Friday, 30 October 2015

Film Friday: The Martian

Plot: The Martian stars Matt Damon as an astronaut who gets left behind on a Mars mission, after a terrible storm occurs, and his crew presume him to be dead.
Fun facts: The film was shot in Jordan, which has a similar coloured red desert to that on Mars.
Guest appearances: Donald Glover stars as a sleepy maths genius! Sean Bean also has a guest role, although I found his parts a bit cringe-y to watch (sorry Mr Bean!)
Overall: I quite enjoyed some parts of The Martian (such as his potato growing!) But found a lot of the plot a little hard to believe, and would like to have seen more of Damon's emotional struggle instead of hearing so much about the rescue mission back on Earth - he seemed to cope rather too well!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Film Friday: Suffragette

Plot: Suffragette tells the story of factory worker Maud (Carey Mulligan), who is drawn into the Suffragette movement, despite warnings from her husband that it will mean her becoming outcast from her work and family.
Fun facts: It's interesting to read about the real life women who inspired the characters in the film. Some claim Emily Davison didn't mean to throw herself in front of a horse but instead meant to place the Suffragette colours on the king's horse.

Guest appearances: Ben Whishaw plays Maud's husband and Helena Bonham Carter plays pharmacist Edith Ellen. And of course Meryl Streep plays Emmeline Pankhurst.
Overall: I'm glad I watched Suffragette as it really brought home not only how hard women fought for the right to vote (something we often take for granted in this country) but how tough the class struggle was in Victorian and Georgian times, and how difficult it was for working class women. One little gripe I had was that Emily Davison's character wasn't really explored before her dramatic end, which made headlines around the world giving the suffrage movement the exposure it needed.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

New York Diary Part 3: Favourite places in Manhattan

Oh, New York. It seems like a long time ago now; the sunshine, the heat of the subway, the yellow taxis, delicious coffees and best cherry pie a girl could ask for. Here are a few places we loved in the heart of the city that never sleeps.

1. The High Line
One my first trip to NY I don't think this was even open to the public but it was high on my list on this trip having heard good things from friends. And it didn't disappoint! We spent our first full day walking the High Line in the sunshine and it's such a great way to explore the city by foot. What views! Also a trip to Bubby's at the end is highly recommended.

2. New York Public Library
The shop is a book lover's dream (I thought of you, Janet!) and the building itself it stunning to behold. Definitely worth a visit.

3. Grand Central Terminal
Again, a beautiful building, the ceiling was amazing but didn't look quite as good in photos so needs to be seen in person!

4. Central Park
The park is HUGE as Tom & I found out when we had to walk around most of it because of the Pope's visit which meant most of it was cordoned off! We went again at the end of our trip and I got very excited when I spotted the Alice in Wonderland statue.

5. The View from the top of the Rock
The first time I visited New York was as a student, and on that occasion we went up the Empire State Building at night and the view was breathtaking. This time I suggested to Tom that we go up to the Top of the Rock, aka the Rockefeller Center. The advantage of this is you get to see the Empire State as part of the view. Although there were a LOT of selfie-sticks up there which slightly hampered the experience!

6. Washington State Park
It was fun to explore Washington Square Park in the heart of Greenwich Village, which was full of interesting people playing chess, roller skating and even an MTV crew when we passed through.

7. A trip to Staten Island
As many tourists have now realised, the Staten Island Ferry is a free way to see the Statue of Liberty from the river. Avoid all the people trying to make you pay for tickets and head through to the terminal for a nice ride with some great views.

8. MoMA
There's no better place to spend a rainy day then a museum and the Museum of Modern Art is immense! Museums aren't too cheap in America ($25 entry) but it's worth the money for all the world famous works of art on display.

I have one just more post coming soon on New York, featuring some TV spots we visited in the city. Have a good weekend, folks!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Film Friday: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Plot: The Diary of a Teenage Girl is based on the graphic novel by Marielle Heller, which tells the true story of her coming of age in 1970s San Francisco. Bel Powley plays 15 year old cartoonist Minnie, who ends up having her first sexual relationship with her mother's (played by the excellent Kristen Wiig) boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgaard). 
Fun facts: The film received an 18 certificate here in the UK, which meant teenage girls of Minnie's age were unable to see it...
Overall: Although the film contains uncomfortable themes, it is also funny and refreshing to see a more honest portrayal of a young girl's sexuality. I also loved the way Minnie's drawings were brought to life within the film. I'd be interested to read the graphic novel it was based on.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

New York Diary, Part 2: Coney Island, Brooklyn

Coney Island has appeared in many a film & tv show (Boardwalk Empire & The Warriors spring to mind), and although its popularity may have waned in recent years we couldn't resist a trip to the seaside when we were in Brooklyn. If you plan on visiting it's around an hour on the subway from the centre of Brooklyn. Even in late September the sun was shining, and I enjoyed a wander along the sea front with a huge ice cream, while Tom opted for a Polish potato delicacy, a Knish which was rather delicious.

Sad we missed out on this contest..

"Goodbye my Coney Island Baby..."

Although we didn't go on any rides I got to dip my toes into the sea and had a little paddle, although I sadly got bitten by mosquitoes which I didn't expect in September - beware!! Coney Island was a really fun place to visit for the day, and a great location for photo taking.


Friday, 9 October 2015

Film Friday: Orion - the Man Who Would be King

Plot: This week I had chance to watch new documentary, Orion, directed by Nottingham local Jeanie Finlay (Sound it Out, the Great Hip Hop Hoax). Finlay found an Orion record at a record Fair around 12 years ago and was determined to find out more about this masked man. The film tells the story of Jimmy Ellis, a singer whose voice was almost identical to the King's, and who built up a following after Elvis's death, fueling rumours that he was still alive.
Fun facts: There were rumours that Ellis was related to Elvis, as he was adopted when he was a child, photos of Elvis's Dad also bear a striking resemblance..
Overall: This was an interesting documentary, a must for Elvis fans but will appeal to anyone with an interest in music & the pursuit of stardom. Search it out!

Friday, 2 October 2015

New York Diary, part 1 - Brooklyn

Now that the jetlag has worn off (after a mere 13 hour sleep, ahem..) I am excited to share some photos and recommendations from our six days in New York! A friend of mine moved to Long Island to work for 8 months, so this seemed like the perfect excuse to revisit New York. The first time I visited was in 2002, on a trip with university so I was keen to go back and explore the city to see what's changed.

We decided to spend our first three nights in Brooklyn. After a lot of searching on Air BnB (tip: book early as places get taken very quickly in New York!) we found a wonderful apartment in Greenpoint (here if you're interested in visiting). The owner, Mary Q was super friendly and she had impeccable taste. Her apartment was filled with interesting objects, vintage coffee cups and great books as you can see in the photos.

Scrambled eggs on our first morning.

Mary's place was unusual for New York as she had her own private patio outside! We climbed out of the window and ate pancakes and maple syrup under the trees.

Tom and my friend Laura strike a pose at Mary Q's...

Just on the corner was a great coffee shop called Eagle Trading Co. The list of veggie sandwiches was amaaazing...

It just so happened that Mary's place was just a few blocks from Hannah from Girls' apartment, so we thought it'd be rude not to get a photo on the stoop...

We also made a trip to Grumpy's, where Ray works in the show... it was a bit further out, and yes the staff did actually live up to the name, ha.

On Saturday there was a food & records fair held by Brooklyn Flea, next to the East River. There were some amazing food stalls, and I had probably the best veggie hotdog of my life from the stall below! YUM.

We were then intending on grabbing a beer from the Brooklyn Brewery, but due to the massive line outside we headed into Brooklyn Bowl next door which was also fun!

After that we went for a drink in the lovely beer garden at the Spuyten Duyvil bar, before heading to somewhere Tom picked out... Barcade! Even if you're not a massive fan of arcade games, you'll definitely enjoy this place. We discovered playing Ms Pacman, Frogger and other old games whilst tipsy was really rather fun! Although getting the subway back to Greenpoint proved rather confusing afterwards. Plan your routes before drinking, people!

Overall, staying in Brooklyn was great. When we first got off the subway in Williamsburg I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of people lining the streets in many hipster guises, but once you get away from the crowded areas there's lots of brilliant bars and great views of the city across the river, so I'd love to spend more time there. Part 2 of our trip, exploring Manhattan, coming soon!
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