Please note: The blog has now moved over to www.rickiejosen.co.uk
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Please note: The blog has now moved over to www.rickiejosen.co.uk
If you subscribe, I’d appreciate it if you kindly subscribe on the new site (WIP).
See you over there!
Indeed a strange but ultimately enjoyable book. It took about a third of the book for me to get into, not for the first time, but I always think it’s such a waste of precious time to start reading something and then not get the benefit of the whole story.
The story is of 10 year old child genius Saul Dawson-Smith who’s demanding but doting parents are living through him. He is on a never ending timetable of learning to enable him to enter world memory contests with other bored, brainy children who have zero play or ‘child’ time.
The other main character is Scottish, Howard who forms an unlikely friendship with Saul’s father at a hospital. Howard is looking out for Les Dawson-Smith’s mother after his own Mum has already passed away and because he seems to get on with Saul and clearly needs a break from his lonely life in a series of dead end low paid jobs, Mr Dawson-Smith asks him to relocate to London. In gratitude for this stranger looking after his mother, the plan is to find him work but in the meantime, he can help with Saul and the household chores alongside the uppity Mrs Dawson-Smith.
Throw in some Russian friends who are desperate for Howard to marry their friend back home so she can live in the UK legally and the fact that Saul and Howard end up on a road trip, running away from home for ‘respite’ as the genius boy child calls it, and we are in for an entertaining two thirds of a book.
Inspiration factor 7½/10
I’d vaguely heard about the books, just vaguely. In that I heard there were books.
So I’ve not been eagerly awaiting this film like much of the world seems to have. By the way, does the author get paid more if the film does super-well?
I only go as there’s nothing else I particularly want to watch and what started grimly actually has some humour so I’m pleasantly surprised after about 20 minutes. At first it felt like I was watching in monochrome and then someone remembered to switch on the colour. The story is of a future America, led by the president (Donald Sutherland) although it is not explained how the country got into a state in that the rich were rich and the poor were given jobs to do depending on what ‘district’ they lived in and they still had to hunt for food, starving. There’s clearly been some sort of unexplained war and/or rebellion/uprising.
We the audience are rooting for the two people, male and female, who are randomly selected from District 12 to fight in the Hunger Games, the annual national contest where everyone kills each other and there is only one victor. Thank heavens for Woody Harrelson who plays the good time mentor to District 12; having been a victor himself, he is now one of the privileged rich. The star of the show is a very camped up Stanley Tucci, playing the Hunger Games TV host, now on my very short list of actors that make any film watchable.
It’s better than I thought and had me gripped for about 70% of the film but I’m not in a rush to a. read the books or b. see the next one
Smile factor 5/10 – Just Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrellson
This month, I try baking scones. Rather than the usual, I wanted to make a fruit round, so it produces four mega scones like I used to have in, of all places, New York.
I also make cheese scones, one of my favourite things
Plus the ordinary buttermilk scones
Or rather cakes for my Valentine. I don’t care much for chocolate cake (OK, other than Guinness cake, red velvet cake and my own brownies) but dark chocolate cakes with real orange flavouring and dark and white chocolate frosting seemed appropriate.
At the end of the month, I had friends from Devon stay for the weekend and knowing that at least one of them is a bit of a baker too, I decide to go retro with butterfly cakes.
Coming soon: walnut and coffee Battenberg cake followed by several attempts at making almond croissants.
Another film I may never have seen if it wasn’t for Flatpack Festival and it provided another excuse to visit the always quaint Electric cinema.
An excuse because, my Regular Reader will know, I’m a fully paid up member of Cineworld Unlimited card so it’s pointless paying £7 for a ticket at the Electric when I already pay for unlimited films but a film like this rarely shown at the mainstream cinema. And somehow more befitting in the oldest working cinema in the country.
In this film from Belgium/France, the fairy in question, Fiona turns up at a hotel to grant Dom, the hapless employee three wishes. Before he realises he’s falling for her, she’s in a mental institution and the hunt is on to find her and break her free.
Hence they are always on the run from the authorities, with their hearts in the right places and the humour continues.
There isn’t much dialogue, which saves me reading the sub titles, but this is a delightful, modern slap-stick comedy. Not one of my favourite genres and indeed they did go very over the top during a baby left on the car bonnet scene towards the end but nonetheless, a lovely watch.
Smile factor 7½/10
Just by chance I heard about this documentary film and by even more remote chance, it was part of Birmingham’s FlatPack film festival.
The reason for my interest in Blank City is because it details Lower East Side, New York in the late 1970s, into the 1980s where seemingly everyone made films. Not being a film geek, I recognised very few film makers but it was great to see people like Deborah Harry being interviewed alongside all these film clips made by people literally on the street or in squats.
The neighbourhood then, particularly Alphabet City way out to the East Side – a place I only ventured to a few years ago after many years of visiting the city – was an absolute no-go area. As is documented, residents feared for their life every day walking back and forth but on the plus side they didn’t have any belongings or money so thieves knew there was nothing to be stolen. It was more of a narcotics thing and as well as the drugs scene, Aids came to be around this time so there is talk of lost lives.
Really, it’s amazing to see people survive as so little was known in the very early eighties.
I loved this film from the popular culture angle but film makers and geeks – and indeed photographers will enjoy the artistic element.
Smile factor 8½/10
Readers of this blog will know how much I have grown to love walking discovery tours. What started as a way of getting to know San Francisco on a short trip there, grew to having month of to discover my home town, Bedford. In the last year or so, it’s been an excellent way of getting to know about the very Birmingham streets I walk in every day.
A group of us mostly strangers and a few from my girls social network (Out with the Girls) turned up on a wet Sunday – the first in ages! – to meet at the council building and with warming hot chocolate beverage, set out to discover the stories behind the canals.
You’d think the number of walks I’ve been on with our trust guide Ian Braisby, I’d be doing his job for him (it is actually a secret dream job of mine) and yet I learn new Birmingham facts every time.
Britain’s canal capital
For example, the oft asked question is answered; are there more canals in Birmingham than Venice? How many?
Why there is a round-a-bout in the middle of the canal near Brindleyplace.
The generations of canal boat workers and how at one time the canals were privatised and tolls had to be paid to get through.
How the canals link Birmingham up to other towns and cities.
Apart from the imagined stench, we were taken right back to the times when canal boats were the main transportation for companies such as Cadburys (who despite moving away from the city centre still have their base near the canal in Bourenville) and especially for the heavy goods movement of the breweries.
As well as the canal history, we learnt about the beginnings and subsequent uses of a variety of buildings along the canal way, especially what is now The Brasshouse and the beautiful Round House and how Saturday Bridge got it’s name..
This is just a fraction of what I learnt. To book a place on a forthcoming walk, visit the Midlands Discovery Tours website here Then have fun spouting facts to your friends as you walk along the delight that is Birmingham canals.
Those of you who know me on Twitter will have noticed I’ve been to every single Live Music Friday evening at Urban Coffee Co but now I’m delighted there’s a second coffee house to embrace one of life’s pleasures.
I’ve loved live music in coffee shops ever since I first saw a man and a guitar at a late night coffee shop in NYC in 2000 and have been trying to recapture the experience ever since. Whilst popular in America, I used to go to listen to music every Sunday in New York, the first I’d seen in the UK (I’m sure there have been others) was at Urban‘s first location. It’s not just about having someone play but the right type of ‘coffee shop’ music.
Country, folk and jazz all lend themselves to the acoustic vibe that works best. Many of us loved the gypsy/jazz band (I don’t know the name, the band didn’t carry any cards!) we saw at Six Eight Kafe on their first birthday so we begged the management to run more candle-lit nights in their gorgeously dark basement.
Last Wednesday was the first of those nights when we were treated to more live music. The first band had an excellent acoustic set up and performed a mix of original material with covers and harmonious vocals. There is something special about going to events in a dimly lit room. Perhaps because it smacks of the illicitism of the prohibition era and so feels like we’ve been invited to an exclusive underground event.
This and the amazing coffee that the Six Eight coffee gods seem to produce every time makes it an essential addition to the Birmingham calendar.
Coffee & music, two of my favourite things; more please.
This is another film that if you blink, you’ll miss it at your friendly, local, picture house.
One would think any film with Judi Dench in it is a) good and b) a hot ticket (although her being in it will not get me to see a Bond film, wild horses wouldn’t drag me, etc etc).
The film has a full array of Brit actors in their prime, all of which I feel the next generation or two can learn from.
The run-down ironically named Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is in desperate need of guests and advertises itself as a place for the ’retired and the beautiful.’ A group of disillusioned British strangers head over hoping to find meaning in what’s left of their life and partake in new adventures and inevitably make friends – or enemies. So far, the person with the funniest lines is Muriel (Maggie Smith), who is only going over in the short term to jump the NHS queue for a hip replacement and is gloriously an ignorant racist. It doesn’t take many marbles to work out she will be won over by India before the end of the film.
All the characters are in search of something but it’s only the judge, Graham (Tom Wilkinson) who knows what; his lost love of some 40 years ago, his first boyfriend.
The young – and possibly the most enthusiastic hotelier in the world – has his own woes with a domineering mother putting him under pressure to sell the loss-making, hotel left to the family by the father.
I love how the stories gently unfold and how the group started bonding and unlike some comments from Indian people I have seen, I think India is portrayed pretty well – remembering this is fiction! Of course a real hotel where even the phones didn’t work and there was layer of dust on unused furniture will not present itself open for business in a country known for its warm hospitality!
Smile factor 9½/10
Last week we asked: ‘What holiday habits will you bring into your working life in 2012 to make it more fun?’ We had so many great tips from our followers we asked regular contributor Rickie Josen thought to compile her favourites and share a few with you.
1. Turning my phone off and shutting down Outlook for an hour so thoughts don’t get interrupted. @andrewdlevey
2. Staring into space more and letting the brain free-associate. @colinshelbourn
3. Being a freelancer means you can work whilst wearing your swimming trunks in the house and not just by the pool. @Timmy666
4. Try something new. Go to a training course or event or something to stimulate your ideas.@andrewdlevey
5. Enjoy the really good stuff while you’re working. E.g. occasionally have the best coffee and the luxury cake rather than just saving those for the weekend. @RickieWrites
6. Knowing when not to work is important. On my recent holiday I learned not to take my laptop with me everywhere. @Timmy666
7. Try to use time positively when technology occasionally lets us down! @aptanet
8. Best holiday bonus is the enforced shutdown, so u can follow ideas knowing you don’t HAVE to do something. @colinshelbourn
9. If I’m working on a specific project I always go somewhere else to review for a fresh perspective.@andrewdlevey
10. I have a trip to the gym most days which energises me – missed this over xmas!@LyzzyBee_Libro
11. I find a change of scene definitely helps if energy levels are dipping. @andrewdlevey
12. It’s important not to get isolated and to keep up friendships – I missed when doing two jobs so I’m doing now! @LyzzyBee_Libro
13. Holiday time – savouring each moment rather than stacking up mental notes. @lubnagemarielle
14. Making time for the lovely things you do on holiday: eating well, lots of fresh air, walking more, always being excited. @Timmy666
15. Getting away from it all. Get out of the usual work setting to help with new ideas and different thinking. @andrewdlevey
16. I got into a habit of meeting a friend a day over the xmas break and will try to work that into daily life. @LyzzyBee_Libro
A Tom Hanks film that I nearly missed; I say a Tom Hanks film but as we know from the trailers, he is dead in the movie and so appears infrequently. In fact, annoyingly, the main character that’s in every scene is young Thomas Horn who plays Oscar, the bereaved son of the Hank’s character who perishes in the World Trade Centre on September 11th.
This is the first ‘footage’ I have seen of those events; I couldn’t even bring myself to watch on the day or since, nor have I been to the site since. However, the film isn’t about 9/11 but about a young boy coping after the early and cruel death of his beloved father. I though given that he is on his own they’d be a lot of support from his mother, played by the excellent Sandra Bullock but sadly she has even less of a role than Hanks.
Instead the film focuses on Oscar’s hunt to find out where a key he found by accident in his perfect father’s closet may lead. This would be a great story if this was a fantasy adventure but it’s set in early present day New York so a non-story to start. Whether Oscar’s self-harming and (extremely) annoying (loud) nature is due to the passing away is not clear, nor is why a mother would let her child out alone all over the city on subways, busses and walking whilst he looked to interrogate everyone with the surname ‘Black’ the name found on the keys’ envelope.
The emotional wrench that I felt from the trailers is delivered through a key point made throughout the film of Oscar hearing his Dad’s phone messages as the situation deteriorated in WTC. The most poignant though is of his mother having her last telephone conversation with him as she looks out in absolute horror at the building crumpling in front of her across the city skyline.
I know this is based on a book (which everyone suddenly seems to be reading without knowing the film had been released) but what I expected more of is a relationship (however) tense portrayed between the son and the widower. Instead the highlight is Oscar befriending his Grandma’s ‘lodger’ from across the street. That and the fact that a lot of the action is based around the Upper West where I used to live.
Smile factor 5/10
Fairies and New York? Two enticing subjects. I’m slowing getting back into reading (and watching films) based in New York after my long self imposed ban (long, sad story of one big city & one broken heart).
The book is bigged up almightily by Neil Gaiman and I hope when my book gets published (after I finish writing it and sending it out to publishers and someone some accepts it) I’ll have an introduction as good.
The story itself is all in the title, except there are bad fairies as well – obviously. New York – and the whole world is inhabited by fairies from many different nations. In NYC the fairies, as with the communities, are from all nationalities and as with the humans stick together. When Heather & Morad, arrive on the run from their native Scotland after some accidental fairy wrong-doing, they are able to be seen by Dinnie, the overweight, unemployed squatter and Kerry, New York Dolls obsessive with Crohn’s disease who lives opposite. Dinnie has never had a girlfriend, is a terrible violinist and in return for a nationally treasured fairy fiddle that has come into his possession, Heather agrees to help him become the man Kerry would fall in love with.
It’s a delightful tale with many interwoven stories; the fairy clans, the drinking and debauchery and the money stealing and most hilariously, fairy travel; if they want to get somewhere fast, or more likely be on the run from rival fairies, they attach themselves to a cab.
Inspiration factor 8/10
Confession time; I have never seen anything of the Muppets. I think I felt I was too old for it first time round but now seems the perfect age to enjoy it and in any case, I still recognise many of the characters, not just Kermit and Miss Piggy.
I joined many other first time viewers at the cinema last Friday evening, admittedly the rest of them were under 3 ft high but we all loved it. What I admire about modern day children’s films are the copious adult in-jokes that only we can appreciate and yet they take none of the joy away from the kids.
The story line is of a lone Muppet, Walter, who visits the old Muppets LA studio only to find it’s about to be destroyed in the name of the almighty dollar by a wealthy businessman. He sets about trying to prevent this, with the help of his (human) best friend along with his unwitting girlfriend, who have travelled to LA for their 10th anniversary. She hopes this means a proposal but the ‘men’ set out looking for the mansion inhabiting Kermit to persuade him to put on a fundraising television show and save the studio from evil tycoon.
Kermit has to reunite the gang including Miss Piggy, now an editor at French Vogue, Fozzie who performs in a tribute group, the Moopets, Gonzo who now runs a successful company and best of all Animal from an anger management re-hab unit that includes Jack Black which means he is restrained from playing his beloved drums. (Who does that remind me off…..?)
The cast break into song fairly often; when Mary feels let down by her potential fiancé Gary who is busy looking out for his little Muppet brother, Walter, when Miss Piggy and Kermit reminisce about their old romance and .. well pretty much at every opportunity.
The movie leaves me wishing I could travel by map (as in when they show a line moving across a map in movies to denote travel) and the ditty ‘Man or Muppet’ is already stuck in my head, partly due to Chris Evans playing it on Radio Two.
I’m going to have to score it highly since it kept me awake at the end of an extremely tiring and sleep deprived day.
Smile factor 10/10
This time last year, I remember reading about all the lovely things people give up in January as part of New Year’s resolutions’. (or rather by now, given up on them). In the first instance, I‘m of the school of thought that if we want to change something about our life we can change it any day of the year; why wait for a cold January 1st to roll round?
However, this isn’t an anti-resolution rant; far from it. Despite being one of the world’s odd balls in that I love Winter (sorry) and don’t have any problems with January (truly sorry) – I go off on my travels and have a lovely break for Christmas week, Italy for the second year, but still look forward to coming back on the 1st and being refreshed and raring to go for the fresh new year ahead. (Again, I apologise).
What I’m advocating is that change is indeed as good as a rest so let’s make fun changes in January. Rather than giving up things you love (wine) to do things you despise (exercise) in the coldest, darkest month of the year, let’s take up piano lessons or even better crafting or baking; activities that can be done in the comfort of our homes whilst eating chocolate and/or drinking wine.
The time to give up is April, when you have warm summer months as an incentive to leave the house and jog round the park.
For now, here are some fun things to do in January:
Take off your layers and go to a Spa. Go for a weekend if you can and with your friends.
As regular readers will know, I’m no stranger to baking having been attached to a wooden spoon before I could barely walk. However, it’s been many years though since I last worked out how many grammes to the ounce and whether I should really weight things or just rely on texture and taste (prefer the latter). Now post-building a career and then running my own company (I don’t much care for either now, I’m happy freelancing and spending every minute I can on writing (my book) instead) I’m back in the kitchen.
As soon as my Christmas holiday is over and I’ve booked my next trip (a ritual), Vancouver in May, I go out and buy a tonne of ingredients which are now sitting on top of work spaces as the cupboards in my I-never-cook-anyway sized kitchen are already over-flowing. For a neat–freak like me, I’d rather just have them tidily on display if I can’t fit them smartly in cupboards so I’ve been collecting quirky, retro containers too.
My initial plan is to bake anything other than cakes which I always could do although I did have a go at my legendary bite size secret recipe brownies at Christmas. I’ve actually long lost the scribbled recipe that I’d had from pre laptop days as it got lost in the move back from New York three years ago but it was a good first edible attempt.
So I start with buying a cookies book – American of course so I have the added challenge of converting all the recipes to UK-speak and the buying of new scales. I used to have scales before I got rid of everything pre-transatlantic move but they mainly sat and looked pretty above my fridge. The cookie book stated accurate scales an absolute necessity so any excuse for me to buy a new gadget.
The recipe seemed to be mainly large quantities of a variety of types of sugar so I try to modify it for UK consumption.
For the second batch, I added some super expensive chocolate that we picked up last year from Westmorland Farm Shop
All of January’s creations were edible, actually very nice. In fact the cookies were eatern by my friend’s four year old which I take as a compliment from a fussy young’un. The plan now is it to make them jaw-dropingly good and make these photos better, which is going to take a few attempts over some time.
I first came across the Kopi guys when we attended the Tea & Coffee Festival in London last year. Having tried some of their coffee, we bought some home but what impresses even more than the lovely coffee is the Kopi attitude.
For one they maintained excellent customer service on the day and had an offer to try the coffee. These guys offer a subscription coffee service (rather than sell via a coffee shop), Their packaging has clearly had some money spent (it smells of an investor) but it has the goods to back it up. The coffee inside the delightful packets is sublime and we’ve tried 3 different packets now. What’s more, it comes with background info and tasting notes so you can make the best of your coffee, whether you prefer beans or ground.
In our house now, rather than which coffee shall we make, we say which Kopi shall we have?
Kopi are currently trialling the ‘Weekender bag’ (small enough to fit through more letter boxes) or have a monthly subscription from just £7 per month. I’m guessing that’s less than what you spend every week in the coffee shop.
I’m looking forward to watching Kopi progress and besides, anyone that signs of their email from ‘the customer delight team’ is OK by me.
I’ve come a long way since avoiding George Clooney films. It all started with seeing ‘Michael Clayton’ on my birthday in San Francisco as there was nothing else I wanted to watch and I’ve enjoyed ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’ since. I don’t care for ‘Up in the Air’ though. And I still draw the line at Mr Pitts’ films.
The story is of man coping with his wife in a coma after a boating accident. Matt King (Clooney) lives a relatively charmed life in Hawaii as a lawyer with a considerable heritance in the way of land owned through generations of his family for which he is the trustee. The accident happens whilst going through negotiations to sell the land and as King finds himself ’getting to know his daughters again.’
So far it’s a Hollywood cliché but for once, annoying rich brats become likeable quite quickly. After dragging the older daughter home from her expensive school, she reveals her mother’s affair to King and of course the tone of the film changes. The marriage clearly wasn’t a strong one but I’m glad he hated (a strong word, I know) his wife for her betrayal, despite the fact that she is being kept alive by machines.
The film moves along well with the flurry of stories; finding out more about the wife’s lover (what’s the male word for ‘mistress’? Is there one?), negotiating for the sale of land, mending the family and of course dealing with a potential bereavement. There are plenty of family characters to keep us interested and despite the sadness, the film has humour throughout.
The Oscar fuss over this one hasn’t hyped it up unduly although I don’t think its Oscar material myself, but then as has been proven time and time again on these pages, what do I know about film?
I’m not sure whether to give it a 7.5 or 8.
Smile factor 8½/10
I first encountered Jelly during a long stint in New York, thanks to EN’s very own Emma Jones recommending it (she does a lot of that – Ed).
All I knew about Jelly when I RSVPed to my first one was that it’s about co-working for people who otherwise work alone, at home. When I came back to the UK, given that we have all moved towards home-working, portfolio careers and entrepreneurship – not to mention the more general acceptance of social media as a way of connecting – I was surprised Jelly wasn’t already in a huge city like Birmingham. So, eventually, I added it to my list of community tasks.
Read article as published by Enterprise Nation
This is interesting; clearly I’m not your average film goer as I’ve only seen one of these! And I only saw that because nothing else was on. Review here
|1||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2|
|2||Transformers: Dark of the Moon|
|3||Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides|
|4||The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1|
|5||Kung Fu Panda 2|
|7||Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol|
|8||The Hangover Part II|
Read the full article here
I’ve leant after years of being a Cineworld ‘Unlimited’ card holder that I’m generally in the minority with my taste in films. I mark the film purely on my cinematic experience rather than story, direction, photography, actors, script, soundtrack – actually no, soundtrack I do take into consideration. Therefore, a story can be mediocre but made up for in action or comedy.
I’ve seen 40 films (that I’ve remembered to write about) and marked all of them out of 10 throughout the year so this is just the top five looking back on those scores.
2012 has started well so I hope it continues to do so and it’s not just the Oscar rush!
I’m not as fond of animals as most but I love this film. It starts with the story of young Albert, the son of a hard on his luck Devon farmer who buys a young thoroughbred horse at an auction instead of plough horse that he desperately needed, mostly to spite his wealthy landlord that is also bidding.
The film traces where the horse, Joey, goes so it’s a long film. Firstly, Albert is determined to train the horse to plough the fields to prevent the family losing their farm/livelihood. In the next instance to war as a Captain’s ride, mainly as a rainstorm ruins the field and the horse has to be sold to pay off debts to the landlord.
Joey goes through many escapades that have me gripping my seat and occasionally reaching for a tissue especially the hard ship endured when he gets taken over by German command after a brutal battle but there are also touching scenes of a young French girl befriending him and his new pal, another horse he trained with for military manoeuvres.
Finally the story moves forward to an age when Albert can enlist and so I’m at the edge of my seat again to see when (surely it’s only a matter of time) the two are re-united.
It may have standard film clichés to tug at every heart string you possess but it’s a great watch, indeed, for all the family.
Smile factor 8/10
W.E as in Wallis & Edward. After being wowed with the King’s Speech a year ago, this felt like the next instalment about one of Britain’s most famous and fascinating stories. It’s interesting that the Kings Speech, which is about Edwards’ brother who succeeded him to the throne after his abdication had an immediate Oscar buzz whereas this, this about the actual events that lead to that, told from the view point of Wallis Simpson, has of course, had none.
Another twist to this film is that there is second modern day story running through, of Walli, a New York housewife who is named after and obsessed with Mrs S to the point of visiting the Sotheby’s auction house daily when the former royal couple’s goods are finally for sale. Walli is (for some reason) married to a successful, abusive, philandering doctor who insists on her not working in the auction house but now refuses to have the child she is desperate for.
The film easily moves between the stories, one set in a 30s British royal household and the other in a well to do modern Manhattan apartment and picks up on synergy between the two women; they are both child free yet broody and both abused by their first husbands. The gruesome beatings are incredibly hard to watch; I had to cover my eyes and we learn much later that Mrs S cannot bear children due to the abuse during her first marriage that meant losing an unborn child.
There are lots of chronicles running through; including, what I feel is the lesser story of the friendship that Walli strikes up with a Sotheby’s security guard when her marriage is crumbling. The one liners that come from Mrs S throughout are divine but it’s only towards the end that we really delve into her feelings about what she has lost in order to spend the rest of her life with Edward, much of it in exile.
Beautifully told and shot, the film has me gripped throughout and is utterly watchable.
Smile factor 910
I really must add a little thing about film critics – or rather those people who decide to see a film based purely on what one person has said about it. Someone – or hundreds of people have put their blood, sweat and tears – not to mention money – in making it. If you like the idea of the film, I suggest you go and make your own mind up rather than letting anyone influence your decision.
The hype is guaranteed to be huge when you take into account the subject matter, the star and the many gags about it being the follow up to The Iron Man.
It’s time to get up! It’s time go to work! It’s time to put the great, back into Great Britain!
I’m not sure why people haven’t enjoyed this film – I loved it. It’s everything I would hope and more. The subject matter is Margaret Thatcher but this isn’t a political film as such, although of course if you’re featuring one of Britain’s most successful Prime Minister’s, politics is going to feature.
I for one was not a fan of Mrs T in her day but having watched this, I realise this was probably peer pressure as I was too immature to form my own opinion during her early years. Now, politics aside, I see what a phenomenal woman she is.
Meryl Streep turned on the Oscar-worthy performance as the film depicts the story through Lady T’s matured eyes looking back on memories. As such, her thoughts dart about and I believe this has been the films’ biggest criticism. As always, I have no need to read reviews so this is just what I have heard via Twitter and indeed the people I saw the film with.
The pearls are absolutely non-negotiable
The most impact is felt when scenes of how Lady T broke the mould in what was – as much as I detest this phrase – a man’s world; her first time walking into parliament, the above quote when her advisors ask her to lose the hats and basically tone down her femininity, the young Margaret being mesmerised by her grocer father giving a speech, first fighting to be elected and then there are some gorgeous scenes of her talking to her dead husband, Dennis, played exactly as you would expect by Jim Broadbent, although the film probably draws on that a little too much.
I dislike too much ‘positive discrimination’ in the job market but it really does help if the country is being run by an equal amount of men and women and although we are far away from that, I’m pretty sure Maggie opened the doors.
The supporting cast are, in equal parts, excellent and amusing (Richard E Grant as Michael Heseltine). The film isn’t in chronological order and nor does it cover all of the many news worthy moments in her reign, but it sure depicts the woman behind the politician. I cringed at Phyllida Lloyd’s directorial attempt of Mama Mia, where she manages to make one of my all time favourite bands/theatrical moments, Mama Mia, dismal but here I have my money’s worth.
Smile factor 9/10 In the minority
As well as being an inspiration to us writers, Ms Roland is a prolific worker! It seems I have only just read the debut, The Hating Game and the third one is out but I have just caught up on Watching Willow Watts; I like the hard copy. For one thing, how do I get it autographed otherwise?
Having been overwhelmed by the first one – it’s always hard to read, let alone review when you know the author – I wondered if the follow up is going to be able to live up to it. As I’ve mentioned before, I would not have picked up The Hating Game had I not known the writer so it’s a blessing that I did.
WWW has me hooked once again. The niche again is using a modern phenomenon as the basis; last time reality TV, this time You Tube, and then building a cast of interesting characters around it.
Willow Watt has gone back from her promising florist career in London to her home village (“Britain’s Ugliest”) to look out for her widowed father, in the process also leaving behind a hopeful relationship. She finds her father’s business in financial difficulty and comes up with a money making idea as she sets about finding the £10K needed for the tax bill. Begrudgingly, Willow is filmed for a talent contest as a Marilyn Monroe lookalike and a ghostly figure appears which the world takes as a sign that our local florist has the movie star’s spirit in her. The new Marilyn is born.
Unfortunately for her, an unscrupulous agent is out to make money from her, as he has done in the past with fellow villager, former startlet, Cissy. The books’ supporting cast of the father, the down trodden Marilyn fan from small town America (who becomes fathers’ companion), her hairdresser best friend who befriends a sleb journalist and the ex-love of her life all make this book come to speedily to life.
Bringing in the elements of strong women business owners, love and the social media makes this a thoroughly modern read. It is the second time Ms Roland has made me put the book down early so I can relish looking forward to the closing chapters the next day.
Inspiration factor 10/10
The most amusing quote I’ve heard about this film, ‘they don’t make them like that anymore. Well no, we’ve had sound on films for some years now. This is, as many have commentated, a delightful film, full of humour whilst dealing with the more serious issue of redundant actors making way for the new breed once talkies came along.
It portrays the silent movie era exactly as I imagine; a bustling film industry full of wannabees, the small minority of which will move over from and ‘extra’ to ‘star.’ It’s on glamour overload but then I wasn’t expecting anyone to be wearing jeans & trainers (heavens!) and although I fell asleep for a few minutes in the opening sequences, it’s just because there is no talking and the music is so relaxing! After that, I’m gripped right up to the fairly obvious but still great ending.
It has lashings of charm, a helping of romance, a touch of drama and even a song a dance routine for our pleasure; what’s not to like?
I would have liked to see a new silent film set in more modern times rather than in the 1930s and I’m not sure if the makers can sustain another one but I’d give it watch if they do.
Smile factor 9/10