Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Hangover Part III review

**May contain spoilers**

The Hangover Part III has not received rave reviews – to put it mildly – but that’s only to be expected; the generic conventions of a sequel, particularly the third instalment of a trilogy such as this, dictate that it will be inferior to its predecessors, luring in faithful audiences only by their undying hopes that they will get a replica of the first film. In this case, it was not to be.  For a film named “The Hangover”, the lack of alcohol was glaring, although the concept of the plot being one giant hangover from events past was not wasted.

To be honest, it was better than expected. For starters, any film which features Mmm Bop by Hanson in the first few minutes of the soundtrack is A-OK by me. Ignoring the dodgy CGI giraffe and subtle-as-a-brick product placement (Tab, anyone? Beats by Dr Dre...), the film has some pretty funny scenes, although predictably the plot line is further-fetched than a camel in Antarctica; you get the impression they wrote the jokes first and built the plot –featuring kidnap comedy giraffe deaths, and the predictable return to Las Vegas- around the jokes.

That said, it’s a great way to round off the trilogy, bringing it to a timely end (yet leaving it open should they feel the need to return to it in the future...). It’s funnier than many critics have made it out to be, with laughter rolling around the cinema throughout. A particular highlight is the scene which unfolds on top of Cesar’s Palace, and had me chuckling for a good few minutes afterwards.

If worse comes to worse, kick back and enjoy the magnificent views that Bradley Cooper brings to the film. I for one was particularly appreciative of the camera shot towards the end, set up from an angle which seemed to have no purpose other than demonstrate the length of his mighty pins. Amen to that.

Conclusion: worth seeing if you fancy a light-hearted giggle. Go in with low expectations and you’ll enjoy it more. Don’t leave as soon as the credits start rolling – the best is yet to come.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Photo of the Day: 15/05/2013

A post-work drinks date with the lovely Rosie saw us checking out Scooter Cafe near Waterloo. After taking the very scenic route to find it, we finally rolled up around 7pm, and ended up having to fight for seats. Anyone who is familiar with Evil Eye in York may see the similarities between the two, although Scooter is a lot smaller. Look out for the scooter in the window to avoid missing it *cough* like us *cough*.

Photo of the day: 16/05/2013

Nemo peekaboo in the aquarium at London Zoo!

Yesterday when I finished work, I spent some time walking around the zoo, taking some photos. I love the vivid colours of this one.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Cosmopolitan magazine's Superblogger event - May 14th 2013

I'm starting to feel like a bit of an old hand at the various careers-style events held by publications in London, but nonetheless was still very excited to attend the Cosmopolitan Superblogger event in collaboration with Next last night.

The format of the evening was similar to that of Company magazine's blogger forum, and, more recently, Cosmopolitan's Media Career Masterclass. It begin with an opportunity to mingle with the other attendees, after which we were called into a lecture theatre, where the panel were waiting for us.

The panel consisted of:

  • Louise Court, Cosmo editor
  • Pat McNulty, Cosmo digital editor
  • Emily Johnston, blogger at Fashion Foie Gras
  • Kat "I really love weddings" Williams, blogger at Rock 'n' Roll Bride
  • Andreas Pouros
  • Vicky Fogwell, from Next
  • Dom Smales
The panel all spoke first, giving their own opinions on various aspects of blogging, from building up followers to avoiding hackers.  The realities of blogging became very real, as both Emily and Kat spoke of managing to accidentally delete their entire blogs in the past.  They also touched on the problem of hackers, particularly those who sit on blogs and demand money for returning control of the blog to the rightful owner. 

When Emily spoke of the "drug of blogging", a ripple of recognition ran through the room, as the majority of attendees identified with the issue - although recognition turned to shock when she told of living on four hours sleep a night for three years as she blogged along time a full time job. Another point which united many people in the room was the mention of the stigma of blogging, due largely to the reputation bloggers have for trying to blag things for free! 

The best piece of advice I took away from the event, and will be attempting to put into practice, was Kat's recommendation to become a routine in your reader's lives by blogging at the same time every week. This led to a discussion amongst the panel of how often is too often to blog- From experience, Dom knew of cases where blogs cut down from three posts to two posts a week, and actually received more readers as a result, suggesting that it is quality rather than quantity that counts.

Contrary to the Company blogging event, this event focused far more on the commercial side of blogging, for those who would like to make a living from it. Whilst this is something that I would love to do, I am very much aware that for me it is a pipe dream, and not something that is ever likely to become a reality. But I was left feeling the need to justify myself for not having a niche topic in my blog, so I was reassured by Dom's statement that there are some bloggers with great work, but do not have what it takes to go commercial. I'm OK with that.

So the final tips for the evening were:

Blogging do's:  
  • Be tenacious
  • Think about brands you want to work with and how you want to work with them
  • Be honest 
  • Value your worth
  • Use social media
And the all important dont's:

  • Don't give up
  • Don't just ask for freebies
  • Don't assume people are interested in anything you're writing
  • Don't  be controversial just for the sake of it
  • Don't get frustrated
  • Don't misbehave on Twitter
  • Don't just sit at your computer- go and look for stories!
The event wrapped up with a few questions from the audience, but for me the best was yet to come, when I summoned up the courage to introduce myself to Louise Court, the editor of Cosmopolitan. Despite spending four weeks as a workie at Cosmo, and attending various events hosted by Cosmopolitan, I'd never actually spoken to Louise, so it was great to have a discussion with her about an article which I contributed to!

As always, the evening resulted in a goody bag for all attendees! Mine consisted of the following:

Self tan mitt, VO5 heat defence cream, Body Shop Coconut Body Butter, Right Guard deodorant,  Baptiste dry shampoo, Blink eyebrow pencil, Bronze Ambition tanning cream, Rimmel Apocalips, DHC deep cleansing oil,  Tresemme Platinum Strength, and a lovely bag of Propercorn.

Coca-Cola named packaging: a good PR plot, or one that's about to backfire?

The iconic Christmas Coke ads have long since disappeared from our screens, and won't be returning until at least, oh, August, giving their marketing and PR people a chance to come up with their latest PR ploy - named packaging.

At first, the idea seemed entirely random -it doesn't link to any upcoming TV or film release, or anything else current - but therein lies its beauty; if #danceponydance and its predecessor, Cadbury's drumming gorilla, taught us anything, it's that random is good in the world of mainstream corporate advertising.

Coke have taken this one step further by making the random personal, by producing bottles with the top 150 names in the country stamped on them. I've yet to find a bottle with my name on it- although I did see a bus with an advert with my name in Oxford Street- but I know that when I do, I'll be buying it, and I know plenty of other people who have said the same. Now maths isn't my strong point, but that's a lot of people, with the 150 most popular names in the country, now buying a Coke that they probably weren't going to buy otherwise. Knowing me, if I do manage to get a bottle with my name on, I won't open it. I'll keep it on a shelf in my room, gathering dust, a la the Peter Rabbit Easter egg of 2005 (if you don't know, don't ask). Again, I know other people who have said they would do the same. But every time I look at that Coke, it's going to give me a craving for Coke. So off I'll trot to buy a can of Coke, simultaneously satisfying my craving and playing into their hands.

So far so good for Coke sales figures, and someone in their head office is heading for a sizeable end of year bonus.

But for every Laura, or Adam, or Rachel out there, there's a Jemima, or Annaliese, or, the person who inspired me to write this blog post, a Farrah.

A couple of days ago, without really thinking about it, I tweeted the following: "Retailers must be getting sick of their drink shelves getting messed up by people looking for a Coke bottles with their name on it!" 

Very quickly, I got this reply: "Fortunately for them, I will sadly be picking up a Fanta instead. Personalised doesn't come in size "Farrah" </3"

 As well as encouraging people who wouldn't normally buy a Coke to buy one, they're also discouraging regular buyers who have been excluded from this PR ploy. Now I'm not saying that the Farrahs of this world are going to outnumber the Lauras- the very essence of this being the 150 most popular names exlcudes this possibility, but it's food for thought.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Gavin & Stacey goes Stateside

When I heard that Gavin and Stacey, the best thing to ever come out of BBC3, was headed for a US makeover, I was not amused. The brilliant sitcom is intrinsically based on the cultural quirks of England and Wales (co-creator James Corden found inspiration for the show when he attended a wedding consisting of both English and Welsh guests), so short of hitting on the US/Canada divide - and I think How I Met Your Mother has sufficiently covered that one from all possible angles- it's difficult to see how this show would translate for an American audience. Add to this the fact that the chemistry between the actors of the British version is largely what makes it such a success, and many British fans found themselves wishing that the US would leave this one alone.  The one saving grace of the US remake was that James Corden and Ruth Jones were on board as executive producers.

The trailer has now been released, and things aren't looking good. The intermittent title screens  suggest it to be a budget rom-com. The casting choices are interesting- the woman who plays Stacey's mum in the US version has a striking resemblance to Joanna Page, who plays Stacey herself in the British version. On first glance, it looks like Jack Black has been cast to play Smithy, a possible saving grace, until it's revealed that it's actually stand-up comic Dustin Ybarra. 

It also appears that there are exact replicas of some of the scenes in the British version, the kitchen table rape alarm scene being a prime example. However, without the comic genius of Rob Brydon, it doesn't seem  to have the same wit and sparkle. Whether there is the all-important chemistry between the characters remains to be seen. Have a watch and let me know what you think.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Birthday accessories

My birthday continued yesterday as I went out for a belated meal with some friends and received some more presents. The earrings on the blue and cream card are all from the very talented Emma, who made them all herself.

The eager-eyed among you might recognise the bucket necklace from my weekly wishlist - Amy, who was with me when I saw it, remembered it from all those months ago!

Finally, the pink flower and pearl hair clips are ones that I chose myself from New Look - they match perfectly with a ring I bought from Accessorize a few months ago.

I also got this perfume from (a different) Emma. It's Summer Heat from Next, and, like all perfumes that I take a liking to, is limited edition. I've never recovered from the loss of the extremely limited edition Forever and Ever by Dior.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Photo of the day: 09/05/2013

Anyone who knows me knows that Venice is -and always has been- top of my dream holiday list. So when I found out that one of my friends was going on a tour of Europe, stopping by in Venice on my birthday of all days, I wasn't about to let the subject drop.

 10 days later he came back to work with a present for me from his travels; a marble carving of a street scene, a magnet, and a commemorative coin from Paris.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The World's End - Teaser Trailer

Only Pegg can take something simple like a pub crawl, set in a small British town, and turn it into a feature film, let alone one featuring explosions, perfectly-timed comedy lines, and the oh-so-British slapstick comedy that Pegg and co. (Shaun of the Dead, Paul) do so well.

So the teaser trailer for what I'm hoping will be my second favourite film of the year (there's room for negotiation, depending how Gatsby turns out) is very exciting. I'm just disappointed that the eponymous "World's End" doesn't seem to refer to the pub of the same name in Camden Town, North London.

I  can't be the only one hoping that one of the pubs in the film is named the Winchester, can I?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Sugar overload

So yesterday was my birthday. Woo, and indeed hoo, for being another year older. Shame I still look about 12, but what can you do? In a happy twist of fate, the weather was beautiful, so we ended up taking a trip to Brighton for a couple of hours. A stroll along the pier promised to end in a birthday ice cream, but halfway along, as we stopped to take in a view of the coastline - barely visible through the throngs of pre-bank holiday crowds - I caught sight of JB's Diner. 
A view of the bustling seafront - the colours remind me of old-fashioned beach postcards.
Some of you may remember my blog post from summer last year, in which I visited JB's and pledged to go back one day for one of their Lucky Charms milkshake. Well, yesterday was that day.  We skipped the pier ice cream and headed straight for JB's. 

Fortunately, there was one table outside, and we made a beeline for it. I didn't even need to see the menu - I was there for one thing, and one thing only (although I did end up with a side of cheesy chips - I needed something to soak up all the sugar).

When my milkshake arrived, it was everything I had hoped it would be - and plenty more besides. As well as the tall, sundae-style glass it was presented in, I was served  full cocktail shaker full of "excess" milkshake.  It was thick,  made from ice cream, and abundant with Lucky Charms.

And just look at those toppings! Lucky Charms, whipped cream, cherries, sprinkles...

I'd already had pop tarts for breakfast (following our first, less than pleasant encounter, our relationship blossomed, but I fear it has now reached it's peak) so already had plentiful sugar flowing through my veins.  The birthday cake a couple of hours later pushed me over the edge into a sugar induced coma.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Emeli Sande - Crazy In Love feat. The Bryan Ferry Orchestra

A cheeky browse on Twitter this morning saw me finding a link to Emeli Sande and Bryan Ferry's cover of Crazy in Love, part of the Great Gatsby soundtrack. I couldn't actually watch the video until I got home this evening, so spent all day hyping it up in my mind, until I had a solid idea of what I expected- a slow and sensual rendition of Queen Bey's best-known work.

That was not what I got. This rendition is pacey, full of bring-on-the-trumpets jazziness, a perfect backing soundtrack for the automobiles of the '20s speeding past the watchful eyes of Dr. Eckleburg into the lively city beyond.

 Never have I been so excited about a film!