Sunday, 29 January 2017

January films 2017 | The Small Desk

January 1st
1. Minimalism: A documentary about important things
I wanted to watch this documentary after seeing the trailer: it talked about how we are always on the hunt for some'thing' to improve our lives and make us happier. I really related to this idea and wanted to hear what they had to say.

The documentary focuses around two guys who have a website called 'The Minimalists' but you also hear from neuroscientists and other strong believers in minimalism. It looks at minimalism as a way to escape capitalism and its endless circle of consumerism. For a while I watched it thinking, 'ok, yeah two bachelors living as minimalists, but what if you had kids?', and then they spoke to two fathers who had families and they do still try to make it work, but it doesn't look easy.

I think what I liked about the documentary is that they weren't being too strict about minimalism, they were saying that you could take the parts of it you liked and put that into your life in an attempt to make yourself happier.

One thing they did talk about that I might try one day is about having 33 items of clothing (including shoes, coats and bags) – I went and counted my clothing and I have over 110 items... they say it frees your mind to have less, and I completely understand where they are coming from. I like the idea of living with less but even if I lived with less I know I would still spend the same amount of money, I'd have fewer things but they'd be more expensive! It's a thought provoking film and I would recommend it, I'm just not sure how practical the movement really is.

Watched using: Google Play

January 2nd
2. The Lobster
This film is devoid of emotion yet it is about finding a lifelong partner. It is a bizarre film, it reminds me a bit of Wes Anderson films. It is beautifully shot and has a great cast with Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz as the main characters. The actors speak in a very matter of fact way and have conversations about facts rather than emotions.

The premise of the story is that Colin Farrell's character goes to a hotel that allows you to stay 45 days to find a partner, but if you do not find a partner in this time you will be turned into an animal of your choice. Most people do not want to be turned into an animal and so if they have not found a partner in this time they escape to the forest, but there are still rules there. There is also the option to escape to the city, but again there are rules there. It is a weird portrayal of societal norms around relationships and the implicit rules that govern us.

I think you need to watch it more than once to really understand it, but it is a difficult watch and not one I particularly want to watch again anyhow. I'm glad I watched it but I'm not sure I'd recommend it. It's a difficult watch but clever and thought provoking. I'm really not sure how I feel about it. It's in English but feels like world cinema, not surprising though as it was co-written by Greek producer, Yorgos Lanthimos.

Watched using: Google Play

January 8th
3. The Hunt
A friend at work lent me the DVD of this film, as I said I really enjoy world cinema, and she said this was one of the best. It is an incredibly powerful film – you forget they are all actors and become completely immersed in the film. I hardly ever jump at films or react that strongly because I know they are actors but this one made me jump out of my seat, I've never had such a strong reaction to a film before.

The plot is harrowing, and I don't suggest it's one for evening viewing. I watched it at about 4.30pm after a really long walk. It is set in a small Danish village and is all in Danish, so you have to watch with subtitles. It is about a man called Lucas who is accused by a little girl named Klara of sexual abuse. He works at a nursery and Klara attends this nursery, but she is also his best friend's daughter. Klara shows strong feelings for Lucas and gives him a present of some beaded hearts, which he rejects and tells her to give it to one of the boys at nursery, as sort of revenge she tells the head of the nursery that Lucas has shown her his genitals. Clearly as she is so young, she has no idea what this sort of accusation means for Lucas.

The film shows how the accusation develops and how Lucas and the small community he lives in deal with this. Lucas is also trying to regain custody of his child from his ex-wife. Basically within one month his whole life has fallen apart. The director of this film has clearly put a lot of time and research into this subject matter and it is incredibly sensitively written. It's the sort of film that doesn't leave you and you'll be thinking about it for days afterwards.

Watched using: DVD

January 12th
4. My Scientology Movie
It was my partner's birthday and we decided to rent a film from Google Play: this one came up as a suggested film. To be honest, anything with Louis Theroux in I'm 100% going to watch and pretty much guaranteed to enjoy. He is such an entertaining journalist who is extraordinarily clever with his approach to interviewing.

The film is absolutely genius. At first I'd heard some criticisms of it because it didn't really get into the practicing Scientology church but the way he decided to direct the film instead was creative brilliance.

The fascinating thing about the Scientology movement is the film production and how they use actors, and how many actors have become scientologists. Theroux in parallel uses actors for his film to portray the scientologists he cannot get access to. The film edges on the focusing solely on the dark side of the church but it is careful to balance it with other schools of thought and reads aloud letters from the church to him that express their concern of their portrayal.

I would thoroughly recommend this film if you enjoy Theroux's interviewing style. I'm not sure how much 'new' information I learnt, but it is worth watching just for Theroux.

Watched using: Google Play

January 25th
5. The Brit Who Tried to Kill Trump
Michael Sandford tried to kill Trump at one of his rallies campaigning for presidency, but it's not as simple as that sounds. Michael has long suffered with mental health issues and has a history of being a very loving, caring person with no criminal past.

This documentary is one of the best and most sensitively told I have seen on BBC Three. It follows his family's journey to find out his sentencing with a republican judge in an American court with Trump now as president. It is an incredibly moving story and well worth watching. I won't tell you what happens as I don't want to spoil it but what I can say is that it's a completely unique story that will be remembered for a long time.

Watched using: BBC iPlayer

What films did you watch this month? Any recommendations?


Monday, 2 January 2017

December favourites 2016 | The Small Desk

December has been a really fun month, apart from having a very stressful beginning to the month at work. However from the 22nd December onwards I didn't have to go to work, which has been absolute bliss. I need to take more weeks like this where I just hang around at home, get up really late and watch films and read books. It's so damn relaxing, and it makes you feel you really have a life outside of work.

The end of December is one of my favourite times of year because so many people are off work and de-stressing and there is a positive feeling in the air. This month has been about enjoying being with my partner, friends and family and not trying to achieve anything! So refreshing!

1. Friend's bottomless prosecco birthday brunch
At the beginning of the month I celebrated a good friend of mine and my partner's birthday at Villandry on Great Portland Street.

2. Christmas lunch with old school friends
I invited three of my old school friends round for a Christmas lunch and 'craft' day. Needless to say the crafting element was more for the lols than to be taken seriously!

3. New curtains
My mum made us new curtains for our living room. They are absolutely gorgeous and make our living room so much cosier. I'm obsessed with them.

4. Neighbours over for drinks
Our neighbours came over to ours for some mince pies and wine. It's so nice to be able to socialise with our next door neighbours as it's so easy to get home!

5. Work Christmas party
We had our work Christmas party this month where we played a quiz and then had a late lunch at a swanky Italian restaurant.

6. Winchester Christmas market
My partner and I went to visit Winchester as he has never been before. The Christmas market was on and it was so festive. We went for a piece of cake and a smoothie and browsed the cute little independent shops there. If you haven't been I thoroughly recommend going, apparently it is the best place to live in the UK as well!

7. Seven and a half mile walk
Now that I basically live in the countryside we've been trying to go on more walks and this month we successfully went on a mega long walk straight from our front door. The weather was perfect for it as well.

8. Pizza Express for friend's birthday
Always love a Pizza Express – this time I went with my bestie from Uni to celebrate her birthday. We splashed out and had all three courses – it was excellent.

9. Mince pies with parents
My parents came over to give my partner his Christmas presents and we went to our local cafe for mince pies.

10. Partner's parents over
I've started using partner instead of fiance because I can't be bothered to find the 'e' with the accent all the time! Sorry! Anyway, yes, the partner's parents came over to swap presents and we put on a nice buffet-style lunch for them.

11. Christmas with my partner
We celebrated with a meal of salmon and roast potatoes and then opened presents to each other.

12. Christmas Day

13. To the neighbour's for drinks
We went over to our neighbour's for drinks and to see their new bathroom!

14. Lunch with my partner
We just went out in our local area for lunch but we don't go out for meals much anymore as we're trying to be good and save for our wedding, so it felt like a real treat.

15. Home day
I've had a few of these now, and ahhhhh, dream!

16. New Year's Eve
Finally I celebrated the last day of the year with my old school friends and now my head hurts.

Happy New Year! How was your December?


Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Year's Resolutions: 2017 | The Small Desk

Happy New Year!

I'll start by reviewing 2016 New Year's Resolutions...

1. Only eat one sweet thing a day
Hmm... yeah, not sure this one really worked out! I have been more conscious, but not really succeeded.

2. Get a bike
Sadly, this one didn't happen either but I'd like to roll it into next year.

3. See more of the UK
Well, I went to Snowdonia and I've moved to a different area – so I'd say I have achieved this.

4. Earn more

5. Buy a house

6. Experiment with new recipes
Meh, not so much!

7. Go to more shows, exhibitions, talks, gigs, etc.
I guess I sort of did, but nowhere near as many as I'd like to have been to.

8. Learn a new skill
If you count house buying as a skill, then yes!

2017 New Year's Resolutions

1. Go on more country walks
This should be an easy one now that I live in the countryside. Basically. I've lived in cities all my life so living in a town is the countryside for me!

2. Eat less chocolate
Every year I try to do this and fail, but maybe this year I can defeat my addiction?! Maybe...

3. Go to more cultural events
Rolling this over from last year as I didn't go to enough.

4. Watch more film
Think I might go on Amazon now and buy a load of DVDs... ah such a hard life, hehe.

5. Get an amazing camera
This may or may not happen as I'm saving for my wedding...

6. Do more good
This is a weird one but I do often feel my life is very self-indulgent and I would like to try and take the time to do more good even if it's only small things.

7. Blog more
Looking back on 2016 and seeing I only achieved 34 blog posts makes a little sad and I don't want to let this blog die, so I will try harder this year.

8. Write more of my novel
I think I've written about 3,000 words so far...

How was your 2016? Have you set any New Year's Resolutions?

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