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Oliver! 1968

Once or twice a year I re-enter my Oliver! admiration/misery rut. It is my favourite musical of all time and one of my favourite films. There are so many reasons why so I thought I’d talk about today to try and get some of my emo Oliver! feelings out of my system.

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Stranger Things

I think it’s time I wrote a blog post about Stranger Things. I know you’ve probably seen a million but I think it’s taken the place of my favourite TV show (a space that was left empty by Doctor Who many years ago when Steven Moffat took the wheel and the writing took a nosedive).

Firstly, the concept for the show is interesting and multifaceted. We have the ongoing story of Will, the story of Eleven and her origins, Nancy and Steve, Hopper’s history and much more to keep us interested whilst also figuring out all the mysteries of the upside down. The only episode that I’ve ever felt let down by was episode season 2 episode 7 (I think a lot of people felt the same way) in which eleven went looking for her ‘sisters’ from the lab. Every single other episode has blown me away. I absolutely love the show.

The acting, particularly from the young actors/actresses in the show are outstanding. I have to give Noah Schnapp a particular mention here because his performance being possessed by the shadow monster was just incredibly for a thirteen year old. There’s not been a moment during the entire series where I’ve been left not quite believing any of the performances, they have all been authentic and compelling (at least in my opinion). Of course, Winona Ryder and David Harbour’s performances are also excellent. Not to mention Millie Bobby Brown, who we’ve just come to expect amazing performances from but shouldn’t be forgotten.

The 80’s setting of this show gives it a distinctly nostalgic vibe (even for somebody who wasn’t alive then) and somewhat leaves me longing for a time before the internet. When kids had to travel to an arcade to play games and the telephones were attached to the wall. Obviously, things aren’t simple for the characters of this show, having another dimension to cope with, but it leaves you thinking about what it must have been (or was) like before all the mad technological advances of recent years.

The music! The music is one of the defining elements of the show. Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash is potentially the anthem of the show but there are so many amazing tunes to listen out for along the way.

The characters are compelling. Nancy is independent, Steve is a brilliantly complex character (probably the best character arc of the series so far), Dustin interjects some light relief whenever necessary, Hopper is probably the best policeman ever and Joyce (god love her) has some impressive, resilient vocal chords.

I think the main reason this show stands above other brilliant shows that are out at the moment is the compelling characters. Even if the upside down situation was completely resolved I would still watch the show because I just want to see what’s going on with Dustin, Eleven, Hopper, Mike and Nancy etc. If you haven’t seen the show already I highly recommend devoting your Christmas break to it, you won’t regret it!

Until next time,

J x

“There’s no-one like Krum”: Celebrity Culture in Harry Potter

I was lying in bed the other night, trying to lull myself to sleep by re-watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when I noticed something about Ron in that book/film. It’s only a sort of sub-plot of the story, and one I’ve always kind of glossed over in my mind, but it stood out to me more in my sleepy, hazy head-space for some reason. Ron is obsessed with Viktor Krum!

At the Quidditch World Cup Ron is ecstatic to see Krum play as seeker for the Bulgarian team and when Krum arrived at Hogwarts for the Tri-Wizard tournament Ron was dumbstruck. There are, naturally, celebrities in J.K Rowling’s immersive and fully formed wizarding world and Krum is probably the one we learn the most about.

Personally, I find Viktor Krum a particularly interesting character because he is an incredibly successful and famous athlete whilst still being a student at the Durmstrang Institute. If Harry holds the record for youngest Gryffindor seeker in a century, surely Krum must have a few of these unofficial titles to his name as well! Despite his celebrity status, Krum travelled to Hogwarts along with his peers in order to take part in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. This resulted in him spending a lot of time in the presence of normal wizards, including one of his biggest fans Ron Weasley.

Krum’s role in The Goblet of Fire is, largely, to be a plot device. He fuels Ron and Hermione’s ongoing romantic tension and ends up hexed in the maze in order to clear the path to the Tri-Wizard cup for Harry and Cedric. Putting his role in the actual tournament aside, Krum’s impact on both Ron and Hermione is an interesting one.

Perhaps unrealistically, Krum sets his sights on the quiet, pensive Hermione Granger (who has her head in a book 80% of the time) instead of on one the hoards of girls following him around everywhere. His quiet and understated demeanour means that Harry and Ron do not find out about his relationship with Hermione until the Yule Ball. Instantly Ron, who had previously adored Krum (and famously stated: “There’s no one like Krum! He’s like a bird the way he rides the wind! He’s more than an athlete! He’s an artist.”), now immediately despises him for bringing Hermione as his date to the ball and, in doing so, shattering both his assertion that Hermione is completely undesirable and desperate for a date and his own ego (because we all know he would’ve been more than happy to go with Hermione).

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This characterisation of Krum is clever in that it humanises a celebrity and reveals his desire to live a quieter and less glamorous life through his choice to pursue Hermione. He frequently displays his sincerity through acts such as rescuing Hermione from the Black Lake in the second challenge and asking her to write to him one he has left Hogwarts. Despite Ron’s newfound hatred of him, Krum endears himself to the reader/watcher.

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Ron’s reaction to Krum, however, adds depth to Rowling’s depiction of celebrity culture. It demonstrates that fans put their idols on pedestals. They expect them to be perfect at all times. Ron expects that because Krum is a brilliant seeker that he will be equally as brilliant in every aspect of his life. Quickly, however, when Krum does something that damages Ron’s pride he reverses his opinion and decides that Krum is now “the enemy” rather than an “artist”. In doing this Rowling suggests that when you hold somebody to such an unattainable standard you will always be let down when meeting them in reality. Ron’s experience, despite being entirely self inflicted, left him jaded and disappointed.

On a positive note this experience worked out pretty well for Hermione. She bagged a date with a celebrity and also pissed off Ron doing it, which I imagine is one of her favourite past times 🙂

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Hope you enjoyed this silly post!

Until next time,

J x

Film Review: Dunkirk

A couple of weeks ago, after my 21st birthday, my cousin Ellie and I decided to get our asses out of our beds for once and go to the cinema. We’d both been dying to see Dunkirk because we’re both quite interested in history and I love going to see films. I had high expectations for this film which, to be honest, often leads to disappointment.

I am in awe of this film. From the moment Fionn Whitehead came onto the screen walking around the city of Dunkirk, looking in abandoned shop windows and drinking water from a hose pipe, I was on edge. There was a sense of foreboding. Next thing I know gun shots are going off, very very loud gunshots. I think one of my favourite things about the film was the level of noise. It was almost like they’d amped the volume up to increase the realism and shock factor.

Dunkirk

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When the planes flew overhead, about to drop bombs, and there was literally nothing the soldiers could do and nowhere to hide so they all just fell to the floor and hoped for the best. It really made me think about what is must’ve been like to be there. It must have been terrifying. I can’t imagine anything scarier than that moment when you hear the plane coming and realise your life could be over within a minute if you’re in an unlucky spot. The British and French were cornered into a tiny space by the German army and that area was being routinely bombed.

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Christopher Nolan’s direction was really the thing that made the film for me. His clever use of chronology in order to tell three stories within one 2 hour film was incredible (and slightly reminiscent of one of his other films Inception). He also managed to convey some of the difficulty the pilots faced, trying to tackle the enemy from the air, by filming from their perspective. It was clever, loud and apparently mostly filmed on location (and that means that poor Harry Styles probably really was suffering in the picture below). I don’t think anybody else could’ve done a better job.

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Speaking of Harry Styles, casting him was a massive risk for Nolan to take. It could’ve completely taken the focus away from the massive historical point of the film. Also, if done badly, it could’ve made a bit of a mockery of the whole film. I was VERY pleasantly surprised though. Styles seemed to take the role really seriously and actually pulled it off very well. He wasn’t a scene stealer, but I think for the first feature film role of his career post One Direction that’s the way it should’ve been. The only moment I found a little bit comical (for the wrong reasons) was when he was accusing Gibson of being a German spy and said something along the lines of “he’ll have an accent thicker than sauerkraut sauce”. To be fair to the guy though, that’s just not a very good line.

At points the plight of the characters felt entirely hopeless, as I’m sure things must have felt for the soldiers at the time. Despite minimal dialogue (another choice that worked brilliantly and built tension) I became very attached to most of the characters. When they boarded another boat hoping to finally get home only to be bombed again it was incredibly distressing. Sometimes, however, the film was heart warming. Mainly in Mark Rylance’s scenes where his character Dawson showed the real courage of civilians who headed straight into a war zone to try and save their men. At the end of the film, when Harry Styles and Fionn Whitehead are on the train and begin to read Churchill’s famous “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech while locals run alongside the train passing them cider through the window to welcome them home, It was just so uplifting and I found it quite emotional.

When I came out of this film I was pretty much speechless and it’s been on my mind since. I’ve seen it once again and would probably go see it again given the chance (and if it didn’t cost like £9 at my local cinema). Although I think it’s a little early to say, I feel like this may be one of my all time favourite films.

I would give this film 5/5 stars. I hope you all get a chance to see it.

 

Until next time,

J x

 

Film Review: The Shawshank Redemption

Spoilers ahead.

I struggle to know where to begin when trying to write a review of this film. The 1994 Frank Darabont film has gone down in history as a classic, despite initially not making as much money as some other films of the same year (Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump etc). This film is now wildly popular and I can COMPLETELY see why, it’s one of my favourites.

I love this film for so many reasons, one of which being my slightly strange morbid curiosity about prisons. It’s directed effectively, the narrative is strong and progresses the plot nicely, the casting is brilliant and, let’s not forget, the film is based on an incredible and gripping story by Stephen King.

I’ll start by saying if you have not seen this film and are interested in movies or the history of film at all GO WATCH THIS NOW (it’s on Netflix so you have no excuse). Seriously, I wish I’d seen it sooner. I feel like it’s the kind of film I could put right back to the start as soon as the credits start rolling and watch all over again.

Frank Darabont’s direction is excellent, he really captures what the microcosmic society of a prison is like and what day to day life can be like for inmates with different positions within the system. Not only this but Darabont forces viewers to empathise with protagonist Andy Dufresne in his most harrowing moments, whether they want to or not. An example of this is the tunnel scene towards the end of the film.

Andy Dufresne crawling through the sewers in The Shawshank Redemption

The camera is positioned inside of the tunnel opposite Dufresne. This really emphasizes the claustrophobia, desperation and panic of the situation and, personally, made me feel super on edge!

Another triumph of this film is the casting of Morgan Freeman as ‘Red’. Red narrates the film allowing the plot to progress just at the right speed. The fact that the story is told from a perspective other than Dufresne himself is effective in many ways but most of all because it protects the climax of the film which is, consequently, pretty shocking and exhilarating to watch as a viewer. Obviously, a large portion of credit for this goes to Stephen King, but Morgan Freeman’s performance achieves, in my opinion, a very difficult thing. It manages to be down to earth yet poignant and affecting at the same time. I can’t imagine anybody else being able to strike this balance so well.

I’ve heard people argue over whether the final scene of the film needed to be included or not. Whether is was effective or unnecessary. For me personally I found that final scene incredibly gratifying, and if it wasn’t shown I would definitely feel like I was missing out. So it’s just another positive really!

For me what elevates this film above the norm is its nuance. It hits the mark for me emotionally at every turn. It’s heart warming and devastating and awe inspiring all at once and isn’t that really what films are all about? Plus there’s just nothing like a great story of friendship 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this little review!

Until next time,

J x

 

What Can You Expect From This Blog?

So I’ve kind of decided that I’m going to start posting on Monday’s and Thursday’s (instead of just randomly whenever I have an idea). I think my blog needs a bit more structure to it and I want anybody who’s reading my blog to have an idea of what to expect and when to check back etc. Let’s face it at the moment it’s just random flurries of inspiration and occasional dry periods.

On Monday’s I hope to upload an Opinion Post, this could be reviews of books, films, music, concerts or restaurants and my take on current affairs. Then on Thursdays I’ll be uploading a Lifestyle Post. This will be more along the lines of beauty posts, life updates or even just a golden nugget of worldly advice from me (in other words the ramblings of my mind).

Earlier this week I posted my opinion post of the week which was a review of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and tomorrow I’ll be uploading a kind of introspective post about self-worth (the joys), but anyway, you catch my drift.

Just want to add a bit of structure to things now that I’ve been running this blog for about 4 months.

Until next time,

J x

Do Something Creative Every Day

Today I’m going to write a post that I’ve been wanting to write for a while but life things have been getting in the way. This past weekend I moved into my new flat and I’m SO EXCITED ABOUT IT! I won’t actually be living there until I go back for university in September but I’m thrilled that my stuff is all moved in and the way the place is looking. That has taken up a lot of my time recently but now I’m back and ready to write something!

If you’re a creative person like me then you’ve probably, at some point, had a bit of a blip where basically no creative stuff has been happening. I’ve been there and it’s the worst feeling. To feel stagnated and like you’re not making any progress towards the things you’re passionate about sucks. Recently the phrase “do something creative every day” popped into my head and I don’t think I’ve broken it since!

I study English Literature at university and my passion is writing in all its many forms (blogging being one of them), so I have a list of things that I class as creative things and I try my best to do one of them every single day. It doesn’t necessarily have to take much time if I’m super busy but it makes me feel a lot happier and more fulfilled to know that I’m contributing a little something to the things I love every day.

For me these creative things include writing short stories, blogging, recording and video editing, reading (not directly creating but is a massive part of the process), editing things I’ve already written and also watching acclaimed films and TV shows (that doesn’t mean spending 8 hours in front of Pretty Little Liars on Netflix).

I started making a concerted effort to do more of these things about 2 months ago and since then I feel like I’ve achieved quite a lot, probably more than I’ve achieved in the past year actually! Most importantly for me though it just makes me feel a bit better about myself and my life! These are the things that I love to do but in a society that leaves you so exhausted at the end of the day that all you want to do is watch Love Island and go to sleep and in a society full of instant gratification and shorter, faster forms of media (Youtube videos, Vine, Snapchat stories) that has trained our minds to have shorter and shorter attention spans it becomes almost impossible to do these things! At least it became that way for me and now I feel like I’m taking a small step towards having more balance and more control over the things I spend my time on.

I just thought I’d share this little piece of my brain with you today in case anybody else relates or is currently in a bit of a creative rut! Make small steps towards the things you want to achieve and you’ll probably be surprised with the progress you make!

Until next time,

J x