich arena when the games not on. No risky kid who’s dabbling in weed to fund his triwizard tournament gambling addiction. Whatever the paddy power of the wizarding world is, I’m sure it doesn’t have the same help system for addiction as the western world does.

The main failure of the entire faculty was ever letting a vault which would house the tool needed to resurrect Magic Hitler. Then make the whole thing woefully inadequate so that three children in their first year of secondary education are able to completely bypass all of the security features with relative ease. Ron bites the dust as he usually does to enhance the ballad of Harry “gonna get my friends killed” Potter but what great character wouldn’t have his own martyr. All the heroes died in the last war buddy. Harry pushes on into the room where Magic Hitler is trying to get a stone out of a mirror but can’t quite crack it, waiting until he’s literally in front of the thing before addressing the issue. Now I know it could be said that Dumbledore planned all of this to put Harry onto the “right path” but trying to kick start your own child army like a frail Kony isn’t going to make you look any better in the press. I’ve always wondered why he really ended up in prison, 

So Harry defeats the evil overlord without knowing that he had some all powerful juju magic protecting him, and wakes up in hospital while his pseudo Grandad watching him sleep while eating sweets. They chat about love and happiness and then he goes on his way. Harry attends the end of year ball in which the criminals are about to be made the winners until of course Dumbledore picks up his favourites and awards them just enough points to win. What is the point in trying hard at this school when your achievements are washed away at a flick of the wrist. If I was a member of the PTA I would be fuming. I suppose it’s a sad insight into the state of our own society  that endangering lives and murder enquiries don’t apply to the rich and famous.