adventure, blogger, blogging, book, book blogger, book blogging, book review, books, childhood, fucking adorable, fucking awesome, fucking sweet, must read, review, reviewing

Book Review – The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

dscn69175_star_rating_system_4_stars1 Continuing in my recent spate of reading children’s books, I’ve just finished the book that was awarded the Costa Children’s Book Award last year. I bought it on the same Amazon spree that finally saw me grab a copy of Tin and, after it was recommended to me, I couldn’t resist. It sounded like a much less violent version of Lord of the Flies and, despite the fact that the violence is the whole point of William Golding’s book, that did sound quite interesting. I would have finished the book much quicker than I actually did had it not been for a particularly difficult week at work that saw me falling asleep mid-chapter a few nights in a row. Still, it didn’t exactly take months so I can feel okay about it I guess.

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1988, 80s, blogger, blogging, buddy comedy, film, film blogger, film blogging, film reviews, films, fucking awesome, fucking funny, fucking sweet, rom-com, romance, sports, TBT

Throwback Thirty – Bull Durham (1988)

51u8fxjcqal5_star_rating_system_4_stars1 Another week down and another 30 year-old film to discuss. I’d not seen Bull Durham before because, quite frankly, when something is described as a mixture of romantic-comedy and sports film then I’ll just assume it’s not for me. I don’t have the best history with sports film because I really can’t give a shit about sports. Sure when the Summer Olympics is on I might watch a few of the more exciting events but I can honestly think of better things to do with my time. I’m of the opinion that if you like a sport that much then you’d be better off playing it than sitting in front of a TV watching it. But I’m also the kind of person who finds board games to be edge of your seat excitement. So, I don’t exactly go out of my way to watch a sports film unless there’s another reason to enjoy it. Sure, when I was younger, I was obsessed with the film Little Giants but that was only because it came in a 3 film VHS set along with Richie Rich and Dennis. Still, just like my beloved Mighty Ducks trilogy, it’s an incredibly silly film that happens to be about sport. Not exactly up there. The closest I’ve come is The Damned United; a film that I only watched because I’m completely in love with Michael Sheen and his face. Ask me anything about football and I’d draw a blank. So, I couldn’t exactly say I was looking forward to Bull Durham but I also figured that it was about time that I watched it.

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blogger, blogging, book, book blogger, book blogging, book review, books, fucking adorable, fucking awesome, fucking beautiful, fucking sad, fucking sweet, review, reviewing, reviews, robot

Book Review – Tin by PĂĄdraig Kenny

IMG_42355_star_rating_system_4_stars1 My Instagram is mostly made up of me following the prompts of certain photo challenges so I am encouraged to post a wrap-up at the end of every month. This is a chance to show people the great pile of books that you’ve managed to consume throughout the previous four weeks. The only problem is, my piles never end up being that impressive. I have every intention to read loads each month but, depending on how dejected work leaves me, I don’t always manage it. I love being a part of the Bookstagram community and, despite how little my friends understand the appeal, I enjoy taking photos each day. The only problem I find with the whole endeavour is the underlying competitive spirit. No matter how ridiculous, I always feel guilty when I see how much other people are achieving in their spare time. It’s a feeling that makes me want to give up on complicated books and just read easier/shorter things. Which is perhaps one of the reasons that I became so obsessed with my last read after I first heard about it. It came to my attention through an email from Waterstone’s where it had been named children’s book of the year. It looked and sounded so good that I stopped reading the wonderful Amiable With Big Teeth in order to get through it. Considering I’ve had Claude McKay’s newly discovered novel on my TBR for about a year now, it kind of feels wrong to be reading a book written for kids but, to be honest, I’ve not been this desperate to read anything for ages.

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adulthood, blogger, blogging, captivating, film, film blogger, film blogging, film reviews, films, fucking awesome, fucking beautiful, fucking sad, fucking sweet, Oscars, review, reviewing, reviews, women

Tuesday’s Reviews – Lady Bird (2017)

lady_bird_poster5_star_rating_system_5_starsIn my attempt to watch all of the films nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Oscar I think I’m going to run into a slight problem. Every new film I watch is going to become my new favourite. I thought Dunkirk would always be at the top because it was, almost, flawless. Then I watched The Shape of Water and instantly fell in love with it. I couldn’t imagine wanting any other film to win in March. Until I watched my third. You know that thing where you think you’re emotionally stable until you watch a film and start having a slight breakdown? That was my experience with Lady Bird. Then I made the mistake of Googling Saoirse Ronan’s age and became even more of a wreck. How can people so young be so talented and successful? It’s just not fair! I’ll admit that 3 weeks before my 30th birthday probably wasn’t the best time to be watching a film about an adolescent with their whole life before them. Nobody needs to be looking back on their achievements (or lack of) at a time like this. Luckily for me the supremely wonderful Greta Gerwig is slightly older than me so I was spared another break-down post-Googling her. I genuinely don’t know what I’d have done.

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blogger, blogging, film, film blogger, film blogging, film reviews, films, fucking awesome, fucking beautiful, fucking sweet, fucking weird, reviews

Tuesday’s Reviews – The Shape of Water (2017)

shapewater5_star_rating_system_4_and_a_half_starsThere was a time when I used to watch most if not all of the Oscar nominated films well before the awards. This year, the 90th Academy Awards is being held the night before my 30th birthday (aka the reason I’m watching so many films from 1988 this year), which, thanks to my colleagues, I am reliably informed is a mere 27 days away. The only film I’d watched up until this point was Dunkirk, which you may remember I reviewed back in August out of spite. I figured it was about time I do something about this so set about watching as many of the movies nominated for ‘Best Film’ this year. 9 films in 27 days? Along with everything else I have to do? I’m going to be honest, I probably won’t manage it but I’ll give it a damn good try. Who needs sleep anyway? I know that everyone has been jizzing all over Call Me by Your Name recently but, as good as I think it might be, I find it hard to believe it genuinely was the best film of last year. So, instead, I decided to start with the film that I was most excited about. Also, the weirdest looking film in the whole bunch but what do you expect from someone like Guillermo del Toro?

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1988, 30 years, 30th birthday, 80s, anniversary, FBI, film blogger, film blogging, film reviews, films, fucking sweet, gangsters, meh, Michelle Pfeiffer, mobsters, review, silly, TBT

Throwback Thirty – Married to the Mob (1988)

5_star_rating_system_3_stars I have to say, I’m quite enjoying this journey back to the year I was born. I mean, politically it was a pretty shitty time in the UK but there are plenty of cool films that I’m yet to discover. I’m not suggesting that all films from this year are going to be stellar or even completely watchable but I’d say, on a whole, I’m not ashamed of my birth year. I discovered the other day that a lot of the films in my TBT jar are currently on Netflix UK. I guess its possible 1988 films are popular because of the big 3-0 anniversary but maybe it’s just cheaper. I don’t know and, really, I don’t care. If it’s as simple to get through my Throwback Thirty list as turning on Netflix and relaxing then I’m happy. Still, it does mean I’m taking the whole ‘randomly pick a film out of the jar’ thing a little less seriously. I genuinely picked a Netflix film this week but, after finding so many on there, I’m tempted to change the rules. The problem is, there are a lot of films in the jar that I love or am super keen to watch but a fair few that I think it will be tougher to get myself to watch. The more serious and filmy films. If I don’t stick to the “rules” then I’ll only watch the ridiculous films like Killer Klowns From Outer Space or Who Framed Roger Rabbit and not the films like Cinema Paradiso. Basically, I’d just watch films that meant I didn’t need to think. I wasn’t sure how I’d fair with today’s prompt but I sat down anyway. After all, I’m a big fan of Alec Baldwin’s face in the 80s and, even though he’s only in this film briefly, it was enough of an incentive.
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Dwayne Johnson, films, fucking stupid, fucking sweet, Jack Black, reboot, review, sequel, silly, the Rock, unnecessary sequel

Tuesday’s Reviews – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

 It’s been 22 years since Jumanji, the film directed by Joe Johnston and based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book, was released. That film was groundbreaking in the 90s for its use of CGI and has become a much loved classic thanks to Robin Williams’ lead role. The original book isn’t exactly crammed with material to adapt but there was so much potential with the concept of a board game that came to life. I can’t remember how many times I’ve watched the original film at this point but it always makes me feel like a kid again. I know it’s meant to be a kind of scary situation but I’ve always wanted to play this fucking game. I don’t care how many monkey’s destroy my kitchen or monsoons fill up my entire house with water. It looks really fun… and incredibly dangerous obviously. For a movie that has it’s fair share of flaws, it’s pretty damn perfect and has remained a classic even though it hasn’t really aged well. So the news that we were getting a new film was worrying. I know Hollywood likes to remake and reboot franchises these days but, surely, nobody would be stupid enough to try and remake the original? I mean Robin Williams made that film what it was so trying to make it without him would be suicide. However, the news that this would be more of a sequel than a remake was enough to get me a bit excited. Dropping the Rock, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan into the jungle? Who wouldn’t want to see that even a little bit? Was I still annoyed that they were squeezing as much cash out of the original film as possible? Was I still worried that it was going to be a terrible mess? Was I concerned to see Karen Gillan dressed like Lara Croft despite it being 2017? Yes, yes, and hells yes! Did I care enough to not see it? Nah.

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films, fucking adorable, fucking funny, fucking sweet, Netflix, quirky, review, Sam Neill, Taika Waititi

TBT – Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)


You may have gathered from my review of Thor Ragnarok on Tuesday that I fucking loved the film. It was the funniest Marvel movie that I’ve ever seen and was the most enjoyable cinema experience I’ve had all year. I know that, as a massive fan of the Thunder God, it was inevitable that I was going to adore this film but my love of the most recent film in his series of solo films comes from mostly from the work of director Taika Waititi. Waititi has a habit of making films that are as much fun as saying his name over and over. I remember adoring the delightfully weird Shark vs Eagle way back when and his mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows managed to breathe new life into the genre that Christopher Guest has almost single-handedly wore down to the bones. Waititi, as I suggested on Tuesday, was an incredibly unusual choice to make Marvel’s latest big blockbuster. The New Zealand director has preferred to stay away from big productions and has specialised in smaller, quirky comedies. One of which keeps appearing in my Netflix recommendations and catching my eye. I’ve wanted to watch Hunt for the Wilderpeople for ages but, like everything else I see on Netflix, I kept passing over it in favour of watching Stranger Things or Rick and Morty for the umpteenth time. So, I decided, to fit in with my last review, it was a good opportunity to finally watch it. To me 2016 doesn’t really qualify for a TBT post but I think there are times when I can make exceptions. Certain films deserve a loophole or two.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the kind of film that grabs you from the start and you are never able to escape from. It introduces us to a Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), a juvenile delinquent who has ben rejected from all his previous foster families and is now a burden on the Child Welfare system. Welfare services officer Paula (Rachel House) drops him off at his final chance to find a family. Living in a remote farm, Bella (Rima Te Wiata) shows the boy genuine affection and he starts to feel comfortable. Until her untimely death anyway. After than, Ricky is left in the charge of Bella’s cantankerous husband, Hector (Sam Neill). When Pauline warns that she is returning to take the boy away from the farm, Ricky runs into the bush and gets lost. Whilst Hector easily tracks him down, the pair, now being hunted by the law, decide to take their chances in the wilderness so they can remain together. They quickly learn to rely no each other and form an uneasy relationship.

The best way I can think of to describe Hunt for the Wilderpeople is Up meets Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright. It is a film that is incredibly funny, heartwarming and very well made. Everything just works despite it’s quirky and kind of absurd nature. It boasts fantastic performances from its two lead stars and their relationship is what keeps this whole thing together. Sam Neill is phenomenally strong as the man who is quietly grieving whilst also trying to come to terms with this strange teenager he’s been lumbered with. The ups and downs of the pair’s time together is genuinely wonderful to watch and their eventual relationship is so sweet your teeth will hurt for days. It is, however, Julian Dennison) who gets the best lines and offers the most memorable performance. Ricky is a child who dreams of being a gangster rapper so is about unsuited to rural life as it gets. But there is depth to the character as he is, beneath the bravado, just a lost little boy looking for someone to love him.

Although Hunt for the Wilderpeople never strays too far into sentimentality and schmaltz. It contains hard hitting drama and emotional punches when it needs to but, before you have a chance to shed a tear, it will suddenly have you screaming with laughter. Waititi’s characters all inhabit a strange world in which reality is slightly off but so phenomenally funny that it doesn’t matter. Hunt for the Wilderpeople may not have the budget or action as Thor Ragnarok but it certainly matches in terms of entertainment. It deftly works everything together and creates characters that, though flawed, you really care about. It has humanity, humour and heart. It has larger than life characters that feel anything but real. It seems to me that this film alone was the perfect precursor to any Marvel film. Maybe I’ll have to revise my statement’s on Waititi’s hiring?

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90s, British, film, films, fucking sweet, Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, review, Richard Curtis, rom-com, romance, TBT

TBT – Notting Hill (1999)

I’m not going to lie to you guys, my schedule has gone a little awry this week. I didn’t watch anything for today’s post yesterday as I intended so had to quickly find something appropriate whilst browsing Netflix as soon as I got home from work. It’s the end of my working week so I’m pretty tired and just picked the first film that seemed like an easy watch. It certainly doesn’t link to my review of 6 Days from earlier this week. I do prefer it when there seems to be some method to my madness but that definitely isn’t the case. However, I’m a consummate professional so should be able to come up with a logical reason if you’ll give me a moments thought. Ahem. I opened Tuesday’s post talking about how Jamie Bell will always be Billy Elliot in my eyes, which links to the star of today’s film I guess. To me and most people in the world, Hugh Grant is, and forever will be, the bumbling, floppy haired idiot who starred in loads of Richard Curtis romantic comedies. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take him seriously in anything and have just come to believe that any Hugh Grant film I see will basically just be Notting Hill 2 or something. Which is fine, I guess, as I don’t exactly go rushing out to see Hugh Grant movies any more. This isn’t the 90s for fuck’s sake. However, it is late on a Thursday night and, having to be up early to get shit done tomorrow, Notting Hill seemed like a fairly adequate choice for my viewing pleasure. It’s actually been ages since I saw it.

I pride myself on my dislike of romantic-comedies. It’s not that I think they’re inherently bad films or that I’m too much of cynic to enjoy them. Contrary to popular belief, my heart isn’t made of stone and I’m a sucker for a good love story every now and then. The key word being, of course, a “good” love story. I find most rom-coms that I’ve ever seen to be annoyingly unrealistic and just far too predictable. Every single meet-cute that you see on screen is absolutely absurd and, were they to happen in real life, would in no way lead to anyone falling in love. The romantic-comedy is just a massive cliche based around the basic premise of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy desperately tries to win girl back with massive romantic gesture. It’s up to the individual writer to fill in the remaining time with any number of awful coincidences and stupid misunderstandings that keep the pair apart for as long as possible. After all, we’ve got to amp up that emotional drama level.

As rom-coms go, Notting Hill has a a pretty long running time so there are plenty of chances to keep the two potential lovers from getting together. Is it too long a film? Definitely. Does it matter? To be honest, you don’t really feel the drag too much because this film exists in such a pleasant bubble that you can’t help but get dragged in. The London of Richard Curtis’ Notting Hill is that twee and cutesy version of England where everyone lives by the “Keep calm and carry on” system and, when things get bad, sticks the kettle on and opens some biscuits. This isn’t real London by any stretch of the imagination. The cast of characters is part of that increasingly eccentric breed of British people that exists in Hollywood to cover up the fact that, in reality, British people are just a bunch of dickheads. Notting Hill isn’t just a romantic-comedy; it’s a fucking fairy tale.

The unbelievable narrative sees travel book shop owner Will Thacker (Hugh Grant) meet mega Hollywood starlet Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) when she decides to browse his shop for a book about Turkey (obviously). When he accidentally spills orange juice on her, the actress agrees to go into this perfect strangers house to change and gets about a course of events that sees Will fraudulently claim to be a member of the press, chase Anna across London and, basically, make a huge tit of himself every chance he gets. There’s a lot of guff about real people falling in love with a celebrity and the intrusion of the press but, when it comes down to it, Notting Hill is like any other Curtis rom-com.

However, after watching it again I am annoyed to say that I kind of enjoyed it. I mean it’s as predictable and silly as any film of this genre but there is something quite nice about it. Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts are both good in their roles and you can’t help but want this two attractive bastards to just make it work. Will’s group of weirdo, outcast friends seem like a super nice bunch of people who, despite never being able to exist in real life, add a great layer of humour and heart to the main narrative. The film does experience an obvious dip in quality as it goes along but not so much that it drags along. The opening is funny and kind of heartwarming in its own way and the first press junket scene is still a joy to watch.

Despite a few misguided attempts to make a point about journalism and privacy, this isn’t a serious or clever film. It doesn’t need to be. It’s just the story of a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her. And, despite my hard, hard heart, that’s fucking adorable.

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Ben Stiller, cliche, films, fucking funny, fucking sweet, fucking tragic, Michael Sheen, midlife crisis

Tuesday’s Reviews – Brad’s Status (2017)

For me, the experience of applying for university was a nightmare. I had to apply twice because I had to resist one of my A Levels. For my friends A Level results day was a time to celebrate and look forward to their journey ahead. Me? I ended up in tears and having to call my mum to look after me. I didn’t get a place so was faced with either going through clearing (something my head couldn’t deal with) or taking a year out and trying again. That was back in the day when there weren’t many places left in clearing so I, inevitably, went for the latter. This means I experienced my fair share of open days. They always left me feeling more than a little overwhelmed. I once went to one at Sheffield, which I attended on my own as part of a last minute decision. In hindsight it was probably a bad choice because, in those days, I wasn’t exactly known for my ability to navigate. I somehow managed to find my way to where I needed to be but promptly got lost in the city during a break. Now I’m so old that this was before we all carried smart phones with handy maps in them so I just wandered around until I eventually made my way back to campus before my tour began. It probably made me a

better person and gave me a handy answer for the question “tell us about a time when you had to solve a problem under pressure”. In the end I went to Lancaster University for my undergraduate course. My first visit to my alma mater was on Valentine’s day, a fact I remember because my father, when he had briefly wandered off, was given a heart chocolate from a student. I made that sound way creepier than it was to; people were handing them out to everyone. Still, I’ll never forget that first visit to the place that shaped so much of my life. I’d never really gotten over the fact that I lost my place at Sheffield the year before so it was decision that I was never sure about. Well not until about one week in to my first term. Everything just started fitting into place and I realised that I was exactly where I was meant to be.

The reason for my nostalgia comes from having just watched Ben Stiller’s new role as an anxious father taking his son on college tours. By the time I was applying for universities my parents had already been through the process with my older sister. Of course, this time they were having to deal with both myself and my twin going through the motions. They may have already gone through the stages but having to do it twice at the same time must have been interesting. It certainly is for Brad Sloan (Stiller) who is using his son’s future as a chance to reflect on his own life and have a bit of a breakdown. More of a breakdown, it would seem, than his son, Troy (Austin Abrams), who is handling the stress with maturity and a quite confidence. With Brad’s wife, Melanie (Jenna Fischer), busy at work, the pair are left to travel to Boston on their own. As Troy tries to make the most of the experience, his father descends deeper into an ever bleaker state. When speculating on his son’s success, Brad can’t help but think it will just be another reason for people to see himself as a failure.

As we quickly learn, Brad has been unhappy with the trajectory that his life took after he left college. His friends have all gone on to bigger and better things whilst he settled into a suburban life in Sacramento. He hasn’t found fame or fortune but heads up a non-profit organisation. For many men this would be a positive but Brad can’t help but compare himself to his headline grabbing buddies. There’s the talented director Nick (Mike White) who lives in a huge mansion in Hollywood; hedge-fund manager Jason (Luke Wilson) who married into money and a lucrative career; Billy (Jermaine Clement) who lives a dreamy and hedonistic existence in Hawaii after retiring at 40; and, finally, celebrity author and political pundit, Craig (Michael Sheen). Through his television screen and the pages of magazines, these four appear to have the perfect life and leave Brad feeling as though he wasted his potential.

Brad’s Status always keeps us up-to-date on what Brad is feeling thanks to the constant voice-over. I admit that I found this incredibly irritating at the start of the film and it seemed like nothing more than an easy way to keep the emotional crisis moving. It’s clunky and obvious and is certainly not helped by being horribly cliche-filled. I can’t say that I ever really warmed to it but the constant insight into Brad’s thoughts ended up becoming fairly easy to ignore. I don’t think the film needed it but it’s not the most disastrous of voice-overs.

However, the basis of this film and White’s script is full of great things. The basic premise is something we’ve seen countless times before but it is a film full of shrewd and funny insights into the human mind. Brad’s feelings are things that everyone will understand so he never comes across as indulgent or selfish. White is holding up a mirror to his audience but never making any real judgement calls. Brad is held captive by his frail masculinity and his dual feelings concerning money. It is White’s script and some measured performances by the cast that mean Brad’s Status doesn’t feel tired and unoriginal. The chemistry between Stiller and Abrams is excellent and you can feel the tenderness that exists despite Brad’s jealousy of his son. Michael Sheen provides the film with one of its standout scenes as the vicious and deplorable Craig.

Brad’s Status is one of those films that I really enjoyed but felt that it definitely could have been better. I’ve always had a massive love of Michael Sheen and think that it certainly helped. Although, I hate it when he plays a dickhead character. I find myself still kind of in love with him whilst hating him with a passion. It’s very confusing! Stiller is on top form here but it is a shtick that we’ve seen from him countless times now. If he’s not careful it will become as familiar as his comedy standbys. White’s script is that same quality we’ve come to expect but his direction leaves something to be desired. The overall result is sloppier than it should be and it makes everything feel a bit flat. There are plenty of key moments that are sensational but this films could have been great.

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