NaBloPoMo: Rainy days

Today the weather is very miserable. I have just returned home from a girls night in at my friends and I want nothing more than to curl up in bed with a cup of tea.

When it is raining outside I love to put my joggers on and a big hoody, my lazy day clothing. My mum hates it if I ever go out dressed in this attire but she cannot complain if I wear it around the house. I personally don’t think there is anything wrong in braving the winter storms in comfy clothing. I would only ever nip to Sainsburys or the corner shop wearing joggers and UGGs.

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It makes me happy knowing that I am nice and warm in the comfort of my own home whilst the rain lashes down outside.

Today, I plan on doing a little blogging and I will probably end up getting into bed to watch a film later on this afternoon. My usual rainy day film of choice is Harry Potter.

Travel: The delights of Hollywood

When someone first lands in LA I guess you would expect them to recall how amazing there first night was. Spent in the Hollywood hills spying on celebrities and drinking cocktails until the sun came up.

This is what I would expect to hear from someone else’s traveling adventure. For us the story goes a little differently.

Before anyone judges us, may I just remind everyone that we had just spent the night on a very ‘comfy’ airport floor and flown across America the following morning.

We spent our first evening finding a laundrette to do our washing. Well equipped with washing detergent, bought from a dodgey looking vending machine, we soon managed to get the cleaning of clothes underway.

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A man casually strolled passed us and asked if we would like some drugs but we politely refused and continued the mundane task of watching our clothes dance, swirl and splash around.

The clothes did not smell as fresh as I would have liked but I guess that is what is to be expected from a life as a traveler.

As luck would have it a Dominos sat next to the laundrette so we decided to grab a pizza and head towards a beach.

Siobhan, combined with Josh’s sudden breaking, nearly lost our pizza to the floor of the car.

I found LA dominos highly displeasing. Everything just seems to contain so much salt and little of anything else.

Soon after we finished eating we decided to head back to our hotel room and I was quickly sent into a salt and jet lagged sleep coma.

As disappointing as this tale of our first night in LA may seem, the logical side of it is, it enabled us to have clean clothes for the rest of our trip.

I nearly forgot to mention, we now have a car named Sin Wagon.

When we landed, we caught a shuttle bus to the Thrifty garage to pick up our hire car. As we queued up waiting to see what our vehicle for the next month was going to be, I was praying for a red swanky car worthy of the Sin Wagon title but unfortunately we got given a black one. Sin Wagon was still a justifiable name even though it was black.

Josh was given the task of being the first to drive but before he could even begin, we had to figure out how to move the seat back so Josh’s long legs could fit in. Who could have guessed that seats these days are electric?!

Once we got on the road Josh was doing great considering he had only ever driven a car during his driving lessons and that was on UK roads.

It was such a relief knowing we could pack up the car with all our luggage as and when we wanted, ready to head to another destination.

The following day we decided to head to Venice beach, having heard a lot of good things about the place. It is supposed to imitate the real Venice but when we got there I did not see any little alleys filled with water, no boats gliding along any rivers and no Italian restaurants for that matter.

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What I did see was a number of tramps picking rubbish out of bins, an outdoor gym with a few men posing near the weight machines and a beach, which could have been great if the mist wasn’t surrounding us. Needless to say, we were all slightly disappointed by Venice beach. The best thing about the place was a group of guys who put on a dance performance and I was pretty sure I had seen them in New York a month or so ago, so even they did not originate from this place.

I am sure the place may look and feel very different if the sun had been shining because surely all the hype cannot be about nothing.

The following day we decided to head into Hollywood. We walked through a lively market and headed towards the Walk of Fame. It was much bigger than I had imagined, lining a number of streets. In New York I felt like you had to walk with your head up so that you could see all the architecture, whereas in Hollywood I found myself constantly walking with my head down, so as not to miss some famous persons name planted in a star shape on the floor. You could spot the locals because they flippantly wondered the streets without their eyes glued to the ground. It almost felt as though the locals were annoyed at the tourists for being excited about a ‘sidewalk’.

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We saw the Chinese theatre which is famous for the concrete blocks that are set in front of the entrance, bearing nearly 200 signatures, foot and hand prints of famous people. Most of the stars have written short messages to a man named Sid and at the time I had no idea who Sid was. It turns out, after reading a little history about the place, that Sid Grauman was a showman who created the Chinese Theatre back in January 1926. I was very excited to be touching the concrete where famous people had previously placed there hands.

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We also went on a tour of the Hollywood hills and saw many things:

The church that Sister Act was filmed in.

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Rodeo Drive which was very glamourous.

The shop that Julia Roberts was rejected from in Pretty Woman.

Viper Room where River Phoenix died

The hotel that Marilyn Monroe had an affair with JFK in and the place she stayed in when she first started out.

Where Jennifer Anniston worked before she was famous.

Where Brad Pitt worked as a sign holder in a chicken suit before he was famous.

The first cinema in LA known as the Egyption cinema.

Dolbly Theatre where they hold the Oscars.

Michael Jackson’s, Bruno Mars’ and Madonna’s house along with the Playboy Mansion and Tom Cruises chimney.

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It was all very exciting and you didn’t really know which way to turn your head first. Warning: The drive is not a straight and simple drive and may cause travel sickness! As we were parked outside the Playboy Mansion I did think I was going to vomit – what a story that would have made.

That evening we headed to a BestWestern hotel and stayed one night in luxury.

The next day I went to Warner Brothers Studios whilst Siobhan and Josh went to Universal.

Warner Brothers was one of the highlights of my entire trip. I loved learning about everything that goes on behind the scenes and seeing parts of the set that had been filmed in Friends and other programmes that I had watched. It was definitely worth the $60 I paid to go on the VIP Tour.

Whilst I was there, The Big Bang Theory cast were rehearsing in one stage, and Pretty Little Liars were filming in another. I walked along the street that was used in Gilmore Girls and is currently used in Pretty Little Liars and Heart of Dixie. I also got to wonder around the school that is featured Pretty Little Liars and saw all the girls bedrooms. It is crazy how small the spaces are in real life in comparison to how big they look on TV. I also got to sit on the sofa that was used in the filming of Friends!!

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I think I had a permanent smile planted on my face as we went round and it definitely made me want to work behind the scenes on a show one day.

Later in the afternoon we met up with the others and Josh drove us closer to the Hollywood sign. We managed to get to some great touristy pictures before we left LA for San Diego.

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Comment: The Great Gatsby and the 1920s

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Highly anticipated but disappointedly given a 2 star rating by Empire critic Ian Nathan, I don’t know what to make of the recent film that has hit the UK cinemas this week; The Great Gatsby.

Watching the trailer, I myself feel compelled to part with my pennies just so I can sit and listen to DiCaprio’s (Jay Gatsby) smooth, seductive voice. I am also a sucker for any movie or television drama that depicts a time way before my era. I think this is because I often secretly long for an escape from the 21st century buzz that comprises of computers, mobile phones and social networking. Wasn’t life a lot simpler without it?

The decadent 1920s, all jazz, pearls and falling in love, is the era to which the movie is set. It feels as though I have been engulfed by this era, as only last month was I part of a dance show that exhibited a 1920s theme. Although I was only featured in a short hip hop routine, having never trained in hip hop or any form of dance, I was proud to be a part of something that was important to my flatmate, Lauren.

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Lauren worked very hard to make the show a success and luckily it all paid off. After I performed I got to watch the rest of the UWE dance society’s performances. I seriously think they should audition on Britain Got Talent or something. They all dressed in tassel and sequin dresses, wore pearl necklaces and added feathers to their hair. And yes the song ‘All That Jazz’ was performed by the dancers.534118_10152174406581542_1976744535_n

The Great Gatsby film itself also made sure they got the look right. With a budget of $100 million dollars, to which it is said to have been largely spent on recreating the lavish parties detailed in the book, it makes me question how so much money can produce something the critics are calling ‘lit-crashing’.

Director, Baz Luhrmann had Miuccia Prada collaborate on a number of 1920s costumes obtained from the Prada and Miu Miu archives. Tiffany & Co worked with costume designer Catherine Martine to create some essential diamond and pearl jewellery pieces to feature in the film. 500 suits and 1700 accessories, all handmade by Brookes Brothers, along with MAC makeup, Fogal Stockings and vintage automobiles were all considered important pieces to fork out for.

Even if the film doesn’t live up to the book, which many films don’t, surely it is worth watching just for the fashion and beauty aspect. The costumes featured in the trailer did dazzle me and I can’t wait to be transported into Luhtmann’s take on a 1920s world.

I imagine the 1920s ‘look’ will transpire before our very eyes as we trawl the shops looking for our summer ball dresses. Here are some pieces I found online:

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Embellished Flapper Dress – Miss Selfridge £129

Cream Jeweled Maribou Stole – Debenhams £48.75

Flapper Hair Band – ASOS £15

Hanging Crystal and Chain Hairband – ASOS £15

Aftershock Boutique Grey Sequin Domino Dress – New Look £65

Review: Iron Man

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Yesterday, I used my Orange Wednesday code to take a trip to the cinema to see Iron Man 3. I thought I would give it a review whilst the balls of fire, whizzing robots and ‘hot’ men scenes were still whirling around in my head.

As I sat comfortably in the very spacious VUE cinema in Bristol and began eating my bargain popcorn kids pack, the lights dimmed and the trailers began. I always look forward to the trailers, which may seem odd, as most people complain about them. Trailers in my eyes are all part of the experience! I like to be enticed into watching a film by the quality of the previews. After viewing these particular trailers, I can safely say, I will be using more Orange Wednesday codes to see Man of Steel and possibly Epic.

IMG_20130508_151328 copyMoving onto the film in question, the plot follows on from the Avengers’ victory in New York and we are immediately introduced to the crazed nerd who has been working towards revenge against Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) for a number of years. With somewhat predictable scenes I still enjoyed the overall plot, but I think this came down to the encompassing action from exploding baubles to firework robots!

As a team, Black and co-writer Drew Pearce portrayed Tony Stark as an anxious man who cannot live without his toys for fear of breathless anxiety attacks. We witness Stark’s house crumble into the sea along with all his gadgets and the man himself. Luckily his armour protects him and he is able to fly free from the depths of the ocean whilst unconscious, to then wake up to find his super-suit needing power. I imagine, he felt similar to the way, I feel when I realise my phone battery is about to die, whilst out for the whole day; lost, disconnected and powerless. Venerability, surrounds Stark as we watch him drag his toy through the snow to shelter, where he finds a young fan cum ‘sidekick’ who happens to remind the once powerful Iron Man that he is, after all, a mechanic.

As a terrorist figure head, known as Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), forces his way onto the US airwaves, threatening the President with attacks he calls ‘lessons’ the need for Stark’s power suit to charge becomes paramount. (So maybe it is a little more serious than my phone dying.)

With anxiety and no super-suit it is hard to imagine how Stark kept his humorous side bubbling throughout which helped prevent the movie dwindling down a dark and dangerous path.

Mandarin also enticed a few laughs from the audience with his whimsical, ‘drugs are the answer to everything’ approach.

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention, that the villain also has a number of sidekicks of his own and special ‘powers’ himself. Their red, glowing, eyes and volcanic ash arms – that grow back, makes them almost impossible to beat, but luckily Stark has a few more toys hidden in his basement. The lava villains are supposedly taken from the 2005-06 Warren Ellis comic-books, the Extremis storyline, whereby Stark faces T-1000 super-soliders that can regenerate body parts.

With a few women thrown in for men to admire and females to envy (check out Gwyneth Paltrow abs), all in all it is a witty, action filled movie that doesn’t fall short of fire balls and hand made weaponry and the film ends on a high with a few ironic lines from Iron Man himself.

Review: War Horse – Be thankful for his white socks

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I realise this film review is a little out of date but I recently watched War Horse and thought I would review it anyway.

Having turned my nose up at the prospect of going to watch it in the cinema, I was pleasantly surprised when I was forced to watch it with my family. Not being a huge horse fan, or a lover of animals for that matter, I did not think I would enjoy a film about a horse and the war. I was very mistaken. I also liked the fact that part of the film had been filmed in Dartmoor (Devon) which is very close to where I live.

Director Steven Spielberg somehow managed to grip my attention from beginning to end with his adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s novel. I know this was the case because I didn’t fall asleep in my extremely tired state. Spielberg described it as his first truly British film. He can say that again.

As you can imagine from the clues in the title, the film follows the life of a horse named Joey. It documents Joey’s life throughout the war by detailing his path from pillar to post coming close to death in no mans land.

It also concentrates on a young adult named Albert (Jeremy Irvine) who decides to enlist to serve in World War I after his closest companion and beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Hoping to be reunited with his favorite horse. A hope that is surely only but a dream?

War Horse is also so much more. It’s brilliantly staged scenes kick off by unraveling a growing trust between a man and an animal. As a team they surprisingly managed to plough a field. This marvelous sequence is what grips you and stays with you throughout the rest of the film.

Jeremy plays a convincing son of a domineering, alcoholic man. Slightly shunned and shy due to constant put downs from his father. Growing in confidence once he finds friendship in the horse Joey and ultimately battles the horrors of the war whilst nursing his loss.

Previously being celebrated in the theatre’s I couldn’t help but notice the slight theoretical acting with elongated pauses at the end of a hearty speech. There also seemed to be a few, unusually placed, low camera angles which made me imagine I was actually seated in a seat with my head below the stage.

Both man and animal seem to withstand numerous trails and tribulations which pull at your heartstrings. All you want to happen if for the duo to be reunited fit and well. It truly is like a very weird and warped love story. The canter through the battlefield that Joey takes on is remarkably well edited.

Without giving too much away for those who have not watched it…come the end of the film you really do feel yourself let out that held in breath slowly. All I can say is…Thank god for those white socks.