Ip Man

ip-man-movie-poster-2008-1020698460Ip Man
The blurb: A semi-biographical account of Yip Man, the successful martial arts master who taught the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun to the world.
My rating: 4/5
Tagged: action, biography, drama
Date I watched this movie 03/04/2016

What did I think?I really wasn’t sure what I was going to think about this. Martial Arts movies, although I do karate, have never really appealed to me, but I agreed to let Faisal pick a movie and this is what he chose!

I will still say that this is definitely a slow starter, you have to wait a bit before you really get into it and you have to overlook the bad acting at the beginning. Once the movie kicks in, literally, then you really begin to appreciate it.

I think it tells a decent story of the life of Ip Man and the occupation of China by the Japanese at that time. Obviously I’m not sure how true to real life the movie is because I’m not familiar with the time period but it does add background to the character of Ip Man, so the movie wasn’t just about kicking ass and taking names.

As far as the fighting scenes are concerned, Donnie Yen does do his art justice. I just loved the way the story make him seem invincible and you root for him when he fights the baddie who beats all the other masters.

Surprisingly good and I’m actually looking forward to seeing the rest of the series

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Goal updates

I started 2016 with two sets of goals – 7 Things In 2016 and 101 Things In 1001 Days, and since we’ve reached the end of February, I thought it might be an idea to check in and see how I’m doing.

My 7 Things In 2016:
Learn how to write calligraphy I haven’t even looked to see if there’s any books in the library or youtube tutorials. This may have to be a task to pick up once my exams are done
Start blogging regularly Yes! I think I’ve done this really well. I’m quite happy with my blogging.
Stop biting my nails 😦
Take a vacation to Rome I will be going in the summer!
Find a way to be more organized I’ve managed to keep both my bedrooms tidy all year so that’s a start
Try sushi My Aunt Emily has promised to take me but we’ve not made it yet
Be more patient, especially with myself I’m still working on how to do this

As for my 101 Things In 1001 Days:
Completed – 7
Write a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days!
Leave an inspirational note inside a book for someone to find
Buy a lottery ticket
Hug 10 people in one day
Hug someone on National Hug Day
Send a handwritten letter
Bake a chocolate cake
Keep my room tidy for a month

In progress – 7
Graduate college
Donate blood
Answer the “50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind”
Watch 26 movies I’ve never seen starting with each letter of the Alphabet
Read 26 books I’ve never read starting with each letter of the alphabet
Read 100 books
Start University

Preparing to give blood

I have an appointment tomorrow to give blood for the very first time. I’m scared and excited and nervous and feeling kind of
It can’t be that bad… hundreds of people donate and the nurses who do it are professionals and stuff but it’s still a little overwhelming to think about it.

I just got an email from the Blood Donation service to remind me about my appointment and to give me some tips.

Preparing to give blood
Follow our tips to make your blood donation experience pleasant, safe and straightforward.

Eat
Eat regular meals to help you avoid feeling lightheaded.

Sleep
A good night’s sleep will boost wellbeing.

Drink
Drink plenty of fluids 24 hours before donating, but avoid alcohol.

Wear
Put on loose and comfortable clothing, avoid tight sleeves.

Distract
Nervousness is normal, come with a friend or bring along a book or MP3 player so you can relax during your visit.

Know
Knowing your medical, body piercing and travel history will save you time.

Exercise
You can still exercise, but don’t do anything more strenuous than usual: this applies before and after donating blood. Also ensure you are fully recovered and well hydrated before you donate blood.

My appointment is at 3:50pm tomorrow… wish me luck?

While you and I are running out of time

Sometimes I really wish I had a time-turner so I could get more stuff done. More hours in the day would be great. Of course, I bet that if I did have more hours I still wouldn’t get the chance to do the things I want to do in them.

I miss doing all the extra-curricular stuff I could do before. I miss having the time to ride, to swim, to do gymnastics, to practice karate, to see Chelsea play. Even just the time to play with Caden Bryce or read with him.

I get up. I get on the tube to college (and read). I go to college. I get on the tube home (and read). I do homework. I do extra reading. Sometimes I get time to come online – although often it gets done on a few minutes between classes, or on a free period. And then it feels like it’s time for bed before it all starts again.

It’s not even a lack of time management. It’s just the time of year. I’m only a couple of months away from my A-Level exams. Coursework is all due. All of my teachers want all of my time, all of my effort and I have a couple of really heavy workload courses.

I always make time on a Friday night though to go to the cinema. Sometimes with friends, sometimes with Jade Rachel and Erin and Dad and Jimmy (and sometimes Caden Bryce) It all depends on what’s coming out. Tomorrow my BFF Georgia & I are going to see either Deadpool or Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

Weekends seem to be filled with sleep and coursework. And then I have to be very particular about what I do because there’s only so many hours in the day. Usually I go swimming because that’s a lot easier to fit into a spare moment than having to schedule around the gymnastics or karate classes. I always try and have Sunday afternoons free so I can just chill, watch a DVD, do some colouring… just properly relax before everything starts again on Monday morning.

I possibly didn’t schedule the start of the 101 Things In 1001 Days at the best time, because there’s also fitting in the things I want to do there.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or like a whiney little bitch, I really don’t. I love everything that I’m doing, I love being in college, having the opportunity to study etc etc. I guess I might be a little stressed and I know I’m tired. I just miss doing some of the things I love, some of the things that I feel define part of who I am.

Beastly

Beastly
The blurb: A modern-day take on the “Beauty and the Beast” tale where a New York teen is transformed into a hideous monster in order to find true love.
My rating: 3.5/5
Tagged: drama, fantasy, romance
Date I watched this movie 07/02/2016

What did I think?So this movie received mostly bad reviews, but who were these reviews written by? Adults. Who is this movie aimed at? Teens. So it’s not wonder it was so critically received, and let’s be honest, most teen movies are, but if all the reviews are written by adults, is this really fair? Yes, usually the standard of acting is not as good, and the plot lines are either cheesy or predictable (or both), but the people who it is aimed at are young people who will watch just about anything for a laugh and won’t read into the deeper meaning of things. I don’t think that these reviews are fair, and the same goes for this movie.

Beastly is a modern retelling of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and is a film adaption of the book written by Alex Finn. Now with two pieces that are distinctly Disney playing major roles in this movie (‘BATB’ and Vanessa Hudgens), I was concerned that perhaps this movie would appear too… well.. Disney.

This movie will definitely appeal to teenage girls who like cute, romance movies, probably not so much to boys or adults. So, being as it’s a modern adaption of Beauty and the Beast, everybody should know how the story’s going to go… give or take an arrogant, loaded, bastard, and a drug-abusers daughter… So I guess the story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ doesn’t really fit into the modern world, but who cares? It’s a movie. F-I-C-T-I-O-N. So apparently the acting wasn’t too good, but personally, I didn’t really notice this. I thought that this was a good movie, with an important moral message, that is important is this day and age: look aren’t everything. By retelling this Disney classic that everybody knows the story of in modern times could help us to relate to it and to release the message behind the story.

Most Gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess

I cannot play chess. It makes no sense to me. It doesn’t matter how many times I try and learn how to play the game, it just escapes me. It makes no sense. This piece can only do this and that piece can only do that. There’s all these strategies and a ridiculous amount of forward planning.

And how seriously people take it! Isn’t it supposed to be a game, supposed to be fun?

I can’t do it. I can’t play chess. Or, well, I can’t play chess well. Or remember the rules. I’m not destined to be some grandmaster. I’m probably never even going to ever win a game. All my pieces fell to the dark side. You’d think by now I’d have learned my lesson by how many times I’ve failed and given up trying.

I bet I won’t. I bet next time Devin challenges me to a game I’ll accept.
And lose.
And sulk.
And rail chess.

Which makes me wonder. Which is worse: doing something and sucking at it or never trying it in the first place?

Old soul

Sometimes I feel a lot older than 17.
Sometimes I feel a lot younger than 17.
I get people tell me I should act my age, to stop liking stuff I’m too old for, to stop doing things I’m too young to do
I’ve never been 17 before so how am I supposed to know how to act and how feel?

Erin tells me I’m an old soul, that I’m much more mature than most of my friends. I’ve asked her what she means and she says it’s because I’m not afraid to be on my own, because I love to learn, because I think before I do things and have everything all planned out.

I guess that’s true. I mean, a lot of my friends still don’t really know what they want to do when they finish college and I’ve got this big plan for everything. I like having tangible goals that I can work towards, it all makes sense to me.

And no, a lot of my friends laugh at some of the stuff I love to do. They don’t read for fun like I do. They think it’s weird that I enjoy baking – they eat what I make though! I get told knitting or doing wordsearches is for old people.

But… I don’t feel like I’m old. Sure, I feel like I know who I am and what I like. I do get distracted by new shiny things too though. I feel like my mood swings and ‘teenage angst’ are more controlled, and I’m calmer than I was, even a year or so ago.

In other ways though, I’m a pretty typical teenager. I worry about getting good grades in school and fashion and make-up and boys (and girls) and if I’ve got any zits and if I look fat. I love pop music and going to the cinema with my friends. I love sleeping.

Who makes the rules though? Who says that I can’t like certain things because I’m too young for them. Or too old for them. Why do ‘they’ say that I can’t have goals for the future and enjoy knitting and love Disney and Miley Cyrus and vampires and dinosaurs and pirates and dolphins and superheroes and baking and supporting my football team and doing wordsearches and like spending time with my friends and being alone?

National Chocolate Cake Day

Is there anything that there isn’t a day to celebrate? Not that I’m complaining about the fact there’s a whole day dedicated to chocolate cake. Sticky, gooey, creamy chocolate. Soft, moist and delicious cake. From chocolate cream buns to a whopping great gateaux, chocolate cake is simply wonderful!

And what is the best way to celebrate? By baking and eating chocolate cake, of course. So I thought I’d share my favourite recipe

Ingredients
200g good quality dark chocolate, about 60% cocoa solids
200g butter
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
85g self-raising flour
85g plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g light muscovado sugar
200g golden caster sugar
25g cocoa powder
3 medium egg
75ml buttermilk (5 tbsp)
grated chocolate or curls, to decorate

For the ganache
200g good quality dark chocolate, as above
284ml carton double cream (pouring type)
2 tbsp golden caster sugar

Method
Butter a 20cm round cake tin (7.5cm deep) and line the base. Preheat the oven to fan 140C/conventional 160C/ gas 3. Break 200g good quality dark chocolate in pieces into a medium, heavy-based pan. Cut 200g butter into pieces and tip in with the chocolate, then mix 1 tbsp instant coffee granules into 125ml cold water and pour into the pan. Warm through over a low heat just until everything is melted – don’t overheat. Or melt in the microwave on Medium for about 5 minutes, stirring half way through.

While the chocolate is melting, mix 85g self-raising flour, 85g plain flour, ¼ bicarbonate of soda, 200g light muscovado sugar, 200g golden caster sugar and 25g cocoa powder in a big bowl, mixing with your hands to get rid of any lumps. Beat 3 medium eggs in a bowl and stir in 75ml (5 tbsp) buttermilk.

Now pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is well blended and you have a smooth, quite runny consistency. Pour this into the tin and bake for 1 hour 25- 1 hour 30 minutes – if you push a skewer in the centre it should come out clean and the top should feel firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit). Leave to cool in the tin (don’t worry if it dips slightly), then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cake is cold, cut it horizontally into three. Make the ganache: chop 200g good quality dark chocolate into small pieces and tip into a bowl. Pour a 284ml carton of double cream into a pan, add 2 tbsp golden caster sugar, and heat until it is about to boil. Take off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Sandwich the layers together with just a little of the ganache. Pour the rest over the cake letting it fall down the sides and smoothing to cover with a palette knife. Decorate with grated chocolate or a pile of chocolate curls. The cake keeps moist and gooey for 3-4 days.

Alien

Alien
The blurb:The commercial vessel Nostromo receives a distress call from an unexplored planet. After searching for survivors, the crew heads home only to realize that a deadly bioform has joined them.

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: horror, science-fiction
Date I watched this movie 24/01/2016

What did I think?‘Alien’ set the bar for sci-fi and even horror films long after it was released. It’s always remained a very popular film which is quite unusual for movies in general to still be considered excellent over three decades since its release.

Ridley Scott’s direction of this film is excellent of course. The atmosphere built up during the events in this film are great, the acting works very well too, Sigourney Weaver doesn’t have a great presence in the film until the second half but she really makes up for it during the last hour. Other performances such as that of Veronica Cartwright are good but you can’t help but wonder why their character is included in the story at all.

The story is very interesting, when you first watch this film it can really shock you and can certainly make you jump on more than one occasion. However, because ‘Alien’ is so well-known and famous now, it will be difficult for someone not to have an idea about what it consists of so I guess not many people will find it as shocking as it was 30 years ago.

Nevertheless ‘Alien’ is still a very good film, it’s still scary in some parts and is considered to be an excellent film regardless of its now out-dated technology used.

Overall, I would highly recommend this film to anyone, if you’re a fan of science fiction or horror you should have already seen this film anyway but if you haven’t, watch it.

Add some terrific battle sequences, and you get a very welcome return to the greatness of Star Wars. Go and see it (but you already know you will). Take a friend or a family member. You’ll have a great time. Because that’s what these films are about when it comes down to it.

Overall, Force Awakens shows off some snazzy visual effects combined with a compelling story and great characters. It won’t disappoint.