Saturday, 13 January 2018

Favourite Movies of 2017

I started out 2017 with the aim of watching 50 films and definitely achieved that with 60 new-to-me movies viewed throughout the year. However, I only made it to the cinema a handful of times and not many of the films I watched were actually released in 2017 (nor were that great) and I haven't managed to see all the movies released in 2017 that took my fancy. However of those I did watch, I have compiled my top 5 list (technically 6, as we have 2 at joint 5th place!):

5. The Babysitter
In at number 5 is comedy horror, The Babysitter. When schoolboy Cole's parents go out for the night, his babysitter Bee looks after him. Cole doesn't have much in the way of friends but Bee plays games with him, listens to his problems, oh, and also happens to be super hot. On one particular night, after having put Cole to bed, Bee invites her friends over to Cole's house whilst his parents are out. Cole creeps onto the landing to spy on his crush and her pals to find they are a bunch of homicidal maniacs who prey on unsuspecting geeks. This Netflix Original is stylised like a 80's slasher and is in equal parts cheesy, trashy and hilarious however not without it's flaws: it floats into the realms of too ridiculous & features some uncomfortable jokes relating to race.

5. Call Me By Your Name
Set in 1980's Italy, Elio is a regular teen, enjoying his summer in the sun with his family, friends and kind-of-girlfriend, Marzia. His father employs an assistant, Oliver, who comes to stay with them. At first, Elio cannot abide the handsome American but over time their relationship builds and they become inseparable. Based on the book of the same name, Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age exploration of sexuality which is equal parts beautiful as it is heart shattering. It's one to watch if you enjoy a drama and particularly if you enjoyed Blue Is The Warmest Colour but beware of the total whitewashing, the irritating fact that once again we have heterosexual actors playing gay/bisexual characters and that uncomfortable scene featuring a peach...It's literally the opposite of The Babysitter but I just couldn't decide which I like more.

Remakes tend to be a sensitive subject but I think it's fair to say that whilst a classic, the original IT hasn't aged very gracefully and therefore a modern revamp brought to us by the director of Mama, was not completely unnecessary. IT follows bullied school boy, Bill and his group of friends take the task of finding the monster clown, Pennywise, responsible for his brother and other local kids' disappearances. Bill SkarsgÄrd's Pennywise sure is creepy and there is the odd jump-scare but the film ultimately isn't as terrifying as the trailer makes out. What it slightly lacks in fright, it certainly makes up for with entertainment. IT is genuinely funny with Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard on hand to help bring that Goonies, 80's vibe that none of us can get enough of currently.

3. Get Out
Main character Chris and Rose have been dating for a while and the time has come for Chris to meet his girlfriend's parents. When he arrives at the family's huge estate in the middle of nowhere, he's greeted by a plethora of black servants who have a very bizarre demeanour. Chris previously had his suspicions about Rose's dad being racist but nothing prepared him for the hell that awaits him. Get Out is gem of the horror genre that landed it multiple award nominations & featuring on many "best of 2017" lists and not without good reason. It's a sharp, highly intelligent and satirical approach to race has made it a huge hit. The movie is sickeningly unsettling and at times makes for really awkward viewing. I can't wait to see what Jordan Peele does next after this fantastic directorial debut.

2. Baby Driver
Baby is a getaway driver for a gang of robbers who don't particularly like him. He keeps his cool on the job and drowns out his tinnitus by always having an iPod laden with his favourite songs to hand. Baby wants only to pay off his debts and leave the life of crime behind, to lead a normal life with his waitress girlfriend, Deborah but his criminal mastermind boss Doc has other ideas and coerces him into one more job that turns sour. So, am I biased because I'm not-so-secretly in love with Ansel Elgort? Maybe. But, as a firm fan of Shaun of the Dead and especially Scott Pilgrim, I was always set to love Edgar Wright's latest offering. In short, Baby Driver is a triumph: I love the way it's shot, I love the soundtrack and I love the story line. There's action, comedy and romance - something for everyone.
1. Wonder
Auggie has Treacher Collins syndrome which causes facial deformities. This condition and the multiple surgeries cause his parents to make the decision to home school him but, when he's of age to start 5th grade, his parents decide he should go to school, where he is picked on but also befriends popular kid, Jack. Wonder follows Auggie's experience at school and flits between life from his & his sister, Via's viewpoint. Stephen Chbosky is a master of emotional manipulation but, you'll already know that if you're familiar with the movie or book "The Perks of Being a Wallflower". Jason Tremblay is an incredibly talented actor and adorable as Auggie however there's a big but, in line with improving representation in Hollywood, Chbosky would have done better to star a child with Treacher Collins syndrome rather than using prosthetics/makeup. That aside Wonder is a lovely heartwarming family film that I really loved.

Honourable mentions: Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Wonder Woman, Annabelle: Creation & The Florida Project

Still to watch list: Happy Death Day, Split, Flatliners, & Jigsaw.

And that's it for another 2017 round up post. What were your favourite movies of 2017?

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Sunday, 7 January 2018

Favourite Albums of 2017

In 2017, I embraced New Music Friday and listened regularly to new albums and...have been kind of underwhelmed. In short, as usual, when it came to formulate this list, it was a bit of a struggle but I got there eventually, after changing the lineup four times.So let's get straight to it:

5. The Big Moon - Love in the 4th Dimension

Love in the 4th Dimension is the debut album of London-based, indie rock quartet, The Big Moon. The vocals remind me of a slightly more rock'n'roll answer to The Long Blondes, in fact the whole album is a nostalgic nod to the early noughties indie movement without sounding outdated. The opening track "Sucker" and slightly slower song "Cupid" are my stand out tracks.

5. the xx - I See You

The xx's third album was my most anticipated of the year. I expected it to be number 1 as they are such a firm favourite of mine. I wanted so desperately to like it and I truly do but just not quite as much as it's predecessors. The band switched it up for "I See You"- normally Oliver and Romy write the lyrics separately and fit them together with some sort of sultry wizardry but this time they took on the lyric writing exercise on as a duo and I think it kind of shows. Additionally the sound of the album definitely sways further in the direction of Jamie xx;s solo work - more house/dance inspired and these two factors might be why I feel differently. That being said, there's still some belters on there, I'm particularly fond of Say Something Loving, Dangerous & Brave For You.

3.Kesha - Rainbow

I can't imagine how Kesha must have felt releasing music again after a stint in rehab for an eating disorder and still amidst her widely-publicised legal battle with Sony producer Dr Luke. Her single "Praying" was one hell of a comeback, such a clever, powerful and brave song. Rainbow shows a mature side and is a far cry from the likes of "Tik Tok" and even "Timber" (a self-confessed guilty pleasure) but that doesn't mean the whole album is serious and as emotionally fuelled - listen to "Let 'Em Talk" & just try not to dance, "Woman" is a pro-woman, empowering anthem and then there's the cute & wacky "Godzilla", an acoustic track about taking Godzilla home to your mum...

2. Sampha - Process

I'm just going to go in all guns blazing with this one: Process is absolutely stunning. It's versatile, it's soulful, it's emotionally raw and if I was the type of person to host sophisticated dinner parties, this would be my soundtrack. I mean, it was the winner of this year's Mercury Music Price, he's worked with Solange, Jessie Ware, Drake and Kanye and he's signed to Young Turks (same label as the xx), and my writing doesn't do it justice, so will you just listen to Process yourself, if you haven't already?

1. Paramore - After Laughter

Over the years, Paramore have drifted from their pop punk origin and moved more towards a more pop genre but keeping to their emo heritage with the song topics and lyrics. For me, this didn't work with their self-titled album but they're back on their A Game with After Laughter. What I love about this album is that it deals with mental health and feeling low while the happy, upbeat music contrasts it. The lyrics are relate-able and songs super catchy, I just knew it would fall on this list even when it was released back in May. Although only from earlier this year, it reminds me of the sunshine in our garden and getting ready to have my friends round our new house for the first time so it will always evoke happy memories for me.

Honourable mentions: Haim - Something To Tell You, Lorde - Melodrama, Wolf Alice- Visions of a Life

Well, that's it for another yearly music round up! Yet again, the majority of my edit is made up of female artists which I'm 100% OK with. As ever, I've made a playlist of my favourite singles from the year which you can check out below but I'd love to know which albums you've been loving in 2017? Let me know in the comments below.

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Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Reflecting on 2017

2017, what a year. Globally it was undeniably nothing short of awful, the news splattered daily with terrifying and heartbreaking headlines and the world has felt a very dark and bleak place at times. That being said, on a personal level it's been wonderful. Usually when I sit to reflect on the previous year, I feel like it's zoomed past but for me this year seems to have gone on forever! Looking back at photos I find myself saying was that really this year?! 2017 was just so busy with SO much change - new job, new car and buying our first house. I seem to associate 2017 with being in our house but we actually didn't complete until my birthday in March. We still have some finishing touches to add but I do plan on producing a home tour post and talking about the process, as my home-related posts prove popular on Instagram. I got up to loads of other pretty cool things too, let's take a look shall we?
I received a makeup course from my parents for Christmas 2016 so in January I headed over to Beak Street in London to the Illamasqua Flagship store. It was a really fun day! House aside, we did still manage to find time to celebrate my Birthday and Juan and I went to see School of Rock. We're fairly seasoned on the major theatre shows in London now and this one was really excellent, potentially my favourite. To celebrate with my friends, we had a night out to a bar in Deptford, London. Little Nan's is a multi-award winning bar offering bottomless pick and mix and cocktails, served in teapots. Their cocktails are named after retro celebrities/characters including Pat Butcher and the whole bar is adorned in tacky, kitsch decor. We all had a fab night and I really recommend it as something a little bit different for celebrating special occasions. For Juan's Birthday in August, I took him to see Book of Mormon before some delicious Thai food at the Crazy Bear, Fitzrovia.
My friends also picked some really cool ways to celebrate their birthdays in 2017. In February we did a cocktail-making class at Lola Lo in Reading. All the mixing didn't do wonders for our hangovers but it was a fun Tiki-themed night! My other best friend's birthday falls in December so at the end of November we took another trip to London, this time for karaoke & cocktails at the Karaoke Box, Soho (What can I say, we just love cocktails). It was my first karaoke experience and it didn't disappoint, they had literally every song you could think of. We did Slipknot, Amy Studt, The Bloodhound Gang, Ru Paul and Katy Perry to name a few.
If you know me personally or are a long time follower of mine, you'll know I love live music. I try to go to a festival every year and 2017 saw me go to V Festival for the first time. It was an amazing weekend and a certain change of scenery for me as my usual haunts are Reading Festival, Download, Slam Dunk, Hevy etc. Highlights were Pink, Clean Bandit, Madness and Jay Z. I went to a few gigs and a comedy show too: the xx, Deftones, Wolf Alice, Honeyblood, CKY and Russell Howard.
Compared to most people I know, I'm not very well seasoned when it comes to weddings but last year one of my oldest friends married her lovely husband who she met at university. I got to attend her hen do in Edinburgh and it was such a fun-packed weekend of games, a Dirty Dancing dance class and lunch at Tigerlily, a boutique restaurant with the most Instagram-worthy decor and of course the obligatory night out. The wedding itself was just a beautiful day set a converted barn in Cheltenham.
My Dad turned 60 in 2017 and my wonderful step-mum arranged for a helicopter to land opposite their house and then take them to lunch. They also through a big party which was a lovely day/evening accompanied by a methusaleh (8 bottles in one...) of champagne. My sister and I paid for him & my step-mum to go to the Fat Duck restaurant and his reaction was priceless, a major highlight of the year. On the subject of family, it was my second year of being an auntie and seeing little Ella and Amelia grow is just the best. They're both around 2 so their speech is coming along and their little personalities are shining through!
Although blogging has been on the back burner since the move and I'm only just getting back into it, I did get invited to a couple of incredible launch nights at Franco Manca and The Botanist, both in Reading and also Miss Patisserie and Kiss sent me some fabulous products for review.

A hobby that got a lot more of my time over the last 12 months is netball. In 2016, I started playing netball again on a social basis, before moving on to playing in a fun league which in time turned out to be not-so-fun, but that's OK as in 2017 I joined a netball club! I'm a fully fledged member of Surrey Jets and am really enjoying it. I love netball as it's not only social but you don't feel like you're exercising so for me it's less tedious than say, going to the gym. I also really appreciate and am benefiting from being coached again. As I mentioned in my introduction, I got a new car, a pastel pink Fiat 500, which I absolutely love. I also changed jobs, still negotiating in the energy sector but for a supplier rather than a broker.

I feel like one of the dangerous aspects of blogging/social media is that we just talk about the good stuff and it's easy to look at other people's social media, where they too just post the best aspects of their life and want what they have or wonder why we aren't that happy. For that reason, I would openly share my bad bits for the sake of authenticity but truly, other than the colossal stress that comes with moving, the odd off mental health day and worrying about money more than I have have before, there isn't much in the way of negatives to share for the year which I'm so, so grateful for & I can only hope to continue to be so lucky in 2018.

Well that's it for my year in summary! 2017, you've been a belter but 2018, I'm ready for you! How was 2017 for you?

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Saturday, 30 December 2017

Beauty Favourites of 2017

It's the best time of year in the blogging and vlogging world. People doing their yearly round ups and reflections on the year and getting inspired by other people's 2018 resolutions and goals. My blog is no different and I'm kicking off my 2017 Favourites series with my top beauty picks. This year saw another year of hugely popular releases that went viral - Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture palette, the pop up of Fenty Beauty, Huda Faux Filter and the Morphe x Jaclyn Hill palette (which narrowly missed making it on to this list) to name a handful. But what products have earned a permanent position in my make up bag?


Saturday, 23 December 2017

Black Friday Haul

After splurging a bit too heavily on Black Friday, I thought it was a good opportunity to share my first haul. I can't lie, I set my alarm early Friday morning and by 6am I had about 5 confirmation emails stacking up. I'd spent the previous weekend listing some items I'd like and waiting to see if they were in the sale and trying not to get distracted by things I didn't need just because they were discounted and I succeeded and also picked up some Christmas presents on the way!
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