Category Archives: media

15 Actors Who Happen To Be Vegan

The vegan community is having a worldwide celebration today in honour of the cruelty-free lifestyle, which protects both our planet’s animals and environment. A noble cause, which has been a part of my life since early April this year, when I first began making steps into joining the vegan team. Although having a diet with no animal products is not something new to our history, or a revolutionary idea of the twentieth centuries, it is only now gaining friction with larger audiences through social media and documentary campaigns. So, to join the awareness day, I have compiled a small list of film actors and actresses, who may surprise you by being vegan!

Here we go:

ted-dansonkristen-bellwoody-harrelsonmichelle-pfeifferjason-schwartzmancarrie-anne-mosspeter-dinklagelaura-preponjessica-chastainliam-hemsworthrooney-maranatalie-portmanalec-baldwinellen-pageolivia-wilde

Whether you are a vegan or not, today is a great opportunity to throw some love into the universe and give animals a surprise cuddle! Unless those animals are venomous or super dangerous, in which case, like, send them kisses from afar.

Happy Vegan Day!

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 01.00.27

Halloween Fever: 17 Classic Films

October is the month of falling leaves and warm, pumpkin pies. A season of windy mornings, when you can almost catch a whiff of that chilly winter air, and one of rainy afternoons to sooth the stressful, busy day. As Halloween is on our doorstep, I wanted to lay out a list of my all-time favourite classic fright flicks and hand it over to you under the cloak of witching hour.

So, here we go – embarking on a journey through the land of nightmare fuel.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 09.55.30.png

Film: “Beetlejuice”

Year: 1988

Let’s start with the king of Hallows’ Day characters – “Beetlejuice”, just be careful not to call his name three times! Otherwise, Michael Keaton will appear in your mirror and probably get super annoyed you’ve summoned him away from home. A highly imaginative, snappy and funny flick, which is not afraid to make you sit through a naughty joke or two. Tim Burton puts life into very memorable characters, creating a film that has lasted the ages.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 09.58.02.png

Film: “Edward Scissorhands”

Year: 1990

I wasn’t even around when this fan-favourite came around cinemas, but I sure do love it and so does everyone with a semi-good DVD collection. Brace yourselves, children, for this list features Tim Burton creations multiple a-time, and although his latest films haven’t exactly hit the sweet spot in box office terms, once upon two decades ago he was a true master of the craft. Sweet, heartfelt and well-rounded movie, which will make you weep and giggle!

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 09.58.35.png

Film: “Ghostbusters”

Year: 1984

A film praised for its dry, snappy humour and nifty effects, we all know Venkman’s legacy one way or another. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver are the leads of a ghost-fuelled adventure around New York City, which takes them to ancient spirits and fat, green blobs alike. Watch out for the impending invasion of otherworldly creatures that only our band of geeks can prevent. An additional bonus is are the animated effects, which truly send your head into the eighties.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 10.01.43.png

Film: “From Dusk Till Dawn”

Year: 1996

For the lovers of swear-ridden dialogue and George Clooney’s face, I present to you the Tarantino Delight! Crime, bar fights, weapons, gore, exotic dancers and vampires – everything a spicy Halloween party needs is mushed together in “From Dusk Till Dawn”. Plus, it will give you an immediate excuse to watch the spin-off series on Netflix, which has been gathering friction. You get the movie and the episode binges, too! Win-win. Also, everyone gets street cred for making outdated Tarantino references, right?

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-04-15

Film: “Hocus Pocus”

Year: 1993

In case your Halloween party has been infested with little goblins, otherwise specified as human children, which… Let’s face it – highly plausible scenario… Then “Hocus Pocus” is here to save the day! I mean night! Three Salem witches are resurrected on the night of many terrors and and only a funky group of local teens can restore peace. It’s witty and exciting in a very charming way, so for the sake of the young ‘uns – give this film a chance!

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-11-46-55

Film: “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”

Year: 1992

Now, we’ve already patted Burton’s back (and shall do so again), we’ve shaken Tarantino’s hand, but one mustn’t forget legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who directed this  film back in the early nineties. It stars Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder, which should tell you how compelling the story must be, and how the looming torment is perfected. We’ve seen vampire renditions everywhere, so why not catch a glimpse of their origin – ancient Dracula himself.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 10.00.04.png

Film: “Sleepy Hollow”

Year:  1999

Nine years after Depp and Burton collaborated on “Edward Scissorhands”, this dark fantasy was born into existence. The familiar tale of a mysterious horseman who chases straying locals in search for his long-lost head, the evil demon who swings a heavy axe and reeks of death itself – brought to life on screen. Turn the lights off and grab an apple cider for the ultimate villager experience.

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-09-59-29

Film: “Corpse Bride”

Year: 2005

Let’s play a little game called guess the director and then another one called guess the lead actor, too! No, I’m not sorry this is on the list, because it’s yet another Burton/Depp bromance brain-child, which has rightfully earned a place on the Halloween list. Honestly! I’m not being sponsored by Tim here, although I’d take a sponsorship should he like to give a film nerd some gentle endorsement. Watch the story of Victor, who accidentally finds himself married to… You guessed it! A corpse bride. Will he choose the world of the living or the side of the dead instead?

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-09-23

Film: “Carrie”

Year: 1976

Stephen King should be a part of any good fright fest and here we have a prime example with the original cinematic experience of “Carrie” – the girl with telekinetic powers whose Christian mother and mean-hearted school mates push the bar on her sanity. The reason I am recommending this above the 2013 re-make is that 1976 wasn’t trying to over-glorify the story! They made a realistic and psychologically torturing film, as opposed to a pile of over-chewed shock factor production design. Also – boobs.

interview-with-a-vampire

Film: “Interview with The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles”

Year: 1994

Tom Cruise’s young seduction years and Brad Pitt’s adorable baby face really pulled through on the visual perfection side of this film. The horror and beauty of eternal life are explored deeply in “Interview with the Vampire”, alongside diverse questions of morality and the nature of humanity, which leave the spectator repelled and fascinated with the lives of these modern monsters. A classic for a reason, people! Also, I didn’t know there was more to the title, too, don’t worry.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 10.02.25.png

Film: “ParaNorman”

Year: 2012

Whoa, this list actually features something from the past five years, what an absolute turn of events here! I remember seeing “ParaNorman” in the cinema when I was in college and loving every second of it. A stop-motion animation which genuinely makes you feel like a kid again, from zombies and old curses to supernatural adventures and a group of young misfits, who come together in an unlikely battle against evil. It’s colourful, fast-paced, childish, charming and funny.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 10.07.21.png

Film: “Ginger Snaps”

Year: 2000

This is a classic audience splitter. I’ve heard both ends of the magnet, some say they hate it and other say they love it, so beware “Ginger Snaps” might be a bit of a gamble if you have a larger group in your party. I, for one, quite like the werewolf flick, which tackles high school life, love, family, suicide, depression and… Periods? Yeah, you heard me right. I guess blood makes us all a little crazy sometimes – she said, howling against the Halloween moon.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 12.52.40.png

Film: “Young Frankenstein”

Year: 1974

Why would you watch a seventies film that is  not just black and white, but also made to look like a nineteen-thirties mishap? Because it’s positively hilarious! An original parody of the overused drama in motion pictures of the past, filled to the brim with one-liners and convention twists. Mel Brooks’s baby will bring you cinematic joy in ways that you have not experienced in perhaps a very long time. Plus, one must never have  Halloween without science’s king monster – the unnatural(ly funny)Frankenstein creation itself.

scream_ver2_xlg

Film: “Scream”

Year: 1996

Here goes to one of the slasher world’s favourite franchise starters – the original “Scream”, hailing once more from the rather successfully creepy nineties. Bloody knives, the raspy voice of a violent stranger stalking you over the phone and Ghostface’s manipulative obsession make this thriller a Halloween winner. Wes Craven has been a legendary name in the film community, so including him in your celebration can only be the right decision. Also, knowing this film can open your eyes to so many references in surrounding culture, you’ll be stunned to the attic and back.

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-08-21

Film: “Halloween”

Year: 1978

Speaking of slashers, I couldn’t possibly compile a Halloween list without the actual “Halloween” movie, could I? Another horror and another legendary director – John Carpenter, whose efforts in this flick have made it a timeless piece and a part of many collections around the globe. Here is the origin of the scream queen culture, led long and proud by Jamie Lee Curtis. I would recommend hot cocoa for this particular choice, so as to lower the fear factor.

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-13-42-44

Film: “A Nightmare on Elm Street”

Year: 1984

Yet another franchise starter by the talented mind of Wes Craven, here comes Freddie to haunt your Halloween night and following dreams altogether. We step into a realm of non-reality where a serial killer preys on young flesh for harvest. The eighties meet horror, meet high school, meet murder. Great opportunity for drinking games galore, take it from the master!

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 13.56.31.png

Film: “Shaun of the Dead”

Year: 2005

Let’s end our list on a bright note, shall we? All this slasher talk is making my neck cold, so Simon Pegg and Nick Frost burst into the scene, waving a set of random weapons around, hoping to rectify the situation! Mundane everyday life is suddenly made complicated for two best friends, when they stumble upon a zombie in their shed. From then on, we are dragged into a run for our lives and the love of Liz, ending up in an old Victorian pub called the “Winchester Tavern”. A hilarious trip into an endearing story of friendship!

And thus concludes the classic Halloween film list! But of course, all titles mentioned above are a personal choice, so if you think I’ve missed a crucial movie, please let me know. Some honourable mentions to this article include “The Exorcist”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “King Kong” and “Bride of Frankenstein”, which hold a place in my heart, but simply didn’t make the cut. I have tried my very best to not make a horror-exlclusive list, because that would just be… Well, a horror list, and to me Halloween is more than just jump scares and blood – it’s fun, costumes, family, friends and candy.

Have a very scary Halloween and always stay safe!

(and never, ever say that you would be back into a room)

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 01.00.27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ugly Bodies: A Business

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 12.49.52

There is a rather frightening statistic that only 4% of girls and women around the world consider themselves beautiful. If we quickly crunch the numbers in that equation, our results would lead to a total of 3.5 billion women self-conscious of their looks, out of a 3.6 billion total female population.

Furthermore, 7 out of 10 girls believe they do not measure up to a standard, or alternatively to a friend or family member in the appearance and performance department. That’s a seventy percent not only self-aware, but arguably self-critical to what could be a harmful degree.

Men have a similar issue, with 80.7% regularly engaging in “body talk” and expressing dissatisfaction with their own muscularity. In a recent study, researchers also discovered that 51% of school boys aged in the 11 to 14 bracket report low confidence in their body image. Doesn’t that make for a sad thought?

I really don’t mean to bombard you with numbers and exercise those rusty arithmetic muscles! The point of this article is to hopefully incite thought and conversation about the reality of bodies and the boundaries for beauty! I won’t force you to whip out the old Texas Instruments, but I might attempt to shed some light on the ongoing issue with self-worth and the way business controls all.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 12.57.55

You’ve heard the media being blamed over and over again. Although their involvement in the glorification of certain body types and features is undeniable, there’s a bigger culprit hiding in plain sight. Beauty companies make profit out of making you feel bad, that’s just a highly effective way to make capital. Granting the public painful self-awareness is such corporations’ biggest, quickest way to Christmas bonuses and monthly remunerations. It’s you versus money, and to a stranger that choice isn’t too difficult. Their system’s been working for decades and you know what they say – if the machine ain’t broke… Why fix it?

The logic is very simple – you walk down the street, you clock a billboard with a model. She’s sporting a gorgeous cherry red lipstick and that makes her face look absolutely phenomenal. Do your lips look like that? No. Do you want them to? Of course! That chick looks amazing and is obviously successful enough to be considered the optimum lip image. So, the closest you could possibly resemble her is by buying the product she’s wearing and hope for the best. I’ll take this time to coin the phrase “pretty by association”, because that result is more than likely to be your outcome. The beauty company who has paid for the media to spread that image gains profit, while you leave with the idea of  flawed features.

london-ad-beach-body.jpg

I feel the need to clarify this, because when I was a teenager roaming the internet, I had no idea how the hierarchy was structured. I thought it didn’t matter, I wasn’t interested in finding out. The damage was being done whether I knew that key piece of information or not. But my twenty-one-year-old self is here to tell you it’s vital to be aware. There’s nothing inherently wrong with anyone’s physique, there’s just an astonishingly lucrative business of giving consumers lasting insecurities. There is no hard-set societal opinion behind the sea of Photoshopped, doctored images that circulate our streets and devices. Those messages do not come from our population’s widespread appeal, but they are given to us as such. They are sold to us. For money.

Let’s give it a quick (and loose) comparison with pornography. Erotic films are not a realistic depiction of sex and the public knows this. You walk into the bedroom with a lover and neither of you expects a three-hour bang session of perfectly timed ejaculations and endless supply of sheets. Although the majority of men and women don’t seem to realise this, everyday advertisements work in the exact same way.

Nobody expects us to fit a mould, but that inflamed sense of self-criticism in the back of our mind. The modern consumer is a lot more savvy with the internal mechanism of media, enabling them to have a more realistic approach on self image. However, teens and young adults have a harder time considering the bigger picture of influences, especially so with the flood of unrealistic depiction that surrounds them. I, for example, had more than a serious case of tunnel vision, which ultimately translated into – look like this person, or stay home. Having pores and stretch marks had become a deal breaker to my happiness and social success. It’s inescapable, because it’s meant to be! This means we’re sacrificing mental health for the survival of a Capitalist structure, which is not to say there is a grand flaw in Capitalism’s design. But it does make us question the decline of morality and ethical treatment. Does that ring like misplaced priorities? It should!

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 14.09.22.png

However, just because someone creates a mould for their own monetary benefit, that does not mean we need to abide by it. Companies cannot physically force you to buy their products, because that would be illegal. Psychological extortion, on the other hand, is a fine line. Showcasing flawless models of people, which have been digitally altered to perfection, sells units.

A diversity of realistic bodily features does not gain exposure for that particular reason. When was the last time you saw a L’Oreal commercial with an ageing woman, who has beard fuzz or liver spots? Point to any internationally recognised clothing brand such as Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce and Gabbana or Gucci – the kind of brands who can afford to surround your environment. Do they proudly show diversity and if so, how much? Do they actively promote a variety of genetic make-up?

Even sports companies like Adidas and Nike fall in that category. Even though they celebrate an athletic physique, which is a step forward in the catalogue of body types, their athletes normally receive some sort of pampering to aid their appearance. This could be either through the use of tanning, make-up or post-production alterations. Notice how many of their “characters” carry natural features such as body hair, cellulite or veins.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 14.18.52.png

This Reebok advertisement is a good example to look at. I picked it, because it manages to illustrate a good amount of points at once. Let’s start with the fact that every woman has a full face of make-up on. Take a moment to appreciate their perfect hair and lack of sweat. The purpose of the portrayed exercise session is to demonstrate that females can look gorgeous while they’re attempting to burn off extra calories. So why would we, as viewers, want to appear ugly, when we can obviously be appealing?  You buy the leggings, because they make this athlete’s legs toned and firm. You’d want that! The top really accentuates her waist and makes it slimmer. Of course you’d need that! You wouldn’t want to be flabby and unsightly, God forbid you seem like there are flaws you’re working very hard to amend.

But here’s the bottom line. We’re human. We are not necessarily going to look like a fine selection of models, neither are we expected to. Just because Reebok needs to forward their business for profit, it does not mean you have to change yourself to accommodate them.

The point that I’m trying to convey is – rarely can we trust our eyes, and when an entire planet is looking at the same pictures and stereotypes, that becomes an issue. When does reality become too deluded? When will we prioritise people instead of money?

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 01.14.09

The spark of doubt in the back of your mind – the question whether you’re worthy, whether you fit in a category or match a standard – that equates to money. Your self-awareness has a price and there are thousands of companies waiting to set it. While public images may revolve around somebody else’s beauty ideal, in the reality of things nobody expects ultimate perfection. The same way you appreciate other people’s quirks and flaws, someone is appreciating yours. In our age of media and entrepreneurship, it’s easier than ever to wound others for profit. If the world is proving to be a harsh and judgemental place, the least we can do is be kind to ourselves and spread that to the next person.

None of us are perfect, but all of us are beautiful.

 

 

Like this post? Disagree with what I’m saying? Please don’t be afraid to put your thoughts as a comment below.

Follow my blog for more articles about lifestyle and media.

Have a good one!

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 01.00.27

 

Academy Award Nomination Predictions

‘Tis almost the season of red carpets, cheesy gratitude speeches and televised reaction shots! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the award months are close at hand, thus making bloggers and film nerds buzz with childish excitement. The Golden Globes are lined up first, coming in early January. Britain follows closely with own BAFTA awards, both of which will culminate in one star-studded night to rule them all – the Oscars. Throughout the years I have created a ritual of sacrificing a good night’s sleep for the purpose of watching their ceremony live, which means the dead of night here in London. Next year will be no different, I shall sit on my desk with a live Twitter feed and shamelessly feast on chocolate buttons. Today, however, we’re setting a new tradition, where I’ll create a forecast of nominees, you’ll tell me if I’m right or wrong, and then we can all have a ball at the end of February. Does that sound the deal of a lifetime? I thought so.

Well here they are, my ‘expert’ predictions of winning names and faces, which will be graced with the big news in a month’s time. Let’s dig in.


 

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.06.12

Best Picture.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.17.07Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.25.21

Best Actor.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.39.56Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.45.02

Best Actress.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.56.48

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.04.20

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.08.13Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.16.37

Cinematography.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.31.17

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.35.56.png

thumbnail_22828

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 19.02.36

 

 

 

costume.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 19.13.04

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 19.18.25

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 19.22.06.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 19.38.33

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 19.44.10

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 19.47.57

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 19.51.01

 

Docu.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 20.02.01Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 20.12.54

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 20.15.46

 

 

 

 


 

Thusly, ladies and gentlemen, we conclude the 2016 nominee predictions. Now the only thing left to do is wait for January and find out exactly how many I screwed up.

Stay awesome!

Megs x

Monthly Favourites: DEC/15

Looking back on December, there isn’t much that I would change. My favourite holiday of Christmas surrounds the world with joy, I get to give and receive presents, decorate the old house and drink extra-alcoholic egg nog. I get to compose myself a nice Spotify playlist, including the most shamefully hipster and comfortingly classic tracks. I also get to devastate all bank accounts with vigorous purchasing and a distinct lack of logical thought. During the process this month I separated all products, which stood out to me in one way or another. I’d like to share them with you and even open up a conversation, should that happen. So, here we go – my top December favourites!

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 20.00.36

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 16.44.56.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 16.44.48

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 16.58.29.png

I have to give Lush a special nudge in the festive category. As well as relaunching their Christmas Edition soaps and bath bombs, they drew attention to a glorious selection of gift sets. If you are in need of a quick present, make sure to drop by and have a little browse. I have taken advantage of the deals a few times over the past weeks and admittedly, would spend a lot more on them had my bank account not been left barren. Dreamy smells, lathery gels and mesmerising scrubs to go, please!

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 17.02.06.png

Yeah, you know above, when I say “Yule Log”? That’s actually Yog Nog! My laptop autocorrected it under my nose, silly thing… Anyway, carry on!

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 20.00.54

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 17.14.43.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 18.01.06.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 19.42.55.png

In the book department, “Joyland” by Stephen King came closely third. I do adore my horror fiction. However, I was somewhat disappointed in the piece, so I placed the ones you see above up the scale. If you are interested in literature, please comment bellow and I shall make an all-time favourites post!

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 19.43.05.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 20.01.08

Music.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 19.48.15

Film.png

 

With December being as exciting and awesome, I’m looking forward to what January brings! If you enjoy the monthly favourites column, be sure to click the like button as that shows me I should keep making it!

Share what your own winter favourites have been and we can have a little product swap! Wouldn’t that be exciting?

Neato burrito.

Megs x

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 01.00.27

 

 

 

 

My Favourite 2015 Music Albums

It’s the time of year for bloggers to do two things – help spread Christmas cheer and reflect on the past twelve months of living. I have graced my page with a series of festive film reviews, but have sorely neglected New Year’s charms. We begin again, embracing a fresh start to the next chapter. But before I go, I wanted to share a little part of my musical world with you. In light of this, I’m sat on my desk with a necessary Yorkshire tea this noon, conjuring a list of favourite albums. The criteria for these picks is that I must have listened to them continuously throughout 2015 without feeling annoyed if they pop up on Shuffle. I tend to know if a certain artist or their work will stick with me for longer periods, so today I’ll do just that… Throw them at you like a soggy noodle, hoping they’d stick.


Let’s start this jamboree off with a chilled, electronic vibe, shall we? My first choice is Purity Ring’s “Another Eternity”, which was released back in February. Upon closer inspection of their Wikipedia page, it has become evident to me the Canadian duo is classified as “witch house”. Admittedly, I was blissfully unaware of that genre until ten minutes ago, so here we are, living and learning. In all honesty, the word combination seems fitting enough, so I’ll roll with it instead of attempting a better stylistic explanation! Megan James’s high, smooth vocals are complimented through Corin Roddick’s rhythmic, industrial mixing. If a singer/songwriter clashed with a mellow, new age club, their baby would result in this band.

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 13.14.26.png


Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 13.04.47

Twenty One Pilots is perhaps my favourite rapping duo of all time and space. Much like Purity Ring, there’s one vocalist – Tyler Joseph, and a trusty drummer – Josh Dun. What’s so amazing about their album “Blurryface”, which received a summer release in May, are the tracks’ lyrics. Blunt honesty and fast tempos snap at you like a harsh, winter blizzard. The piece is a mixture between hip-hop, rock and house music, which ticks all the right boxes for me as an avid sound experimenter. Easily my best rap album of 2015. Sorry, Drake! You used to call me on my cell phone… But you stopped, so…

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 16.31.12.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 16.35.21


Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 13.03.29

We’ve had a speedy, techno trip and now it’s time to tone everything down. My third pick in this list is Of Monsters & Men’s June baby – “Beneath the Skin”. It marks the perfect first step of a summer adventure, but is also versatile enough to be a winter party backdrop. They’re charmingly indie folk, with some streaks of pop influence buried here and there. Hauling all the way from Iceland is Nanna‘s rustic and throaty voice, which enchants you seemingly without effort. Ragnar is her co-singer, whose soft tones merge together in a perfect medley. This can be best heard in their single “Human”, one of my top tracks on the album.

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 12.59.34.png

 


Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 13.05.23

Chances are you’ve either heard this next one personally or endured a friend’s constant rumble about it. I’m tossing Florence + The Machine’s “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” into the bowl. Their highly anticipated second album dropped in late May to an instantly overwhelming reception from critics. The best words to describe the album for me are sensual indie rock. Florence Welch‘s voice is famously spiritual, especially during live performances. “The Rolling Stone” magazine even went so far as to name the band one of the best live acts of all time. They manage to fulfil the perfect mixture of commercialism and uniqueness, creating timeless records in the process.

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 12.50.33.png

 


Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 13.06.31

This band has been on my all of my playlists since the dawn of 2011, when close to nobody knew their name. Nowadays, they’re a pillar in the underground community and recently-released album “Wiped Out!” proves that. The Neighbourhood choose black and white, they wear Chanel on top of extensive tattoos and define the word extravagance in the most classic sense. If Hollywood’s Golden Age got drunk on whiskey and clashed with the twenty-first century, this is what their bang would sound like. Slow instrumentals, grinding together with Jesse Rutherford’s stylishly reluctant voice, that’s what you get from “Wiped Out!”.Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 12.32.07.png


Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 13.07.04

“Badlands” – American singer Halsey’s debut album came out on my birthday, which made for a perfect party soundtrack. I’ve been stuck on it ever since. It’s dark, sensual, provocative and pop, more than enough of the right ingredients I’d want in a playlist. It struck success with the sequel of “The Hunstman”, which features the track “Castle” – one of my absolute favourites. Halsey is that grunge throwback, the quirky artist, who’s young enough to stupidly experiment, but do it successfully.

a19dba9473bccc28482fa753ca7c88d77c6235f7

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 12.36.47.png


Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 13.08.35

The last pick I have of you from the 2015 season is Mumford & Sons’s “Wilder Mind”. Strings fill the air, a gentle drum bring us into a steady beat,  traces of keyboard echo and all of this is topped by Marcus Mumford’s firm and raspy voice. What more could you ask for in an alternative indie jam session? The power of their lyrics seeps through the notes, making each song matter in its own right.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 16.54.07.png

mumford-and-sons


Well, here we go! That felt so nice and nostalgic, I remember the very first times I heard all of these albums. I’m more than certain they’ll remain by my side in the years to come, but 2015 will always mark a start. Hopefully you’ll like them and give some a listen. I promise it’ll be worth it.

Hope you had an amazing twelve-months. Let’s get ready for the next set!

Stay awesome!

Megs X

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 01.00.27

 

 

Christmas Film Reviews: “Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas”

Long and furry fingers grace two horrid, bony arms,

in their middle is a tummy full of smelly, trash bin charms, 

when night fall comes, he watches all that sleep,

for evil plots are conjured in this green and spoiled creep.


Dr-Seuss-How-The-Grinch-Stole-Christmas-Gallery-4

Jim Carrey is in the role of Grinch, Dr. Seuss’s beloved Christmas villain. Excuse my astonishingly bad rhymes there, but I thought the best way to start off a children’s character is by couplet-ing my way in. The film was directed by industry titan Ron Howard, who holds movies such as “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) & “The Da Vinci Code” (2006) under his belt. Now that we know both cast and mastermind are skilfully chosen, let’s venture into the plot itself.

Whoville lays tucked in the snowy mountains of a snowflake. Its people are polite and helpful, living together in their small town community. Towering above them, in the depths of a hill, is the Grinch’s dusty abode. He watches them throughout his days, as Christmas approaches, and makes evil plans to steal away the joy. That is until a little Cindy Lou Who, one kind and thoughtful child, remembers the lonely creature and decides to present him with a gift of friendship. She nominates the Grinch for a prestigious award, making him socialise with past family and friends in Whoville, rather than hide. We become acquainted with a past, which triggers sympathy and sadness, but can ego-centric mayor Augustus and his girlfriend Martha May turn their attitudes around? Can they right the wrongs of a childhood long-concealed? The Grinch isn’t willing to wait for an answer even a second longer, setting a plan to sweep Whoville’s houses of their precious offerings at once. It’s Cindy Lou’s last chance to change his mind and heart. It’s the final plea to make him see a light within the darkness.

Well, here comes our show-stealer – Grinch himself, who absolutely nails the eponymous archetype with flying colours. Although Cindy Lou (Taylor Momsen) sticks close behind, it’s Jim Carrey’s slapstick movements and brilliant grump portrayal that take the prize home. Mannerisms are an important attribute to any good comedy and Carry is famous for his physical capabilities, so being able to transfer them onto the Grinch gives the Dr. Seuss creation an entirely new dimension. Don’t get me wrong, the storyline had been explored in a television series many a-year before that. However, live action gave both kids and adults a fresh look at things.

Taylor Momsen was fluid and clever – carrying the phantasmagoric Whovian costume as naturally as her own outfit. No teeth, ears or braids felt out of place, props to the six-year-old girl, who carried them like a champion. Although Taylor has changed direction with a singing career in rock music, the role will remain a part of her professional affiliations for ever. She was the sweet child who saved a hopeless Grinch and turned hatred into love.

As far as production design is concerned, it’s refreshing to see a physical set up, opposed to a green-screened computer animation. We see the convenience of manufactured graphics entirely too much nowadays, so a large part of “The Grinch”‘s charm comes from its adorable set. To kids, this wouldn’t make much of a difference, but trust me, grown-ups of the world, that fuzzy Christmas feeling will flow a lot easier after watching a throw back like this. Ron Howard’s vision of the production definitely surpassed any expectations Dr. Seuss fans could have conjured. The live action rendition of “The Cat in the Hat” (2004) proved to be another challenge, which, however, failed to please audiences and was generally received badly by both viewerships and critics.

In summary, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is an amazing, heart-warming tale of grand imagination and comedic threads. Ron Howard’s spin of the all-time book classic has now become a classic in its own right. Jim Carrey’s green creature is an image I grew up with and never want to part, Taylor Momsen’s Cindy Lou gives children an image of kindness to strive to. All of these ingredients combine perfectly in a Christmas dessert worthy of a film night home.

Stay awesome!

Megs X

 

Christmas Film Reviews: “Elf”

You didn’t think I’d get through the entire countdown and forget about Will Ferrell‘s syrupy spaghetti, did you? I mean, holy nutcrackers, what kind of blogger do you take me for? This A-lister went on the Jimmy Fallon show last week to excitedly announce his position as upgraded St. Nicholas, which surely tickles us all. From this point forward, Yule is expected to be equal parts exciting, hilarious and mildly inappropriate, so tuck in! It’s forming to be quite a ride.

“Elf” was released back in 2003, starring said comedy titan, plus the likes of James Caan, Peter Dinklage and Zooey Deschanel. At the helm of this ship stands Jon Favreau, who might ring jingly bells from the “Iron Man” franchise. However, during its relatively short life, the flick has managed to reach and surpass competitive heights in the Christmas film category.

elf-jpg

We start at the beginning of things. Buddy is a newborn baby, who accidentally hitches a one-way ride from the nursery to the North Pole in Santa’s slay. Facing no alternative option, Papa Elf (Bob Newhart), the head helper, raises him as one of their own with care and love, no matter how awkwardly tall Buddy keeps on growing. One day, the truth manages to escape. Buddy’s biological parent is a publishing magnate called Walter – a humbug, and a human one at that! A trip to New York City ensues, aimed to spread festive spirit through the force of family values. Buddy makes friends with younger brother Michael (Daniel Tay), kind of scores a job at Gimbles and falls head over heels for Jovie, a co-worker with a lovely voice. Although Walter is greedy, selfish and work-obsessed, perhaps Buddy will manage to get past his chilly exterior. Who said even the hardest of hearts couldn’t be melted with some Christmas joy? After all, the best way to spread cheer is sing it aloud for all to hear.

Not much of an introduction can be given to Will Ferrell. He has been in the television and film industry for over two decades, spanning between SNL glory and silver screen success. Audiences tend to recognise a comedic talent when they see one, which explains how he was spotted as early as 1997. Buddy is portrayed with such childlike naïvety and tireless positivity that no stone remains unturned on the feel trip of his family reunion. Ferrell has mastered an iconic blank expression, which is open to conveying every emotion a kid surrounded by infinite wonder would have. His performance, as usual, is tummy-turningly done, case and point being the gum chewing scene upon his NYC arrival. Pure gold.

Zooey Deschanel contributed to the visual ensemble, yet also landed a helping hand to the audio devision of this production. Her voice is the first sound that draws Buddy to a friendship. She’s the anchor, which keeps him from losing grip with optimism. The two quickly find chemistry together, even if it is not a sexual one, which throws a sprinkle of romance in “Elf”. Deschanel’s natural ability to impart sardonicism and do it with a charming smile really takes to the dark humour spectators, myself included.

I’ll keep this review a comparatively short one. After all, there’s only one more day until Christmas! You’d rather be re-pinning photographs of cakes and turkeys rather than reading analytical film articles, and you know what, I don’t blame you one bit. Christmas is a time to sit back and take a look at life’s bigger picture. Sit back and relax with a good movie!

Stay awesome!

Megs x

 

Christmas Film Reviews: “Miracle on 34th Street”

With the realisation I might just get shot for this, I’d like to say I haven’t much favour for “Miracle on 34th Street”. It’s not normally a Christmas tick on my list, but since that opinion remains unpopular, I am reviewing it today, forcing an attempt to stay objective. Despite that, I cannot promise against a healthy dose of bias, which is hopefully not too harsh towards the picture. It stars legendary actor Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle, a.k.a. secret Santa; Mara Wilson, Elizabeth Perkins and Dylan McDermott. So far, every ingredient for a successful blizzard are present.

MiracleOn34thStreet1994_24543617921_2.png

Susan Walker does not believe in Santa Clause! She is a clever, well-spoken girl and the daughter of special events director Dorey Walker, who insists on teaching truthfulness over fiction. They live in a spacious flat by the city’s centre, neighbouring handsome lawyer Bryan, who is also Dorey’s boyfriend. When Kris Kringle, an old man with a fluffy, white beard comes into their lives with a promise of fantastical proportions, nobody truly believes him. However, Dorey is in need of help and simply can’t resist the opportunity to hire him. Soon enough everyone finds themselves in the midst of a dilemma. Kris Kringle lets the rivalry between him and an ex-mall Santa get a little too aggressive, Dorey is confused about her feelings for Bryan, who seems to want more than she can offer. Little Susie is left in between the merging sides of fact and legend and she doesn’t know who to believe anymore. Hopefully a Christmas miracle can swing by, magically making everything fit into place, but can 34th street make it through?

Now, here is my issue – “Miracle on 34th Street” feels more like a court film, which happens to feature Santa Clause, than it does the other way around. It’s a film about divorce, cynicism, hopelessness and… the judicial system of the United States? The plot’s supposed culmination, which is structured around Bryan’s defence for Kringle, is riddled with holes and, to my sensibilities, utter ridiculousness. If children believe the old man is truly Santa, then by God, it must be so! The dollar trick played during Judge Harper’s final sentencing tugs so hard on the obscurity of its logic, that it barely holds the resolution together. All of this is brought on, because Santa went to jail, and trust me – not in a cute, slapstick way.

Although the picture’s last five minutes tie loose ends and make everyone get an idilic, happy ever after, that does not make up for almost two hours of downfall. To my belief, it barely holds onto the brink of a spectator’s attention only by half a hair’s width.

Besides these points, I have to say the dialogue flowed smoothly and the craftsmanship of George Seaton shun through in that aspect. This rendition is a remake of 1947’s film of the same name. So, if we have to get analytical here, perhaps the storyline Seaton envisioned would have worked better for its original release time. The era was different, entertainment was meant for grown-ups rather than children. Therefore, giving it a second life in the nineties, when television and cinema had evolved to be any man’s game, should have endured larger changes.

Performances were delivered skilfully by the main cast. Mara Wilson is somewhat of a Macaulay Culkin case, having made her name a household item back in the day. Right now, she’s off into oblivion, although making theatrical appearances here and there. Dylan McDermott has become a regular on the small screen, with a very admirable lead role in the famous “American Horror Story”.

Although I’m all for changing it up every day of the countdown, I’m not sure how much this film can move its audience. Unlike the cheerfulness of “Arthur Christmas” or the desperation in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “Miracle on 34th Street” manages to miss all the marks for me. It holds close to no impact, despite being dotted with touching moments. Something went wrong, but you could still enjoy it. Give the film a shot and commend bellow what you think on the subject!

Stay awesome! Only one more week until Christmas!

Megs x

Christmas Film Reviews: “Home Alone”

This entry hardly needs an introduction. The “Home Alone” franchise made its start twenty five years ago and has become one of the most prolific Christmas traditions. Child star Macaulay Culkin graces its original instalment as young Kevin McCallister – an eight-year-old grump who has trouble dealing with an overcrowded family. Chris Collumbus, a known name in the world of production, made a step in directing this project and has harvested worldwide reputation from it. The very first festive video cassette I owned happened to be “Home Alone” and it brings me great nostalgia to say – here’s the long-overdue review.

The McCallisters are going on vacation to Paris and everything is set – luggage, cousins, aunties and pizza. A staggering fifteen people wonder about the Illinois home the day before Christmas eve, buzzing like bees for their big adventure. Among them is young Kevin, who seems to always get the raw end of the deal. Upon being punished for causing chaos, he wishes his family would simply disappear.That desire is fulfilled when the boy gets left behind next morning in the rush to a late airport drive. Life suddenly becomes a party for the kid, who has waited for an opportunity like this years in time. However, a pair of local robbers also have plans for Kevin’s home and they’d travel great lengths in fulfilling them. When nightfall comes, they make a move, not expecting the child to fight back in a determined attempt to defend his castle. From then on, it is a fast-track rollercoaster through laughter and excitement as both sides try to even the score. Will Kevin get his family back in time for Christmas day? Will he regret having pushed them away in the first place? One thing’s for sure, the Wet Bandits will receive everything they deserve that holiday, burns and bruises included.

home-alone-main.jpg

Macaulay Culkin’s star made a breakthrough with the “Home Alone” empire, launching the child’s career into A-list heights. It has since died down, but not before making his face a household image. Culkin’s performance has been appraised by spectators and critics for a reason. We see the innocence and naïvety of every child seep through, complimented by grand fantasies and painful realisations. A character and performance we can truly identify with, presented on a platter of catchy Christmas tunes and flickering faery lights.

Catherine O’Hara is a panicky, fidget-prone Kate McCallister, whose most memorable scene breaks the fourth wall of cinema. “We forgot Kevin!”, she shouts on her flight to Paris, having realised the unimaginable, yet hilarious gaff. That line has become so iconic, it has sprouted a boy band and a fandom.

Chances are I wouldn’t need to sell this film, because most of you have already fallen in love with it. However, it would’t hurt to try. There’s laughter, there’s tears, there’s the heartbreakingly sweet story of Old Man Marley and the adorable Gus Polinski’s polka group. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are the Wet Bandit duo, a thieving pair of dimwits, who get made into complete fools by young Kevin. Both actors are exceptionally believable, portraying finely grated stupidity and undying ambition for their task.

All in all, “Home Alone” has almost everything you’d need in a perfect Christmas film, albeit having missed Santa Clause himself. It’s a heart-warming reminder of our families’ importance in the homeliest celebration of them all.

Naturally, I recommend a cheese pizza with this gem, and maybe a cup of chocolate milk for the soul.

Stay awesome! Four days to go.

Megs x