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Classic comedy is here to stay! Rock and Chips: my new love

20 Jul

Despite the fact that I’m only twenty-two, I think I was born in the wrong time period, because I am all about the old adages, the classics and even in some of my attitudes I can be pretty old-fashioned. When I was a child, my brother and I use to visit my dad at his flat on the weekends, and one of my fondest memories was being allowed to stay up late and watch television. Dad hated television and films aimed at kids, so instead we watched films like Ben Hur, Gone with the Wind and classic television series like Star Trek, Open all Hours, Last of the Summer Wine and my personal favourite, Only Fools and Horses.

One of my best buys in a long time! ūüôā

Watching the antics of Del boy and Rodney, who like me had a less than conventional childhood, never failed to put a smile on my face, I grew up with all the episodes and specials marking every Christmas, and by the time I had reached my teenage years I had seen every episode, and could recite them by heart. Although I started watching the series from childhood, it was only until I started growing up that I began to really understand the more subtle adult comedy, and recurring themes and story lines that featured in some of the episodes, and began to appreciate just how brilliant and talented the writers and cast members were. So imagine how thrilled I was when I found out that John Sullivan had released Rock and Chips, the prequel exploring the origins of the series that set the whole world on fire!

So although I shouldn’t have…I treated myself! Yes I ordered the series box set (unfortunately¬†its a very small series, only three¬†episodes,¬†since¬†poor John Sullivan died before he was able to finish) and got a pretty good deal from Play.com only ¬£11 and free delivery, win!

So for those of you that don’t know, Rock and Chips is set in the early 1960’s in Peckham, and follows the lives of the Trotter family, in particular Joan Trotter, and how she met Freddie Robdal, the man who would eventually father her youngest son Rodney. It also explores the life of Del Boy and other recurring characters such as Denzil, Boycie, Trigger and Slater, for fans like me it answers a lot of questions, but even if you have no knowledge of the original series, its worth watching. Kellie Bright and Nicholas Lyndhurst are creative actors who bring their own style of comedy to the roles, and if you’re a fan of the Inbetweeners James Buckley, then you’ll enjoy his characterization of cheeky cockney chappie Del Boy.¬†It also provides an insight into the 1960’s culture, how people were¬†still¬†recovering from the war, the NHS and government reforms and how they effected the working class, feminism, as well as the mods and rockers youth movement. Entertainment, forbidden love and history! What more could you ask for?

Its actually quite a sweet love story ūüôā That I’ve completely gone head over heels for!

So if your open-minded and want to see something different, an Only Fools and Horses fan, or just fancy a good bit of British comedy, take my advice and watch Rock and Chips. You wont regret it!

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The Devil Inside

12 Apr

I blame my mother for my¬†bizarre love of movies designed to terrify and cause sleepless nights. While most children were watching cartoons or Disney movies I was watching The Omen, Queen of the Damned and Alien. In fact for a year of my childhood I truly believed that¬†gruesome creatures might attach themselves to my face (explains my distaste for having my face touched)¬†and burst forth from my stomach like I was human¬†pinata (and to be honest I’m not completely convinced they wont now.)

Which is why The Devil Inside was an obvious choice to go see at the cinema, I’m fascinated by anything to do with the genre of the supernatural; and religion, luckily for me I’m not the only one,¬†as I had Stu (movie sceptic) Kelly (fellow horror film lover) and Grant (well happy to see anything really, particularly if it involves tea or monkeys?)

With front row seats I settled myself down for what I imagined was a Blair Witch/Paranormal Activity like movie¬†experience,¬† and to be honest I’m still not sure if that’s what I actually got.

So the plot focuses on Isabella Rossi¬†a young woman with a tragic¬†family past,¬†making a documentary on exorcism in an attempt to understand what happened when her mothers botched¬†exorcism left three people dead,¬†and her mother sent to a psychiatric hospital in Rome.¬†Isabella¬†and her friend¬†Michael¬†journey to Rome to meet her mother and after a short but turbulent meeting, are convinced there’s more to Isabella’s mothers condition than poor mental health.¬†Attempting to further their understanding of exorcism they attend lecturers at a school of exorcism where they meet disillusioned priests David and Ben,¬†and when the Catholic Church denies Isabella’s request for another evaluation of her mother’s condition they reluctantly agree to help.

Mockumentaries¬†are a genre of film that has exploded over the years, all starting with The Blair Witch, mockumentaries¬†use the filming theory of ‘less is more’ and generally this works, as I find that often things beyond our senses ability scare us the most. This mockumentary¬†follows the same ideal, and although it works I think that this film could have done with more supernatural footage, another problem was that the plot was quite predictable, you would think with a genre like religious supernatural thriller they would have¬†allowed their imaginations to run wild and explored the theme, but the film¬†stuck to a time-honoured traditional exorcism story.¬†However the most disappointing aspect of this film is the ending, the film reached a critical moment and then just stopped. For a minute I thought there had been a technical fault and I was waiting for it to come back on again, I imagine it was meant to be a shocking twist¬†ending the¬†director thought would be clever and¬†would pave the way for the longing of¬†a sequel. All it paved the way for was a perplexed audience, my friends and I were not the only ones leaving the cinema with a sense of confusion, and the feeling of being cheated.

Despite the unfortunate¬†amount of¬†negative aspects this film has,¬†I’m still glad to have seen it and found it fairly interesting and engrossing. I think I¬†went to the cinema with¬†expectations of what this film would be like after watching the¬†trailer¬†and because The Devil Inside didn’t match¬†them I found it¬†lacking. If you’re expecting¬†a ground breaking film¬†on the theme of exorcism¬†and religion then you will leave disappointed¬†but¬†if you’re looking¬†only for a simple horror that you don’t have to give much thought too,¬†that¬†‘does what it says on the tin’¬†then this is the one.

 

 

Welcome to the best exotic marigold hotel!

15 Mar

My new phone contract is the gift that keeps on giving, as now I have another excuse to spend my time in the cinemas thanks to Orange Wednesdays, for the first time in my life yesterday I sent off my text to Orange awaiting with anticipation the magic code that would allow me to get two for one cinema tickets!  And what better way to use that two for one offer than seeing the surprise hit of the box office, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Take a journey to exotic India!

Sitting down in our seats my friends commented that we were the only people under forty in the room, which made me slightly nervous as to my choice, and whether I would be receiving some severe ribbing if this all went disastrously wrong, but that worry soon faded when the film had us all laughing only three minutes in.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel takes us on a journey with seven british retirees who for different financial reasons are unable to afford to retire in Britain, and decide on spending the rest of their twilight years abroad in exotic and more affordable India. Newly widowed Evelyn (Judi Dench), recent high court judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson), aging Lothario Norman (Ronald Pickup), man hunter Madge (Celia Imrie) , married couple Jean and Douglas (Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighly), and bitter racist Muriel (Maggie Smith) are lured by the advertisements of a beautiful new refurbished hotel and luxury lifestyle. However on arrival they find that so many things were not quite as advertised, the hotel is dilapidated, the facilities almost non-existent and the food a spicy change from their usual cuisine.

Sonny (Dev Patel)¬†, the young¬†well-meaning optimistic dreamer, is the manager of the hotel. Excited by his first real paying guests, armed only with enthusiasm determined to make the hotel and his dreams of ‘outsourcing retirement’ a success, fights a losing battle struggling to balance his financially¬†challenged hotel, grumpy guests and controlling mother. Each member of the group makes their own discoveries as they all clumsily settle into their new lives in India,¬†finding themselves again in a way they never could in Britain.

This is a film that will definitely make it to my DVD collection when it is released, the acting was brilliant, particularly Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighly and Maggie Smith. If you ever have any questions on why these actors are considered of the highest calibre, watch this film, it really showcases their comedic talent. Dev Patel had me laughing out loud, he played his role as the optimistic dreamer very well, his line ‘everything will be all right in the end, if it’s not alright…then its not the end’ not only made me giggle but also made a lot of sense, and spoke to the optimist in me. I may be referring back to that quote in the future when times get hard!

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel drew me in and had me emotionally involved, I found myself rooting for the characters and getting into the spirit of the film. Part of this films magic is how it captures you, makes you think about your own life and where you’ll be in the future. Personally I hope I have at least half of the adventurous spirit that the characters in this film had, when I reach their age!

I don’t usually give ratings in my film reviews, as unless a film is truly terrible I find it hard to sum up¬†each films individual¬†qualities and reduce and¬†place them¬†into a generalist stat, as each film is different and has something to offer. But I shall conform this once and give it nine out of ten, the only reason it lacked the ‘ten out of ten’ rating was because in the middle it dragged slightly, but that is certainly forgivable when you take into account¬†how good the film is in its¬†entirety.

So pay a visit to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and open yourself up to an exotic adventure in India that you’ll never forget!

Happy World Book Day

1 Mar

Happy World Book Day everyone!

I’ve loved books since I was a little girl,¬†¬†reading ‘Roger Redhat’ to my no doubt exasperated father every bedtime, it turns out that a love of the literary starting from early childhood grows and if nurtured is a life long passion, which is why I can work my way through two or three books a day and have a book shelf on the verge of dangerous¬†collapse. My family however don’t¬†share the same love of the written word as I do and I often feel a bit disappointed not being able to pass on amazing books that have changed my thinking, or that I’ve really enjoyed, which is why I adore World book day. A chance to discuss¬†and¬†celebrate the works of great authors that allow each and every one of us the opportunity to explore new worlds and concepts, experience adventure and become part of a journey that starts with the turn of the very first page .

So since its World Book Day and I have a strange compulsion to make lists, I thought I would make a list of my top ten books.

Time to celebrate reading!

1. Run by Blake Crouch

This book I read in one sitting I was that engrossed in it, ‘Run’ is a fascinating exploration of human morality and what happens when the conscience and morality that guide our everyday¬†lives and choices¬†is removed. It’s a normal day in America until a rash of strange and senseless murders sweep the country, strangers for no reason start killing, mass shootings at schools, brutal murders in nursing homes, death on every street corner in every town in America. The President begs for calm but the horrific and inhumane murder continues and increases, until it becomes clear that half the population has become contaminated by something compelling them to kill those unaffected, without mercy. The emergency broadcast system announces names and addresses of those next to be killed, Jack and his family are among them. ‘Run’ tells the story of Jack and his family trying to survive in an impossible situation, where the¬†boundaries of humanity, what it means to be human, and how far you would go to survive take you to the brink and back.¬† This is amazing, I can’t imagine anyone finding this book boring, its well worth picking up!

2. Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George

This won’t be for everyone, but personally I¬†can’t stop re-reading this¬†book, ¬†I love historical fiction and Cleopatra has always been a female heroine figure of mine¬†shrouded in mystery, which I’ve¬† wanted to know more about. ‘Memoirs of Cleopatra’ allows you to explore the life of one of histories most famous femme¬†fatale’s from her early childhood, up the infamous asp death scene that have given artists and poets plenty of inspiration over the years. A fictional narrative based on solid facts creates a vivid account of her life, that is an interesting read if you have a love of history.

3. Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella

I have a complete eclectic taste in literary genres, so¬†I’m not ashamed to admit that I love this self-proclaimed ‘chick lit’ series of books. It has to be the funniest series of books I’ve ever read that has me laughing out loud and attracting the stares of worried passersby. This series¬†follows the life of trouble prone Becky, who has a relationship with her credit card that puts me and even the big bad bankers to shame! Compulsive spender Becky gets her self into all kinds of¬†bizarre incidents that spiral completely out of control, ¬†and hilarity soon ensues! Another reason to adore this series is because we can all find elements of ourselves in Becky and Kinsella brings to life those elements in a comical fashion that allows us to appreciate even the worst parts of ourself.

4. The saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan (O’Shaughnessy)

Ok so these books are not exactly aimed at adults, I discovered them in my teenage vampire groupie stage but whilst I’ve grown up they have remained a brilliant series, with lots of interesting plot twists that keep readers guessing. The ‘saga’ gives a completely different interpretation of vampires from the usual, and quite expertly creates a whole little universe with its own rules, traditions and customs for the readers to associate with vampires, before Twilight came along and made vampires sexy model like creatures that have more of a hunger for lust than blood, this was the most realistic interpretation of vampires for most people, and pray god still is. The story focuses on Darren, a young teen boy who becomes tangled in the world of vampires and a bloody war, when he becomes a vampire himself to save his dying best friend, blood, horror, war and destiny, what more could you ask for?

5. The tea rose by Jennifer Donnelly

My cousin introduced me to this book and its sequel ‘The winter rose’ and I can’t thank her enough as¬†I had been missing out! ¬†Set in the Victorian era it follows Fiona Finnegan who dreams of doing what no other woman in her world has, to own her own¬†business. With the intelligence, willpower, strength¬†of her family¬†and love of her life Joe by her side she knows she can not fail. But Fiona’s life soon starts falling apart when her family experience tragedy and Joe is forced into an unhappy marriage with another girl, with little left to her Fiona starts again in the land of opportunity, America, where the dream she had to put on hold is now her only chance of surviving.¬†Romance, drama and intrigue set against the backdrop of one of Britain’s epic passages of history.

6. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Almost everyone has heard about this book but if you haven’t then you have missed out on an amazing experience. Exploring themes of racism, love, power, self-worth and violence I have yet to meet anyone who can fail to be moved by this book. History tells us that white dominated black, but in ‘Noughts and Crosses’ this history is re-written with black supremacy instead, where white people ‘noughts’ never achieved equality. Sephy and Callum are the Romeo and Juliet of this piece, desperate to be together despite the fact that the world won’t allow it. What difference does colour make and how and¬†why does someone who is of a different nationality, race, colour, religion become hated, feared and less human? This book made me question all my beliefs and ask some important questions, read it and you’ll discover a lot about yourself.

7. An evil cradling by Brian Keenan

Ironically when I studied this at A level I found it incredibly tedious, but at that point I was being made to write four page essays on single paragraphs, no wonder it lost its charm! Re-reading it a few years later I realised that I hadn’t appreciated just how good it was. A true story written by the hostage himself Brian Keenan, Brian takes us on the journey of his long four and a half-year captivity spent¬†in solitary and in companionship with his captors and fellow captives. It’s not just an interesting account of a hostage experience, but of the mental state of someone who experiences the full range of emotions including madness, and the coping capabilities of humans when faced with this situation. Painfully honest in every way, but I found that refreshing, its¬†insightful and you’ll finish with questions, ideas and maybe some self realisation.

8. Sister by Rosamund Lupton

A great psychological¬†thriller that will keep you guessing until the end, ‘Sister’ makes you think about how well you know anyone, even your own family and what may be going on behind closed doors. Beatrice has the ‘perfect’ life in New York with her fiance, so when her mother calls with the news that her sister Tess has gone missing, she can’t quite believe that this could be happening to her. Beatrice flies straight back to the UK, desperate to track down her sister who she believes she is so close too, but what Beatrice does discover is that she doesn’t know Tess quite as well as she thinks.

9. Sea Change, Escape, Fiesta, Footloose by Kate Cann

My guilty pleasure, these books are the ideal holiday reads, ¬†full of sun, sea, sand and that other thing ūüôā The girls in these books all escape to exotic new lands where they make self realisations, find true love and make life changing decisions. Which is more than I ever do on holiday! (Maybe I’m doing it wrong?) I hate to say it, but they are the perfect trashy read for the beach bum in me.

10. Keeping faith by Jodie Picoult

I love a good controversy and Jodie Picoult¬†always delivers, this particular novel by Picoult is my favourite of her series. Mariah White struggles getting from day-to-day after her young daughter Faith walks in on her husband having an affair, trying to move on¬†in a life without her husband Mariah’s problems increase when Faith claims to have an imaginary friend that she calls her ‘guard’ and begins quoting passages from a bible she has never read. Things spiral out of control when Faith begins to experience stigmata, and performs miracles. With the church, press and social workers at her back and her ex husband ready to fight for custody of the daughter he abandoned, Mariah begins to lose control of her life and of the one thing in her life that keeps her going, her daughter.

So these are my top ten books, they changed my way of thinking, my outlook, ideas. Expanding your horizons is always worth doing and perhaps one of these books might just do that! If you have any book suggestions for me then please comment! Pass on your favourites!!!!

 

 

The woman in black

17 Feb

This is the film I’ve been waiting for. Ever since the trailer burst on to our tv screens oh so many months ago, I knew I had to see it, my school girl crush on Daniel Radcliffe non withstanding, the trailer brought back memories of happy times spent in my old A level drama class, going to see the production with my friends, studying the play, analysing it to death and even writing about it¬†in my exams!

His talent isn't limited to Harry Potter ūüôā

The fact that I knew exactly what to expect with this film because of my previous study did nothing to ruin the experience for me, I spent the whole day getting in the ‘paranormal’ mood by watching re-runs of ‘Most Haunted’ and ‘Ghosthunters’ and my favourite horror movie companion Kelly spent the lead up reading horror stories. Both of us feeling sufficiently terrified before we’d even sat in our seats I promised not to¬†punch when I¬†jumped (it’s a thing I do) and she promised not to scream out loud, with this agreement in place we were ready to go!¬†

There are some slight differences between the¬†original and the film, but the main storyline is this…

Young Edwardian lawyer Arther Kipps still grieving for his wife lost to a difficult childbirth, is forced by his law firm to go to remote Eel Marsh House,  and handle the estate of deceased Alice Drablow. Leaving his young four-year old son Joseph in the care of his nanny, with only the promise of a reunion in the nearby village after the work is completed, to look forward to. But the seemingly simple task of organising the estate is not as simple as it seems, on arrival Kipps is greeted with hostility and fear, desperate to complete his task and be reunited with his son, Kipps ignores the warnings from the locals and enters Eel Marsh House  finding much more than he bargained for.

I wondered if the film would live up to the hype or fall¬†short of expectations,¬†but I have to say it deserves its reputation, from the off set an atmosphere was created,¬†by the bleak grey colouring of the scenery and costumes¬†as well as the¬†tragic forlorn expressions constantly clouding the lovely Daniels face. Lots of reviewers said they found this to be the scariest film they’d ever seen and I hate to jump on the bandwagon but I have to agree. I was clinging on to Kelly for dear life with one hand, and with the other peering through my fingers, even the unflappable horror film veteran Kelly found herself becoming jumpy with a racing heart.

I think the most surprising element of this film¬†was the certificate rating! 12A? What were they thinking? I would not take anyone under 15 to go see this, they’d be traumatized! I can’t help but think that this¬†low certificate¬†rating was to allow the younger Daniel Radcliffe¬†fans the chance to spend their money seeing this film. This aside The Woman in Black is a fantastic horror/thriller that takes its audience to the brink of terror and back again, every moment is carefully crafted to create suspense and fear, plenty of talent was on¬†display, the child performances were particularly¬†chilling and Ciaran Hinds did a wonderful job playing the¬†wealthy sceptic landowner, forced to face the terrifying truth.

So if like me you have a fascination with the paranormal, enjoy being scared witless and are crushing over the gorgeous Daniel Radcliffe then go see The Woman in Black, and allow yourself to be taken on a twisted journey with a dramatic conclusion.

Confessions from the underground

3 Feb

I love channel 4 for many reasons, they have the¬†Simpson’s, My big fat gypsy wedding, Hollyoaks and Jon Snow. However their series of documentaries on controversial topics is¬†definitely¬†the largest reason for that love, I’ve spent many evenings with my flat mate Rachel glued to the television, having a bit of a lively debate on our¬†differing¬†views (me and Rach are a bit of a personality contrast, but that’s what keeps our friendship so interesting!)

So when I saw the programme ‘Confessions¬†from the underground’ advertised there was no question that I was sitting down to watch it, as someone who has had a fair bit of experience doing the commute to London and¬†tackling¬†the tubes, I found this a¬†fascinating¬†programme from the viewpoint of people working behind the scenes on one of the oldest yet busiest subway systems in the world.

If you’ve gone on the tubes before, and I’m sure you have at some point, then like me you may have felt some apprehension for the first few journeys. I’ll never forget the first tips my dad (a hardened London commuter veteran) gave me when I started commuting. Never stand in the first row behind the yellow lines, try to stand behind two people who are shoulder to shoulder so they create a barrier if you get pushed, keep one foot forward as a form of balance and stability in case you do get someone who¬†deliberately¬†pushes you (yes apparently that happens) and try not to wear anything that has dangling bits which could get caught between doors.¬†

I watched interviews with staff who genuinely cared about the safety of commuters, tourists and other travellers using the underground, and created a compelling picture of an old and lagging system pushed to the limit by cuts, with underground staff barely holding the¬†pieces¬†together. One woman¬†described¬†the system as ‘running on ¬†luck’ whilst another young man spoke out about how the drive to make the underground faster and efficient has led to severe breaches in public safety and was ‘killing with cuts.’ They raised interesting points and opinions on how London would cope with an influx of visitors for the 2012¬†Olympics, giving an¬†insight¬†into what I already imagined was a thankless job, describing some of the¬†treatment¬†and tasks they have to¬†perform¬†its a wonder they turn up to work at all.

With a great amount of¬†in-depth¬†research and ¬†interviews on a system that a large¬†majority of¬†the¬†country¬†depends on yet takes for granted, this was an amazing programme narrated by one of the all time greats Richard Wilson. Watching this you can’t help but compare our¬†subway¬†system to¬†other¬†countries¬†like Japan, Russia, France and China ¬†and wonder why Britain wastes money on so many pointless¬†endeavours, when it could be¬†spending¬†it¬†constructively¬†on¬†updating¬†a system that’s very much in need and in constant use.

Thought provoking and insightful, if you haven’t seen it, make sure you do!

War Horse: A beautiful story from a tragic era

18 Jan

Going to see War Horse was inevitable from the¬†minute I saw the trailer, I love horses, I use to ride myself and I think that these genres of film are important to watch, as we should never forget the horrifying events of both world wars, this film had already captivated me before I even made it to the cinema, the trailer alone was that fantastic. I’ve never seen the play (much to my regret I imagine it was a wonderful production) but I’m sure the film lives up to the productions and novels glory.

When my lovely friend Kayla suggested we go to the cinema for an evening out it was between The Sitter and War Horse, well the choice was obvious…rubbishy innuendo filled comedy? Or beautifully crafted movie presenting an epic part of British history? I was slightly hesitant to see War Horse at the cinema as I knew I was in for a bit of a tear jerking few hours with lots of screeching actors, however I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of the usual wailing dramatics that I’ve seen before in films trying to portray heartbreak and horror, War Horse presented poignant sorrow and silent sentimentality, pride, dignity, hope and courage. I found this to be far more¬†effective¬†as in real life we don’t go running around wailing our emotions, and the mark of a wonderful actor is to present emotions to an audience just as clearly but without the banshee method. Well that’s exactly what you’ll get with War Horse, a lot of attention and care has gone into this film.

Directed by Steven Spielberg War Horse features the story of Albert Narracott who experiences love at first sight when he sees a young colt, later when his father buys the colt at the market even though he needed a plough horse, to spite his greedy landlord who was also bidding, Albert is delighted and promises his furious mother that he will raise the horse and make him useful.

Albert names the young colt Joey and the two form an unshakeable bond of friendship and love that is put to the test, when Joey is sold by¬†Albert’s¬†father to save the farm, to a young¬†cavalry¬†soldier about to enter into the fray of the First World War. Albert swears that when he becomes of age he will join the army and be reunited with Joey again, no matter how long it takes and how far he has to go.¬†

I must say that this is one of the few films that can truly be described as ‘beautiful’ from the¬†filming¬†locations to the acting everything about it is stunning, quite a few high-profile actors made their appearances, I was particularly delighted to see Benedict Cumberbatch from the BBC’s Sherlock who is an amazing actor (and my latest celebrity crush, he has lovely cheekbones, delicious!) and David Kross from the award-winning The Reader.

Another wonderful thing I thought War Horse highlighted was the sacrifices that the horses made in the first World War, around ten million horses were estimated to have been killed overall, one million from the UK alone with only 62,000 of those horses returning, most killed either in cavalry charges, exhaustion or for meat when the war concluded. The pain and suffering of these poor courageous animals deserving as much honour and remembrance as the men who died, War Horse finally gives them their just tribute.

So take some time out of your week to go see War Horse, and become immersed in the amazing story of two friends that even a war which turned the world upside down, was unable to keep apart.

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