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. Monday, 18 November 2019 .



I don't care what other reviews say. Last Christmas is a wonderful, warm, and charismatic Christmas film. Critics be damned! I went to the New Zealand Premiere of Last Christmas recently and since posting about it on Instagram (and okay, I've been posting about it a lot. I just reaaaaally love it), it's all everyone seems to be asking me about! And by everyone, I kinda just mean my friends, really.




Last Christmas seems to be one of the most highly anticipated films this year and I myself have been excited to see this for months. To put into context just how much I was dying to see this: I was away on a work trip for two days on what felt like the ends of the earth (not really, we were out in Silverdale lol) and it took me a rush hour Uber ride and then another commute to get to the cinemas just to go see it. I just flat out refused to miss it. As Meatloaf famously said, "I will do anything for love". And I boy oh boy did I do just that!




This is a film after my own heart. I mean, what's not to love? It's got everything! Christmas! Emilia Clarke! A lot of thirst courtesy of Mr Golding! Alleyways! London! Quotable quotes that hit you right in the feels! The film even ventures into an area that most 'feel good' holiday-themed films probably wouldn't even touch: Brexit, generational gap especially between migrant parents and their children who grew up in their adopted country, immigration and 'othering'.




And I haven't even mentioned the best part yet - the film is inspired by the music of George Michael so as these scenes unfold, they do so with classics like "Faith" and "Freedom" playing in the background. Then there's the part about the brilliant Emma Thompson co-writing the script. I mean, as far as Christmas films go, this one is going right up there to my list of must sees during the season, joining the ranks of cult classics like "Love, Actually" (which is not the most PC film, I know, but that's a discussion for another day), "The Holiday", and "Serendipity".




I think the problem with these negative reviews is that they compare it so much to Love, Actually or any of those classic cult faves that in the process, they don't allow it to be what it is: a standalone film that is not the next "Love, Actually" but rather a film that reflects our changing world and perfectly captures our world as it is in this period of time.




There are a few scenes in particular that got to me because it deals with racism and validates what a lot of people of colour's stories about harassment in public spaces. As a POC myself, I resonated so much with the Kate and her family, of wanting to fit in and adapt to a new culture and environment as an immigrant while somehow also learning to accept this other side of you and your heritage and upbringing. I felt those stories profoundly. Of her dad being an Uber driver when he had a whole other career back in their home country that he wasn't able to practice in London. It's such a common immigrant story - you often hear of how so and so was a well-respected doctor back home, but when they move overseas they struggle to find a job in their industries and have to settle for jobs they are overqualified for. Not saying there's anything wrong with those jobs. I'm just saying that there's a reason why immigrants are not getting jobs they qualify for and we all know why. It's those quiet, profound scenes in the film that was hard to watch. Because I saw on that big screen real life stories I'm all too familiar with. Because I understood the way Emma Thompson's character's anxiety manifested and I felt how scary it must be like for her to live in a different country that's been home for years and still feel like she's not welcome there. These aren't just scenes from a fictional movie. These are some people's daily lives, finally reflected on a film for others to hopefully see and understand more. It was so special watching it with my mum as the film really explored a lot of that mother and daughter dynamic! Emma Thompson is such a versatile actress who, like in her role in "Love, Actually" will break your heart and put it back together again.




That's what makes it so great! Because you think Christmas feel good films are usually just fluffy and an explosion of cliches and overused, unrealistic storylines. I mean, this film has all those too (and I love it! Give me the cliches, give me predictability. I even called the big 'twist' from the start - I've seen far too many cheesy Filipino movies that I could spot it a mile away) but it really opens up a timely conversation about what our generation is dealing with. I also loved that the concept of 'looking up' was such an important part of the film. It's something I've been thinking about for ages - how we need to be looking up more. To the stars in the sky. To the buildings above us. Look up to find a new perspective. Look up more. I even wrote about it on Instagram a few weeks ago here.






Sure there were parts that felt a bit disjointed and erratic, but the payoff makes it all worth it. I was bawling by the last monologue delivered and that haunting version of Last Christmas. 'Tis the season for kindness and compassion. We shouldn't need a film to remind us of 'the real meaning of Christmas' but Last Christmas drives that point home in the most charming, offbeat, and empathetic way. What more can we ask from a Christmas film?




Thank you so much Universal Pictures NZ for having us along! The Christmas trees and lamp posts and fake snow and mulled wine really created such a festive atmosphere and got us really excited for December. Last Christmas is out in cinemas now! Watch the trailer here.

 


. Sunday, 17 November 2019 .



It's been a while since I've posted a recipe on here. I can't remember the last time, actually. Was it when I loved a good duck? I've been told several times now that the food I post on Instagram (and I'm constantly eating so I'm always posting them lol) gives people food envy. And honestly, most of the time, the food really taste as good as it looks.




For today's Sunday's table, I did a wholesome, comforting spaghetti with meatballs and a Caprese salad on the side. I've been craving for a little quiet time lately, finding myself retreating into my own world/home every chance I get. There's something about making meatballs that really grounds me. Perhaps it's because while they are easy to make (prep time for me is less than half an hour now), they require enough work that you actually have to pause and take time to focus on making them. I find it so therapeutic to sit there and mix the ingredients and make the meatballs by hand. It's like a delicious form or mindfulness for me!




So what better meal to end the weekend with than a generous helping of spaghetti with meatballs on top? Add a Caprese salad and garlic bread to start, open your wave bottle of red, light up some candles, and you've got a quick and easy Italian fix for that Sunday night meal. And if you're lucky, you'll have enough leftovers for Monday lunch too! Because Mondays are tough enough as they are and sometimes my only motivation to get out of bed is to think about the food I'm gonna be eating that day...








Caprese Salad





Ingredients




1 buffalo mozzarella

Handful of angel tomatoes

Handful of basil leaves

A drizzle of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic glaze optional




How to make the freshest Caprese salad:




1. Chop the angel tomatoes into halves. Traditional Caprese salads use regular tomato but I like the smaller ones because they're sweeter

2. Grab a handful of basil leaves and finely chop them

3. Get a pretty serving plate

4. Place mozzarella in the middle of the plate

5. Add the tomatoes and basil around it

6. Drizzle with olive oil

7. Add salt and pepper

8. Drizzle with a Balsamic glaze if you're feeling boujie




Serve with garlic bread on the side and an olive oil/balsamic dip. Great as a starter before pasta and while drinking wine, or as a side dish to the pasta. In this case, spaghetti with meatballs!






Meatballs





Ingredients




1 packet of mince beef

3 pieces of Italian sausages, remove from casing

1 piece of white bread (I usually take the end bit of a loaf. You know - that piece no one eats/likes)

A dash of milk or at least enough to cover the piece of bread

1 clove of garlic (I like a shit ton of garlic so I probably go for a whole clove but it's up to you really)

3 tbs parmesan cheese powder

1 egg

A handful of parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large bowl

1 oven tray




How to make the best meatballs:


1. Add all ingredients on a large bowl

2. No, but seriously that's it

3. Okay, but if you must know, here's the order I do it in:

4. Add the piece of bread and cover it with milk, letting it really soak in the bottom of the large bowl

5. Remove the casing from the Italian sausages and add it in the bowl

6. Put the mince in

7. Cheese, cheese, bitch! Time to add that parmesan into it. I don't really measure it to be honest - I just empty the packet directly into the mixture until my mouth waters

8. This is the glorious bit where you add the garlic in

9. Crack the egg, add it in

10. We'll add some greenery because we are ~healthy AF so put the chopped parsley in (I try and chop them finely)

11. Salt and pepper to taste

12. Gently mix all the ingredients with your CLEAN HANDS (!!!!)

13. This is optional but I like to take time make the meatballs so I casually sit my ass down in the dining room chair, have some music going (or Gossip Girl playing in the background), before I form them into meatballs

14. Scoop a bit of mixture in depending how big you like your meatballs. I go for just slightly smaller than golf size so it cooks quicker. Gently form into a ball using both your hands. It doesn't have to be a perfect circle - the more you try and form it perfectly, the tougher the meatballs get so just a quick ball shaped situation is fine

15. Line them up on the tray then sprinkle with olive oil. Totally optional but I save a handful of meatballs for the stove to cook with the sauce. Also because my tray gets too full and I'm too lazy to bake a second batch

16. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees until it's hot - I usually wait 5 mins

17. Carefully add the tray in. Set the timer to 20 minutes. Check if it's done to how you like it and if all the sides are cooked! I leave mine in the oven for another 10 mins after I turn it off. No particular reason. I'm probably still waiting for the sauce or noodles to cook





Sauce





Ingredients:




2 cans of tomato sauce (I love Pam's)

Handful of garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt, pepper, sugar to taste

The meatballs you've set aside for frying




How to make the sauce:




1. Heat the oil in a nice, spacious pan

2. Sear the meatballs in medium heat until both sides are brown then turn the heat to low

3. Add garlic in until they're slightly brown

4. Put the tomato sauce in

5. Add salt, pepper, sugar to taste

6. Take the meatballs from the oven tray and add it to the sauce - try and get the drippings from the pan too because they add a different depth to the sauce.





Serve with spaghetti noodles (I like mine al dente) and add another round of parmesan powder on top. Get a good bottle of red wine. Viola! And, if you're feeling romantic, why not recreate this iconic scene with your love while you're at it?

. Tuesday, 5 November 2019 .



You may remember that a few months ago, I saw a horror film in the cinema for the first time in my life. Ever. It was the IT Chapter Two premiere and I put my big girl pants on, gathered my friends (well, one of them), and braved the cinemas. I figured if I were to ever go see a scary film on the big screen, it may as well be while one of the stars in said film was in attendance so I could reassure myself that it's just a movie...


Well, friends
, as it appears I've gone a bit cocky and now think I can handle scary films. So tonight I took Steph along with me to the Doctor Sleep screening. And to prove that I am such a noob when it comes to this genre, I even got the title wrong when I messaged her. I said Doctor Sleeper. So my cockiness was premature for sure. Nevertheless, I said yes to seeing it because I've been actively opening myself up to new experiences and expanding beyond my comfort zone (in hindsight, it's probably not called comfort zone when I do that, though). It seemed like a really good film. I have not seen the trailer. But Kate assured me it was probably more weird than scary and I trust her with my life so there we go.


Halloween may be over but this new Stephen King film ensures its spirit of spookiness lives on. Doctor Sleep is


If you want an accurate film review, then I am most definitely not your girl. I haven't even seen The Shining yet. Like I said, total novice. May I redirect you to One Take Kate, Spicy Pulp, or Blackguard reviews instead? Hell, even Stuff probably has a proper review of this. Go checkout literally anyone else but me!


But still, here is the definitive list of everything* I was thinking while watching Doctor Sleep in no particular order:



Rebecca Ferguson is perfection in any role. Whether she's playing opera singer Jenny Lind, a mistress turned wife in The Girl on the Train, and now as Rose the Hat, she completely morphs into her character that you forget she was ever anyone else except whoever she was playing. Her portrayal of Rose the Hat is no exception! Although the execution of some scenes reminded me of Jessica Chastain in X-Men: Dark Phoenix and not in a good way. Still, Rebecca Ferguson is terrifying and fragile in this film. Flawless.



I just ate two tacos, fried chicken, and drank a crapload of sangria before this. Maybe I should ease up on the popcorn and drinks aye?



OOOOOH Cliff Curtis is in this! See? Nothing to be afraid of. It's all good. He was all good when he was sitting a few seats behind you at the movies a few months ago. You have nothing to worry about. It's fine. I'm fine. He's fine. Everything!!! Is!!! Fine!!!



Will watching Doctor Sleep and The Shining put me off going on hotel staycations? Perhaps the scariest thing out of all this is that it does.....



OK, Ewan McGregor looks a little worse for wear to be honest. I was counting on thirst factor to carry me through the scary bits but our boy was a bit rough at the start. I mean, fair enough. He's been through a lot! There was a particularly unsettling sequence towards the end of the film and everytime a chandelier/candles were lit, I would just picture Ewan McGregor as Lumiere from the Beauty and the Beast remake (which he voiced) and everything was alright.



Slight criticism (and not just about this film but the horror genre in general) is that I don't get the fascination of harming children. It feels quite gratuitous and frankly, old and boring, to keep using kids as the shock factor in horror. It just feels gross and unnecessary to me.



I need to go toilet but it's dark and I'm scared of going by myself. Will my friends think I'm weird if I ask them to come with me right now?



Everytime those creatures 'ate', it just looked like one giant orgy.


I, too, would like a bathtub in my trailer that I park in the woods where my friends and I have started a weird commune.



Goddamnit, Georgie just left to go toilet. I should have gone with her!!!



This girl is badass and is not afraid of anything and I want to embody that kind of energy.



When Snakebite Andi told Rose the Hat "you are the most beautiful person I've ever seen", I really felt that. Bitch me too!



The phrase "shine on" used to be so inspiring for me but now it just freaks me out. I'm off inspirational quotes for the foreseeable future, thanks.



I found the scenes with Danny (Ewan McGregor) in the rest home to be sad and touching and also like a good use of his 'shine'.



The cat is so cute. I miss my cat. I wish I can take her with me to movies. Or text her.



This movie is incredible at portraying the vulnerability of the "evil" creatures. Which makes them more terrifying - because all of a sudden the world isn't just black and white. They start having their own redeeming qualities to them too damn it.



If I close my eyes and cover them with my hands, I can just listen to the music and pretend I'm at a live gig.



I asked Steph several times if she'd do what Cliff Curtis has done for Ewan McGregor for me. She said no.



The maze set was gorgeous. I would have loved stepping into that.



Rebecca Ferguson is a goddess and she deserves the world.



Speaking of sleep, I should really go to bed now. Good night!



*It may not be everything, everything. I was most definitely thinking about what I was going to eat for lunch the next day during a particularly unsettling scene.



Doctor Sleep opens on Thursday, 7 November in cinemas nationwide. I would link you the trailer but I'm too scared to click on it (even though I've already seen the film) but it's on Youtube! Watch it. And watch the film! It's actually a lot kookier and quirkier than scary. Thanks Roadshow and Undertow Media for having us!