Monthly Favourites #9 (May 2016)

Despite having a productive month, this monthly favourites is admittedly on the short side. However, next month promises to be one full of excitement so stay tuned for that!

Film – Captain America: Civil War/Spotlight
Captain America: Civil War
, what a film! If you have been following the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the past few years, Captain America was the build-up of the majority of the films (it was also the film to kick off MCU Phase 3). What can I say about Civil War? There are no winners. The film is not just about Iron Man and Captain America; it is about choosing a side, what is morally right vs what is legally right. As an audience, you finally see that despite all the saving The Avengers have done, they have caused a lot of damage. The film does tug on the heartstring and at various points I was on the verge of tears. In my opinion I think Russo brothers (the directors) are some of the best directors in the MCU and I am so pumped they will be directing Infinity War.

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The other film that is my favourite this month is Spotlight, the film that won Best Picture at the Oscars this year. Spotlight is about a team of investigating journalists (of the same name) at Boston Globe who uncover a widespread of cases about child abuse amongst Roman Catholic priests. The filming is gripping in the sense you are with the team as they discover more horrors within the Church and you are shocked by the numbers. The biographically film is something I would suggest people watch, it opens your eyes to great journalism and how not everything is as pure as it seems.

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Music – Avenged Sevenfold
As you may have seen from my previous blog post Avenged Sevenfold have been my jam this month. I won’t bore you with the details this time but I will say that I do love the band.

Book – A Court of Misty and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
I have finally got back into reading this month, I read two books (not a lot, but a lot better than one book every three months!). My favourite of the two was A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF), it was the sequel to  A Court of Thrones and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. The story follows Feyre after the Under The Mountain ordeal, she now has to deal with Rhysland the Lord of the Night Court whom she made a bargain with. I won’t spoil the book for those of you haven’t read it but it is such a good read! If you are into fantasy and young adult, new adult (a new genre) then these books may be for you! Also feel free to check out my goodreads, I try to update it when I can.

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The Price of Fame! (Meeting Your Idols)

We have all dream of the day we meet our idols. They could be superstar athletes or world-class musicians. You meet them at the supermarket or at signing and they are everything you would hope they would be. What you don’t expect is the £150 price tag to meet them.

In all industries be it film, music or TV, fans these days want to meet their idols/favourites. Over the years, it has become increasingly harder or difficult to meet them, so most fans these days tend to pay a price to get a glimpse of their idol. At conventions, it is very common to find ticket/package deals to meet your big name stars, which I have no problem with. At this year, upcoming Asylum 16 (Supernatural convention) for a photo op with either Jensen Ackles or Jared Padalecki you need to pay £85, which is expensive but from what I have seen and heard about the photo ops it is worth it. However, when it comes to musicians and photos ops for me things are very different.

Busted have recently reformed and if you want to meet the three guys (this is for an exclusive photo of you and them) you will need to cough up £160.Yes, you may get other bits and pieces thrown in but still that is a lot of money. 5 Seconds of Summer (who I am off to see later this month) ask fans to pay around £110 for a ‘Soundcheck Package’ which because of the wording I am not sure you will even be able to get a picture with the band. Prices like this are not uncommon in the music business and frankly, it is disgusting. Whoever has the biggest wad of cash gets to meet their idols, what about the people who don’t have the funds?

Is there a reason to why the prices are like this? No, not really. These fans have been behind your music for years and yet still want more money from them just so they can say I have met so and so.  Is there an alternative? Yes, there is.
Signings and waiting outside the venue are relatively cheap ways to meet a band. However, the moments are often brief but from my experience, they are some best moments.
Up next is fan clubs, for several years I paid either £25 (this was for merchandise) or £5 to join The Hustler Club (All Time Low). My membership allowed me to get pre-sale tickets, exclusive merchandise and if I was lucky enough a perk for the gig in the form of an early entry or on two occasions a meet and greet with the band themselves. I am thinking about re-joining THC because whatever they do, they do it well.
Lastly is lottery idea. Conventions such as Summer In The City and Vidcon are fans of this system. From what I can gather you submit a list of people you wish to meet and it is all entered into a lottery system. You either get lucky or you don’t, it is mostly fair and I don’t believe you have to pay for this perk.

Ruo Reynolds of Enter Shikari summarised the whole pay to meet your idols beautifully in a few tweets.  “These bands are exploiting their fans. Everyone is beginning to think paying to simply meet another human is acceptable. It’s madness.” Bands should appreciate fans, not charge them. It shouldn’t be a luxury to meet your favourite band but sadly in today’s world it is.

Monthly Favourites #7 (March 2016)

Hello all! Did those of you who celebrate Easter enjoy the holiday? It was a bank holiday in the UK but I was working so it did not really affect me, but I think I am paid extra for working the bank holiday. I hope you all got the chocolate and eggs you wished for, I got a chocolate egg, which was delightful. Now onto this month’s favourites, this year is flying through!

Film – The Departed
After seeing Leo win his Oscar in February, I’ve been wanting to watch a film with Leo in for some time. I decided against Inception (which I have seen more than enough times) and had a mooch on sky movies and found The Departed! Like most things, I am very late to this great film. It has action and suspense rolled into one. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon are fantastic as the two leads (both are the respected moles in the Mafia and the police) and Jack Nicholson provides us with a chilling mob boss. I got give props though to Mark Wahlberg as well.  For those of you who have no clue about The Departed it is a cat and mouse game between DiCaprio and Damon both are trying to find the moles. All I will say is the end has a great twist that I didn’t expect.
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TV – Grantchester/Game of Thrones
Granchester is a detective drama on ITV set around the Cambridge area in the 1950’s. Local vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton) has a taste for solving crimes and often teams up with DI Geordie Keating (Robson Green) to help solve said crimes.  Grantchester is on its second series and Sidney appears to be struggle with the line between what is right morally and lawfully. It is a great little series with some amazing talent, if you find yourself with a few hours to spare I would advise checking out the series.
Game of Thrones. I FINALLY caught up with the series! Now let’s roll onto season six, later in April.

Clothing – High-waist jeans
After recently discovering I needed to buy some new jeans, I was on the lookout for a decent pair. With the help of a friend and trying a range of jeans on I discovered the miracle that is high-waist jeans. Not only are these comfy jeans but the tuck in my tummy and make my bottom look great, I know understand why some many women love a good pair of high-waist jeans. The pair I got are here if you are interested.

Song – Catfish and The Bottlemen// Soundcheck
A bit of a hipster(ish) song but I am really digging this song this month.

So that’s it for favourites this month, short but sweet! Do you have any favourites let me know in the comments!

Mother Knows Best!

In the UK, Mother’s Day is a stone’s throw away and inspired by this day this post will be looking at mother figures real life and in fiction.

My Mum
My mum’s star sign was a Leo and I feel that she epitomized being a Leo throughout her life. My mum was loyal, fierce and despite what may have seem as harsh attitude she was very caring. I see my mum as strong woman who went through so much but never gave up. As a mum, she was protective of me and my brother and she always did her best for us. She would often let us know some home truths no matter how much it hurt. One thing that my mum always made a point of was making sure I stood on my own two feet. A great example of this would be after a night out and one too many drinks later, my mum would inform me that I have to deal with the hangover myself. She wasn’t going to run around after me nursing my self-afflicted pain as she liked to put it.

My younger self and my mum with our German Shepherd, Oz.

My mum and myself with (our then puppy) German Shepherd, Oz.

My Nanna
My nanna was in her late teens when she lost her left leg in a crash with a lorry. But that never stopped her from having a great life, which to this day she still enjoys. My nanna raised two children and had a career as well as being quite the jetsetter. Austria, Spain, Germany and Hong Kong are all places my nanna has visited back in the day, I am somewhat envious of my nanna’s lust for travel. My nanna is a great family woman, my childhood was often filled with visiting her house and baking with her when my granddad and brother went to work.

My nanna and myself on my 18th birthday.

My nanna and myself on my 18th birthday.

Queen Elinor (Brave)
It was only a month or so ago that I finally got around to watching the film Brave. I loved the characters but I also loved Merdia’s relationship with her mother Elinor. Yes, Elinor was somewhat pushy on the whole marriage side and she is often seemed to play the ‘bad cop’ card a lot but it was evidently out of love. The film explores the relationship between Merdia and Elinor and it is great to see mother and daughter sort out their differences.

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Molly Weasley (Harry Potter)
Molly freaking Weasley! The closest thing Harry has to a mother figure throughout the books, she basically has Harry become part of the family without battering an eyelid. The woman knits Harry a jumper for his first Christmas at Hogwarts!  What Ron and Harry have only been friends for four months, if that! Let’s face Molly is the leader of the Weasley family, she is a true mother hen. I bet when all the Weasley children have finally gone to school or are no longer at home, Molly finds herself at unrest at what to do. I also bet when her children start having grandchildren of their own she would spoil them rotten.

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Snow White (Once Upon A Time)
My heart bleeds for Snow White and her relationship with Emma. It is obvious that Snow loves Emma and telling Charming to put her in that wardrobe was the hardest thing for her to do and she is constantly trying to make up for it. At times, Snow can seem a bit too much to Emma but as viewers we need to remember that Snow was not there to see Emma growing so all the fretting and worrying is what should would have been doing many years ago. I think Snow will always feel somewhat guilty for sending Emma away but I don’t think she will ever stop trying to make it up to Emma. Another point to Once Upon A Time for writing some amazing woman characters, one of the best shows that have some great female leads.

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I hope you have a lovely Mother’s Day wherever you are. Mum’s are great!

You’re a wizard, Harry.

On the 29th of January 2015, after three long years I finally went to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. A big thanks to my students union, who organised the trip for free otherwise it would have cost an arm and a leg for me to go to the studio.  Now before I jump into talking about the tour of the studio itself I must provide some background information about my love for Harry Potter.

Harry Potter Studio Tour
I was very young when my dad began reading the first Harry Potter book to me and my brother; he also read us the second book . I remember reading the third book but due to my parents divorcing and moving several houses, I lost the book and subsequently forgot about Harry Potter and the world of magic. I picked up Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince some years later but I was completely lost. I saw most of the films but missed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, so when I saw the Half-Blood Prince in the cinema I was once again lost. At this point, other books had entered my life and I fell in love with reading again. For my seventeenth birthday, I asked for all the Harry Potter books, I received them all as hard backs (thanks Nanna, you are the best!) and I treasure them to this day.  Just under a month I managed to reread all seven books (many of my friends and family doubted I would do it); this helped due to travelling to London for a school trip (I saw people queuing for the Harry Potter premier while in London) and reading during my lunch breaks at work. I finished the Deathly Hallows on the morning of the day that I was going to see the final film. After that night my love for the books and the films reignited and it has been an emotional ride ever since.

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When I arrived at the studio, I was ecstatic to say the least and as soon as we could, I joined the queue for the tour.  The tour quickly to underway and it must say that you only have a guide for a small part of the tour, the rest you do yourself. You start in the Great Hall, which was Christmas themed, as when I went on the tour it was still ‘Hogwarts in the Snow’. The Great Hall appeared to be much smaller than what I thought it would look like but the guide explained that the Great Hall had been moved and scaled from one of the two soundstage to its current area. After the Great Hall you are free to walk about the next two areas on your own, however, it is a one way system so once you have gone through somewhere you cannot go back.

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I am not going to go into every detail of the tour because;
1) I do not want to spoil it for anyone who may go
2) There is so much to see, like a lot.
The tour takes an average of three and half hours but some of the group I went with flew through it. The tour is set over two soundstages, J & K and J appears to be the bigger one of the two. In J, you will find some of the sets, lots of props and costumes. It is also where you can get your Quidditch experience photo taken (I did), the queuing time while vary depending on how many booths are open. There are many videos and signs to read about the various sets and props and I could have spent a lot more time in there. Some of my favourite sections included Dumbledore’s office, the Dark Arts sections and the Gryffindor common room. The attention to detail to the props really blows you away, major kudos to the departments involved, it has truly made me appreciate the films so much more.

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After Hall J you enter the Backlot where you get to see some of the buildings and objects used in the films, most notable Privet Drive. You can also try Butterbeer! Which I must warn is somewhat sickly after the first few sips. When I reached the Backlot it was snowing and freezing, so we rushed through this section. I got a picture at Privet Drive and even used the knocker on the door! I would have stayed in the area much longer but I was incredibly cold at this point, I had to retreat indoors.

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Soundstage K is smaller but none the less still fascinating, a large section is dedicated to the creature effects and prosthetics which there are loads of.  You get to see scale models of the actors in certain films and see key creatures such as Aragog, Buckbeak and Fawkes. By far one of my favourite models was the Thestrals, despite their appearance I feel a strong connection to them. Buckbeak was visually stunning but I expected nothing less from a Hippogriff.

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After this section Diagon Alley is next and it is truly magical, once again the attention to detail leaves you amazed. The street is cobbled and the shops are designs are truly magical (no pun intended). In Flourish and Blotts in the window there is a ton of Gilderoy Lockhart books, which you only just seen in the films for a few minutes (if that) but they all look ready to read.

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After some amazing concept art, which given the chance I would buy without a second thought you finally get to see the model of the castle. I was already emotional by this point, so when I turned the corner and heard the soundtrack from the Goblet of Fire (Harry in Winter), I nearly cried. The model is much bigger than expected and it just astounds you. It was great to see the whole school and all its little nooks and crannies.  With the snow dusted over the castle it made the whole experience feel even more magical than before.  I am so glad the castle is last because it reminds of what J.K Rowling said at the final premier.

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

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I would truly recommend the tour, even if you are a small fan of the films because you will come out with a whole new appreciation for the films. I would go again? For sure, but maybe after the extension in March because who doesn’t want to go on the Hogwarts Express?!

Monthly Favourites #1

January is apparently the month of January blues, which I did feel at some points in this month. I also found this month be a sluggish one of sorts. After the rush and excitement of Christmas everything seems to slow down this month.  Nevertheless, this is what I enjoyed this month.

Film of the month: Into the Woods
I went to see Into the Woods very early on this month, in fact on the day of its release and I was blown away. I am sucker for fairy tales and musicals, throw them together, and you have Into the Woods. According to those who have seen Stephen Soundheim original musical (based on James Lapine’s book) it stays true to the musical (apart from some changes that were made by Disney).  Into The Woods is somewhat dark compared to Disney’s usually story but I found nothing wrong with this. I loved the casting and found the acting was top notch; no doubt, I will be buying this musical on DVD as soon as I can.

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TV show of the month: The Thick of It
I knew of Peter Capaldi’s swear sensation Malcom Tucker before he became the Doctor but I did not have chance to watch the show and found politics a bit of a drag. However, with The Thick of It on my Netflix to watch list that is how I kicked off the New Year. I am very close to finishing the final fourth series and hope to watch the film, In The Loop soon after. I have laughed a lot because of this TV show, the writing is amazing and the insults that are made to all the characters are the icing on top of the cake. I would not recommend The Thick of It if you are easily offended by swearing. However, if you have a slightly dark sense of humour and love good British drama this is the show for you.

tumblr_inline_mutinbWtwV1rr159v(The most PG Gif I could find, not mine.)

Character of the Month: Thranduil
I blame tumblr for this one.  I saw the final Hobbit film back in December and enjoyed it but over the Christmas period and well into January, I found myself beginning to search for Thranduil related things. The sass king of the Woodland Realm was defiantly a highlight to my January. It also helps that Lee Pace is a great actor. So thanks tumblr, Thranduil is the star of the Hobbit films and no one can tell me otherwise.

tumblr_mg0ijxzzVr1r7f4plo1_250(Found here)

Song of the Month: Take Me To Church – Hozier
I am very late to the party with liking Hoizer’s song Take Me To Church. It has been put on repeat multiply times on my Spotify and I am more than a hundred percent sure it will make its way onto my iPod by next month. There is a lot of religious imagery in the lyrics but I enjoy the song purely for its killer chorus, it just such a great song and you can give it a listen here.

Picture of the Month:
I went to the Harry Potter studio tour this January (blog post next week) and I took many pictures but this has to be one of my favourites from the whole of January.

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That is it! The first monthly favourites post over. Please feel free to let me know you what you think, if I should include anything next month. Alternatively, do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear them.

5 Horror Films You Should Watch.

With Halloween just around the corner, it is time for a Halloween themed post. As much as the next person, I do enjoy a good film be it thriller or rom com. However, todays post will be focusing on the genre of horror. I am not saying these are the best horror films to exist, I am just saying there are ones to watch.

1. Candyman (1992)
Based on the short story ‘The Forbidden’ by Clive Barker, Candyman is the story of Helen Lyle who is conducting research on urban legends. You should be able to tell where this is going? Helen is determined to find out about this Candyman urban legend and it should be said that Helen is very much a skeptic to the urban legends she is researching.  The ending to this film is probably one of my favourites, even if it is slightly predictable. Candyman is scary enough to make you hide behind a cushion but is cheesy enough not to be taken too seriously. But maybe don’t say Candyman five times in the mirror straight after watching this film.

Candyman 1992 movie pic2None of these images are mine.

2. Saw II (2005)
The Saw franchise has received a thrashing after its last few films were released and I do agree that Lionsgate were somewhat beating a dead horse. I vaguely remember watching the first Saw film when I was in my earlier teens it took me a few years later to watch the second one. To me the second Saw film is one of the best, we see Jigsaw develop as a character and the overall plot of the series takes an interesting turn. Admittedly by Saw IV the series began to get complicated and I soon lost interest in the chain of films, however, the franchise did inspire the Saw ride at Thorpe Park which is one of the best rides at the park I have to say.

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3. Cabin Fever (2002)
Described as a black comedy horror Cabin Fever should also come with a gross warning. I was also in my young to mid-teens when I watched this and it made my skin crawl after watching it. There was a lot of moments where I was screaming “Why?” at the TV. Of course, there are humours elements in this film but after watching it I need to take a shower. If you don’t mind feeling cringing and wincing at some scenes feel free to watch Cabin Fever and watch the demise of a group of college kids.

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4. You’re Next (2011)
I recently watched You’re Next over the summer with my friend as it was on Netflix. This too is described as a black comedy slasher and yes there are funny moments but this film is about survival. Throughout the film you are question who is next to be knocked off and screaming at the TV for them not to-do certain things. By the end of the film you are routing for the survivor to make it out alive. The ending ends with death but you are surprised by who dies.

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5. The Shinning (1980)
Even though The Shinning has got a lot of slack from Stephen King himself and people who have read the book say the film isn’t that good, to me the film has some infamous scenes that you can never disregard. Maybe it is the way you watch Jack Nicholson character Jack, slowly lose himself in the hotel and how you have this feeling things are not going to end well. I think we can all agree that Danny is annoying kid in this film but it would not be the same without him. The Shinning has provided pop cult some great one-liners and great horror film.

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Five horror films you should watch, you may disagree or agree but that is horror for you. Such a wide and varied genre of film you cannot cater to all tastes.

I hope you have a spooky Halloween.