Author: elenasquareeyes

REVIEW: Christmas with the Coopers (2015)

The intertwined stories of four generations of the Cooper family as they come together for their annual gathering on Christmas Eve.

Christmas with the Coopers is one of those perfectly fine Christmas films. As with many films set around the holidays where a large, extended family get together, there’s arguments, secrets and misunderstandings.

There’s a lot of plot threads about the different characters, potentially a few too many but on the whole, it works and that’s due to the cast all giving good performances. My favourite plot was Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) finding a fake boyfriend at the airport so she doesn’t have to go home single. Her relationship with Joe is lovely as she slowly starts to open up to him, and they end up being a couple you root for. The friendship between Ruby (Amanda Seyfried) and Bucky (Alan Arkin) is sweet and does a good job at not veering into being uncomfortable.

I have to mention the ages of the various actors and how as a fictional family, they make no sense. I’m not usually that fussed about actors ages, but in Christmas with the Coopers I did find it difficult to realise who was related to who and how because some people looked too similar our different in age. For instance, Diane Keaton and Marisa Tomei are supposed to be sisters with not much more than a five-year age difference. When Tomei’s character was mentioning a sister, I could not figure out which character out of the rest of the cast she could mean until the very end of the film.

Christmas with the Coopers is sweet, funny and it’s an easy watch kind of Christmas film that’s all about the highs and lows of a big family. 3/5.

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Thoughts on… Living Alone

I’ve been living with a flatmate for a year now and it’s going really well. We have different schedules, I work 9-5 during the week and he works from home and stays up super late, so we don’t really see each other that much but it works for us.

Every now and then my flatmate goes away for anything between a few days to a couple of weeks for either work or a holiday. He’s away at the minute and he’s been gone for almost a week and won’t be back for another week and a bit, and anytime he’s away I find myself acting like how I presume I would if I lived alone.

Let me explain. First of all, my flatmate doesn’t cook. Seriously, all he uses is the microwave and the toaster. I’m not exactly an adventurous cook but I do regularly use the oven and/or the hob so that means I use a lot of kitchenware. We have a dishwasher, but my flatmate is the only one who uses it as I’ve previously never lived anywhere that had a dishwasher, so I don’t know how to use the thing. That means I wash all my dishes and pots and pans in the sink – I’m happy to do that as it’s what I’m used to. When it’s the two of us, I wash and dry and put away all the stuff I’ve used straight away. But, when my flatmate’s away I find myself still washing everything up straightaway, but I leave it on the draining board to dry and then it might take me two days to put things back in the cupboard. To be honest I haven’t put the bowl and spoon I have for my cereal each morning away since he’s been gone – it lives on the draining board now.

I find myself doing other odd little things as well like leaving things in the lounge when I’d normally put them straight in my room or walking around the flat in my pyjamas when I’d at least put a hoody on top first.

None of this stuff is particularly bad, and I’m sure he has habits or forgets about certain things when I’ve been away for work or a holiday, but it makes me think that if or when I ever get a place to call my own (#millenialproblems) will I leave stuff to dry on the draining board, or will I want my home to always be neat and tidy? I don’t know.

I know I’d tidy up and make sure all the dishes were away if I ever invited friends over, so why don’t I do that extra step when I’m on my own? Let’s be real, I know the answer to that – laziness. Still, while I’m sharing this flat with my flatmate, I’ll keep all the shared living space clean and tidy, at least when he’s here! I’ll make sure everything’s back to normal the day before he gets back!

Why I Love… I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

To me, the end of November/beginning of December is I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! season. I love this show and to be honest it’s the only reality show I watch religiously every year.

For those of you that don’t know, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! is a reality show where a group of “celebrities” have to camp in the Australian jungle, without any home comforts or contact with the outside world, on basic rations and complete in trials full of creepy crawlies, crocodiles and snakes in order to win food for the camp. I put the word celebrities in quotation marks as they are usually soap stars, musicians, sportspeople and people who you would recognise if you’re under 40.

Saying that though, half the fun of I’m a Celebrity… is that it introduces you to celebrities you’ve never heard of and you fall in love them. A couple of years ago a series featured Superbike World Champion Carl “Foggy” Fogarty who I’d never heard of before, but he soon became my favourite campmate and I was so happy he won.

There’s been some unlikely friendships made in the jungle which are always wonderful. One of my favourites was Star Trek legend George Takei and Joe Swash, a former EastEnders actor when they were in the jungle together ten years ago. The two of them couldn’t have been more different but they bonded so much in the jungle and it was really sweet to see.

This year I actually had heard of nine out of the eleven celebrities which was a bit of a surprise as normally I don’t even know half of them. This series has been a lot of fun, and that’s in part because all of the campmates have gotten on so well and there’s been no arguments. It is kind of entertaining when there’s larger than life characters who clash, but as someone who cries as soon as someone raises their voice at me in real life, I prefer it when everyone gets along.

The thing I like about I’m a Celebrity… is that it’s so funny. I spend every evening for almost three weeks laughing. The campmates antics are hilarious and then the hosts, usually Ant & Dec but this year it’s Holly Willoughby and Dec, are also funny with their quips about what’s been happening in camp and their skits.

Tomorrow it’s the final of this year’s series and the final three are Harry Redknapp, Emily Atack, and John Barrowman. I’m happy they are the final three. I’ve loved John Barrowman since I first saw him in Doctor Who as Captain Jack Harkness so he’s kind of always been my favourite. I’d heard of both Harry Redknapp and Emily Atack before but didn’t know that much about either of them, and they’ve both entertained me over the past few weeks and made me smile. I do love John and Emily’s friendship though, them two together are so sweet and they look like they’re having the best time when they’re goofing around together. Tomorrow night is the final and I would be more than happy with whoever was crowned King or Queen of the Jungle out of those three.

Below is a video compilation of some of the trial’s campmates have faced over the years so you can see what this brilliant show is all about. It’s bonkers but I love it.

TRAILER REACTION: Avengers: Endgame

There’s me thinking, “Oh dear I haven’t got a post for blogmas planned for today, will have to write something when I get home from work.” And what do you know, the first trailer for the next Avengers film was released earlier today and I have a lot to say about it.

First of all, beware spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp and my thoughts and predictions on what might happen in Endgame – which probably won’t be in any real order and I’ll have probably forgotten some stuff. I loved this trailer, and to be honest I think it’s going to be the only trailer for the film I watch. I want to know as little as possible before seeing this film.

I loved the way it started with Tony seemingly alone in space (I say seemingly as he’s going to be with Nebula and my hopes that they will bond in space and become besties haven’t been dashed yet) leaving a farewell message for Pepper. His message makes me so sad, he’s one of my favourite characters and he’s been through so much. He had nightmares and suffers from PTSD from his first trip into space, and now he’s stuck floating through space, running out of oxygen. There’s a sort of symmetry with the trailer starting with Tony as he is the character that started the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I predict either Carol, aka Captain Marvel, will find and save Tony and Nebula as she’s on her way to Earth to answer Fury’s message, or Pepper is going to come to Tony’s rescue. I think it could be Pepper mainly because of Tony’s use of the word “Rescue” as that’s the name of the armour Pepper has worn in the comics.

I love that Clint is shown in the trailer, especially as I spent so long trying to spot him in the Infinity Ware trailer and he was never there! It looks like he’s taken up the role of Ronin which means that his family has almost certainly turned to dust. I predict a very different Clint Barton to what we’ve seen before, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he fits in with the rest of the Avengers that are left.

When Bruce looked at the wall of missing heroes, aka people who may have turned to dust, Shuri was on there! That was a surprise and then leaves me wondering if she has turned to dust, or is generally MIA, who’s now leading Wakanda. Okoye and M’Baku both survived Infinity War so maybe between them they’re trying to keep the country together?

Also, because none of the heroes on Earth know what happen to Tony, does that mean his face is going to be on that wall of missing people? Because if it is I’ll probably cry. But then it makes me think about how all those who are still alive, Thor, Steve, Natasha, Bruce and Rhodey, will react when Tony does get back to Earth presumably with Nebula and Carol in tow.

Then there’s the ending with Scott! I have so many questions right now about him. How the hell did he get out of the quantum realm if everyone who knew where he was turned to dust? Does he know what’s happened to the rest of the world? Because he’s quite cheerful if he does! What about his daughter?

I really liked the vibe this trailer gave off. Here’s a bunch of heroes, the original Avengers, all at their lowest point, but they’re still going to try and find a way to fight. I love that it doesn’t show that much, mainly just shots of the characters, and that there’s no real scenes of action. I don’t need that. I know I’m going to see Endgame as soon as it’s out and I know there’s a good chance I’m going to love it. These characters have been a part of my life for 10 years now. I’ve written two dissertations on Marvel Studios. My love for these characters and this whole universe is a big part of me. And while I know there’s a good chance that some of these characters will die – the most likely of them being Steve and/or Tony – I don’t want them to. Even if at the same time I think that narratively speaking it might be kind of poetic if they do die, especially Tony because as I said, he started it all.

There’re rumours that there’s going to be a trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home released soon, but I’m not going to watch it and do my best to avoid everything to do with it. Like, I know that everyone who turned to dust is going to come back somehow, so it’s the how that’s interesting to me, but I still don’t want to see a trailer of Peter Parker swinging around all OK.

If you’ve watched the trailer for Avengers: End Game, do let me know what you think. I definitely feel the MCU won’t be the same after this film. After this, it’ll be the start of a new roster of “Avengers” and the older ones take a step back, in whatever shape or form that may be.

READ THE WORLD – Malaysia: The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

Yun Ling, the only survivor from her internment camp, sets out to build a memorial to her sister. Her quest leads he to The Garden of Evening Mists, and to Nakamura Aritomo, a man of extraordinary skill and reputation, once the gardener of the Emperor of Japan. When she accepts his offer to become his apprentice, she begins a journey into her past, inextricably linked with the secrets of her troubled country’s history.

The Garden of Evening Mists is told in the first person from Yun Ling’s point of view and spans over fifty years. The novel takes place in three time periods, when Yun Ling is a retired judge and writing down her story, when she becomes a gardener’s apprentice, and when she’s a teenager in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during Japan’s invasion of Malaysia. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Anna Bentinck and I really how she narrated it. The way Bentinck narrated it was great as she had a different voice for the older Yun Ling and the younger Yun Ling making it easier to follow what point in time the story is set.

I knew very little of Japan’s invasion of Malaysia during World War Two, or Malaysia’s history in general, before reading The Garden of Evening Mists. As it spans so many years, you get to see how the country changes over time, the different political influences it has, and how the people must adapt and deal with some the atrocities they face.

Yun Ling is a brilliantly complicated and realistic character. She suffered a great deal at the hands of the Japanese, she suffered physical and mental abuse, her family was torn apart, and she became a changed person due to her experience. She has every right to hate those that hurt her, but her feelings go towards all Japanese people so naturally her relationship with Aritomo is strained – at least to begin with. Seeing Yun Ling learn to deal with her anger, hurt and resentment and try and move on with her life was really powerful and compelling. Her relationship with Aritomo was fascinating as they were constantly learning from one another and as they slowly started to share more about their pasts, they were becoming a solid unit.

There were some surprises along the way as slowly Yun Ling started to piece together hers and Aritomo’s pasts, and how they may have been connected long before they met. The Garden of Evening Mists is a great historical story with some beautiful writing. The way the garden was described was so vivid and stunning, but equally the brutality Yun Ling faced was just as vivid and shocking. I enjoyed The Garden of Evening Mists far more than I was expecting to, and would recommend it to just about anyone. 4/5.

BOOK BLOGGER HOP: If you could travel back in time to purchase the first printing of a specific novel, what book would that be?

It’s been a while (about a year to be honest) since I’ve last done one of these, but they are fun. The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, to find bookish blogs and to learn more about the bloggers themselves. You can find more info on the feature here.

This week’s question is: If you could travel back in time to purchase the first printing of a specific novel, what book would that be?

Now that’s a good question! I’m not too fussed about covers and editions (though I do prefer all books in a series to match) but, if I could, I think I’d want to get a first edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s my favourite book in the trilogy and I think it would feel really special having that book sitting pride of place on my shelf.

Is there any book you’d want a first edition of?

Thoughts on… a Month of Photographing My Life

I meant to write about this months ago but then life got in the way so now it’s the perfect post to take up a day of blogmas!

In September I decided to take a photo every day of the month of things in my life and share it on my Instagram. It was an interesting experience to say the least and I learnt some things about myself and my life.

When I started this self-inflicted challenge, I did think about maybe trying to taking and sharing a photo each day for the whole of 2019. Soon I realised that my life isn’t interesting enough for that and I struggled to take a somewhat interesting photo every day for just 30 days. I work 9-5 every week day so most of my photos during the week were of what I saw on my walk to or from work, or when I wandered around town on my lunch break. Then on the weekends I didn’t always do anything interesting, or even leave my flat sometimes to be honest! I’m a big fan of the lazy weekend.

Having to take and share a photo of something each day did make me a bit more aware of my surroundings. I took a photo of a clock tower I hadn’t noticed before even though I’d walked past it like a hundred times. I also paid more attention to the flowers and wildlife I’d normally walk straight past leading to some cute and pretty pictures if I do say so myself.

I think my photography skills did improve a bit through this experience. I begun to get better at framing things and I did use filters and edit photos on Instagram but I think I started to learn how to bring out the best in a photo through editing instead of turning it into something completely fake.

Maybe next year I’ll do a month of photography again, or maybe just the odd week now and then. It was a fun and interesting experience, but as I say my everyday life isn’t that exciting so it was a bit difficult at times.