Film review for aliljoy: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

hunger games vs twilight“So why did I finally cave with The Hunger Games? People wouldn’t stop talking about it! And I have a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), especially when it comes to films.”

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Coming soon to a cinema near you: Begin Again and Wish I Was Here

I love Mark Ruffalo. No, I adore him. And I’ll literally watch him in anything – even In the Cut! So when I heard that he was doing a film with the writer/director of Once, my heart practically leapt! Then I saw the trailer and was bitterly disappointed.

Strike one: Cliched and formulaic, Begin Again (formerly known as Can A Song Change Your Life?) looks to me like another film where an older man falls for a young Manic Pixie Dream Girl, looking for her to complete him and solve all of life’s problems.

Strike two: It stars Keira Knightley. Back in her Bend it Like Beckham days, I actually really liked her, but now I like her films in spite of her appearing in them – Atonement, Never Let Me Go, Seeking A Friend for the End of the World. Rumour has it Scarlett Johansson was originally cast in the leading role. Now that I could have handled, despite the still 10+ years age gap.

Strike three: Music and musicians feature strongly but Keira doesn’t sing (I’m guessing from the trailer. IMDB wasn’t very helpful at confirming or denying this). Why not cast a talented actress who can actually sing?!

begin again film poster

I loved Once. It is one of my favourite films and it warms my cockles every time I see it. I’ll likely give this a go because of The Ruff (you call him that too, right?) but I’m not going to get my hopes up. Who knows, I might be pleasantly surprised.

I am, however, looking forward to Wish I was Here, Zach Braff’s second directorial effort and the fruits of his Kickstarter triumph. If you liked Garden State, chances are you’ll love this. Check out the soundtrack for a start!

I’m also pretty chuffed with the cast – J.D, and Turk together again, the hugely under-rated Kate Hudson in a non-rom-com leading role (although I doubt she’ll ever better her Almost Famous debut), Jim Parsons and the late James Avery (aka Uncle Phil). Sounds like a winner to me! Which is odd considering it’s basically about a guy who homeschools his kids. I’m in though. And, of course, it has a cool poster! Damn this indie king! He’s so cool it hurts!

wish i was here film poster

How about you? Excited to see either of these films? Begin Again will be released in the UK on 11 July and Wish I Was Here on 19 September. I reckon it’ll be worth the wait.

Item of the day: Hello Robin gift set

hello robin gift set from wormAlthough I’m terrified of 99% of birds, I’ve got a soft spot for robins. This Hello Robin gift set from Worm is great because it’s just £18.95 and you don’t even need a garden or patio space to attract birds – just stick it onto you window. It even comes with a pack of feed.

If you like this, browse similar items on my gardening Pinterest board and find out more about National Gardening Week.

Nine reasons why you should stay in on a Thursday night

You know how it’s Quite Big Thursday over on E4? Well, it’s not just E4 that’s got all kinds of cool shit on a Thursday night – Sky 1, More 4 and Alibi are in on the act too! Fortunately, I have Sky+ and I can catch up on everything over the next few days, but a couple of years ago we couldn’t afford Sky (hell, we barely can now!) and I insisted on watching all of my TV shows on an actual TV (rather than iPlayer and such), so I would have been screwed. Even with all of the standard channels plus the plus ones, I never would have managed all of this. So, in no particular order, here are my top ten shows to watch on a Thursday night.

Arrow, Sky 1, 8pm

We’re coming up to the end of Season 2 now and I’m interested to see how the finale is going to go down – plus I’m keen for more reveals from the island. When Arrow first started in the UK, I wasn’t particularly keen – the trailers didn’t really sell it to me and it just felt like every possible comic book option was being exploited. Then we caught up online and it turns out it’s pretty friggin’ awesome! I’m really not liking Laurel in the second season (she’s so whiny and when did she get so sickly thin?!) but Felicity is my favourite character. Let’s give it up for the bad ass women in this show!

The Big Bang Theory, E4, 8pm

Ah, I love this show! Especially since they brought in more female characters. Leonard and Penny’s relationship is adorable but it’s the one between Amy and Sheldon that I find fascinating – I really don’t have a clue where they’re going to take it, which is interesting. Oh, and have you seen this…?

How I Met Your Mother, E4, 8.30pm

Ok, so in the last season or two the number of genuine LOLs has seriously dropped but I’m still hanging in there cos I love these guys. And I’m watching it in UK time, not US time, so thanks Twitter for ruining the ending for me. Regardless, I don’t want to hear any more spoilers and I’m still going to believe that Robin and Barney live happily ever after until I see otherwise. She’s not meant to be with Ted – she doesn’t even want children! And she travels the world for Christ’s sake!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, E4, 9pm

We don’t watch a lot of sitcoms together – he hates HIMYM, Big Bang, Friends etc – and we tend to watch a lot of sci-fi and detective shows. So it’s nice that, once a week, we get to laugh together with Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It’s friggin’ hilarious and I’m loving Andy Samberg. Plus it’s great to see a genuinely hilarious ensemble cast, where all of the characters get equal comedic glory.

The Good Wife, More 4, 9pm

I’ve been watching this show from the beginning and it just keeps getting better, I was intrigued with Julianna Margulies in a leading role (I loved her in ER) and I like a good detective or lawyer show. It’s great to see a show carried by so many strong women (Christine Baranski, Archie Panjabi, Mary Beth Peil and regular guest stars Rita Wilson and Carrie Preston), casting a closer eye on what it takes to be a successful woman. Plus the sexual tension between Alicia and Will is HOT!

Side note: Searching for a clip to feature below led me to THE major spoiler in the UK (seeing as the US is so far ahead). I am properly upset and literally don’t know what to do with myself

Castle, Alibi, 9pm

As of this season, my boyfriend no longer regularly watches this me. He’s right in saying that the plots have become a bit daft but it’s the characters that bring me back week after week. Even if they keep making Kate hotter and hotter, walking around in her underwear and waking up with a perfectly made up face, complete with smokey eyes. No-one looks that good first thing in the morning! Anyhoo, if you like your detective shows, or if you’re just a huge Nathan Fillion fan, what are you waiting for? Catch up now!

2 Broke Girls

This is the kind of show that I love to hate. Beth Behr’s Caroline is irritating as hell 99% of the time but I have a major girl crush on Kat Dennings, so I can let most of it slide. I wish I had Max’s quick wit and sharp tongue.

Nashville, More 4, 10pm

I have to confess, I don’t actually watch this show, but it’s on my list of series to catch up on when everything finishes its current run. I’m not really a lover of country music but I do like a good drama and this one has a great rep.

Southland, More 4, 11pm

I lost my way with Southland at the end of season 2 – season 3 started without me realising and I never got round to catching up. Now it’s on season 5 and I’m waaay behind. I’m going to make the effort to catch up when The Mentalist, Elementary, Arrow, etc all finish their current seasons. I started watching this show because of Ben Mackenzie – I was intrigued to see him play a cop (did you know he’s playing Jim Gordon in the Gotham TV show?) – and was hooked by the gritty realism and yet another strong ensemble cast. If you’re fed up with the cookie cutter happy endings you generally get with police dramas, this is the show for you!

That’s nine damn good reasons if you ask me! What’s your favourite?

Item of the day: Window salad seeds starter pack

seed pack from seed pantryIf you don’t have a garden but you still want to grow your own, this pack from Seed Pantry has everything you need to grow salad ingredients from your windowsill! For £35.00 you get a mini propagator, bio-degradable pots, dibblet, mini compost disks and labels, plus seeds for salad, lettuce, spring onions, radishes, chillies, basil and parsley!

If you like this, browse similar items on my gardening Pinterest board and find out more about National Gardening Week.

South West Blog Social, 7 June

I’ve booked my ticket for the next South West Blog Social! It’s in Exeter on 7 June and will include guest speakers and a cocktail masterclass. I’m in!

south west blog social

The names of the VIP speakers are yet to be revealed but I had a quick Twitter convo with the host, Jodie from A La Jode, and she told me that they’ll include social media experts, tips on monetisation from a full-time blogger, someone well known in the blogging world, a journalist for major publications and a PR manager! If nothing else, it’ll be a fantastic networking opportunity.

You can book your earlybird ticket (£4.00) here. All ticket holders also get a good bag, I’m so excited!

Item of the day: Very Hungry Caterpillar gardening set

very hungry caterpillar gardening set from mochaIf you’ve got little ones that want to help in the garden, this Very Hungry Caterpillar set from Mocha is perfect. It’s £18.99 and comes with the essential tools in an adorable and handy tin.

If you like this, browse similar items on my gardening Pinterest board and find out more about National Gardening Week.

Judging a book by its cover: The Hunger Games

I’m still pondering whether or not to read the books before I finish watching the films, so to help me make up my mind, I thought I’d check out the book art and prices online. On Amazon I found these awesome covers but for some reason, you can only get the Mockingjay cover in the marketplace. The same thing applies on the Waterstones website. What’s that about?

the hunger games books

The only other option I kind of like the look of is this boxset from Amazon for £16.

the hunger games books

The problem is, now I’ve seen the shiny covers I’m incredibly taken by them! Does anyone know of anywhere you can buy them completely brand new? I don’t want to risk a marketplace buy. And yes, I know I’m a book snob!

I don’t want to order the first two books from Amazon until I know I can complete the set. If you can help me track one down, I’ll be forever in your debt!

Edit: I found it on Wordery! It’s amazing what you can find with an extensive Google image search! Good old Wordery who sent me the free copy of Soulmates. Oh, I love these guys! Now I just need to decide whether not not to stare at the pretty covers for months or find out how it’s all gonna end…

Item of the day: Secret Garden sign

secret garden sign from not on the high streetI’ve always liked the idea of having a secret garden and with this adorable sign from Not on the High Street, I can pretend my rather public garden is actually my little secret. It’s £32.00 and you can include a message, such as faries welcome – cute!

If you like this, browse similar items on my gardening Pinterest board and find out more about National Gardening Week.

Why I Love: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

At the weekend I finally got round to seeing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It’s only a couple of months since I saw the first instalment, so I’m a tad behind. I enjoyed it so much that I’m thinking about squeezing the books in before the next film is released in November, but then what I like about watching the films is that I don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe I’ll read the books after – what do you reckon?

Anyhoo, there are three main reasons why I love it so much:

1. Jennifer Lawrence! C’mon, the whole world loves her by now, ammiright?! She has managed the perfect balance of not hiding from the limelight whilst also not becoming over-exposed, she’s super-talented but not big-headed and commanding ridiculous amounts of money per film, and she appears completely genuine at all times. She’s the kinda girl others want as their new BFF.

2. Expectations. With this franchise, I originally completely dismissed it because of the Twilight comparisons. It turns out that apart from the vague overlaps (based on a series of young adult novels, young cast, love triangle), they are completely different. For a start, Katniss is a total bad-ass and Bella is a whiny, emo bitch! Yeah, I feel that strongly about it! Then the boyfriend showed an interest in watching the first one, we gave it a go and we both actually enjoyed it. And I liked the second instalment even more so.

hunger games vs twilight

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3. The costumes, hair and make-up. Outside of the arena, it’s Effie and Katniss’ costumes that have my attention. The wedding dress was particularly amazing.

So who’s responsible for this thing of beauty? The costumes were chosen and/or designed by  Trish Summerville (credits include Christina Aguilera’s tours and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and the hair and makeup were the work of a particularly large team, so I’m not sure who gets to take credit for Jena Malone’s fabulous eyelashes!


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Let’s take a closer look at some more of those fabulous costumes!


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Find out more about the designers behind the pieces, including the great Alexander McQueen, here.

I can’t remember another film, apart from Marie Antoinette, where I loved the costumes as much. How about you?

Check out my full review on aliljoy on Friday.