Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Help Review

I am always incredulous about judging a book by the film adaptation but i think that this has a story line that could only have been written by a author who understands the animosities at this time. For this reason, i enjoyed THE HELP. It is set in a time when racism was everywhere; the 1960s. It includes lots of candid history. You see the bigotry attitudes were not just against the black people but also against the women who worked and people who wanted to class black people as equal to white. 

The film follows the story of Skeeter, an independent, white aspiring author (unexpectedly Emma Stone), who has humourlessly been given a column in a local magazine on cleaning, which she is entirely clueless about. She was given this job after acclaiming a degree instead of a husband (much to her mother's disappointment). Her new project is to interview the black female servants that raise white women's children and look after their houses for many years. They aren't allowed to use the same toilet as the white people and are treated unfairly. Only Aibileen, the housekeeper of Skeeter's best friend, will talk at first. As the pair continue the collaboration, more women decide to come forward and tell their story. The interviews eventually turn into a book. Skeeter's friends are appalled that she is mixing with the lower classes. The film includes how little power some of the men had in their homes. Women were above men in the household but not outside. 

THE HELP takes the idea of unexpected friendships and puts it into historical context. It was interesting to see that Skeeter didn't want to do what other people wanted her to. The way that she reacted to discipline varied. I learnt a lot about the history and the mind set of people at this time. I was not aware that Emma Stone could play such a serious role but still invoke her personality into the character. Overall, her character was whimsical and confident. I liked her. For a film like this, i would have preferred if there was no 'lovey doveyness' but near the ending, she does find a man (he looks a bit like Zac Efron so i don't mind too much). I think the other characters were astoundingly believable. Not one character was similar to another. The film somethings broke away from the strictly serious scenes to incorporate farce. Wait for the toilets in the garden scene...

3 and a half out of 5

Side note: Just wanted to say that i am aware that i review the most cliche films and they are all very modern and have a-list actors in. I am a film aficionado, which means i love every single film no matter what. Every film interest me and i always want to know how they are made and who came up with the ideas. Film is like art to me. Every single film i watch i review, which shows that films that have been on television lately have been all the modern ones and the ones in the cinema have been biopics. Soon i will start reviewing more alternative films because they are compelling and challenging to review. I prefer films that are not modern but i feel like they are helping me develop my film critic voice. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Dad's Squash and Feta Mush Recipe

I don't really know what this is but it tastes mighty fine. It is perfect for vegetarians that are struggling to find healthy foods. The recipe doesn't require multitask-cooking and tastes a whole lot better than Quorn. The squash and feta are both very creamy so i would recommend serving with rice or tortilla chips. All the flavours compliment each other but you could add chilli if you like spice. The feta going soft and moist when heated, which tastes amazing.

3 small butternut squashes
A handful of pine nuts
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
Half a bar of feta
Two handfuls of olives

1. Peal and de-pith the squash (take out the squashy bits in the middle) and cut into medium sized segments.

2. In a baking tin, sprinkle the olive oil and put the squash in there. Here you can season with salt, pepper and herbs. Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees. Do not turn off the oven.

3. Cut you feta into cubes. You can change the amount you want depending on your preference. Put the feta, squash, pepper, black olives, pine nuts and tarragon into a casserole dish. Bake for another 15 minutes at 180 degrees.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Good Night and Good Luck Review

GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK is a modern black and white film set in 1950's America when Communist beliefs were considered a crime of being un-American. This film offers the true story of the predicaments the CBS Television Station encountered when Senator Joseph McCarthy accused some of their staff of committing anti-American acts. At this time it was very dangerous for a respected news station to break their unbiasedness and shares their notions of the political problems occurring at the time. A very public predicament develops between CBS and McCarthy, who responds by accusing the show host and workers at the station of being communist. This political war, caused by censures, advances throughout the whole film with more accusations and altercations. A forbidden marriage, a tragic suicide and a stand against the government are major occurrences in the film. The film has a clear message; stand up for what you believe in especially if it means saving someone else too.

This is one of the only modern films that has managed to make a black and white colouring look realistic and acceptable to the era they are trying to portray. Another reason why the monochrome is successful is because the film includes original footage of the ruthless and devious speeches and court hearings made by Senator Joseph McCarthy (which are in black and white). The atmosphere is authentic because of the constant subtle sound of a female jazz singers voice singing mellow blues. The audiences vision is constantly obscured by the storm of smoke hanging around the rooms. The accents were believable just like the persuasive costumes. So much concentration is on the costumes, props and set that i found that the small-role characters were lacking an empathy or inspiration. The speeches, although emotional, took up a large proportion of the film. This is definitely a film about language not action.

This time in history is commonly compared to the Arthur Miller play, The Crucible. They both include a lead character that everyone is scared of and believes will always have the right answer. This character accuses people of serious crimes if they disagree with them. If you enjoy films that are more concentrated on history and emotions rather than big moments and thrilling scenes that this is for you. Not a lot happens but the concentration is on the inspirational speeches that altered peoples opinions at the time.

2 and a half out of 5 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Animal Farm Review

ANIMAL FARM is an allegorical and dystopian novel by George Orwell. It is recognised as one of the most culminating classics. It is a very short book of only 120 pages. Orwell found his inspiration after being horrified by what had happened to the so-called socialist party of The Soviet Union. The usurpation of the socialist revolutionary by Stalin's regimen was not welcomed by Orwell. ANIMAL FARM represents the wrong way that his society was transformed.

The story follows the life of a troop of animals on a farm and displays the problems they collide with when power and hierarchy become available. The animals win a battle against the mistreating farmer, which ends in them taking power of the land. For many years, all the animals work contently but then the generation of the revolution dies. The animals are told by the pigs, who were always the leaders, that they are working for themselves. Truthfully, the animals have been brainwashed and blindly ignore the obvious facts that lead to their manipulation and ignore the terrible things that are happening. The story ends with a vividly described scene that depicts the party for the leaders (the pigs) and the neighbouring farm, where you realise how much the farm has and hasn't changed.

Overall the book is an easy, quick read and there was only occasionally a word that i did not understand. Its relations to the real historical facts were simple to interpret and the only problem i faced was reading too far between the lines. Make sure that you are explained the basic history before reading and that you know who every character symbolises. The story shows the corruptness and harsh improbability of there ever being no leader. By the end of the book you realise you have been laughing at the animals stupidity but really they tragically symbolise the people that should have know better.

If the last line of the book is not worthy of a tumblr post then i don't know what is.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Animals in Jumpers Pyjamas

As i said in my last post about pyjamas, i was given two pairs for Christmas. These trousers are my second pair. They are thicker than the last pair so they keep me very warm (and it means i can wear them on short dog walks). They have the cutest print on them, which is very wintery. The polar bears, penguins, reindeers, hares and seals are all wearing knitted jumpers. They also came in white but the navy reminds me of the night sky in winter.

My way of relaxing this Winter is to lie in my bed with a serious book or a hilarious picture book (like Plumdog, which is about a dog's life in his own point of view). I dip my warm pain au raisin in my homemade Nutella hot chocolate and try not to get crumbs all over the book.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Finished Book Review: I Capture the Castle

Finally (after 5 months) i have finished reading I CAPTURE THE CASTLE. If you haven't already read the first part of my review then read it here. I was correct in saying that my opinions have changed. Please note the first paragraph contains spoilers.
A lot has changed since the middle of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE. After Simon and Rose have been together for a long time, her siblings uncover that she does not love Simon and never will. This creates great havoc in Cassandra's mind, especially because she kissed Simon and decided she is in madly love with him. Rose and Cassandra have their first brawl and Cassandra storms out into the dark London night and finds her own way home. Stephan gets a job as a model and an actor but continues to be boring and love-sick. Mr. Mortimer finally begins writing at the end and there is an unexpected twist with who loves who which really shocks the reader.

Cassandra travels to London and is given an extravagant gift from Simon, which she cherishes more than anything. She describes these two main moments with a lot of detail. The way that it is written is exactly how a teenager would write; making every moment sound like the best or worse day of her life. As the story progresses, you learn more about the traditions and way of life of a not-so-normal 1930's family. I liked that, although she laments a lot, i never felt empathetic towards Cassandra. I would have found it very boring if i constantly felt sorry for the narrator. The ceaseless talk about Simon is tiring but believable. I also love how Cassandra is subtly rude about all her family members.

I would recommend this book to every teenage girl. It is not just a girly love story but a more interesting novel about teenage life and living in a castle. Cassandra is at an awkward age and her narrating is highly entertaining. Girls will relate to her embarrassing traumas. After reading it, I have decided i want to live in a castle; there would be so much to write about and discover.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Lunchbox Review

The Lunchbox is a film set in western India in Mumbai. A lonely housewife makes a packed lunch for her neglectful husband but it is delivered to the wrong desk. This desk belongs to a grumpy man that is on the verge of retiring. Surprisingly, he enjoys the meal. The spices must have gone to his head because overtime, he becomes a more empathetic and caring man. After she realises it did not end up at the right place, Ila, the women that made the food, sends a letter asking who is eating the meals. They then start a chain of letters and tell eachother their fears, memories and regrets.

The Lunchbox was quite unoriginal. It was a very adage love story that i found very predictable. The writer has tried too hard to capture the romance but also the everyday traumas that the characters go through. The film takes advantage of the location and shows off the bustling city of Mumbai (finally, not a love story set in cliché New York). You get a feel of the aliveness of the Indian trains and it shows the delectable cuisines and culture. The characters were believable but not at all interesting. This may have been a good thing because it showed what life was like for real people not adapted film characters. The ending was unsatisfactory and lazy; it didn't leave me thinking.

Overall, this film was witty in a 'mums will laugh' sort of way. The film is heavily adapted around romance but manages to not be too soppy. The characters are older so i would not recommend this film to teenagers. If you are not a fan of Bollywood, but love the Indian culture and romance films then this is for you.

2 and a half out of 5

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Christmas Pyjamas

I got two new pairs of pyjamas bottoms for Christmas. I've wanted some new ones for a while but couldn't find any that weren't too expensive and would last me a very long time. Eventually, i found two! I bought them in Fat Face and wow, they are the comfiest things in the world. Out of the two, these ones are the thinest but i would still call them Winter pyjamas. The red will always remind of Christmas. I'm medium height (short, no medium....ok i'm short) and most pyjamas i trip over but at the bottom of these there is a button and hook that allows you to roll them up. I spend a lot of my life in my pyjamas so they need to be mellow like these ones.

I've just come back to school but in the holidays i was really enjoying reading. I just finished I Capture the Castle (after 5 months) which was easy to pick up again after long pauses. I found it to be very relaxing and the story was quite sentimental. Finally, a book that i can say i was satisfied with the ending and wasn't quite expecting it. I have also 'refounded' my beloved bed. I neglected him for a while but now i spend hours reading, talking to my cat and doing my homework on him. I always forget a bed isn't just for sleeping on.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Paddington Review

I'm ashamed to say that i knew nothing about Paddington Bear before seeing this film. I had of course seen his iconic image but was never told the story or watched the show as a child. This may be as a result of him being most famous when my parents were young - in the 70s. I didn't know what to expect, but i knew there was going to be a lot of adult jokes because he has so many older fans. Surprisingly, i found that there were few jokes that i struggled to understand or that children wouldn't get. The humour was extremely slapstick and ridiculous, and i couldn't contain my laughter. Paddington made a new mistake in every scene so there was never a dull moment. He skateboarded, slid down the stairs in the bath and flew through the sky.

Strangely, i found this film was very similar to Lilo and Stitch. In both films, there is a lost animal that doesn't quite fit in but finds a new family. The ending of both films (spoiler alert) are practically the same and use the same soppy lines about family being family no matter what. The writers of Paddington manage to relate it to today by include an arrogant neighbour that doesn't like feral immigrants - is this a Ukip stab? The recurring Calypso band and the marmalade machine are my favourite elements of the film. If you like Miranda or Nanny McPhee; childish, outrageous but relatable humour, then you and your family will enjoy this. Not sure about you, but i'm going to be leaving some marmalade sandwiches on my doorstep in the hope that i might attract a Peruvian bear.
3 and a half out of 5