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Archive for the ‘cinema’ Category

Conserve Cash October

In book, cinema, food, gym, shopping on September 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm

So, it’s the end of September. It’s been a great month – not least because of the amazing weather we got to see the month out. I’ve caught up with a ton of friends I don’t see enough of and it’s been wonderful. I don’t realise how little I see them until I do start seeing them, and then I realise how much I’ve missed them. From catching a chick-flick with Marv, to dinner with Donna, to Sunday coffee with Nicky to a networking-cum-free-champagne-turns-into-cocktails event with the girls and a night of crazy dancing to live music at the Jam House, I’ve gone out more over the past month than I normally do in three, particularly when you count the fact that Adam and I go to the movies and for dinner every week as a matter of course.

Plus, obviously, I’ve had a birthday, which means I went out for even more meals, and of course had my fantastic weekend away with more cocktails, fab food and posh afternoon teas. And I have loved it. It’s been brilliant to let my hair down and remind myself how many fantastic friends I have and how lucky I am. But, on the down-side, well, I have spent a bit. I’ve not been too bad on the shopping front (though I did get the gorgeous coat I was coveting. And the evening bag to match the birthday shoes. And some new gym stuff. And bedding. And candles and stuff to match. And a bit of jewellery. Okay, I take that back…) but I’ve spent a fortune on food and drink, generally being a social butterfly, and it’s made me take a pretty stern look at my finances.

I’m not going to dwell on it, because it’s been an awesome month and one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, but I’m going to endeavour to make up for my loose purse-strings over the next four weeks. In fact, I’m going to take a leaf out of the book of Helga Henry. Helga’s coming to the end of what she dubbed No Shop September – which entailed exactly what you’d expect – and I am going to nick her idea and launch Conserve Cash October.

Less pigging out, more piggy bank

That’s with the obvious exception of two key direct debits – I can’t default on previously agreed commitments, they’ll send me to prison – which I’m going to really maximise to help me achieve my goal: my monthly gym membership, which I plan to step up a notch (I need to go some to shift these scones and daiquiris, believe me) and my unlimited cinema card.

The last movie I went to see was Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and I’ve gone a decent amount this month, watching the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Friends With Benefits and I Don’t Know How She Does It (not on my cinema card but as part of a treat from Marverine so that doesn’t count), but with a host of new ones I have my eye on, including Abduction, In Time, The Three Muskateers and The Help, being due for release, I should be able to keep busy, and I’ll have to strive to ignore the lure of the various pizza places, bars, tapas restaurants and, naturally, the sweet counter, that stand between the car park and the screen.

Adam’s currently training for the BUPA Great Birmingham Run, which takes place in three weeks time. In theory, he’ll be on a mission not to eat too much before that to make sure his efforts are worthwhile, so with that in mind, I plan to work out a home-cooked menu (I envisage a lot of home-grown tomatoes playing a part) to boost energy levels and have him fighting fit, leaving both our wallets and waistlines thanking us for our dedication.

It’s only 31 days after all. From then on, with Christmas – so sorry to use the C word this early – skateboarding ever closer, it’ll be a case of going back to my common sense approach – always choosing somewhere to eat with a voucher code offer, or treating ourselves to a posher restaurant after a tough week, but making the most of our Gastrocard subscription to save some pennies.

My final cutback – and one I had never envisaged would be so out of hand – is that I WILL STOP BUYING E-BOOKS IN THE AMAZON KINDLE STORE. I’ve had my kindle for 16 days and I’ve spent getting on for £100 on books. happily, there’s a good 12 or so I’ve yet to read, so I figure if I spend the whole of October working, watching movies, working out and reading my way through my Kindle library, then it should be November in no time.

I suspect the harder part will be keeping those pennies somewhere sensible, rather than somehow hemmorhaging them elsewhere, as I am wont to do…

So there you go, I have announced an intention, and I shall try to fulfil it. However, there’s one more day of September left, and luckily for me, one more afternoon tea to be had. This one’s in aid of Acorns Hospice though, so my conscience, for once, is clear.

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Still potty

In book, cinema, Uncategorized on June 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm

The countdown is on… It’s less than a month until the final instalment of the Harry Potter film franchise opens in cinemas and I am beside myself. Partly because the trailer suggests that the Deathly Hallows part 2 will be the most spectacular yet, but partly because it all ends (as the strapline says).

From this...

 

...to this

I have been a Harry Potter nutcase since I read the very first line of The Philosopher’s Stone, all those years ago, and I’m almost word-perfect on the novels and the movies. Like billions across the world, I’ve watched Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson grow up in front of me, and the characters who took shape in my head were steadily replaced with these young British actors. Admittedly, I spend too long lamenting the scenes that i feel were unjustly not included in the films (don’t get me started on Kreacher’s Tale), but I have loved every second I’ve spent re-reading and re-viewing the series and I know I shall be distraught once the closing credits roll on the last, and surely what must be the best, dramatic adventure on July 15th.

My friend Andrew, who understands, or at least endures, my Potter passion, recently gave me the entire, wonderful collection of all seven audiobooks, brilliantly narrated by Stephen Fry. I’d listened to all seven; I can’t even begin to work out how many hours worth; in four weeks.

So I was delighted to discover this morning that Cineworld is showing each of the seven films made to date over the preceeding seven nights (NB: If you’ve made tentative arrangments with me between 8th-15th July, consider them cancelled), but then I stumbled across some even better. brand new, more exciting news…news that has ignited a little flicker of hope in my sad, geeky, Potter-loving heart.

JK Rowling has a new project – http://www.pottermore.com – which is, we’re told, not a new book, but a new project, not directly related to the films.

There’s not too long to find out what it’s all about – JK Rowling will make the announcement on June 23rd – and such is the excitement around it that there’s already a countdown until the moment the plans are unveiled. Fansites such as Leaky Cauldron have been given a sneak preview and say that it is ‘breathtaking’, though they’re sworn to secrecy.

While many would like to see the next phase of Hogwarts, I’d love to see a prequel – see the antics of James, Lily, Sirius, Remus et al, and see the first war with Voldemort up until his first meeting with Harry. Time will tell. My friend Mark thinks we’re in for an animated series based on Hogwarts and the Potterverse – whatever it is, it’s exactly what I need to save me from not having any more Wizard fantasies to occupy me.

In the meantime, until June 23rd, or July 15th, here’s the final, fantastic, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailer – it gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes – just imagine what I’m going to be like when I see it in all its iMax 3D glory… Merlin’s Pants!

And once I’ve recovered, there’s only one thing for it. My wand (a special Christmas present from The Boy)and I shall board the Hogwarts Express (or a Virgin jet) and head off to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida. It’s the only way…

Movie madness

In cinema, random thoughts, Uncategorized on March 15, 2011 at 11:35 am

At the beginning of the year, the boy and I bought ourselves unlimited cinema cards and said we wanted to try and see five films a month. We’re well on track. Ten weeks into the year, we’ve notched up 13, some good, some bad, but always a good topic for bickering.

To date, we’ve seen:

  • The Next Three Days (thought this was really good, very tense and quite exciting)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (I’m too biased to comment rationally on this, everyone knows that I think Harry Potter is the best literary creation ever)
  • Black Swan (worth every award it’s won)
  • The King’s Speech (ditto)
  • The Fighter (really well acted, true story. More than happy to watch Mark Wahlberg with his shirt off indefinitely)
  • Conviction (a bit disappointing, but an amazing and inspiring true story)
  • True Grit (wasn’t expecting to enjoy it but thought this was absolutely excellent)
  • Paul (if I was an 11-year-old boy I expect I’d have loved it)
  • Just Go With It (lighthearted fun, brought home the need to exercise more)
  • No Strings Attached (Again, disappointed. I really like Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher but somehow it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped)
  • Unknown (I love Liam Neeson and didn’t see the clever twist in this thriller. I also think all the comparisons to Taken are unfair)
  • Battle: Los Angeles (About 90 minutes too long)
  • Hereafter (I don’t like the whole interacting with the spirit world thing, so not my bag at all, though pretty thought provoking)

I’ve yet to see The Adjustment Bureau, and I’ve done my best to find someone to see Tangled with, butto no avail. And I’m sure there’s something else I’ve seen and forgotten, probably unfairly to it.

And there’s a whole new raft of great looking movies around the corner, including The Lincoln Lawyer and Limitless which are both out this weekend.

I am pleased that I’ve managed to avoid 127 Hours and Tron, but I think I paid for that 30 times over with Battle: LA. Just my opinion…

Nothing will make up for the weekend of July 15th though, when the final instalment of Harry Potter hits screens. That’s going to be a very sad day for me, I am still in mourning for the series of books ending.

And the Oscar goes to…

In cinema, Hollywood on February 28, 2011 at 11:43 am

I finally got around to watching True Grit last night. What a surprise pleasure! The Coen Brothers’ tale of retribution was beautifully performed by Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and my new heroine Hailee Steinfeld. I’d never heard of the 14-year-old actress until I saw her in the trailer for True Grit, but after last night, I think she’s a real star in the making.

Her portrayal of firm but feisty, no nonsense teenager Mattie Ross really impressed me, and after two short hours, I was really backing her, along with Helena Bonham Carter, for the Best Supporting Actress accolade at the Oscars… sadly, I was too tired to stay up and follow them live, so I had to wait until this morning to see the results.

And how VERY proud I am to see that The King’s Speech has won four Oscars – and very well deserved they are. I got teary eyed when the wonderful movie did so well at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs earlier this year, so for everyone associated with the film – and especially Colin Firth, who missed out to Jeff Bridges last year –  to achieve the most famous statuettes in the industry, brought on a veritable fountain of happy tears from me as I caught up on the accounts this morning.

As it happens, Hailee and Helena missed out on the best supporting actress statuette to Melissa Leo, who played Alice Ward in The Fighter, while her co-star Christian Bale picked up yet another award for his portrayal of her crack-addicted son Dicky Eklund.

I’m a bit ‘Meh’ about this. I liked The Fighter, I thought it was a great, emotive interpretation of a true story, and I thought that both Leo and Bale put in excellent performances as the destructive, unpleasant, albeit well-meaning family of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), blinded by long ago successes. Bale is brilliant in every role he plays – although I can’t get my head around the ridiculously gruff tone his Batman feels the need to use, it’s got to hurt – but I can’t accept he was more deserving of the award that Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue in The King’s Speech.

But The Academy didn’t ask my opinion, so there you go.

One film I’ve yet to watch is The Social Network, I might make that a project for this coming weekend. To secure as many nominations as it did, it’s obviously a seriously heavyweight piece of cinema. I think I’m prevented from watching it through sheer jealousy that I didn’t think up Facebook myself.

As everyone predicted, Natalie Portman held aloft her Oscar for the outstanding performance in Black Swan, which I still think was breathtaking.

The one movie I think wound up in the shade somewhat, despite it equalling The King’s Speech in terms of silverware last night, is Inception. I love Leonardo DiCaprio, I think he’s one of the best actors of our time, and Inception made my brain hurt, it was so complex and clever. While everyone’s raving (rightly) about The King’s Speech picking up four Oscars, it’s worth noting that Inception also bagged four, for cinematography, sound editing, sound mixing and – no shock here – visual effects. While the Oscars aren’t as high profile as Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, they were absolutely vital to make the movie the jaw-dropping piece of cinema that it was. I think sometimes we don’t pay enough attention to the ‘behind the scenes’ and technical awards when the biggest blockbusters all too often rely on their spectacular effects to draw us in.

I think the key thing about this year’s success stories is that most of the films were very close knit and very intense – Natalie Portman was in pretty much every scene in Black Swan, there was no respite for her as the protagonist, and she utterly immersed herself in the part. The King’s Speech was, for 90 per cent of the film, two men in a room filming almost painful scenes, no special effects to deter from the sheer talent on screen, and as I understand it, The Social Network is similar in that ‘two guys in a room’ description.

It makes a real change from last year, when the little blue men of the massive budget 3D Avatar, with its explosions, effects and fantasy was the big hitter.

Bring on the 84th Academy Awards in 2012 – here’s to more great acting and more British success – though how we’ll manage that now the Coalition Government has chosen to close down the UK Film Council (who enabled The King’s Speech to be made) is anyone’s guess.

Not fully up to speed on last night’s events?  Here is the full list of nominees and winners.

 

A bit too black for me…

In cinema, Hollywood on January 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm

The critics are raving and slating it in equal measure and I’d seen it described in equal measure as a thing of beauty and a chilling horror, so I was somewhat tentative when I went to watch Black Swan on Sunday.

I still have the reflex action of curling up my toes and fingers when I think of it now, such was the violence in the film – and I’m referring to the violence Natalie Portman’s nutty Nina the prima ballerina inflicts on herself, not her arch rival Lily in this movie.

Portman as the white swan consumed with producing the perfect performance

I never had any desires to be a dancer as a child (this is a good thing, considering my lack of coordination) and this film makes me grateful for that. While ballerinas the world over are snootily dismissing Portman’s poise and performance – she’s an actress, ladies, and a damn good one, not an ACTUAL ballerina – and others sniping about the clichēs within – eating disorders, bitchiness, obsessive jealousy, bullying, sexual experimentation and cloistering mothers – and how obvious they are, it doesn’t change the fact that this compelling and chilling thriller does affect the viewer and has them gasping in admiration for Portman’s spectacular performance.

As the evil black swan

She is utterly believable as the obsessive ballerina who will stop at nothing to give the perfect performance. I think she needs to start dusting her mantlepiece to make room for the raft of awards she’s sure to scoop this season.

On the subject of amazing, award winning actresses, I also watched Conviction, the true story of Betty Ann Waters, who spent 18 years putting herself through law school and qualifying with the sole aim of proving that her brother Kenny wasn’t guilty of the murder he was given a life sentence for.

I was expecting to be blown away by this because Hilary Swank was cast as Betty Ann, and given her outstanding performances in Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby, I’d actually have had her down for the Oscar, but somehow, though moving and thought provoking, the film failed to live up to my expectations.

 

 

A little sparkle goes a long way

In cinema, fashion on January 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Since January’s shaping up to be such a bleak month so far – cold upon infection upon virus for my part – it’s difficult to motivate myself to make the effort. One of the problems with working at home is that unless I have a meeting, it’s too tempting to layer up my leggings and cosy knits.

And since the only place I’m going is the cinema, it doesn’t exactly call for skyscraper heels and slinky dresses. As a rule it’s jeans and little tops, or a jersey dress and boots if I’m really pushing the boat out. But if there’s one thing guaranteed to dress it up a little, and to attract more than a few compliments, it’s this necklace:

Caritaz clover pendant

The piece was a gift from my client Caritaz – the business created it to raise funds for victims of domestic violence, and 25 per cent of the cost of the pendant is donated to Refuge to support the charity in its work with abused women. So not only is it a glittering fashion statement, it’s also a symbol of support for those women.

It’s a great cause, and one that everyone who admires the piece is really impressed with.

The reason it attracts their attention in the first place of course is because it looks familiar… they’re always sure they’ve seen it somewhere before… and isn’t it like the one…

Carrie Bradshaw

Oh yes – it’s Carrie Bradshaw’s accessory of choice in Sex And The City 2.

As it happens, SJP isn’t wearing Caritaz’ piece; her necklace is gold, but she was the inspiration for this necklace, and being a silver gal, I much prefer it.

Based on the amount of attention and compliments I’ve received, it should be selling strong.

If you love it, buy it here.

Green with envy

In cinema, fashion, Hollywood, Uncategorized on January 18, 2011 at 10:45 am

In the style stakes, the first quarter of the year is always a great way to launch the year – January sees the stars shrug off the blues to strut their stuff at the Golden Globes, closely followed by the BAFTAs in Fenruary and the all-important Oscars in March.

I was thrilled to bits to see that Colin Firth, who I raved about last week, deservedly won his Golden Globe for best actor in recognition of  his portrayal of George VI in The King’s Speech this weekend – and has today been tipped for a BAFTA on February 13th, one of 14 awards the movie’s been picked for.

And pregnant and perfectly formed Natalie Portman was awarded best actress for her performance in Black Swan. I was keen to watch the movie until I read a series of comments on Twitter yesterday, with the Telegraph’s Hilary Alexander describing it as ‘Saw on Pointe’ and any number of other fashionistas referring to it as dark, demonic and very, very scary. Yikes.

But Portman didn’t just win in the acting stakes, she well and truly stood out as one of the most fashion forward ladies of the red carpet. Her beautiful draped Viktor and Rolf gown was elegant, flattering and different to a whole line of stunning, sparking and stylish pieces.

Natalie Portman = Perfect

The competition was fierce, and I was pleased to see a whole rainbow of colours – scarlets, sunshine yellows, pretty pinks, and beautiful blues. For me, though, the gorgeous greens had it – Catherine Zeta Jones, proud as punch of her husband Michael Douglas, who recently announced he’s beaten throat cancer, looked stunning in her dark green Monique L’Hullier gown, while Angelina Jolie’s slinky green Atelier Versace number was simple but stunning.

Black Swan’s Mila Kunis was radiant in an emerald Vera Wang creation and Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss looked gorgeous in her green Donna Karan number.

Perfect accessorising for Angelina

I want one! (The Monique L'Hullier, not the veteran actor)

Vera Wang proves a hit for Mila Kunis

Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss working Donna Karan

As a rule, the stars shied away from the tried and tested black number, though Olivia Wilde’s and  Eva Longoria showed how it should be done. Wilde’s sparkling Marchesa gown was the stuff of fairytales, and Longoria’s Zac Posen backless fishtail creation was unusual and a perfect fit for her perfect frame. I’m not so sure about Halle Berry’s corset-based Nina Ricci sheer skirted number though.

Olivia Wilde looked like a fairytale princess

Simply stunning

Not my bag

If there was ever an excuse to book a posh night out and try and channel a little red carpet glamour, it’s right here. I’m dusting off my Louboutins as I type!

 

 

Speechless

In cinema on January 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

Like most of the British female population, I first took an interest in Colin Firth when he emerged, white shirt dripping wet, being all haughty and sexy in Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Pride and Prejudice back in 1995.

In Pride & Prejudice

Since then, he won us over again and again with his brilliant portrayal of Mark Darcy in the movie adaptation of Bridget Jones’ Diary, his performance as the now gay former lover of Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! and a wealth of other roles.

But none of them compare to his spectacular portrayal of Geoorge VI in The King’s Speech. Firth, who was awarded a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame yesterday, is a forerunner for a Golden Globe award on Sunday and if he doesn’t get it, along with an Oscar in two months’ time, I shall fall off my chair shouting ‘Fix’ like all the X Factor viewers did for the last two months of 2010.

A true star

I knew that George VI had come to the throne all those decades ago due to his brother forsaking his role to be with his divorced lover Wallis Simpson, but I didn’t know that as Prince Albert – ‘Bertie’ to his wife and his speech therapist – he’d faced a life-long speech impediment and overcome it to become a great monarch in one of the country’s biggest times of crisis.

The movie was so beautifully executed. The careful addition of warmth and humour made what could have been unbearably uncomfortable viewing – I found myself clenching my fists and holding my breath at times as I watched Firth’s George VI tackle his phobia of public speaking – an absolute joy.

Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist Lionel Logue, Firth as 'Bertie' and Helena Bonham carter as Elizabeth

I read recently that the Queen Mother (who was played in the film by the excellent – and beautifully sophisticated – Helena Bonham-Carter) refused to allow a film to be made about her husband during her lifestime, and out of respect, it wasn’t.

I hope that her daughter watches it with pride.

Project movie buff

In cinema on January 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

My unlimited cinema card has come and I’m fully determined to make the most of it. I kicked off my movie marathon by watching Russell Crowe in The Next Three Days. We didn’t get to see it until 9.30 and I was exhausted, a little worried I’d be too tired to enjoy it. As it happens, I was so tense by the thriller that I had terrible stomach ache throughout. A fantastic film to kick off my intentions.

I’ve been struck down with some kind of ear infection for days now, which has seen me watch blu-ray after blu-ray, but I’m sincerely hoping I’ll have made a sufficient recovery by the weekend as I want to take in Colin Firth in The King’s Speech, Cameron Diaz in The Green Hornet and no doubt, I’ll have to have the ‘please don’t make me’ discussion about 127 Hours and Tron. While I’m in no doubt that Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours will be superb, i saw today that Cineworld has issued a warning that perhaps, if you’re of a delicate constitution, watching a film where a guy amputates his own arm with a pen-knife might not be the best way to spend an evening. As someone who’s spent three days falling over every time I stand up, I’m thinking maybe not!

I’m also keen to see Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter and Natalie Portman in Black Swan, and that’s just for starters. I’m determined to have a weekend where I do nothing but watch movies and avoid the shops. In the meantime, I need to stay away from the internet for any non-work related purpose if I plan to honour my fiscal responsibility resolution… So far, so good.

 

Down-spending

In cinema, gym, health, shopping on January 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I’m not going to bore you with my repetitive list of resolutions – they’re the same as last year’s. But they’re more serious this time – I always say I’m going to try and spend less and be a bit more savvy, but this year, thanks to the hike in VAT, I have another reason to tighten my purse strings.

I read a few days ago that Starbucks have increased the price of a cappuccino by more than double the 2.5% VAT increase, so my occasional vanilla latte/hazelnut hot chcolate treat is bound to have leapt up in price – so I shall try and leave it alone for a while.

I was spoiled rotten this Christmas, with jewellery, shoes and clothes, so I’d like to think I can stay away from the shops for a few weeks and have a little splurge before I go on holiday (yet to be booked, God knows what that’ll cost now).

The one really sensible thing I’ve done is invest in an unlimited access card for my local cinema. We go to the cinema a lot – usually three or four times a month and half the time we still manage to miss some of the movies we want to see. I’m hoping we’ll manage to go at least once a week now – starting tonight with The Next Three Days (or Burlesque, but my money’s on The Next Three Days.) The key is that we’ll have to break the habit of going out for a meal before or after, or the whole plan will go awry.

Add to that my plan to quit drinking and avoid bread during January, along with my good intentions to make my £50 gym membership work harder, and I should see in February a little richer, and a little slimmer.

Famous last words?