Tuesday, 27 March 2018

I’m Training for my First Half-Marathon: Part 2



Less than two weeks to go… 

I’ve hit a wall with running, not the one they talk about on TV where you a half way through a race and you break through the invisible bricks in a blaze of glory. No, over the last two weeks I have forgotten why I ever wanted to run a half marathon in the first place. While I continue trying to keep positive and remember that it will all be worth it (hopefully) when I cross the finish line, I wanted to learn some things I’ve learnt about myself and running over the last three months of training:

-        Your feet won’t look pretty – I’m going to get the grossest one out of the way. Maybe feet are already disgusting but constantly slamming your feet on the floor at high speed will just make them worse, who would have guessed? To date I am one toenail down but ask me again in two weeks and I may be another one lighter. Sandal weather is going to be interesting.

-       Another thing for the to-do list – The thing people always tell you about exercise is that it is a great stress reliever, and it’s true, the rush of endorphins and time to think are great for mental health. When I signed up for the half-marathon I thought, ‘great I can run away the stress of, dissertation, job applications, assignments, impending adulthood…’ but what I’ve discovered recently is how time-consuming training is. Running no longer fits in with the rest of my life meaning I have to schedule it in which has been a challenge recently with so many other things going on. I now treat a run like the last thing on my to-do list and after I can relax and let the exhaustion take hold. There is nothing better than a post-run nights sleep.


-        I have poor will-power – I admit it, I have weak will-power when It comes to exercising. Recently my calves have felt strained and it’s made running painful at times. Then my weak will power comes in as I walk for short intervals and feel defeated even after covering nine miles. As much as I tell myself how much I can do it and that I’ll feel great when it’s over – my head is also willing me to stop. I now hope that the atmosphere and crowd of the race will keep my legs moving and my weak-willed-self running.

-       When am I going to feel fit?! There is something strange about exercising a lot more than ever while feeling tired and aching on the daily. My expectations of leaping out of bed everyday with killer abs and physique to match have been severely unfulfilled. On the bright side my leg muscles feel firm and I feel healthier overall, needing to do regular exercise has massively upped my water uptake and I’m trying to be conscious of what I eat before a run. Once I’ve finished running training I’d really like to focus more attention on building up upper-body strength and flexibility.

You’ll hear from me again after I’ve passed that blessed 13.1 mile mark. The final countdown (d-d-doo-doo) is now on, wish me luck!



Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women’s Day 2018: Recent Reads and Recommendations


Maybe you’ve been avoiding social media, televisions and the overall population since January 1st but 2018 is the Year of the Woman, i.e. the one-year anniversary of women over 30 getting the vote in the UK. Apparently, this month is also women’s history so it stands to reason that International Women’s Day 2018 is a big one, and I’m here for it. Still in need of some inspiration? Well it’s the perfect time to pick up a book or two from some first-class females. I’ve specifically chosen those that I’ve read recently, one of which I’ve only just started but know it’s a perfect fit for this mini list.  

Moxie – Jennifer Mathieu 
'Moxie girls fight back!' You may have heard of Moxie because it was featured in an incarnation of Zoella’s book club last year. Please don’t let that put you off, this story of a 16-year-old taking on her sexist-dress-code-pushing and football-player-worshipping Texas high school is possibly the most inspiring feminist book I’ve read. The characters are so developed and the issues are explored in a mature and sensitive way so that’s it’s an addictive read for all ages.  

Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives – Anna Kessel 
I added Eat Sweat Play to my Christmas list for some much-needed half-marathon training, turns out it was a lot more than inspiration for my lazy self. In fact, this book is a breakdown of sexism in sport and the media.  No, I have no aspirations of being a professional athlete or sportswoman but what this book did so insightfully was break down taboo's that are prevalent all over society. It is consistently thought provoking and as I consider it my first feminist non-fiction read, it has opened the door to a desire to read so many more.  


The Power – Naomi Alderman 
This is the book that I’ve only just started, in fact I’ll admit that I’m only 70 pages through. If you liked the Handmaid’s Tale (book or amazing TV show) you will love The Power’s way of exploring gender relations through a dystopian setting. As part of our first ever ‘book club’ myself and my housemates are all trying to get through this book before the end of March, why not get a copy and read along with us? 

Want to know what's next on my reading list? Follow me on Goodreads! 




Thursday, 15 February 2018

I’m Training for My First Half-Marathon: Part 1

As of the Sunday the 28th of January I am in training for the Sheffield Half Marathon which will take place on the 8th of April. I’ve essentially paid £37 to run 13.1 miles up and down a big hill, you can ask me why but I might have to get back to you on the answer.

Before we get in to how the training is going let me take you on a journey through my history with exercise and sport…

When I was in year 11 of secondary school I had phone call home from my discouraged PE teacher after I refused to play basketball in favour of sitting on the radiator and chatting. When I was 18, after my first university term of eating my bodyweight in carbs, I decided to join a gym so bought a full gym kit and running shoes. This didn’t end well after I couldn’t find the gym, looked like an idiot and decided that this gym wasn’t for me. Next was my first experience with running, I got up early on a Sunday morning, got straight in to my running clothes and ran out of my front door with the aim of doing at least twenty minutes cross-country. Fast-forward 3 minutes and I was walking, out of breath and with a killer-stitch. Turns out I wasn’t particularly fit after leaving the forced exercise of school behind and discovering the joys of alcohol and pasta for every meal. My gym clothes finally got their day in the sun after I started going to a nearby gym with my university flatmates… at least until I moved in to new accommodation where the 20-minute walk to the gym put me off. 2 years later, while on my placement year, I needed something to occupy my free time around work so the obvious solution was to take up swimming. (You may be able to guess where this is going) I bought a swimming costume and goggles and headed to the pool. My overall thoughts on swimming are as follows; it is bloody knackering, it’s boring and it feels like everyone around you is so much better.  I swam a grand total of 5 lengths before getting out of the pool and sitting in the changing rooms wondering why the hell I ever thought this was a good idea. I was the definition of ‘all the gear and no idea’ or you may prefer ‘all the kit and still shit’. And somehow from sitting almost naked in a grubby leisure centre changing room wondering what the policy for returning a swimming costume was, I decided to join a running club and complete the couch to 5k program. *drum roll please* I actually did it!

I’ll be honest, after I completed the couch to 5k I didn’t become the jolly running girl who ran a swift 5k before dawn. Rather, I lost interest in the running club in favour of solo runs and since then my relationship with running has been on and off. Then in September last year, in a hangover induced stupor I agreed to the half marathon.

Finding the motivation to carry on comes from your head and not your legs. I’ve learnt that I’m not someone who can jump out of bed and run but if I’m sticking to training so that’s fine. Now I am in my third week of ‘official’ training and can now run 6 miles, aka I’m almost at the half way point and the idea of running for two hours or more sends dread straight to my soul. It’s well written that running is as much about physical endurance as it is mental. Sometimes running is gruelling AF but knowing that once I’ve completed a planned run gives me so much simple happiness and pride in myself. It’s not all #fitspo and my-body-is-a-temple though, like yesterday when I couldn’t even do 5k of hill training. I may whip up a green smoothie from time to time but I reward myself with a bag of monster munch.


So that’s it for now, I’ll be back with part two when I’m at the 10-mile mark. Wish me luck! 


Sunday, 23 October 2016

RECENT WATCH: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Image Source: imdb.com
The Girl on the Train is a mystery thriller based on the bestselling novel by Paula Hawkins. Rachel is an alcoholic divorcee who rides a commuter train to the job she has been fired from for over a year, when a woman goes missing she becomes entangled in the investigation.

We follow Rachel on a continued downward spiral, she spends her days drinking vodka like its water and gazing in to the windows of the houses along the train track. She indulges in her obsession for a young couple she thinks she knows as she watches every day. Emily Blunt is unsurprisingly brilliant as Rachel, while reading Paula Hawkins novel I’ll admit I didn’t picture anyone like Blunt but she won me over. The wonders of makeup have transformed her in to someone that looks truly downtrodden and she plays Rachel with the right balance of subtly and eccentricity to portray a character that is deeply troubled but wishing to do the right thing.  In fact I was happy with all of the casting choices; I particularly liked Luke Evan’s as the unsettling Scott, the husband of the missing Megan.

Image Source: imdb.com
What made the book stand out was how it developed in to a layered story of voyeurism, alcoholism and desperation. For me, this is where the film adaptation fell flat as it failed to reach the depths of its source material. I really struggle with films that use narration as the main form of storytelling. There was so much to pack in to the film to build tension and emotion and the main vehicle of this seemed to be stirring monologues. This created some really problematic pacing; the story seems to chug along with character development before rushing to a conclusion with little build up.

While the novel is set in London the film has been moved to New York in an attempt to make Blunt’s British Rachel even more of an outsider. Call me picky but I really think that the setting should have remained the same. Seeing the drama of your cavorting neighbours play out through their windows seems far less likely on a property of two thousand square feet. There’s something off putting by the glamour that surrounds the lives of many of our New York set characters while the book described the behind-the-scenes chaos of their home lives.


The Girl on the Train fails to stand against its genre predecessors but will hold up at the box office thanks to Emily Blunt’s performance and is a faithful adaptation that sticks closely to its source. Although this could be its downfall as the film hears like an audio book with questionable pacing.


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

JULY WATCHLIST

I watch a lot of films, big shocker there I know… Between re-watching my favourites and binge watching TV shows I try to watch plenty of films I haven’t seen before, there are way too many great films out there to not do the metaphorical legwork. I only tend to review films that are currently at the cinema and give little attention to the wonderful gems I have finally feasted my eyes on. So, I had an idea for a new series of monthly or sometimes bi-monthly posts. A monthly ‘watchlist’ will be a rundown of films that I have watched for the first time in the month that has passed, for a first I will also be rating each film out of 5.

This month I have caught up on a few newer releases that I’d hoped to see in the cinema but I really want to use these posts as an excuse for some film-education. There is an embarrassingly high amount of classic cinema that I haven’t yet seen and that needs to change.

Image Source: the-indie-pendent.com
Me Before You (2016)
I read Jojo Moyes’ novel over a year before the film release and as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn’t help feeling it was over-rated. So the hype surrounding the film was no surprise and I was dubious. With Moyes herself at the helm of the script this is a faithful adaptation, drawing well from the source material but standing as its own product. I was neutral about Sam Claflin’s performance as Will Traynor but I thought Emilia Clarke was perfect casting. Her portrayal was exactly how I had imagined when reading the clumsy but equally ballsy Louisa Clark. The ending also packed the serious emotional punch that I’d hoped for. 4/5

Image Source: pulseradio.fm
Sing Street (2016)
A boy growing up in 1980’s Dublin starts a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes. The band in question turns out to be a bunch of unlikely heroes who make great music. Sing Street was by far the best film I saw in July and could easily be one of my favourites of the year. I couldn’t wait to recommend it to people and the brilliant soundtrack has been on repeat for me since the first viewing. Like John Carney’s other ‘musicals’, Sing Street balances both sides of the emotion spectrum to produce a film with bags of singing and historically relevant drama. It’s a love letter to 80’s pop-culture with nostalgia my 90s-born-self got wrapped up in. 5/5

Image Source: collider.com
The Last Five Years (2014)
The Last Five Years is a musical drama that follows Cathy, a struggling actress and novelist Jamie, chronicling the unravelling of their love affair over a five year period. I’m going to be blunt; the music was the only thing I liked. The timeline of the story is an absolute mess. The order of events is so confusing that I didn’t care about any of the characters. The whole film feels more like a series of mismatched music videos than a complete, meaningful story. 1/5

Image Source: buzzhub.wordpress.com
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
Greg likes to be invisible; he enjoys being anonymous and making films with his ‘co-worker’ Earl until his mother forces him to befriend Rachel, a girl recently diagnosed with Leukaemia. This film is a tour de force in how to make a story of friendship without clich├ęs and stereotypes. While the whole film revolves around Greg, every character is layered and interesting. That combined with the way the film is shot, including moments of Claymation and shots of Greg and Earl’s own films, makes for a grounded drama dealing with sensitive subject matter. 4.5/5



Thursday, 28 July 2016

COMIC-CON 2016: 5 MUST-SEE TRAILERS

Another comic-con means a serious amount of new trailers and news about some of the most exciting upcoming releases. I have watched every trailer that was released over the four day of this year’s comic-con in San Diego; here are the five that you must watch.

Suicide Squad (Final Trailer)

The trailers for Suicide Squad have been some perfects examples in film marketing, perfectly matching the music, demonstrating the overall feel and not giving too much away, they have definitely hooked me in. While there have been so many trailers for Suicide Squad this one has basically sealed the deal about how much I can’t wait for this film to hit cinemas in August.

Justice League

The biggest thing with this trailer is that it seems to demonstrate that the filmmakers behind the current DC cinematic universe are listening to the fans. The tone looks to be lightening and the standout of this trailer was the first glimpse of Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash.

Wonder Woman

Yes there is a lot of DC in this list, I just love DC characters okay? Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was one of the best things about the divisive ‘Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and like the first footage of Justice League, the first glimpse of the Wonder Woman feature film seems to be taking itself less seriously and giving the fans what they want.

Snowden

This is the second trailer for Oliver Stone’s Edward Snowden biopic. The story of Edward Snowden is one of the most important stories in recent history and brought up issues that are continually discussed today. If you want some light research before seeing the film coming in September I’d really recommend the Oscar winning documentary ‘Citizenfour’.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

I had seen there was going to be a new film about King Arthur but I really wasn’t interested until this trailer. The story has been told many times in many different adaptations but an a historical epic with Guy Ritchie’s signature style? Count me in.


Monday, 25 July 2016

RECENT WATCH: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

Image Source: imdb.com
Three paranormal enthusiasts and a subway worker team up to fight ghosts after a series of other-worldly forces threaten New York.

I can’t even attempt to review this film without acknowledging the amount of negativity surrounding this film. I said in a previous post that I was set on seeing this film no matter what and I stuck to that, seeing it as soon as I had the chance. I wanted to really like this film and when you want to really like something you can get a case of tunnel vision but I couldn’t avoid the negative reviews that appeared on the day of the films cinema release. I don’t agree with the amount of hate this film is drowning in, but it’s true that this film is severely flawed.

First let’s talk about what I actually liked; the four main cast members were great. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy have such great chemistry and comedic timing together. While I wasn’t as aware of Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones pre-Ghostbusters I really liked their performances. Kate McKinnnon’s wacky antics as inventor, ‘Jillian Holtzmann’ take a moment to get used but eventually she has a certain charm. Understandably the CGI has massively improved which quite simply means the ghosts look better. Although, care has been taken to not lose the retro charm of the story and it isn’t lost in technological advances. Green slime and floating bodies remain. The iconic theme tune is back but there are multiple remixes that added a modern feel, my favourite version is by ‘Fall Out Boy’ and ‘Missy Elliott’ which played on the first assembling of the Ghostbusters in uniform. That whole sequence was probably my favourite part of the entire film. The action sequences are also well choreographed and up to a certain point the final battle makes for a satisfying conclusion. (More on this later)

Image Source: imdb.com
Now I have to talk about the things I did not like. First of all, I did not find Ghostbusters funny. More than anything Ghostbusters should be a comedy but apart from some well-timed pop-culture references and a little acute self-awareness the ‘jokes’ fell flat. This was a big disappointment after the many literal laugh-out-loud moments of Paul Feig’s other comedies, most notably ‘The Heat’ and ‘Spy’. The male representations are horrendous. Every man in this film is either evil or a total idiot. It annoys me so much that a film that attempts to break new ground with a female led action/comedy would do so by just flipping a stereotype dynamic. There is no need to stereotype to that scale, to attempt comedy in this way is cheap and quite frankly lazy. While the original film was male led, the female characters were worthy and developed. Sigourney Weaver's ‘Dana Barrett’ was one of the most memorable parts of the original for me. The constant appearance of stereotypes created an alarming anti-man tone that reached its cataclysm in the final act. A certain part of the concluding battle is currently doing the rounds on the internet for all the wrong reasons. With the risk of spoilers all I will say is that the conclusion revolves around something that I can only guess was intended as a joke but ended up being a cheap and messy conclusion that you’d expect in a bad Adam Sandler movie.

Image Source: imdb.com
I saw the original Ghostbusters for the first time in full last October at a drive-in. While I enjoyed it, it is not a favourite and I have no loyalty to it. However, even I couldn’t help but closely compare the 1984 original to the 2016 reboot. The original is an iconic product of cinema of the time and more importantly; has stood the test of time. Scratch the surface of this reboot and there’s nothing new to boast about. The film also seems to be afraid to stand on its own, it’s a reboot but with a ridiculous amount of clumsy cameos and nods to the Bill Murray led original.

It wasn’t until I sat down and really thought about this film that I really questioned why it had to be Ghostbusters in the first place. The acting talent in this film could have been used on new characters that broke gender norms but told a story in its own right. If all we need to create something new is to swap the genders of characters then screenwriters can put down their pens for the next 100 years. It’s about time that we are seeing new roles for women in film but by simply stepping to the shoes of a much beloved film, Ghostbusters was set up for a fall. With other all-female remakes in the pipe line, including an all-female ‘Ocean’s Eleven’; I worry Ghostbusters will leave a bitter taste.


I had high hopes for Ghostbusters but it has fallen short of expectations. While undeserving of the lynch mob that is after it at the moment, CGI advances and acting talent couldn’t save it from a poor script and the risks of remaking an 80’s classic.