Friday, December 28, 2018
Favourite Books Of 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 Alzheimer's, 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. 


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:
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!
Thursday, December 13, 2018
A Copenhagen Travel Guide

A Copenhagen Travel Guide

Me and my pal recently planned a wee break away and decided on Copenhagen! I saved up for flights and accommodation from working during the summer and doing some online selling then off we went! It was probably the coldest place to go but minus temperatures aside, we had a great time and ate like queens. Denmark has always been hyped up or 'stereotyped' as the happiest country and I was curious to see if it was...and if so, why?

Here is what we got up to, where we stayed/visited/ate and if I personally found it to be one of the happiest places I've visited so far...

We travelled via Manchester airport then took the underground to the center and a quick bus ride to our accommodation - we chose central Nørrebro aka the coolest/nicest neighborhood in Copenhagen. We stayed at Amanda's Air BnB (see here for full info). It was in a super handy location, just across from a grocers, supermarket, bus stop, park with arty swings, bike hire shops etc. A nice, clean & minimal (as expected from the Scandi's) bedroom, shared kitchen/bathroom and shared roof terrace. 

The first night we were knackered from travelling and got in late so got some dinner then some zzz's before the busy day ahead of brunching and exploring...

The next morning we headed straight for the city center to brunch! We came across Atelier September and knew we'd found a gem. We both opted for the open-sandwich with avocado on rye bread (another Scandi thing) with boiled eggs, cheese and tea/coffee. The food was spot-on and the flavouring/seasoning was so good it was like little taste explosions were going off in my mouth, like really. 

The cafe had a nice 'n' cozy vibe and we were sat at the window, the perfect spot to watch the world go by. There was cool art work displayed around the cafe and a vintage shop in the back too. Despite it being pretty pricey, when it comes to 'hygge' and happiness, we found this place to tick all the boxes - it had a really calm atmosphere, candles, warmth and delicious food so definitely worth the occasional visit!

We wandered through Nyhavn which is the go-to tourist spot. Lined with multi-coloured houses, outdoor café terraces and a Christmas market - this place is very photogenic and has plenty to do as long as what you want to do involves buying, drinking or eating!

Afterwards, we visited the Danish Museum of Design which offers free entry for under 25's, hurray for youth! Me and my friend both loved this museum and it was filled with inspiration and fun things to look at including tech, fashion, furniture and more. Again lots of photo opportunities to be had and ideas to be made! They also had an insanely good gift shop and I wanted to buy everything.

Candid but cold!

These gorgeous heart lights were along all the streets in the city center for the festive season and I think they are some of the nicest yet not-too-over the top Christmas decorations I've seen.

We also checked out the Danish Film Institute which is a must for film-lovers! It had a great gift shop with DVDs, books and more, an exhibition, a cafe (with a super friendly English man working there) and of course a cinema, plus a restaurant.

The 'Hotel D'Angleterre' with an advent calendar window display.

As for shopping, there is plenty and a few shops that we don't have here in the France/UK. They have a WeekdayMonki AND I even saw a retail outlet selling ADER clothing. We also came across a pop up store for Axel Arigato which was more of an art exhibition than a shop. So shopaholics, Copenhagen is the place for you!

In the evening we dined in and made a quick pasta meal plus vino from the supermarket before we headed out. Minimal photos from the night out but we had a great time. First, stopping off ever-so randomly at a game bar, yes you read right! We were a little early for a gig we were going to so popped into Bip Bip Bar which has everything from arcade machines to retro games on tiny tv's where you can basically get drunk and go square-eyed simultaneously. Finally it was time for some live music at the new venue called Alice, to see Gruff Rhys with support Bill Ryder Jones. It felt like being back in my ex-student town of Liverpool as many locals had come to see these British artists. 

After was followed by a trip to a bar which the name of I do not know but they served very nice cocktails... anyhoo, after that I met a Danish man outside called Kim to whom I asked whilst slightly tipsy "are Danish people really happier?!" His answer was quite slurred but I think he said something along the lines of that it's just a stereotype like every place has. That happiness depends on you and not on the place you are, that Copenhagen has problems like every where else. He rambled something else, then it was time to say bye and go for chips - taxi - bed...

Needless to say the next day we felt a little delicate. We got up late, had a supermarket lunch outdoors facing a pretty canal then ventured to the much talked about 'Freetown Christiania' based in Christianshavn. It's basically a little town nestled within the town where anything goes, I mean nearly anything. There's no cars passing through, just bikes, lots of graffiti and street art, stalls, shops, food stands, etc. However I was little surprised to see what was basically an open-air 'coffee' shop, if you know what I mean...the whiff in the air said it all! Taking photos in certain parts of Freetown is not advised so it's an experience worth seeing with your own eyes. Also maybe better to go on a day when you're not hungover like we were.

The day was mostly a wandering day as a lot of museums and such were closed but it's a very quiet, calm city to explore on foot or bike. 

By about 5pm we were already hungry so headed to a place my friend found online, recommended for vegetarians, called Gao - a dumpling bar. Oh my days, the food was insanely good! It had a 'tapas' style menu so you get lots of little dishes of different things but I think we slightly over ordered as we ended up staying for over two hours because we had to keep taking breaks...we got mushroom/spinach dumplings, deep-fried tofu, noodles, veg and noodle soup. As you can see from the photos below, the interiors were very cool and the food was heaven.

Following dinner, we decided to see a movie (not able to face a second night running of drinking) at the Empire cinema and saw Suspiria, the modern remake by Luca Guadagnino. The movie was in English with Danish subtitles but there was a lot of spoken German too which we didn't realise so probably lost the plot (literally). Overall, the movie was pretttyyy intense and freaked the cr*p out of me! I think I liked it but then again I was happy for it to be over, it left me feeling similar to how 'mother!' did, if that resonates with anyone!

Monday was our last day and the day of our flight so we spent time wandering round town, finally ate at The Union Kitchen then explored the Botanical Gardens which was a beautiful bit of haven in the middle of the city.

In conclusion to my essay - just kidding - no, but really, did I find out if Denmark is the happiest country in the world? I think my random drunken encounter on Saturday summed it up and that it really does depend on you. However, I did come back from the break feeling motivated to do as the Danish do and appreciate and enjoy the 'everyday' things more. Food, comfort, lighting and warmth and the simple effects they can have on boosting your happiness and wellbeing.


Unfortunately I brought the wrong adaptor for my camera charger so was unable to make a video of my travels and most of the photos above were taken with my phone. However I hope you still enjoyed this little documentation of my time in Copenhagen and it's useful if you plan on visiting too! Farvel!
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Halloween: What To Watch

Halloween: What To Watch

If you'd rather stay in the warmth this year instead of dressing up and braving the cold for the second year dressed up as a cat (aka, me)...because let's face it, you always leave it last minute and panic. 

And you don't even need to panic about what movies to watch either, because I've been organised  and picked some out for you yay!

These are my own personal favourites amongst those that I have seen - I'm aware there's a load of other fantastic horror movies out there and I've merely scratched the surface of this genre...but these are my favourites!

🎃 Enjoy and happy Halloween! 🎃

Donnie Darko

A teenager named Donnie Darko played by the b-e-a-utiful Jake Gyllenhaal, sleepwalks out of his house one night and sees a huge freaky demon rabbit called Frank. Frank then tells him the world is going to end in 28 days. Donnie then returns home to find a massive jet engine has crashed into his bedroom...y'know, as you do. Things get freakier and weirder and the audience is left to wonder - is he maybe living in a parallel universe...or is it just his mind playing tricks on him...or is the world really going to end? I've seen this movie several times, even read a book about it, and don't feel much closer to what it's all really about, or what the ending of the movie entails. However, no matter how many times I see it, it still leaves me pondering and is still one of the best (probably underrated) screenplays out there. It's not a jump-scare type movie but it will freak with your brain.

The Silence Of The Lambs

A cult classic but I couldn't leave it out. A smart-cookie student at the FBI's training academy, Clarice, played by Jodie Foster is asked to interview a certain Dr. Hannibal Lecter - a genius psychiatrist. But, Hannibal is also a violent psychopath - of course, it wouldn't be a Halloween movie without one of those! He's been put behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. Lecter is believed to have an insight into a case therefore Clarice is selected as 'bait' to get him to spill the beans. It's a creepy movie, it's gross, disturbing and unpleasant and jumps up on you when you least expect it to...but it is Halloween after all.

Black Mirror

Maybe not your typical thing to watch on Halloween, and it's tv not a movie, but what's scarier than a dystopian future? I've mentioned my love for BM on here before so it's clear to say I'm a fan! Each episode features a new story centered around an aspect of modern technology and our unease with the modern world, one scarier than the next - all depicting scary truths about an alternative present or the near future which will be sure to be leave you feeling spooked and questioning the world around you...

The Exorcist

I only saw The Exorcist for the first time this year and it was probably the most visually disturbing horror movie I've seen. Let's not talk about the make up or distorted voices of protagonist Regan - it literally made me sick to my stomach! Naturally, her mother is a bit worried, as any mum would be if their child begins levitating! A local priest believes the girl may be seized by the devil and therefore wants to perform an exorcism on her. If this movie doesn't freak you out, you're probably possessed too!

Get Out

Main characters, Chris and his girlfriend, Rose have reached the point of dating when she's ready to introduce him to her parents. As if this isn't scary enough in itself, let's throw a horror genre into the mix! Rose invites Chris for a weekend away to finally meet mum n dad, who are a little bit too accommodating, which Chris tries to brush off as their anxious attempts to deal with the fact he's, well, black. However, as the weekend unfolds, he realises their initial behaviour was just the tip of iceberg and something real funny is going on in their household...

The Shining

Jack (played brilliantly by Jack Nicholson) decides to take up the position as winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel along with his wife, Wendy and son, Danny. Jack, a recovering alcoholic, seems to think embarking on this adventure will cure him of his writer's block when really it just drives him crazy! Danny also possesses psychic abilities which exposes him to the hotel's horrific past. So as you can imagine, it's a cocktail for disaster waiting to happen, and so entertaining and great and a visual masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick. If you have seen The Shining, or plan to, another great follow-up is watching the documentary Room 237 which delves into the many possible meanings behind the film.

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary and Guy, her husband, move to their new apartment in New York which has an odd reputation and even weirder neighbours. In short, Rosemary finds out she is pregnant then becomes paranoid and increasingly suspicious that both her husband and her neighbours are hatching a plan against her baby. The audience is never quite sure whether Rosemary's experiences are truly supernatural or made up, imaginative hallucinations...leaving the viewer unsettled and uncomfortable and questioning reality.


I saw Pyscho for the first time in my first year of university and remember analyzing the iconic shower scene for a whole lecture - that's where my tuition fees went! Regardless, this film is iconic for a reason, being one of the most violent and horrific films of it's time. Marion is a secretary in Phoenix who's just stole 40,000 dollars from her employer to spontaneously run away with her boyfriend - silly move, Marion! On her escapade she becomes exhausted whilst driving and decides to stop for the night at the infamous Bates Motel. She meets the extremely polite and formal but very awkward proprietor Norman Bates who lives with his possessive mother, or does he? Dun dun dun!


Lastly I'm choosing the most recent movie of the bunch. Darren Aronofsky's widely controversial mother! is about a couple's relationship which is tested when many uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. Her, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Him, played by Javier Bardem begin to find their quiet, peaceful home descending into chaos though it's only really Her that seems to care...whilst Him is more concerned about his next creative masterpiece. It's a powerful, anxiety-inducing, psychological thriller crossing themes of love, passion and religion all wrapped up in one claustrophobic home bound to have you reaching for an escape!

What are your favourite movies to watch on Halloween?
Tuesday, October 09, 2018
Favourites Of The Moment: Podcasts, Videos, TV

Favourites Of The Moment: Podcasts, Videos, TV

I always enjoy listening to podcasts, reading articles, watching Youtube videos and documentaries...with the weekly episode of Strictly Come Dancing thrown in for good measure (and sanity). Here are some of my favourites as of late for you to get your teeth stuck into and make the most of your time online.

Podcasts galore!

Most of you know Fearne Cotton as the chatty, vibrant blonde presenter from Radio 1 and Top of the Pops, however recently you may know her better as an author and advocate for mental health. I recently read her book 'Happy' and discovered her podcast series 'Happy Place'. Fearne interviews big names in media such as Stephen Fry, Gok Wan, Kirsty Young - just to name a few, about their experience with mental health and what happiness means to them. The podcasts delve into topics about love, loss and all the bits in-between. Most podcasts range from half an hour to an hour and are the perfect way to soothe your mind and learn from a wide range of personalities about how they manage their mental health. I would highly recommend these podcasts and Fearne's books.

Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations have been another favourite of mine in my podcasts which feature interviews with thought-leaders, authors, health experts and many more. Each podcast acts as a guide and helps you discover and connect to the deeper meaning of the world around you. My favourite podcast to date is with who uses his fame and fortune for the good of others, so I would highly recommend that. The only thing I would say is that sometimes the podcasts can seem somewhat 'preach-y' and religious (and kind of remind me of Jim Cunningham in Donnie Darko) - however! the topics covered are things that affect most of us and there is something to be gained and learned from these podcasts for everyone.

The Fringe Of It has been one of my recent and favourite subscriptions lately. Presented by Liv Purvis and for all you old school bloggers out there, you'll know her as What Olivia Did - one of the bloggers I first ever began reading has come leaps and bounds in her career. Liv presents this fantastic podcast alongside Charlotte Jacklin from Betty Magazine. They discuss everything about millennial life from careers, money, activism, self-love to body image. I encourage any woman, or man, out there to give their podcasts a listen as I guarantee you will find something that will make you think, yes, me too. They're very chatty and remind you of your own friends blathering away about everyday life things.

Jameela Jamil has been creating waves across social media with her outspoken, bold and unapologetic opinions on women, feminism, sexism and body image in the media. I first saw and heard Jameela on T4 Sunday's, she has now spread her wings across to LA and has begun her acting career and is simultaneously an activist for her self-starter campaign 'i-weigh'. Her interview 'Ways To Change The World: Jameela Jamil on banning airbrushing, the Kardashians and her traumatic teens' with  Krishnan Guru-Murthy covers everything from weight-loss, vanity and why the Kardashians are a toxic influence on young girls - and though she covers what some of us may know already, she articulates it in a way that makes you stop and think again about how social media affects how women, and men, see themselves.

Surf The Web

The wonders of the internet helped me discover Reel Honey, founded by Sydney Urbanek who also completed an internship at Cannes like myself. It's a wonderful website, that I kinna wish I'd made myself lol, featuring reviews and interviews on everything about women in film and pop culture. It also features fantastic essays which evoke many nostalgic memories for me of my past favourite films as well as current films and exploring them into depth and detail. It's my new favourite website and place to go for film reviews, essays or just to simply unwind. A must for film fanatics.

Need to lyfao (laugh your effing ass off)? Watch these!

The internet doesn't need to be all serious, and it most definitely isn't! This is where First We Feast comes in handy. If you like chicken (or vegan) wings and hot sauce accompanied by celebrities and fun interviews then First We Feast will be right about your street. Presented by Sean Evans, each video features a celebrity, in particular my favourite video with Jeff Goldblum (wowowowow), whilst challenging them to eat chicken wings with a range of hot sauces whilst also asking them many interesting questions. So, if you want to take time out from fake news, watching Mrs. May single-handedly ruin everything from Abba songs to Europe or other boring stuff then watch Sean Evans challenge celebrities to try the hottest of hot sauces! The FWF website also includes plenty of food and drink, culture and recipe articles and guides to eating across different parts of the US.

Or love film? Watch this!

My absolute favourite, favourite Youtube channel is Lessons From The Screenplay presented by Michael who discusses movies through analysing their screenplay's. He makes videos that analyse movie scripts to examine exactly how and why they are so good at telling their stories. It's partly educational and partially a love letter to great movies aiming to create fun and informative videos for the audience. He really knows what he's talking about and uses references to some of the top screenwriting books, you are bound to come away from his videos a little more educated and filled with more passion for movies.

Get informed!

Just last night I watched one of my favourite documentary presenters (after Louis Theroux of course) Stacey Dooley present her most recent piece of broadcasting - Fashion's Dirty Secrets. Without spoiling it too much, she explores the damages on the environment caused by fast fashion and the production of cotton. It is an eye-opener and pretty shocking news to watch, so don't expect to come away from the documentary feeling happy, but hopefully it will get a conversation and movement going that will encourage people to shop better. What I found most important was that she spoke with top bloggers and influencers which I think was a clever move. A lot of people may think the power is out of our hands, it's the government and the big companies that control it, to an extent. I believe it's in fact the consumer that is in control and if bloggers literally influence the consumer, they can influence us to shop better. More and more people, young girls particularly, look for what to buy online from bloggers and Youtuber's so if they send out a better message then hopefully others will follow.
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
The Reign Of The Lifestyle Vloggers

The Reign Of The Lifestyle Vloggers

In today's blog post I'm sharing an old essay from university. In my third and final year, I studied a module called 'Digital Cultures in the Americas'. For one of our essay projects, I decided to explore how two American lifestyle vloggers construct an aspirational lifestyle through their online identity. I've watched Youtube videos since I was a wee teenager, less so now as I get older, but am forever fascinated by the phenomenon of the 'vlogger' aka video blogger. I hope you enjoy this essay.

“Identity construction can be seen as the sense-making process by which people selectively organise their experiences into a coherent sense of self” (Papacharissi, 2011). In this essay, I will explore how two lifestyle vloggers organise their experiences into this ‘coherent sense of self’ and how they construct an aspirational lifestyle through their online identity and their choice of mise-en-scène in their Youtube videos. The first vlogger I will be looking at is Jenn Im - a Korean video blogger born and raised in Los Angeles, California. The second vlogger I will be looking at is Bethany Mota - a Mexican/Portuguese video blogger born and raised in Merced Country, California.

Bethany Mota

Monday, August 20, 2018
The Auteur Filmmaker: Jim Jarmusch

The Auteur Filmmaker: Jim Jarmusch

In today's post, I'm sharing another essay from my third and final year at university from a module I studied called 'American Independent Cinema'. My task was to compare the stylistic and narrative choices in Jarmusch's films Stranger than Paradise and Down by Law and discuss his position as an auteur filmmaker.

Previous studies in the field of American Independent Cinema has often discussed Jim Jarmusch as a director who goes against Hollywood cinema conventions and as someone who is persistent in avoiding traditional filmmaking. In Jim Jarmusch: Interviews, the controversial director said: “I’m a brat this way and I just wanta make movies exactly the way I want.” (Hertzberg, 2005) and claims that having artistic control is integral to his work (Levy, 1999). Jarmusch has a unique style of filmmaking, which can be seen in both Stranger than Paradise and Down by Law. I will discuss whether he can be discussed as an auteur filmmaker in both films, by analyzing his own signature approach to filmmaking.

Essentially, Jarmusch’s signature approach can be defined primarily by how his film style and narrative structure in both films differentiates from that of traditional Hollywood cinema. Stranger Than Paradise uses self-conscious artful minimalism by showing a combination of empty, deserted post-industrial landscapes and composing shots through long single takes. Typically, a Hollywood movie would consist of the complete opposite, such as colourful, perhaps dramatic locations and using a wide range of cuts, short takes and close-ups. The use of short takes and close-ups helps display a different range of emotions of characters and allows the audience to feel the different emotions. Contrastingly, Jarmusch purposely uses long takes and shots of his protagonists in order to distance the audience and let them make the decisions for themselves, witnessing the characters in the frame from an observational viewpoint, therefore making it more objective than that of the typical Hollywood style. The camera is often used as to “peer down on characters as if from the distant perspective of an uninvited visitor” (Belton, 1994).

Stranger than Paradise (1984) 

Friday, May 25, 2018
The Film Club #9 | Cannes Film Festival Edition

The Film Club #9 | Cannes Film Festival Edition

Quick update! I am so grateful to have worked at the Cannes Film Festival for an internship this year. I was also able to see some films up for competition when tickets were available. Here are some mini-reviews of the films I saw there:

*spoilers ahead*

Yomeddine (Arabic)

This was the first movie I saw while at Cannes. I didn't know what to expect as I was overall just more concerned that it had been nearly 4 days at the festival and I still hadn't seen any of the going Glastonbury and not seeing any bands, y'know?

Yomeddine was the perfect start to my movie escapade. It tells the story of Beshay, a man who is cured of leprosy yet suffers through the scars of the illness. He hasn't left the leper colony in the Egyptian desert which he has been in since his childhood and one day decides to leave everything behind and embark on a journey to find his family who abandoned him. He is joined by an orphaned apprentice and best friend who upon this journey form an even closer bond as a result of the challenges they are faced with. As mentioned in a review on The Guardian (who does not rate the film quite so highly), I would agree that the film was somewhat sugarcoated and would have benefited from exploring Beshay's marital relationship rather than a fictional buddy-friendship. However, overall the film explored the struggles Beshay has and does still encounter surrounding affirming his humanity that remains despite the scarring leprosy has left behind. The director Abu Bakr Shawky makes an impressive feature film debut which was nominated for the Cannes Palme d'OrGrand PrixJury Prize, AND the Best Director Award.


Under The Silver Lake (US English)

I've had the time to digest this film and I still. don't. have. a. clue. what it was about. I really don't. I'll put it out there in the open because sometimes even someone with a degree (does it mean anything these days!) can't analyze a film. Maybe if I watched it again and paused every minute to analyze I would be able to get my head around it. Sometimes you just can't see what the filmmaker has intended for you to see beyond his symbolism and metaphors.

Sam, played by dreamy Andrew Garfield (and probably the highlight for me) lives in an apartment block in sunny LA. He spends his days snooping on his topless neighbor (à la Rear Window, Hitchcock) with binoculars whilst trying to gain an extra few days to get money for his rent. One night, he meets a mysterious and beautiful woman who's swimming in his building's pool one night. The next morning she has vanished and because Sam has absolutely nothing better to do, he decides to embark on a quest across the city to find out the secret behind her disappearance which takes all kinds of twists and turns. Yes, it all sounds good and well as a synopsis but the story itself has a strange infatuation with dogs, comic books, puzzles, decoding secrets from cereal box packets and god knows what else I saw. I attended the premiere of this (ooherr) where a successful film can receive anything from 10 to maybe even 20 minutes of a standing ovation and applause. 

A large chunk of the audience had already left either because they were as stumped about the film as I was or because it was about midnight and they couldn't be bothered clapping for 15 minutes. I left pretty sharpish for both reasons. Andrew Garfield himself did not attend the premiere, bizarre considering he was the lead role of the film, so again either he had another very important engagement or he, after filming, decided he no longer wanted to be associated with this 'film'. Who knows what is under the silver lake. Who knows why Andrew Garfield didn't attend. Who knows why a majority of the audience left without applause. Who knows. The mystery continues.

I can definitely see this movie appealing to some people but sadly it did not to me.


Three Faces (Iranian)

The first scene of Three Faces was enough to capture my attention, as it opens with a video phone message of a young provincial girl's plead for help who claims she is about to hang herself. In the video, she explains how she is oppressed by her family to not pursue her studies at the Tehran drama conservatory. This video is then sent to well-known actress Behnaz Jafari (playing herself). Jafari thus decides to abandon the current shoot she is working on, and alongside Jafar Panahi (director, also playing himself) embark on a journey to find this girl, who they don't believe has actually killed herself...because otherwise, how else would she have sent the video? They both travel by car to the rural north where they have interesting encounters with the locals of the girl's mountain village. It was a unique perspective to shoot a film, where we are constantly looking from the POV of the director throughout. Whilst it was purposely quite a slow-paced film, I found this to be the thing I disliked as the movie at times moved so slowly, for example, scenes of walking or of views etc, and my patience wanted things to happen a bit quicker! I wasn't expecting anything action-packed but I just got ants in my pants (lol) waiting for things to happen!

It received an impressive standing ovation and applause which I stuck around for just to experience it and it's worth being part of at Cannes as it's quite unique. I think this time, in particular, it received more of an applause because the director is actually banned from leaving his home country, Iran, and wasn't there to present the film in Cannes.


Shoplifters (Japanese)

I was lucky to be given a ticket for the very last day of Cannes where they were showing several screenings of the Palme d'Or winner, Shoplifters - Japanese film written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. It tells the tale of a somewhat dysfunctional family of five living under the same roof in a cramped house amongst a cluttered neighbourhood outside Tokyo. One day, following an excursion out shoplifting at their local grocery store, Osamu (the father) and son, Shota come across one of their neighbours, a 4-year-old girl who is standing out cold and alone on her balcony with the noise of bickering parents coming from the home behind her. Osamu & Shota both decide to willingly take in this young girl, named Yuri and give her a hot meal. The family is in no financial position to take on another person into their already poverty-stricken home where they live off of shoplifting and the grandmother's pension to get by. However, when the mother notices burn marks on the girl's arms and discover these as signs of abuse, she decides to adopt her into the family. Everyone gets along despite the confined environment they all live in however a news report (two months later!) reporting the disappearance of Yuri, things start to get more complicated, and more secrets to unfold about the relations between others in the household.

I really enjoyed this moving story and how regardless of poverty and limited space, at the core was a caring family who wanted to look after people, even though their means weren't entirely 'legal', hm. It's received an impressive 93/100 on IMDb from critics and of course, went on to win the most prestigious award of the festival as voted by the jury panel. From others that saw Burning, Dogman, BlacKkKlansmann, etc, said that these films were more deserving of winning than Shoplifters, however, I think overall the film ticks all the boxes. This article explains better why it was the winning prize.


Asako I & II (Japanese)

For those who didn't have the chance to see some films throughout the week, the festival jam-packed the final day before the closing ceremony with all the films in competition - including Asako 1 & 2 which I managed to nab a seat in the screening for! It is just the one film - though it's titled with '1&2" in it - the one and two describing the two different men Asako encounters in this film (I assume). She meets Baku, in the middle of Osaka like something straight out of a fairy tale - they catch each other's eyes, she walks towards Baku and they kiss as if time stands still between them. Unfortunately, Baku has a bad habit of disappearing every now and then, for example, he says he's going out to buy some bread then doesn't come back for a day, and this time 6 months later he goes out and never comes back again. Asako accepts that she may never meet him again but instead meets someone who is practically identical to him later on in life. She is still haunted by the first love she had but as this new man, Ryoshei persists, she realises she loves him too. However, later on, she discovers Baku has become a famous model and realizes she wants to go back to him. I did enjoy this film for about the first half but then just got annoyed with Asako and how she couldn't make her goddamn mind up, but then again, I can't talk as I'm useless with making decisions at times.

Unpopular opinion, but I'm not sure this movie was entirely deserving of being up for as prestigious an award as a Cannes nomination. Another thing I couldn't help but think was, but what if this film was in English, set in America, for example? Would it have the same effect? I think certain movies can get away with certain things because of the beauty of language. Japanese sounds extremely beautiful even though I have no idea what they're saying (luckily I do, thanks to subtitles) which detracts from plots that are sort of lacking and in this case, cheesy and melodramatic. Asako is ambiguous in her decisions and doesn't seem to have a clue what she wants which made it quite amusing and funny to watch. If the intention was for her to come off as someone ditzy and contrary then that was well portrayed.


The Big Blue/Le Grand Bleu (French)

A little add - on! As this film was not in competition, at least not this year, but actually 30 years ago, Le Grand Bleu by Luc Besson screened at the Cannes Film Festival which received multiple boo-ing's but despite its lack of success at the competition, it went on to become a cult phenomenon of its generation. Whilst at Cannes they had a series of films showing at the 'cinéma de la plage' aka - cinema on da beach. One evening I went along and stuck my feet in the sand and plonked myself at the front row on a deck chair and got dived deep into the big blue (ahahaha get it? ok let me explain). The film is basically all about diving and dolphins and water. In actual fact, the handprint of Luc Besson outside the Palais has a small doodle of a dolphin which now sums up his odd obsession with the sea animal.

The film features gorgeous underwater photography and spectacular location shooting in the French Antibes, the Greek islands, Peru and Sicily. But it is the emotional intensity of the film experience and mystical themes of the story that have made it a cult phenomenon to this day. The film is the story of the rivalry between Enzo (Jean Reno) and Jacques, two childhood friends who are world-renowned free divers which shows the beautiful and perilous journey into oneself and the unknown. Jacques is so obsessed with diving and water that it interferes with his relationships and life and when he sleeps he thinks he's still in the water...

I enjoyed watching this movie on the beach especially as the film is set in similar locations so it really set the right atmosphere for the film, and the soundtrack literally vibrated the sand beneath me. It's not my favourite by Luc Besson at all and I'm not obsessed with water or looking at views in films so I won't be diving in to watching it again (hah...ha)


Voila for now! I'm so grateful I got to attend some premieres (at the age of 23!!) and see some up-and-coming exclusive films - it was a film-lovers dream come true. I can't wait to see the other films that were up for nominations, especially Burning, Dogman and BlacKkKlansmann. 
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Best Rom-Coms Of The 00's

The Best Rom-Coms Of The 00's

It might come as a surprise, considering I studied film, and often talk about my love for the films of Lynch and other arty-farty directors, which is true - I love them a lot! However, I also have a penchant for really, really cheesy, romantic comedies, the kind that have about an average of 5/10 on imdb. 

Of course when someone asks, 'what's your favourite film/director?' etc - a romantic comedy would not be my first choice. I guess they fall into the 'guilty pleasure' category. You know what though, I don't even feel guilty about it. My taste has always been broad, whether that's in music or art, books or films, if it is something I enjoy then I don't see the harm. 

I'm talking about my favourite rom-com's which shaped and developed my love for the motion picture. At the time I definitely didn't watch in depth considering the script, acting, location, production, lighting or anything for that matter, but these stories for me were fun and easy-going, something I'd watch to just switch off and dream off into a land where happily ever after was a certainty. Yes, it was quite a shock when I began to develop my tastes and watch real films about real life and realise I'd been lied to for years and years by Hollywood. Thanks guys. 

Here were (are) my favourites that I still watch to this day, if only to revel in the nostalgia of my pre-teen/teen days and dreams of meeting my very own Ralph Fiennes.

Maid In Manhattan

This has to be one of my all time favourites. Story goes as follows - maid works in hotel in New York, tries on clothes of one of the rich guests, accidentally bumps into a charming senatorial candidate, thinks she's a guest - they fall for one another - you get the jist. It's a sweet but predictable modern day Cinderella-like love story which Empire describes the plot as "rags-to-riches which should keep hopeless romantics happy". Hm, sums me up in a nutshell...

How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days

The fun thing about writing this post is that it requires very little of my brain to describe these easy plots to you, hurrah! 

How to lose a guy in 10 days was when I first fell in love with Kate Hudson and Matthew (can't spell his name). They were the best-looking couple I'd seen on screen since Jack & Rose! The film tells the tale of Andie and Benjamin - A being a how-to columnist for a magazine and B working in advertising. He bets that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. She is assigned to write an article on "How to Lose a Guy in 10 days." They then meet in a bar shortly after the bet is as you can see it does actually make for a fun film, as the conflicting characters have different goals which creates several obstacles for the bets they have made. On top of this, I find this film actually really funny (I mean it is a rom-COM after all) and Hudson's character Andie plays an OTT neurotic/dramatic girlfriend who is hilarious to watch as she tries all sorts of weird tactics to push Ben away.

The Wedding Planner

It's Matthew whatshisname and J LO, again! Did my parents pick up these tapes for me buy 1 get 1 free in Woolworths? I think so!
The Wedding Planner is about Mary (played by jenny from the block) who is rescued from a near-fatal collision with a runaway dumpster by handsome pediatrician Steve. After spending the most enchanting evening of their lives together, Mary thinks she's finally found a reason to believe in love after spending years of her career organising the big day for other people. She finally thinks her time has come. But her career and relationship collide. I won't say anymore in case you decide to watch this drivel and haven't already predicted what will happen.

She's All That

She's All That tells the story of Zach (Freddie Prinze Jr. - who fyi was my heartthrob) who is the 'most popular guy in school' (say that in a squeaky voice) and the envy of his peers. But his popularity fades when his cheerleader girlfriend, Taylor, leaves him for sleazy reality-television star Brock - lol, are you still following? As he is desperate to revive his fading reputation, he agrees to a seemingly impossible challenge and embarks on a bet with his friends (what is it with American movies and placing bets???)...anyway, he has six weeks to gain the trust of nerdy outcast Laney and help her to become the school's next prom queen. 

10 Things I Hate About You

I suppose out of all of these films, I am least ashamed to love 10 Things I hate About you. It is the coolest of the bunch - not hard to be when 'the bunch' of films are bordering on embarrassing. Kat (Julia Stiles) and Bianca are sisters but are like chalk and cheese. Older sister Kat is ill-tempered, moody, unapproachable and against mainstream everything - young Bianca is pretty, popular and trying to get a date with the popular boy Joey. New student Cameron goes head over heels for Bianca and even pretends to be a French tutor to get close to her (kinna creepy now I think about it). Kat & Bianca's dad is overprotective and forbids dating until Kat dates - which is highly unlikely since she is deemed a 'man-hater'. Joey wants Bianca and uses senior Patrick to attempt to win over Kat (another movie involving a bet!!!). Sounds like a bit of a mess but this is my all time favourite rom-com. It's the most quoted of this era of movies and Heath Ledger is a complete heartthrob especially during his rendition of "i love you baby" in the school's football grounds - a. moment. It also features now Oscar-winner Allison Janney in the early stages of her career!

Coyote Ugly

21-year-old Violet heads to NYC to pursue her dream of becoming a singer-songwriter. In order to make a living and afford rent, she settles on a job in a bar, only to find her aspirations sidelined by the accolades and notoriety she receives at her day job as a barmaid at the famous 'Coyote Ugly'. The "Coyotes" as they are affectionately called tease customers and the media alike with their outrageous antics, making Coyote Ugly the go-to place for guys looking to pull (they just opened a real-life bar in Liverpool fyi, I've been - it's quite something). This film is the definition of CHEESE but I really enjoyed it - it was a laugh, fun to sing a long to, and not to be taken seriously.

Sweet Home Alabama

Melanie (played by my fave Reese Witherspoon) has to return to her roots in the South to obtain a divorce from her redneck husband after seven years of separation, though he refuses to do so. Melanie left her home to become a fashion designer in New York and is due to be married to Andrew, the mayor of NY's son. On her trip home, she rediscovers her love for the simple life and realises that her life in New York was far from perfect in comparison.


Three best friends (Britney Spears, Zoey Saldana, Taryn Manning) get together and bury a box, making a pact to open it at midnight at their high school graduation. On the night of their graduation, they open the box and they strike up a conversation. Suddenly, one brings up the topic of her going to Los Angeles for a record contract audition. With little money, they set out on the road. This is probably the worst of the lot but I used to love this film so much, particularly because I was a Britney Spears fan at the time and this film features a couple of sing-a-long moments.

Other major favourites are Raising Helen, 13 Going on 30, Clueless, Legally Blonde, Notting Hill, Pretty Woman, The Lizzie McGuire movie...and so many more...what can I say, I have a thing for romantic comedies and I. am. not. ashamed.

There's definitely not as many romantic comedies circulating as there used it a dying genre? Are you partial to a rom-com, or are they just conveying unrealistic stories to an audience?