Wednesday, March 06, 2019
Recently On... Netflix
I'm sure most people can agree that Netflix can be a bit of a mind field so having some recommendations may help you choose what to watch next time you're scrolling through the many options they have on there. I've recently seen a couple of things on Netflix and decided to share them here...happy reading!

Tidying Up With Marie Kondo



Is it just me or is there a huge emerging trend in tidying up lately? I've come across so many Instagram accounts and people running small businesses where they literally tidy up other people's homes. Being a bit *ahem* of a tidy freak myself, I couldn't be happier with the trend!

I'm not surprised Marie Kondo is Japanese, as they were probably one of the first to promote this minimalist way of living. In Marie Kondo's series 'Tidying Up", she comes into people's homes of all different backgrounds and stories and teaches them the importance of organising their spaces more efficiently, decluttering and learning better ways of storage. She's kind of like a tiny (she really is tiny) little fairy that comes in and waves her magic tidying wand. I won't lie, it is strange in parts, when Marie finds a spot in the house, introduces herself to the house, talks to it, etc, but I can't help but find the whole show totally therapeutic and motivating to watch.

So far i've only seen a couple but the episode with recently widowed Margie was by far the hardest episode to watch yet so empowering. Margie was such an incredibly brave candidate to come on the show and finally declutter her house of her late husbands clothes and some belongings, and created a whole new arts and crafts room for herself. Some parts had me in tears! Marie Kondo is also the famous author behind Spark Joy and The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying and is becoming hugely popular in America too. In fact you can even become a Marie Kondo consultant, no really. A must watch if you need some tips and motivation on being more tidy and organised in your home life.

Sierra Burgess Is A Loser



This was kind of one of those films that it's so bad it's so good. This really is the old school 'rom com' reminiscing the likes of Mean Girls, 13 going on 30 and other films alike. Sierra is the unpopular but super smart girl at school and doesn't fit the typical standard of physical beauty. She's regularly taunted by Veronica, thee it girl of the school and she takes it one step further by giving the cute guy in school Sierra's number, instead of hers, leading Sierra to think hot guy is interested in her, even though he thinks he's texting Veronica...still following?

Eventually somehow along the way Veronica and Sierra become friends despite the odds, as Sierra promises to help her with her school work and tries to keep texting the hot guy. Whilst there are many problematic issues raised throughout the film (just read this article here), it for me felt more like a cringie comedy than anything else and just highly unrealistic with a script that was a bit all over the place. I must have face palmed after every scene in this film it was that cringe worthy, but kind of still enjoyable...if that makes sense? If you like bad rom coms, cheesy lines and Noah Centineo then you will enjoy this!

To All The Boys I've Loved Before



In one of my older posts, I talked about my favourite rom coms of the noughties and was wondering if they were becoming a dying genre but i'm glad to see Netflix is reviving it! Sometimes you just want to watch a cheesy film and this one ticks all the boxes. Lead protagonist Lara Jean is quite happy to keep herself to herself, avoid telling any boy she likes them and live in her own little world, until her little sister finds several letters written by Lara, addressed to the five boys she likes/liked and posts them to each guy. 

Suddenly her quiet existence at school is turned upside down. One letter is addressed to Josh, Lara's sisters ex and to Peter (Noah Centineo, again!), the hottest guy in school, no really, he's frickin' beautiful. She decides to get involved in a fake relationship with Peter to reassure Josh she has no interest in him, while Peter can make his ex-girlfriend jealous. Of course, they eventually both develop real feelings for one another and things become a bit tangled. TATBILB (abbreviation needed) is a heart-warming, funny, down-to-earth rom com with a fun soundtrack, beautifully shot and plenty to keep you entertained...kind of like a dream you had as a teenager that you didn't want to end.

Newness


Nicholas Hoult and Laia Costa star in this contemporary milennial love story as Martin and Gabi, who find love via a social media hook up, very much like Tinder. The movie navigates relationships and how they keep that initial and exciting spark alive from the beginning, and not being tempted by something potentially 'better' around the corner, which apps like Tinder sort of encourage. In Newness, the couple’s fear of keeping things fresh pushes them to be candid about their romantic fantasies and secret crushes. Together the couple resolve to give each other permission to flirt with other people, even having sex with them, as long as they maintain their commitment to one another and don't keep any secrets. It explores the complexities of monogamy well but kind of drags on, for over two hours and you kind of get the point long before the end of the story. However, I thought both performances were well portrayed especially in scenes of conflict between the couple. Scenes involving arguments never felt staged or over the top but exactly how real couples interact and communicate. An interesting exploration of modern day relationships.


Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool


I got my expectations up a little too high for this film, mainly because I studied in Liverpool and was excited to see some familiar places, plus, Annette Bening, Jamie Bell...yes! But overall it didn't fulfil what I was hoping for. The film tells the tale of Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame who finds romance and happiness with a younger man, but then her life changes forever when she is diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1970s. It's not the performances themselves that fail but the story and the film which don't really carry them that well, I just found myself irritated by both characters and the slow pace of the film which never really picked up its pace. Gloria Grahame's character reminded me a little of the romance between Marilyn Monroe and Colin Clarke in My Week With Marilyn, just a slightly more slow-paced and bland one to watch. The highlight of the film was a dance off scene between Gloria and Peter, probably being the most upbeat part of the movie. However, the film overall might still appeal to some audiences and maybe it just wasn't my kind of movie so it might still be worth a watch...

What have you seen on Netflix lately, the good and the bad?

Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Review | Beautiful Boy

To kick off film reviews for 2019, i'm starting by chatting about Beautiful Boy - director Felix Van Groeningen's English language debut. The movie is based on the best-selling memoirs by father and son David and Nic Sheff, played by Steve Carrell and Timothée Chalamet. First of all I would say this movie is by no means going to leave you feeling uplifted, but it's not exactly a story that can be sugar coated. Beautiful Boy tells the tale of young boy, Nic, who struggles with drug addiction, particularly to meth, and the effects this has on his family and throughout his life. It's a sombre story but an inspiring and important one that is told so very (beautiful)ly indeed. In just over two hours you see Nic go from a little boy into an adult, then back again, toing-froing between rehab and relapse, to moments of his childhood and moments of recovery.

The film largely focuses on the father-son relationship and the lengths David goes to to save his son from his addictions and spiralling further. It's seen early on in the film just how close a bond the two have and just how unbreakable that bond is. Time and time again, David picks his son back up, reaches out for help, takes him to rehab and quite literally never gives up and if that doesn't get a lump in your throat, I don't know what will. The film regularly uses flashbacks to give viewers a way into David's mind, as he recalls the precious memories from Nic's childhood and how at one time, things were, at least on the surface, perfect. The film raises the concern of most parents in difficult situations when they begin to question their actions, whether or not they raised their child right, what they could have done better or what they could have prevented.

It was hard to pinpoint in the film for me, the factors that contributed to Nic's downward spiral into drug addiction, much like life, you never really know what's going on inside someone's mind. The only thing that stuck out for me was a scene at the airport, Nic is saying farewell to his dad, to stay with his mum and shows difficulty in leaving his dad, whom he holds such a strong bond with.  We also see a scene where David is rifling through Nic's room and discovers his notebook filled with doodles and drawings in black which reflect the mental pain Nic is going through.

What feels like several times in the film, Nic goes into rehab, recovers then relapses, again and again. It accurately portrayed the realities for an addict like Nic, when there is always this constant juggle with battling the addiction and succumbing to it, which Chalamet plays to a T. It is frustrating to watch Nic fall back into the trap of drugs, almost as frustrating as it must have been for his father in real life. 

The most painful scene (spoiler alert) is when for one of the final times, Nic calls up his dad and for the first time ever in the whole film, David has to finally refuse to give him help because he feels he can no longer support him. This scene was so heartbreaking to watch as you could imagine the pain felt on both sides when this was said...however, David does actually help Nic again which seems to be the final push that is needed, as the credits role, we are told Nic Sheff (irl) has been 8 years sober. 

Aesthetically, both in cinematography and soundtrack, the film also ticks all those boxes. The playlist features the likes of Nirvana, where we are shown a flashback scene to Nic as a young boy and his father rocking out in the car and other tracks by Bowie, Sigur Rós and John Lennon. There's a wide range of throwback songs to cinematic instrumental injections thus the film kind of flows like a beautiful yet painful poem about life, family, relationships and the importance on support in mental health and drug addiction.
Friday, December 28, 2018
Favourite Books Of 2018
In 2018 I fell back in love with reading and actually achieved what I set out to do, which was to read more books this year. Some have been on my 'list' for years, others I've found through recommendations and some were gifted. Most of the following books were released way before 2018 but these are my favourites amongst those I have read this year which I recommend...enjoy!


Helmut Newton Autobiography

I eased my way back into reading with an autobiography that caught my eye on the family bookshelf. Told through the witty and honest voice of Helmut Newton, he goes back to his childhood upbringing, family and his climb up the ladder to becoming one of the best photographers in the fashion industry. Newton doesn't hold back and talks about both his intimate and professional relationships in detail and how they have shaped his work and him as a person. The book was both funny and sharp, effortless to read and Newton's personality comes through perfectly in his writing.

The Bell Jar


I hadn't read anything by Sylvia Plath up until now and fell in love with her writing style from the first sentence - it's great what books you find lying around your house! Though shocking and painful to read, Plath writes effortlessly about semi-fictional character Esther Greenwood and the realistic emotional turmoil she falls into. Esther is a young and talented woman trying to 'make it' in New York but is faced with a debilitating mental illness making for a bleak and haunting story of her experiences. She writes in such vivid detail, you can almost see the whole story play out in front of you. It's not the easiest of reads however it's truly honest and still garners the character's humour and realness throughout.

Sofia Coppola: A Cinema Of Girlhood


A friend gifted this to me and I was delighted as I love reading and learning about cinema! This book explores the cinematic work of Sofia Coppola and how she showcases female characters through themes of sex, fame, power and celebrity. Author Fiona Handyside talks about every film of Coppola's including The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette and how she uses costume, colour and light to portray the 'girl world'. At times, it did somewhat feel like a dig at Coppola's success (due to the fact she is the daughter of one of the biggest directors in cinema) though it was after all a critical study and an interesting analysis into this important area of cinema. Ideal for those studying or just curious about post-feminism/girlhood in film.

Breaking Mad


I was given this some years ago and like I said, as I finally am getting back into reading - it means finally putting gifts to use, even if years later... in comes this helpful and friendly guide to conquering anxiety. Told by Anna Williamson, a tv presenter, now author/counsellor and Mind charity ambassador, she recounts her previous experience with anxiety and how she managed it. I truly admire these people that can overcome issues like this enough to make a book about it and find it hugely inspiring. It's a hands-on, no nonsense kind of guide which gets straight to the issues head on and why they actually happen which I found useful and informative on areas I hadn't thought about. There were also parts I found less relatable and/or repetitive but overall a great go-to guide in times of need.


Portrait Of A Young Man Drowning


Another book lying round the house that peaked my interest and was immersed by the first chapter. The one (and only) novel by Charles Perry which draws heavily on his own personal experience growing up in Brooklyn amongst gangsters and juvenile delinquents. The story explores the life of Harold who gets caught up in the underworld scene while living at home with his overbearing mother and step father. The whole novel is written from Harold's point of view so we really feel like we're in his head with him and growing as he grows. I researched afterwards and discovered the movie adaptation 'Six Ways To Sunday' with Adrien Brody and Debbie Harry which is good but doesn't quite sting as much as the book - a must read. 


Kafka On The Shore


I heard about this book as recommended via Jenn Im (here). This isn't the kind of book where it goes from A-Z and everything is neatly rounded up and makes sense - no, no no. This book is a complete whirlwind including fish falling from the sky, talking cats and Colonel Sanders - to name a few things. Haruki Murakami has a vast and hugely colourful imagination which he lets roam free across the pages of this book - following the lives of two characters and their entwined destinies. I enjoyed this book so much, even if I didn't really know where it was going, however, that is what made it just so compelling and kept me turning the pages.

Still Alice


I saw the film version of this some years ago and found it an emotional viewing as my late (grand)papa also suffered from alzheimers, like the protagonist Alice. The book, like the film, is truly accurate, and at times painfully so. Author, Lisa Genova, explains in the book via q&a the extent of her research for this story and how she wanted it to be as true to life as possible. Genova leaves no emotion untouched and covers every spectrum of the disease and the complexities involved when a whole family is affected too. Whilst the book is at most times heartbreaking, there is till humour and inspiration to be found in this story from Alice's resilience and determination despite her challenging circumstances. 

Happy

Growing up as a British teenager, I often saw/heard Fearne Cotton on the tv/radio like most people, who always came across as this radiant, super-confident girl who has her whole life together - which I still think she does by the way. However, this book was an eye-opener and a brave account of Cotton's experience struggling with mental health. I hugely appreciate her honesty to reveal what was really going on and use this as a tool to help others, like myself. The book features activities/pages to fill out so it never feels like you're wading through pages of writing as it's nicely broken up in sections to let you share your own thoughts and feelings. There are stories from other people in her life plus useful tips and reminders to enjoy the little things and - as the title suggests - finding joy of everyday and letting go of perfect.

On top of that I also read:
Filth, 
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, 
On The Road, 
Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises, 
Grace: A Memoir, 
Animal Farm, 
The Picture Of Dorian Gray, 
Why be happy when you could be normal?, 
The Dressmaker (not a huge fan),
Do No Harm,
and Le liseur du 6h27 - so overall, a very good year for reading!

You can follow my Instagram 'Books' stories here for more updates. Thanks for reading!

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