Friday, 31 January 2014

Film Friday: 12 Years a Slave


Plot
:12 Years a Slave tells the incredible true story of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the early 1800s.
Worth a watch? Although some scenes are difficult to watch, I'd urge everyone to see this film. With terrific performances by all, it's a story that is intense, moving and hard to forget.Guest appearances: Omar from The Wire pops up at the beginning of the film!
Rating: 9/10 - this surely has to win the Best Picture Oscar.
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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Annie's Burger Shack, aka "the best burgers in the land"


Annie's burgers are something of an institution here in Nottingham. They were originally sold at the Old Angel rock pub in the Lace Market, after which Annie moved her burger shack to the Navigation Inn. They were so popular that there was always a huge wait for them, but that didn't deter people - these aint no ordinary burgers! Five years on on from serving in pub kitchens Annie has finally opened her own Burger Shack, in a beautiful new premises in the centre of the Lace Market, so we couldn't wait to go down try it out. In case you're wondering what the fuss is about, check out the extensive list of burgers on offer including the BB King, the Death Ray and the Elvis burger - and the main draw for me is that every single one can be made veggie or vegan. Hurrah!


 You'll have to excuse the shaky camera - i got a bit too excited after the long wait!

The new eaterie opened two weeks ago and was fully booked on its first night, and this doesn't seem to have slowed down. We tried to book for Friday but couldn't get through, so in the end went along in a group on a Monday evening, and even then the place was full to the brim!

Under time-pressure, I opted for a German Burger, which was good but perhaps not the best choice as it lacked my favourite ingredient - cheese! I still wolfed it down and enjoyed the home-made cajun fries that came with it. Yum.


10pm, after the crowds had died down

The good news: the burgers are still as tasty as ever and there seem to be even more to choose from on the menu now. You can also buy ales/craft beer at the bar to drink while you wait. Annie has done a brilliant job on the new restaurant design (the restaurant is housed in a former lace factory which later became a nightclub) - it looks great!

The bad news: there's still a long wait on food (we waited slightly over an hour). But don't let that deter you. I'd recommend visiting before 6pm, ahead of the crowds. Half the restaurant is also reserved for walk-ups so there's no need to book.
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Sunday, 19 January 2014

7 Great Documentaries

Recently I have been going through a bit of a documentary phase on Netflix, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites that I've watched over the past year. Let me know if there's any other good ones you'd recommend.


1. The Act of Killing
In this Oscar-nominated documentary, film maker Joshua Oppenheimer travels to Indonesia to interview some of the people responsible for the mass killing of 'communists' living in the country in the 1960s. What follows is quite hard to believe, as the perpetrators re-enact their crimes, dressing up in ridiculous outfits and making light of the terrible events that occurred, making you wonder if they feel any remorse for what they did. This was a fascinating film and the final scene is so powerful it really stayed with me - definitely worth seeking out.


2. Blackfish
This moving documentary investigates the consequences of keeping Killer Whales in captivity, namely for entertainment purposes at Sea World in America. One such whale, Tilikum, was captured from the wild at a young age, and since then has been responsible for the deaths of three Sea World trainers. Looking at the history of the whales and how they are kept in confinement, it's easy to see why these beautiful creatures are not suited to living in captivity. One of the scenes where a mother whale is separated from her calves is heartbreaking to watch, and really highlights how unfair Sea World's practises are, and the lies they tell in order to make a profit.



3. The House I Live In
After watching The Wire and Breaking Bad it was interesting to learn about the history of America's war on drugs, and the way the criminal justice system deals life-changing blows to anyone caught up in drug crime. With contributions from those working in law to dealers on the street, it really hit home how the current justice system just isn't working, and how millions of American families are being let down by the harsh penalties in place for people already struggling to survive.



4. Food, Inc.
This film looks at the way in which our food consumption has changed in the past century. Food now travels thousands of miles before it hits our plates, and the health and safety of people and animals is so often put at risk in the process, in order for huge companies to provide fast food at a low cost.



5. Indie Game, The Movie
Although I'm not the biggest computer game fan I still really enjoyed this documentary, which revolves around a group of computer programmers trying to create their own games and release them to the world. The film features several interesting characters and, after seeing how they gave up so many hours to pursue their passions, I was really rooting for them to be a success.


6. Best Worst Movie
In 1990, a movie called Troll 2 was created which has since been dubbed the worst movie ever made. Twenty years on, the film's child star attempted to track down the other people who acted in it, including a likeable dentist who became a cult movie icon.


7. Bill Cunningham in New York
I really enjoyed this film which profiles 80 year old fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, who cycles around New York City taking photos of the creative outfits he spots along the way.
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Friday, 17 January 2014

Film Friday: Anchorman 2


PlotRon Burgundy is back, and he's been chosen to anchor the nation's first 24 hour news channel.
Guest appearances: MANY. If I listed everyone that appeared at the end of the film I may be spoiling it a bit for those who haven't seen it!
Moral of the story: It is entirely possible to befriend a shark.
Rating: 6/10 (I have to admit I wasn't a huge fan of the original but it still far outweighs the remake I'm afraid!)
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Sunday, 12 January 2014

How to make a felted heart garland


For Christmas my auntie bought me a kit for making a string of felted hearts. So I got in touch with two crafty friends who coincidentally also had felting kits they hadn't yet used. We had a lovely 'crafternoon' eating cherry bakewells, listening to records and learning how to 'felt'. It's really easy and quite therapeutic as this method basically involves stabbing a pin through wool into a sponge a few hundred times (although watch you don't get a bit too quick with the needle and stab your finger like I did several times! OUCH, although it didn't seem to pierce the skin - move over David Blaine!)

You'll need:

Some felting wool in several colours
A felting needle
A plastic container to put it in
A regular kitchen sponge
A heart-shaped cookie cutter (or a shape of your choice)
Embroidery needle & thread


First place your cookie cutter over the sponge, inside a plastic container (e.g. a sandwich box). Then stuff the wool into the shape, and start stabbing away with the felting needle until the wool gets flatter. Turn over the shape and repeat on the other side and voila - eventually the wool turns into felt! Finally thread an embroidery needle and pierce the hearts to make a garland. There are several other methods for felting such as using water, but I found this one really easy and fun! These would make really sweet gifts for people and also make nice tree decorations later in the year. It would be fun to experiment with different cookie cutter shapes as well!



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Thursday, 9 January 2014

A list of super-duper things to look forward to in 2014

January can be rather a depressing month - long nights, dark skies and back-to-work traffic jams coupled with news of weather chaos all add to the Christmas comedown. So here's a list of things to look forward to this year.


TV
This month sees series 3 of Girls hit the screens. I'm also looking forward to a second series of Orange is the New Black and *sniff* the final series of Mad Men, rumoured to be split into two parts with the final airing next year. Au revoir Don Draper!

As for new TV shows, I'm on the look out for a replacement to Breaking Bad as we are finally on the last season (and I'm not sure the spin-off Better Call Saul will cut it!). If like me you're a fan of the lovely Scoot McNairy (and if you're not I'd recommend watching In Search of a Midnight Kiss) he stars in new AMC series, Halt & Catch Fire, set in the 80s computer boom in California.


FILMS
There's lots of great films out this year including Inside Llewyn Davis (the Coen brothers), Her (Spike Jonze), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson), 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen) and Big Eyes (Tim Burton).

COMEDY
Tom and I are off to see David Sedaris in March. I really want to see Tim Key live at some point as well, though he doesn't seem to be doing any dates outside London at the moment.

MUSIC
I've just got a copy of the new Stephen Malkmus album to listen to, and am also anticipating new albums by St Vincent & a rumour of a new Blur album...? I'm a bit behind on new music so would welcome any recommendations.

Let me know if there are any other exciting films/tv/stuff you're looking forward to this year too!
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Friday, 3 January 2014

Film Friday: My Life Without Me


Plot: Sarah Polley plays Ann, a woman who at only 23 is diagnosed with terminal cancer. She makes the difficult decision to hide this from her husband and children, instead writing a list of goals she wants to achieve before she dies, including recording birthday messages for her daughters and finding a new wife for her husband. This is a heartbreaking story but also includes many uplifting moments.
Guest appearances: Debbie Harry from Blondie plays Ann's mum, and she's very good.
Moral of the story: It's better to have loved and lost..?
Rating: 9/10
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