Film review: Bridesmaids (summary: Go see it. Now.)

by Lou 1.30pm UK time

Have you seen Bridesmaids yet? No? Why not? GO. GO NOW. Grab your friends and lovers - male and female - and go.

You see, this is a film about women. About relationships between women. And it's funny - OH SO FUNNY, MY GOD - and oh hai it's not really about weddings actually (thanks Hollywood - did it go something like this: "No, we're not interested. Women aren't interesting or funny." "We'll make the title something about weddings?" "Deal" ? Or was it more of a direct: "Oooh this is too funny! People might realise that women are funny - let's call it Bridesmaids and then at least no dudes will find out" ?).

Lots has been said about whether it's feminist, anti-feminist, post-feminist... but really the key points are:

It was written by women.

For women.

About women.

In which women do the things women do in real-life but never on cinema screens.

And it was made in Hollywood.

And it's fucking hilarious.

And people love it.

And lots and lots of men are going to go see it despite the best marketing efforts to alienate them.

Oh, and Don Draper is in it.

And did I mention that one scene in particular is probably the funniest thing you'll ever see in a movie theatre?

Kristen Wiig, you are now a God.

30 Days of Film: Lou's Day 22

| by Lou | 9.15pm UK time |

Favourite documentary

Shit man, I really don't know! So many documentaries BLOW MY MIND, but so few are repeat-viewers in that put-it-on-on-a-rainy-Friday-night kind of way that it's hard to think of them in terms of favourite.

Here are three that randomly come to mind as having both BLOWN MY MIND and been greatly enjoyed by me over the past few years:

Trouble the Water

This film in and of itself entirely demonstrates the importance of the democratisation of film-making via the availability of digital film cameras. No news bulletins, feature articles, photo essays, not even our beloved Zeitoun, can so ably communicate how FUCKED UP the whole Hurrican Katrina thing was as this film does.

The footage from within the storm is horrific, but not as horrific as the disgusting way that the citizens of New Orleans were treated by those supposedly sent in to help.

Capturing the Friedmans

A documentary about a clown turns into a documentary about a fuuuucked up family. Weaving in home movie footage shot by the clown, the filmmaker captures with awkward intimacy the descent of middle American family life into something much more sinister when the father and a brother are convicted of sex crimes against children.

I saw this in the 2004 film fest, and while there are now a plethora of films that - again - utilise the digital era to tell intimate family stories, this one seemed so fresh.

Grizzly Man

You know I couldn't get through a documentary list without mention our favourite German. When this film came out I had Bel and another of our colleagues and then a guy at a party tell me in depth about what happens in this, but it still BLEW MY MIND.

Truly, truly bizarre. I had to stop halfway through and google it as I really genuinely thought that it must be taking the piss. In fact, I'm going to go google it again now just in case the passage of time has revealed it to be a hoax. (As if Werner would lie to us!) An incredible example of you're-fucking-shitting-me-this-can't-be-real documentary-making.

Pet Peeve #11

| by Lou | 8.35pm UK time |

Do you know what really gets on my goat? Filling in an online form for which there is a Country dropdown, and not being able to find the country in which I live.

I don't know about you, but when confronted with listing the country in which I live, I would go straight for United Kingdom.

If United Kingdom isn't there I look for Great Britain.

If Great Britain isn't there I look for Britain.

If Britain isn't there I look for England.

If England isn't there I get really angry and shout "fuck's sake!" and scroll through the list in minute detail, finally finding UK at which point I say "who the fuck wrote this list?!" and click on it and submit the form while muttering "seriously, what the fuck?"

New shoes: Skechers Best Girl Posh mary-jane wedges

| by Bel | 3.34pm NZ time |

Six hundred million years have passed and I have finally paid off my layby! Whoo! New shoes!

They're the Skechers "Best Girl Posh" mary-jane wedges in black, to be exact. "Best Girl Posh" - that's the official name! I feel like the best posh girl wearing them!

Here is a standard useful photo of the shoe:

And here are some artsy 'lifestyle blog' type photos:

And more! (Oooooh mirrors)

I love mary-jane style shoes and always have. These also have some detailing which makes them on trend with the current brogue fashion. Wedge heels are known far and wide as the most sensible way to get some height - and these are super comfortable as well! My toes wriggle happily and there is nary a blister to be seen.

I got these in what is apparently a Eur 41 / UK 8 / US 11 and they are a great fit. Yay for Skechers! Forgive them for their lack of a "t" in their name and those dumb work-out shoes!


| by Lou | 12.20am UK time |

It has been busting my balls (ovaries?) to keep from you all that I got my hands on some O.P.I. Black Shatter. Two bottles, in fact. One secretly went to Bel for her birthday, and one immediately went on my nails. Now that she has received hers (though her birthday isn't till next week, if you're panicking), I can share my piccies.

The first time I layered it over orange, but the orange wasn't fully dry. It was dry enough to pass in terms of things like washing your hands and getting your oyster card out of your pocket, but not dry in terms of their idea that your nails should be "fully bone dry".

The finish was average - it cracked more at the bottom so it was like having a patch of orange across the bottom of my nails, with shatter above. And I made the stupid mistake of reapplying it onto one toenail after accidentally only putting a thin layer on (I ended up with an almost fully black nail).

First tip: Evenly apply on first go. There is no second chance.

Second time I put it over yellow, with the difference that I had put the orange on the previous day so it was completely dry when I put over the black shatter. The result of this was that it shattered much more evenly (paying attention to the above principle of once-only even application), and strangely shattered better on my right hand, ie where I had used my non-dominant left hand to apply. (I will experiment next time, but I believe this would be to do with having a thicker brush on my non-dominant hand.)

Second tip: My god, this stuff chipped immediately. Way quicker than even normal nail polish. Right now I am typing on day 4 with half my index finger nails and one of my thumbs bare. Contrast this with the previous week's staying power and I would say: apply about an hour after the colour. It seems like doing when it's not completely utterly dry causes them to fuse to the nail.

Next attempt: over sparkle!

Recipe: Cannellini white bean dip

| by Bel | 2.08pm NZ time |

Something unprecedented happened yesterday. I was asked for my recipe. Yes! A person wanted to replicate a food item which I had created.

*waits for murmuring hubbub to die down*

I know, folks, I was as shocked as you. And immeasurably pleased. I wish I could have told my coworker that it was a family secret passed down through the ages, or a special something I'd craftily whipped up, but in actual fact I'd just googled the thing we had two cans left of in the cupboard.

And VOILA! Taste sensation.

It's a cannellini (white bean) dip with Italian parsley. If you have ever made dips yourself, then you'll know that it's friggin easy but please don't go round telling everyone because I need to be able to impress people with SOMETHING.

I had two cans of cannellini in the cupboard because a) they are pretty cheap and b) I can use them to make salady type things that no one else in my family touch and therefore I get it ALL TO MYSELF.

I googled 'cannellini' and discovered they are also known as 'white beans' which has to be one of the most literal and unimaginative names ever. Some recipes called for roasting a capsicum (AS IF!!) or steaming spinach (WHATEVS!!). Then I struck one which merely requiring chopping up some Italian parsley, which grows plentifully in our unattended garden.

You can find the original recipe on the Food Network website, where it was devised by someone called Giada De Laurentiis. Apparently she is a famous TV chef.

Or maybe an axe murderer? Or a witch who gains strength from bathing in blood?? That certainly doesn't look like hygienic kitchen practice to me.

Her recipe is quite specific but my technique is looser:

  • 1x can of cannellini beans (for 2x ramekins of dip, or 2x cans for a big bowl)
  • a couple cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • a bunch of Italian parsley
  • olive oil

  1. Chop the parsley and the garlic.
  2. Put everything in a bowl.
  3. Add some oil so that it is easy to stir*.
  4. Then whizz stick** the crap outta it.
  5. THE END.

Here's my final version, as part of the spread my team made for the social club shared lunch celebrating winter solstice:

*I saw that many of the 287 comments on Giada's recipe were people irate about the excessive quantity of olive oil she'd recommended. This is why I never bother too much with following directions exactly. Also: I am lazy.

**This was the most time consuming part of a very short and quick process. Friggin whizz stick getting gummied up every two seconds!! Guess who bought a food processor off Trade Me the very next day. (Answer: me.)

Ravioli del Lou

| by Lou | 10.30pm UK time |

Us busy Executives (did I mention that I'm an Executive now?) who have an emphasis on healthy eating (to keep us up with our Executive lifestyles) need an arsenal of quick and easy meals (because we work long Executive days), that can also be fun for burning off the Executive stress (did I mention that? The Executive bit? I'm an Executive), and that can be made from whatever-the-fuck is lying around (because being Executives we don't get to the supermarket much).

Tonight on a whim I decided to make ravioli from scratch. (Okay, it wasn't on a whim - it was after watching a cooking show for professional purposes at around 5pm, but I didn't want to mention that as I thought I might have over-killed on the Executive mentions (did I? I wasn't sure if I got the point across? That I'm an Executive now?) so certainly didn't want to bring up that I'm an Programming and Acquisitions Executive in case it just tipped it a little bit over the edge.)

Making ravioli from scratch is theoretically quite simple: bung an egg into a cup of flour with a dash of oil and maybe some salt and perhaps some herbs, mix them into a dough, refridgerate while you go for a run, then roll it out, place a spoonful of filling on, flip the top over, cut and press, boil, eat.

However, when you don't own a rolling pin or any other sort of helpful kitchen equipment it sort of turns into a bit of a drama. But! I used a roll of glad-wrap as a rolling pin! And bunged in some nearly-dying mushrooms mixed with almost-out-of-date cream cheese! And cut them out with a knife! And squeezed them together with my fingers! And it turned out a-okay!

Who cares that they looked just awful?

This is the cooked leftovers - they looked so shite pre-cooking I didn't think they'd be
edible let alone bloggable. You can see evidence of the basil used to make a sauce
(with tomatoes, mushrooms and courgette).

Moral of the story: fun! And yummy! And used up shit that's been in my fridge too long!


30 Days of Film: Lou's Day 21

| by Lou | 10.30pm UK time |

Favourite Action Film

Can I count The Departed as an action film? No? Darnit. Can I mention it anyway? I really love The Departed. I'm watching it right now.

Leo is brilliant in this film, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise

Okay so an actual action film - Point Break. I love it.

"I am an F B I Agent!"
"Yeah, I know man, ain't it wild?"

Bonus! It's directed by a woman! And not just any woman! Kathryn Bigelow! The first woman to punch her hand through Hollywood's enduring glass ceiling and win the Best Director Oscar!

This is an entirely awesome proposition

Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze (oh Patrick) and Gary Busey are all perfectly bad-but-soooo-good.

"I caught my first tube today... Sir"

Bonus #2! An hilarious cameo from one of my fave rockers, Anthony Kiedis

"That would be a waste of time"

The set pieces are stunning executed and used with (the action genre's version of) restraint.

"You gonna jump or jerk off?"

Bonus #3! The line.

"I'm not going to paddle to New Zealand"


Book reviews: Game Change, Hedy Lamarr, Norah Vincent, Vendela Vida, Nina Simone, Joan Didion. Whew!

| by Bel | 7.58am NZ time |

A pile of books I plowed through earlier this year. It was a sad ratio of 50/50 duds to great reads.

Clockwise from top left:

  • Game Change creative non-fiction by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
  • Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr biography by Stephen Michael Shearer
  • Voluntary Madness memoir by Norah Vincent
  • The Year of Magical Thinking memoir by Joan Didion
  • Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone biography by Nadine Cohodas
  • And Now You Can Go autobiographical novel by Vendela Vida

Game Change creative non-fiction by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

This a great book - I was recommending it to anyone I came across as I (avidly) read it. I've used the term "creative non-fiction" as it is a reconstruction of the US presidential election of 2008, with the narrative brought to live by quotes from over 200 interviews.

In any other circumstance, I'd be worried about the legitimacy of this kind of writing, but as the authors as renowned political journalists and editors at Time and New York magazine. Their reputations give this a ring of authority - that and the fact that the brutal characterisations of the political players rings so true.

BONUS: I hunted this down after seeing an interview where Joan Rivers said she'd read it.

DOUBLE BONUS: It's now being made into a TV movie.

Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr biography by Stephen Michael Shearer

A Golden Age film star, Hedy Lamarr died in obscurity and may well have been long forgotten if her scientific prowess had not been revealed. The amateur research done by her and her friend, composer George Antheil, during World War II has now been announced as the underpinning of modern mobile phone technology - as well as a contribution to the war effort in advancing missile development.

There is so much to Lamarr's story which is intriguing (the scandal of her early days as an actress in Austria, her disguised escape from her first marriage, the five husbands that followed, her connections with other survivors of the European Jewish diaspora) and yet this overly long and ridiculously detailed biography manages to suck the life out of it.

With hindsight, it can be seen that despite her much heralded beauty, Lamarr was actually a bit of a B-grade actress. And yet this book pedantically describes her every movie, including each costume worn, with snipped review quotes attempting to bolster her reputation.

Part of the allure of Lamarr was her mystery, with her accented voice and unapproachable beauty, and to plow through such attention to detail dulls the power of the myth.

Voluntary Madness memoir by Norah Vincent

This was awful. The first chapter gave me enough to know I didn't want to read further.

This self-proclaimed "immersion journalist" decides to admit herself to psychiatric care in a experiment to see how sane people cope in those surroundings. She then mentions that she actually has a history of mental illness - including a breakdown the preceding year.

And no less than three times in the first chapter, she mentions her concerns about the food on offer in these facilities and the risk of putting on weight. Not to judge or anything, but, um, ISSUES.

But worst of all, the writing was bad. There were inconsistencies in her reporting even between pages that faced each other in the book! One moment she was saying that patients were left to their own devices, staff remote and inaccessible - then the next she described in detail a chess game taking place between a patient and an orderly! It was impossible to take this seriously.

The Year of Magical Thinking memoir by Joan Didion

Wow. This is an incredible book. But I'm almost reluctant to recommend it, as it made me bawl - and that is not everyone's cup of tea!

A treatise on grief, we follow Didion's journey as she attempts to come to terms with an incomplete life following the death of her husband of nearly 40 years. Her honest portrayal of pain and love is so evocative it's hard not to be affected.

Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone biography by Nadine Cohodas

Nina Simone! Don't tell me you don't love her! And you will have a greater respect for her work and her struggle after having read this detailed biography.

Did you know Nina herself played all the piano you hear in her songs? I did not! I was delighted to learn that the amazing music in songs like this was thanks to the woman herself:

And let's not forget the way it was sampled by Talib Kweli in this:

Wait, wait - no. Check out the official remix - what a line up!

Ok. What was I talking about??

Oh yeah - Nina.

She lived a long life but only saw royalties from her music in the last years - she was not wealthy even when she was at the peak of her career. This alone seems unjust, but when her mental health issues are factored in it makes it seem worse. Both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are mentioned in passing, but the author appeared unwilling to confirm a diagnosis.

Between this, her naturally abrasive personality and the fact that she was outspoken about civil rights at a time when you could wind up dead for doing so, Nina garnered a reputation for being difficult. And yet the legacy of her music is nothing but a pleasure.

And Now You Can Go autobiographical novel by Vendela Vida

Gahhh. Sorry, I was keen to like this, but, um, no. No siree. Barely read past the first pages.

WAIT. I just read a review of this and it turns out I must've read the whole thing!! Ye gods. Not a good sign.

The book opens with a traumatic event - the protagonist held at gunpoint in a public park. The rest of the book shows her dealing (and not dealing) with the aftermath. She ends a relationship, takes a spontaneous overseas trip, relies on her family for support but is shocked by the lengths her friends will go to.

And yet somehow all this is very disengaging. There is no drama beyond the initial conflict, we are just on the first-person ride of this confused woman's stream of consciousness. I remember being a self-absorbed 21 year old all too well, I don't want to relive it.

30 Days of Film: Bel's day 21

| by Bel | 2.58pm NZ time |

Favourite action film

Leon: The Professional

"I’ve decided what to do with my life. I wanna be a cleaner."

The corrupt cop. The assassin with the heart of gold. And the young girl set on vengeance.

Not just an action film, Leon is also a romance. Between a man and his peace lily. Between a girl and the father she never had. Between the screen of your TV and some sweet slow motion shootout scenes.

After Natalie Portman won her Oscar this year, I saw a tweet asking "So when do we get to see Mathilde: The Professional?". GOOD CALL.

30 Days of Film: Bel's day 19

| by Bel | 9.51pm NZ time |

Favourite film based on a book/comic/etc

Everything Is Illuminated

Plenty of people would disagree that this film is a good adaptation of the book. I know what they mean. A whole third of the book's interwoven plot is completely ignored. The devasting final reveal is completely flipped. The undercurrents of Jonathan and Alex's correspondence is glossed over.

And yet I would still argue that it is an entertaining and engaging film in its own right.

So much of this is thanks to wonderful performances which bring the quirky characters fully to life.

And the script takes the best of the book's writing for hilariously quotable dialogue:

Unlike most adaptations where I would argue the book must be read first (The Beach is a great film but it makes so much more sense if you've read the novel), I think you can safely read Everything Is Illuminated after having seen the movie without denegrating the experience of enjoying the story on the page.

30 Days of Film: Lou's Day 20

| by Lou | 3.30pm UK time |

Favourite film from your favourite actor/actress

As usual I'm going to overload this due to my inability to pick just one. But as my all-time favourite actor's best film gets the big climactic Day 30 spot of fave film ever I shall skip him and go straight to...

Joaquin. Everybody knows that I love me some Joaquin. And my favourite film of his is of course the wonderful Walk the Line.

Smoking isn't cool, kids

This film thrilled me from the start, with Folsom Prison emerging to the pulsating and addictive beat of Cash's band. The story is cleverly plotted and meaningfully told, the music is fantastic (and sets the bar for other music biopics - how did Jamie Foxx win an Oscar for lip-syncing through Ray?), the romance is swoon-worthy (more so for being real), and Reese Witherspoon gives a perfect (and perfectly dressed) June Carter.

For me the star of the show is of course Joaquin. Two scenes stand out: the halting and indignant audition where a legend is born with a passionate rendition of Folsom Prison Blues (the film uses the first take); and the arrival of the Man in his cocky and charismatic performance of Cocaine Blues at Folsom Prison. Plus, I think he's really fucking hot in the role.

Topping the ladies is Kate Winslet. Whilst I don't like all her films, I always like her in the films. One of my favourites is Revolutionary Road, though perhaps favourite is a strong word to use for a film that leaves you feeling so drained.

Delighting the secret Titanic lover in us all, she reteamed with Leo (oh Leo) to prove why they have gone on from god-awful James Cameron dialogue to become the two greatest actors of their generation. They go at each other with such conviction that it's almost too horrendous to watch.

As ever she injects her role with depth and ambiguity and provides another thoroughly believable portrait of a woman. If you have never seen this film I would highly recommend it, but only on a dark and raining night when you are feeling emotionally strong enough to deal with an absolute battering.

Another film requiring emotional strength is a favourite from my other beloved actor (Ryan), Blue Valentine. (My real favourite is Half Nelson, but Bel has already covered that.)

Almost a contemporary hipster version of Revolutionary Road, Blue Valentine intertwines the intoxication of first falling in love with the heart-breaking process of falling out. The film is utterly excruciating to watch due to the painful realism provided by Ryan and Michelle Williams.

Ryan's performance acts as a caution tale for Women Who Fall For Inappopriate Men [Lou raises her hand sheepishly], injecting the early-20s version of his character with irresistable charm (he had me at ukulele), and flying the flag for emotional manipulation and immaturity in the jaded 30-ish-year-old. Recommended highly to singletons, but definitely a "proceed with caution" to couples.

No list would be complete without Meryl. Always brilliant, I love her in everything. But I think the film that gave me most delight - okay, I confess, I was practically bouncing with joy in the cinema - is Mamma Mia!.

Unapologetically fun and trashy, who can resist?! (Well, Bel, for a start.)

30 Days of Film: Lou's Day 19

| by Lou | 10.45pm UK time |

Favourite film based on a book/comic/etc

Shit man, I dunno!! It pretty much feels like everything is based on something these days, and so often I clock them when they suck (The Lovely Bones, I'm talking to you), rather than when they rule. But there are a few notable examples for me of films that I feel have done their source material justice, and then some.

First and foremost, the biggest and best of them all. The trilogy that made the impossible possible and turned me nerdier than I ever dreamed, all made in our backyard:

The Lord of the Rings

The Hobbits! I love you! Well, most of you. Sam, you're blurred for a reason.

Aragorn! Boromir! I love you. You gave us the best death scene - the best.

But Gandalf. Oh Gandalf. "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" Fucking aye.

I don't care how much they have gathered scorn in their years since release, I think they are perfection and I will spend the rest of my life reliving them over and over again. (I'm limiting it to a splurge on the whole extended trilogy once every two years, just to keep them on their pedastal.)

An adaptation in an entirely different genre that I absolutely love is:


They had me at C U N T.

Click here for the animated gif!

It is the one film in which I can abide Keira Knightley's presence, and isn't James McAvoy just the bestest? He is Sweetie McSweet, and yet when they have that shag in the library it is so fucking HOT.

I have to confess that I saw the film before I had read the book. I loved it, but felt like something was missing. So I read the book, and my god! It is a work of genius! And after reading it the film became perfect. And I cried - cried and cried and cried - at the tragic heart of it, embodied in its smallest moment: when Robbie and Cecelia meet for a cup of tea. Fuck! How many war-time love stories ended with just such a scene? Gah!

This second-viewing of Atonement gave me a rule that is now set in stone:


30 Days of Film: Lou's Day 18, part II

| by Lou | 11.02pm UK time |

On the first attempt at Day 18 I couldn't think of a good example of the type of film I was referencing (this being of course a demonstration of how rare and rarely seen they are...), but I just realised that one of the beloved films in my DVD collection fits the bill perfect. Thus, Day 18 part II:

A film that you wish more people would’ve seen

Rachel Getting Married

Anne Hathaway plays a woman embroiled in a long-term battle with drug addiction who is released from rehab to attend her sister's wedding. All the family's demons come to the surface in an emotional shitstorm that is incredibly well written and well acted.

Unusually, the film treats its female leads as multi-faceted individuals with a relationship that is complex and fragile. The tension, shame, rage and love between the sisters is palpable, and it's such a treat to see them play it out to its full.

The other elements of the film also all veer away from Hollywood standard: the romantic relationships cross race without comment (usually it becomes the story, inherently positioning it as something atypical); their parents' family roles and personalities are against type; sex is portrayed as just sex; etc etc.

Before this I had never really understood what was so great about Hathaway, but this demonstrated that it's the lack of great roles to be lamented amongst Hollywood's It actresses, not a lack of acting chops. I wish this film had been seen by more people and made more money so that actresses like her were given more opportunities to tell stories about women and the relationships between women.

High recommended! In fact, I think you should feel obliged to pay money to hire/buy this DVD and help encourage more to be made like it.

Film review: I Saw The Devil (Korea) and No Strings Attached

| by Bel | 2.27pm NZ time |

Here is my review of the 7 minutes I watched of I Saw The Devil:


Here's the scene: it's nighttime, on a dark and isolated road. (ARE YOU TOTALLY FREAKING OUT ALREADY?) A woman sits in her broken down car, talking on her cellphone to her partner. He is far away and although offers to help, she says she'll wait for road service. (OK WHAT ABOUT NOW? YOU ALREADY KNOW SOMETHING REALLY BAD IS GONNA HAPPEN HUH?)

Suddenly (AAARGGHH!) a figure appears at the fogged up window. A man questions the girl and offers assistance. She thanks him but insists she is fine. You have a moment of thinking it's just a fake out and that all is well - then his eyes literally flash a glowing red in the moment he disappears from view. (AAARGGHH!!!)

The woman has to end her call and sits in silence. (SWEATY PALMS, YE GODS.) She is nervous and flicks on her headlights to illuminate the road ahead. Nothing.


(I kid you not.)

Yeah, so that was the end of that screening. I demanded an immediate antidote, which was served in the form of No Strings Attached.

This film is heaps better than you would expect. Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher both play likeable, believable characters with an excellent supporting cast. Sure, you know what's going to happen at the end, but there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments along the way, with some emotional stuff and saucy scenes too.

One thing I loved in this film was that there was a scene where condom use was negotiated and that protected sex was portrayed as the best option in a casual relationship.

Can you imagine me yelling out joyfully "Negotiation of condom use! Awesome!"? Because I did. I also cried out "I bet you a dollar that this was written by a woman!". And guess who is a dollar richer, folks. (It's me.)

The photo above is from my favourite scene.  The all women household is having synchronised period pains. Although I wondered whether they were going overboard with a depiction of menstruation as a debilitating female condition, I decided in the end that having the male character demonstrating his consideration with delivery of snacks and a mixtape balanced it out.

Also, the line "Tea for your 'gina?" still has me cracking up.

In summary:

I Saw The Devil - not recommended in the slightest, even if you enjoyed other Korean horrors such as Old Boy or Tale of Two Sisters. (Or The Chaser, which is also ultra-violent, but I would recommend.)

No Strings Attached - recommended or even, in the rom-com category, highly recommended.

30 Days of Film: Lou's Day 18

| by Lou | 4.05pm UK time |

A film that you wish more people would’ve seen

Every single film with a strong female protragonist - particularly where the female is past puberty, has strong relationships with other women, and is engaged in a storyline related to anything other than just-another-fucking-version of being needy towards men and wanting to get married.

This reminds me of a time that I popped in to that DVD store on Lambton Quay that pretends to be better than a chainstore, and took a look at their Top 100 DVDs. (As chosen by themselves, I must specify.) Only 4 had female protagonists, 3 of those were pre-pubescent (Leon, Whale Rider, Spirited Away), and of course 1 those is animated. The other was Alien - perhaps the one time a woman has managed to slip through the net. (Bonus: vagina imagery that isn't designed to titillate!) Assholes.

At this point I will confess I myself have not seen the most recent prominent example of a film fitting into this criteria, Winter's Bone. I SHALL FIX THIS.

This is meant to be the totally awesome "Winter's Boooone" clip of Wayne and Garth giving their Oscars picks on SNL this year. But I can't find it anywhere that is available in the UK - booo hoo!! I shall leave it on in the hopes that at least Kiwilanders can see it *epic sad face*

30 Days of Film: Bel's day 17

| by Bel | 3.12pm NZ time |

A film that disappointed you the most

I hated the ending of Coraline. SPOILERS AHOY (duhh).

 The book, and graphic novel, of Coraline is a great read, if a little scary for younger kids. Neil Gaiman has a knack for children's books which push at the boundaries of what parents are comfortable with.

The film version is pretty good, if you don't mind the strange puppetry style. But what really bugged me was the introduction of Wybie, the boy living next door. He's not in the book at all but is a key player in the film.

Neil Gaiman has responded in interviews by saying that the creation of a completely new character was an essential cinematic device. In the book version, Coraline is alone but the reader has access to her thoughts. They needed somebody for her to speak to in the film to avoid dominating the scenes with voice-over or clunky exposition.

Ok, sure. But sheesh - did they have to also write in a boy-saves-the-day moment in the film's climatic scene??

Coraline, who has managed to think for herself and risk all sorts of dangers throughout the story, is rescued by Wybie at a crucial final moment of the film. I feel that it would have been far more satisfying, and true to Coraline's character, if she had been able to extricate herself. Instead, Wybie's arc is completed by his managing to stop everything from plummeting into disaster when Coraline can't.

MESSAGE: Don't worry, as long as there's a boy around, all will be well!


This was also my first - and only - experience of watching a 3D DVD at home. It was awful. We re-started the film in normal 2D after only a few minutes. Gahhh.

Review: Colour B4 hair dye removal

| by Bel | 9.00am NZ time |

I have been dying my hair non-stop for over a decade now. My mousy blonde days are long behind as I successfully trick the world into believing I am a brunette, thanks to chemicals.

But at the start of this year, I had hairdresser disaster where my "warm chocolate brown" was interpreted as a sort of burgundy purple. The re-do appointment left me with very dark hair, which wasn't in very good condition.

And before long, this happened:

Regrowth. *shudder*

I was contemplating buying a home dye to just try and override everything. But then the box of Colour B4 (official website) caught my eye. It was more expensive than most supermarket box dyes, but online reviews were pretty positive.

I splashed out, figuring that things couldn't get any worse.

I bought the "Extra Strength" variety as this was recommended for removal of darker shades or when your hair has been dyed several times. Check and check. The result was a pleasingly distinct change in colour for much less cost than getting it stripped out by a professional.

My main warning with this product is that it stinks. Like, stinks. I've mostly used nice ammonia-free dyes lately but hadn't forgotten that hair dye usually has a weird toxic smell. However this stench was beyond anything ever before.

Rotting eggs is the best way to describe it.

And to boot, you have to leave the solution in for 45 minutes. Yes, nearly an hour of sitting around with a stinky rotten odour in close proximity to my nose.

I also felt self-conscious over the next week that when my hair was wet, the smell reemerged. I'm not sure if this was me being hyper sensitive or not! I would suggest following up the hair dye removal with a couple of days of deep conditioning treatments if you are equally paranoid.

The change was noticeable straight away, even while my hair was still wet. It was several shades lighter than before, no distinct regrowth - and the streak in my hair was a bleached white colour.

At first it seemed my hair had taken on a ginger look, but it soon settled down to a more natural light brown.

Here is a pic I took the next day to send to Lou:

I would recommend Colour B4 for remedying any hair dye disasters you might have, or for when you are took broke to get your roots down and just want a change.

Oh and as you can see, I didn't succumb to temptation and my hair is still long!

30 Days of Film: Lou's Day 17

| by Lou | 7:00am UK time |

A film that disappointed you the most

I would put The Time Traveller's Wife here but a) I sort of knew it was going to be shit, and b) it was so shit that it actually pains me to talk about it. I just kind of have to pretend that The Time Traveller's Wife is the-best-book-never-to-be-made-into-a-film, as if it never happened and someday maybe someone talented who actually understands what is so great about the book will give it the adaptation that it deserves.

Here instead is a disappointment that brings up no sense of horror but was rather just one of those "Oh? This is what everyone has been raving about? Really?" moments. At the risk of being lynched because I'm sure you were one of the people raving about it... Here goes:

I was really disappointed by the film Up.

Yes, the opening of the film is wonderful. It would make The World's Best Short Film Ever. And the idea of someone attaching balloons to their house and flying away is fantastic. And the talking dog is clever and hilarious.

But after that... well, didn't you think that after they landed it all got really boring? And that all the crazy man/ jungle/ dog shit was just plain stupid and pointless? And that the high emotionality of the first 10 minutes sort of just emphasises how empty the second half of the film is?

Okay, just sayin'...