Why Jennifer Lawrence was perfect to play Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games – they’re both feminists through and through

As lucky Kinder in London, we go to screenings of blockbusters – as well as our more favoured smaller, more independent, underground film releases. But there isn’t anything wrong with that – just because a film is Hollywood, doesn’t mean it’s automatically too mainstream, too product placement heavy, or too glamourous for us. Sometimes Hollywood films suck – but not always.

And we really like The Hunger Games.

Mostly it’s because we have a thing for Jennifer Lawrence.

silver-linings-playbook-image-1(Jennifer Lawrence at Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook)

We really, really started to get her when we saw Silver Linings Playbook – an unexpected gem of a film, right from the Stevie Wonder mentions, to Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of someone living with bipolar disorder, to Jennifer’s role as Tiffany – a brash, sexy, but vulnerable individual (and a role that Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for).

Now, The Hunger Games is totally different. Coming from Young Adult fiction, it could be mistaken as a Twilight-type affair – all lovey dovey – but it’s not. (Jennifer, as Katniss, does have love interests – but her biggest interest is to protect her family, friends and the world around her from the regime they’re living under).

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(Jennifer playing Katniss in The Hunger Games)

Katniss wields a bow. She volunteers to enter the Hunger Games to protect her little sister – and as we’ve seen in the latest instalment, she’s getting rebellious against the totalitarian rules her nation lives under.

Jennifer Lawrence, too, is a rebel. She spoke out on Newsnight about the pressure that girls feel to be thin. Which is a very, very rare move in Hollywood.

Check her out here.

Oh Jennifer, we love you.

Oh, and P.S. – she did this at the Oscars.

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Rosie x

Powder Room – a review

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(From left to right – Jaime Winstone, Riann Steele and Sarah Hoare)

We were excited about Powder Room – it’s got a stellar cast, from Sheridan Smith, to Jaime Winstone and Oona Chaplin (who I am personally obsessed with. Her hair! The fact that she’s Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter! Her tantalising performance as a sometimes-escort in Channel 4’s Dates earlier on this year. The list goes on).

Basically, this is a Brit flick for the girls.

And it’s good – but not as good as it maybe could have been.

Sheridan Smith (who is always amazing. In everything) plays Sam. She’s on a night out – with two different sets of mates. One bunch, her ‘true’ friends, are are also the so-called ’embarrassing’ ones – the ones who nick drinks because they’re skint, get so wasted they end up hiding in toilet cubicles whilst wrapped in bog roll, and shamelessly shave their armpits in the ladies’ loos (well, the latter is  just Jaime Winstone as man-eater, Chanel).

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(Oona Chaplin, Sheridan Smith and Kate Nash)

Sam’s other bunch of mates are played by super-cool Oona Chaplin (Jess), and Kate Nash (Michelle) -yes, really – Miss Nash is an actress now! I didn’t even recognise her without her fringe, to be honest – what a transformation – though not one I’m totally convinced by. But it’s clear from the start they aren’t Sam’s true friends – just a bitchy friend of Sam’s from the past, and her snobby Parisian mate.

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(Jaime Winstone and Sheridan Smith)

Sam spends the night flitting between the two gaggles of girls – with increasing tension and unease. Who are her real friends? The ones she’s grown up with – and outgrown a little – or the chic duo that Sam aspires to be like?

As the narrative moves forward, we see that Sam’s life has actually been unravelling in front of her eyes for months.

I liked this film. Sheridan Smith gave a great performance – and I sympathised with her character, as many girls will – skint, upset, confused, heartbroken, stuck, bored, whatever – there’s a quality in Sam that we can all relate to. And probably several if we’re honest.

Jaime Winstone and Oona Chaplin too were fabulous, as always.

And I liked that the film revolved around the toilets at a club – which is, though a bit of a cliche, the place you often spend half your night nattering with your friends.

The bits I didn’t like? The random bursting into song. I guess that was too… jazz hands for me, but that’s just me. Others will like that element – and the film is based on a play.

This is a slick, girly film, and it’s one younger girls especially will like. I can’t see it becoming a cult classic or anything – but it’s definitely worth a watch. If only to see Jaime Winstone shaving her armpits in a club toilet.

Our rating: ***

Powder Room is at cinemas  from 6th December. 

Rosie x

Michelberger Hotel – the most wunderbar place to stay in Berlin

We love Michelberger Hotel. Situated on Warschauer Straße in the cool Friedrichshain area, it’s the perfect location for everything you need on a trip to B Town. 

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It was recommended to us by friends, and honestly, we think it’s the one of the best places we’ve stayed in any city, ever. We wouldn’t stay anywhere else. We’ve visited friends in hostels in the city, and nothing compares to the quirky, modern, edgy, yet friendly atmosphere at Michelberger.

You’re free to come and go as you please (obviously, you won’t get judged for disappearing off for a few nights clubbing and coming back disheveled – a big plus. Who needs nosy receptionists? But maybe we’re just used to curtain-twitching British B&Bs – argh). And when you ARE in your room, you think, god, why isn’t my house like this?!

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Vintage deco is mixed with clean lines, details that are unique to each room, and a range of rooms from cosy (which are lovely, minimalist, and cute as hell) to loft rooms and special mezzanine abodes.

We hate to use the word ‘quirky’ – but this place truly is (shout out to the Big Lebowski – which plays on TVs in the halls on loop. It might drive you a little bit mad after a while, but it also makes you think, ‘Ah, I’m home’).

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And the lounge area is to die for – with amazing cocktails (we’ve OD’d on espresso martinis many a time). And the food is ace, too!

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Yummy.

Plus, it’s all totally on budget – rooms start at just 70 Euros for two people per night (that’s 35 Euros, kids – a steal for the standard you get).

We can’t sing its praises loud enough. Seriously.

Don’t bother with chain hotels! Go for lovely MichelB. You won’t regret it.

Our rating: *****

Rosie x

Photos: Michelberger Hotel, Rosie’s Instagram

 

The Bodyguard – first night with Beverley Knight at the Adelphi Theatre

the-bodyguard-original1I’ve always loved The Bodyguard.

Whitney Houston is perfect – not only because of her voice (which is obviously one of the main pulls of the film), but also because of her portrayal of superstar in crisis, Rachel Marron.

And a star in crisis Whitney was in real life too – we all know what happened, and I still can’t really believe that Whitney is gone.

For Whitney/Bodyguard fans, the lines are blurred. Are you watching a story about a singer called Rachel Marron, or are you just watching (and gawping) at Whitney and her amazing voice?

So going to see the stage version of the epic film was always going to be pretty poignant for me.

Rachel’s story is different from Whitney’s – in the film/stage show she’s being stalked, and needs the protection of a bodyguard (Kevin Costner in the film, Tristan Gemmill in the stage show), who she then falls in love with.

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Whitney Houston is one of my favourite ever singers, so I was worried that Beverley Knight, though a national treasure with a ridiculously great vocal range of her own, might not be able to emulate Whitney.

But I was wrong – Beverley lends her own twist to Rachel’s story. She hit every note perfectly – and there are a lot of songs in this play! She doesn’t try to emulate Whitney’s voice, but instead sings in her own incredible style.

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The play has been adapted from the film as a tribute to Whitney, and each of her biggest hits is in it – from I Wanna Dance With Somebody to I Will Always Love You.

The stage show is especially tense when the audience realises that Rachel’s stalker is creeping along the side of the seating.

And it was a huge success – Beverley got the standing ovation she deserved, even before the show was finished.

If you’re into Whitney Houston, and want to celebrate her musical achievments, then this is one musical you will enjoy.

A must-see for Whitney fans.

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R.I.P., Whitney Houston – we will always love you!

P.S. As it was Beverley’s first night in the role, there was a good turnout of celebrities, from Emeli Sande to Shingai Shinowa of The Noisettes… and I found myself sitting next to Mel C from the Spice Girls. Which made me feel the ‘girl power’ even more. Perfect.

Our verdict: ****

Rosie x 

HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY AMY WINEHOUSE <3

It is hard to find eloquent words that befit the way we both feel about Amy Winehouse and her music. Even thinking/talking about her now gives us goosebumps and brings tears to our eyes. Many a’night we have spent warbling away to her heartbreaking and moving lyricism and soaking up her feisty attitude. Of any troubled celebrity it was ALWAYS her that we prayed would rise like a phoenix from the flames. Yet that was not to be. So in the absence of articulate expression we have found two writers that beautifully express our feelings for this talented young lady. One thing that is for certain – any future generations of our families will be forced to listen to the Winehouse back catalogue for years to come. Musically, she is an artist that we should all feel lucky to have had a chance to witness to in our lifetime…

“Pop music had often cast women as sweet, bright creatures, but Winehouse’s lyrics revealed something mulchier, messier. Here was a woman who refused to conform – not in the eccentric mad woman in the attic mould of Kate Bush or Björk, but a woman who chose to live a little wild, follow her heart and sing of the simple stew of being female. Her songs were filled with broad talk, cussing, drink and drugs and dicks, songs that could hinge on one magnificent, unladylike question: “What kind of fuckery is this?”

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Reposted from Tuesday 26 July 2011 

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“Of course nothing lasts for ever, but some things endure, even as, and maybe because, they haunt . To find a lasting treasure in all the momentary pleasures of the Winehouse oeuvre, all you have to do is listen harder. And then do it again, and keep doing it, until you feel life changing around you”

NICK COLEMAN

Reposted from Sunday 8th September 2013 theindependent.co.uk

Photos:  Max Vadukul©  & Abél Caldéroné©  

Best Books (part 1)

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My favourite books, from top to bottom (and in some kind of vague chronological order): Evelina by Frances Burney, Maria: Or, the Wrongs of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, The Adventures and the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse, Room at the Top by John Braine, 26a by Diana Evans, and In Other Rooms Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin. (I am actually quite devastated that another of my absolute favourites seems to have disappeared into the depths of my house – The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. I am going to go on a manhunt for it – I am very precious about my books. They are my babies.)

As you can see, I have a thing for tragedy, and the gothic – basically, the genre known as Fin de siècle, which is the stream of books written in the 1890s. At the turn of the Victorian century, people got paranoid and scared about the future, and what resulted were classics by Hardy, Conan Doyle and Wilde – books obsessed with disease, degeneration, crime, and decay. Totally depressing, chilling stuff. I love it.

Apart from that, I am a massive fan of the Victorian (Dickens and the Brontës, especially), and prior to that, the eighteenth century, which I am quite obsessed with as a period in general. I love strong women (Woolf and Wollstonecraft) and the angry young men of the 1960s (Braine and Waterhouse). I also like contemporary black and Asian writing, such as Diana Evans, and Daniyal Mueenuddin.

I’m obsessed with Oxford Classics – Penguins will not do. Oxfords are white, and they always have the best covers (i.e. the Woolf, Burney, and Hardy above). Penguins are black, and the spine always gets cracked and they end up looking shit after a few weeks (again, you can see that above. I didn’t buy those Penguins. I wouldn’t ever buy Penguins).

My English degree and really opened my eyes to literature. One of my favourite things about reading, apart from the feeling of peace and calm I get I lose myself in a book, is identifying parts of my life with certain books – I’ll always associate reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles with a magazine internship I once did, for example, as I’ve been reading it again over the last few weeks. And Jude the Obscure reminds me of winter: it’s a thoroughly depressing book, and I read it in January, when it was snowing and London was at a standstill. It was very eerie. I really feel like I’m living my life more when I’m loving a book.

Rosie x

Wilderness festival – a review

We like festivals. A lot. Call them our addiction – this year we’ve been to too many to count (and will be seeping over how skint we are as a result until winter).

We especially like mixing it up a little bit by visiting, in between our trusted favourite festivals (Glastonbury, Bestival and Secret Garden Party), a new one each year.

This year we decided to check out Wilderness.

9ecb6b2201f911e3a73b22000aa80571_7Organised by the people behind Secret Garden, Wilderness promised amazing food, drink and festivities just outside of Oxford.

The weather was beautiful – absolute perfection – and in between catching Empire Of The Sun (psychedelic amazingness that was the perfect way to kick a festival off), we partied in beautiful summer climes.

wildernessHow pretty is that?! The food and drink was a dream – if a little bit expensive – but we’d rather spend £8 on a gourmet mezze platter than a dodgy burger any day.

wilderness 2It did become apparent quite quickly that the festival was VERY family-friendly – if you don’t like kids, then you might want to hide away during the day. This was a civilised festival, for sure, and ridiculously middle class, too (we got home to a report in The Times about a member of Parliament being present.).

But we wouldn’t have had it any different – Wilderness, with its chilled out music, beautiful surroundings, and awesome food, was a great place to nurse a hangover in the day – and we were always ready to party again by the evenings.

0876425802c811e399ae22000a1f9c95_7The festival really came to life in the evenings – we loved The Valley area – a crazy rave in a forest, curated one evening by The Box night club – and we found ourselves on the last night dancing like mad to Blurred Lines, amongst thousands of others – amazing. The only complaint from us? That everything wound down at 2am – when everyone descended to their tents – we’d have liked things to have carried on until dawn. But you can’t have everything – with weather, surroundings, and atmosphere this lovely, we had no other complaints. And we would gladly return, too.

We’ll be back for more next year – this is the perfect festival if you want to chill out in the daytime and party at night. We loved watching new music and one big headliner – we weren’t dashing from one stage to the other and missing sets – more ambling along – and loving the beautiful surrounding that Cornbury Park has to offer along the way (with a gourmet burger in hand, obvs).

Our verdict: ****

                                                                              Rosie x

Photos:  Jazmin Jackson and Wilderness Official

Canalival (well, the unofficial one)

We went to Canalival – a flotilla up Regent’s Park Canal – at the weekend, along with around 6000 other Londoners who wanted to make the most of the sunshine.

Well, actually, the official Canalival got cancelled a few days before – something about safety, despite thousands being raised for the event.

So what do you do when something you really, really wanted to go to gets cancelled? You turn up anyway, obviously. We’re young, don’t get mad!

It was an amazing day – sunny, good-natured, and drunken. And for once, we felt like we were connecting with other Londoners – there was a festival vibe to the day, and we spent loads of time chatting to others (mostly because there were so many boats we had no choice but to get to know our neighbours, but it was lovely). And it made us realise how reserved and British we are – why NOT set sail on a canal on a hot summer’s day?!

Check out the day in photos.

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Canalival’s Facebook page is still rife with ‘discussions’, and many an article about the day has begun appearing in the Evening Standard and Time Out.

London’s still busy debating whether Canalival’s attendees are a bunch of ferocious, drunken, law-breaking hoodlums who made a right mess of the canal, or a jolly crowd of opportunists who took to Regent’s Park Canal on a sunny day and did something different. Rosie and Anne think the latter. But we would, wouldn’t we?!*

*And before you accuse of littering, we sorted our rubbish out. And donated our dinghy to a dinghy-less group when we left. Because we’re good like that.

Rosie x

Favourite Works of Art (part 1)

I’ve wanted to write a blog post about my favourite art for a while. I finally sat down today and made a little list, which you will see below:

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Self Portrait by Picasso (1901)

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Girl in a Chemise by Picasso (1905)

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Starry Night Over the Rhone by Van Gogh (1888)

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Peach Tree in Blossom by Van Gogh (1888)

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Branches with Almond Blossom by Van Gogh (1890)

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The Kiss by Gustav Klimt (1907)

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The Lady of Shallot by J.W. Waterhouse (1888)

What I didn’t realise, or at least had forgotten from the hazy days of A-level art, is that my favourite paintings all seem to be of the 1880 – 1907 period, which is (no, you’ve probably not guessed it, unless you did English with me at Leeds – like Anne), coincidentally, the fin de siècle, i.e. my favourite literary period. I’m pretty spooked by this. Maybe I have forgotten a lot of my art knowledge (which I like to think is at least reasonable – my parents are both artists, I loved art at school, and I did History of Art in my first year of university), but I think this is massively odd – I wasn’t as into literature when I was at school as I am now, and when I went to university, I didn’t have as much time for art – so I honestly haven’t connected the two in much of a way until now.

As I’ve already gone into, the fin de siècle is the bit at the end of the eighteenth century when people got frightened about the passing of time and basically freaked out about things like illness, religion, disease, crime, decadence, and the general downwards spiral of society. Literature took a creepy, dark turn, resulting in some of the best gothic books ever written (think Oscar Wilde and Thomas Hardy). In terms of my favourite paintings, I can see the same themes! There are depressed, blue tones in Picasso and Van Gogh, there are tragic women in Waterhouse and Picasso, and there are tons of gold and opulence in Klimt. My favourite things in art, be it literature or painting, are all present – women with a story to tell, the eery gothic, and the extravagance of gold and jewels.

I LOVE WEIRD, DEPRESSING STUFF. 

Rosie x