24 Days of Christmas Films: Day 15-Miracle on 34th Street

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The words genuine and heart-warming has been thrown around a lot this month in regards to some of the films on this list, but believe me when I say that this is the iconic film that first inspired those feelings.

Although the 1994 version will always hold a special place in my heart as I was obsessed with Mara Wilson after Matilda, it’s the 1947 version that I think truly embodies Christmas spirit.

Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) is an event planner for Macy’s Department Store and after finding that her hired Father Christmas is drunk, a man named Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) offers to take his place. He does so well that he ends up working as the store Santa but due to his continual insistence that he is the Father Christmas he ends up committed to a mental institution, and his only option is for the court to be convinced that his is the real deal once and for all. It sounds like a slightly depressing concept initially but the real joy in the film comes from Kris (spoiler alert) convincing everyone, in particular Doris’ sceptical young daughter Susan (Natalie Wood).

Watching both young children and adults fall under Kris Kringle’s spell and rediscover their belief in him is so uplifting and enjoyable to watch, and in the end I think that’s part of the success as I believe everyone would deep down still like to believe in Father Christmas. The performances are outstanding and the natural chemistry between the characters, especially between Susan and Kris Kringle is integral to the reason this film continues to inspire people over 50 years after its release.

“Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to.” It’s that optimism that runs throughout the film, and that’s why I had to include it on this list as I think that’s what people quintessentially love about Christmas, the idea that it feels like anything can happen, maybe even a miracle.

 

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24 Days of Christmas Films: Day 14- Arthur Christmas

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Another one of the more modern entries on this list but I couldn’t resist including it as I think it’s one of the smartest, most genuine Christmas films I’ve ever seen.

We’re introduced to Father Christmas (Hugh Bonneville) and his two sons Steve, the focused man on the ground in charge of running Christmas operations, and Arthur (James McAvoy) his good hearted but hopeless son who is in charge of the letter department. After a terrible mistake Arthur takes it upon himself to rectify it, and with his GrandSanta (Billy Nighy) and a wrapping elf named Bryony (Ashely Jensen) he sets off to ensure that no child will ever be without a gift on Christmas.

The thing I like most about this film is how it plays on the traditional Christmas myths such as making ‘Santa’ a title which is passed down, and the ingenious explanation as to how Father Christmas manages the incredible feat of delivering presents to all the children across the world in one night.

The recognisable voices add a sense of inherent likability to the characters, as although you might not be able to name the actor, you know the voice and relate to the character as a result. The family focus of the film and Arthur’s determination to deliver the forgotten present means it’s truly heartwarming to watch, but also manages to create genuine sentiment which is what makes it so enjoyable too. It’s such a witty and intelligent film that it makes it a perfect choice for both adults and children and is a sure fire way to keep everyone happy on Christmas day.

24 Days of Christmas Films: Day 12-A Charlie Brown Christmas

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This is an oldie but a goodie. While my sister and I never really watched the Peanut cartoons when we were little (I preferred the comics), my mother used to love them and it was a love she used to try to pass on by encouraging us to watch this every year.

With imaginative, relatable characters and iconic music it’s not surprising that A Charlie Brown Christmas is something that still manages to compel children, long after they’ve transitioned into adulthood. It’s surprising re-watching it as an adult how profound the message is behind this short film, as when I was little all I noticed was the Charlie Brown was sad about Christmas. But as an adult I realised that it’s actually the widespread of commercialism that’s got Charlie down, and is the cause as to why he throws himself into directing the Christmas play, although alas to no avail. As Charlie’s friends come together and we see Charlie realise that there is still more to Christmas than shopping and presents, it’s not just Charlie’s spirits who are raised. Whilst Linus’ recitation of Luke 2:8-14 highlights the simple intentions of what Christmas should really be about, peace and goodwill to all men.  Whether you’re religious or not it’ll have a different impact for you, but as someone who is the latter I love this reference as it brings me back to my childhood performing the Nativity, and the genuine joy and promise that Christmas would bring every year.

At its core that is what a Charlie Brown Christmas is all about, characters coming together in a touching and sentimental way to remind us what should be most important at Christmastime, and that is something that I think we sometimes need to be reminded of.

 

24 Days of Christmas Film: Day 11- Scrooged

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There have been over 20 film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ famous novella which would allow me to fill this list rating those alone. Unlike most popular subject matter that spawns countless adaptations, a majority of these adaptations are actually very deserving of a place on this list. So I gave it my absolute best to whittle them all down to the versions that I thought had the most to give, and with that we start with Scrooged.

It’s a kooky, kitsch version of the traditional tale with a dash of consumerism too as Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a selfish television executive whom on the premise of his live TV version of A Christmas Carol is visited by three ghosts of his own to teach him a lesson. But these aren’t like any Christmas ghosts you’ve seen before as Frank is visited by a manic taxi driver, a verging psychopathic fairy, and a version of death who’s genuinely still scares me at 23 years of age.

As a result the first two thirds of the film are incredibly funny, and due to great performances from the whole cast make the Ghost of Christmas Future’s predictions all the more heart-breaking. It says a lot about the quality of the film that it manages to deliver great, consistent comedy, but also has the emotional pull to make the visions of the Ghost of Christmas Future truly horrifying to the audience. In my opinion it’s often this believability of the character’s relationships that drives the success of any Christmas Carol adaptation, as without it it makes the celebratory ending feel flat and false, and most importantly a lot less festive!

Scrooged is essentially A Christmas Carol and you’re not going to get much more Christmassy than that, plus it has the bonus of being a genuinely fantastic film. It’s perfect for the family members who are sick of the typical Christmas films and fancy a great laugh. Plus did I mention Billy Murray’s in it?!

24 Days of Christmas Films: Day 8- An ode to the Christmas Horror Film

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I knew I wanted a horror film on this list but when it came to what film to include I couldn’t decide as they all seemed as equally bad/good. So I thought why not dedicate a whole post to the massively underrated genre of Christmas horror films (insert heavy dose of sarcasm here).

In all seriously though I do genuinely love a horror film at Christmas as I don’t think there’s a better way to count your blessings than to see someone on screen literally have the worst Christmas ever. You might be unlucky such as in the case of Krampus and your family is being hunted by a horned demon from folklore and his evil elves,  or maybe your new pet has spawned evil lizard skinned creatures such as in Gremlins, or maybe it’s just that your sorority house has just been revisted by the cannibalistic son who used to live there as in Black Christmas. Either way as an audience member you’ll realise you have a lot of blessings to count.

You certainly won’t find the smartest or scariest horror films in this genre but they’re the perfect guilty pleasure films, and sometimes the source of a good laugh considering how laughably bad some of them are.

Not to mention that there’s a film for someone on either end of the horror film fan scale, from Gremlins which definitely errs on the black comedy side of things, to the original Black Christmas which provides jump scares whilst the remake is a full on slasher flick. Other highlights (or lowlights depending on your preference), include Jack Frost where a serial killer comes back as a killer snowman, Silent Night Zombie Night (pretty self explanatory there), or one of the many evil Santa films, you’ll find the perfect film for every type of horror fan.

After today we’ll be returning to the typical Christmas genre films but I just thought I’d include a few suggestions for someone looking for something a little different this Christmas time (and maybe a little scare). Please, please, please let me know if you’ve seen any of these films, or whether you have a personal favourite horror film as I’d love to know if there’s any other hidden gems out there!

 

 

 

24 Days of Christmas: Day 1 -The Nightmare Before Christmas

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For Day 1 there was no other other option for me as this is one of my all time favourite films and I think it’s the perfection transitional film to take you from Halloween to Christmas.

Although it’s often debated whether this film belongs in the Halloween or Christmas movie category, for me it ticks too many of the great Christmas film qualities for it to not find its place on this list. It’s got the perfect combination of a nuanced musical score, a love story and a good old Christmas moral epiphany, not to mention a cameo from the main man himself, Santa Claus. This is a great choice if you like your Christmas with a little twist as in typical Tim Burton fashion it’s a little bit weirder than your typical Christmas film but it’s a cult classic for a reason, and the Christmastown scenes in particular are beautiful to watch.

As we watch Jack discover Christmastown and its bright lights, snowflakes and roasting chestnuts we get to experience the joy of Christmas through his eyes, and as a result it allows us to rediscover everything we love about Christmas and more.

 

 

Top 10 Films of 2015

2015 has to be one of the most standout years in cinematic history in terms of the quality of films that have been released. Blockbusters like Jurassic World, Star Wars and Avengers Age of Ultron have all been topping the box office, but cinema has also never been more diverse with films like It Follows, Diary of a Teenage Girl and What We Do In The Shadows garnering rave reviews, and more importantly a big enough audience that the big movie bosses are taking notice. I’ve tried my best to widen my film horizons this year and boy I haven’t been disappointed, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you guys some of my highlights of the year. Plus everyone knows that January is the month for hibernating and watching films so what better excuse than that!

Mad MaxMad-Max-Fury-Road-cars-700This more than any other film I saw this year complete blew me away in terms of sheer originality and being unlike anything else I have even seen at the cinema. They provide us with a lead female character deserving of modern cinema as well as stellar performances from every member of the cast, and special effects that will literally take your breath away.

It FollowsIt-Follows-2014As previously mentioned this is one of the greatest hidden gems of this year and has as a result been topping the lists of all the top film reviewers. It’s one of the creepiest films I’ve seen in years and with an awesome soundtrack that sounds like it belongs to an 8-bit game it’s a truly modern horror, with a truly modern “monster”.

Love and MercyLOVE AND MERCYInitially I was dragged to this by my father who’s a life long Beach Boys fan but I was blown away not only by the film, but the true life story behind it. It takes an innovative perspective in the use of two separate periods in Brian Wilson’s life which interweave to tell the story to great effect. But it’s the seamless performances by both Paul Dano and John Cusack representing Brian Wilson at opposing times in his life that brings the film together and allows you to fully appreciate the genius behind the fantastic songs.

Star Warspzwb1fhlkzyvmrtavkosAfter years of waiting I was over the moon to find that Star Wars exceeded all my possible expectations. Not to mention my childhood joy to find that (SPOILER ALERT) the main protagonist and future jedi was a girl! And an incredibly bad-ass one at that. The chemistry between the new characters is fantastic and I loved the obvious effort that was made to ensure the film appealed to old and new fans alike. The fact I’ve already seen it twice should prove just how much I love it.

Cinderellacinderella4Another one for my inner child this was one of the most beautiful films I saw this year, from the costumes to the sets. Not to mention the perfect casting of Lily James and Richard Madden meant I fell completely in love with the story again, and left me leaving the cinema completely gutted that I was too old to be able to go buy a costume.

Crimson Peakcrimson-peakThe opposite end of the spectrum here with what is probably best described as Guillermo Del Toro’s take on the Victorian Gothic. Another film that is perfect in creating it’s own complex world as well as displaying the level of stunning detail that’s expected when watching Del Toro’s films. It’s also brilliantly gruesome and chilling and is another film that completely overwhelms your senses and provides the perfect escape.

Legend0ab9d1f3-937a-4b46-a306-cbd3ec4bdabcAlthough this film does have some obvious flaws upon watching, it found its place on my list due to the brilliant performances by Tom Hardy and Emily Browning. While Hardy deserves a nomination of some sort for conveying both brothers superbly, it’s the attention to detail in creating the Kray’s world that really draws you in. Plus who doesn’t love a gangster film.

Jurassic Worldj-world2Another one of the biggest films of this year this is probably the most unoriginal on the list but that’s exactly why I loved it. It makes no excuses and does exactly what it says on the *metaphorical* tin brilliantly. The scene with Chris Pratt riding through the forest with velociraptors sums it up best, it’s dangerous, exciting and most importantly just awesome.

Ex Machinalandscape_movies-ex-machina-alicia-vikander_1This is one of those examples of films that even from the previews is so highly raved about that it almost has the opposite effect in that it puts you off wanting to see it. By the time I finally got round to watching it I was so annoyed at myself for wasting so much time as surprise surprise, it completely lived up to the hype. Another example that 2015 was the year of Alicia Vikander, while Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac round out the small yet perfectly formed cast, all giving subtle yet award winning performances. Without giving too much away it’s a science fiction film for the noughties, and frighteningly real enough that it leaves you seriously chilled.

The Martianthe-martian-screencap_1920.0.0Another that I was dragged to by my father and another that taught me to always trust him when it comes to picking films. What I thought was going to be another stranded in space sob-fest (pretty much how I felt about Interstellar) it turned out I was completely wrong. While not only being one of the funniest films I saw this year it was also one of the smartest, and a welcome change from the serious, weighty recent movies of the genre such as Gravity and the aforementioned Interstellar.The vibrant soundtrack in combination with the real scientific truth behind it combine to create one of the most interesting and watchable films of the year.

Honourable Mentions: Sisters,Mockingjay: Part 2, Spectre, Inside Out, Steve Jobs.

I know this is by no means a definitive list as I have many more films from this year that I can’t wait to see, and that’s before you get me started on all the great films that are out now but I hoped you enjoyed this post and it’s given you some inspiration for something to watch during the cold nights ahead. Also please let me know what your favourite films of the year are because I’d love to know!

Lush Treats From Oxford Street

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The other week I was lucky enough to not only see my best friend from university, but to spend the weekend with her in London. We are both compulsive beauty addicts so of course one of our first ports of call was the flagship Lush store, and boy it didn’t disappoint! With three stores of pure Lush goodness and that heavenly smell that no matter where you are tells you there’s a Lush nearby, it was pretty much every beauty fan’s dream. Not to mention that there are new and special versions of Lush products that are available only in that store! Although I could’ve happily spent hours (and hundreds of pounds) there, I managed to limit myself to just the four of the newest and prettiest products that they had to offer so I thought I’d tell you guys what I thought in case you need some inspiration next time you’re over.
DSC05277On the shopping list: Melting Marshmallow Moment Bath Oil,

                                 Shark Infested Custard Bath Oil,

                                 Intergalactic Bath Bomb (yes that one),

                                 Milky Bath Bubble Bar.

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First up the Milky Bath Bubble Bar which is literally the bath version of a milk bottle sweet. It’s actually got milk in it, which mixed with a little orange oil and cocoa butter makes it perfect for a calming, relaxing and moisturising bath. Not to mention it makes loads of bubbles and the silky moisturising layer it gives to the bath makes it the perfect cure for dry Winter skin.22

When talking to the lovely lady in the store she noticed I’d already picked up the Milky Bar and suggested pairing it with this Shark Infested Custard Bath Oil (which fyi is one of the twenty of these oils exclusive to Oxford Street). The smell of the two of them combined is like some magical dessert of my childhood  with the milk bottle and custard smells combining to create a deliciously creamy, sweet scent. Not to mention the bath oils melt beautifully into the bath while the custard smell is so completely and brilliantly English, and the vanilla strip representing a shark fin is perfectly whimsical.

DSC05294Although I initially picked the Mmmelting Marshmallow Moment because of its remarkable likeness to a real life sweet, as soon as I realised it was the Snow Fairy scent (which is my all-time favourite) it went straight into my basket.  Although I’ve had pretty much every Lush product ever with this scent this is by far my favourite as the bath oil formula creates a really strongly scented bath, while the cocoa butter and shea butter means it’s a lot more moisturising as well.
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And finally it’s the big one, possibly the most famous Lush product to be released in recent years, the explosion of colour that is the Intergalactic bath bomb. With peppermint, cedarwood and vetivert oil it’s hard to pinpoint the scent amongst the heady scents of the shop, but once you get it home the freshness of the scent really hits you. Its invigorating scent is reflected in the multitude of colours that spread across the water leaving you with a bath that truly looks like a snapshot of a galaxy. Not to mention the popping candy and glitter enveloped in the bath bomb made it one of the prettiest and most enjoyable baths I’ve ever taken.DSC052832

I hope you enjoyed this post and it gave you an idea of some of the amazing products available from the new store and I highly recommend you give it a visit and try something new. Or if you’ve already been please let me know your recomendations!

Music Musings

2121I know, I’ve finally got round to writing another music post! This past year seems to have been one of the best times for Pop music with so many great songs being released, so I thought I’d share with you again the songs that have been getting the most play on my Ipod right now!

Demi Lovato- Confident
I have been a hard-core Demi Lovato fan since her Camp Rock days and I am so happy to see her back on form looking happier and healthier than ever. Cool For The Summer was pretty much my Summer anthem and Confident is definitely going to take me through to Autumn. The perfect pre-party song guaranteed to make you feel like an absolute bad-ass, it’s another sultry, powerful song like her previous single and has left me counting down the days till the whole album is released.

Rachel Platten- Fight Song
I’m definitely on a bit of an anthem song hype at the minute which is largely down to this song. Rachel Platten has been trying for years to hit the big time and it’s so obvious by the raw emotion behind the lyrics which are so passionate and uplifting, it makes me smile everytime I hear it. As a recent graduate I’m definitely at one of the most uncertain times in my life and as cheesy as it is, this song makes me believe that it’ll all be okay in the end.

Ellie Goulding – On My Mind
This is the newest release on the list but from the first listen I have been absolutely hooked and had it on repeat ever since. Whether it’s about Ed Sheeran or not it’s the perfect revenge song, while the guitar melody and Ellie’s haunting voice perfectly combines with the r&b style beat to create a sexy, yet club ready anthem.

Selena Gomez- Same Old Love
Another example of my childhood as a Disney fan-girl here but I have been obsessed with Selena Gomez’s new mature, adult sound, which is evident in this song. Much like Good For You it’s a more understated melody focusing on her voice, and while I don’t think it’s the best song she’s ever done, the message is one everyone can relate to. Trust me after one play you’ll be singing it on repeat for days.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as I realise pop music isn’t to everyone’s taste but I hope I’ve encouraged some of you to give something new a listen, and as always I would love to know what songs you’ve been loving this month!

A Day In Brighton

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For years I have been seeing hundreds of posts and videos of bloggers raving about Brighton, not to mention the hundreds of beautiful instagrams taken of it. As a result it has long been number one on my list of must-go places in the UK, so of course when the chance came for a brief day trip I jumped at the chance! I thought it’d make a nice beginners guide to Brighton and give me a chance to share with you the best places I managed to stumble upon during my day.

 

Mange Tout

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This was one that came highly recommended by pretty much every blogger who’s written about Brighton, and when we turned the corner from the car park to see it opposite I knew it was fate. With a varied yet simple, fresh menu it ticks every box and was the perfect brunch fix. Not to mention it has some of the best coffee I’ve ever had which was served with some delicious homemade meringues! This is the perfect option for the pickiest of friends not to mention those who like things a little on the healthier side, all in all putting our trip off to a great start.

 

Magazine

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This for me was literally the stuff dreams are made of, a shop dedicated to magazines! This is the hardcore stuff though, no Grazia or Elle to be found here, only slightly obscure yet beautifully made magazines covering everything from fashion to film. Some of them are more like books than conventional magazines, and although I finally manage to whittle it down to one (trust me it took a while) I could have easily left with half the store. Whether or not you’re a magazine obsessive like me I cannot recommend it enough even if just to look and try something new!

 

The Flour Pot

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By this point we’d done enough walking that we were ready for another snack so as soon as I saw The Flour Pot bakery I knew that it was the answer to our prayers. This was another one I’d seen highly recommended by multiple bloggers so I had to pop it and grab a few treats for later. There was an amazing of variety of both savoury and sweet treats and a great gluten-free selection as well (which in hindsight I can thoroughly recommend as some of the best coeliac bakery products I’ve had).

 

Bert’s Homestore

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This is one for those who love all things home, Bert’s has everything from baking supplies to decorations, to toys. It’s one of those places that is impossible to leave without at least a little something, not to mention it’s just a lovely place to look around while you’re reminded of all the things you don’t need but really want. I am so distraught that these stores are only in Brighton, but it’s probably better for my bank account.

 

Edited

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After Bert’s I was definitely in the homeware mood and Edited was perfect to give me that fix. It’s like a combination of all the coolest stuff you’d find on Etsy all in one place. With a brilliant mix of the quaint and quirky there’s something for every style, and left me really wishing that I could fit one of those giant ice cream cushions in the car with me.

 

Brighton Pier

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One of the last places we managed to hit is probably one of the most famous places in Brighton, the beach! It is one of the most picturesque beaches so I couldn’t resist having a ride on the merry-go-round and a go on a couple of the arcade games while I was there. A must have for anyone visiting, it was the perfect way to reflect on the events of the day while enjoying the picturesque scenery. Plus it’s a great place to visit if you’re a big kid like me and can’t resist a ride or two.

 

The Brighton Pavilion

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This is a bit of a cheaty one as we didn’t actually manage to go inside because they were renovating, but the gardens alone were worth the visit. The building itself is so stunning I can’t wait to come back and see the inside, but for the meantime I was perfectly content to wander around the grounds and take some pictures. It was definitely the perfect way to end my first trip to Brighton.

I hope you enjoyed this post and it hopefully gave you a few ideas of where to go if you’ve never been to Brighton before. I enjoyed it so much I’m thinking of doing some more “In a Day” guides, so let me know if you’d like to see some more of them and where I should go next. Also please let me know your favourite places in Brighton too as I’m already compiling a list of where to go for next time!