Category Archives: Other Reviews

FILM REVIEW: The BFG

bfg

  • Film Guide: PG
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Would I recommend it: Definitely

Roald Dahl has to rate up there as one of the best and most-loved writer of children’s books … ever.

I love his books and have read them all to SC – and if you get a chance to visit his museum – do – it’s amazing.

We’ve even read his autobiography of his childhood – it’s definitely worth a read and I guarantee you will never look at liquorice laces in the same way again!

But The BFG is definitely a firm favourite.

Being old enough to remember the cartoon version, voiced by the inimitable David Jason, I wasn’t sure that anything could top it let alone a live-action version (seems to be all the rage these days taking an animated film and live-actioning it!)

But, how wrong I was.

The film stayed true to the book with only a slight veering off course at the end – where the giants are not thrown into a pit, but somewhere else and Sophie lives happily ever after, which we never actually find out in the book.

The lovely Mark Rylance took the role of The BFG – totally unrecognisable, but utterly wonderful.  From the moment he emerged from the darkness you warmed to him.

12 year old Ruby Barnhill literally steals the entire film with her portrayal of the orphan Sophie – she was lovely to watch and the moments between her and the BFG were just magical.

Rounding off the main cast is Penelope Wilton as the queen – there is no one who could have played her better.

I laughed – seriously and out loud – I defy anyone not too – especially after the queen and all the royal subjects drink frobscottle (if you’ve read the book you’ll know what happens next!)

I sat mesmerised at the dream catching – truly magical.

I cried – seriously and with tears rolling down my face – there were some very tender moments and the music by John Williams (who better) added to the emotion and I just couldn’t help myself – mind you I do cry very easily when watching, or reading anything.

I sat enthralled from the first moment until the last credits rolled – it was, in my opinion, a great cinemagraphic tribute to one the world’s best writers.

I loved it, so did SC.

If you get a chance to see it, please do – and if you’re anything like me – take a packet of tissues!

“I am brave!”

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FILM REVIEW: Angry Birds – The Movie

  • angry birdsClassification:  U
  • Rating: 3 stars

I know it’s a game that you can download on your i-phone to waste valuable minutes/hours/days (delete as appropriate), but dear God the thought of having sit through 97 minutes of it filled me with dread.

Admittedly, when I saw the trailer it looked harmless and SC wanted to see it, so this afternoon we ventured to the local cinema to watch it.

I was happy to see there was Costa in the cinema foyer, so I managed to grab a tea as I thought I would need it to get through the next 1½ hours!

Honestly, the film wasn’t as bad as thought it would be. There was a plotline, that if you looked beneath the surface actually had a fairly deep meaning about it (beware pigs being nice!).

In a nutshell bad pigs con the birds and then fleece them, but birds fight back. So your average bad guy versus good guy and the good guys win.

And there were some very funny moments – synchronised swimming to the Flower Duet (the tune they used for the British Airways ad years ago), a burst of Rick Astley (oh, that brought back some memories of school), the attack on the pig castle and the eagle busting his disco moves to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” (and as an Essex girl that got my little toes a-tapping, but actually reminded me of Priscilla Queen of the Desert – both the film and dancing in the aisles at the musical)

Would I see the movie again? Probably not.

Despite my initial fears, it was a good children’s animated movie – which is why I gave it 3 stars.

It will definitely keep the children entertained, might give the parents a bit of a giggle, but I would recommend a coffee to keep you going … just in case.

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My date with a guy called Leo …

The weather was a glorious Spring day.

The setting of the Science Museum was perfect.

Just a shame my date has been dead for nearly 500 years!!!

 

I have loved the Science Museum ever since I was a little girl and my parents used to drive us into London to while away a Sunday afternoon playing with all the fun stuff they had for kids that used to be housed in the basement – I hasten to add this was pre-internet, pretty much pre-computer, so it really was lots of machines with levers that you could pull and buttons you could press.

And I have never grown out if the place – it’s a perfect place to embrace my inner geekette.

Well, with a Saturday all to myself and nothing better to do, I thought I would trot into London and visit the Science Museum – after all normally I have the company of SC who whistles round at top speed not really paying much attention to anything, so a saunter around – well when I say saunter, I don’t actually mean that as I walk fast – the museum would be wonderful.

I totally forgot that they have an exhibition on until September 4th all about Leonardo da Vinci. So I paid for my ticket and spent a fabulous couple of hours taking my time looking at everything, listening to every audio going and having a go with every bit of equipment there was to get my hands on (and I was not the only grown-up doing so!)

The man clearly was a genius and had a brain so far ahead of his time it was unbelievable.  Some of his invention were pre-cursors to stuff we have in the modern world.

For example he invented a 3 wheeled cart for a theatrical production, steered by a rudder attached to a 4th wheel, and motorised by cogs – this they reckon was the pre-cursor to our modern-day cars!

His idea for a diving suit was not so far removed from our modern-day equivalent, and then there was flight, anatomy, weapons, mathematics, this list was endless.

I did not know that he actually wrote backwards! All his notes are written from right to left and although the words are spelt correctly and not backwards as well, the letters are written as if in a mirror. Not entirely sure if this was due to secrecy and only his successors would know the code, but it must have taken some doing!

I was blown away – literally.

Although most people would think of him as a painter, apparently he only ever painted 30 pictures and there are only 20 surviving to this day, compared to over 5000 notes (can’t remember if that’s sets or pages).

If you get a chance to go to the Science Museum before the 4th September I would definitely recommend this exhibition. I would gladly go again, and probably find out more stuff that I did today – you always gain more knowledge after the first experience I find!

After I said goodbye to Leo, I have to admit, that although I didn’t have SC with me I just couldn’t help myself going to some of the other hands-on interactive galleries – I know I’m such a big kid 😉

And I also managed to spot Wally – courtesy of a gentlemen wearing a white and red knitted bobble hat!

With that done, I headed back to the tube.  The sun was still shining, but I was in desperate need of refreshment. So I stopped off at Embankment (luckily can walk to the train from there), found a friendly purveyor of teas, purchased a soothing chamomile and in the middle of London found an oasis of calm.

Literally next door to Embankment tube station, there is a delightful garden/small park and in the midst of all the hub-bub the garden was peaceful and serene. I sat in the sunshine, listening to the birds, sipping said tea and partaking of one of my favourite past-times – people watching.

Who knew Antirrhinums were also called “bunnies ears!”

The old lady sitting next to me didn’t like the students chatting outside her flats and told them they should go to the nursery up the road instead of back to college!

I hope the man in the suit jogging through the park got to where he was going on time (and without splitting his trousers, they were rather tight!)

And then I noticed people stopping near a tree, “mmm, must be a bird up there!” thought I. Then I realised they were looking at the back of the tulip bed. And lo and behold this is what they were all looking at:

Fantastic Mr Fox

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Brush-on False Lashes…

…and create the ultimate in long eyelashes!

I was sold when I noticed this little packet hiding amongst the make-up in the shop.

After all, who wouldn’t want a simple solution to making your eyelashes fuller, thicker and longer that doesn’t involve fiddling about with a tiny applicator and an even smaller pot of glue, smearing the glue on a set of false eyelashes and then making a valiant attempt to  stick the eyelashes on, over your already carefully applied eye make-up, without them either not sticking at one end, or indeed sticking up at an angle so it starts in the corner of your eye, but ends somewhere near your eyebrow!!!

So I bought some.

The idea is that you apply mascara, as normal, then apply the ‘lashfibres’, then after 30 seconds apply a second coat of mascara.

Simple right?

Well, yes, except the ‘lashfibres’ are, well how can I put it?

Ummm, basically you are applying fluff.

Literally, just fluff.

I tried it yesterday and felt rather daft after dipping the brush into the tube and then applying said fluff to my eyes. I had a serious attack of vanity humiliation. Seriously, why would anyone apply fluff?

The result – it didn’t really give the impression of a false eyelash, though my eyelashes did, to be fair, look a bit fuller.

But my eyes itched uncontrollably all day.

Giving it the benefit of the doubt, and could well have been user error in applying said ‘lashfibres’ I thought I would give it another go today.

Sadly, my eyes were just as itchy today.

So, applying fluff is just not for me.

I shall stick to false eyelashes, fiddly applicators and all.

Thankfully a friend showed me how to apply them, so they are much easier now and it’s been a while since I stuck one to my eyebrow 😉

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Life of Pi – Is it worth watching?

You see, I read the book, long before the movie ever came out and I just didn’t enjoy it.lifeofpi

I read it, but by the end I just thought “Oh, is that it?” – to me it just seemed to fizzle out.

And when the film came out and I said that I didn’t fancy watching it because the book had not inspired me to see it, people said “oh, but the film is amazing, you have to watch it just for the special effects!”

My dilemma is that the local film society are showing it this week – and I’m quite tempted to go, just to see if it is as spectacular as everyone says it is, despite me actually being bored by the book!

What would you do?

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App Review – Dictionary.com

I still have a flip-phone that just calls people (which I use occasionally) and texts people (which I use a lot), and takes a very bad picture – every picture I take varies in blurriness from slightly, to extremely!

Anyway, I do possess an I-Pod, which I bought to replace my rather worn-out CD player that I used in classes – why it took me 18 months to actually start using the thing is beyond me, how much easier is it to just pause and go to the next track rather than having to make small talk whilst surreptitiously changing the CDs over with one hand behind my back – I suppose I could always get a job as a contortionist!

Well, I thought I’d have a scout through some of the free apps – and stumbled across Dictionary.com.

So now every morning, on goes the I-Pod to see what the ‘word of the day’ is.

SC loves it, he is getting new and unusual vocabulary to add to his repertoire, which may make the teachers at school reach for the dictionary themselves 😉

Today’s word is ‘esse’ – which means being or existence, and comes from the Latin word of the same spelling meaning ‘to be’. It has, apparently been in English since the 1600s, so a fair few years then.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had some corkers.

I think my top 5 to date are:

5.  Clangor – basically reminded me of The Clangers the TV programme with the soup dragon I used to watch when I was little. The word pretty much means what you think it does, a loud resonant sound!

4.  Gobbet – a very unusual word meaning lump or mass. I quite like it 😉

3.  Boniface – now I thought this might pretty much mean pretty. Oh, how wrong could I be? It actually means a landlord or innkeeper. Next time you enter your local watering hole, might I suggest you walk up to the bar and ask for “a pint of your best real ale my good Boniface!” Actually, on second thoughts, maybe not!

2.  Yawp – anyone who’s seen the film Dead Poets Society will know this word. Robin Williams encourages all the boys to let out a good old yawp! Oh, boy, I cried buckets at that film and had a slight crushette on Robert Sean Leonard – he could have been my Puck any day!

1.  Fribble – my absolute favourite so far. I love it. It means to act in a foolish or frivolous manner. I’ve got into the habit of telling SC to stop acting ‘fribbolously’ (?) – now I’ve probably made that tense of the word up, but it sounds great and SC loves it, makes him laugh 😉

Aside from a word of the day, the app also has a thesaurus, local lookups, translator, a hot word and a general dictionary. Not bad for a free app!

There are, like all apps, upgrades, but if you just want something to hand, it isn’t a bad little app at all.

And you get some great new words each day 😉

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Les Miserables

Having seen the stage show in London several times, I was desperate to see the newly released film of the smash hit ‘Les Miserables’.les mis

And see it I did on Friday – and boy it did not disappoint. I loved every single second of it and blubbed like a baby – I would have been sobbing uncontrollably had it not been for the fact I was in a cinema and was trying to retain some semblance of composure. I will definitely be buying the DVD, then I can sit in the comfort of the house, safe in the knowledge no one is around and have a good old sob.

If anyone hasn’t ever seen the show, film or even heard of the show don’t read this paragraph! It’s not called The Glums for nothing – after all pretty much everyone dies, and yes a minor French Revolution might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s pretty much secondary to the main thread of the story which is basically about relationships between people. (I’ve got the novel by Victor Hugo, had it for years, just haven’t attempted to read it yet – it’s rather large!)

There have been some critics knocking some of the performances, but I have to say I didn’t think there was one weak link from the main stars right the way down to the ‘chorus’ – after all the show itself is an ensemble piece.

Russell Crowe was actually very good – he can hold a tune (which always helps in musicals) and although some would say he wasn’t as strong as the others, I would counter-act that argument to say that he made up for any weakness in terms of acting the song – and I did cry when his character died!

And the other surprise for me was Eddie Redmayne! The only thing I have ever seen him in was Birdsong on the television and I wasn’t that impressed – he seemed to just pout a lot and look pretty, and I couldn’t actually ever understand what he was saying as he mumbled his way through the script. However, he has a very powerful singing voice and totally blew me away.

There was one part in the movie that I defy anyone not to be moved at and that is after the battle and all the dead students are laid out, Russell Crowe’s character is walking along looking for Valjean and he stops at the little boy, ‘Gavroche’ (a little street urchin of about 10), who has been killed. Russell Crowe takes a medal off his chest and pins it onto the body of Gavroche – that got me!

For those of you that are sitting there thinking, “Urgh! can’t think of anything worse 2½ hours of singing! I hate musical theatre!” – STOP! Yes, it is musical theatre, but there are no jazz hands, cheesy smiles and dance routines. It is a very powerful piece of theatre (& cinematography). It is moving, uplifting and inspiring all at once – and I have seen grown men cry in the theatre at it!

If you haven’t seen the film – try to see it.

I will be eagerly awaiting the release of the DVD, in the meantime having had the songs spinning round my head since Friday I think I’m going to dig out the CD and have a sing-a-longy in the car tomorrow on the school run 😉

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Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

Now, these are a bit like Marmite, you either love them or hate them.

Being a nerdy geeky type, personally I love them.

I will always remember watching them, every year with my dad, and they were (and still are) on in the days between Christmas and New Year. Who remembers Professor Heinz Wolff?

They were, when I was young (OMG that makes me sound so old!), half an hour long, aimed at children with a fun theme that children can relate to.

Then Channel 4 or was it 5 took them over, and they moved to 5 o’clock in the evening and 45 minutes long, and now they are back on the Beeb, BUT on BBC4 at 8PM.

What happened to them being aimed at kids as young as 5/6. Or do all 5/6 year olds these days not go to bed til midnight?

And they are an hour long too.

I actually went to see one being filmed a couple of years ago. Loved it and I can’t wait to take SC, but judging by the average age of the kids in the audience this year, that’s not going to be for a few years yet 😦

But why do they appear to have made them less for children of any age, and more for your 8/9 year olds plus, and put them on at a ridiculous time, and channel?

Come on Royal Institution get back to fun science for children of all ages and please BBC next Christmas make them half an hour and put them on at a time when children can sit and enjoy them with their parents, instead of boring us rigid with yet another Eastenders omnibus!

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Crystal Healing & Chakra Rebalancing Session

WOW! OMG! etc, etc, etc.

I’ve just had a crystal healing session and it was AMAZING.

When I arrived at the practitioners premises I had to fill out the usual medical form, name, address, etc. Then she told me what she would be doing. The session, in a nutshell, involved seeing which chakras were out of balance, then opening up the chakras, allowing the negative energy out, positive energy in and closing the chakras back again.

I’m sure the sceptical amongst you are sitting there tutting and saying “what a load of codswallop!”

Anyway, I lay on the treatment table.

First of all the room was cleansed, the practitioner then gave me a clear crystal to hold throughout the session – she clasped my hand to establish a connection!

Then the practitioner took a crystal on a pendant and held it over each chakra centre to establish which ones were out of balance. As the pendant was held over the centre it would either not move, or move according to whether the centre was out of balance or not.

Again, for all you sceptics out there saying “Surely the practitioner could just wiggle it anyway?”

Yes, she could. But seriously, you could tell which was a movement made by the normal, natural process of just holding something still and not (trust me I watched her wrist and hands like a hawk!)

My solar plexus and heart chakras were seriously out of kilter.

The solar plexus is connected to mental alertness and confidence and the heart is connected to emotions.

And since I have not been feeling my best recently this did not surprise me in the slightest!

Then the session really began and I shut my eyes and relaxed.

I had to take 3 deep breaths and then she set to work.

I felt her place a crystal above my head and hold it with her hands to open the crown chakra. After several minutes she moved away and placed the next (different) crystal on the next chakra centre and so on working down from crown to base.

After she moved to another centre I could still feel the crystal on the previous points and it felt cold. I have to admit, I peeked when she moved away from the heart chakra and could not believe that there was no crystal there!

I could feel where all the crystals had been and at each point it was really cold.

So I went back to relaxing.

The practitioner continued working – no idea what actually happened after I closed my eyes – I know theoretically (because she had explained) that once the chakras were open she would place a circle of clear crystals around me to release all the negative energy and then turn them round so that they would allow positive energy to flow back, then she would close them up.

As my eyes were closed I became more and more relaxed and it was then it happened!

You know when you are just waking and your eyes aren’t properly  open but you can sense them opening and with every blink see some lights and shapes, which get bigger and bigger until your eyes are open.

Well …

… that’s what it felt like. – and I know I’m so not going to explain it very well, but I felt like my eyes were opening, although they were shut tight.

I could see them (apparently) trying to open, and it was as if a blind was opening, as the blind was drawn back I thought I could see sky. There were some clouds, but on the whole it was blue, and there were trees either side. It was as if I was lying on the grass looking upwards.

Then snatched bits of conversation popped into my head and just when I thought I’d cleared my head to relax again, up popped another snippet. I saw people too, some from my past and some from my present.

And all the time, the blinds were being lifted. they closed because I became conscious of them and thought my eyes were actually opening.

It is very difficult to explain and you’re probably thinking I’m making half of this up, but I swear to God I am not.

Whilst I was lying there, I could not feel the crystal in my left hand and my right hand, although it was resting on my right leg it didn’t feel as if it were at all, and I felt almost like I was floating.

It was only every so often I realised I still was breathing, I would physically feel myself take some breaths and then I would be totally unconscious of it again.

And still, the coldness remained where the crystals had been placed.

At one point towards the end, my entire body went really cold and then began to warm up.

It was then that the practitioner took hold of the hand that held the crystal and asked me to take 3 deep breaths and then slowly open my eyes.

Once I had my eyes open, she took up the pendant and placed it over the chakra centres that had been unbalanced and it did not move this time.

I felt totally relaxed and at peace.

There are, as with everything, after care recommendations such as not smoking, drinking, reducing caffeine intake and increasing water intake, plus relaxing, which I shall try to do.

I did tell her about the coldness, the eyes open sensation and the conversations.

She explained the conversations were probably blockages that were freeing themselves, and the coldness was just the chakra centres working on restoring calm. The blind opening sensation was clearly my subconscious going to a higher plane! (cue laughter!)

If you are of a mind to try it out, I would recommend it. As with anything holistic it’s best to go somewhere that has been recommended you by a friend.

I shall be going back when I feel out of balance again, until then I shall enjoy being connected to the universe once more 😉

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How cool are the Octonauts?

Sound the Octo-Alert.

If you haven’t seen this children’s programme on CBeebies…you must!

It’s way beyond cool, it’s just sheer brilliance.

Think of it as kid’s Star Trek set under the sea instead of in space.

Created by Meomi (Vicky Wong and Michael Murphy) who also created the mascots of the Vancouver Olympics, the Octonauts are a group of 8 (funnily enough) undersea explorers in search of adventure and fun.

They live in an “octopod” which looks like a metal octopus and are led by an octopus called “Professor Inkling”, who generally moves about by chair (a bit like Davros from Doctor Who).

The team is lead by a polar bear called Captain Barnacles – he wears a very fetching blue cat-suit and blue hat – he also plays the accordion. He is the firm favourite in this house to the extent that SC requested an accordion. SC plays his accordion very badly, but when he starts playing I expect morris dancers (no offence) to jump out and take a turn about the garden! Captain Barnacles always says “Sound the Octo-alert”.

Kwasi the kitten is a pirate – the patch is over his right eye, but when he looks through the telescope he lifts up the eye patch! Mmm, don’t get that either, and he always says “in my pirate days”. He loves speed and drives the fastest boat, called Gups.

Peso the penguin is the medic – he always mends anything by applying a bandage, in super-quick time I hasten to add.

Doctor Shellington – is a sea otter complete with Scottish accent for all you trekkie fans out there. He is the ship’s scientist and knows everything about underwater sea life.

Dashi the dog monitors the computers and takes photos, she has an Australian accent bizarrely.

Tweak bunny – clearly from the mid-western USA states glows in the dark and is the ships engineer, famed for doing things “quicker ‘an you can say bunch of munchy, crunchy carrots” (affects bad Texan accent).

Finally there are things called vegimals – cross between a vegetable and animal. The main one is called Tunip – and they do the cooking.

So what’s so great about it?

Well aside from the spurious links to Star Trek, the title music gets you going, it’s fast and exciting and the programme is fairly educational on some higher plane.

We’ve learnt that the ocean is divided into 3 layers – sunlight, twilight and midnight zones, sea urchins and crabs have a symbiotic relationship, a whale shark is the largest fish in the ocean, anemones can divide themselves into 2 and much more.

To some adults it may seem far-fetched and maybe a tad daft – especially as they somehow have a diving helmet hidden around their necks which activate at the touch of a button – but the programme has been made into a 10 minute fast-paced adventure story packed full of excitement, tension and drama along with some fairly high-brow marine biological facts.

If you love Star Trek and that genre of television, you should really try watching an episode.

SC thinks he is Captain Barnacles.

Me – I love it!

Explore, Rescue, Protect!

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