Tuesday, 27 October 2009


The summer has been a hugely rewarding and very busy time for everybody at Nutshell. Issue One was so well received that we were submerged by submissions, feedback and professions of love from all over the world. So now, having changed the clocks, read our fan mail, and patted ourselves on the back, we find we all have much more time to spend indoors preparing the next issue of Nutshell.

We are calling for poetry, flash fiction, short stories, poetic prose or creative non-fiction. The inspiration and main theme behind Nutshell is urban space, the city as inextinguishable source of images, sensations and ideas. We still believe in cities and therefore, with such a vast theme behind us, we ask you to send us submissions on any topic you like – because we think it's very likely a city will be lurking behind it somewhere.

***DEADLINE: 15th DECEMBER 2009, to submit and get more info visit www.nutshellmagazine.com or send us an email: editorial@nutshellmagazine.com***

We are also still accepting, and very much encouraging, DONATIONS – YES PLEASE! All the people behind Nutshell work as volunteers, just for the love of writing and the pleasure of sharing a great publication with the world. Unfortunately, the printers don’t – they’d rather have the cash.

You could really help us with a donation, even if it seems like a teeny amount of money. Donate via paypal on our website, send us a cheque @

Nutshell Magazine HQ
77A Dartmouth Park Hill
London NW5 1JD

or talk to the printers in person and make them an offer they cannot refuse.

Either way WATCH THIS SPACE, Facebook page and Twitter for news on readings and fundraising parties, Nutshell Limited Edition T-Shirts… and who knows what else!

Keep writing!



Dearest Nutshell Blog readers,
As you can see we have a new addition to the Nutshell Blog: the film
review. We are crazy about words and storytelling and creating amazing
imagery and therefore as well as loving poetry, fiction and beautiful
writing we also love great filmmaking. Being Nutshell in paper form we
couldn't really include film in it, but we now have this blog and we
think films and film reviews could well become a little part of it.
James Bower is a freelance writer who specialises in film. He's very
witty and writes beautifully. His favourite movie is The Apartment and
(quoting him) 'He is absolutely not a dork.'
James will review selected films that we find have a connection with
what Nutshell stands for, which are simply outstanding, or which we
find stimulating for any other reason and would like to share with
you. As usual you are more than welcome to leave your comments.


Saturday, 24 October 2009

James Bower reviews UP for Nutshell

Review: Up
USA, 2009, Cert U Dir. Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
96 mins. Cast: Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer
Up is a masterpiece.
Not only that, but Up succeeds against the odds. Conceptually it’s Pixar’s weakest offering yet: It’s not about monsters, or robots, or toys. It’s about Carl Fredericksen. Carl is 78 years old with a walking frame and a house full of faded memories, primarily of his beloved wife Ellie. Ellie just died, and her loss is something that you’ll feel for the duration of the film. This is thanks to one of the greatest opening montages I have ever seen, animated or otherwise. Critics have been swooning over this one for weeks, and it’s my turn to join them. It’s the condensed life story of Carl and Ellie, from their first meeting as kids drunk on tales of ‘adventure’ to a closing image of old Carl sitting alone by a table of condolence messages. It’s the most affecting 20 minutes I’ve seen this year.
If you’ve seen a poster for Up, you know the story. Using hundreds of coloured balloons, Carl floats away in his sad little house (hey, it’s better than the Shady Oaks retirement village). But Up is not about a floating house. It’s about Carl. Carl clings to his house like a drowning man to a rock. He needs his stuff, and he has a lot of it. Photographs, scrapbooks, ornaments, furniture - it’s a chintzy museum dedicated to a life that ended when Ellie died. And he’s terrified of letting go. When Carl realises that the two of them never achieved their shared dream of adventuring in South America (his life in montage is full of mundane joys, but none of them involve what he considers to be ‘adventure’), he finds a way to get there without leaving his fully-furnished mausoleum. Did I mention that Carl is a balloon salesman?
The storytelling in Up is nothing short of masterful. Carl is painted so lovingly and with such clarity that it’s impossible not to feel for the cranky old coot. Ed Asner’s voice work is just perfect, right down to the irritated little grunts that make up half of his vocabulary. Despite himself, Carl charms not only the audience but also Russell (Jordan Nagai), a wide-eyed, slow-witted boy scout who happens to be on Carl’s porch when the house lifts off. Russell is part of a small supporting cast that also boasts a talking dog and an LSD-flavoured flamingo straight out of a Tex Avery cartoon.
At once crushingly sad and outrageously funny, Up’s laughs range from classic slapstick to a sublime musical montage set to Bizet (the whole score is first rate). One thing Up lacks is ‘zingy’ dialogue. Thank Christ! Am I the only one who’s sick to death of smart-ass zebras and neurotic penguins? Up’s delicate, honest humour is part of its irresistible charm. Equally satisfying are the action sequences, perfectly paced and choreographed and a thousand times more gripping than the cgi brain damage of the summer’s top action flicks. A briefly-glimpsed thunderstorm into which Carl and Russell accidentally drift might even out-rumble the whirling ocean maelstrom of Miyazaki’s Ponyo.
Up is visual poetry. It speaks on many different levels woven into an outstandingly complete cinematic experience. Most of Carl’s life whizzes by us in a few minutes, but you can feel the passing years as though you’re there with him, and that’s what gives the rest of the movie such a wonderful weight and texture. Carl’s hermit crab-like dependency on his house is never telegraphed; it’s just there, plain as the big round nose on his face. Russell isn’t just bumbling comic relief; he’s a real kid, and he has a sad story of his own that he can barely articulate. But Up can.
See Up as soon as possible, as many times as you can. Whimsical but not saccharine, tight but not contrived, it’s smart, it’s funny and it’s beautiful. It’s also strikingly mature. This is a kids’ movie, but not one in which everyone’s dreams come true. It’s one founded in disappointment and regret, but which then lifts this sadness into a glorious statement about the malleability of dreams. There are new ones out there that Carl just didn’t know about yet. You can tell when a film has been made with love; Up is such a film.
- James Bower