Film: Is There Anything You Can’t Learn From YouTube?

Remember the olden days when you wanted to know something and had to go to the trouble of asking someone? Or, worse still, track down a book on the subject? Now we have smartphones every ‘oh what have I seen him in before?’ query can be instantly answered, songs can be tracked down through Shazam and purchased immediately through iTunes. Yep, the world is certainly a’changing. And do you know what? I like it. It’s opened up my world to a whole load of things I’d probably never have learned without the t’interweb, especially YouTube. Oh my word YouTube. Is there NOTHING you can’t learn from YouTube?

Here for your reference and viewing pleasure are some of the things I’ve learnt courtesy of YouTube…

How to use dry shampoo properly

How to apply eye-shadow properly

How to apply fake tan

That Collection make the best affordable concealer

How to style my hair like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

That if I ever win the lottery I am so staying in the penthouse suite at The Palm, Atlantis in Dubai

That Lush’s Christmas bath bombs are amazing

How to walk in heels

That kids say the most embarrassing things

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Film & TV: Black Swan

Yep – before you say it – I am perfectly aware that I am, like, a-gazillion years behind the rest of the population in terms of watching films. But hey! I’m catching up… slowly (nose grows as I tell a bit fat lie!).

Anyway, I watched Black Swan for the first time the other night. It’s been out for so long that I’m not even going to bother to do a review. I will say that I was blown away by how disturbing, yet brilliant it was. You may be thinkingblimey she’s got quite a thing for dark, twisted films’ and you would be quite right! I likes a good film that leaves me feeling a little harrowed for at least a few hours after viewing. Not sure what that says about me..?

So, because I like taking life lessons from the popular media. Here’s what I reckon we could all learn from Black Swan…

1. Self harm is real – if you’ve a friend who you think might be self harming get them to seek help. I had a friend who all too frequently had scratches up her arms and on her hands and I foolishly believed her tales of ‘riding her bike through the lanes and getting scratched by brambles’. Turns out that was just the start of a descent into mental health issues for her. We’re not friends any longer. But I can’t help but wonder if I’d spotted the signs earlier if things would be different…

2. Are you holding yourself back? Thomas continually accuses Nina of this. Who else is guilty of this? I know I am! Let’s believe in ourselves peoples!

3. Be true to yourself – Reach for the stars, sure. But don’t try to be something you’re not. After all it was Nina’s pursuit of the darkness needed to portray the Black Swan that was her ultimate downfall. Work to your strengths and don’t be ashamed to walk away from opportunities if they’re not for you.

4. Big up respect to ballet dancers everywhere – that shizz is hard work. Next time I’m moaning about paper cuts in my office job I’ll think of those poor ballet dancers wrecked feet and, well, feel like a big fat whinger!

5. Don’t push people away – Was Lily really the frenemy she was portrayed to be? Sometimes it’s OK to have someone who wants the things you have. Don’t push them away. Feed off their ambition. Work with them. Form a support network. Mentor them. Learn from them. Pushing people away just leaves you, well, alone…

6. It’s perfectly normal to have those sorts of fantasies over Mila Kunis. Phew!

7. Spread those eggs about – if they’re all in one basket, what happens when that basket is taken away? When Beth is retired she has nothing. Make sue you have a rounded life full of friends, family, work and whatever else makes you smile. Life is transient, things can be cruelly snatched away from us. Make sure that by losing one thing you don’t lose everything!

8. It’s OK to take a break – Agreed, working hard is the only way you’re going to make those dreams come true. But all work and no fun? Well, Black Swan shows you where that gets ya…

9. The story of Swan Lake – was I the only one who didn’t know it..?

Film & TV: Five Life Lessons From X Factor

Saturday night light entertainment? Yes. But dig a little deeper and there are some serious life lessons to be learnt in that there talent show…

1. No one likes a cry baby

I loved this tweet by Caitlin Moran during Sunday nights show…

In humour doth reside the bitter truth. If you have suffered some real trauma, if blood has been spilt, if someone has died, if you’ve lost your entire life savings – then sure let it out. Blub away. Heck, you’re even allowed the odd sniffle during Bambi. But, Jesus wept (pun intended) know when to rein it in. Sure, we know you’ve ‘been waiting your whole life for this’. We understand that it’s devastating if you don’t get through. But man up and grow a pair! People are going through far worse than you and still aren’t using anywhere near that amount of Kleenex.

2. If at first you don’t succeed…

I lost count of the amount of times the contestants said ‘I don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t get through’. Woah there nelly! A moment ago you were telling us how important music was to you, how you were born to perform and how you would stop at nothing to become a star. Now surely you’re not going to let not getting through to live finals put a kibosh on that, are you? Sure, it’s sad. But you need to feel the disappointment, then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again. Harry Potter wasn’t published in a day y’know.

3. Your past will come to haunt you

Finalist Tamera Foster alluded to a mis-spent youth which troubled her family. Now she’s a finalist I can’t help but wonder which Sunday paper will be the first to ‘lift the lid’ in a ‘X Factor Shocker Exclusive’. Fair play to the girl, everyone loves a bad girl turned good. But it does go to show that if you don’t want your bad behaviour dragged up, er, don’t behave badly in the first place.

4. Nine to five doesn’t suit everyone

I loved this (slightly abridged here) quote from the mother of Zoe Devlin. So many of us have an instilled notion that we must take the safe option. Choose the office cubicle with the steady pay cheque and the machine coffee. Truth it, it’s not right for everyone and rather than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, it’s OK to break the mould… Zoe is lucky to have a mother who understand and supports this when so many parents favour security above being true to yourself.

5. Being nice goes a long way

Thank you for this opportunity

Thank you for your time

Thank you

Manners cost nothing and should always be employed, both in X Factor and in the real world.

What do you think? Are there any other lessons we can learn from Saturday night TV?

Fangirl: Girls

Image Credit: Crushable

It’s the TV show that all the women’s mags, radio stations and people who can afford Sky Atlantic are talking about – Girls.

Touted as the new Sex and the City, Girls charts the mis-haps of four feisty females in New York as they are (in the words of the cover) ‘living the dream, one mistake at a time’.

As a massive Sex and the City fan I was intrigued, although also slightly apprehensive. Would I feel as though I was cheating on Carrie et al? What if is was a duff imitation? What if the only similarity was that it’s about four women in New York, one of which happens to be a writer.

I slipped the DVD in and pressed play. Firstly, Girls, is about just that. Think ‘The Carrie Diaries’ more so than Sex and the City. Whereas Carrie and her pals are pretty much established when we meet them, Hannah and co. are still finding their feet. There are relationships, sex, comedy moments, cringey moments – lots of cringey moments. Yes, it’s a bit like Sex and the City… but it’s much, much grittier.

With a witty script, a great soundtrack and super short episodes, it’s the sort of box set where you find yourself watching at least three in one sitting. And, although I liked it from the start, it wasn’t until I got a little deeper into the series that it completely grabbed me. I don’t know if it’s because I moved down to London with wide-eyed dreams after I graduated, but there were certain points which really resonated with me. I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t seen the series yet, but, for example, when Hannah returns to her hometown to stay with her parent’s for the weekend I could totally relate to that little voice in your head that says: you don’t really fit in around here anymore, but life would be so much easier (and cheaper) if you did.

For me, that’s just one of the ‘OMG yes’ moments. There are loads more scattered throughout the series. And that’s what I loved about it. It’s fresh, it’s gritty, it’s got the mistakes that if you’re of a certain age you’ve probably already made (if you’re younger, beware, you probably still have to work through them). These girls work to pay their rent, not to fund their shoe habit and that is so refreshing. In between the comedy there are some cute nuggets of wisdom. I love the notion of ‘do it for the story’, something I should perhaps live by occasionally. as I do have a tendency to wear my Miss Sensible hat a little to often these days.

Fancy watching girls? The series one box set is available here.

Fan Girl: Ny-Lon

Image Credit: Channel 4

Boy meets girl. Girl lives in New York. Boy lives in London. Girl is a bo-ho babe. Boy is a hot-shot stockbroker.

Sound familiar?

I’m talking Ny-Lon. This seven-part series was first screened on Channel 4 back in 2004 and charted the relationship woes of a couple brought together by a chance meeting, but separated by the Atlantic Ocean. I loved it first time around so when I stumbled across the series on 4OD one dreary Sunday evening I was super-excited to indulge in a second viewing.

Image credit: allstephenmoyer.com

Was it as good second time around? Oh yes! Michael’s arrogant city banker juxtaposed against Edie’s boho rock chick. The sweeping shots of London and New York. The unexpected gritty twists and turns. The will they, won’t they love story. Even my husband, who usually rolls his eyes at my TV choices, has got into it.

We’ve got two episodes left to watch and I honestly can’t remember how the series ends which is making it even more gripping.

If you want something to cheer up the chilly nights check it out!