My book is officially launched!

My social media world has been running wild this past week and hopefully by now all eyes are on my debut novel OPEN EVENING!

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You can grab yourself a copy here, either in freshly printed paper back or via e-book!!

‘Embrace the unexpected’ as the story unfolds around a high school where one kid believes he doesn’t fit in, soon enough his instinct becomes truth and a fight for survival begins! OPEN EVENING is currently the only paperback in the top 20 ‘occult’ chart!

The support and response I have seen so far has been absolutely amazing and I would like to thank all those who have got themselves a copy. Don’t forget to leave a review and let me know what you think. It’s been an amazing journey to finally reach publication and below are some of the highlights from this past week!

If you grab yourself a copy don’t forget to take an #openevening #selfie and tell the world about my debut book!

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blurb

 

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My Big Book Giveaway Competition

The world is just days away from the official launch of my first book OPEN EVENING! 

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It’s time you embraced the unexpected and joined me on this incredible journey to publication in just under a weeks time!

So in my attempts to get as many eyes on the product as possible I am running a book give away competition.

I, Lee Hall have two freshly printed paperback copies to give away. They will be signed and addressed to the two lucky winners who will be notified on the 28th of September 2016 (the day before the book is officially released).

How to enter

All you have to do is the following….

  1. Like my Facebook page
  2. Click attending on my official ‘Open Evening launch event’ on Facebook 
  3. Share the Open Evening launch event

Optionally and I will take this into account, you could even use the hashtag #openevening whilst sharing the event. Also feel free to share the event on other social media sites. The more you do the more chance I will choose you (don’t work too hard though)!

Good luck and I very much look forward to signing the books!

Design For Writers Review: Judging a book by its cover

No matter who you are, the first thing you do when judging something is by looking at the appearance. Now I’m not saying we are all judgmental like its a bad thing, this is just a fact.

When the wheels were put in motion for the publication of my first book OPEN EVENING, which arrives on the 29th of this month (or if you are reading this after, where have you been? Either way thanks for reading so you can stay), I set out to find the best possible way in which to display my book.

Many of my publishing inspirations have come from a particular author and blogger known as Catherine Ryan Howard. Her website is a very valuable resource for anyone looking to self-publish or even get published. Her book titled Self Printed is a fantastic guide to publishing. Even if you are curious about the process this lady knows it all so check it out. Saying that her recommendations pointed me towards Design for Writers.

design-for-writersJust their Facebook page alone will show you their wonderful capabilities and so I made contact. At this moment in time I wasn’t particularly sure what I wanted my cover to represent, in all the time of me having this story the tag line would always be ‘Embrace the unexpected’ so how do you depict that in the form of a cover?

Well design for writers have a wonderful way of gathering information about the book (they need to in order to create). Upon initiation of the project; I was invited to an online collaborative base camp. My objectives were clearly laid out along with the various stages of the whole development all the way to final proofs.

When taking on a project like this it is imperative to know the ins and outs of the book. After all the writer is the creator but without everyone else they are just idle words.

The objectives I needed to divulge information with included who I thought the target market would be, reader emotion when reading the book, tone, cultural references, particular poster scenes, perspective, themes, protagonists, synopsis, key words, blurb, genre, setting, point of view, ideas towards a cover, similar books, good design types and even bad.

So you probably get the idea that it takes a hell of a lot of detail to make a decent cover!

Saying that my experience from beginning to end was entirely pleasant and the people I dealt with were always helpful, contactable and professional. There is plenty of stuff I don’t know as a first time author so their patience and understanding was very much appreciated.

Working in the base camp allowed me to see the emergence of not one or two versions of a cover but three! All of them awesome in their own right but after much deliberation not only from me but close friends I came to the choice. Then came the blurb and finally the whole thing pulled together. The gradual piece together process gave the real essence of work in progress which resulted in a fantastic final product.

The cover of a book, especially in this age of ‘I want entertainment now!’ is a synonymous part to the success of it. In my case  its mysterious but also somewhat suggestive towards what the story is about. The colour scheme is eye catching but not too bright and overall it does the one job its supposed to, act as a great eye catching cover. You could sum it up to say the cover of my book OPEN EVENING is simple but very effective! 

Design for writers were wonderful to work with and well worth the investment of money which will only help towards the eventual goal of my stuff being read.The total price I paid was £249.00. which is way worth it for the cover I have.

Things are rolling towards publication day and if you want to be a part of it then join me at my online book launch event via Facebook!  My #YearOfWriting continues….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Book Cover….Revealed!!!

It’s time to embrace the unexpected because the moment is finally here. After a year of hard work not only from me but some other wonderful people I can show you the visual representation of what my dream looks like!

Ladies and Gentlemen introducing the cover of my first book Open Evening!

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This is actually happening!

At the end of this month I shall ask you all to join me on my journey of publication as the destination is finally reached.

Open Evening hits the amazon shelves via satin publishing in the form of an e-book, but do not despair those who love the smell of real pages. The print version will follow soon so why not see if you like it by checking out the online version! #Hardselling

Save the date of the 29th and let’s help a new author make their mark in the literary world!

So what did the process of making the cover entail? Well it all started when I discovered design for writer’s work and checked them out on the Facebook. After agreeing a quotation, the project was initiated at the beginning of August and I was invited to an online project base camp. An online tool to collect as much information as possible about Open Evening and what I want it to represent as a cover. After some back and forth questions on both sides the cover is finally here and its awesome!

Originally there were three versions of a cover that I was given a choice from. To begin with a very hard decision, but after some consultation with my cover artist and some close friends the above product was chosen and how great does it look.

I don’t expect huge sales within the first few weeks or months of publication but this sort of thing takes time and people, decent people who like decent story telling like you! So come the 29th it will be time for you to survive Open Evening!

2016 is my #YearOfWriting and its happening now!!

 

(Cover design by designforwriters.com)(Open Evening copyright by Lee Hall 2016 Published by Satin Publishing 2016)

 

DDP Yoga: Fitness Diary Review

For as long as I can remember I have always had some kind of injury or ailment to hold back my fitness. Eventually this turned into a vicious cycle of persistent exercise only to be chopped down by shin splints, a bad back or even worse, my bad knees. As much as gyms are good for exercise I still believe they are designed in a way to minimalize progress. Nothing beats real exercise as opposed to ‘simulated’ gym stuff.

Getting outside for a long brisk walk or a park sprint session really makes you feel a million dollars. But around that corner for me was and still is an injury that has kept me from doing anything physically demanding for over two months.

I am talking about sciatica, a debilitating injury which begins in the lower back and soon takes over your leg muscles and nerves causing a hell of a lot of pain. It hurts to sit, walk, stand and pretty much exist. Like a pulled muscle but on steroids which doesn’t go away after a decent night’s sleep, sciatica is here for the long term and it is the worst injury I have ever had.

What caused it? A combination of things, but this blog post isn’t about causes, it’s about healing and prevention.

Having taken over a month to walk without much more than a dull aching pain, whatever I set out to do was going to take time. In fact, I had never been so consistent with exercise by doing all this walking, something which early on, eased the excruciating pain.

With sciatica, movement is king, where ever possible just move, stand up and walk around. And so with that in mind my healing journey began. Every so often the pain would come back and sometimes stronger. I am now at a point where it is getting no worse or better. Something more than what I was doing had to be done, and so here begins my journey of a pain free, sciatica free life.

My vessel on this journey, hard work and DDP yoga! Here is my first week’s progress…

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08/08/2016

Weigh in – 11St 8 / 74.9 KG

Started the program on the beginner schedule. The first session; Diamond Dozen is a semi workout tutorial that quickly gets the blood pumping. It’s a series of different movements targeting lower body and upper body muscles. Dynamic resistance is the key word here and Dally insists that you must get a heart rate monitor to track exactly how much the moves are making you use your heart. Many of the moves are easily modified to suit all abilities and levels of mobility. He shows us with the use of other demonstrators how to pull off many of these simple but really effective workout moves. An easy to follow session for all levels. My sciatic pain only bothered me a few times but overall I was fine.

After work out meal – Two scrambled Eggs, spaghetti shapes and two rashers of unsmoked bacon (grilled)

Verdict: So far so good. Must get a heart rate monitor.

 09/08/2016 – Rest day

Began the morning with fruit and small glass of milk (phase 3 of the yoga fitness regime does say to remove all dairy). Took some time to read the DDP yoga guide. Its a great motivational and factual tool complete with schedule, success stories and even some awesome recipes.

‘There is no try, there is only DO!’ I read from the guide.

Already feeling better today with my sciatic pain easing throughout the day. Some muscles are a little tight from the initial workout yesterday but all good today.

Enchiladas and rice for dinner! Fitness is life!

10/08/2016 – Diamond Dozen and Energy

OK two workouts today. Well the diamond dozen is a much slower paced tutorial but moving on to the roughly 25-minute energy workout, for a newbie to yoga it was a challenge. Constant movement and holding poses, many of them can be modified as to which I did a few times. Throughout my sciatic pain reminded me it was there especially with the floor based stuff. Good energetic workout, any one unfit will struggle unless you modify, I did it just about with only a few mods. We shall have to await how the leg and back feels throughout the day and tomorrow.

Must get a heart monitor.

11/08/2016 – Rest day but went to the gym

The leg pain came in and out today but was mostly lesser than previous days. No particular aches or pains from the yoga so I decided to hit the gym. I did 12 minutes of cardio via the cross trainer and some dumbbell stuff. The cross trainer is a wonderful piece of kit and the movement alleviated any sciatic pain I had today. Good times.

Fruit for breakfast, pasta for lunch and steak for dinner.

12/08/2016

Energy work out today and only just about did it because my stupid dam laptop decided to run updates. The workout was awesome, I got my heart beat jacked up and broke a sweat. Struggling a little with the lower body based moves as my legs aren’t that strong. Felt great after the workout, sciatic pain came and went with no real improvement today. Guess it’s going to take a while.

Ate out for dinner and treated myself to Calzone. Watched Suicide Squad, review here.

Weekend 1 – Rested, well I was at work so I did some walking. Tried my best not to sit all the time as that flairs up my sciatica. Ate moderately clean.

Meals included Leek and pea risotto with garlic bread. Chicken breast with salad. Roast dinner on Sunday with a can of stout.

15/08/2016 – End of week 1

Monday morning, early start for work. Feeling some sciatic pain but nothing more serious than the past few days. Did a lot of upper leg and hamstring stretches in the morning. Applied heat to back and leg a couple of times. Lunch meal included a cheese and roast vegetable panini and a large salad.

Energy yoga workout today, managed to grasp many of Dally’s moves better and held them for longer, especially the runner’s lunge parts. I could really feel my heartbeat during the workout today, and that’s even from staying still. I guess that’s the dynamic resistance working. Back and leg felt so much better afterwards and there was no pain afterwards for my 25 minute walk! It feels like the sciatic pain is retreating finally!

Conclusion

As you can see within only a week progress towards curing my sciatica was made. There are still several steps to follow and it is only the first week, but already I feel stronger, I feel more energetic and even happier. Nothing beats breaking a sweat and getting the most important muscle in the body pumping.

I included a rough account of my diet as exercise alone isn’t a fair indication of how much progress I am making. Diet is everything when it comes to fitness.

My next objective is to get as many people to join me on my journey, then we can have DDP yoga workout parties!

Stay tuned for my next update soon!

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Suicide Squad: Bad guys Rule

This year seems to be the arrival of DC and the summer blockbuster belongs to the rag tag ‘bad guys’ known as Suicide Squad.

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First a brief moan: All I have heard about this film in social media is bad things or criticisms, Marvel sympathisers, grow up, this is DC’s time now, the avengers was so last year (or before). Just enjoy the film and stop looking for problems.
Here we have an adult film that kids can also enjoy, not a kid’s film that adults fan boy over, that there is the core difference between the comic giants (but no hate towards either).
Earlier this year the scene was officially set for the newly formed universe (Batman vs Superman) which just seems to impress me. David Ayer played things safe from the offset by introducing his film with a stellar sound track and familiar tunes in a criminal underworld we aren’t too familiar with.
In a world where someone like Superman has the potential to be a bad guy, who are we going to call if things do go Pete tong? (Wrong, do try to keep up).
This becomes the film’s main premise in an already bustling universe, we as an audience are quickly and stylishly introduced to a group of meta-humans and so called super villains, all them currently incarcerated. And so Suicide Squad is born.
What I appreciated the most about these characters was the detailed but brief enough back stories they all had. Some even had an emotional history or connection which in turn unites them as a team, yeah they are bad guys, but what they stand for is something much greater.
A mysterious and powerful thing (yeah I said thing, we are avoiding spoilers here) causes havoc and its up to the squad led by Joel Kinnaman (Robocop) who is given the task to chaperone these ‘bad guys’. As you can guess the group don’t take to the situation straight away or to each other, this is all part of the process of what this film intends to deliver.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is the full package of crazy, fun, endearing and of course scantily clad throughout most of her scenes. She provides a humour in which Marvel could really take a lesson from, natural laughs and even gags which don’t feel pushed or desperate for laughs. You will laugh at points in this film and that’s a good thing.
Will Smith as Dead Shot delivers well and along with Harley Quinn they steal the show and run with it throughout. But this film is an ensemble performance with a solid cast that includes; Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis, Karen Fukuhara and of course nobody could forget Jared Leto as the famously dastardly Joker. I will also give full marks to Diablo, a well layered character who develops with the story.
There are essences of an origin story between the Joker and Harley which isn’t pushed or forced upon us. Many of the film’s best back story moments were delivered in way of flash backs, this just added to already colourful set up this film had.
The street setting was tight and enclosed much like the narrows of Gotham and the whole film had a great atmospheric somewhat colourful feel, again something which DC does incredibly well.
I didn’t even notice the time pass in what is over two hours of quality entertainment. Even though Suicide Squad is billed as a comic book film, its far more than that and doesn’t even feel like the typical run of the mill hero film. They are bad guys after all.
The story that began earlier this year continues forward and looks towards introducing Justice League heroes, but first we stop off to check out their competition because down the line I think all this is going to come together in one explosive culmination.
Overall I enjoyed Suicide Squad and would happily recommend seeing it. Hopefully this isn’t the last time we see these extended DC universe characters.

Book Update

Blog number 80!

My debut novel Open Evening is under two months away from publication. Things are beginning to move in my #YearOfWriting and they are moving towards this project being finalized. And so loyal follower or new reader I thought I would grace you with my presence by informing you of the news.

Here are the facts: On September the 29th this year, Open Evening will be available as an e-book via amazon.

Sometime later in the month of October (in time for Halloween ooooh) the paperback version will be available for you to buy via a print on demand service. I would recommend you buy this if you really like the e-book version as it will probably be pricey (close friends and family, if you think you qualify will get one as a gift from me).

Open Evening is completely new stand-alone young adult horror story. It is not about robots in the future which my previous unpublished works were (they will come later).

It will be brought to you by the wonderful services of satin publishing, an e-pub house who have successfully published many books previously. Nicky Fitzmaurice of satin will be editing my manuscript and providing the publishing services.

Design for writers will be producing the cover (which I am already very very excited about). They have produced some excellent work which you can see on their FB page. I am currently putting together every ounce of information they need to give me the best possible eye catching cover.

Very soon there will be an official cover reveal, then things will get really really exciting.

I’m currently very busy editing the book myslef at the moment so if you see me in person your very lucky, oh and I am going to be 27 this week so buy me card in the form of a beverage.

This is all well and good but what is Open Evening about? I shall present you with some quotations from the narrative.

“Sometimes you don’t get to choose where you are placed in the collective ecosystem of a high school. Survival for me has always been objective number one.” 

“Just remember what you expect and what actually happens are two separate things.”

“The unexpected is a wonderful thing; anything can come from such a place including the horrors of mystery surrounding it. Sometimes it isn’t what is there but what could be there.”

“If I can see you, they can see you.”

Who are they you ask? Well they may or may not be human (but they are not robots). You shall have to find out. I hope I have given you enough to at least wet your appetite for what’s to come.

To be published is a dream come true for me and I very much want this to be a success. I can only do that with your help!

editing begins

 

 

Stranger Things: A review: More like Better things

So many of us know that one day the post-apocalyptic survivors will consist of Trump, Google and Netflix.

Right now I’m happy with the latter surviving especially if they keep providing decent original series like Stranger Things. An eight part mystery horror set in 80’s small town America. The cliché boxes are literally being ticked as the first few minutes of the show play out, what I can say is that on this occasion, cliché is your friend.

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We don’t do spoilers here at the Hall of information, but we do our best to persuade you, valuable reader, to go out there and watch the shit I watch. Then we can converse over a few vodkas one lunch time about such things. Yes, my lunchtimes are wild.

So the Duffer brothers have done their absolute best to bring you all a show which from the very beginning pays homage to Stephen King and John Carpenter style story telling . This is also completed by the postmodern synthy type music that plays as we see the red neon writing that reads this show’s title. There are numerous 80’s greats that this show tributes, something which JJ Abrams tried to do with super 8 but just missed the mark.

Some of these tributes include the goonies with a great group of leading kids whose characters contribute to believable situations in an unbelievable situation. When they are not on their bikes they are forever referencing geek stuff such as dungeons and dragons, Star Wars and x men stuff.. An escaped mystery girl with telekinetic powers even mirrors Carrie in some senses.

The first billed actress Winona Ryder plays an older single mum struggling to meet ends when her youngest of two sons mysteriously goes missing. Although she does over play it sometimes, her performance is mostly positive.

The town’s nearby department of energy are more than just a power station and so the premise of mystery along with this kid going missing quickly ensues.

We see the town’s rugged and somewhat over the hill police chief, very well depicted by David Harbour bring a performance of a man whose witnessed great loss but will do anything to find this missing kid. His solo scenes are something which can only be described as a joy to watch, all the more reason to get behind him. His chemistry with Winona Ryder make two brilliant leads along with some of the older kids. All of them with one goal. To find out what happened to this missing boy and what is going on in their town.

Even just as a look back at a time of such rich pop culture makes Stranger Things probably the hottest show on Netflix right now. The music, clothes, cars and look are all something an immense amount of effort has gone into.

We’ve all seen orange is the new black, now its time for horror to rule for a while.

The pacing, atmosphere and characterization are well achieved by the writer/director brothers who have brought an instant cult classic which I urge you all to watch. Yes you may cower behind the sofa but you’ll be better for it.

It really is about time that we stopped relying on House, Buffy and breaking bad to re watch for viewing pleasure. There is new stuff and its good.

The show can either be seen as a stand alone or with plenty of stories left open. If a season two is on the cards, it has my vote.

OITNB: Season 4 Review #nospoilers

The full title of this review post is actually: Orange is the new Black: Season 4 Review #nospoilers so calm your shit but in all honesty you should have finished watching the new season by now as it’s probably the best thing you can buy for a £7 monthly subscription fee.

Unfortunately, that is an inappropriately long title to convert into a URL and then paste onto twitter although short versions are available I’m not that technically gifted. Words are my specialty not computer machines.

OITNB

And so it’s that time of year again where Litchfield opens its heavily barred gates to continue and tell some new stories. A Litchfield that last time we saw, was on the verge of becoming a business and then thrown into chaos with an open perimeter fence. Don’t forget the influx of hundreds of new prisoners and of course Judy King!

A compliment to the writers as they continue to story right were the season before left off. Something which isn’t done enough in TV, even sometimes last season final outings are ignored along with their repercussions and even skipped. Not with OITNB, we as an audience are treated not only with continual stories continuing, but new characters, situations and alliances combined with this continuation.

In most top TV shows there are only third, fourth and fifth stories which swap around depending on the episode. For this show, we see the third, fourth and fifth develop and intertwine throughout whilst still being reminded of the main stories.

Our central character Piper is more of a frequent in this series as opposed to the last but overall the main character has to be the prison itself. Nobody is treated like a side show or event which bolsters this already brilliant formula. Newly arrived characters from previous seasons and even the beginning are given origins stories whilst existing people are built upon. A rich amount of detail is thrown into every one of the 13 episodes, and to me that beats the Walking Dead and Game of thrones.

Stuff happens all the time, whether that be comedic or down right tragic. Existing conflicts evolve to really bring together the three main ethnic groups inside this now business like prison. The introduction of new guards only stirs the already boiling pot that is going to cook out of control. This season has been building from the very beginning and could only be pulled off after the previous events happened. The tension is somewhat rising dramatically this time out.

From what begins as a series of intrigue eventually finds itself and its own voice with unfortunate and tragic outcomes in some places. At the latter end of episodes, it gets very dark and somewhat emotional, I mean we have seen shock and awe at Litchfield but tragedy, something you can only use in moderation twists everything. Most of the faces from before are back, even with a few decent cameos of ‘departed’ characters. There’s someone in there you can like and relate to.

Much like every episode of Orange is the new black, we get an awesome ending which leaves us all on a cliffs edge. But we are not left dangling, only thinking about what will happen next. If you have Netflix it’s about the only decent original thing out there, so go and see it.

Other news (because soon I will need to sell books)

Ok so July has somehow rolled around which means its around two months until my first book Open Evening comes out via e-book and later on paper back. Just a little shameless plug and a thanks to all who have supported me so far. This book is a new start for me and not about robots in the future. It revolves around the concept of how horrific high school can be, then introduce some actual horror and Open Evening is born.

I’m sure you will all be bored with my constant updates, but stay posted for more book related stuff.

After all this my #yearofwriting

 

 

 

The Conjuring 2: Horror done right

And I’m back for my second ever Saturday blog post. The last one worked so well I thought I would do another some months later. Things are about to get a little spooky and jump scary as we delve into a review of the Conjuring 2.

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I know for many people horror isnt your film genre. Understandably, there are many terrible horror stories out there, the monster gets revealed too quickly or you can see the ghost is actually a guy dressed in a bed sheet. Or you’re the other type who doesn’t like the potential heart attack, again understandably.
Myself, the jump scares and loud bursts of music have become something I can live with for the sake of seeing a decently put together story unfold.
So if you are familiar with the Conjuring and Annabelle (the latter in which I reviewed on here before) you will grasp the format. If not, well, there’s this couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren. They are paranormal investigators and work closely with the church. They take on cases of ghosts, ghoulies and possessions. Loosely they are based on a actual people, that’s always nice and adds to the horror.

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This time out they are faced with the ever so famous Enfield haunting. Of course this is after their most famous case back in the states, Amityville. The film introduces us to the aftermath of Amityville whilst slowly building up Enfield and the events that happened back in the 70’s. You can really feel the sense of build up and the story taking its time, something in which most films of this genre rush and fail at.
The two hauntings either side of the Atlantic have one thing in common. The potential to be hoax, even now it isnt really known if either are. Another contribution to the horror, mystery and sense of realists. Again boxes are being ticked here.
Eventually things start to get pretty damn poltergeisty (if that’s a word) in London and the media catch on. Events and the setting cling pretty close to the real story, with the Hodgson family being very well cast and convincing throughout. So it isnt long until the famous Warren’s are invited by the church to see what the damn hell is taking place.
I don’t give much away in my reviews, especially if this is a film I incline you to see, and it is. This conjuring 2 is a re-telling of a famous ghost story and built around just that. Of course the truth is merged with imagination and I couldn’t help but enjoy the build up of jump scares which were consistent and not over done.
Director James Wan has done a fantastic job with this beautifully shot creep fest. You can see they spent time and money on making this film look good on screen. This is of course a cinema film, especially if you want the sounds and sights. Even when somebody came down the aisle of the cinema I found myself on edge. In fact the whole audience behaved, something which tension will do to an audience. A rarity these days.
Both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the paranormal investigator couple pick up exactly where they left off and built upon their already rich chemistry and characterisation. This isn’t just a horror story but a trip back to late seventies England. Something in which older viewers will enjoy.
Whilst it’s still at the movies, go and see it.