Following their giant-killing feat in the first round of the UEFA Europa League when they knocked out Glasgow Rangers in a memorable night in the Grand Duchy, Luxembourg's Progrès Niederkorn were knocked out in the 2nd qualifying round on Thursday evening.

Playing against AEL from Larnaca in Cyprus, Progrès Niederkorn had gone into the away leg already 1-0 down from the home defeat in last week's first-leg match. With all yesterday's goals coming in the second half, AEL scored first through Fidelis on 70 mins, before Françoise gave the Luxembourg team a glimmer of hope with an equaliser on 83 minutes.

The home side, however, scored again five minutes later to seal the tie 2-1 on the night (3-1 on aggregate).

Friday, 21 July 2017 09:58

CS Fola Advance in UEFA Europa League


In the UEFA Europa League, 2nd qualifying round, Luxembourg's CS Fola scored four goals against İnter Bakı, from Baku, inAzerbaijan, to win through 4-2 on aggregate, at the Stade Emile Mayrisch in Esch-sur-Alzette on Thursday evening.

Starting the 2nd leg 1-0 down, CS Fola took just 21 minutes to square the score, with Hadji finding the net. And after 32 minutes, Saiti had doubled the score. At half-time, the score was 2-0 on the night, 2-1 on aggregate.

In the second half, CS Fola kept up the pressure on the visitors, with Laterza scoring in the 59th minute. although the visitors got one goal back through Fardjad-Azad in the 70th minute, CS Fola were not finished, and substitute Sacras' goal four minutes into added time ensured that the score was 4-1 (4-2 on aggegate).

CS Fola will next play Östersund (Sweden) in the third qualifying round.

TEAM (CS Fola): 1 Hym (GK) 8 Muharemović 10 Dallevedove (sub. 82 mins Kocur) 15 Hadji 20 Bechtold 22 Saiti (sub. 67 mins Bensi) 23 Laterza 24 Kirch 28 Klein (C) 44 Chrappan 92 Corral (sub. 77 mins Sacras)

Friday, 21 July 2017 09:45

Return to Montauk: Film Review

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Directed by Volker Schlöndorff (Death of a Salesman; Diplomacy; The Handmaid's Tale; The Tin Drum) and starring Stellan Skarsgård (Good Will Hunting; Our Kind of Traitor; Hector and the Search for Happiness; In Order of Disappearance; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Bronagh Gallagher () and Nina Hoss ().

Drama; 106 mins; children admitted

Based on the novel Montauk by Swiss writer Max Frisch, the film is about a writer on a promotional book tour in New York catching up with his past. The author Max Zorn (Stellan Skarsgård) is now in his early 60s, is in New York with his wife Clara (Susanne Wolff), with whom he appears to have a loving relationship.

However, deep down there appears to be an uease as he reads different excerpts from his book at different readings. He laughs it off as fiction, but the storyline is about the protagonist (author?) and his reconnecting with a woman with whom he had had an affair 17 years ago. Max, through his agent, tracks down Rebecca (Nina Hoss) who initially does not want to meet him. However, circumstances entail that they go by car for the drive to Montauk. What starts off as a day trip ends up being for a bit longer...

The main tagline for this film sums it up perfectly: Can there be a future for their past?

A stylistic and atmospheric drama with great cinematography and some philosophical dialogue which could have achieved more. The acting at times is good, but the consistency is not maintained throughout.

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Directed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Cloverfield ) and starring Andy Serkis (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Longford; Star Wars: The Force Awakens; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn), Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt; The Messenger; The Hunger Games; Now You See Me;No Country for Old Men), Karin Konoval (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Steve Zahn (Captain Fantastic; Sahara; Dallas Buyers Club; Sunshine Cleaning).

Action adventure; 140 mins, 12+

The storyline picks of from the end of the previous film in the franchise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; with Kobe now dead, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes want and end to conflict and live peacefully. However, their lives are shattered when their community is raided one night and Caesar loses members of his family in a case of mistaken identity - The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) and his band of renegade soldiers have defied orders and set out on their own agenda.

Caesar feels split loyalties; on the one hand he must see his apes get to safety and, on the other, he feels an obligation to avenge his family members' deaths - in so doing, he recognises he is taking on some of Kobe's traits, that he so despised and resisted at the time.

They come across the army camp of The Colonel and his army of men, who have captured apes and kept them prisoner without food or water, forcing them to work for them to build a defence wall. Along with trusty stalwart Maurice (Karin Konoval) and new and lovable character Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) whom they meet along the way, they devise a plan to free the apes and escape. They discover that The Colonel and his army are not only foes with the apes...

Despite the title of the film, there are relatively few war scenes; this is more about the characters and the personalities rather than anything else, plus great cinematography. The storyline supports them, rather than the other way round. A wonderful summer film, arguably the best of the series to date.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017 09:38

Chapter1 Closes its Doors

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Yesterday, the Chapter1 bookstore filed for bankruptcy.

Having started the business in 1993, the original owners of the English-language bookstore gradually took a back seat, with current owner purchasing the Belair-based bookstore a number of years ago, putting her own passionate mark on the business and investing into modernising and expanding the business.

Chapter1 opened its doors in October 1993; the following year Chris Wilson took over ownership with Pauline Probyn beoming a partner in 2000. Pauline retired in 2012 with Chris following suit in a couple of months' time; both remaining in Luxembourg. Marketing Consultant Caroline Mühlfenzl took over the business in 2012, and Sue Morris remained on the staff to provide continuity until she reired, with Jane Mottet coming in as Manager.

Just a few weeks ago, it closed its second outlet in Luxembourg, the ambitious 130 m2 Book Loft in Howald, located above the Éirelux store on Rue des Bruyères, which it had opened to great fanfare on 1 July 2016, with His Excellency British Ambassador to Luxembourg, John Marshall, there in an offical capacity.

Both locations had become well-known for book-readings featuring both local and internationally-renowned authors, with authors from Ruth Dugdall and Daniel Pembrey, to local celebrity chef Anne Faber, all drawing the crowds. The main bookstore also hosted regular Saturday-morning book-readings for young children, which transferred over to the Book Loft when it opened this time last year, wiunder and around the Reading Tree.

In the early beginnings of Chapter 1, it got it reputation for its extensive range of greeting cards in English as well as its Sunday newspapers and weekly and monthly magazines. A large part of its business was school books, both for the European and international schools here as well as local Luxembourgish public schools with English on their curriculum.

A couple of months ago, Little Britain in Mamer also closed its doors for the last time. Both will be sorely missed.

Photo (below, outside the Belair bookstore in 2012, L-R): Pauline Probyn, Caroline Mühlfenzl, Chris Wilson; (bottom): the Reading Tree at the Book Loft

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017 08:34

Dunkirk: Film Review

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Directed by Christopher Nolan (Inception; The Dark Knight; The Prestige; Insomnia; Interstellar) and starring Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies; the BFG; The Other Boleyn Girl; Twelfth Night), Barry Keoghan (Mammal; The Killing of a Sacred Deer; '71; Traders; Life's a Breeze), Tom Hardy (The Revenant; Inception; The Dark Knight Rises; Mad Max: Fury Road; Child 44; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Jack Lowden (England is Mine; '71; Tommy's Honour; U Want Me 2 Kill Him?), Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet; Henry V; Wallander; Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), Cillian Murphy (Inception; The Dark Knight; Perrier's Bounty; The Wind That Shakes the Barley; The  Girl with a Pearl Earring), Harry Styles (first feature).

Action drama; 106 mins; 16+

Christophe Nolan's latest film has been described as a "blockbuster" and an "epic". It is set in May-June 1940 and is set leading up to the evacuation of allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in northern France. Surrounded by the German army and with their backs to the sea, they have nowhere to go.

The director tells many interwoven and linked tales, of soldiers in the British and French armies, the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the sea, including both the British Navy and the by-now legendary flotilla or armada of small craft that sailed across the English Channel. A couple of young soldiers meet up on the beach at Dunkirk, being the only survivors from their units, and try to find a way off the beach amongst the hundreds of thousands of other soldiers already there. They survive a raid by Messerschmitts and discover one barely-alive soldier among the bodies and carnage, and manage to get him to a Red Cross ship at one of the piers. Hiding among the pier struts, they overhear Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) and realise the gravity of the situation.

Meanwhile, three Spitfire pilots set out for the French coast and become embroiled in a dog-fight high in the skies - one of the most memorable scenes in the film is towards the end and features one of the pilots (no spoilers here...). Back in England, in one of the coastal towns, Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) is preparing to help the war effort and take his pleasure craft across the channel to help rescue the troops. His son is with him and so too is a young deck-hand (Barry Keoghan). They come across some of the horrors of the war on their way over to France.

Together, the component parts make an interesting story which is well stitched together in an atmospheric time-piece. Special effects are used, but there are kept to a minimum, ensuring that what the audience sees is as real as possible.

This film needs to be seen close-up - not from the back-row in the cinema - the audience needs to be immersed in the action-packed story, whether it be on land, on sea or in the air.

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With rumours about whether Google will or will not set up an operation in the Grand Duchy, it appears that a decision is imminent.

Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Economy, Etienne Schneider, informaed members of the Economic Committee on Monday that a 25 hectare site in Bissen/Roost has been proposed to Google Inc., which is looking to establish a presence in various jurisdictions this year. The move is understood to be partly to defend itself against the surge of Amazon in the potentially lucrative Web Services market; Google is understood to the planning up to 12 such data centres around the world, with the US and Japan already confirmed for two sites.

The site in Bissen/Roost - not too far from the Goodyear R&D facility in Colmar-Berg and the Creos electricity maintenance centre, would be for a large data centre: Luxembourg has the highest concentration of Tier IV data centres - the highest certification currently available - in the world.

One of the delays regarding this specific location is that that not all the landowners involved have confirmed their willingness to sell. Minister Schneider hopes that this issue will be resolved within days. If any when this is done, a plan for the rezoning and redevelopment will have to be prepared and passed, a process which can be known to drag on.

The investment is understood to be in the range of €1 billion and could create up to 300 jobs both directly and indirectly, according to Minister Schneider, although it is really too early to say as Google's "Luxembourg" project has not been clearly defined. The data centre would consume much electricity; here Luxembourg has an advantage, with one of the lowest commercial electricity rates in the EU.

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On Thursday, Luxembourg's Mandy Minella teamed up with 27 year-old Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the Ladies' doubles at Wimbledon.

Up against 21 year-old Ipek Soylu (Turkey) and 27 year-old Varatchaya Wongteanchai (Thailand), they lost the first set comprehensively. while they found their feet in the second, it was too late for a comeback, and the ylost in two sets.

Final score 1-6, 6-7.

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On Tuesday, Liberty Special Markets (LSM), part of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, announced its intention to base its EU operations in Luxembourg folloiwng the UK's decision to leave the EU.

According to Liberty, the move follows a detailed analysis of potential jurisdictions, with the aim of ensuring the LSM's post-Brexit structure complements its european strategy. It will seek regulatory approval to set up a capitalised insurance company and insurance intermediary in Luxembourg to continue to serve both Lloyd's and company paper from its offices throughout the EU and Switzerland.

Luxembourg was chosen due to its robust regulatory environment and well-respected regulator and strong financial services experience.

Nick Metcalfe, LSM's President and Managing director, said "We have ambitious plans for growing the business that we do within and from the EU, and Luxembourg best fits the design principles we set ourselves to best position our post-Brexit structure. It is important to us to locate ourselves in a robust regulatory environment, and Luxembourg offers us exactly that. The regulator is well-respected, pragmatic and insurance-specific and so undertands the market very well."

Liberty is the latest in the line of a number of leading insurers which have chosen Luxembourg for their new EU headquarters to ensure that they can continue to serve their European clients post-Brexit, including AIG, FM Global, CNA Hardy, Hiscox and RSA Insurance Group.

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On Monday, Luxembourg's Gilles Muller won his first round match in the Gentlemen's Singles at the Lawn Tennis championships at Wimbledon.

Muller, seeded 16th and ranked #26 in the world, defeated Hungary's Marton Fuscovics in three sets, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2.

In the second round, the 34 year-old will meet 31 year-old Lukas Rusol of the Czech Republic who defeated Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland in the first round.

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