Thursday, 17 May 2018

Thurday Movie Picks: Twisty Thrillers


I'm guessing that 'Twisty Thrillers' are those with a twist. If not, this is my interpretation of the theme.

Shutter Island
For some reason, I find this story set on an island with an asylum conforting. I think it must be the waves and the fact I know the ending. Once you know what's really going on, you can see all the signs but what's really clever about the film is that the 'signs' aren't really obvious, you still need to pay attention to detail. It's still disturbing no matter how to watch the film. I felt this film didn't get the recognition it deserved. A detective looking for an escaped criminal on an island which houses multiple criminally insane inmates, where the doctors and orderlies are just as sinister as the patients, is still brilliant no matter how many times I watch it.

Exam
Eight candidates for a job are seated in a room. They are given questions to answer and rules to follow, if they break a rule they are removed and no longer in the running for the job. The twist you say? Well, there are a few as little by little information about the job, the company and the candidates are revealed. Slightly futuristic as it involves a virus that has infected people and the company they are trying to get a job with is a pharmaceutical one that produces the medicine needed. But what biggest twist is what the actual answer to the question is. Its quite a good film, but could have been better.

Fermat's Room
Four mathematical geniuses are invited to an exclusive dinner where they become trapped and must solve mathematical puzzles to escape the room which compresses every time they miss a deadline with a puzzle. They suspect that one of them is the instagator. The twist? Well, there are a few small ones but obviously the big reveal is near the end.  A great story, again, taking place mostly inside one space, one location like Exam.


Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

She Makes Movies

 
With quite a few great films being released this month, I'm honing in on two in particular. Coralie Fargeat's 'Revenge' and Nora Twomey's 'The Breadwinner'.

Part of Birds Eye View's Reclaim the Frame campaign, 'Revenge' was released earlier this month. A film that does exactly what it sets out to do as well as drown us all in blood. There was so much blood. A revenge thriller with a heroine at the centre who makes the audience, judge, pity and cheer for her as the film progresses. 'Revenge' is French filmmaker, Fargeat's feature film debut after a couple of shorts, all of which she also wrote. With the impact her film is making, not to mention catching the attention for her purposeful choices in how her characters dress or this case don't wear a thing, I look forward to what she creates next.

Nora Twomey first appeared on my radar when I saw a poster for 'Song of the Sea', she wasn't the director but she was Head of Story, leading me on to discover 'The Secret of Kells'. Both films from Ireland based animation studio, Cartoon Saloon of which she is a partner of, are beautifully crafted. 2D animation rarely gets a look in at cinemas these days so I was over joyed to see both these films had been Oscar nominated. They didn't take home the prize but they earned attention. I recognised 'The Breadwinner''s style of animation and luckily was able to see it. Based on a the book of the same name by Deborah Ellis who co wrote the script with Anita Doron, the story is about a young girl, Parvana and her family living in Kabul, Afghanistan under Tailban control. After Parvana's father is arrested, her mother, sister and baby brother are left behind unable to work or even leave the house. She cuts her hair and dresses in boy's clothing so she can provide for her family as well as look for her father. After co-directing 'The Secret of Kells', 'The Breadwinner' was a chance for Twomey to take the helm a create a beautifully crafted film with a story of great courage. I'm looking forward to the Twomey's future films as well as Cartoon Saloon's 'Wolfwalkers'.

You can read my review of 'Revenge' over at VultureHound. I was lucky enough to see 'The Breadwinner' during London Film Festival last year, my post on the film can be read HERE.

Revenge is out on general release now and The Breadwinner is out 25th May with a preview at BFI tonight.

Monday, 14 May 2018

New Zealand: North Island


Continuing on from my previous post, my friend and I started our four week holiday in the North Island, landing in Auckland and being picked up by my family and driven to Tauranga.

Tauranga

We stayed in Tauranga for a week which was a great start to the trip as we enjoyed comfy beds, delicious food, and the pleasure of being driven everywhere, basically we were spoilt and enjoyed every minute of it. Taurange seemed to be made up of two parts not including the suburban areas. There was the city centre and the resort area over by Mt Maunganui. According to my family, everyone wants to live there and from the amazing views and the beach, I can see why.


First day my friend and I climbed the mount with my cousin. With jetlag setting in, I have no idea how I managed to climb that thing. An approimately 40 minutes hike up too me over an hour but the views along the way and at the top were worth it. After a climb, coffee was needed, as well as a much earned swim in the sea.

We also spent a couple of chilled out days with my aunty in town where she showed us where she worked at the theatre, wandered around the shops there, gasped at how expensive the books were ans got to eat a couple of cafes. One in particular, a recommendation from my cousin - The Nourished Eatery - which was vegan friendly. If you find yourself in Tauranga, I suggest seeking this place out. 

Rotorua

While we stayed with my family we went to Rotorua to visit Te Puia, which is The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute. We went for the geothermal valley and the famous geysers. No need to book in advance, just turn up. Despite the rotten egg smell that surround the place (its the geysers by the way, nothing to worry about) the place was beautiful. We were also lucky to see a couple of kiwi birds in their nocturnal enclosure. 


Also in Rotorua, we found this amazing cafe. I say amazing because it was a completely free nut zone!!! Anyone with the same allergy as me knows excatly how wonderful this is. Be Rude Not To Cafe - recommend the brownies. 


After lunch we all went to Skyline where we took a gondola up a mountain and took the luge down. This was really fun and I could see why everyone was going multiple times, but the chair lift back up was terrifying. 

Hobbiton

As this place was part of the prime reasons for my trip, this will be saved, along with WETA for another post all to themselves.

Waitimo Caves

Later in the week, mu uncle came with my friend and me to Waitimo so we could see the glow worms caves. There are a variety of tours you can do but The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. is the best way to go. Dressed in the most uncomfortable wetsuits, you sit in your rubber ring and float through the caves, its amazing. Be warned though, there is some walking and clambering around in the caves too, as well jumping backwards over a couple of mini waterfalls, but its worth it.

Not photos of this trip, no cameras allowed, mostly because you're in water, but also, they take photos along the way and you can buy them after.

Taupo

Our first stop on our own, my friend and I took a bus (all pre booked) to Taupo and a very short but hideous walk to our first hostel of the trip, Rainbow Lodge Backpackers. Just like any other hostel to be honest so if you find yourself in Taupo, this place is pretty good, for a night or two. Three nights, not so much, especially if its pouring with rain. The weather took a nasty turn and as Taupo is kind of small and not much to do there, we had to make do.


We walked to the Huka Falls our first day, which is meant to be an easy 1 hour round trip walk, but it isn't. If you are not keen on long walks or hikes, I suggest you sit this one out OR if you're driving, you can just drive there. The falls themselves are amazing but I was exhausted by the end. Second day we explored the lake and hunted for Warm Water beach which actually really relaxing.

My uncle came to our rescue on our third day and drove us to Tongariro National Park so we could see the mountains. Most people who go to Taupo, go to do the famous Tongario crossingbut as the park had been closed off the last few days, no one could get up there. Luckily we went on the only good day. The park has three active volcanoes; Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, which was Mount Doom in “The Lord of the Rings" and Ruapehu which we got to take the chair lift half way. 


There is no shuttle from Taupo that takes you just to the mountains, there is only one for the crossing. So, if you are driving NZ, you'll be fine but if not, you mat have to make other plans. 

Before we left Taupo in the pouring rain, we had breakfast at Spoon & Paddle - definitely try the amazing french toast if you go.  

Napier



Leaving the rain behind us we arrived in the sunny Art Deco City. We stayed in Toad Hall which was minutes away from the beach and the town, so perfectly situated but alas wasn't the best place to stay. When I go back, I think I'll try Airbnb. We had a very warm and sunny day and half, relaxing on the beach, soaking in the amazing art and lounging in the evening at the Ocean Spa in the warm water pools. We explored the shops, getting supplies and enjoying coffee at The Six Sisters Coffee House. We also went to the craft shop which was housed in one of the other six sister houses. I was sad to leave Napier behind but I will be back, if anything to track down the amazing ginger beer we had.

Wellington


We flew to Wellington (quicker and probably cheaper) and settled into our Airbnb which was in Kilbirnie. The view was superb and the decor even better. This was another city I would definitley go back to to explore more. Being back in a city with transport again was strange but welcomed. We walked around the centre, visited museums, ate delicious food in a few places and enjoyed relaxing evenings in the Airbnb house. Plus our hosts, Sara and Danny were great! We did quite a bit in those few days, so here is it summeried:

Te Papa Museum - My aunty told us to go see the Gallipoli exhibition, it was amazing! WETA actually made the gigantic models featured in the exhibition. We would have liked to see more of the musuem but we arrived late in the day. Something to do when I go back! The museum as well as the exhibition is free!
Enigma Cafe - Try the french toast, its delicious!
Danger Danger - Apart from the rude arsey staff, the pizza is pretty damn good BUT bring your passport with you as ID, as they don't accept anything else.
Mount Victoria - You can indeed climb this mount but there is also a bus. I suggest bus up, walk down as the walk is actually still quite confusing but fun, especially if you are hunting for Hobbit's Hideaway. Remember in the Fellowship of the Ring, the hobbits hide under that tree? Well we think we found the right spot.
Cable car - This was a short fun trip but my advise, go earlier in the day. We went late afternoon and most of the things up at the top are closed. The walks up there too would have been nice but we were starving so we retreated.
WETA - Our adventure here will be in another post, along with Hobbiton.
Cuba street - Definitely check out this street as it is filled with really cool shops including Iko Iko. Before our WETA trip we stopped off in Cuba Street at Loretta. The food was delicious, but we sat too near the kitchen and had our eyes stinging of onions. So maybe sit at the back or the front.

NEXT: South Island - Nelson to Queenstown

 

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

New Zealand: Prepare, Plan & Pack


I know this isn’t about film BUT there are film related parts to my adventures. Thought this may be useful for anyone heading out to New Zealand. Tips about places you may want to visit, how to travel and learning from my mistakes.

I came back from New Zeland a few days ago and I am still jetlagged and still feeling odd about being home. Before I left I had everyone acting like this was the be all and end all of all trips ever. I knew it wasn't but having everyone say this to me was getting exhausting. I knew I'd love it and make the most of it and I feel I did. The trip had two purposes; to see family and to have an epic time with my friend and travel buddy. We had been saving up for two years to be out othere and I had been wanting to visit for years, in fact ever since my family moved out there. My love of Lord of the Rings obviously spurred me on and as my friend is also obsessed with all things LOTR, we were in our element.

We were out there roughly 4 weeks and visited both islands (yes, it is possible), stayed in 9 cities/towns, booked 7 hostels, stayed in 1 Airbnb and stayed with my family in Tauranga. We took buses, domestic flights and also enjoyed being driven around by my uncle, aunt and cousin. It was a whirlwind, or at least it felt like a whirlwind. So many amazing places and there was still many more things to do.

Planning & Packing

For the experienced traveller or those who have already visited New Zealand, this may be something you've read before and if you're just interested in where I went, feel free to skip this part.

Packing Tips

-DO pick your bag carefully - Most will say, a gigantic backpack is needed for a trip like this WRONG. Where you are driving around NZ or if you are bussing it, a backpack doesn't have to be the bag to take. I would advise taking a bag or suitcase that you know you can handle and are able to carry or pull along whenever you need to. Dragging a bag up all the hills in NZ is far better than lugging a back breaking backpack. Of course, if you usually pack light you won't have this issue.

-DON'T use this bag - This bag was terrible. Just avoid this bag at all costs even if you are given it, don't use it, pick another bag. Worst bag in history, no joke.

-DO use Packing cubes - Cubes are very handy no matter what type of bag/suitcase you take. Everything in cubes means easy packing if you're travelling from place to place every other day.

-DO pack for all weathers - As the weather in NZ can be unpredictable, you will need to pack for all seasons, especially if you are travelling in their Spring and Autumn.

** DO buy a travel towel - Don't bring a normal towel, you will regret it. Travel towels dry quicker and are far lighter. Plus, most hostels/hotels will provide a towel.

-DON'T buy any toiletries out there - Sun cream, tooth paste, hairbrush, cosmetics, moisturiser, shaving gel etc, is super expensive in NZ, bring all that you need with you.

-DO bring a book with you - Books are pricey in NZ, not sure why. Most hostels have book share shelves, leave a book, take a book.

When it comes to planning a trip, wether you are going for 2 weeks or 2 months, having a plan so you know where you are and what you're doing is always helpful and useful for those at home wanting to know too.  There are benefits to just winging it when you get out there BUT some excursions need to be booked in advance so a plan even if its just a rough one, is always a good idea. Having a travel buddy who printed our the itineray was invaluable.

Planning Tips

-DO check hostel/hotel reviews - You might find the perfect place but reviews are invaluable. If you are staying one night, it might not matter how great the place is. If you're staying two night or more, make sure you are comfortable.

-DO plan as many excursions as you can once you have your travel dates set - Popular trips or activities get booked up really quick, so best to be ahead of the game.

-DO shop around for travel options - If you are driving, this won't apply. If, like my friend and I, you want to bus it around the islands, take time over booking buses as this may effect how long you can stay at certain places.

-DON'T use InterCity buses - I say don't use them, even though they were actually quite a good company until we reached the South Island. They buses leave early and don't wait for anyone. They try and make out that you are wrong when you are right. We were left stranded in Franz Josef (middle of actual nowhere) when our bus left early. The driver had said to be ready at 7:45 am as the bus leaves at 8am, well we were there but the bus left before 7:45. Arsehole. Luckily, a very kind and awesome tour bus driver agreed to give us a ride to Wanaka and my cousin came to our rescue and picked us up there and drove us to Queenstown. So, don't trust InterCity.

-DO take travel time into account - This is obvious but I'll say it anyway, travelling by bus means hours of your travel days are eaten up. If you're driving you can sight-see and stop whenever you want but being on the bus, you can only go where the bus takes you, bear this in mind. If a bus trip is too long, it might make sense to fly, usually cheaper and quicker. We had three domestic flights and it was worth it.

-DON'T worry if you are travelling alone - Again, if you are an experienced traveller, ignore this. While on the road and in hostels, there were lots of solo travellers, you'll be in good company. Most people are very friendly so no need to be shy.

-DO try to pack in as much as possible - No matter how long your trip is, there will always be so much more to do so pack in as much as you can, you won't regret it.

-DO check the exchange rate/charges - Check with your bank how much you will charged when you use your credit/debit card. I used a Travel Money Card from the Post Office so I wasn't charged by my bank unless I took money out. It's like a top up card so was easy to use, no fuss. No need to use my normal bank card at all.

Books I used for the trip:


NEXT: North Island - Tauranga to Wellington


** I ended up having to buy a travel towel in the middle of the trip and threw away the towel I brought with me.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Sunshine Blogger Award




The ever awesome Katy at Oh So Geeky very kindly nominated me for the award. Thank you again Katy! As I was in the middle of New Zealand when I found out, I was delayed to writing up my post and it also means, sadly that I'm way behind in my posting. Here are my answers to Katy's ace questions:

What movies are you looking forward to seeing this summer?
Ant-Man and The Wasp
Solo
The Breaker Uppers (NZ release but we kept seeing the trailers)
The Yellow Submarine - re-released in cinemas for a day 8th July
Mary and the Witchflower
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Ocean’s 8

If you could be a superhero, what would your special power be?

Reanimation - including the power to reanimate others.

Who would you love to play you in a movie of your life?

I never know who to answer this, as there isn't anyone who I think would be me. I'd have to do an open casting for this.

What is your favourite movie genre?

Another difficult one. I like murder mystery/detective stories but I also love a good sci-fi.

If you could play a game with Jimmy Fallon on his show, which game would you pick to play?

Alas, in the UK we don't have Fallon on TV but from what I've seen on youtube, I would have liked to do the lipsync battle before it became its own show.

What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

Grab provisions; get a car, head for the coast.

If you could invite three fictional characters over for dinner, who would you pick and why?

Heather Mooney because I'd like to see how she reacts to being invited to a dinner party. Tintin as he'd have some great stories, plus he'd be too polite to answer Heather back. Jareth aka The Goblin King because who wouldn't want him over for dinner, glass ball tricks and singing if we were lucky. I'm guessing we'd all do 'Dance Magic Dance' and the end of the night. 

Besides blogging, what are your favourite hobbies?

 Going to the cinema, film festivals, special events (without blogging about them). I also go swimming every week, read comics, write, dabble in photography (very rare these days), go travelling and make films.

What is one thing on your bucket list?

To own my own home - that's a big one that won't be tackled for a long while.

What are your proud of accomplishing in 2018 so far? 

Finally after years and years of wanting to go, I went to New Zealand. I wanted to go even before Lord of the Rings, love of the films just spurred on my ambition to go there. Got back a few days ago so things still feel weird.

Check out Katy's post and her other nominees HERE.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

TMP Television Edition: Failed to get a Second Season


The Middleman
Oh Middleman. This show was struggling from the start. This was a show based on a comicbook series before it was 'a thing' and suffered the painful blow of getting cut short. The Middleman comics, although released in 2005 have a 60s feel about them as does the show at times.  Struggling artist Wendy Watson is recruited by a secret agnecy that fights evil forces, usually of the sci-fi variety after she unwittingly becomes involves in a case. The Middleman takes her on as his apprentice and the two go on fun and weird adventures together. A bit like a Doctor Who set up except The Middleman is a human, its the a shame the show never got to continue or even get a whole series, especially as Matt Keeslar and Natalie Morales had great chemistry. Keeslar seems to have disappeared but at least Morales has been seen in a few things. Alas Middleman, you could have great if ABC invested more time and money in you and hadn't cancelled you like they do with everything!

Campus
From the writers of the epic shows comedy shows 'Smack the Pony' and 'Green Wing' (one of my favourite shows of all time) comes a show...very much like both of them but set in a University. The show was compared to Green Wing by critics aaaand they're not wrong. Campus is similar but with some really off the wall scenes and characters, as well as rather offensive jokes. But inspite of this, I do love the show and I really hate that there is only precious 6 episodes!!! I think the only issue I have with the show is that the cast of characters are great BUT a University is huge so the chances that some of these characters even know each other is highly unlikely. Oh well. Aother comedy bites the dust.

Good Girls Revolt
The demise of Good Girls Revolt is a sad and frustrating one, mostly because Amazon just killed the show and produced tons of graphs and posts and stories as to why it had to go. Also, its known that the head of Amazon Video (at the time) had said no other shows featuring main female cast saying 'its too female centric'. Ok that was about another show but if that was the attitude you can see how the show died. The show was inspired by the book of the same name by Lynn Povichand real events. Following a group of young women who are researchers for News of the Week magazine. Each are paired with a male journalist but none are given the opportunity to write an article. The show shows the girls, all from different backgrounds, eventually working together to fight for justice. As a show that shows women supporting each other and fighting for their rights, it is empowering and it really f***ing annoys me that it was cancelled. It had a following too but no, Amazon must have its male dominated shows first. Ugh!

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Straight Outta New Zealand


As I’m in New Zealand over April, so thought I’d put the spotlight on three filmmakers I admire who happen to hale from the country I'm visiting.

Taika Waititi, the director that everyone has been talking about in the last few years after a succession  of hits. 'What We Do in Shadows' brought vampires back to the light in the form of a mockumentary about three vampire roommates living in Wellington. 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople', my favourite film of 2016 about a troubled teenage boy and his foster uncle who are a tragedy and misunderstanding end up on the run in the bush with the authorities in pursuit. Finally, the film that the Marvel Universe needed to reboot within the God of Thunder, 'Thor: Ragnarok' was a hilarious edition to the stream of movies and stood out from the rest. Waititi’s unique style, deadpan humour and natural dare to be different filmmaking is what makes him a great writer and director.

Jane Campion obviously needs to be brought to the spotlight, especially with the sequel to the fantastic thriller mystery, Top of the Lake aired on TV last year. Continuing the dark side of the first series, Top of the Lake: China Girl delves deeper into lead character, traumatised detective Robin, who investigates the seedy disturbing ring of illegal surrogates and prostitution after a young girl’s body is found in a suitcase washed up on the beach in Sydney. While the show is brilliant TV, I wish Campion would come back to the big screen. After revisiting ‘In the Cut’ at a screening and Q&A with the director herself, her interpretation of the novel of the same name is a murder mystery erotic thriller that is pieced together sometimes as a stream of consciousness from Franny’s, played by Meg Ryan, point of view.

If I’m talking about New Zealand filmmakers, I have to talk about Peter Jackson, director of the greatest trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Not familiar with Jackson’s previous films before 2001, but I have made sure that Heavenly Creatures is in my Blind Spot list this year. I’ve seen some of his other films since LOTR and enjoyed The Hobbit film but nothing truly compares to his ‘stand the test of time’ adaptations. Every time I see the films, a pilgrimage every year, my breath is taken away.