Going Off Topic #14 – 1,000 Movies Later

So this is quite exciting! Since I opened a Letterboxd account around 3 years ago, I’ve not only kept a movie diary to log all the movies I watch (and my ratings) but also put a good few hours into logging every movie I’ve seen previously. Whilst I can’t say for sure I managed to remember them all – I’ve spent enough time on it to be able to say I’m 99% confident that I located them all.

Why is this exciting do you ask? Well, when I watched Bohemian Rhapsody last week and logged it in my movie diary, I realised it was my 1,000th movie! I have officially seen 1,000 movies in my lifetime. I know that number means very little to a lot of movie bloggers out there but it’s a pretty cool milestone!

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It also marks the 81st movie I’ve seen this year…I’m hoping the festive period will give me the final push I need to make my target of 100 for the year!

Speaking of the end of the year on its way…I’m gearing up for the festive season! I’m off to see The Grinch tonight (an odd choice maybe for the self-proclaimed Queen of Christmas) and on the weekend we’re going to get stuck into Christmas shopping and decorating the house. Last Christmas was really odd having such a small baby so I’m extra excited for this year! Santa has already started getting presents ready…

Do you know what’s weird though? I don’t feel like this year has a big Christmas release at the cinema. We had the Hobbit movies for 3 years running, then Star Wars Episode VII, Rogue One, Star Wars Episode VIII…and then what? Fantastic Beasts is out next week, that’s too early. I’m looking forward to Aquaman but I don’t feel the hype…Disney really should have let Solo have a Christmas release.

Anyway, however you’re spending it, I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

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My 10 Favourite Cinema Experiences

As a movie blogger, I feel a certain sense of responsibility to promote the cinema and the joy of watching the latest releases on the big screen. However, sometimes life just gets in the way, money is running low, and hey presto, you’ve got a 6-month old baby who’s not going to make a great cinema companion, and you’re stuck at home with Netflix instead. It’s not all bad of course, but I do miss my weekly cinema trips a bit. My friends and family are more caught up than I am lately!

So with all that in mind, I thought it might be a nice time to look back at some of my favourite experiences at the cinema. Of course, all lists need to be neat and even, so I chose 10. In no particular order…

#10 The Force Awakens (2015)

After finally realising just how amazing Star Wars is at the ripe age of 26, I was so excited to see The Force Awakens just before Christmas with my family. I steered clear of all social media for about 4 days I think, which is unsettlingly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The cinema we went to put on an amazing show as we took selfies with Stormtroopers as they escorted us to our screen!

#9 Elf (2003)

My poor brother Rich has his birthday in the middle of January, and in the UK it’s such a rubbish month to actually do anything. You can’t have a BBQ, none of the theme parks have opened yet and the weather is guaranteed to ruin any trip out. For his (I think) 8th Birthday, myself, him, our Mum and a handful of his friends went to see Elf. Around 3 weeks after Christmas. Safe to say the screen was empty – but it’s the only time that’s ever happened to me!

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#8 Gone Girl (2014)

I think we saw this on the opening weekend, because the screen was packed, and I think packed with people who hadn’t read the book, just like us. The moment that plot twist hits is an amazing moment on its own, but the audible gasps of over 100 people at the same time was pretty awesome.

#7 Sherlock: The Final Problem (2017)

This feels so much longer than last year! But yes, our cinema put on a screening of the last episode of Season 4. We even got some bonus footage beforehand which was pretty cool. This is memorable though because of my Mum bringing in a tiny bottle of Prosecco along with a plastic champagne flute, which she promptly dropped on the floor with a clang during a very quiet moment. Oh, Mum.

#6 Avatar (2009)

You know, I’ve only ever seen Avatar once. I feel like the world raved about it when it first came out, but 9 years later everyone kind of hates it. I should watch it again really to decide for myself! But anyway, Avatar was my first IMAX experience, and if you know me at all you’ll know how much I love IMAX!

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#5 Spy Kids 3: Game Over (2003)

Bet you didn’t expect to see this is any ‘Favourite’ list did you? Spy Kids 3 was the first time I took my brother Rich to the cinema without any parental supervision! We had such a funny time and we still joke about it to this day. In case you’re wondering, Johnny English (2003) was our second visit.

#4 Twilight (All of them!)

Spy Kids and Twilight in a list together? Only here! Yes, I saw every Twilight movie at the cinema. Not only that, but all of them were midnight screenings too. With my Mum! I’m so rock and roll aren’t I? If you’ve ever done a midnight screening though you’ll know what I mean. There’s just something a bit special about not getting into bed till 3am and going to work the next day tired…but without a hangover.

#3 Marley & Me (2008)

Here’s another movie I’ve only seen once. For a different reason this time though. Marley & Me made me cry like no movie has ever before. I didn’t even like dogs at that time either, so goodness knows what it would do to me now. This trip will always be memorable for the moment during the credits when the lights came on, and every person in that room tried to hide the fact they were sobbing their heart out.

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#2 Horrible Bosses (2011)

I can’t talk enough about Horrible Bosses. It’s my favourite modern comedy ever, and I don’t think I could really explain why. It just tickles me. Anyway! When we saw this it was opening night in a full screen. Seeing a comedy in the cinema is always special because no-one feels weird about laughing out loud. We all also collectively pooped ourselves when that cat jumped out of nowhere!

#1 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

This is making me laugh the more I think about it. Sweeney Todd is the first movie my husband and I saw together when we were just boyfriend and girlfriend. In fact, we might even have just been friends at the time. Actually – we might have even seen it on Valentine’s Day! Anyway – what I find so funny about it is that both of us hate horror movies. I don’t mind them as much now of course but at the time – why did we see this? I need to ask him…

That’s enough from me for one day but I’d really like to know…what’s your favourite cinema experience?

Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

star-wars-last-jedi-movie-reviewWeekly cinema trips are a thing of the past for me now, but I still managed to get out to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) thanks to my Mum who babysat while the rest of the family and I braved the weather after steering clear of all social media for the previous 3 days. After finally becoming a Star Wars fan at the ripe age of 26 in the weeks before The Force Awakens came out, I felt almost physically sick with excitement to find out what happened next!

As it’s been out for a few weeks now this review is spoilerific, so steer clear if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want anything spoilt for you!

What is it about that opening music that makes you jump even though you’re expecting it? And has poor General Hux been eating well enough? He looks even pastier than he did before! I loved the scene where Poe Dameron toyed with him, in fact I think it was even better than when he toyed with Kylo Ren (“So who talks first?”). Never change, Poe!

Like so many others, I’ve spent the last 2 years coming up with my own ideas on how I’d like the story to evolve, and I’ve also been rooting for a particular romance to stir! You’ve got to know I’m talking about Kylo Ren and Rey here. “But they hate each other” I heard people say. “Aren’t they totally related anyway?” No, they aren’t! What I wished for I never actually expected to happen, though. Force bond? Shirtless Kylo Ren?! Rian Johnson you are my hero. Matt was right, Kylo is shredded!

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Ahem. Sorry, I’m drifting off into a fangirl ramble now. But that team up fight scene? Awesome! Did you guys see the way Kylo Ren looked at those Praetorian Guards when one dared to hurt his beloved Rey?! *cough* Sorry, I really will stop now.

I’ve been away from the blog world so I’m not in the loop on what you all thought about it, but according to my Facebook feed the world hated it. Was it too long? Maybe, but I would have sat through 3 hours of it to be honest. I read complaints that it was ‘too different’, but are they the same people who claimed The Force Awakens was just a copy of A New Hope? Was the casino scene necessary? Probably not, but I love seeing more of the galaxy. Let’s not talk about Leia Poppins though…

I’m undecided on how I feel about Rose, but that’s definitely due to the lack of Finn/Poe bromance scenes this time around. Shoo, Rose! Is it just me or did Laura Dern feel a bit out of place here? I think she’s great and all but she just seemed…too prim and proper? I can’t put my finger on it. Her heroic actions were jaw dropping though, I can’t deny that.

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How do we all feel about the reveal of Rey’s parents? How mean is Rian Johnson for teasing the subject at least 3 times before we got to find out? There were so many theories floating around, but I honestly wanted her to have nobodies as parents. Not everyone has to be the child of a main character, but it somehow still felt a bit of a downer to hear it confirmed. It’s strange.

Anyway, I’ve actually been to see it twice now thanks to an impromptu date night with my bestie, and I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Knowing what was going to happen made me appreciate those stand-out scenes even more. I can’t believe we’ve got another 2 year wait now though. I’ve convinced myself that Kylo Ren isn’t going to live to see the credits…

It’s not perfect but I loved it all the same, so The Last Jedi gets 4 and a half un-roasted Porgs from me!

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Book Review: Bloodline, Claudia Gray

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! What are you going to be doing this evening? My husband and I have already reached that “can’t be bothered to go out” stage so we’re cooking a meal together and watching Crazy Stupid Love, which is slowly going to become our Valentine’s Day movie, I can feel it. I’ve been a bit AWOL on the blog for the last few days, it’s been a bit of an odd week, but I think I’m back now!

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Anyway, with the fear of falling behind on book reviews, I wanted to share my thoughts on the very first Star Wars novel I’ve ever read, which is Bloodline, by Claudia Gray. It wasn’t until doing some research that I realised just how many Star Wars novels have been written, which is completely intimidating, but I chose Bloodline as it was written since Disney took over so is classed as ‘canon’, and it’s set just a few years before The Force Awakens takes place. I guess part of me thought I’d learn a little more about Kylo Ren whilst he was still Ben Solo, but this book is focused on Princess Leia.

Claudia Gray is a Young Adult Fiction writer living in New Orleans. She has written nearly 20 published novels so far, and Bloodline isn’t her only Star Wars novel. She Also wrote Lost Stars, which has found a place on my ‘to read’ list.

As I mentioned, this is my first Star Wars novel. You should also know that although I’ve developed a possibly unhealthy love for everything Star Wars, I’m extremely new to it all. I basically sat and watched every movie 2 months before The Force Awakens came out, and converted into a fan from that. I can tell you that Han shot first, I could name you 5 planets without thinking too hard, and I could hold my own in a debate about theories, but I’m still pretty inexperienced.

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Why am I telling you this? Because my first thought when reading Bloodline was ‘I wasn’t expecting it to be so…political’. I know that sounds stupid. This is a WAR. Of course it’s political! But regardless, it took nearly a third of the book before I actually got into the swing of it. Bloodline deals with what Leia went through as a member of the Galactic Senate before The First Order rose, and a fateful mission she undertakes with fellow Senator Ransolm Casterfo.

So, from what I learnt, there are two factions within the New Republic. Leia is part of the Populists, who favour autonomy, and Casterfo is part of the Centrists, who favour a stronger government and military. The fact that Leia and Casterfo joined forces for a particular mission is notable, as the two factions rarely work well together, although Casterfo has several ideals that Leia firmly disagrees with.

As for my reasons for reading Bloodline, I didn’t learn much about Ben Solo, but I guess I never expected to. I’ll just have to wait till The Last Jedi. Ben is mentioned only in Leia’s thoughts, but I learnt that Han Solo never expected to become a Father, nor did he want Ben to train with Luke. Han wanted to teach Ben racing.

Once I got into the swing of it all, and got my head around the politics, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the story. It definitely picks up pace in the last third, and was gripping from then on. To tell you much about it would be a disservice to the book, because there are plenty of twists and turns along the way, but if like me, you’re looking to get into the Star Wars novels, Bloodline is a good starting point.

Thursday Movie Picks: The Underdog

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EDIT: It looks like I have an out of date TMP schedule! Thankfully I’m at least not the only one. So…enjoy? 

It’s totally acceptable to start New Year’s Resolutions 3 weeks late, right? Taking part in Wandering Through the Shelves‘ Thursday Movie Picks was one of mine, only I really had nothing to contribute to the first two week’s themes, so here I am, fashionably late! If you’d like to take part too, check out Wanderer’s schedule here.

This week’s theme is The Underdog, a theme I can fully get involved in. I love rooting for the underdog, against all odds, and even though in movies it’s sometimes clear they’ll win in the end, I can’t help but feel all giddy and excited for them anyway. Let’s kick this off, shall we?

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Walter, The Muppets (2011)

The Muppets will remain one of my all time favourites movies forever, so I don’t really need an excuse to talk about it, but I feel like the newcomer Walter was an underdog in more than 1 way. He joined the famous Muppet gang with stars in his eyes, and when it came to putting on a show he hid in fear, because he didn’t think he had a talent as strong as the others. Perhaps more importantly though, he was a new character in a group of Muppets who have been around for years, and there was a strong likelihood that audiences might not like him. I for one, loved him!

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Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

I feel like Star Wars is all about underdogs, but if I had to choose just one it would be Rey. We don’t know how she started in life yet but in the Force Awakens she started out as a lone, scrawny scavenger, trading enough scrap to barely keep herself alive. Who would have thought she would be able to use Jedi mind tricks on Stormtroopers just like Obi-Wan, and hold her own in a fight against Darth Vader’s very own grandson, Kylo Ren? This girl kicks ass.

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Judy Hopps, Zootopia (2016)

In a world full of prejudice, bunny rabbit Judy Hopps was laughed at when she said she wanted to become a police officer. When you’re so small that even going to the toilet is a difficult task, how was Judy ever going to become anything more than a meter maid? With a little help from a wily fox named Nick, Judy became Zootopia’s greatest detective, and put out a message that you can be whatever you want to be!

Christmas Catch Up & Rogue One Thoughts

Merry belated Christmas everyone! Thankfully I haven’t worked out a proper schedule for this blog yet, because I’m currently in that limbo period between Christmas Day and New Year’s day where I don’t know what day of the week it is, or even time of day. Not that it matters that much, because every meal of the day consists of turkey and chocolate right now. Whilst sitting in my current food coma though, I thought I would catch up on everyone’s posts and share some thoughts on Rogue One which I saw yesterday.

Christmas Day was wonderful, and I got to split the day with both sides of my family. Don’t you just think a home cooked Christmas dinner is the greatest part of the day? Maybe it’s because I’m older, but I could have wept tears of joy at the sight and smell of pigs in blankets, roast parsnips and sausage meat on the table. I just wish I could have eaten more!

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Of course, I also had some wonderful presents! My husband and I didn’t buy each other gifts this year because we’re in the process of buying our first home (help!) but I was blown away by the generosity of my friends and family. There was a big Star Wars theme going on which was great fun! 15-year-old me would be so proud and confused to learn that her future self 12 years later was still asking for the same presents, a new pair of Vans and the latest Pokemon game! That’s right, I’m currently playing Pokemon Moon and my husband got Pokemon Sun. My Vans weren’t any old Vans either, but the new Woody editions from the Toy Story collection! I should have tried to take a good photo of them straight away but I was too excited and haven’t really taken them off yet.

I also got the full Series 4 set of the Lego Star Wars Microfighters which were extremely fun to put together, and the Lego U-Wing from Rogue One which I haven’t even dared to take out the box yet, that’s going to take at least 3 hours to build!

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Boxing Day brought my family’s group trip to the IMAX, a group which seems to get smaller each year sadly, but us hard-core cinema goers packed into the car and said ‘no thanks’ to the sale shopping. It feels pointless stressing this to you guys, but I just love IMAX so much. The intro sequence gives me chills, and it’s the only way to watch a movie like Rogue One!

As for the movie itself, I feel like I need a second viewing before I can put together a proper review. It was so much different to what the other Star Wars movies have been like, but at the same time, it felt so right! I’m just pretty incoherent about it all still, really. At first I was disappointed that most of the clips in the trailer never made it into the final movie, but I get the feeling the powers that be changed their mind on how it would all end. I’m absolutely in love with that a*****e droid, K-2S0 though, he was my favourite part by far! Move over, BB-8.

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We’ll be with you, Jyn. Cassian said we had to.

I think I need only say ‘corridor scene’ and you’ll all know what I mean. Chills, man, chills. Also, ‘be careful not to choke on your aspirations, Director’. Ugh! Chills again. Scary as hell. Also scary? The level to which CGI has come. It’s not quite advanced enough for it to be perfect, but still, kudos!

I’ll get a proper Rogue One post ready over the next week or so but for now, another island challenge awaits me in Pokemon Moon, and I’m also preparing a list of books I’m planning on tackling as part of a New Year’s resolution. What about you, what was your favourite Christmas gift this year?

A Merry Fictional Blog Challenge

I can’t believe that in a week’s time, Christmas will be over! It feels like we spend so long getting ready for the huge event, and then it passes by without us barely noticing. With 4 work days to go I was in need of some festive cheer, so when I saw Katy at Oh So Geeky post her answers for her ‘A Merry Fictional Blog Challenge’ she couldn’t have had better timing!

If you’d like to get involved also, simply check out Katy’s original post. But without further ado, here are my answers!

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Advent Calendar: Traditions you celebrate during December?
Aside from the usual family traditions, we have a long standing tradition of a big family get together to the cinema on the Sunday before Christmas. It started many years ago with The Polar Express, and we’ve been every year since. In recent years we’ve seen The Hobbit trilogy, last year we saw The Force Awakens, and this year will be Rogue One. I say will be because we’ve had to change the date this year to Boxing Day!

Carols: What’s your favorite song(s)?
There is no possible way I could pick a favourite Christmas song, it’s my favourite time of year and there are too many! However, it always seems to be that Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is the first to be played on the radio, and that song is glorious.

Coal: A naughty character you’d send coal to?
I’d send coal to Ajax Francis, from Deadpool.

Fireplace: Favorite Christmas movie that melts your heart?
My favourite Christmas movies are Jingle All The Way and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but they’re comedies. There has never been an instance that I’ve watched The Polar Express without ugly crying into a mug of tea, however.

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Gingerbread: What’s your favorite holiday snack?
This might be an odd one, but After Eight Mints, and Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. I don’t know if they’re a worldwide thing or UK only, but I can eat an entire box of mints and/or an entire orange and not feel bad about how sick it would make me.

Hot Cocoa: What’s your favorite drink?
I don’t like hot chocolate or coffee, but Costa are doing a Hot Spiced Apple drink this year which is absolutely to die for!

Mistletoe: Character you’d like to meet under the mistletoe?
Only one?! I’ll go with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock.

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He seems confused…

Mittens: A cozy outfit that keeps you warm during winter?
The weather can be so odd here in the UK. In the winter I tend to wear exactly what I would any other season, but with a big winter coat and gloves in my pocket just in case!

Naughty: Three characters who’d make the Naughty list.
Paul Spector (The Fall), Man in Black (Westworld) & Rowan North (Ghostbusters).

Nice: Three characters who’d make the Nice list.
Moana (Moana, funnily enough), Jyn Erso (Rogue One) & Dustin Henderson (Stranger Things).

North Pole: If you could spend Christmas anywhere (even fictional), where would you go?
Maybe this is a boring choice as it’s real rather than fictional, but after spending 2 days at Disneyland California this year as part of my honeymoon, I would love to go back for Christmas, it would be magical!

Presents: A book or movie on your wishlist?
I’m planning on doing a lot of reading in the New Year, much more than the 2 measly books I managed in 2016! So I can’t think of one specific book right now, but I’ll have a whole list by January.

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Rudolph: What’s your favorite TV holiday special?
I’m sure there are some great ones out there, but another family tradition of mine is watching Shrek The Halls on Christmas Eve. It’s been so many years now we know all the words. We’re probably really embarrassing, come to think of it.

Santa: A character you’d love to exchange presents with? What would you get them?
I would love to work in the office from Parks & Recreation and take part in an office Secret Santa there. I’d rig it so I could buy for Leslie Knope so I could get her all sorts of stationery and organisational tools, because we have a shared passion in that area.

Scrooge: A villain you’d help see life in a different way?
Kylo Ren for sure. It wouldn’t work (I already tried at Disneyland) but I’d still give it a go. I would either end up a quivering mess on the floor (again, happened at Disneyland) or I’d get cut in half before I finished talking.

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I tried to sass Kylo Ren, and he really wasn’t impressed. I was legit terrified!

Snowflake: Something that makes you feel special.
Last weekend, doing a food shop at the supermarket. They were playing Christmas songs non-stop, and in the bakery isle there was a bit of a sing-a-long going on between some strangers, and it’s honestly one of the most special things to be a part of. It’s the littlest things in life sometimes!

Tree: What do you decorate your house with for the season?
We have our usual Christmas tree, tinsel around every surface we can find, and a few silly decorations too. This year my husband and I are sharing the Lego Star Wars advent calendar, which has a prime location in the living room.

Yuletide: The top 3 things in your life that make you the most happy?
Aside from family and friends (who are the true number 1) I would say coming home from a pants day at work to find my husband and 2 cats who are always happy to see me, lazy evenings spent on the sofa watching a movie, and pizza. Definitely pizza.

BONUS: Ugly Christmas Sweater: Would you wear a sweater Molly Weasley made you or avoid it like the plague?
OMG I WOULD WEAR IT WITH PRIDE.