The Iron Lady

Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain passed away earlier this month; at the time, it divided the nation’s opinion and those that were alive to experience Thatcher’s years in power, and who suffered the most hardships seemed to have the loudest voice. I felt because I was not alive during this time period, I had no right to judge. Instead, I chose to watch the movie biopic of her life The Iron Lady, a movie that earned Meryl Streep her 3rd Oscar win for her portrayal as Margaret Thatcher.

The film sees Streep reunited with Mamma Mia director Phyllida Lloyd amidst a predominately British cast. The film opens with Thatcher an old and frail lady, buying a pint of milk from the corner shop; she’s outraged at the price of it and complains to her husband, Dennis. This all seems relatively normal, except that when a house aide comes to check on Lady Thatcher, she is alone and her late husband Dennis is in fact a figment of her imagination.

From this point onwards, the movie uses flashback to tell the story of Margaret Thatcher’s life, from being inspired to go into politics, until she leaves the post of Prime Minister. The script weaves between the present day and flashbacks, and it’s a stark contrast when you see Thatcher’s glory days alongside her elderly present self. Her loneliness is apparent, and it certainly makes you feel sympathetic towards her. The scenes with Jim Broadbent as her late husband Dennis are great – he’s a brilliant sparring partner for Streep’s Thatcher, and they portray a strong and loving marriage.

Meryl Streep really does deserve the Oscar in this standout performance as the former Prime Minister. As Thatcher in her glory days, she has her infamous voice down to a tee, looking every bit as formidable. Strong willed, determined and ambitious, she makes her way to the top and fights to stay there. Streep is fantastic and makes you feel empathy towards a woman that many feel hatred towards.

However, this film isn’t entirely perfect; in regards to the flashbacks, they can often feel jumpy, and at times they don’t flow well – you’re often left wondering what time period the film is in. It’s also quite a concise film, coming in at around 100 minutes and I felt certain aspects of it could have been explored more.

The film overall is good; at times it struggles to flow well, and your left feeling slightly disorientated but perhaps this is supposed to resemble the fact that Thatcher in the present is very much disorientated by her surroundings. But it is Streep’s knockout Oscar winning performance that really makes this movie worth a watch – to watch one of the great actresses of our generation, in her Oscar winning performance is certainly a treat.

Margaret Thatcher: We will stand on principle… or we will not stand at all. (The Iron Lady)

Belle De Jour: The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl

Based on the web blog by the escort Belle De Jour, a book adaptation soon followed and inspired by watching the ITV2 Series entitled Secret Diary of a Call Girl (with Billie Piper in the lead role) I wanted to give the book a read.

The book spans several months of Belle’s life –both her personal and professional. It’s an intimate, no-holds barred and honest portrayal of her life, but still keeping her life shrouded in secrecy, never revealing her name and code-naming her friends and clients. The book delves into Belle’s feelings towards her friends, the line of work she is in, family and trivial, everyday problems. It’s open in that sense and doesn’t hold back regarding the sexual experiences she has had – again both personally and professionally. It does make 50 Shades of Grey look tame and what’s more it’s also 100% true.

You would also think that reading a book by a professional escort, as a woman you would feel any other emotion except sympathy, but as I read through the book I began to feel quite empathetic towards her; she struggles with her personal life and the unconventional lifestyle that comes with being an escort.  But overall she seems to enjoy it – she relays her anecdotes about clients and the experiences she has had with simplicity and bluntness, showing she isn’t ashamed at how she makes her money to survive. She clearly takes pleasure in giving them…erm pleasure. Along with Belle De Jour’s colourful sex life, the book is honest, funny and personal and a great read.

 

The first thing you should know is that I’m a whore (The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl)

The End of an Era….

So it seems this week is shaping up to be a rough one…Today while surfing the World Wide Web I stumbled upon some very disheartening news – rumour has it that Robert Downey Jr will be leaving the Iron Man franchise when he reaches the grand old age of 50.

50?! But he’s already 48! I hear you scream – yes it does seem very young to be throwing in the iron helmet, but let’s face it, if RDJ doesn’t think he can do the role justice do we really want to see him and our beloved Tony Stark suffer? I think not. As much as I love Iron Man and RDJ, as he said in his interview things can’t last forever.

No they can’t – no matter how many sequels we may want some things are better left when in their prime (producers of the Saw franchise TAKE NOTE).

RDJ is a sensational actor but I don’t want to see a half hearted attempt – if he’s ready to leave I’ll stand and give the ovation he deserves.

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I’m Tony Stark. I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. – Tony Stark, Iron Man 3.

 

The Hobbit – Rachel’s Review

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So, I know Kat’s already reviewed this but now that I’ve gotten round to reading it as well, I thought I’d chip in with my own review.

The Hobbit is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy in which we are first introduced to the world of Middle Earth through the eyes of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who sets upon an adventure of a lifetime with a company of dwarves to find their lost gold. The story is quite a short read and quite simple to follow, and after seeing the first film adapted I was anxious to find out how the book develops.

I was curious to find out just how much Peter Jackson had added into the film plot from other Tolkien sources and it seems he added in quite a number of different strands. Whilst the movie version follows the basic plot of the book, Jackson added in subtle hints and foreshadowing’s of the Lord of the Rings and also brought back members of the original cast such as Elijah Wood, Ian Holm and Cate Blanchett despite them not being in the book. Despite the comparisons I was making with the first half of the book, it was still entertaining, and I found myself omitting the same emotions through the book as I felt during the movie.

At the point where the film ended and I was entering the unknown in terms of not knowing what would happen next, the book really came into its own. I fell more in love with Bilbo – his courage, his quintessential British nature, his inquisitiveness and moral conscience. The other dwarves each became their own character instead of mingling in with the group and the book kept me engaged throughout. I’m not incredibly interested and excited to see the next two films and how they’ve adapted the rest of the novel and I can certainly recommend this book – a classic to those that like fantasy novels and therefore one that must be tried.

 

“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning. But please come to tea – any time you like!” (The Hobbit)

The Shakespeare Secret by J.L Carrell

Have you ever asked the question – who was the true William Shakespeare? Well J.L. Carrell explores this question in the book The Shakespeare Secret, first published in 2007 it presents an interesting conspiracy theory relating to the identity of the writer of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets.

The book is a mystery, crime, thriller that is fast-paced and intriguing. The plot twists in this novel are numerous, and the story can certainly make your head spin with the amount of information that is thrown at you. In the book, a Shakespearean academic is murdered in London, setting off a cat and mouse chase across America and Europe to find a lost Shakespearean manuscript; with a killer still on the loose and closing in on the protagonist Kate, it’s not just a piece of history that is at stake but her life.

This book certainly keeps you interested, and I certainly couldn’t put it down once I started it. As I said, the book has plot twists coming at you from all sides, and while that keeps the reader on their toes, it can become confusing if not a little ridiculous especially towards the identity of the killer. The ending also felt slightly rushed for me; a lot of time was spent on detailing the histories of Shakespeare, but the ending chapters felt too hasty. Despite this the novel is a terrific read, with characters that you can get behind and one or two mysteries and conspiracy theories to decipher.

 

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” (quoted from Julius Caesar in The Shakespeare Secret)

5 Things to do on a Sick Day

I’ve come to the conclusion that when you are feeling ill, feeling sorry for yourself  and you’ve taken a sick day off work there is a number of things that you can do -almost like a checklist:

 

1. Watching typical daytime TV – all that trashy daytime TV you miss out on when your at work can now finally be seen – you can stare at Phillip Schofield and judge the guests on Jeremy Kyle.

2. Catch up TV – you can finally catch up on all the things you’ve either recorded or just been meaning to watch-there’s hours to waste and there’s hours of TV to see.

3. Feel-good movies – remember that movie that you just love and haven’t seen in ages? Well now is your opportunity to watch it, just as your feeling sorry for yourself the most. Dig out your favourite movies or ones that just make you smile, get your duvet and camp out

4. TV Boxsets – Alternatively, you can dig out a boxset of a  beloved TV series and feast on that. Just by watching your favourite episodes or watching a whole season just to remember why you fell in love with the series in the first place will make you feel ten times better!

5. Eat what you want! – your feeling sorry for yourself already, and whilst your watching tv etc. your going to need snacks. Ice cream will help with a sore throat, team it with some chocolate and you’ve got a winning combination.

 

I know that I’ve certainly ticked a few of these boxes during my own sick day today – when your next feeling ill, go ahead and indulge, just for a day!

 

Good Evening York…

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It’s about time guitar music had a new face, and oh boy what a pretty one it is.

Fresh on the music scene, Nottingham born Jake Bugg shot to stardom as his first solo album went straight to the top of the charts knocking Mumford and Sons from the top spot back in October 2012. First hearing ‘Two Fingers’ played on Fearne Cotton’s Radio 1 show last year I immediately made note to tell my younger sister – an avid music fan – that she MUST download this track. Only to be told I was already behind the times and that he was the newest up and coming act to watch out for. There wasn’t much watching to be done as he was in my face faster than a lightning bolt (awful metaphor but it had to be done, forgive me please).

After being unsuccessful in finding tickets for any of the Bugg tour dates I was very lucky that a young fellow helped a friend in need; I felt like Cinderella finally getting to go to the ball. And so came March 29th and so to the ball we went.

The York Barbican was a very interesting choice of venue for the gig, what seemed to be a kind of theatre transformed itself into a weird music hall. Support act Misty Miller kept the crowd reasonably entertained for half an hour with her hormonal fueled songs and foot tapping beats. Her voice was good, she played her own guitar and she seemed to have some idea of what she was doing on stage, but after the third song about a boy she started to sound very similar to Taylor Swift. The other feeling I had while watching her was that she really needed to up her stage artier; jeans and a baggy check shirt do not scream ‘indie queen’. She looked like she was there for band practice rather than to give a rock and roll performance; even a fitted shirt would have been better than nothing.

Anyway, back to Bugg.

Opening his set with the last song on his current album, ‘Fire’ I realised this wasn’t going to be the ‘crazy, jump-around’ gig I had kind of hoped for. However as soon as the chorus kicked in I didn’t care. Sounding just as good live – if not better – than he does on tape, Jake Bugg wowed us all. Jumping from track to track, with no flashy stage show and quick transitions between guitar changes I got lost in the music; at one point even forgetting I was watching him in York Barbican and not in the NME tent as Leeds.

As he started to near the end of his gig and play his most recent releases, ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Lightening Bolt’ I suddenly started to panic that he hadn’t played my favorite track from the album, and question whether he was going to do an encore considering his most popular ones were being played. The stage lights went down and we were left in darkness, he couldn’t not do my favorite one, ‘he only has one album’, ‘he must come back out and do it’ I kept telling myself. Low and behold, after a few minutes of crowd chanting, the lights came back up and Bugg entered back onto the stage to, you’ve guessed it, play my favorite track, ‘Broken’.

For his finale song Bugg did something I’ve never seen done before; he finished his set with a cover, and it worked quite well – but I feel this could only be because I knew the cover. I imagine it would be quite a letdown if you weren’t familiar with the song. On hearing his music and listening to the way he sings, it is plain to see that Johnny Cash is a big influence on Bugg and as soon as the opening chords of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ kicked in I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. Now all I want is for Bugg to release an album solely dedicated to Johnny Cash covers.

This guy is already the one not to be missed, but I must insist that if you ever get the chance to see him, GO. Buy his album, get his EPs, but don’t miss out on the refreshing sound of rock and roll.