The Englishman who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain – Film Review

Director: Christopher Monger

Writer: Christopher Monger

Starring: Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Colm Meaney, Ian McNeice, Ian Hart, Kenneth Griffith

Rating: ★★★½ 

Set in 1917, against the backdrop of the First World War, The Englishman who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain is a feel-good comedy about community spirit. Written and directed by Christopher Monger, who also wrote the book the film is based on, the film stars Hugh Grant and Ian McNeice as two English cartographers who are sent to the village Ffynnon Garw to measure the elevation of a nearby mountain that’s beloved by the villages.

This is one of those charming little films that takes what would be a mundane story and makes it into something entertaining and heart-warming. When the cartographers come back to the village to announce that the mountain is in fact a hill, the village is completely distraught, and they don’t want to accept it. Instead, they decide to add to the mountain, carrying buckets and buckets of soil to the summit to add twenty feet to it, so it can once again be classed as a mountain.

While most of the village are digging up fields and carrying them up the mountain, there are some who are tasked with keeping the Englishmen in the village so they can re-measure the mountain before moving on. Some of the funniest moments of the film come from them trying to do this, such as sabotaging the car they drove in on and pretending there’s no other way out of the village as the only trains are coal trains.

At its heart it’s about a community who are struggling with the effects of the war. They’ve suffered losses and there’s even someone who’s returned from the war suffering shellshock. Those who stayed home are working in the mines, which have become even more dangerous as they’ve forced to up their efforts. The declassifying of the mountain comes as the final blow to the small community and they rally together to try and change that. 

Hugh Grant and his usual awkward charm shine throughout the little story, as he starts to help the village achieve their goal. He also falls in love with one of the locals, giving the film a romcom subplot throughout the later part of the story. Grant’s character is also at ends with his more jaded and cynical superior.

It all adds up to a low-stakes story that you can’t help but rally behind the quirky characters of the village. Perfect feel-good watching for a lazy Sunday afternoon. 

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After Parting – Part Six

In the days leading up the funeral nothing else happened. Sally thought that maybe Chris was just saying goodbye and hadn’t meant to cause any harm. She thought that maybe being a ghost or whatever he was, it wasn’t easy to control your strength. She’d spent hours researching it online but couldn’t find anything conclusive. There were tons of stories about similar things happening, and yet even with what she’d experience, her initial reaction was to assume they were made up. It took her mind off other things though, and she was grateful for that.

The night before the funeral was a parade of calls from people, all sending her best wishes and telling her that they’d be there for her. Sally found it all a little overwhelming and had turned on autopilot for most of the calls, including her own parents. So much of what had happened over the days leading up to that point felt like a blur and Sally couldn’t really single any moments out. On a bookshelf, wedged between the tops of books and the bottom of the shelves above were stacks and stacks of cards, that were all sweet, but Sally didn’t want to put the cards out.

Chris’s mum, Jacqueline, picked her up in the morning to take her back to their house, where the hearse would arrive later to pick them all up. Sally had a feeling that the hearse not going to Sally’s house was a sly dig at her but didn’t question it. The response would be that it wasn’t anything like that and that it was because they didn’t want people to crowd Sally’s house. It was Chris’s house too, she replied in her imaginary conversation as they silently drove, and he should have made his final journey from there.

“How have you been,” Jacqueline asked.

“As good as I can, thank you.”

“I just can’t believe it. I can’t stop thinking about it. If only you weren’t driving. If only you’d gone a different way. If only you’d gone out a different day. I can’t believe it happened and people keep saying that they’re sorry. It makes me sick. I’m sorry, dear, but it makes me sick to hear from people that haven’t thought about my family in years. How do they even find out, it’s like they’re parasites. You know that old woman next door brought me flowers yesterday? I don’t even know her name. I’ve never spoken to her, but she thinks that’s okay. How did she even know? Sorry I know you’re going through it all too. It just makes me so angry.”

“That’s okay, I understand. I’ve felt the same about the number of calls I’ve gotten over the last few days. It’s been too much. I haven’t had time to think.”

“Of course you haven’t. Some person rips up your entire life like it’s nothing and then everyone comes swooping in as if them saying they’re there for you is their ticket to heaven.” They pulled into the driveway, and Jacqueline turned off the car, but didn’t move. Instead, she turned to Sally and continued speaking. “I can’t believe that other woman is still alive. You know she walked out of hospital without a scratch on her? I can’t believe it. She should be the one who died. Not Chris, not my little baby. She should be the one being buried today.”

Sally wasn’t sure what to say to her mother-in-law. All she could do what look into her eyes and try not to look away. She noticed how puffy her eyes looked in the morning sun, covered up by layers of makeup. There was so much anger and pain behind those eyes.

“They’ll all be here soon,” Jacqueline said and shifted in her seat to shrink back down. She wiped her eyes before she spoke again. “I just wanted to say, before everything happens today that I don’t want you to think that we’re not still family, okay? I don’t want to lose you too and you still have a seat at our dinner table, okay?”

“Thank you,” Sally said after a couple of seconds of silence. “I appreciate that.”

“That’s okay. I know it’s been a whirlwind over the last few days. I hope you don’t mind that I organised most of the funeral. I know you said it was in the hospital, but I hope it isn’t a problem. I also want to say sorry for not coming to see you in hospital more.”

“Oh, no, it’s okay. I was out of it most of the time, so it doesn’t matter at all, honestly. I appreciate you coming to see me at all.”

In truth, Sally had no recollection of saying it was okay in the hospital. She’d assumed that they’d blamed her for the death of their son, so wasn’t expecting to see her at all.

The house was very quiet inside. People gathered in black clothing and standing around in silence. There was a selection of drinks on the kitchen table.

“Chris would have hated this,” Simon, his brother, said. “He always hated people being down. He would have wanted everyone up and laughing. Not depressed.”

“He’s right,” someone else said. “He would have cracked a joke or two by now.”

“Maybe he’s here and has told a few jokes. Would explain the silence,” Simon replied to a small chuckle. “He was never good at jokes.”

It didn’t take long for the hearse to arrive and once it had pulled up in front of the house, everyone dropped to silence, including Simon. Sally could feel panic growing inside. Laila had appeared and had her arm around her, but it was still growing. She was shaking and couldn’t face the idea of going outside.

“Come on,” Jacqueline said reaching out for Sally’s hand.

She took it and the pair of them walked outside, with the rest of the house following close behind, climbing into various cars. Sally couldn’t take her eyes of the coffin, knowing that Chris was inside there. He was close, but there was an abyss between them.

To be continued…

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Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo – Film Review

Directors: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki

Wrister: Hideaki Anno

Starring (English Dub – Dubbing Brothers): Spike Spencer, Allison Keith, John Swasey, Amanda Winn-Lee, Mary Faber, Tiffany Grant, Felecia Angelle

Rating: ★★★½

The third entry to the Rebuild of Evangelion series picks up fourteen years after the explosive ending of the second film. This is a completely different story to the TV series now and doing its own thing completely. For the most part it works, but there’s a few frustrating issues as well that stop this from being as good as it could be.

Due to the time skip, where Shinji has been unconscious inside Unit 01, you spend a lot of time doing catch-up. Characters, for good reason, are hesitant to talk to Shinji about what’s happened, so it’s slowly drip-fed through the ninety-minute film. It leaves you with little idea of what’s actually happening for a lot of film. There are things that happen that could have also been avoided if people just communicated more, which is frustrating. It also means that a lot of the character development that Shinji went through in the second film is pretty much forgotten. His relationships with the other characters are pretty much wiped clean, which makes this feel very disconnected to what came before.

That’s not to say that the new direction of the story isn’t interesting, because it certainly is. It’s just tonally very different, and once the final credits start, it’s clear that this entry is just set up to the final film in the series. There are some new characters that are at play, and they’re great additions to the story. Likewise, Kaworu Nagisa is a main character this time around (after being teased in the first two films), and Shinji getting to know him is the best bit of the film. There’s an entire sequence in the middle, where it’s just Kaworu and Shinji playing the piano together, getting in sync for what’s to come later (an idea that was also explored in the original anime), and it’s really well done.

Secrets and twists are also revealed throughout the film, giving more backstory and explanation to what’s happening in the wider story. It’s not done quite as well as in the original series where an entire episode fleshes out the backstory of some of the characters, but it works in the context of the film. The animation is absolutely stunning, especially during the fight sequences that bookend the film. It’s absolutely awesome to watch.

Sadly, what really lets down the film is how rushed the final act is. It’s quite convoluted, hard to follow, and essentially just putting the pieces in place for the final entry. The first hour of the film is quite slow paced, and then everything goes full speed until it’s over with a cliff-hanger ending. There was originally a nine-year gap between this film and the fourth one, thankfully newcomers won’t have to endure that wait to find out what happens next.

You Can (Not) Redo is an ambitious entry to the series. Any fans of the original anime are in for a shock when watching this, and that has mixed results. The animation is pretty brilliant, and the new characters are great.

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Magic in London: Enrolment – Part 19

Catch up on Magic in London here:

Chuck’s voice echoed throughout the schoolgrounds, vibrating through every surface. Fiona had never heard anything so loud before. It stunned her to the spot and she stopped trying to run away from the skeletal horse that was chasing her. It came crashing through the walls of ice she’d created, smashing each one to pieces. Fiona didn’t even notice it getting clearer. Just as it was about to hit her, the horse evaporated into air, leaving a few embers of flame to continue the journey and be put out once they hit Fiona. The ice walls also started to melt, seeping back into the ground they came from.

Once all of the ice had disappeared, Fiona could see that Chuck was sitting on the floor next to Tommy. Chuck looked out of breath, beaten and tired. She remembered that he hadn’t long recovered from the attack in the basement, and then adding the horse’s attack onto that it was lucky he was still alive at all.

Tommy on the other hand looked completely bewildered. He was sat up, looking around the place with confusion all over his face. His eyes darted about. Fiona started walking towards him, and as soon as he spotted her he started to shift backwards, trying to get away. He started trying to speak, but only gibberish came out. Chuck didn’t move at all, he just had his hands in his head, trying to refocus after everything had happened. After shouting he’d blacked out for a moment, and he felt faint.

“Hey, Tommy?” Fiona said in a soft voice.

The boy nodded.

“Are you okay?” She continued.

Another nod.

“Are you ready to get out of here? Don’t worry I’m not going to hurt you, nor is this person. We’re just here to help in anyway that we can. I’m going to take you to someone who can really help you, is that okay?”

“What’s happening?” the boy said with a hoarse voice.

“It’s a little tricky to understand, but you were using magic to keep everyone here in the school.”

“No, I wasn’t.”

“I know it sounds scary, but trust me, it’s okay. You didn’t mean to do it. It just happens, if you don’t understand how to use it.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“I know. It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. There wasn’t any harm done.”

“Where’s Brad?”


“I had a dream that he fell into a well. He is a bully. He always tries to fight me and push me over. I remember him doing that and then I shouted. I didn’t want it to happen anymore.”

“I see. Brad’s gone home. He can’t hurt you anymore.”

“Can I go home now?”

“Not yet. Soon though, you can go home. For now, you just need to trust me. I’m here to keep you safe.”

“I don’t know.”

“Please Tommy, I need to take you to someone who understands this a lot more than I do. I also need to take my friend here to get some help from a doctor.”

Chuck started to stand up, his body feeling shaky. His head pounded with pain and the world around him was spinning uncontrollably. He could see multiple of everything around him.

“Is he okay?”

“He’ll be fine. He just hit his head.”

“What happened to your leg?”

Fiona looked down at the burn on her leg. It looked bad, but Fiona knew that Millie would be able to patch her up in no time. She just had to avoid passing out due to the pain beforehand.

“Don’t worry about that,” Fiona said. “I burnt it, but I’ll be okay later. Are you okay to go now?”

“I don’t know who you are.”

“Sorry. I’m Fiona. My friend here is Chuck. We’re kind of like magicians and we’re here because this school was put under a spell. It’s all okay now. You said you had a dream about Brad being in a well? That was real. But it’s okay now, it’s all over.”


“Come on, I’m going to help Chuck and then we can get going. I know someone called Arthur who is going to want to meet you.”

Fiona walked over to Chuck, trying to put as little pressure on her burnt leg as possible. She swung an arm around him and they both supported each other to get to the gates. Fiona didn’t want to fight with Tommy, and was hoping that if she left it up to him, he would follow.

“Why is this taking so long?” said a voice that Chuck didn’t recognise.

They stopped walking and Chuck looked around, trying to find who was speaking.

“Because it was a little more complicated that you said it would be.”

“We thought better of you than this,” the voice said again.

Sitting on the gate to the schoolyard was a small black bird with a red bill. It was looking at Chuck and Fiona.

“Bring the boy to us as soon as you can. Arthur is waiting and Arthur is not patient.”

“Okay, we’re coming right away.”

“Is that a talking bird?” Tommy said running ahead of Fiona and Chuck.

“I am Annwn, little one. You are the great Tommy. It’s a pleasure to meet you. And you Chuck. It’s good to make your acquaintance too, but it looks like you’re close to death’s door. Perhaps this life is not one meant for you.”

Chuck didn’t reply. He was stood in shock.

“You’re so cool,” Tommy said to the bird.

“Quite. I’ll be at the school waiting for you all to arrive. Arthur doesn’t like people to be late.”

With that the bird flew off into the sky and quickly out of sight.

“That was so cool,” Tommy said. “Are we going to see it again?”

“Unfortunately, yeah, most likely,” Fiona said. “C’mon. Let’s go.”

To Be Continued…

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After Parting – Part Five

By the time her parents, Jack and Sophie, knocked on the door, Sally had forgotten they were even coming. The afternoon had been spent going through Chris’s office and tidying it. There were cups and plates hidden under his desk that Sally had long thought were smashed.

“How you keeping up?” Jack asked while hugging her as he walked in.

“I’m doing okay, thanks dad.”

“That’s good. If you want to be left alone or want us to stay just let us know, alright? Whatever you need we’re here.”


“I’ll take this into the kitchen,” he said holding up a bag of Chinese food.

Sally led her parents through the house and into the living room. She sunk into the sofa seat that she’d spent almost half a decade worth of evenings in. Her mum sat down next to her, sitting up straight on the edge of the seat, while her dad found his way to the armchair and started to dish out the food.

“Is there anything else you need doing?” her mum asked.

“No, thank you,” Sally replied. “Thanks for the food though. The fridge is empty, and I hadn’t really thought about eating.”

“Oh Jack. We should have picked up some things on the way. I’m sorry. We’ll do it tomorrow morning.”

“That’s okay. I can do it.”

“We emptied the fridge and cupboard of any perishables when you were in hospital. It would be awful to have to deal with ants or something when you were back. If we’d known you were coming back home today, then we would have made sure you were stocked up.”

“I know mum, thank you.”

They started eating in silence. Sally couldn’t really taste anything she ate, just the nausea it brought on. For most of the time, she just played with her food, picking up little bits here and there as a show to stop her parents from worrying further. She could hear every single tick of the clock in the corner of the room, and each one seemed to take longer to arrive than the one before it.

“Do you remember when we used to all eat at our place,” her mum said. “All four of us and you and Chris would bring over the food, just like we’ve done today.”

“Yes, I remember,” Sally said.

“I loved those nights. We would play boardgames. They were the highlight of my month. We used to have such fun together.”

“I know.”

“That’s okay, honey,” Jack said. “If you don’t want to talk about him, then you don’t have to.”

“It’s not that,” Sally said.

“You have to remember the good times. It’s how we’ll get through this,” Sophie said.

“There’s no one way for anything,” Jack replied. “Let Sally deal with it how she wants to.”

“Dad, please. I’m not a child anymore, either of you. I’m dealing with it, okay.”

“Sorry,” Jack said.

Sophie didn’t say anything, she just looked down at her food in silence.

“Mum, do you remember what you used to tell me? About when grandad died, and you saw him.”

“Yes, I remember. I’ll never forget that.”

“Tell me about it again, please.”

“Of course, honey. I was on holiday at the time when it happened. I was on a beach with friends. This was before I even knew your dad. I was sitting there in the sun, having a great time. We were all having fun. Then the sun seemed to fade away. There was a shadow over us, but no one cared. It was a large rain cloud that was coming over and it started pouring. It came out of nowhere and soaked us all through. There was panic where everyone got up and started running about. As I stood up, I saw my dad, your granddad, he was standing on the pier over to the side, looking over me and the sea. He saw me too, I could tell. I stopped moving and just looked at him, made eye contact with him and he smiled at me. It was very strange, but very calming. Then the clouds parted, and the sun came back and started baking us again. Something distracted me and I looked away for a second, when I looked back, he was gone, but I knew. I knew he’d died. I couldn’t explain it to anyone, but I told my friends I had to go back to the hotel, so we did, and I called my mum, and she told me that he’d fallen down some stairs at work. I told her it was okay, that he was in a better place. That I knew he was at peace. I could sense it. She asked me how I could have possibly known that, and I told her it was just a feeling. I was still sad when I went back home that day, still cried at his funeral, but I know he’s always looking over me. He’s always been with me and I’m happy to know that he’s okay. In the same way that Chris will be with you always. He’ll always be looking after you.”

“So, you believe that there’s something after this?”

“Yes, absolutely dear. Ask anyone, they all have weird stories or things that have happened after someone died. It isn’t just me. Ask your dad about his uncle. Go on Jack, tell her.”

“It’s nothing quite like that, Sal, but it’s still weird. My uncle always told me about how his grandma always sung a song to him, and the day after she died when he was going to the shops to buy a suit for the funeral, he heard someone singing that same song in the street. Someone he walked by. It was an old song, something you didn’t hear very often. It made him feel like she was alright, wherever she was.”

“Thanks, dad.”

“No problem. I don’t know if there is anything else after this, but I think people get to say goodbye, in their own way at least.”

To be continued…

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