films, fun stuff, lifestyle, movie night, tv

Favourite Films for Cold Nights*

“Winter is coming” (in my best Sean Bean voice)

In winter I am even more of a homebody than the rest of the year and that’s saying something for this little couch dweller.

One of my favourite things to do when the wind is howling and it is inevitably raining, is to cosy up under a snuggly blanket with a supply of Diet Coke and snacks to watch some of my ultimate favourite films, most of which my husband has shockingly not seen. I will admit that these predominantly date back to my late 90s early 00s teen years, but that’s how a favourite is formed.

Obviously the best way to watch films like these is on a nice big TV screen (or at the cinema) with a bowl of popcorn and other snacks. If you’re thinking of upgrading your TV and making things more cinematic in time for winter, maybe have a look at the Oled Televisions from Panasonic. 

1

This is the best Shakespeare adaptation there is, I will brook no argument. It is also most people’s introduction to Heath Ledger, who gives an amazing energetic performance. It’s funny, a bit naughty, silly, passionate and just so entertaining. It’s also highly quotable. I have fond memories of the first time I watched this, and it’s tied very tightly to my teenage years.

2

Damn the man, save the Empire! A day in the life of an independent record store in a typical middle American town, staffed by teenagers and manager Joe, played by Anthony LaPaglia, who just wants to get through it. Superstar Rex Manning is due in, and Corey (Liv Tyler) is planning to seduce him, Debra’s life is in freefall, Eddie just wants to play records and smoke weed. All of the teen angst is fully on display here. But there are some hilarious scenes, such as when they wrangle a shoplifter, touching moments and a top notch cast. I quote bits of this all the time, and sing the various very 90s soundtrack hits while cleaning my flat

3

I have long classified this as a Christmas film – it starts on Christmas Eve and covers a year in the lives of a group of friends living in New York City’s Alphabet City, dealing with careers, relationships and AIDS. It’s also a musical. My husband hates it and makes me watch it alone. I have no idea why. I am a Rent Head and try to see it on stage regularly, which is tricky as it’s a bit of a cult hit in the UK and not many places seem willing to stage it. I bloody love it. I will sing along to every song, always cry at the saddest bit and can quote whole chunks of it. Oh, wait, maybe that’s his problem with it. I also wrote my MA dissertation to the soundtrack, thankfully none of the lyrics made their way onto the page, that would have been deeply confusing. No Day But Today!

4

This is a super cheesy ballet movie – I think I must have watched it hundreds of times but I couldn’t tell you the names of most of the characters. There’s a lot of dancing, Zoe Saldana plays that stereotype ‘the sassy black friend’, Peter Gallagher (Seth’s dad in The O.C) plays the grumpy ballet company manager, Amanda Schull plays the heroine who’s “too fat” according to some of the dancers, and a lot of the other characters are played by actual ballet dancers. There’s lovely Charlie, who she should fall for and ‘Big Nose’ as we called him aged 15, the bad boy of ballet who breaks her heart but also makes her an amazing dancer. The soundtrack is cracking, and the finale is choreographed to Michael Jackson. It’s a total B movie but it has a special place in my heart.

5

This is my official favourite film ever (Center Stage is my actual favourite) and it is the absolute sum of screwball comedies – Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, a leopard, witty crackling dialogue – who could ask for more? I don’t really think it has a plot, just lots of snappy talking and craziness involving big cats. I adore it. Plus Katherine Hepburn looks amazing in all her outfits.

6

I was born in the 1980s, so films like this weren’t exactly on my radar when they first appeared. But when I was at uni I watched this classic teen movie and fell in love. The smart writing, the characters, everything about John Hughes movies makes me feel safe and happy. Despite the occasional struggle the characters always resolve everything by the end of the film and the soundtrack is always amazing.

What are some of your favourite movies to curl up on the sofa and watch? Let me know in the comments.

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*This post contains sponsored or paid for content but all words and opinions are my own.

feminism, inspiration, life, tv

20 Years of Buffy

Friday was the 20th anniversary of the first airing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – one of the defining tv shows of my life. 

Final seasons Scooby Gang
I remember watching the first season on BBC2 with my little sister and my dad, and just thinking here was a show that spoke to me. I was just starting secondary school and those teenage monsters were very familiar. 

Now we were all supposed to be in love with David Boreanaz’s tortured vampire-with-a-soul Angel but I must admit I do love a bad boy – there was a huge poster of Spike (James Marsters) on my bedroom wall.

“I’m a bad rude man”

The monsters as metaphors is a construct as old as story telling but these were monsters A teenage girl with a sharp stick and a great line in quips could kill. That’s a pretty empowering thing for any young woman. 

Buffy dealt with bullies, death, a bratty sister, love, heartbreak, exams and friendships – all the things we all go through. She showed us the way. How many times did you want to quite literally stab your heart breaking ex through the heart with a wooden stake. 

And then there was the kickass soundtrack. I still have all 3 of the soundtrack cds – including the musical episode ‘Once More With Feeling’.

Mr Pointy

I have trouble picking a favourite episode, character etc but here’s my highlights. 
The silent episode ‘Hush’ was masterful. And proves the cast can all act. 

Xander and Willow’s relationship is definitely a friendship to aspire to – he saves her from becoming full on evil Willow with the power of his love for his best pal. And then there’s the Snoopy dance (bless Nicholas Brendon for still doing this at fan conventions). 

When everyone loses their memories and Spike and Giles think they’re father and son (and Spike’s called Randy) 

My ideal tea party

Faith – just too damn cool for school. But also power crazed, murderous and just a tad unhinged. 

Five by five

The Halloween episodes – vamps took the night off but all sorts of havoc would break loose. My favourite was either when everyone became their costumes (Buffy as an actual damsel in distress) or when they get trapped in a haunted house and have to defeat a fear demon – who’s about 3 inches high! 

Squished

Tara and Willow’s beautiful falling in love story. Pretty much the first sane sex couples I remember seeing on tv. Sweet, sad, romantic and tragic. 

😭😭

How much I hated Riley the cardboard soldier and that whole plotline – even more than the Glory/Dawn storyline and I really hated that. 

Eurgh
When did Buffy sleep? Demon fighting by night and school by day. What a hero, or serious caffeine habit. 

How sad I was when it all ended. 

Me too Anya, me too

This weekend I am planning a boxset binge to mark the anniversary – anyone else? 

life, reviews, tv

What to watch: Killjoys

This sci fi romp on a budget, a UK/Canada production is an absolute hoot.

Killjoys are state sanctioned bounty hunts for whom “the warrant is all”, except when it’s not.

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We follow a team of Killjoys on their adventures through the quad, four moons that belong to a mining corporation that pretty much everyone works for. There are a few exceptions, the bartender and his backroom addict doctor, the scarback monks for whom pain is holy, and the killjoys.

Dutch is the captain of this crew, a tough level 5 with a complicated history and demons of her own, Jonny and his brother D’avin make up the team and there’s not a lot of blood lost there.

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With a sarcastic ship called Sally, people on their tail and bad guys to round up, it’s all go for our heroes as they try to piece together D’avin’s missing memories, find out why Dutch is seeing a ghost and avoid toxic black rain and other problems.

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Personally I loved this, and hope not quite Firefly, it will definitely appeal to fans of the cancelled too soon Joss Whedon show. Season one has just ended on Syfy in the UK and season two is on the way. Catch up on demand or through your favourite internet loophole now.

baking, life, tv

Great British Bake Off

Can we just talk a minute about how fabulous Nadiya from GBBO is?

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From her incredible bakes (soda pop cake) to her wonderfully expressive face, Nadiya is just marvellous. And she won. The only woman in the final, where she made a wedding cake (her own in fact, as she didn’t have one on the big day), she was funny (chocolate souffles are worse than childbirth) and sweet (that star baker phone call home to her hubby).

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Nadiya, giving good 'brow

She is also a British Muslim woman wearing a hijab, before the watershed, not playing the wife of a terrorist (note to writers, this trope is tired and boring, come up with new material), nor was she silent or unable to speak English (in fact she’s probably bilingual).

The media are of course on the hunt for terrible things to say about her, her husband, family and why she won. This is just, quite frankly, disgusting behaviour. Nadiya seems like a sweet person, who loves her husband and her kids, practices her faith publicly, and is also funny, an excellent baker and made Mary Berry cry (and almost me too).

We should be celebrating her success, why shouldn’t she win? In the multiethnic, multifaith society we live in, I’m proud that Nadiya won, she’s got every right, she is British after all and that’s what the show’s called The Great BRITISH Bake Off, not The Great White Men Only Bake Off (they were well represented throughout as in life).

As ridiculous as it might sound – it does show, in a somewhat silly way (through the medium of cake) what Britain is – a place where anyone can achieve, regardless of what the media says, despite the things that could set us apart from one another.

So, well done Nadiya, oh and can I have the recipe for your lemon cake please.

ramblingmads

tv

Box set Binge: Bones

You may have noticed that I like a binge – TV show binge that is!

The one the Mr and I are constantly returning to is Bones, starring David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel as FBI agent Seeley Booth and his forensic anthropologist partner Dr. Temperance Brennan.

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I watched it years ago, when it first started airing in the UK, then lost track of it. I introduced the Mr to it a while ago and we are working our way through the series – currently on season six.

Based on Kathy Reichs’ books – although having read a few of them, completely different at the same time.

The characters grow on you, somebody was very upset when Booth and Brennan (aka Bones) didn’t get together at the end of season five, and it wasn’t me. And not just the central pair – the other members of the team (Hodgins, Angela, Cam, Sweets and even the squinterns).

We’ve got a way to go, season 11 has started in the States – no spoilers please.

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If you like crime dramas with heart – this is definitely one for you.

ramblingmads

netflix, reviews, tv

Orphan Black is Back

This past weekend one of the cleverest shows on TV returned to British screens. Orphan Black starring the incredibly talented Tatiana Maslany as most of the characters (they’re clones, it’s pretty vital to the plot) and weaving a story of intrigue, science gone awry, conflict and family.

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I caught up with the first two seasons on Netflix and season three was dumped almost whole on BBC Three, showing in blocks of episodes (catch up over on the iPlayer) over the week.

This show is not as well known or loved as it should be, it’s well written, the acting is fantastic, the storyline’s gripping and it is easy to devour in chunks.

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Without giving away any spoilers, the third series is revealing itself to be even more brilliantly labyrinthine, as Sarah and her ‘sestras’ try to find out where they come from and what was set in motion before they were ever born.

Are you a fan? Or do you have recommendations for me?

ramblingmads

netflix, tv

Netflix obsession – The Good Wife

Netflix has a terrible hold on my ability to get anything done. “Just one more episode” which of course means entire days can go by before things (like the hoovering) gets done.

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I have watched some great films and TV shows – like Orphan Black, Orange is the new Black, Wet Hot American Summer and my current binge watching obsession – The Good Wife.

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Starring the luminous and doe eyed Julianna Marguiles as Alicia Florrick, who goes back to work as a lawyer after her husband goes to prison. She chooses to stand by her man, but as the show evolves her confidence grows and she learns how to stand on her own two feet. The title is a bit annoying as the whole show is about the things she is, lawyer, mother, sister, employee, mentor, and woman as well as being a wife.

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Alicia has a great jacket wardrobe

The cast is fantastic – featuring actors like Christine Baranski, Alan Cumming and Michael J. Fox. The writing is great, and while it’s a legal battle per episode, much like most police procedural shows, the overriding storylines keep it together and allow the characters to grow with the show.

My dad wanted me to be a lawyer (he still does) but shows like this are the closest I think I’ll ever get somehow.

What’s your current go to binge watch?  

ramblingmads