Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (Spoilers)

Sooooooo. Another franchise has ended. I've seen through so many. The Hobbit (ridiculous), Harry Potter (epic but not without flaws), Pirates of the Caribbean... All the things.

I read the Hunger Games trilogy at uni and as I recall, I finished Mockingjay at about 3.40am and sat there on the end of my bed in floods of tears, feeling a huge pit of disappointment and betrayal.

I guess I finally found myself fully sympathising with poor, long-suffering hedgehog, Katniss.  I felt a huge sense of loss and a sense that everything was for nothing, whilst desperately clinging to the epilogue.

Did I feel this when the films finished?  Not so much.  I felt more that in an attempt to keep the age ratings down, everything was watered down. So many scenes failed to punch me in the gut the way the book managed to.

I did see one review title out there calling it a "Hot Mess" - this is hyperbole. It wasn't the strongest film in the franchise, no, but I don't think it was a hot mess... unless you are coming to it completely ignorant of the events in the book, in which case, yeah, I suppose it was sloppy.

It picks up exactly where Part 1 left off: Peeta had just strangled Katniss.
This was dealt with well - we see a pained Katniss struggling to flex her vocal cords after having been silent for so long.  Plutarch calmly explains that Peeta has been hijacked and that with the right care, he is 'optimistic' that he will be rehabilitated.

Under-used excellence: Jenna Malone was unable to shine as Johanna Mason.
There are lots of glimmers of page-to-screen faithfulness, but there are several changes to the plot that were deemed either necessary or more appropriate, such as Katniss sneaking to the Capitol to join the fight rather than training up with Johanna (which in some ways was a real shame).

I think I'll stick to the positives... Cause I don't want this to be a total moaner of a post.
There are lots of positives. The effects are great. They work.
The acting was good and the extra characters from the book were well-cast.

Donald Sutherland was finally able to show his full abilities in that monumental scene where Katniss faces Snow in the Roses Greenhouse. He was the perfect blend of unhinged with possible sincerity. The book was always ambiguous as to whether Coin was behind the bombing that killed Prim, and the film decided to leave it that way.

Julianne Moor showed more with her eyes than any other part of her utterly grey-clad body was allowed. I enjoyed disliking her and hating her more than I did in the book. No amount of background building done in the first half of Mockingjay would make me like her. Also who can trust anybody who wears the same shade of clothing as their hair?

Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson were unsung stars, in my opinion. They built their characters on screen and played with the chemistry they had as actors, encorporating a new dynamic to their relationship. In my view, that's all now canon.  Whether he immediately fell off the wagon in the book or not.

Personally, I thought Lawrence was able to continue with her emotive performances, though the scene with the cat was perhaps spoiled by the comical expression on the cat's face... perhaps if the cat had been mewing pitifully rather than looking at her reproachfully.  If they had had the time, they should have played out Katniss's emotional turmoil, PTSD and depression as well as showing the time between Katniss and Haymitch's return to District 12 and Peeta's.

They should also have included the letter from Katniss's mother. She was just dropped from all consciousness.

Overall, I think it was a satisfactory end to the series, however with plenty of room for improvement.
It was a 'meh', film. It wasn't as inspiring or emotional as it should have been. This was down to a combination of factors, a couple of which were unavoidable.

It did feel as though there should have been this version for the kiddies and the real version for the adults which went all out and ripped your hearts from your throats. I mean, I felt more in the anticipation of Finnick's death than I did from the actual scene!  I think that says a lot as somebody who has read the books, compared to someone who has not.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Going Coconuts #2

Well! I said I'd update you when I'd done it a bit longer, and so I am!

Oil Pulling - definitely cleaned up my teeth. They were definitely whiter for it and I shall keep doing it periodically. As with most things (flossing, mouth wash, moisturiser) I am not somebody who can make a commitment and use it every day...hell, I failed you lot by not even posting about it weekly... *ahem*. However! I found that even with periodic use, I could notice a discernible difference.

Conditioner - yeah, no, I did not continue this practice. It was much too heavy for my hair for weekly use and so I gave up pretty quickly.  I have instead gone Veganese! once a week or whenever my hair's been used and abused. It works much better without over-greasing things.

Body Moisturiser -  Another thing I did not keep up with in the end. Although it continued to provide very very close shaves, I ended up nicking myself a few too many times (the razor's fault, not the oil's... probably.), but I also started getting mild rashes from it on my legs. So definitely something to test for your skin a few times...

Face Moisturiser - my face was a lot less sensitive and I was certainly getting to the stage where my skin was going "the hell you doing to us, Maus?! STOP IT OR I SHALL ACNE YOU" by the time I had to pack up and move house. The oil is now still in the garage with a load of other stuff I've yet to actually sort through... who knows. If I pushed through the spots I was getting, I might have had glorious-er skin than I do now.

It was still the most amazing smell I've ever shoved onto my face though - would do it again, even if it was still only periodic.

The beauty of Coconut Oil is it takes ages to go off! Hurrah!

Film: Suffragette

 This film was well-shot and well-cast and most importantly, fairly important. Not only did it provide some historical backdrop to the younger generation of feminists out there, but it also went from a different angle. The working class angle.

What struck me was the irony that Emmeline Pankhurst, for the period of the film, was at that point just a figurehead. A name. A speaker. She didn't actually do much. She was in hiding, not willing to be arrested, while her working class "sisters" were getting medals for each time they were incarcerated.

This same character appears in the film for about... 5 minutes. Maximum 10. She has very few lines in the entire thing.

She is played by the wonderfully talented Meryl Streep, who is arguably the biggest name in the cast - and it is Meryl Streep who was used in a lot of the advertising!  

The beauty of following the fortunes of reluctant suffragette, Maud, was that we could see just how big the divide was between the privileged minorities and the not-so-privileged minorities. Emmeline had a pretty easy ride of it compared to the mere "canon fodder" (as described by one of the detectives). It was only when a working class member accidentally got hit by horse when desperately trying to get the press and the king to notice her that the movement finally gained any impact.

It's a pretty powerful film. Full of heart-wrenching scenes, incredible acting and some very detailed depictions of what happened when on hunger strike in prison back then. 

One of the things about this film is how, if you are tuned into these issues enough to notice, the opponents of Equal Voting rights spouted the same misogynist rubbish that a lot of anti-feminist and anti-woman men do today!

There was a beautiful (but painful) scene where Maud's husband is quite clearly shamed and ridiculed because she'd been arrested at one of the protests. He was told to "put her in her place" and to "rein her in" and to "be a proper man" (toxic masculinity - something most feminists, male and female, will point out is part of a misogynist society).  It was this shame and social backlash that resulted in their marriage falling apart. 

Feminism is a result of inequality of sexes. The only fault this film had was that it was pretty white-washed. Ok, so there weren't that many POC well-known leading Suffragettes at the time but it wouldn't have hurt to have some in the extras, something the writers have since acknowledged when grilled about it by insightful teenagers. To start with it was for all women, everywhere. It only became fractured when the Black Freedom movements gained a lot more motion and black males were given more rights than white and black women combined.

Powerful white men have had a lot of their power stripped from them - they can't own people anymore. They can't tell "inferior" races what to do or where to go. Power and superiority over women is the only thing that they have left. Which is why sexism is so prevalent today.
Just look at any "Gamergate" news.  If the female market is given just one small token, those who feel their superiority threatened immediately wade in and spout abuse. If anybody totes equality of everybody regardless of gender, they open themselves to abuse online. If this post gained any traction, I'm sure I'd get a couple of hate messages as well. 

Let's face it, even game developers are reluctant to announce their character designs were female original, for fear of alienating these sorts of people....

Suffragette isn't about current inequalities. We've come a long way from there; we have the vote. We have the right to custody over our children. We are allowed a full and fair education. But the dialogue and actions of many of the characters within the film highlighted just how far we still have to go to combat sexism. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Ant Man (Spoiler Free)

Ok, I'm supposed to be marking last term's maths books but I need to get this out because I said I would.

I went to see Ant MCan.  I'll be honest, I'm getting a teeeeeeny bit bored with the super hero film franchise. It's all the same. Lead man gets great one-liners. Lead man is borderline sexist but also sexy. Leading lady (Black Widow) kicks ass in the side lines and doesn't get the film that a lot of people are clamouring for, instead a fairly obscure character does.


I went to see it because Him Indoors wanted to and I am lovely like that. Also I get to do stuff I want to do later. Leverage, see.

Well. It wasn't actually that bad.

It was not too dissimilar to Iron Man 1. It was Iron Man but instead of the war in the Middle East, it's an insider Heist.

Paul Rudd carried off the Anti-Hero role quite well and the cast was generally well-chosen. Cory Stoll, whether he wanted to be or not, was the perfect corny, slightly camp Arch Villain. You know the one. The one who is bald, well dressed and manages to be in the exact right lighting at all times so that his face has dramatic shadows.  He even is the sort of person who won't just look at the sheep he has managed to shrink to 3cm tall; he will flick the box it's in to make it stumble. Because he is evil.

What was quite interesting and refreshing for me wasn't that Paul Rudd was a super hero. It wasn't even that the super hero had a sketchy past as far as the law was concerned. It was how little agency he had as a leading man.

He didn't want to be a hero. He wasn't bitten and then accepting of some new-found Responsibility. He was quite literally watched, chosen and plucked and then black-mailed by some old guy who needed somebody to do a job for him.  Aside from finding out about his relationships with his ex-wife and daughter, you don't actually get a lot of character development for him. He comes pre-made.

The person who gets a surprising (though still not enough for it to be a film about her) amount of development is the supporting actress, Evangeline Lilly, playing Hope.  There were times I genuinely thought they'd set her up for something but actually she surprised me by doing something else. She was more than two dimensional as a character. There was a father-daughter storyline going on there within the film and it wasn't entirely side-lined. It was somewhat integral that they get over their issues in order for the heist to work. Yes, they shoe-horned in some attraction between her and Scott, but it was playfully seen as a bit cliche by her father (Michael Douglas).

It had all the tropes:

  • Action Girl, wherein a girl teaches the hero how to fight (though this gets a wonderful boost in the credits scenes. That was cool, because it showed growth RE Hank and Hope's relationship and trust)
  • The Ambiguous Situation regarding a wife - which I suspect will tie-in to the next film.
  • Bait and Switching at the very start of the film.
  • Ascended Meme - You know how everybody asks, (well, I do sometimes) "If this is happening, how come they don't call The Avengers to deal with it?"?  Well they have this openly discussed in the film. 
  • Beyond the Impossible - Hank warns Scott about doing something and not being able to do undo it, then he goes and does it anyway and it works.  
  • Bumbling Side-kick - Luis, played by show-stealer Michael Pena, is adorkably ditzy.
  • Chekhov's gag and boomerang.

There are plenty more but I guess my point is that it's a formulaic film. Which works. I guess. They hit all the right notes - there were scenes  of fear, carefully broken up by surreal yet hilarious events such as the Thomas the Tank Engine scene.   The characters gelled and played their parts. It was one of those safe, well-crafted films that didn't push the boat too far. There was enough going on to create the right level of tension and it didn't extend fight scenes to the point of Zach Snyder films (*yawn*)

The only thing I would say was wrong with it was the shoe-horning cameo of a certain character. I mean, the location wasn't all that shoe-horned, and the way The Cameo appeared made sense and stuff but I feel the interaction wasn't needed in the way it was done. It could have been much shorter and a la Stan Lee. (Who, of course, was in it.)

So yeah. Enjoyable. Watchable. Not that different but somehow endearing... 

I'd give it a solid 8/10. 


Going Coconuts! #1

Yeah, lame title but that's me all over.

So. Day one of my Uses for Coconut Oil trials.

Oil Pulling. 

I did the oil pulling as suggested by The Internet as a whole: on an empty stomach, BEFORE brushing my teeth. I did not make it to the full 20 minutes - I only did 10. I am a hayfevery person and was full of phlegm this morning which made the not swallowing AT ALL a little tricky. I think I did very well, keeping the oil in my mouth but the phlegm down my throat (all the TMI I can squeeze in) but I suspect some of the oil and therefore all the bacteria I'm supposed to be expelling did actually manage to reach my stomach.

It was fine... I felt ok. I felt pretty clean. I rinsed with water. I brushed my teeth. I felt orally cleansed.

Then I went to Zumba and half way through I did feel a little bit sick. This could be caused by one of three things:
1. The fact that I did actually swallow some contaminated oil and then mixed it with lucozade, creating a mini stomach bug reaction.  Not possible? Maybe. But that was my thinking at the time.

2. The fact I was actually going nuts in there and I was over-doing it and over-heating.

3. The fact that number 2 was the case and I'd not done it properly in 3 weeks because of holidays and the instructor being away last week.

It might even be all three. Who knows? I just slowed down a bit and regained control of my nausea and powered on through and was fine.  Still a bit phlegmy though.

Yeah. So I shall continue to do this oil-pulling business. My hope is that the magical Teeth Whitening will happen. Who doesn't want whiter teeth without going to an expensive hygienist?


If you are a follower on Tumblr then you might know that I did put some on my face last night and adored the smell. I loved it. Well I let it soak in for a good... 20 minutes? I don't know, I was watching The Great British Bake Off: Another Slice.  So it might have been longer. It wasn't a full episode though before I decided to use my cleanser to remove any excess oil. This is apparently known as the Double Cleanse.  Go figure.

My skin glows. It looks gorgeous. Feels like satin, as do my hands.  I kinda want to lather it over my entire body (may I will!) and wear satin pyjamas and lounge around on a King Sized four poster eating ferrero rocher chocolates. It is THAT luxurious feeling. Which brings me onto my next one.

Shaving 'cream'

I read last night that a good coating of oil on the legs can create a rather lovely cream-less wet shave. And it did. I didn't use a brand new razor head. I reckon this one's probably on the way out, so with hindsight perhaps a bit risky given that that is when I tend to start slicing my legs open... but oh my goodness, I feel as though I've been waxed, but painlessly. That is the smoothest, closest shave I have ever done. They look like a damn Venus advert.  I did it with my armpits and aside from that one crease where I can never seem to get every last bit of stubble, I am flawless.


I started off combing through my (dry) pony tail with my fingers, thinking about how I didn't want to get oil near my roots as I have bad experiences when hair dressers use conditioner close to my scalp. It's like they want my hair to look awful after leaving the salon.  But I ended up combing through all the hair, though I concentrated mostly with the ends.

I shampooed it twice. I used some of my Even Blonder shampoo first and left that in. Gave myself a luxurious lather massage and then soaped my body down with my loofah. God I love that loofah.

Then I rinsed it all out and then properly shampooed with my Lush 'I love juicy" which is amazing for making my hair completely clean. It really cuts through the build up and I tell you what, I am starting to only need to wash my hair every three days, rather than every other as I aim to. If I didn't suffer from B.O (as does everyone) then I might consider only showering every third day.

So all the oil is definitely out and my wet hair feels the same as ever.

Now that I have dried it, I can't say I notice a great discernible difference.  But then I didn't do the whole massage in and then leave it in a showercap for a few hours thing. So maybe just combing it through and leaving it whilst I shave and soap isn't enough. I dunno. Well. Actually. I guess the texture is softer. It just doesn't look much different. Cause my hair is a wild, barely tamable beast!

So that is what I have done today. I have the most amazing shave, I have made my face feel like satin, my hair had a condition and I almost threw up in a zumba class which may or may not have been to do with the oil pulling before breakfast.

So far I have used about two table spoons from the entire jar. It's going to last bloomin' ages.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Quick Update and my new (small-scale) project

Hi guys!

If there are any guys and gals left that will bother to read or check this, of course...

I haven't posted in over a year. SO SORRY.

I genuinely wanted to rant and rave about things. I genuinely had thoughts I wanted to hash out on here.

I genuinely wanted to to type.

I just never felt as though I had the time!

My first year of teaching was, to say the least, quite chaotic and frankly a bit of a 'mare. Nowhere near as bad as the year my colleague had but I still suffered for it. Not that NQT years are supposed to be easy, I just didn't get the support I had expected from my superiors...

Ah well.

I had a much better year of it this year just gone. It was the same class, which was nice, but also three new, fresh and similar-minded colleagues joined the school which helped a LOT and allowed my friend and I to feel a bit brighter about our future.

Though of course we are due to be OFSTEDed so I am stressing out a bit even though I have got just over a week of holiday left. Mostly because I haven't quite caught up with stuff I didn't do in the summer yet...  I was going to at the start of the holidays, indeed, I did start to do it! But then I felt unwell and I rested and then my best friend came to stay for a week and then I went to Germany for a week and boom, that was 4 weeks of holiday gone!

So. I mentioned a new project. By project, I mean a different kind of review thing.

I've seen a lot of talk online about the magical properties of Coconut Oil - for cooking, eating, smearing on your skin, swilling in your mouth ('oil pulling') - and the more I read about it from various sources [each more respectable and authoritative than the last] the more I thought to myself "hm. Only way to know for sure is to try it out".

Well I tried the oil pulling once, before I actually got any coconut oil. I tried it with some olive oil because apparently it's all pretty much the same, just with a variance in useful property.

Let me tell you know: it's horrendous with olive oil. I like dipping bread in it. I like frying with it. I enjoy it on a salad. Swishing it around in my mouth for more than 5 minutes was a definite no-no.  Gross.  And the feeling lasted for ages. Even after I brushed my teeth a second time.

But I went for the plunge and got myself some "Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil" which is apparently non-GM (not that there is GM going on in the coconut world...) and is apparently 100% naturally pure from Optima. It was reasonably priced and doesn't smell too strongly of coconut.

I dislike the taste of coconut but having just tried a bit of oil pulling with it, I can tell you that it's alright. I mean, it's not like holding something tasty in  your mouth, but it wasn't as oily and gross as the olive oil.

I have also smeared some into my face. I did it before a shower because I'm going out and it had only just arrived and I was eager to give it a go and the smell was quite delightful on my face. Like biscuits or cookies. I don't like coconut but I like this smell. ^_^

My skin feels very soft. At the moment I have no spots whatsoever... but I do get them frequently. I suppose the only way to see whether this improves your skin is by seeing whether I actually get any spots FROM using the oil.  Personally, the idea of rubbing oil into my face seems counter-intuitive and not all that useful. I don't use products that strip natural oils but I certainly don't do well with an oily face. We shall see.

Right now I am just basking in the fact that my mouth feels rather clean and my face smells of biscuit.

I will try to update this weekly.

Also I shall try to put my thoughts on Antman into a posting later. Because actually I have quite a lot of nice things to say about it. Maybe. Despite being uninterested in it to start with.