Sunday, 10 May 2015

Blogging and Me

I'm going to be honest, I don't know what I'm doing with this blog anymore. I feel so disconnected from it and the whole blogging world. I feel like I did right back at the start 4 years ago, like I'm talking to myself and it's got to the point where I'm thinking 'what's the point of this anymore'. This isn't completely to do with numbers and I know I shouldn't get wrapped up in it but my work on this little space has never paid off and after so long I've kind of got fed up of trying. 

As I say it's not all to do with numbers it's to do with me as well. When I started this blog I was less than half a year into my university education and I had a tonne of time on my hands and seemingly a lot to blog about, even if those posts weren't that great! I'd love finding new blogs, reading other peoples posts and spent nearly every day doing something towards my own blog. When I left university and became unemployed for 5 months this blog was one of the only things that kept me going. I was producing new posts every couple of days and working really hard on everything to do with Calico Skies. This blog filled up my time and took my mind of just how much I hated the situation I was in. Despite those 5 months been the most unhappiest months I think I was the most pleased with my blog that I've ever been. 

Fast forward a year and a half and I can honestly say that the latter half of 2013 was probably the last time I felt happy with this space. With blogging as a whole. I have no time, nothing interesting to write about and most of all the passion I once had for this hobby has completely gone. I don't want to continue talking to myself, I don't want to dislike looking at this space and feeling no connection to it what so ever but when I think about not doing this anymore it makes me feel sad. I've poured a lot of my life into this blog and I'm not sure I can let that go.

No one wants to read a whiny, moaning post, but I've written it and it's staying because it's how I honestly feel and if there is one thing I've also done on here it's speak my mind and be honest. I'm not saying this is the end of Calico Skies, it's just I don't know where I stand with blogging right now.


Friday, 8 May 2015

FILMS: What We Watched #10

After a quiet few months on the film front we have a bumper post full of films today, and by bumper I mean we have 18 films in total for you so we've decided to split this post in two, you can view part one of the film reviews here. OK we may have gone a little film crazy in April but we're blaming the fact we had two weeks off work and partook in many film days and the fact that we've bought Now TV which basically has some pretty good films on it. So grab a drink and get comfy and read on for part 2 of April's film reviews.
 
 Seven
1995 | 127 min | Thriller
J: A story about a killer that kills seven people based on the seven deadly sins. Sounds like a laugh-a-minute, I’m sure you’ll agree! But it’s actually not a bad film. With Morgan Freeman playing a pretty good weary old cop and Brad Pitt playing his eager new partner, Seven holds your attention right up until its grizzly ending.

L: We've seen this film a couple of times before now but it is a really good film that explores the 7 deadly sins through a series of murders. Cheery eh?! Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman both play great parts in this film portraying a career driven, short tempered detective and a soon-to-be-retired cop who has had enough of the city. They both get thrown into the case trying to track down the killer until he unexpectedly hands himself in with two sins left.
 
 Shaun of the Dead
2004 | 99 min | Comedy / Horror
J: This is an absolute belter! It’s one of those films that is still funny and fresh and is just a silly spin on the horror genre. A spoof of Dawn of the Dead (obviously), it’s never a bad thing when Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up. And let’s not forget that great scene in the pub where they’re beating a zombie to death to Queen’s classic Don’t Stop Me Now! How’s that for a slice of fried gold!

L: Shaun of the Dead is one of those films you can put on and just not think about which is what we all need sometimes. This is a film you can come back to and enjoy again and again. It isn't big or clever but it does provide a good few laughs. Although it doesn't outrightly state anywhere that this is a piss take of zombie films, it clearly is, I mean just look at the title! Nonetheless it is enjoyable.
 
 The Croods
2013 | 98 min | Animation / Adventure / Comedy
J: Another non-Disney/Pixar animation that really delivered! I’m always wary when it comes to things like this, but The Croods is great! A love story set in prehistoric times, it’s a fun road trip that sees cave men, who like everything nice and safe and the same, thrust out into the big wide world in order to survive the apocalyptic changes that are happening.

L: We've wanted to watch this film ever since it was first released but we just never got around to it. It follows a cave family and a homo sapian boy who befriends the eldest daughter of the cave family as they try and find somewhere safe to live due to earthquakes and continental splits. It's not Disney or Pixar standards but it is a really enjoyable film and the animated scenery is actually really pretty!


 The Lego Movie
2013 | 100 min | Animation / Adventure / Comedy
J: I love Lego. I love movies. Therefore Lego Movie was always bound to be rated very highly by me! With some great voice acting, especially from Liam Neeson and Will Ferrall, Lego Movie has some really funny nods to many various Lego sets (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, etc etc etc). The jokes are also really multi-levelled, aimed at adults as well as kids!

L: Despite having heard good things about this film, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy it and admittedly the animation style did take a bit of getting used to. However The Lego Movie was much better than I expected and I really enjoyed it. I really liked the ending too which brought in a live action element to add to the Lego story. I also really want a Unikitty Lego figure now!


 The Inbetweeners 2
2014 | 96 min | Comedy
J: This felt like a story that was too long for a normal length episode but too short for a full feature length movie. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to laugh at and the jokes are as crude and ridiculous as ever, but it’s not on the same level as the first Inbetweeners movie or the TV series.

L: For a few laughs the Inbetweeners 2 is worth watching but I definitely feel it works better in a TV series. There is a point in the film where you feel it has gone on for a little bit too long. The first film was better but on the whole I much prefer the series. Still worth a watch though.

Borat
2006 | 84 min | Comedy
J: A brilliant cringe movie, Borat finds the Kazakh reporter travelling to America to find out about how they live...with hilariously embarrassing consequences. While a lot is obviously staged and filmed as a movie, it’s the ad-hoc bits where people are unaware that this is being made into a comedy film that bring the big laughs. For example, Borat trying to trap Pamela Anderson in a sack and she is terrified and screaming...hilarious stuff!

L: I am in a constant state of cringing whenever I watch Sacha Baron Cohen's films and Borat is no different, it's offensive, stupid and so embarrassing but you can't help laughing. The fact that a lot of the characters aren't played by actors and weren't warned what would be happening makes it even funnier and cringe worthy.


 The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
2014 | 144 min | Fantasy / Adventure
J: If you don’t love a good battle or two then you might as well not even like movies, because The Battle of the Five Armies is a great, cataclysmic ending to The Hobbit trilogy. While it’s not quite on par with Lord of the Rings, it’s still really good. Plus Martin Freeman beats Elijah Wood any day. But for some reason Lauren cries...and while this is a fantastic ending to the trilogy I can’t understand why she finds it to be a tear jerker!

L: The final and I think perhaps the best film in the Hobbit trilogy. Unfortunately for me the battle isn't a patch on the great Orc battles seen in the Lord of the Rings. Everything about the Hobbit is just much gentler than the Lord of the Rings. This film does make me cry though I just can't hack the deaths at the end and then Bilbo leaving the dwarves, it's just all too much for me to handle.

The Italian Job
1969 | 95 min | Caper
J: A proper classic! This heist movie is a well paced, funny, engaging and very 60’s affair, with Michael Caine at the helm of the daring and grand scheme to steal $4million in gold from an Italian bank, culminating in a literal cliffhanger. Oh, and I’ve got to say it: you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!!

L: Up until now I'd never seen this film, is that some sort of crime to have not seen such a classic?! Anyway The Italian Job has just never appealed to me but I wish I'd watched it sooner as I really enjoyed it. Michael Caine is just brilliant in it as Charlie Crocker, the loveable rogue who hatches a plan to steal 4 million dollars in Italy and escape with it to Switzerland. I want more classic films to watch now!

Muppets Most Wanted
2014 | 107 min | Musical / Comedy / Caper
J: Is it high praise if I say this Muppets movie is the best Muppets movie since the last Muppets movie?! Picking up right after the last movie, this one hops back into the action (via a song) that sees Ricky Gervais and a Kermit imposter rob their way around Europe while the real Kermit is framed for crimes he didn’t commit. Funny and playful with songs that are as catchy and witty as ever!
 
L: How can I even begin to express how much I bloody loved this film?! I was not expecting it to be anywhere near as good as it was. The Muppets teamed with some extremely catchy musical numbers is just a winning combination. I've not stopped singing the songs since we watched it. Ricky Gervais is pretty good as the criminal Dominic Badguy aka the Lemur too. I urge you to watch this right now!

If you only watch one of these films it should be:
J: It’s very close between The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies and Muppets Most Wanted. But I think The Muppets take it. Just!
L: Definitely Muppets Most wanted, without a doubt.


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

FILMS: What We Watched #9

After a quiet few months on the film front we have a bumper post full of films today, and by bumper I mean we have 18 films in total for you so we've decided to split this post in two, you can come back and read the other half of the reviews on Saturday. OK we may have gone a little film crazy in April but we're blaming the fact we had two weeks off work and partook in many film days and the fact that we've bought Now TV which basically has some pretty good films on it. So grab a drink and get comfy and read on for April's film reviews.


















 A Haunted House
2013 | 86 min | Comedy / Parody 
J: This is just a daft film. It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a parody of other scary haunting films (ie Paranormal Activity), and while it’s not fantastic cinema at all it has a good few laughs in it. Not everyone is going to like it, and you shouldn’t expect much when you put it on, but for me it provided plenty of daft chuckles!

L: When this popped up on Netflix, Josh convinced me to watch it and I went into it thinking it was going to be rubbish. A Haunted House is a parody on films such as Paranormal Activity, it's definitely not scary in the slightest but then I didn't expect it to be. It's rude, crass, childish and definitely a little bit naff but I bloody loved it! I don't think I've ever laughed so much at a film to the point where I was crying at times, it did exactly what it is intended to do and it completely appealed to my boyish sense of humour. There's no way this will appeal to everyone but I loved it.















Rango
2011 | 107 min | Animation / Action / Comedy
J: I didn’t know what to expect from Rango, but as it turns out it’s a really good film. It’s a good old fashioned Wild West flick but starring a lost chameleon and various other desert-hardened critters who end up relying on Rango to save their town. Also technically speaking the movie is amazing...the animation is flawless and the attention to detail is incredible. Yeah, these things impress me a hell of a lot!

L: The beauty of Netflix and Now TV is we have access to loads of films that we may not have watched before, Rango been one of them. It's a western style film filled with cute little characters that's definitely good for both adults and children. When Rango stumbles upon the town of Dirt he finds himself wrapped up in the towns affairs when he becomes the new sheriff and tries to save the residents from the water shortage. It's an easy, fun watch. Perfect for when you don't want to do too much thinking!

















Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
2014 | 101 min | Science Fiction / Action / Comedy
J: Heroes in a half shell! Turtle power! While this movie is definitely aimed at a younger demographic, what with the more silly jokes, overly expositional dialogue and stuff like that, it’s still packed with plenty of action to enjoy. Also the evil Shredder’s armour is pretty neat...especially those hand-blade things. Not one that’s brilliant enough for me to rush back to watch again, but if it was on TV I wouldn’t instantly turn it off!
L: We sort of accidentally ended up watching this film as it is not something we would ever have picked but it was on for two children at a friends house so we ended up watching it. In all fairness it really isn't a bad film and was enjoyable to watch but I couldn't help feeling it didn't do so well at catering for children and adults as well as so many other films do. It definitely felt geared towards a younger audience.


















Toy Story of Terror!
2013 | 21 min | Animation / Comedy
and
Toy Story That Time Forgot
2014 | 22 min | Animation / Comedy
J: These are a couple of short Toy Story spinoffs that were definitely worth talking about. If you love Toy Story, the characters, the humour, then it’s all here in these two mini movies. Toy Story of Terror sees the gang in a motel, disappearing one by one. The second, Toy Story The Land That Time Forgot, finds them captured by strange, prehistoric tribe toys. It’s not hard work watching them, it’s just plain fun. I enjoyed them!

L: Toy Story films aren't my favourite ever Disney Pixar films, I can pretty much take or leave them. These shorts were enjoyable though. They introduced a few new characters as well as bringing back the traditional cast of toys for two new mini adventures that pretty much centre just on the toys. Toy Story of Terror was my favourite of the two shorts but Angel Kitty in Toy Story That Time Forgot was super cute! These are definitely worth a watch for Disney Pixar fans.


















The Call
2013 | 94 min | Thriller
J: Pure suspense, The Call has you on the edge of your seat. Like, there are films where people get kidnapped and they do dumb stuff, but you’re shouting suggestions at the screen and the girl is actually doing what you’re shouting. She ain’t thick! I really enjoyed it but I thought the ending was very Saw-like. Game over!

L: I love a good thriller film, one that gets me nervous and shouting at the TV and The Call did just that. When Halle Berry's character handles a 911 call which leads to a girl dying she blames herself, 6 months on she works as a 911 operator trainer unable to handle calls herself until one comes through that mirrors the first case and Berry finds herself thrown into the whole thing. I was completely gripped with this film and although it is somewhat far-fetched towards the end, I still enjoyed it.




















Monsters, Inc
2001 | 92 min | Animation / Comedy
J: Everyone loves a good Disney/Pixar movie, and to be honest I’ve never really given Monsters Inc a fair chance. I saw it at the cinema and a couple of times since, but I never really clicked with it. But watching it again now I really enjoyed it. I don’t know why (could be because I enjoyed Monsters University so much), but I think it’s a really great movie. But then it’s Disney/Pixar...how could it NOT be?!

L: A Disney Pixar classic! It's been a long time since I watched Monsters Inc and I'd forgotten just how good it is. I think it just shot back up to been one of my favourite Disney films. It's such a great idea that children's screams power a whole hidden monster world until Mike and Sulley turn the whole thing upside down and use children's laughter instead after growing fond of a human girl, 'Boo'.
















Dawn of the Dead (2004)
2004 | 100 min | Horror
J: I like this remake! I’ve seen the original and it’s a solid classic, but like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or other films of that ilk, this is a solid remake. The cast is good, and the zombies are pretty scary. And they can run, not just amble. There’s something even worse about zombies that can get a trot on!

L: We can't remember if we've watched this film before or not but anyway, Dawn of the Dead centre's on a group of human survivors living in a shopping mall whilst trying to figure out where to run to, to escape the zombie's. It's not a bad film but nor is it groundbreaking, it jumps straight in with the zombie action but you can't help but feel that it doesn't really go anywhere in that you spend the whole film watching the group planning their escape and survival only for it to end where they reach an island and are attacked by yet more zombies.

















A Haunted House 2
2014 | 86 min | Comedy / Parody
J: Much like the original A Haunted House, this one is on very much the same lines. The plot’s not even that much different, but still the silly laughs are there. I think that because it’s so unpretentious and self deprecating and stupid, you can overlook it and just plain chuckle to something as silly as the guy over-over-overreacting to the death of his dog (same as in the first movie!) Just enjoy it if it’s your kind of thing!

L: Yes there's a second one and it is quite possibly ruder than the first one! I laughed a lot and I enjoyed but for me the first one was miles better. I think if you've seen and enjoyed the first one then you have to watch this but the first one is much better. It completely rips off The Conjuring and Sinister too which with been a parody you expect. The Sinister parts were pretty funny though as I really like that film.

















Freddy vs Jason
2003 | 99 min | Slasher / Fantasy
J: Not going to lie, I saw this film years back, and for some reason I remember it being much better than it was. Like...MUCH better. It’s not scary, it’s not suspenseful, it’s just a terrible mash-up of two characters from two different franchises. I have nothing else to say. Honestly, give it a miss.

L: I don't even want to waste my time reviewing this. It was one of the worst films I've ever seen. I actually found myself laughing at how ridiculous it was. There was nothing scary about it, it was just utter trash. The sad thing is this somehow got 4 out of 5 stars on Now TV... Avoid this film at all costs I'm actually mourning the loss of the time I spent watching this.

If you only watch one of these films it should be...
J: Rango
L: Monsters, Inc

You can find part 2 of April's film reviews here.