Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Remember Who the Enemy Is

Over a year of waiting, even the DVD release of The Hunger Games wasn't enough to hold off the excitement of the release of Catching Fire or for cinema release its known as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

The Hunger Games' escalation in popularity reached new heights from the moment The Hunger Games was released on DVD. It smashed the Box Office on cinema release but with the gradual announcements of casting for the new characters, it built up the anticipation, plus the DVD release gain more fans. Including myself, fans of the film read the books, eagerly awaiting the result.

I booked my Catching Fire tickets at the BFI IMAX the minute they were available. And I am so glad I did. The experience was amazing. The opportunity to see the first film at the IMAX was not available. Another reason the experience was so amazing was that it was NOT in 3D. 3D is pointless and I was so glad to hear the successful franchise had not gone down that gimmick road.

But before I start delving into the film, first we must marvel at the media campaign. The Capitol portraits were released very slowly, one or two at a time. These works of beauty came after the initial Victory Tour posters. When they first appeared, I was screaming at my laptop with excitement. I surprise myself at how much I love this franchise.


Any fans of the book knows what to expect. The films picks up a few months after the 74th Hunger Games ended. Katniss is back in District 12 and living in the Victor's Village, right opposite Peeta, whom she hasn't really spent time with at all. She and Peeta are about to go on their Victory Tour, where they visit each district and end up in the Capitol. President Snow makes a surprise visit, warning Katniss that the incident with the berries in the games, caused a stir in the districts, hints of rebellion. He threatens Katniss to make the districts believe she defied the Capitol for love alone, other wise, he insinuates that Gale, her family, her district would suffer. In so many words. This sets up the film. For those who don't read the book, I won't say anymore apart from the obvious, seen in the trailers.

Katniss and Peeta indeed go back into the arena for the 75th Hunger Games, the 3rd Quarter Quell, These games are special. The games are given a twist, for instance in previous games, the Districts were forced to vote in the tributes and for the previous Quarter Quell, twice as many tributes were sent into the games. Haymitch is actually the victor from the 50th Hunger Games. These facts aren't mentioned in the film, but they paint the background to how special these games are. This time, the tributes are reaped from the pool of existing victors. District 12 only has 3 victors, 2 male, 1 female. New characters are introduced, including the fan favourite, Finnick Odair, the tribute from District 4 and Johanna Mason, tribute from District 7.

Catching Fire is my favourite book out of the trilogy,  I am thrilled the film did it justice. My reasons are:

  • the fantastic new characters, all the tributes carry a story, it might not be focused on much in the film, but you can feel it. 
  • The twist in the reaping is exciting and not, as some have moaned, a recycle of the first film.
  • Its realistic in the story narrative, characters are killed, it is the Hunger Games.
  • The scene where Peeta and Katniss give speeches about Thresh and Rue in District 11 are very moving.
  • The arena is a work of genius 'tick tock tick tock'
  • An obvious reason, the private moments shared between Peeta and Katniss. Gale is lame. I do not like Gale.

Again for those non readers, you are in for an amazing treat at the end of the film, truly. I'll say no more.

Back to the IMAX experience. If you can see it on an IMAX screen, do it, ust for the amazing moment when the screen opens out, completely filling the screen as Katniss elevates up into the arena.

I managed to see the World Premiere of the film in London from the comfort of my home. I was working that day, otherwise I would have attempted going in person. You have hopefully still watch it here.

This is a link to Empire magazine's review,  here. I believe they were just so recommend a read of it.

I have to admit I saw the film twice a few days apart. That's how good it was.

One last thing, remember who the enemy is.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Passing The Test

How many films in the last few months that you've seen feature more than one woman having a conversation, that isn't about men? In fact, how many films have you seen where two women actually talk to each other? Still going further, have the films featured more than one woman?

These questions are the basis of the three rules for passing The Bechdel Test.

The Bechdel Test was first introduced in 1985 in Alison Bechdel's comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For (see above). The comic strip entitled 'The Rule' featured an unnamed female character saying she would only watch a film if it satisfies 3 requirements. Those are:

1. The film has to have at least two women in it
2. The women have to talk to each other
3. The conversation they have has to be about something besides a man or men

Variants for the test have been mentioned, such as, the women characters have to be named and their conversations have to be longer than 60 seconds.

In 2013, Swedish cinemas and the Scandinavian Tv channel, Viasat Film incorporated the Bechdel test into some of their ratings. This move was supported by the Swedish Film Institute. A new rating system has even been invented and films have been given a pass or not according to whether the film passes the Bechdel Test in some way. The reaction has been, so far, positive. 

Film School Rejects recently posted about The Bechdel Test and a list of some of the most critically acclaimed films that failed the rest. You can read it here.

Looking over my 10 favourite films, I think only one passes the test, but only just. 
As Film School Rejects points out, it is a sad fact that there aren't enough roles for women and the role that are out there, are limited. Look for for those films that celebrate female roles that aren't just the same old thing. And ignore anything with Angelina Jolie in it, she's just awful. Personal preference, but its still important I say it. 

When watching a film, keep The Bechdel Test in mind. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Pumpkin Post

I had hoped to get this post out before November but alas, time is not on my side.

Before I started my new job I wanted to make a pumpkin pie and I did. Tah-dah!

Just like my previous pumpkin related baking post, this pumpkin pie is gluten and wheat free!

I should point out that this pie took nearly three hours to make, mostly
because there were several parts to the process. The book said 40 minutes prep time, including chilling, not true.

I admit I needed some help with the pastry part as I had never made wheat free pastry before and with most gluten and wheat free foods, they usually fall apart quickly. After actually making the dough, chilling the dough, rolling out the dough, I needed help getting it in the pie dish. I had wanted to make the pumpkin pie before I made the cake but the pie needed prior planning hence the switch. I also really wanted to use my pie dish again. I hadn't made use of it since Uni. All through making the pie I kept saying 'I don't remember making pie to be this difficult.' While the pastry was in the tiny oven, (main one is broken, Christmas is going to be interesting) I had to cut up the pumpkin and steamed it.

Then I skipped photographs for the blending part, there was difficulty once more as the pumpkin was not as soft as it should have been. So here we are, the mixture is on the pie, or I should say the filling is in the pie, ready for the oven.


This is a nice before and after shot. When it came out, I was slightly worried as it was a tad wobbly and that meant my Dad would most probably refuse to try it, which he did do. Not forgiven him as it did takes hours to make.

When I finally tried it, it was delicious. Not as good as the pumpkin cake (I have dreams about it) but still very good, if I do say so myself. I might not be able to cook, but I can bake at least.

I think it tasted nicer after being in the fridge although the recipe says for it to be served hot.

I think Ned the Pie-maker (Pushing Daises) would be proud of me. 

Unlike the cake where I used pureed pumpkin, I used fresh pumpkin, meaning two things. First I was nostalgic as it reminded me of the pumpkin carving Halloweens as Uni, plus I think I got pretty attached to this pumpkin (excuse how terrible I look, very tiring process). Secondly, it meant the left over pumpkin would be in my dinner. Mmmmmm pumpkin as a veg tastes so good, it doesn't feel like I'm eating vegetables  but I am.

 I am aiming to work through the gluten free baking book, there are already some amazing looking recipes I have picked out for Christmas time. Hopefully those will be a piece of cake compared to this slice of pie.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Crafts and Cocktails

I know its been a while, a week in fact, but I'm finally back to the blog. I confess, I needed a week to settle into my new job, I'll probably need more time but I'm off this weekend so I made the most of it.

I made the most of it first by sleeping in on Saturday, a well deserved sleep. I'm actually still incredibly tired but enough of sleep, I dream of sleep. After having midday breakfast, something that I will not repeat as I was disgusted with myself. I met my sister at Whitechapel station in the afternoon. I want it on the record that I dislike this station very much. No place to get a coffee for miles, not matter which direction you walk.

We had planned to have cocktails in the eve, happy hour specifically, as I had mentioned early on in thr week 'I REALLY need a drink' but before cocktails were consumed we went along to The Old Truman Brewery for the Renegade Christmas Craft Fair, in Brick Lane. It was beautiful but vast.

There were so many stalls to look at, I wanted everything! In a way it was worse than going into shops and wanting things because shops have the same things but each and every stall was unique! Plus all the things on sale were unique! Both my sister and myself managed to buy a few things for Christmas presents, that was initial intent for going to the market but I admit I bought a couple of goodies for myself.

I always see the earrings at craft fairs but never buy them. I saw these by Jo Want and all it took was for my sister to pick them up and say 'danglies' to each other a few times and I bought them. There was a particular stall with 'make your own embroidered animal' kits, the results were adorable but as I am not so great at embroidering, I could but stare and admire. Made by Kirikipress, have a look at the website here.

We wondered around the vast area two times, once to view, second to buy, then we decided after a successful haul, it was HAPPY HOUR TIME!

We walked along to Shoreditch and actually ended up in the bar next to The Shoreditch where I had my birthday. The bar, which I can't actually recall the name of, was amazing! The tables and wall decor were really cool and the cocktails, oh my they were delicious. We each sampled three from the menu, I remember one was called 'The face planter'. We also have some mini tacos and of course, because there was a mexican vibe going on, we had nachos!

Excellent place, plus the happy hour went on until 8. Let off steam and stuffed ourselves silly with the food. Had an awesome time!

As for my Sunday, I am spending it wisely, doing all the things I couldn't do during the week, such as laundry and lots of TV catch up, plus, writing this overdue post.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

And It Started With Boots

Boots, lovely boots! Great for walking, long days filming, long days walking, travelling, kicking, jumping, not running but just great boots. 

My boots have been a creative asset to me. I'm not sure how many people would agree with me but I have been inspired while wearing all my DMs or I have just been inspired to write a character, depending which boot I am wearing. They have magical powers plus they are so comfortable, and perfect for any destination, apart from a Wedding or something like that.

I got my first pair of DrMartens boots in 2009 and I haven't worn any other type since, apart from work shoes and interview shoes of course. I do love my boots.

My purple boots have been on film shoots with me, on many trips to the New Forest, to the beach, even to Berlin. These were my adventure boots.

My tall black boots with roses were an impulse buy from a DrMarten specialty shop in Camden. I saw them, loved them so without thinking bought them. I haven't worn these nearly as much as the purple, these are my 'special occasion' boots or 'winter weather' boots. Very useful in the snow.

You may have seen these bright yellow boots from my Cornwall posts. These are now my adventure boots, having travelled frequently all over London in them, to Cornwall, these boots have seen Land's End and most recently, Oxford. I think these are my inspiration boots though, as I've written some short stories and started my novel while wearing them. 

I had hoped to add these beauties to my boot collection, thus expanding the creative boot menagerie, but for the moment my old reliables aid me in my writing quest.