This Malaysian brand sets off some of my most responsive hit points. For starters, their skin meal series sounds so nourishing, hearty and wholesome, that you genuinely do feel that you are feeding your skin via application of the product. Secondly, there wave of rosehip products, an ingredient introduced to me via my girl crush on Miranda Kerr, really appeal to me. Rosehip oil is one of my absolute favourite skincare products, so to have a whole line concocted around it is quite exciting for a product devotee such as myself! This particular product is a pomegranate milky mask. You can face mask as often, or as little as you like, but I advise three times a week (I advise this purely because that’s how many times Miranda Kerr claims to slap a mask on and it seems to work for her!). Face masks are beautifying, rejuvenating and just plain relaxing. Here is my opinion of this Malaysian miracle.

This exterior will really appeal to girly girls. This baby pink box is soothing and looks like a merging of Barbie and Polly Pocket. The design clearly emphasises the pomegranate ingredient, and looks warm, soft and appealing as a result. In fact it was the boxes design that really made the product jump off of the shelf at me! Within the pink box is a beautiful little pot, purple-pink with product and a teeny tiny lid to emphasise the delicious pomegranates within. It looks good enough to eat.

RM 59.90 (£11.72)

One of the most appealing factors of this product is it’s bewitching scent. It smells like a wonderful smoothie or yoghurt – you really could eat this. It’s creamy, rich, fruity and floral. Divine!

Thick in texture like a robust yoghurt or thickened smoothie. I really do feel the manufacturers wanted us to eat this product! Really lovely to apply: soft and thick, like a gentle caress on the face.

Bang for your buck
So here is what the product claims to do. Promoted as a whitening and anti-ageing mask, skin is protected against flighty free radicals which promotes a youthful appearance. It is the oxidation of free radicals that causes skin to age, and although skin will age regardless, regular face masks do help the skin repair and rejuvenate, which is why it is useful to do them often. Milk extracts are included to lighten the complexion and assist with pigmentation issues, promoting a universal skin tone rather than a blemished one. Skin is also hydrated, collagen production is increased and pores are refined whilst skin becomes firmer. Finally, kaolin removes oil and dirt from pores, leaving complexions fresh and clear. The overall impact of the product, summarised in its own words, is ‘antioxidants, whitening, moisturising, firming and deep cleansing’.

Does it work?
I have a pretty fair complexion, and I didn’t notice my complexion getting any lighter, but I didn’t notice it getting any darker either! It definitely felt like it levelled out and balanced my complexion. My skin felt brighter, firmer and far fresher after use. My face felt moisturised, soft and truly benefited from this nourishing product. It does truly feel like your face has been fed.

Does it last?
Although the pot is small, the texture of the product is so thick, that you can apply a little and really stretch out the use whilst still maximising the full potential of it’s benefits.

Would I repurchase?
Most certainly, too good to miss!

Instructions for use
As advised by the manufacturers, apply mask 2-3 times weekly. Use cleansing sponge included to clean away the product effectively. Use included mask stick to apply mask. Do not allow water to come into contact with the mask. Apply a thick layer of product to a cleansed face and clean away after 10-15 minutes.

Final verdict: 8/10


Packaging: This striking translucent bottle houses 100 ml of gorgeous golden fluid. It almost looks like a bottled golden fleece. The aesthetic of the product is part of what makes it so tantalizing. Its eye catching, warm and a beautiful product to have on your shelf.

Price: £7.99

Scent: A very subtle, gentle, warm scent. If silk had a smell, this would be it. Nothing overpowering or provocative but it does add a pleasant musk to your hair.

Texture: Smooth, soft and silky, like warm honey in your hands.

Bang for your buck: This is my absolute favourite hair product in the world. 3.3 oz is plenty as you only need to add a little oil to damp hair (although I also add a little to dry hair and find it doesn’t cause the hair to become greasy at all).

The product is incredibly light weight so it does not feel heavy on the hair. It has a penetrative effect on the hair shaft enabling it to seal in moisture and softness and also has a protective effect against heat styling and harsh sun rays. As such it is an all purpose product that you can use on your hair every time you wash, or just any time you fancy. Protective, restorative and maximising, this really enables your hair to reach its full potential.

I’m a huge fan of using oils on hair. You can really notice a difference in hair quality and texture and this has to be my favourite oil for so many reasons.

Does it work?: My hair has been softer, silkier and just looked better since I have begun using this. It brings out the colour of my hair and just makes it feel wonderful to the touch. I feel better using this product. I really notice the effect when tying my hair back in a ponytail and running this oil through it. Shine and softness are maximised.

Does it last?: The bottled product itself will last you a long time if you use as directed. I tend to use twice; once on damp hair and once on dry hair and it’s still going! Realistically, you don’t need to use the product this often so it can potentially last even longer.

As for the lasting effect of the product, your hair will feel the benefits until your next wash and I truly believe the overall quality of my hair has improved as a result of using this.

Would I repurchase?: 100% yes. I absolutely adore this product and I will most certainly be trying the rest of the range.


If you thought the title ‘Alpha Papa’ meant a close, Super nanny style look at Alan’s parenting style of Denise and Fernando Partridge, well then you’re ruddy bloody wrong. Not every television series has an easy transition to film. As much as I love the Partridge television series, part of me did wonder how this transition was going to work. Nonetheless, Steve Coogan (Alan himself) is such a comedic genius that I never truly doubted his abilities to make this work.

Of all Coogan’s creations, Alan is the most popular, which is interesting, as he is actually incredibly repugnant. He’s egomaniacal, selfish, crude, rude and to borrow a phrase from the man himself, ‘a bit odd’. What’s brilliant about Alan is that he is never completely unbelievable as a character. It’s quite possible you could meet an Alan in the wilderness of your real life. Perhaps in Tesco.

We pick up with Alan in his favourite setting…the studio. This time he seems to have acquired himself a young, slightly dim-witted sidekick named Simon (Tim Key) who sits in on his sessions and contributes meaninglessly to Alan’s chagrin.

In the fast paced, cut throat world of commercial radio, North Norfolk Digital is being slowly coaxed into the hands of a ruthless conglomerate and transformed into ‘Shape’. That means some dead woods gotta go. Said dead wood is emotional rollercoaster Pat (played in a superbly downbeat fashion by Colm Meaney) who does not take the news well. Instead he transforms the office party into a hostage situation, accumulating conglomerate scum, a new bit of skirt (Monica Dolan as Angela), a random cleaner who appears to utter only one line, and fellow radio staff, Dave Clifton (who enjoys regaling the others with stories of his days of alcohol, drugs and prostitutes in a voice dripping with pseudo-delirium) and some young blood that everybody wants to punch in the face…and repeatedly do.

Now that the station is under siege, Pat will only agree to communicate with the police through Alan. Cue the hilarity of awkward Alan trying to a) remain calm and b) not ramble.

This is darker than your traditional Partridge fare. But then, Partridge has always had a little darkness to it. Driving to Dundee in his bare feet, gorging on Toblerone, living in a travel tavern…Alan’s had many ‘low’ moments. The addition of fresh characters to an already much loved cast (yes loyal Lynn and Geordie Michael do make an appearance) keeps this recognisable and real.

There are enough jokes to keep you laughing throughout the entire film. Our cinema screen barely had a quiet moment. Alan works on the big screen surprisingly well. It gives him a chance to be the James Bond he has always wanted to be. But it’s not just about Alan running around telling jokes, facts of the day and sarcastic quips. There is humanity for Alan to discover too…oh and there’s also some truly Partridge dancing and hard core dance music. What’s not to love?

Part comedy, part thriller, part action movie, all Alan, all that’s left to say is A-HAAAAAAA!

Bottle design:

This teeny bottle is a Barbie dolls dream. Delicately curved and emboldened with a hot pink hue at the base and a lighter pink lid. The iconic Lacoste symbol with a snapping crocodile above it sits atop the bottle.


This is a really girly spritz. It’s strong, summery and sweet. If you prefer a subtler scent you might find this a little too powerful. This is one of my favourite perfumes because it is bold, sweet and highly feminine. You might ask, what does pink supposedly smell like? Well it doesn’t smell like Barbie and Paris Hilton melted down into liquid form. It’s designed to appeal to younger women, not that this should off put you. As such, it’s an energizing, ‘busy’ fragrance. It’s the kind of scent you can imagine wearing to play tennis in the park, go on picnics or meet your crush at moonlight. It’s flirty, joyful and happy. It just embodies the fun and girlishness of being a young woman.


Long lasting scent that softens into a delicate more ethereal concoction as time passes.



Does it last?

Yes, mine’s been going and going for a mighty long while!

Would I re-purchase?

The only fault with this perfume is that it is so popular you won’t be the only woman wearing it, although it’s possible that nowadays newer scents have become the latest teenage craze. For me this fad has remained a favourite and I would definitely repurchase. I’m a little in love with it!


Overall rating: 9/10

1. Blindfolded
The ideal image to encapsulate the essence of Dogtooth. Here, ‘Bruce’ occupies a pool of water whilst blindfolded. The element of water is closely aligned with the subconscious and all that is unknown to ourselves. ‘Bruce’ has been raised in an atmosphere of ignorance and misinformation. As such she is both metaphorically, symbolically and literally blind. She is unable to hold a factual adult conversation as her use of language has been so warped in it’s teaching, as such she is unable to understand and ‘see’ the world as it actually is. Her senses are defunct in enabling her to interpret the world around her. The fact that the bind is colourful suggests that the intention for the binding is not altogether one of abuse, but one of adults who have deeply rooted issues of there own. The straps of her costume appear to be red. She is a symbol, a target, representative of danger and lust. The parents are afraid for there children, particularly there daughters, to develop a sexuality as this could potentially draw there loyalty away from the family unit and beyond the home. ‘Bruce’ flounders near the side looking disjointed and confused, literally cast adrift in a vast unconscious, a child in the womb.

2. Dance
Clothed in conservative, feminine attire, the two sisters prepare to dance for the family. The brother is to the left of the still playing an instrument. The celebratory decorations adorning the home looks childish and out of place, even tacky (note the Christmas lights to the right). The colourful balloons gathered on the floor appear to be straight from a child’s birthday party. There is an awkward, visible disconnect between the cheery decorations and the expressions on the faces of the three children. All three look stifled, anxious and deeply uncomfortable, as well as rigid and physically stuck. The sisters almost look like they are awaiting execution, so visibly unhappy do they look.


3. Sneaking Up
For this family, cats are a dangerous enemy. Here, the son, a victim of childhood brainwashing prepares to confront this deadly foe. The gorgeous greens of the garden represent an Eden-like haven. The cats pose looks un-expectant. The son looks fearful but purposeful, slowly inching forward with his weapon downcast at the ready. The contrast of such Suburban bliss and such an unholy, bizarre act is truly surreal and is almost a replica of original sin – a dark, disturbing act that may expulse the innocence from this scene.


4. Father and daughter
Here we can see where the balance of power lies. The father is angry with ‘Bruce’ for procuring videos from the outside world. As he wishes to cocoon the children in the family home, this is not good news for him. He looks like a harmless, ordinary dad. Nothing particularly sinister or cruel about him. That is what makes him all the more creepy as a character. He is elevated above ‘Bruce’ on the comfy sofa whilst she sits obediently and submissively on the floor awaiting her punishment. The room looks sterile and clinical. There are two thin blue vases on the table. Water is frequently used throughout this film. The element of water when free flowing suggests freedom but the children are trained to use water competitively, constructively, in a contained and supervised manner. The vases on the table are representative of this contained water, this stifled sense of freedom, a pre-meditated existence.


5. Sisters
After Christina’s visit, the sisters have a very warped introduction to what sexuality is. Knowing female genitalia only as a ‘keyboard’, here the girls exchange there idea of what a sexual favour is for some paraphernalia. This intimate, inappropriate pose shows the siblings desire to please and also the extent of there indoctrination. They have no concept or understanding of ordinary, or appropriate sexual relations. ‘Bruce’s’ rigid clasped hands look almost like a deranged prayer. The younger sister by contrast looks ethereal and peaceful. She has always been the more submissive and the more indoctrinated of the two. As such, she is happy to play along. The girls are shown naturally here. These is no gratuitous, exploitative use of nudity or sexy underwear.


6. Authority Knocks
When Christina is first introduced to the girls, she is a bit of an enigma. She works as a security guard at the fathers company and for some reason, agrees to visit the family and sleep with there son. Bored of his sexual inexperience, she soon makes a play for one of the sisters in exchange for some videos. Christina represents a destabilising force in the house. Firstly, she is from outside. Secondly, she has a position of some authority in the outside world, as we can garner from her uniform and the fact that she wears this to the house (she brings her outside authority with her). Thirdly, she is at least bi-curious which deviates from the fathers control of his children’s sexuality. Through sex, dependent on your stance, she either brings corruption or liberation to the house. Thanks to Christina, ‘Bruce’ is able to make an exchange and see videos of the outside world which piques her curiosity to leave the home whatever it takes. For the father, Christina would be a corruptive force, forcing his baby away from home. This is almost an updated garden of Eden situation where curiosity and temptation will expulse and expel the children of God from there parental garden. Is this better or worse for the children? Especially given there upbringing and ignorance. Christina looks confident and controlled in this photo whilst the sisters are huddled together, impressed and unsure. Christina is an example of a powerful, independent woman. The sisters are dependent and mentally embryonic and undeveloped. Christina, with her dyed hair, make-up and uniform looks worldly and contains knowledge. The most important knowledge she imparts to the girls is her sexual knowledge. The sisters matching haircuts and dull grey tops regress them making them symbiotic and colourless.


7. Removing the Dog Tooth
Those familiar with the film will know that the children are only permitted to leave the family home once their dog tooth falls out. Of course, there is no such thing as a dog tooth and it will never fall out. This lie gives the children hope that maybe one day they can leave whilst also preventing them from escaping sooner. After all, ‘one day’ the dog tooth will fall out. ‘Bruce’, inspired by sexual contact with Christina and the films she procures from her, decides to remove her own dog tooth once and for all. This is a courageous move for freedom. This act of self-violence for liberation mirrors childbirth, the loss of ones virginity or menstruation. The marking of passing into adulthood from childhood is almost always connected with loss of blood, especially for women. Here ‘Bruce’ looks downcast with vibrant red blood on her jaw. She has made her own decision to grow up. She has taken control. This marks the end of ‘Bruce’ as a child. She is a woman now.


8. Smile
To fortify the idea that a sense of innocence has been lost, the room and ‘Bruce’s’ attire are virginal, angelic white. Everything is clean and pure, sweet, cosy and girly. The only difference is the spattered blood on the mirror and ‘Bruce’s’ wide, mutilated smile. In the mirror ‘Bruce’ has finally achieved some sense of self-actualisation and self-recognition. She acknowledges herself as a woman and smiles. This scene is reminiscent of a ceremony or right of passage. As mentioned previously, it could be the loss of virginity or the start of menstruation. It signifies a transformation. As ‘Bruce’ is in control of this change, she is joyfully happy. She smiles brightly for the first time.


9. The cat did it
In this macabre, surreal piece of play acting, the father pretends that he was attacked by a cat. He uses cats, independent, free and curious, to represent a very real danger and encourage the kids to stay home. This exaggerated display of the cats threat chills the children and causes the son to later kill one in the garden. The beautiful, bold greens of the garden, again Eden-like, viscerally clash with the slash-fest red. The father has done his best to dishevel himself for maximum effect.


10. Christina waits
Waiting to be picked up to go to the house, Christina stands on the corner of the street. Street corners are usually associated with prostitutes. We know that Christina is complicit in the fathers scheme in as far as she does not report him and she sleeps willingly will the son. This picture represents Christina as an independent, lone figure, a free figure. Is she really any better off than the sisters? The world around looks sparse and empty, in contrast with the house which seems vivid and bright. Is this the world as the father sees it?


Friend or foe?
Catwomans ambiguous moral stance is perfectly encapsulated by her depiction in this still. At a glance, she appears like a cat in a cage, pawing at her freedom and glancing out at a world she cannot be a part of. There certainly is a large component of escapism to her character. The fact that she masks herself and has created a separated identity from her factual persona of Selena Kyle shows that she, like numerous other Gotham inhabitants, enjoys the fantasy of an alter ego. We also know that Catwoman is only operating alongside Bane because she is biding her time to get out. In actual fact, Catwoman is looking on, both curious and concerned, as Batman finally confronts Bane. Her gloved hand on the bars almost looks sympathetic and tender as if she could be reaching out to assist him. In this still, she is both a captive cat and also the captor. The ambiguity and polarisation of her character, is she or is she not on Batman’s side, is captured here.

The Pit.
The Pit is a prison where bad men are sent to be forgotten. It is also the site of an unlikely love story. The ‘catch’ to this particular prison is that the prisoners are stuck in the dark, dank confines below whilst eternally tortured at the prospect of freedom poised precariously above their heads. The circular entrance and exit is like a brilliant, blinding sun forcing them to recall the world beyond that is excruciatingly, and tantalisingly just out of reach. We always see the pit from below where it seems impossibly high and distant. The dark cyclical walls contrast with this hopeful beacon above. The effect is expansive, vast and dizzying.

Bane the Beast.
This is one of my favourite images of Bane in the entire movie. Here he is not encased in his usual uniform. This still is a powerful representation of his sheer strength, brutality, menace and tenacity. There is an intense rebellious authority to the character of Bane. His mask makes him appear almost half octopus. He looks alien, robotic, even animal. This low shot establishes him as something gigantic and bulky – a real force of reckoning for Batman.

The confrontation.
Posture and body language are such powerful indicators of a characters inner motivations. Here Bane looks celebratory, predatory, assertive and completely in control. Batman, by contrast, looks small and shrunken despite the look of insistent rage on his face. Bane is the focus here, perhaps to emphasise his size and status. The flow of water is a powerful elemental surge. Water represents the subconscious and perhaps is indicative of Batman’s own blocked dam of inner turmoil. The fact that it is bursting forth represents a clash, a pouring forth of secrets and emotion, a conflict, a rising.

Unmasking the bat.
Wielding the broken mask of Batman whilst his body lies beneath, Bane is victorious and has established himself as a true force of reckoning. Rain water is pouring. Gotham is literally weeping for Batman. A change has taken place. Again Bane is the focus here. Batman has been usurped.

The child in the pit.
Initially, the identity of the child in the pit is inferred, but not confirmed. The gender of the child is ambiguous. The features are large and expressive but the head is shaved and the clothes are genderless. The child’s expression is one of both vulnerability and purpose. The child is clearly about to lift there hood and head off into the desert. What is the future of this child? The still speaks of uncertainty.

The unmasking of Talia.
This is an interesting still of Talia which tells us much. She almost looks like a character from the masked ball of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. Her subtle Venetian style mask indicates she too has something to hide, an identity that is not quite ready to be conveyed. Batman is so much about masks, concealed identities and alter egos. It would be natural to infer that Talia too has her secrets. Of course to begin with, we do not know that this woman IS Talia Al Ghul, we know her as Miranda. If Bruce Wayne has Batman and Selena Kyle has Catwoman, then Talia has Miranda. The difference is that Miranda is not a flashy superhero, but a respectable business facade that enables her to fulfil her father’s legacy. Talia wants to create a normal alternate persona, rather than a glamorous facade. The lowering of her mask and the sly, assertive expression on her face indicates that all is not as it seems with Miranda.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall.
After stealing Batman’s pearls, Selena looks at herself in the mirror. Beautiful, glamorous, sultry, the mirror is another way of hinting at the importance of alter egos and alternate personalities. Selena’s assertive, confident gaze indicates she knows who she is and where she is going. She is only mysterious and enigmatic in the eyes of the other characters!

He’s behind you!
This is a not so subtle way of showing the re-emergence of Batman as a prolific Gotham figure. Bruce is bringing Batman out of retirement, and Batman is also something inescapable for Bruce. His and Batman’s identities are fused. Bruce cannot escape being Batman – he is forever lurking in the background of Bruce’s life and psyche. The bat suit looks sinister and menacing here – something Batman is often confused as being to the inhabitants of Gotham.

Haggard, dirty and exhausted, Bruce staggers to the top of the pit for his freedom. This still is a symbol of determination, courage and hope. Bruce is emerging and evolving into his bat form, gaining higher and higher until he established his freedom and merges with his alter ego once more. The narrow ledge shows how precarious and uncertain his position is. The darkened pit below and the luminous ledge reveal the vast distance between plunging backward into darkness and elevating into the light.


1. Victoria Beckham
The Beckham’s are bonded over their mutual love of excessive ink. Victoria’s delicate and dainty frame suits this intricate Hebrew neck lettering. Supposedly her tattoo is an excerpt from ‘The Song of Solomon’, a beautiful love poem.


2. Lea Michele’s Gold Star
In homage to her GLEE character Rachel Berry, Lea tattooed herself with this subtle gold star. The colour really pops in this bubble-gum pink dress.

3. Eve’s kitty cat paws
Often duplicated, this provocative tattoo really appeared to fire up the flare of numerous copy cats! Hard to miss and hard to conceal, this fiery, feisty seductive design is suitable for the mischievous, wild rapper.

4. Dianna Agron’s nursery rhyme
Dianna is the embodiment of girlishness, elegance and class and her tattoo does not detract from that. An excerpt from ‘Mary had a little lamb’, Dianna’s mother was named Mary and the tattoo is representative of there close relationship.

5. Paris Hilton’s red butterfly
Butterflies might be a little overdone but Paris Hilton’s scarlet butterfly embossed upon her neck suits the human Barbie, adding a little fire to the airy, mercurial socialite.

Opening Ceremony And 'The Great Gatsby' Premiere - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival
6. Cara Delevingne’s Lion
Embossing her finger with a bold, striking lion, Cara Delevigne was unknown to me until I saw her tattoo. The playmate of Rihanna and Rita affronted Prince Charles with this unusual, unforgettable design.

7. Angelina Jolie’s Tiger
Angelina Jolie was the poster child for raunchy rebellion before it became a mainstream fad. Her dynamic back tattoo of a tiger is a powerful representation of the wild woman herself and not for the fainthearted!

SHOWBIZ Insider 1
8. Lea Michele’s Musical Notes
Delicate, dainty and wonderfully girly, Lea’s shoulder tattoo indicates how important and instrumental (excuse the pun) music has been in her life.

9. Rihanna’s Isis
To celebrate her birthday, Rihanna added to her body art with this interesting placement of the Egyptian Goddess Isis. It most definitely draws even more attention to the singer!


10. Kat Von Dee’s Eye Stars
Heavily tatted Kat Von Dee is a little overly tattooed for my liking, and though stars are by no means unique she really rocks this painful placement. What can I say? It suits her!


1. Lock and Key
An unusual, somewhat romantic and mysterious choice, this is an interesting selection of placements for the lock and key design. As standalone pieces they are a little evasive, but together they create an interesting story.


2. Crescent moon
The moon is representative of feminine power, changeability and cyclical behaviour. Choosing to adorn yourself with the moon is a way of claiming your femininity.


3. Musical Note
Lea Michele’s musical note is by no means a unique design, but the shoulder placement is very sweet and subtle and perfectly appropriate for a Glee star!


4. Gun
Rihanna’s gun might be particularly unfeminine and representative of some darker changes to her former sweet girl persona, but it definitely suits her and sums up her attitude!


5. C.A.T
Mad cat ladies will be fawning over this one.


6. The red heart
This small, red heart is beautifully emphasised by the darkened, bold border and red necklace. A romantic, feminine placement.

WFA Panda

7. WFF Panda
This might not be to everyone tastes, but animal lovers will appreciate the sentiment.


8. Love heart 2
Another love heart…but what a unique and adorable placement!


9. Cat
This slinky cat tattoo might not be too tiny, but it is tempting!


10. Small seahorse
The thick bold lines compensate for the subtlety of this adorable seahorse!



So what’s the fuss about?

L’Occitane is the exotically unpronounceable French brand that has been heralded as one of the best brands for the skin. This product is 50ml of precious cleansing foam shielded in an ocean blue bottle. The back blurb announces that the product is “enriched with organic immortelle floral water” which both cleanses and banishes impurities. Firstly, the packaging looks both enticing and luxurious – the combination of bold blue and striking gold looks regal and rich. It looks mighty attractive on the shelf!

What’s in it?

Aqua, glycerin and an assortment of other unpronounceables!

What does it smell like?

This product smells like fresh meadows and ocean breeze. It really does smell wonderfully lush, cleansing and natural. It does not smell artificial whatsoever. It has a calming, relaxing scent.

How do I use this?

Apply to damp skin twice daily. The product will foam easily. Spread over the face and wash clean. Recommended as suitable for all skin types.

Does it work?

As a cleanser, i.e. to remove daily impurities and make-up, this works really well. It is so soft to apply because it is a simple, fresh foam. It is equally easy to remove. You can see and feel when the product is gone. It leaves skin looking and feeling fresh. I simply looked more youthful and awake after I’d used this. I would recommend for all skin types, except severe problem skin and for those who suffer with acne. Although this is a gentle cleanser and acne should not be treated abrasively, a different kind of cleanser should be recommended for such skin.

Would I repurchase?

Yes, most definitely. Although my skin can be problematic, I like the fresh, gentle, easy way that this product cleanses. A very quick, and yet thorough cleanse.


L’Occitane products do not come cheap. Perhaps you’re paying extra for the exotic French name but at £18.50, it’s not the cheapest of cleansers. It is most definitely worth it though, should you have the cash to spare.

Overall rating: 9/10

To learn more about L’Occitane products click here: http://uk.loccitane.com/about-us,83,1,35526,358131.htm

So what’s the fuss about?

Palmer’s is another of those big brands that has cemented its identity in the market. This vitamin enriched “treatment for soft, radiant skin” is designed to nourish the skin intensively. It’s key ingredient and therefore it’s most potent force in achieving this is super soft shea butter. The product also makes numerous other claims. Supposedly it “combats dryness and improves elasticity” as well as providing a “smooth, natural glow”. This deviates from the original Palmer’s formula in that it has been enriched with vitamin E and it also bucks tradition by smelling very different!

What’s in it?

You’ve got your usual shea butter which is tremendously buttery and soft. You’ve also got mineral oil, which is notorious for blocking pores. As such, such a thick formula should NOT be used on the face or anywhere on your body that may be prone to acne breakouts. The product is paraben free, vitamin E enriched and has not been tested on animals.

What does it smell like?

The traditional formula smells deliciously of chocolate – sweet, cocoa goodness. This formula smells different and is less appealing because of it. It has a more clinical smell and smells ever so slightly like an alcoholic drink.

Where do I use it?

All over the body once or twice a day to combat dryness.

Does it work?

This is definitely a very softening product. Those who have used it will be familiar with the thickness of the formula which drenches skin and leaves it moisturised, soft and with a dewy glow. Use on dry areas will provide immediate improvement and it’s great as a pre-emptive cure for any skin issues!

Would I repurchase?

No…simply because I prefer the original formula (the one that I’m most familiar with), the cocoa butter formula. I just adore the smell of the cocoa and as such I would stick with bottles of that rather than this!

How much did it cost?

Awfully cheap at £2.98. Daylight robbery!

Overall rating: 8/10

So what’s the fuss about?

Liz Earle is a one woman superstar who creates beautification products using “naturally active ingredients”. Her brand is the best of Great Britain sourcing ingredients fairly and without animal extracts. This is a natural, ethical range ideal if you are conscious about enjoying products that work whilst being environmentally aware.

This particular product is designed to “plump, smooth and rebalance” the skin. Intended as a night time concentrate and with a useful roller-ball design, the product can easily and effortlessly be applied with minimum pressure to the skin.

What’s in it?

A whole swathe of intensive, highly heralded ingredients such as hazelnut, rosehip, argan, avocado and neroli oil as well as vitamin E.

What does it smell like?

This is a hard smell to describe but it’s very therapeutic, gentle and relaxing. A soft, balmy, ethereal, unimposing scent.

Where do I use it?

This is designed for use on the face and neck areas. I tend to focus on the sides of the eyes, forehead and around the mouth.

Does it work?

The product claims to plump and smooth skin. Well, sadly, no non-invasive products can forcibly plump and unwrinkled the skin. This product is very soothing and gentle though and most certainly treats and moisturises.

Would I repurchase?

Yes, I would. I’m a big fan of Liz Earle and this is a luxurious treat. A little really lasts. The pump application means no product is wasted and the intoxicating amber gold colour is really inviting.

How much did it cost?

LE products do NOT come cheap. Shop around and you may pick up a bargain or a deal. This product was purchased for me last Christmas for £27.50 for a 10ml bottle.

Overall rating:


 Before Mike and Sully were world class scarers at Monsters Inc. accidentally unleashing a human child into the monster world and reforming the techniques used to elicit electricity from the extreme reactions of children to the presence of monsters, they were mere university students struggling to make there way in the world…and wondering if they ever would.

 Sully, son of a famous scarer, has a monstrous presence in the genes, but as a result is highly dependent on his family name and frightening features and regresses into an arrogant lazy jock. Mike, by contrast, is as terrifying as a toothpick but with the commitment and booksmarts to ensure he knows everything there is to know abut eliciting a top class scare.


Both majoring as scarers, Mike and Sully’s conflicting personalities lead to a confrontation that causes them both to be dejected from the programme. They are enabled one final opportunity to prove there worth thanks to Mike’s quick thinking. They will participate in the ‘Scare Games’, a series of obstacles intended to test there scare abilities. The catch? They have to form there own fraternity, Oozma Kappa, a fraternity as freaky as a hutchful of rabbits. With this there only opportunity to find themselves re-entered into the programme, the pressure is on and Mike and Sully must force themselves to work together rather than act as adversaries. They also need to reassess what it means to be a monster with Mike meshing with Sully’s ideas that being a monster should be instinctive and natural, whilst Sully begins to realise that being a true scarer also requires the use of ones brains.

This movie comes at a good time for university students and those of university age who might be questioning whether university is the most appropriate way to locate a future career. The film combines the importance of book knowledge and physical experience and street smarts which seems to encourage a better way, all encompassing way of education. As such, this is a refreshing approach to the school years and will leave audiences feeling there is no right or wrong way to be a success. What matters is friendship, determination and tenacity.

Pixar is delightful as ever with a plethora of physical jokes, gorgeous animation and a real humanity to these otherwise monstrous characters. A brilliant family film and a delightfully inspirational movie for kids working on the stereotype of American highschools with a campass of monsters in place of blonde cheerleaders and strapping jocks! It’s also wonderful to see the back story between two of Pixar’s best friends.


Packaging: A lime green, natural looking product decorated with love hearts and flowers. It’s a feminine, earthy, product appearance wise.

Price: £8

Scent: The alluring scent of fresh cucumber and revitalising melon combines and enthuses to form a very appealing and delicate aroma.

Texture: A slick product with a gritty undertone that makes skin feel buffed and cleansed.

Bang for your buck: This is a facial scrub which is advisable for all skin types although I wouldn’t recommend the product for acne prone skin because such skin needs specialised attention. This product feels like it works and it smells heavenly and it’s a cute add on to any bathroom shelf. The product does leave skin feeling cleansed and also brightened.

Does it work?: As someone with problem skin who is prone to break outs, I think I would need something more synced with my skin to work effectively. That said, my skin was definitely left brighter and lighter.

Does it last? I rushed through this product and not intentionally. It has decent lastability but other products last longer in my opinion.

Would I repurchase? I would, simply because I love the smell and the brightening effect, but I would not use it as a regular cleanser.

Overall rating: 7/10


Eyes are delicate, eyes are dainty. Eyes express our innermost desires and out latest nights. Whether you’re issue be existing (under eye bags, fine lines or wrinkles) or whether you are taking the preventative approach so prevalent in today’s climate and culture of constantly cute, an eye gel is a beauty investment that will pay you back tenfold. I adore the Body Shop so I enjoyed trying out their offering for the eyes.

Packaging: 15 ml of silvery gel in a small tub with a noir lid. Little, compact and sophisticated, you could carry this with you everywhere.

Price: £7.00.

Scent: The scent of an eye gel isn’t really important as it doesn’t intrinsically alter the value of the product. Nonetheless, I include this section because I think the power of the human nose is very much involved in all things relating to health and beauty. This has a distinctive gel smell, which is soothing and subtle. As an unperfumed product, it has no potent, lingering scent but that only means it’s better suited to your skin!

Texture: I previously reviewed an eye care product that was thick and gloopy. It was a gel in the worst way. You almost had to butter it on with a knife. This is the antithesis of that product. This is how a gel should be made. It is soft as butter with a lovely slinky texture. Application is so easy because there is no gloop or thickness. It’s the perfect consistency; thick but airy on.

Bang for your buck: Imagining you apply this gel two times per day, and only a little, and at just seven pounds, I think this is well worth it! Plus points include its portability and non-confrontational design, the perfect texture and consistency and the brilliant cooling effect. It doesn’t tighten or dry out the skin so you don’t really feel as though you are wearing anything. Elderflower is one of those ancient, wonderfully English sounding ingredients that has been in use for a long time and with good reason. This is particularly useful for invigorating tired eyes rather than assisting with aging, although of course the gel aids with moisturising the eye area.

Does it work?: The aim of the product is to brighten eyes and reduce puffiness. I don’t personally suffer with puffy eyes so I am unable to comment on whether it aids this suitably, but it does soothe, cool and calm the eye area in a similar fashion to Aloe Vera.

Does it last?: You don’t need to slather gel onto the eye area, so indeed it will last you (assuming the average buyer will apply 2x daily)

Would I repurchase?: Yes! As it usually the case with The Body Shop!


roseHands are one of the most used and abused body parts. They are in use virtually all day and it’s almost impossible to conceal hands from harsh environmental conditions whilst still being able to make appropriate use of them! Investing in a quality hand cream is essential for well cared for hands. Hands are also one of the easiest indicators of age and betray your chronological years very quickly! An airport impulse led me to purchase the above listed product. Here’s what I thought of it!

Packaging: A squeezy tube (it really is a fun squeezy tube too!) with 100ml of product. I always love The Body Shops designs. The tube is a little crinkly and crackly rendering it a recycled look (knowing The Body Shops ethics it probably is). The colour scheme invigorates and enlivens the wild rose theme with a light pink segment in English and a second segment written in French in hot pink (borrowing the allure and elegance of the French is never a poor marketing move!) It’s easy to acquire from the tube – just a gentle squeeze. It’s easy to get as little or as much as you would like without wastage.

Price: 440 baht (approximately £8.50)

Scent: Roses have a beautiful scent as anyone with a garden, or a nose for these things, will understand. Roses have long been affiliated with romance, because of the delicate sweetness and freshness of their aroma. There is something so spring like about a rose, that it perfectly represents budding relationships and infatuation. Wild rose has a slightly stronger scent, making the dainty rose a little more powerful and adding a touch of the untameable to this domesticated garden flower.The scent is strong but not imposing and I can imagine it would not be to all ‘tastes’. I find it to be a very feminine scent and to state the obvious, very flowery. Sometimes flowery smells can feel ‘old’ but I do quite like this one.

Texture: This has a lovely cool texture. The product is thick and creamy with none of the gloop or sludge or some products. It leaves no residue and doesn’t cake. It’s simply into your skin as soon as you put it on. Hands need some extra TLC so the thick consistency is of real value. My hands feel so amazingly soft after application but not as though they have been ‘coated’.

Bang for your buck: Plus points are the easy application, delightful scent and the baby softness that this product delivers. The container can stand to take a beating which means it doesn’t matter if this gets knocked about in your bag. The texture of the packaging also means you can eek out every last morsel of cream as is not always the case with tougher containers. You can squeeze in whichever direction you like to ensure you get your money’s worth. Containing SPF 15, you also get your sun protection in here and the product is designed to hydrate and protect against the appearance of dark spots forming on the hands. Although I cannot attest to this, I still believe the best way to avoid dark spots is to keep skin out of excessive sunlight whenever possible. A cream will be an effective barrier, but only with regular application. It contains some of my favourite ingredients, rose hip oil, which is constantly saluted by the gorgeous Miranda Kerr and Brazil Nut Oil. The products are sourced from Community Fair Trade means meaning that although Body Shop products can be a little pricier, they are ethical purchases helping to sustain the lifestyles of the workers who source the materials. There are also a hell of a lot of other ingredients listed on the back, so if you’re an ingredients purist, you may want to take a pass. Another plus point is that the Body Shop is against animal testing so you can enjoy their products knowing that you are not participating in a cruel, abusive and unnecessary practice.

Does it work?: It does. I cannot attest to the prevention of brown spots on the hands, because I try to keep my hands shielded anyway, but I can say it is an excellent moisturiser to keep on hand (pardon the pun). My mum agrees!

Does it last?: I always think hand creams, when used properly, should be used up pretty fast. If you are really taking care of your hands you will moisturise every time you wash, work or face the elements. But if you moisturise your hands a normal amount and not obsessively, this will last you perfectly well.

Would I repurchase? I would repurchase, but I think I preferred the Hemp Hand Protector (also from The Body Shop), which doesn’t smell as fragrant but is a far more intense, powerful moisturiser, particularly for winter. This product is great for summer!


Hawaiian sunblock

I’ve spoken previously about the importance of incorporating a sunblock into your skin care routine. The sun is one of our fastest ‘agers’ and is also responsible for pigmentation problems, moles, freckles and numerous other skin mutations and malfunctions. We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘fun in the sun’, and although it’s during the hot months that most of us want to frolic, we do need to bare in mind the dangers IF we wish to age gracefully and defend ourselves against skin cancer. One of the most effective means of achieving this if outright avoidance is impossible is to shield the skin by slathering on a sunblock. This is true regardless of your skin colour or type, although fairer skins will be more visibly affected by regular sun exposure.

Hawaiian is another brand that has been around for a long time but that I have only begun using. Naturally, I purchased factor 50 for maximum skin protection benefits.

Packaging: Initially, I was off-put by the small bottle (120 ml)) cramped up in a little tense container, but it’s shortness is compensated by it’s stoutness. It’s pocket sized making it the ideal travel companion in comparison to cylindrical bottles. It’s baby pink with hot pink and dark blue lettering (and lid) and the golden Hawaiian logo.

Scent: Another strong summer scent. I don’t know what it is about sunscreens, perhaps it’s the memories they encapsulate, but the smell for me is like 100 hot summers in a bottle. This one has a sweet, heady aroma.

Texture: Thick, but yet it applies smoothly, easily and evenly.

Price: I purchased this product before I had committed myself to reviewing it and did not make a note of the price. However I know it was roughly 300 baht which translates to £6. It will be more expensively priced in Western markets.

Bang for your buck: Don’t let the size fool you. The saying ‘good things come in small packages’ wasn’t just invented for the sake of it. A really small application goes a really long way and glides in like a gull. The product smells divine and my skin was afforded maximum protection. The product claims to protect and smooth skin simultaneously and can be used on both the body and face which means you won’t have to make two purchases (sometimes body sunblock’s can be too heavy and oily for the face). It also contains aloe Vera extract and is absent of PABA.

Does it work?: This is another of my favourite sunblock’s. Application is so effortless and the thick, creamy consistency means skin feels shielded, thoroughly nourished and hydrated but not buried. This seems to take a relentless beating without fading. I’ve used sunscreens previously that leave my skin barren as soon as I make contact with the water but I can see and feel the force field of this protection even after excess water exposure, of course, that’s not to say you shouldn’t reapply every two hours!

Does it last?: As covered above, minimal application really lasts a long time meaning that this product will be with you for a long while. If you take skin care seriously and reapply often you may want to invest in a larger bottle, or if you are on a month long beach holiday (then it is essential!)

Would I repurchase?: I am on my second bottle. This and Ocean Potion are my two favourite skin savers!

In today’s climate, being a lady (or indeed, a gentleman), are not high priorities on most peoples lists. Whether you are looking at fashion, television, music or the internet, it seems young ladies are encouraged to emulate the promoted lifestyles of reality TV stars, D list celebrities and stars of sex tapes. It’s hard to find an Audrey, Rita or Marilyn among the crowd (although even these stunning starlets were considered less ladylike during their day). You are more likely to find role models in the shapes of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Snooki than anyone of true morals, values, style or class.

Blasberg is revisiting and updating his first best-selling work, Very Classy and this time he has a few new comments…

You might wonder what a man knows about what makes a woman classy, and though your grandmother may know more, Derek has surrounded himself with enough fashionistas to understand both the basics, and the intricacies of what transform a woman into a lady.

Derek begins by stating that a previous car crash (such as Nicole Ricci) can uncover her inner lady, and a lady can revert to, what Derek refers to, as a tramp.

And therein lies the rub with Derek’s narrative style. He is irritatingly unlikeable. I am still unsure, having finished reading, whether Derek is gay or straight. The issue with Derek’s writing style is that it comes across as pompous, patronizing, ‘trying too hard’ and also faintly misogynistic. I don’t believe for a second that Derek is a misogynist, in fact I believe he loves women, but he throws around words like ‘skank’ far too often, despite criticising the fact that girls themselves often refer to each other with these insults. It seems Derek is simply perpetuating very unladylike (and ungentlemanly) behaviour in his depiction of two sharp contrasts of women…ladies and tramps (otherwise known as the Madonna/Whore complex…a woman is either an angel or a prostitute). Derek is not a true gentleman, so why is he telling women how to be ladies?

Derek also belongs to a world of crazy parties, mad money and celebrity friends, meaning that the average girl who wants to be more ladylike might find it difficult to truly take much from Derek’s materialistic, vapid world. The book is littered with pictures of Derek fawning over Hollywood stunners like a drunk deer desperate for attention and most of the women in the pictures don’t particularly look like endearing young ladies, but like posers, with stony, unsmiling faces and ‘over the shoulder’ glances that look practised rather than natural.

That’s not to say that this book does not have its bonuses.

For those looking to brush up on their manners, there are sections dedicated to wardrobe essentials, such as big sunglasses, LBD’s and trench coats, how to host dinner parties, set tables and establish themes, the perfect pictorial poses, and lists of movies and music, as well as artists, poets and theatrical productions, to set the tone of a true lady.

Although there are a few gems located within, I found the book a little too pandering. I think every girl is better when she treats herself like a lady, but we also have to move with the times and understand that if we were all to behave in a truly ladylike fashion, we wouldn’t be doing very much at all! Although Derek discourages this and actively encourages women to intermingle their individuality with their ladylike habits, it begins to feel like being a lady requires too many shallow affectations rather than a true reflection of character. For instance, he decries a woman who would wear casual clothing to an airport (totally negating that a woman might want to fly for comfort or relaxation). He also makes frequent references to celebrity friends who supposedly look like ladies but essentially aren’t which to me defeats the purpose of the book. There’s no point acting like a lady if you aren’t one. Derek seems to focus too much on the frock and the company you keep as well as ridiculous statements like leaving parties at the peak of your enjoyment just to preserve a little mystique, rather than the quality of the character within. What’s the point of being a lady if you are obsessed what others think of you and can have no fun?

If you want to learn how to set a table, wear a scarf in several ways and tackle relationships the ladylike way, this book is useful and a funny, witty read, but for me the author was unlikeable, a little too derogatory and up himself and essentially, most girls know what it means to be a lady, if and when they want to be.

If you really want to know how to turn on the lady like charm, turn to your grandma’s or the screen sirens of yesteryear, but most importantly…be comfortable being who you are, and if that means sitting in your tracksuit bottoms snuggled up on the sofa, well there’s nothing wrong with that!

Derek seems to confuse class with posing, expensive clothes and being seen with the right people always doing the right thing, rather than a true expression of the inner self, and for a supposed expert on class, he is nothing but crass!

Note to Derek; maybe write a book about being a gentleman next time?


“When I was a little kid I thought like a little kid, but now I’m five I know everything” – Jack

Jack has lived in ‘Room’ for all of his five years. He has only existed between a space measuring 11’ x 11’. He has never seen the outside world apart from the brief glimpse offered by the skylight above him. He and his ma live a life of routine; food, games and play time, occasionally interspersed with a ‘gone’ day where mum zones out, despondent in bed, and the nights whereby Nick, the nightly visitor ‘bounces on the bed with mum’ (Jack counts the bounces from his hiding space in the cupboard).

‘Room’ is so uniquely intriguing because it is told from the perspective of five year old Jack, with his limited yet evocative grasp of the English language. He knows nothing of the world beyond his small room, where his mother has been held captive, kidnapped in her nineteenth year, for seven years. Jack’s innocence and acceptance of his plight contrast with his mother’s ability to raise him to be her saviour whilst tolerating the abuse of her abductor.

Donaghy has a very spellbinding ability to capture the language, thoughts, fears, concerns, interpretations and acceptances (as well as the curiosity) of a young child, capturing a very effervescent and gold hearted boy in the character of Jack whilst ma is courageous, a lioness with a game plan.

The language at times, as we learn of Jack and Ma’s fate, can be somewhat alienating. After all, we are used to reading books written from an adult perspective, for adults, but here we are reading young Jack’s interpretations of the world around him. Nonetheless, the simplicity but sheer imagination of the language doubled with the claustrophobic horror of their plight, make a very powerful contrast. If this merely written as an abduction tale, it would be powerful, but also sinister, creepy and eerie. Jack’s cheery innocence manages to make it something more than that – a human tale of survival in unusual odds. Jack’s naivety and simple understanding stop things from getting too dark and dingy.

The suffocation of the mediocrity, repetition and imprisonment of their day to day life’s is also intriguing as we share Jack’s joy of habitual, repetitious, consistent routines, and Ma’s façade, using their play both as a way to pass the day and to raise a possible hero.

Unfortunately, numerous media stories have revealed horrifying occurrences of real individuals locked in basements as powerless amusements for their tormentors. This lends ‘Room’ a powerful relevancy and currency, making it far too relatable, as we suffer Ma’s desperation and bravery, and Jack’s meek and mild comprehension of the situation he has been born into.

Recommended by Richard and Judy’s Book Club, Room is a pleasurable, but not escapist read about the powerful, unbreakable bond between mother and son, and the necessity for tenacity, formidable will and admirable courage that is essential for survival. At its core, it’s a story of love and the connection between a mother and her child and how that love can survive and rise above all evils.


The ancestor of this product, Neroli Jasmin Eau De Toilette, has sadly been discontinued. I say sadly because this delicious product was a sexy slam on the senses; feminine, powerful, sizzling but also zesty and fresh. The vibrant orange of the bottle dictates that the product would be fruity and juicy, but the ingredients also lend themselves to romantic scenes such as midnight canoe trips and sojourns on the beach. There was something so fabulously, exotically, erotically intoxicating about it making it so exciting to where!

For whatever reasons, The Body Shop decided to discontinue this fragrance. I truly will never understand the decisions of big bosses! Nonetheless, the scent has been replaced by one designed to be almost identical – Indian Night Jasmine.

What is an eau de toilette?

Eau de toilettes are less concentrated versions of perfumes. They are essentially subtly perfumed water. Eau de parfum is slightly more concentrated whilst parfum (or perfume) has the highest concentration making it the most potent of the three. Eau de toilettes are useful for those who like lighter, subtler scents, notes and accords, as you can literally apply them moderately after showering.

What’s the story?

The Body Shop have recently launched a new range entitled ‘Scents of the World’. This scent pertains to the mystery and intrigue of India with all of its courtship and charisma and none of its bustle! It contains jasmine, sandalwood, orange blossom and violet leaves.

Bottle design:

A translucent, lightly tinted bottle decorated with vivacious jasmine blooms and containing 50 ml of delicious, delirium inducing scented water. The silver cap releases a spritz with a light push. It’s a very attractive, feminine, romantic bottle which hints at a fun, frivolous and seductive scent inside. Its square block-like shop gives it a slightly more severe, but elegant edge.


This scent really seduces and enchants the nostrils. It’s delicate, but memorable. Undoubtedly female but powerful. It’s the smell of the seductress. It really conjures images of moonlit mermaids and sun splashed sirens to me. It’s a dainty scent that also really gets into you. When I catch a whiff of this on myself or my clothes, it’s like I fall a little in love. It’s fun loving but also mysterious. It’s just a really gorgeous, sweet and heady scent that nonetheless has a subtlety to it – what a paradox!


This scent will linger long after you, oozing out of you like a sweet, sultry, seductive skunk! Really, it’s much less offensive than this. It’s dainty, girly but it clings to you, as if part of you, rather than as if you’ve bathed in it!


At £15, it’s not too bad. We’ve all come to expect that scents are somewhat of a luxury as they evoke elegance, class and our inner ladies. We can conjure characters through smell alone. It may be our most powerful sense, what with the intoxication of pheromones determining whether we feel chemistry with another or not.

Does it last?

This product has staying power if you apply if liberally. A little at the pulse points, behind the ears, on the neck or behind the knee, or as I was once advised, at the top of the thighs!

Would I repurchase?

YES. I love the Body Shop but I really adore this product! It’s the combination of quiet charm that builds into a near hysterical love affair. You’ll be a very popular girl indeed if you wear this!

Overall rating:


Packaging: 125 ml in a translucent tube with a pastel green lid. A perfect, pocket-sized bottle, ideal for a handbag, work space or even a cup holder in your car!

Scent: Johnson’s are renowned for their mild, ‘baby’ scents. This is a pleasant, light, lovely aroma. I’ve always found something very comforting about the scents of Johnson’s products, possibly because I affiliate them with my own infanthood!

Texture: I find Johnson’s oils so unique. It’s almost like rainwater on the skin. It’s best applied to skin up to three minutes after showering or bathing so as to lock in moisture and you can run it over your body like morning dew or drizzle in under 20 seconds and be shiny and soft as a new-born seal!

Price: 100 baht (equivalent of £2). Please check your relevant currency.

Bang for your buck: This is the original baby oil formula enthused with vitamin e, which prevents early rancidity of a product and aloe vera (a brilliant after sun skin soother). I adore Johnson’s products and consider them a staple. Application is so effortless, the smell is lovingly pleasant and a little goes far.

Does it work?: This is one of the mildest and yet most powerful, not to mention cheapest of moisturisers, that I know of. The inherent purpose of a moisturiser is to do just that – moisturise – and Johnson’s really lock in that moisture. I don’t know anyone who dislikes or distrusts the Johnson’s brand. I perceive it as the perfect moisturiser. A stranger even ran her hand up my arm and complimented me on how soft I was! Please be aware that Johnson’s oil contains mineral oil which has been criticised as a pore blocking product. Although I’ve never noticed any blocked pores, it is of course essential that your skin is able to breathe. If you suffer with acne of the body or other skin conditions, I would not advise that you use this product. Furthermore, if you have oily or acne oriented skin on your face, do not use this product there as your pores will struggle!

Does it last?: You’ll still be soft not only by the morning but for the entire day.

Would I repurchase?: Without a shadow of a doubt. I would recommend to anyone!

Overall rating: 9/10


I mentioned in a previous post my strict adherence to a skin care regime for the sun. Perhaps the single most dangerous destroyer of skin aside from nutrition and the quality of our air intake, marred by smoking and pollution, is the sun and its ability to speed up free radicals.

I always enjoy scouring the shelves for new sun screens and blocks. This is a review of my most recent sunscreen:

A long, thick, squidgy purple bottle, smothered in primary colours, it has a childlike, bold image.

360 baht which translates to roughly eight British pounds.

Bang for your buck:
The longevity of this product is astounding. It really lasts a long time easily allowing you twice a day full body application. It doesn’t specify that it can be used on the face but I encountered no problems using the product in this way. SPF 50 gives you strong protection and the product claims to be vitamin D3 fortified and paraben free. There is a lot of discussion around parabens in products you might want to read up on. The product also claims to be water and sweat resistant. In my opinion, no product truly can be and even if it was I’m not so sure that such persistent pore cloggage would truly be a good thing but there is real staying power here! The product also includes anti-oxidant vitamins and sea plant botanicals. With its vibrant colour scheme and squeezy bottle, it’s also, quite simply, fun to use!

A thick, soft cream that literally rubs in in seconds. No need to harshly, aggressively tug at the skin to get the product inside of the skin.

This is probably my favourite thing about the product…it smells heavenly! It’s so hard for me to describe the scent of this product because it also encapsulates that sun cream smell of summers and oceans. It’s got such a strong, zesty, vibrant, fruity smell like zest for life in a bottle. It’s almost like something you could eat! The scent stays with you as well rather than wears away.

Does it last?
Yes…for a long, long time.

Would I repurchase?
I already have. This is the first I’d heard of the range but I adore and will definitely be reusing. This is up there as one of my favourite sunscreens!

Strap yourselves in dudes and dudettes, this is a pure popcorn flick! The storyline had the potential to be big. It’s already made a few transitions since L Baum wrote his novel about a wicked Witch but the story gained gravitas with the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and the recent theatrical adaptation ‘Wicked’. It’s a story with a lot of ‘meat’ as it were. Quirky characters, a lush fantasy world, a manic, unrelenting evil both comedic and horrifying (the flying monkeys have always been a bit ‘Planet of the Apes’ for me). The elements of the story mean that it can be rendered something jovial and jokey, or something darker and far more sinister depending on the interpreters slant.

This adaptation goes for the lighter aspects of the story. Part of what makes this film lackluster is the cast, none of whom I personally dislike as actors, but many of whom I don’t feel ‘fit’ their roles entirely. Some films elevate B ranked stars into superstardom…Heath Ledger really gravitated a level with his performance as the Joker, when previously he was just a pretty love interest in ‘10 things I hate about you’, but none of the stars seem to fill out the gravitas of their roles.

James Franco is Oz. For me, Franco is a fine actor and he certainly adds a buffoonery and a roguishness to Oz’s character. The whole concept of Oz is the double identity: someone perceived as powerful and magnificent who is secretly nothing more than a showman of questionable morals. Franco is very good at personifying the magician, but not so much the terror and power evoked by Oz as a deterrent to the witches. He does have good stage presence and a saucy wink though.

Zach Braff is Frank, Oz’s assistant who also features in Oz as a monkey in debt to the wizard for saving his life. Zach’s unique voice and sense of comedic timing evoke laughs and his animated form is eye poppingly magnified in terms of its colour and grandeur (as is the entire movie…the graphics are equisite, particularly the little China girl looking a little like Toy Story’s Bo Peep only cuter).

Then there are the witches. Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and and Michelle Williams have been crowned with the three pivotal roles on which the events of the film hinge. Weisz offers her bountiful presence, that powerful authorative voice, regal Shakespearean manner and story book look to play the despicable Evanora and Michelle Williams, with her delicate, baby faced beauty, is Gilda, exiled and accused of poisoning her father, waiting for the prophesised wizard to come and return her to her palace and people. The most interesting of the three, beyond Evanora’s one dimensional ambition and thirst for rule and Gilda’s glowing goodness is Mila’s character Theodora…the fairy tale princess who appears cookie cutter. She’s beautiful, innocent and falls in love, but her prince (the Wizard) deceives her and plunges her into a wicked transformation into a hideous engorgement of her former self, consumed by bitterness, hatred and victimhood. No doubt Mila was chosen for that distinguished voice which fans will be familiar with, husky and full of cackle. She is terribly unconvincing as the goody two shoes but comes a little more into her own as the witch. Nonetheless, I couldn’t lose myself in her character. She undergoes the transformation and does a lot of impressive screaming, but she’s not quite big enough to fit the broomstick.

Bill Cobbs, Joey King (you might recall her as the ‘child from the pit’ in the Dark Knight Rises) , Tony Cox, Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi also make brief appearances.

Directed by Sam Raimi, this feels nothing like his work. It feels like a more recent Burton film (think Alice). It’s not that it’s a bad movie. It’s perfectly enjoyable, heartwarming and watchable, with familiar much loved characters and the potential of magic and redemption, but it’s still a popcorn flick, and if you can enjoy it as that you won’t be disappointed!


Most households will be familiar with Johnson’s products. Although you’ll find the majority of the companies powders, lotions and gels lavished upon babies, so many celebrities swear by Johnson’s (including Gwen Stefani who looks like she’s been supping from the fountain of youth) that the products are also a staple in the beauty regimes of a plethora of women. You can’t really go wrong with products sensitive enough for the delicate skin of newborn babies.
Johnson’s recently released a new range of tantalizing little bottles. I picked up their Oxygen Fresh Gel Lotion…

Johnson’s packaging has always been simple as its staple. The bottle is little, curvaceous and an eye catching aquatic blue. In fact what seduced me into buying it aside from the reliable Johnson’s name was the colour which conjured images of oceans and sea breezes in bottled form.

A small bottle cost me less than two quid! Perfect as a ‘tester’.

Bang for your buck:
I love to lavish myself with products so I finished this product very quickly (intentionally) however as with all products, if you use them sparingly, you can make them last. You can also but the bigger bottles of this if you really want to make it a regular part of your moisturizing routine. It’s so cheap and the brand is so well established that you lose nothing in trying it out! It mentions that it contains ‘ocean minerals, coraline extracts and aqua moisture essences’. Almost makes me feel I’ll turn into a mermaid!

Marketed as a ‘gel lotion’, the product is both watery and creamy. It has a consistency similar to Aloe Vera Gels. It feels like it evaporates onto the skin and it gives a cooling sensation as it does so.

This product really has a mild, pleasant, ocean scent. It’s very natural, wholesome and makes you feel like you’ve been kissed by a breeze. It’s not overpowering or perfumed, just delicately there.

Does it last?

As mentioned above, you can definitely make this product last but I love pampering myself to much to make them survive too long in my clutches!

Would I repurchase?
Personally…I think I prefer the traditional Johnson’s baby oil…you know the one with the pink lid? This is a great product and well worth trying but I think I’ll stick to my first favourite!

When Pi finds himself the sole survivor of a sunken ship, he is tasked with assisting two Japanese reporters comprehension of how the ship came to sink. The first story he tells includes a Royal Bengal Tiger mistakenly named Richard Parker after his captor, who Pi, initially fearful of, manages to tame. Also inhabiting the sanctuary of the lifeboat are a cowardly, crafty hyena, a graceful Grants Zebra and a peaceful, civilised Orangutan.

The first story, unique fabulous as it is, is unable to placate the reporters incessant questioning, particularly as Pi explains his discovery of a carnivorous floating island the lures prey in by day and devours it by night. Unable to suspend their disbelief sufficiently to accept story 1, Pi tells story number 2, in which the animals from the initial story come to represent human counterparts.

In this story, Pi is the tiger, the hyena is the ships brutal cook, the zebra the gracious sailor isolated by a language barrier and the orangutan is Pi’s mother. This story, brutal, bleak and nihilistic and with no sense of wonder is barbaric, cannibalistic and dismal, contrasting sharply and jarringly with the vivacity and escapism of his previous tale.

Neither story illuminates how the ship came to sink nor sooths or eases Pi’s lengthy, inhumane suffering so Pi asks them which of the two stories they prefer. The reporters conclude that the first of the stories is more appealing, despite its implausibility.

The lure of this book is its inherent mystery and the questions it generates. Which story is true? Did Pi concoct the first story in order to psychologically defend himself and gain an acceptance of the horrific occurrences on the life boat? Or did he fabricate the second story in order to craft a succession of events more in line with the realism demanded of Pi by the reporters?

The author invites readers to decide for themselves which story they personally believe, or want, to be true. There is a difference here, between the prettier and the uglier story, and the story that speaks to your inner sense of the understanding of the world. The first story has a clear connection to religious perspectives and leaps of faith required and the second story correlates to reason and atheism.

Simplistically but stylistically written, Pi’s suffering sharply contrasts the innocence of a young shipwrecked orphaned boy at sea ‘coming of age’ with the merciless assimilation into an animalism necessary for survival.

Vibrant, vivid and memorable, Pi’s misery and wonder slosh and spill from the pages. Life of Pi seems reminiscent of the shipwreck genre (Castaway, Lord of the Flies) and regenerates it with a fresh perspective.


I was browsing the shelves in a cosmetics store when I stumbled across the Nature Series Olive Oil Body Wash. I was drawn in by the words ‘Contains ORGANIC olive oil’ and ‘Contains 7 herb extracts’. I realise there is a huge different between organic and certified organic, but I thought this would be a more natural, healthy option when washing my skin and the benefits of olives and their oil is frequently touted as being perfect for the hair and skin as both a topical application and to eat of course!


As an organic product, the bottle is translucent with a green sheen and has a large picture of a juicy, green olive on the front. The bottle is tall and lean and contains 250 ml of product. It certainly looks like a natural option embracing the colour scheme and flaunting its beneficial qualities.


Unfortunately I cannot recall the price for this product, nor can I locate it on the internet; however I do remember that it was certainly within my budget!

Bang for your buck:

The pump dispenser means that it’s easy to squirt out a small amount of product meaning that this product really can last a long time. How long it lasts depends how heavy handed you are in the shower. If you really like to lather yourself up, you might get through it fast, as it takes a little bit of product to get a mass lathering effect.


A soft oily gel, this really glides and eases onto the body. It’s not a heavy, sticky product and is easy to wash off.


This is where the product might lose some points. The scent is very authentically herbal and natural. This is perfect if you like subtle, inoffensive smells but part of what many women seem to enjoy about body washes is their explosive, powerful aromas. You’ll kind of smell like you came out of an Italian’s kitchen or a vineyard.

Does it last?

As I said, if you’re a serial latherer, you might really exhaust this one, but a few squirts is enough for full body application. I also doubled this as hand wash.

Would I repurchase?

It lasted me a long time, it looked and felt like a natural product and it left my skin silky and soft HOWEVER I prefer a more powerful scent for my body washes, so although I wouldn’t be adverse to repurchasing, it wouldn’t be my first choice.

I’m a bit of a sun Nazi. Nazi is possibly not the best choice of words, but what I mean is I am not a sun worshipper. I don’t do the bathing, oiling, tanning thing. I find nothing more unbearable than sitting out in the sun on a hot, crowded beach but put me under an umbrella with a book and I’ll be just jazzy. When I see slick oiled bodies writhing on the beach for hours on end I instantaneously think wrinkles! My neighbor, in her seventies, has never been abroad and never tanned, she has flawless skin for her age with no wrinkles in sight apart from a few very subtle laughter lines! She is a huge inspiration for me protecting my fair skin in the extreme sun exposure I put it through on my travels!

Part of my sun care routine is using a body lotion with SPF 50 which I usually apply to my face but as I tend to suffer with problematic skin, I decided to purchase a facial sun cream which is beneficial because it claims not to block pores and can be applied under makeup. Sun creams designed for the body can occasionally be a little ‘robust’ for the delicate facial area.


The Soltan package is pretty simplistic. It’s a vibrant yellow, triangular container. Eye catching on the stand but with a very basic design. It’s noteworthy that this is one of the budget skin care products.


I purchased mine for about  £7.00 in Boots. Great value for money when it comes to sun care products which are often horrendously over priced in my opinion.

Bang for your buck:

This product comes in a small triangular squeezable pouch and a little goes a long way. I’ve been using it for three months and only now am I running low. If you follow expert advice, lotion is best applied 30 minutes before sun exposure and is best topped up every two hours thereafter, or more frequently if you are sweating profusely or frolicking in the sea. Despite this, the product lasts and lasts and lasts. It also does not blog or clog pores which I have found an issue in the past with heavier creams that really coat the skin which is great for moisturising the body but a bad choice for moisturising the volatile, impressionable skin of the face!


This is a thick cream that glides onto skin and is perfectly soft. It really feels like you are wearing a sun shield!


I never know quite how to describe the scent of sun lotions. They always conjure memories of intangible things like holidays and ocean water and distant crushes.  It’s got that distinctive sun cream smell; kind of heavy and memorable and very, very summery!

Does it last?

Sun lotion needs constant reapplication when the face is exposed to prolonged, powerful sunlight or if/when the product is sweated off or comes into contact with water. Despite this, I find the product has real staying power. If I am lax with application, I tend to burn around my hair line and on the tip of my nose but this didn’t occur with this product.

Would I repurchase?

It’s small, it lasts, it doesn’t aggravate the skin or clog pores and it offers perfect protection. It’s also a bank friendly option. YES!

I had never heard of POND’S before coming to Thailand but they seem to love the products over here! Southeast Asian women generally have beautiful complexions so I was certainly eager to try out the products located on their shelves. I bought this from the local 7/11 (you can find them everywhere!) under the advice of a male Thai companion of mine and if men are recommending it, it has to be something pretty special.

The product is also available in blue as an oil control option, but I opted for the traditionally girly pink. Although the bottle is smothered in Thai which I can’t decipher, I really adore this product and have already repurchased it. Here is my review:


This is a tiny, elegantly shaped pink bottle with a twist and pour lid. It reminds me slightly of a Johnson’s baby product. It’s baby pink and very girly and petite. Something about it caught my eye! It’s also perfectly pocket sized so you can career it around with you on your jaunts.


Ridiculously cheap, I purchased this for the equivalent of about £2.50. A really convenient option if you are penny pinching.

Bang for your buck:

If you aren’t familiar with the premise of the whole ‘BB’ wave, I think it started somewhere in South Korea, or at least that’s how I first became aware of it. These powders and creams aim to provide a flawless finish to the complexion whilst nourishing the skin. They basically proclaim to do everything whilst making you look beautiful of course.

The colour of this product is ideal for white skin. It’s difficult to say if it would suit all shades of ivory. I am naturally fair with yellow undertones and I go faintly golden in the sun. This product melted onto my skin flawlessly and blended perfectly with my skin tone.

You have to be careful to not be heavy handed with this product as a lot can fall lose and then you’ll feel obliged to rub it all in!

It goes very cakey and watery (an odd combination) if you apply it onto wet or recently moisturized skin, so let any previously used products sink in before application.

It’s the kind of product you can pat rather than rub on, although at times I had to rub quite vigorously to get the product truly ‘into’ my skin (this was mainly if I over-used the amount of product).

It gives flawless coverage to any pigmentation issues and it also serves as sun protection containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, notorious skin savers in the sun, so it can be applied over sun screen as you are out and about in the day for added skin saving!

It also lasts a very long time. I’ve been sharing the product with a friend and we use it a lot. In three months, we still have not run out!


As a powder, the texture is soft like grains of very smooth sand. It melts onto the face.


This has a really pleasant perfumed scent. Again, it reminds me of Johnson’s product in that it has a slightly ‘baby’ aroma. I’ve read a few POND’S products reviews and some people complain about this particular smell so it might not be to everyone’s tastes, but I found it a very light, pleasant and feminine scent.

Does it last?

I often apply this product over my sun tan lotion before going out in the Thai sun and it stays on pretty well even through my vigorous sweating and sojourns into the sea. When it meets water it can go a bit cakey, but it really does fight to stay on.

Would I repurchase?

I already have. I’m in love!



I first heard about Cetaphil when I was flicking through a celebrity magazine…one of my excessive habits back in the day, and saw that model Lily Cole was a loyal and dedicated connoisseur of the cleanser.

If you have skin anything like mine, which can be oily, unpredictable and problematic, finding a cleanser that truly works for you can turn into the search for the Holy Grail. There’s a labyrinth of products all promising results with an ingredients list longer than Jodie Marsh’s conquests book…

I came across the product cheaply priced in a cosmetics store in Krabi, Thailand and decided to purchase it.


The packaging lacks the WOW factor but that might just mean that the product doesn’t need the faux glitz and glamour to do its job and do it well. The white, blue and green colour scheme evokes a sense of simplicity, health and efficiency. This is a no frills product. It’s simple and effective and it doesn’t need to dress up to sell itself, or so it screams. The bottle is also stout with a middle aged spread, meaning you can get a surprising amount out of this product!


I purchased this in Thailand for a relatively cheap price but in the UK where I am originally from I think it is priced between £10 and £17.

Bang for your buck:

I purchased the 500ml bottle and as I stated before, there is a lot in this bottle making it worth the money. You only need to use a little product as it goes a long way. This cleanser could easily last you a long, long time with daily two time’s usage.


The texture of Cetaphil is translucent and doesn’t foam when you cleanse. This indicates that it isn’t full of certain chemicals that cause products (particularly cleansers) to foam, giving the illusion of a deep cleanse. I remember hearing (but please don’t quote me as I am not a dermatologist or scientist so please do your own research here!) that foaming creates the illusion of a satisfying, deep clean, but that ingredients cleanse just as well without having foam effect. The product glides on and it’s hard to tell exactly where you’ve covered on your face but it doesn’t itch or aggravate. It doesn’t give the feel of a really deep cleanse, but it does brighten and freshen up the face in a very light way which I believe is good for oil production as abrasive scrubbing promotes the skin to produce more!

Did it clean the skin?

My skin felt refreshed and light after use. As I said, this didn’t provide me with a sense of having a really invasive or thorough cleanse in the way of a facial or a more rigorous product and the lack of foaming and the translucency can make you think the product has no real magic, but it definitely keeps my skin looking more balanced and less oily. I haven’t had any extreme break outs but it hasn’t helped to shift deeper skin blockages in the form of blackheads.


This product wasn’t designed to be the sweet smelling skunk in the cosmetics case. It has a barely there, herbal scent making it feel natural and light. This hasn’t been heavily perfumed. In fact, it smells a little like baby oil.

Would I repurchase?

I’ve been using this product for about one month and I like the way it makes my skin feel and look. It’s not ‘tough love’ for the skin. It simply gently removes oil and build up and makes me feel fresh as a baby! It’s also non-comodogenic which is a blessing for oily skins unwelcome cousin, acne and blackheads! I would repurchase this product in a heartbeat. Hey, if it’s good enough for Lily Cole’s fresh cream complexion it’s good enough for me!

Miranda Kerr is many things; mum, mega model, muse but…author? Miranda’s foray into the world of the written word ‘Treasure Yourself’ was met with some tittering from avid readers. She is always adnorned with a mega watt smile though, so she must be doing something right!

Generally, models are stereotypically pigeon holed to be rather vacuous, superficial and clueless when it comes to deeper matters. Some found it hard to stomach that Miranda had turned out her  own version of a ‘help yourself’ guide for girls wondering what Miranda could possibly comprehend about the struggles of the average girl not ensconced in angel wings and million dollar lingerie.

Secondly, the title ‘Treasure Yourself’ caused yet more to double up in hysterics. Wasn’t it pretty easy for Miranda to advocate treasuring yourself when she has the face of an angel, the body of a goddess and a seamlessly perfect life, from her stellar career which is only broadening from modeling into cosmetics and beauty, an internationally renowned husband in the form of Orlando Bloom and a beautiful, healthy baby boy?

Miranda’s introduction soon puts to rest that her life has simply been a step by step process to success. Instead, she shares professional setbacks from her earlier modeling days and a personal tragedy that reinforced her desire to live for each day.

Miranda’s advice and perceptions are earnest, if unoriginal. She shares a little of her history before outlining what she feels are the essential processes to lead a happy life. Amongst them include a healthy, organic (where possible) diet, regular exercise (Miranda is a particular advocate of yoga), smiling, recognizing and acknowledging your own beauty and the regular use of mantras and affirmations. She then ends the book with some mantras and affirmations of her own, and those from others who have inspired her, including Deepak Chopra.

A kind quirk to Miranda’s short read is that she requested friends and family draw pictures of their favourite flowers to adorn the pages of the book and she also shares some childhood snaps that reveal she has always been a genetically blessed beauty.

Miranda has been accused of inventing a slightly pompous, pretentious mother earth persona, cut from the same ilk as Gwyneth Paltrow, but as she shares her embarrassments and her own personal crutches, it’s hard to dislike her.

I came away with two distinct impressions.

One was that Miranda could have put more into this book. It’s relatively short and reiterates ideology and advice that has become well worn by now, though perhaps that’s because, just like clichés, they echo with truth and require repetition. Miranda doesn’t introduce anything truly unique or miraculous and in a way it could be argued that Miranda was after a quick sell: some pretty pictures of flowers and a few pleasant messages. Her gorgeous face could probably sell used bog roll after all…

HOWEVER, Miranda didn’t have to write this book at all and there is something engaging about her easy, basic prose. Miranda isn’t pretending to be something she isn’t. She’s just sharing what has helped her through her cataclysmic rise and the inevitable pitfalls along the way.

This isn’t a self-help book and shouldn’t be read as such. I think the ideal audience for this book are Miranda fans and young girls who can take a few inspirational messages from a superstar. It’s helpful for young girls on the cusp of adolescence to realize that even the superbly stunning Miranda had bouts of inferiority and insecurity as a child and in her early years as a model.

Miranda has been accused of being a pseudo good girl with a shallow message of peace and love good old fashioned hippy style, but whether the image is a concocted façade or the real deal, promoting a message of treasuring yourself through the food you eat, the water you drink, the energy you exude and the way you should value yourself as a girl and woman can only be beneficial.

This is advice girls need now more than ever, in an entertainment culture that berates women physically and emotionally on a consistent basis, comparing them to impossible, idealized standards and running them through the grinder of the music industries misogynistic music videos and lyrics that reduce women into sexual commodities for the often uninteresting rapper fronting the song. This is a message girls need and so I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from supporting Mirandas’s first book!

Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor present us with a cinematic experience remarkably akin to a caffeine, drugs, sugar and alcohol binge as the audience is tumbled into a desensitizing, hyper-kinetic and over-stimulating world designed to force only the most echoing thumps from the heart and every drop of sweaty suspense from the pore. We enter a futuristic, dystopian world where technology has reached the pinnacle of its potential and perhaps inescapably, humanity has regressed and de-evolved mentally and emotionally so that everyone is shiny, superficial and shallow; a flawless cold demeanor with a selfish heart; a world where the id is King.

This not-far-off world takes degenerative aspects of current society and reinforces them pushing them to the extremity, the nth degree. Set in the not-too-distant future, the society of Gamer is one of violence and depraved sexuality but all of this depravity occurs not in reality, but can be experienced voyeuristically or vicariously through playing characters thanks to the games of rich boy entrepreneur Ken Castle (suitably slimy Michael C. Hall). Gamer sets up two un-real, artificial worlds; that of ‘Society’ and that of ‘Slayers‘; both of which are eaten up by capitalist, consumer ridden society who appear to sacrifice moral values and human interest for cheap and instant thrills. The society is naturally insatiable and constantly baying for more blood and more sex.

Society enables people to pay either to control or be controlled. In this fantasy world there is dehumanization, humiliation, pain, rape, promiscuity, alcoholism and drug use. The glittery, showy world of slick surfaces is as insubstantial as cotton candy, and yet rotten to the core. ‘Society’ is gauche, garish and almost offensively kaleidoscopic and multifaceted as a diamond, reminiscent of the explosion of a rainbow. Yet the overwhelming acidic aesthetics, slickly polished environments and promiscuous Lolita fashions are cold, uncomfortable and wholly devoid. The frequent nudity and forced sexual scenes feel incredibly awkward because we are witnessing the complicit commoditization of rape and of the body as a money-making vehicle exploited for its capacity to fulfill the twisted pleasures of others. As Rick Rape ( a jittery Milo Ventimiglia) forces himself upon the frozen Angie (a beautifully cold Amber Valletta), sexuality transforms into something clinical, abnormal and abhorrent as obese men sit in dark, dank bedrooms trying to arouse other men by portraying sexualized female characters who spout obvious innuendos whilst dressed as pussy cat dolls.

If ‘Society’ works on the individuals desire to control sexuality, then ‘Slayers’ works on the individuals desire to control violence. Real prisoners must fight for their freedom whereby if they survive 30 missions they are exempted from the death penalty. This world is gritty, bare and stripped to the bare minimum; a masculine pandemonium of blood, survival and rage. Gerard Butler is Kable, the only man to come in reaching distance of freedom who is in turn played by Simon (Logan Lerman) who portrays perfectly the adolescents desire to receive an influx of never-ending stimulation all the while yawning and sneering in its face.

The film explores the dangers of living in a world where humanity is completely independent and fragmented; where people can control and manipulate others. The totalitarian reigns of Hitler, Stalin and Napoleon may be over but in this world the internet reigns supreme. Parodying fads such as Facebook, Second Life, Big Brother, Call of Duty and the abundance of pornography that has infiltrated mainstream society, ‘Gamer’ is disconcerting purely because it contains more than a grain of truth, cashing in on three key social fads; sex, violence and video games. This satirical portrayal gets us to sit up and take notice of the direction in which our world is going – a world where the pleasure principle rules. The only hypocrisy of the film is that whilst on the one hand it condemns violence and sexuality, it makes gratuitous use of it; an uneasy but very watchable film which explores societies sub-cultures and blends with dark science-fiction.


Peter Jackson demonstrates his legendary ability to fuse comedy with magnitude evident in his earlier experimental works (Braindead, Bad Taste) in his latest foray into film perfectly. Telling the story of everyman Wikus Van De Merwe (portrayed by the terrifically twitchy Sharlto Copley); a respectable man who is not particularly strong or remarkable in any way, his ordinariness is contrasted with the enormity of the alien vessel lingering overhead Johannesburg that arrived unannounced 28 years prior. The film effectively merges styles beginning as a documentary compiled of interview footage adding realism to the proceedings in the same respect as the Blaire Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, switching to traditional film narrative as Wikus, a member of Multi-National United stumbles across a dangerous piece of alien technology whilst trying to move the prawns from District 9 into a supposedly more appropriate camp almost reminiscent of the concentration camps appropriated to the Jews.

The line between who is friend and who is foe blurs dangerously as Wikus’ own identity is thrown into jeopardy. The film follows a vein of others that explore some not-too-far off dystopian disaster that causes humanity to reflect upon their own condition. Set in South Africa, the strains of the black/white apartheid are joined by a tertiary ‘other’ – that of the alien or the degenerately referred to ‘Prawn’. Even with a universal foe in the Prawn, humanity is still unable to unify as a whole. The white characters are manipulative, hypocritical and tyrannical whilst the Nigerians are primitive, bestial, exploitative and brutal, none more so than the paralyzed Nigerian Warlord Mumbo who exploits the prawns by exchanging cat food for their highly advanced weaponry and arranging inter-species prostitution. The aliens by contrast show camaraderie, kindness and respect toward one another.

Wikus’ degenerate transformation from man to alien makes him an outcast living in a limbo land. Turned upon by his fellow colleagues for having blood perfectly in the balance and thus being able to operate Alien weaponry which is biologically infused who wish to harvest his unique DNA, Wikus initially head of deporting the aliens, finds himself living among them; an outcast, other, outsider. He develops a touchingly tender friendship with prawn Christopher Johnson and his young son which leads the two to storm MNU laboratories to reclaim the fuel that can power the mother ship. Christopher claims he must return to Wikus in three years because he must use the minimal fuel to get help for his fellow aliens. Wikus, unable to accept this, powers the ship himself and attacks Christopher. Attacked by the Nigerians who wish to devour his infected body parts to accumulate alien power, Wikus is aided by Christopher’s son and in a dizzyingly anxiety-inducing succession of fights and chases, Wikus allows Christopher to return to the ship where he emotionally promises he will return to him in three years time with a cure.

Advanced upon by the MNU, Wikus is saved by the slum aliens; he has become one of them. The film incorporates a sense of frenzied pace by following Wikus in terms of the hours since his contamination. Wonderfully frantic and bewildering, muddling comedy (the MNU’s doctored footage of Wikus enjoying the pleasures of a prawn prostitute/vomiting at his surprise party/Wikus “I’m the sweety man” speech) and merciless shrill terror (as Wikus is nearly operated on without anesthesia) the film is a beautiful and harrowing account of one man’s transformation. Ending with documentary footage once more so that the film comes full circle, Wikus friends, family and colleagues debate what became of him. The film alludes that Wikus, known for his personalized homemade gifts, has left his wife a metal rose, as he patiently survives the slums awaiting Christopher’s promised return. Littered with profound imagery, particularly the view of the ship used in the advertising campaign, this film contextualizes the alien genre and revolutionizes the alien. The alien CGI renders them beautifully believable and their emotional responses are flawless; Christopher’s son manages to be simultaneously horrifically alien and wonderfully adorable.

This is an interesting foray into the sci-fi genre that analyses what makes one individual or group ’other’ as Wikus not only becomes alien but alienated. As Christopher Johnson’s unnamed son remarks “We are the same”. If we ignore that which separates us such as race, gender and culture – we are essentially all the same. Jackson explores a theme which has been ongoing since Shakespeare’s literary reign – the theme of one’s identity in a masse. As Shylock famously stated, “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”. A heart-warming and emotional film which will thoroughly surprise you by its end and make you want to hug your loved ones just that bit tighter.

By now Tim Burton has established a tried-and-tested formula that has become predictably unpredictable. The formula runs as follows; Burton + Depp + Bonham-Carter + Elfman = commercial success. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ does not contain the depth of some of Burton’s previous endeavours such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and most recently, Sweeney Todd. The landscape is familiarly unfamiliar in the dark, garish and gritty way we have become accustomed to. The whimsical nuances and subtleties of Wonderland; a surreal world which is just off-kilter are replaced by Burton’s lush, psychedelic, kaleidoscopic, hallucinatory sensory assault that nonetheless seems to drain and amputate Wonderland of much of its mystification.

The drowsy stupor of Wonderland becomes grounded in reality as Burton attempts to transform Alice’s ‘adventure’ (which originates as a succession of random unrelated events loosely strung together), into a meaningful ‘quest’ which seems to provide Wonderland with far too much logic and rationality than it should and transforms it from vague to predestined. The beauty of the characters is their two-dimensional absurdity but by fleshing out his characters (particularly the Mad Hatter), Burton gives them schizophrenic personalities that all too often feel at best misunderstood and at worst sane, rather than insane.

The script-writing is lazy, rushed and unimaginative so that the dialogue becomes progressive rather than expansive. The audience find themselves following an angelic Mia Wasikowska meander her way throughout a pseudo-fanciful world. Of course the awe and authenticity of Wasikowska’s reactions (and indeed those of the other actors) are severely stunted by the excessive use of CGI in a way that is not the case in other renditions of Alice such as the 1985 version starring Natalie Gregory whose reactions are always bewitchingly sincere. We know that the actors are reacting to a false world which renders the film oddly chilling and hollow rather than intimately elusive.

The mercurial and unknowable characters of Wonderland are here reduced to irritating lunatics; Barbara Windsor is agitating as the Door mouse, Matt Lucas is unamusing in his double venture as the Tweedles and Anne Hathaway is quite frankly a bizarre choice for the White Queen. A plethora of known names have been banded up for this venture such as Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry and Timothy Spall but just as with the big names in the Harry Potter series, they feel oddly misused; there to spout a few lines and promptly vanish and as they play CG caricatures; it is almost impossible to tell who is voicing who. Newcomer Wasikowska is undoubtedly the best performance of the film with her delicate, doe-like appearance, mild bewilderment and sleepy understatement and clearly has a promising career set ahead of her.


Burton’s muse and cash-cow Depp dons a ginger wig, a pseudo-Scottish accent and more make-up than Lady Gaga, becoming yet another grotesque and lavish caricature; the Mad Hatter. Though Depp is always charming, enthusiastic and endearing in his roles, his portrayal seems just an extension of Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka and stems from the same ilk. Bonham-Carter, Burton’s life partner, is eccentrically attractive in her prissy portrayal of the Red Queen who is dwarfed by her abnormally swelled head for the production and produces moments of hilarity and playfulness in her part. It is almost as if Burton, quite aware of the attractive Depp, wishes to make him look as undesirable as possible, especially when starting alongside his partner.

The film is caught somewhere between sequel and a remake and introduces an mistakable feminist agenda as Alice is lured to Wonderland in order to escape conventional Victorian restraints. Throughout the film, there is much dispute over Alice not being ‘the right Alice.’ She learns by the films conclusion, and through having to confront the Jabberwocky as the White Queen’s champion on Frabbulous day, the conviction and authority of her own belief’s and ideals. It’s quite clear to see that the flame-haired Hamish (her betrothed with bad digestion) meets his foil in the Hatter who is as quirky and imaginative as Alice, suggesting if not a romance between the two, then that Alice should find a partner as equally ‘bonkers’ as she.  Because of this the film feels oddly female centred and may ostracise a male fan base.

Burton had the perfect opportunity to either create an authentic re-make of Carroll’s original vision or to depart radically and perhaps hone in on American McGee’s video game ‘Alice’ which transformed Wonderland into a world of insanity and murder, reflecting Alice’s own mental state. Instead he centres on the happy medium; an enjoyable but mediocre romp through a recognisable world. No doubt children will adore this film and fans of the Burton/Depp partnership will not be disappointed but the film will not draw new fans with the promise of anything innovative and fans of Alice may crave something a little more true to the off-key nonsense of the original rather than the gravity and weight that Burton attempts. A delectable playground for the eyes in terms of artifice which begins well but ultimately drags and degenerates around the second act and will not leave the audience feeling massively disoriented as Wonderland should; lacks a sparkle of magic and will ultimately underwhelm! More of an amusement park ride than an exercise in storytelling.


When I saw the trailer for Life of Pi, I knew I had to see it. The film is based on a book which I haven’t personally read, so I had no prior understanding of the source, and no expectations. I was just enthralled by the elegant elemental imagery; a boy alone, a boat, beautiful water, and a regal tiger.

What appears to be a very simple story actually abounds with themes, symbolism, interpretations and imagery. I will dedicate a future entry to attempting to unpick my personal interpretations of this film, but for now, to simply review it, I will just explain that a solid premise is actually a rabbit hole into questioning and meaning, littered with great forethought and intelligence. The story is the vessel through which this giant incomprehensible truth is channelled.

What surprised me about the Life of Pi was that I was expecting a colourful, bright, fantasy film. Something like Narnia perhaps. But Life of Pi is a blurring of the fantastical and the macabre.

Pi is a young boy named after a French swimming pool, growing up on his parent’s zoo in Pondicherry. The times are changing and his family must relocate to Canada. As they sail the waters reluctantly to their new life, the ship inexplicably sinks and Pi finds himself orphaned, the lone survivor on a life boat upon which dwell a zebra with a broken leg, a wise, mournful orang-utan and a hysterical hyena. Nature, the unstoppable force that it is, abounds even on the small life boat, and Pi soon finds himself alone with just a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker for company.

As they flounder in the waters, Pi learns to navigate the waves, fish and keep himself mentally amused and physically alert through a process of trial and error and survival provisions.  He segregates himself from Richard, initially fearful and mistrusting of him, but the two form a bond and although Pi is never able to tame the wild beast, he is able to train and utilise him so that they are both able to survive together on the boat.

Pi acknowledges that Richard brings out the best in him. His fear of him keeps him alert and tenacious whilst the small duties of care he must undertake to keep Richard alive enthuse him with purpose which gives his otherwise listless days meaning.

Pi and Richard find themselves on a beautiful island which nourishes them by day but turns carnivorous at night. Understanding that they are unable to dwell on the island eternally for fear of what would become of them, Pi returns to the waters. When he finally returns to dry land, Richard leaves him, and Pi finds himself returned to civilisation.

Years later, as Pi tells his tale to an aspiring, but stifled novelist, he tells a second version of the tale. This one rebuffs the idea of surviving animals and mysterious, uncharted islands, and instead tells a tale of barbarism, murder and cannibalism out on the open waters, with the animals stepping in to depict their human counterparts in the initial tale. In this tale, there is no tiger. Instead Richard Parker is the animalistic id of Pi himself, who must do whatever necessary to survive. As Pi admits, hunger (or any primal urge) when unsatisfied, brings out the monstrosities within a man and tempts him to perform acts and deeds that he would find hard to align with his moral, civilised self.

Pi explains that it is up to the author (and the audience) to decide for themselves which story they prefer, and also which story they believe, indicating that preference and belief are not one and the same. The author was told that Pi’s story could help him believe in God, but Pi dismisses this.

The telling of the two stories, one hopeful, near implausible but fantastic, and the other horrifying, bleak and nihilistic can be representative of many things but primarily they represent a man living with religion, and a man living without religion.

Beyond the stunning CGI, and the worthwhile 3D effects (some films are made for 3D and this is one of them), there is a powerful juxtaposition of how humanity perceives the world around it.

Are we here because of a divine, magical, almost unbelievable miracle that makes anything possible? Or do we attribute stories and imagery to a hostile, nasty world in an attempt to survive its nonsensical cruelty?

Whichever story you believe, this is a film that will have you running around with questions, and a mind littered with symbols, themes, images and interpretations, desperate for answers.

In my opinion this film is a work of genius for its interpretation of a story that succinctly and intelligently at its heart depicts mans relentless confusion at his own existence and the myriad of explanations, beliefs and faiths we have encountered or invented in order to make life and the sufferings we endure bearable.

Please keep an eye out for my more in depth review of this film.

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.’
I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

This is a story about a Hobbit, a homely, earthy creature who dwells in the sanctuary of the ground, enjoys his comforts and dislikes anything unexpected or unpredictable, particularly adventures.

The prelude to The Lord of the Rings trilogy enchanted and enlivened children and adults alike with its wholesome telling of a shy, stubborn protagonist (Bilbo Baggins) discovering his curiosity and courage, to break the shackles and security of the cosy humdrum and embark upon a path of potential danger and certain enterprise. He is to be transformed from homebody to burglar, accompanying a party of dwarves to reclaim their homeland and defeat the dragon Smaug, who guards their treasure.

It is this humble tale about an everyday hobbit that fortifies readers with a sense of bravery, purpose, courage, passion and strength, and it is this potent and powerful message, invigorating every page, which has now been translated onto the big screen by Peter Jackson.

Jackson has a wonderful way of capturing the world of the book – the aesthetic of a magic, forgotten era of community, plush abundance and perils, a world where enlightened elves, obnoxious orcs, wise wizards and dangerous dragons roam. Tolkien’s imagination reaches a crescendo with Jackson’s technological wizardry to breathe life into the dreamy, surreal Shire, the foreboding forests and the grim, sinister caves.

As a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings series, The Hobbit was most certainly lacking in certain areas. The sense of scope and magnanimity is lacking here, perhaps because of the nature and scale of this more intimate tale. The characters are not as instantaneously likeable as Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn et al. Rather than a Fellowship of different, unique characters, we are now faced with a troupe of dwarves who are similarly named and for the most part, similarly natured. They are neither as distinct nor as fleshed out as their LOTR counterparts.

Forever distinguished is Gandalf (the wonderful Ian McKellen) who is more frivolous and carefree this time around as the rebellious, lone-wolf wizard who has an uncanny knack for sweeping others up in his adventures. Elegant and etherereal as always, although somewhat unnecessary to the plot is Lady Galadrial, portrayed by the serene Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving lends tremendous placid presence to Elrond’s return, and Andy Serkis once again makes a remarkable return as the gruesome Gollum – a creature equal parts pitiable and terrifying, and hypnotic in his match of wits with Bilbo during the riddles game (I was just happy I managed to guess a few!).  The stealer of the scenes is Martin Freeman, who captures Bilbo’s tweakes, twinges and eccentricieis perfectly, particularly his indecision, painstaking deliberation and the slow unfurling of the heroism within, perfectly personified by Ian Holm as the older Bilbo. Freeman proves himself a quick study when it comes to picking up the breadcrumbs lain by Holm and becoming his younger self.

This film is abundant with CGI, but the majority of it looks somewhat cheaper and lazier than that used in LOTR. Perhaps Jackson was using an alternate company or had to make savings somewhere, but the CGI tends to look a little obvious and deviates somewhat from the charisma of the story. Another thing I found lacking was the emotive, rousing score of the LOTR trilogy, which here is an echo of that. Despite the hodgepodge of characters, the at times gimmicky effects and the pacing of the story, which tends to languor lingeringly on unbearably at times without the aura or presence of leading characters, this is a film well worth watching for the simple fact that it is a moral story of the importance of being brave, loyal and true and because it encourages the most stodgy, stoic individual to have adventures and the most hopeless individual to have faith in the world, and in themselves and the most greedy, materialistic amongst us, to strive for selflessness and freedom. These messages are as essential and necessary today as they ever were and Tolkien fans will want to see how this one translates onto the big screen.

Tolkien’s stories have a way of making you want to jump up out of your chair and go on an adventure, infused as you are with his fairy tales, mythology and indomitable faith in the human spirit. So why do we like his stories so much? Why do they live on? Maybe because in a world of cars, he shows us a world of horses and eagles, in a world of cities, he shows us a world of remarkable palaces and rural retreats and in a world of separation and consumerism, he shows us friendship and generosity.

The name Bond, James Bond is synonymous with certain things; scandal, sex, chases and gadgets. The Bond franchise prides itself on delivering a certain style of sophisticated stealthy silliness, enthralling us with a world of high energy, high glamour and deadly danger.

Hanging on to the coattails of the grandeur of the Empire, Bond represents the best of Britishness; reserve, elegance, grandeur, patriotism and pride. The popularity of the franchise is perhaps in part due to a much exaggerated sense of what it means to be British in a climate that is somewhat confused and scattered. There is no singular British identity but Bond embodies the sensationalised stereotypes of the idealised British gentleman; somewhat aloof, indebted to his country and thoroughly dependable in a crisis.

I have to confess that I am not a connoisseur of this world. Although I was a massive fan of GoldenEye, I have not seen many other Bond films and so my appreciation of this film stems from digesting it as a singular entity, rather than in comparison to its predecessors.

Daniel Craig brings a steely, stone cold, sinister cynicism to James; efficient and machine like, he is now teetering on the precipice of alcoholism, fatigue and apathy. He is a broken Bond, but the threat now is potentially higher than ever, as an unknown villain with anonymised connections to M is blackmailing her through technology – a medium that has high jacked the modern world and threatened to steal the stealth from the shadows.

This Bond is an interesting mix of the old, ancient Britain and the modern technology immersed society we live in. Is there a place for spies, secrecy and subtlety in the world of Facebook, twitter and YouTube? This is a world with which M is at odds, and a world where indeed a film that focuses on the nature of being unknown and anonymous must struggle to catch up with the impossibilities of achieving this today.

This is also a film about M, rather than Bond, who has always operated as a cold, unknowable figure. M could stand for mother, matriarch, and monarch, elevated as she is, but never warm. She is the mother figure for James, an orphan, and presumably for many other agents as well. In this film, we get to see more of her warmth and humanity and gain a greater understanding of some of her flaws and weaknesses.

In fact, I found the Oedipal context of this film very intriguing, for this is a film about mommy issues, about abandonment, disappointment, fear, remorse, the hunger for approval and redemption, a film about how the stifled secrets of our past are inescapable and like coiled snakes, are always ready to spring upon us once more in the calm terrain of our futures. We get to explore M’s relationship to her agents and the cutthroat nature of their existence. Bond and M develop more of a dysfunctional mother-son relationship in this film, which reaches its grand crescendo at Skyfall itself, the film’s title and theme song, crooned by the British success story of the past few years Adele.

Daniel Craig won me over with his ‘cold fish’ approach to Bond, whilst Judi Dench is always enigmatic as M. Of course we cannot discuss a Bond movie without mentioning the villain of the piece, Mr Silva, played by Javier Bardem who lends an eccentric, camp tone to this over the top former agent with more mummy issues that the whole world of psychology could possibly be prepared for. Bond Girl Bérénice Lim Marlohe, who describes her character as ‘half dragon, half panther’ sizzles as the spectacular Sévérine. Without spoiling the treatment of her character in this film, Bond girls have always harked back to an age of sexism, objectification, impossible glamour, sultry sex, eye candy and trophies for the male characters of the film, and it is most certainly what we have come to expect of Bond, but the disposable nature of her character sat uneasily with me and didn’t seem to be moving the female role within this type of movie forward with the times. Naomie Harris also makes an appearance in a few, cobbled together scenes and despite my initial resistance, she did grow on me.

If you come to Bond for the style, beauty and soundtrack, you won’t be disappointed here. To celebrate Bond’s 50th anniversary we have a beautiful, slick film which will deliver all the chases, anticipation and raunch of its predecessors with a delicate layering of humanity added to this fast paced world of danger and desire.

Deepak Chopra focuses on the mind/body connection; the idea that the mind and body can work together to create optimum health or perilous disease and that by utilizing the forces of both, one can remain youthful, energetic and happy. Chopra declares that health is our natural state of being, but that many of us have lost sight of the importance of keeping ourselves well both physically, and spiritually.

Chopra initiates his work by focusing on the common ailments that he encounters daily. These include cancer, addictions, obesity, chronic fatigue, depression and sexual inadequacy. Though many of these ailments have probably existed since the dawn of time, Chopra explains that our modern day lifestyles, though advanced and evolved, have detached us from our animalistic, intuitive understanding of our well being. A world of immediate gratification and hedonism means that we can indulge ourselves in various bad habits, which in turn for many become addictions or ways of being, rather than pleasurable recreational escapes.

He then explores various case histories, which illustrates the mind/body connection in becoming well, including patients that have given up mentally (and so have their bodies) and others who have decided to fight and miraculously recovered.

Finally, he explains how all of us can create our own well of free-flowing health by incorporating certain strategies into our behaviour.

Many self-help/health books tend to focus on the same factors, but perhaps this is because, like clichéd lines, they are echoed because of the truth they contain. Their repetition is merely a matter of us allowing them to be engrained within our consciousness so that we may alter our own behaviours.

He stresses the importance of awareness of the self, focusing on the positives that we wish to bring into our life’s and not concentrating so much on the ‘tigers’ of depression or anxiety, which will consequently melt away like snow in the sun if we do not obsess about them. The common mantra is ‘what we resist persists’ perhaps until we learn the lesson it is willing to teach us. As such, we cannot resist the parts of us that we dislike. We can only accept them and work on our positives, so that our negatives do not hold so much sway over us.

He moves onto living in the present, without lamenting the past or ruminating over our futures, paying attention to how and where we seek to gratify our egos, gaining job satisfaction (perhaps harder to achieve in today’s economic climate), nourishing our bodies with healthy, delicious diets, paying attention to nature and the bodies conjoined rhythms, approaching life with an open mind, retaining a sense of wonder and belief, living with compassion and generating love.

It is clear that many people naturally operate from a place of openness and trust, particularly when they are raised with love and care. As we grow and endure disappointments, disillusionments, betrayals and hurts, we slowly clam up and close. We aren’t always so willing to give love, nor are we always willing to receive it. We perceive treachery and pain around us and question the intentions and motivations of others. We start to see kindness as weakness, generosity as submission, honesty as foolishness and so on, when really we know that the greatest sense of liberation and transcendence can only come from embracing these qualities and doing away with our sharp and pointy defences, that only seek to make enemies out of potential friends and con-men out of benefactors.

You may be familiar with the ‘law/power of attraction’, the idea that what we give out is what we get back. Chopra expands on this explaining that people that want love should give love first, people that want praise should praise others first, and this will naturally come back on us. The world is a place of abundance simply waiting for us to participate and claim what is rightfully ours. Everyone knows someone who is so positive, generous, compassionate, powerful or calm that others flock to their magnetic appeal, whilst others repel with their sense of entitlement, bitterness, fear, insecurity or anger. It is no coincidence that the healthy attract the healthy and the unhealthy attract the unhealthy, even if their problems are very different. A co-dependent woman may end up with a controlling partner. Both are sick, just in different ways. Their sickness is what draws them to one another. We can change what we attract by concentrating on what we consciously or unconsciously give out to others, and by how we respond.

It may not be easy to incorporate all of these teachings without feeling like you are lowering your defences somewhat, but a person can still operate with boundaries and walk away from any situation or individual that threatens to damage their physical/mental health in any way.

The lessons seem simple, but are much harder to actively do. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but find Chopra’s thoughts very inspirational and I endeavour to develop these strategies myself.

I’ve recently decided that I am going to create a bucket list. I might keep it personal, or I might put it on my blog (it might be more exciting to make it interactive!). To motivate myself, I’ve decided to write a list of certain things that I can cross off the bucket list before officially ever starting it…because they’ve already happened. I don’t know what more incentive you can have to continue than to see where you’ve been. Some are small and some are more meaningful. It would be great to see what personal dreams, wishes or aspirations you have crossed off of your own bucket list 🙂

  • ·        Have a spontaneous kiss with a stranger
  • ·        Lie in a hammock and watch the stars with someone special
  • ·        Volunteer with elephants in Thailand
  • ·        Take a flight on my own
  • ·        Return to Thailand spontaneously
  • ·        Ride a banana boat
  • ·        Ride on the back of a motorbike
  • ·        Kiss a dolphin
  • ·        Swim with dolphins
  • ·        Swim with whale sharks
  • ·        Go camping
  • ·        Listen to people sing and play music around a campfire
  • ·        Sneak out
  • ·        Drive a speed boat
  • ·        Go paragliding
  • ·        Go jet skiing
  • ·        Swim in a lake with an elephant
  • ·        Groom a gibbon
  • ·        Visit Chichen Itza
  • ·        Climb Koba
  • ·        Ride a camel on the beach
  • ·        Jump into a hot tub fully clothed
  • ·        Visit Venice
  • ·        Ride a gondola
  • ·        Find the beach from ‘Death in Venice’
  • ·        Visit Paris
  • ·        Watch the fireworks from the Eiffel tower
  • ·        Visit my relatives in France
  • ·        See a KPOP concert
  • ·        Get my bully button pierced
  • ·        Get three piercings in each ear
  • ·        Get a pinna ear piercing in each ear (okay….so one of them closed)
  • ·        Start photographing the moon
  • ·        Visit Disneyworld
  • ·        Visit Harry Potter World
  • ·        Visit the medina in Marrakech
  • ·        Swim in a cenote
  • ·        Be involved in a protest
  • ·        Start a blog
  • ·        Have a professional massage
  • ·        Take a massage class
  • ·        Buy a round the world ticket
  • ·        Submit poetry to an official competition
  • ·        Have my first bynote
  • ·        Start a novel
  • ·        Start meditating
  • ·        Study English Comparative Literature at University
  • ·        Fall in love
  • ·        Fall in love…again

I hope to be able to cross off a few more in the coming year! Feel free to share your own bucket list successes and future wishes! We often forget how many amazing things we have already seen, experienced and achieved, whilst we whittle away the time trying to cultivate more!

Queen Ravenna: Men use women. They ruin us and when they are finished with us they toss us to the dogs like scraps.

Fairy tales are renowned for their ability to capture timeless truths for younger generations to enjoy. Snow White reveals the power of youth and purity and the envy it can evoke in others. Beauty and youth are blooms that reach their potent peak and then slowly begin to diminish, leaving the individual once in possession of their power, wearied and frustrated at nature’s fickle transience. This message seems even more meaningful today, in a world only growing increasingly enamoured with what it means to be young and beautiful and ever fatigued, even disgusted, with what it means to grow old.

The controversy surrounding Kristen Stewart’s affair with married director Rupert Sanders has eclipsed any attention the movie itself may be able to generate, as well as shattered the fantasies of Twilight fans everywhere but it’s still worth taking a look at Sanders retelling of a much loved story.

Kristen Stewart, fresh off the back of her fame as Bella Swan is endowed with an accessible girl-next-door type of pretty, and although she’s not ruby red lipped or raven haired, she does have the pale cream like complexion expected of Snow White. Charlize Theron abandons her leonine, gregarious nature to envelope herself in regal, detached, self-centred, icicle eyed beauty Queen Ravenna (like name, like nature – quite literally ravenous to consume the hearts of beauteous maidens to endow herself with their vitality). Chris Hemsworth (yes, I call him Thor too) is the solid, handsome, Neanderthal huntsman-cum-protector.

This film is visually striking, merging stark, bleak landscapes (like the woods) with fantastical, magical backdrops (like the fairies sanctuary). The language itself is poetic, simple but mesmerising, but unfortunately the film itself is forgettable. This is what I would refer to as ‘dark-lite’ storytelling; the film does centre on the darker nuances of the story, but this is ‘dark’ of the Twilight, teenage variety. Charlize is sumptuous as the beauty-mad Queen (although her accent can be a little slack at times) and the interpretation of her magic mirror is unique as is the all-female village where mothers have disfigured themselves to escape the wrath of the Queen, but the dwarves themselves (a hodgepodge of famous names including Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone and Nick Frost) lack the all-consuming personality you might have expected.

All in all, this is an enjoyable movie and worth watching if you keep your expectations low and lose yourself in the visual imagery and the struggle for the only power many women recognise: the ability that their beauty and sexuality has to divide nations, drive men to war and cause many to lose their minds.

To revive my seldom used Media Studies skills I have decided to add a new section to my blog entitled: Mise-en-scene, to unravel what particular shots within various movies, in this case ‘The Virgin Suicides’ reveal about the characters, the tone of the film and its implications. Please do not read if you do not want the film spoilt for you!

Cecilia in the tree

Cecilia, the youngest of the Lisbon sisters, is depicted as a melancholy malcontent.  She is the first of the sisters to feel deeply discontent with life and ends up committing suicide. After her death, Cecilia haunts the sisters as well as the neighbourhood boys who revered them. The film juxtaposes the childlike fantasies of the girls with their deadening home life. The girls are constantly projecting themselves elsewhere; in dreams, costumes, photographs and in nature.

Here Cecilia is positioned on a tree. She is wearing white which represents purity and innocence but the adorning of her arm with a bracelet and her pose indicate that she is aware of her impending womanhood and all the implications this entails. She is looking upward, as if to suggest that even if this picturesque natural surrounding she is still restless. Her expression is wistful but also slightly bored, as if she is wishing to be somewhere else, but also understands that nowhere can fulfil her. The elm tree she rests on is dying which represents Cecilia’s own longing for, and eventual demise. Cecilia is part of the tree; part of its nature, its poison and its death. Cecilia almost looks like an angel, a bride for God, looking to heaven, bored and unsatisfied with life, and ready to depart. Cecilia is literally embracing her own death.

Cecilia’s bracelets

The focus on the film is the death of childhood as we transition into adolescence. For the girls this death is also literal. Here Cecilia sits with her arms bandaged but she has also adorned her wrists with colourful bracelets. The juxtaposition with beauty and pain in the film is almost masochistic. The girls physically, visibly suffer behind the beauty of their belongings and paraphanaelia. Their suffering, which is represented physically by her self-harm, is literally hidden by the adorning of jewellery. She is bound and contained by her suffering. She is not able or free to express it openly. Notice the position of her hands, as if she were there to catch water, only her hands are closed. The colours are muted, soft and feminine – a stark contrast to red blood, further showing the subduing of Cecilia’s despair. Her suffering is literally contained, stifled, repressed and decorated, displayed to the world as a childish error rather than a cry for help.


Here, Lux, Bonnie, Mary and Therese embrace and comfort one another. The girls are in transition between girlhood and womanhood, a time that is a blur for many culturally and socially. There is no clear definition of when a girl ceases to be a girl and is now a woman. The paraphernalia surrounding the girls echoes childhood: the pinks and the teddy bear on the floor. Lux and Bonnie specifically seek the comfort of their eldest sister Mary, like children, nestling into her. Mary has a knowing and maternal look on her face. Therese in particular is cast aside from the girls, draped suggestively in white like a sacrificial virgin, looking submissive and alert. She is ‘apart’ from the others; she is neither childlike nor maternal. The girls represent three particular states of women: the child, the mother and the whore. This represents the confusion the girls feel about their identities as women in terms of how they see themselves and how they are seen by others.

Lux, the car and the cigarette

Lux is the last sister to kill herself. In this scene she is found by police whilst a police car and ambulance waits outside. Lux has made the transition from girl to woman. She is in the front seat of the car (possibly the driver’s seat) indicating that she is in charge and has made her own decision. She is clutching a cigarette in a limp hand which is indicative both of the poison in her own nature and the ‘maturity’ of her character. It is also an allude to her method of choice for suicide. Lux is happy to play at being a woman in terms of her promiscuity, but she doesn’t feel truly like a woman, as is evident in her boredom, her whimsy and escapism. The pose of the arm is almost suggestive and sexual, as if she is a grown woman soliciting attention.  Lux has been in the dark of the garage but the policeman (male figures) have opened the garage door and allowed light to enter. This might be indicative of Lux’s own awakening as a result of the loss of her virginity to trip, revealing to her another world which her parents refuse to let her into. She has been shut into her childhood, but eventually the light of adulthood will be let in.

Angels on the stairs

The Lisbon sisters are often depicted as unattainable, asexual and angelic. The boys revere and fantasize about them. They voyeuristically follow the girls, but they never know them. As such, the girls appear aloof, superficial and mysterious. This enables the boy’s fantasies of them to continue. To truly know them might dampen and damage their heightened perception of what the girls are. Here the girls are depicted before their prom standing on their stair way, like angels in heaven. This is exemplified by the sole use of the colour white. The dark rail alludes to the knowing nature that the girls cling to, the one link that binds them and also cements the idea that the girls have embraced death. The girls are not sexualised in this image. They are modestly dressed and appear virginal. Lux is placed at the highest point of the staircase as she is the girl most admired and adored by the neighbourhood boys. Interestingly, ‘Lux’ is Latin for ‘light’.

Cecilia in the bathtub

Cecilia appears dead, but she has slit her wrists and is lying in the bathtub. She looks tranquil, serene and accepting. The film often depicts life as misery and status and death as peace and freedom. Her gaze is fixed upwards as if she has found what she has been looking for. There is still a slight look of boredom on Cecilia’s face. This is typical of Cecilia, who is a fantasist but is essentially never pleased for very long. She looks like Ophelia, her hair splayed out around her. The blood in the bath is muted and almost pink and also signified the onset of Cecilia’s maturation. The light around her face is a blue white indicating purity but also coldness. The girls have always been seen as beautiful but unattainable. They are shiny veneers, but nobody has stopped to truly understand them.

Surrounding the tree

This picture is very telling. Again, the sisters look virginal, angelic and modest. They have shackled themselves to one of the local elm trees, which is due to be destroyed as it is contaminated. The girls feel a connection to the trees because they represent the girls own acceptance of and longing for death. The community wants to destroy the trees because they are sick and dying. They do not want the trees to contaminate the neighbourhood. What they do not understand is that the society inhabiting the neighbourhood is also sick. The girls realise this and are not afraid of death, unlike the neighbourhood, who would rather remove the trees than deal with the natural process of their demise.

Lux on the football field

Shortly after Lux loses her virginity to Trip after the prom, he abandons her on the football field. He later explains that he truly cared for Lux, but at that precise moment could not stand to be around her. He regrets that he was never able to tell her how he felt. The colours used are white, pink and blue. The colours are very muted as dawn emerges. Lux has woken up a new woman. She is literally no longer a child, in body or in mind. She has had her first experience of sex, disappointment and betrayal. This cements her own understanding life as a contaminated thing. She is lying on deadened grass on the football field (the traditional domain of men). She is still wearing her prom dress with the flower pinned to it. She is turning away from the camera, wistfully looking upward. The tone of the picture is melancholic. Lux looks vulnerable but also liberated. She has learnt that their love is crueller and colder than she expected. She now understands what her parents tried to shield her from, as much as she resents it. She is wizened by her first experience of love, betrayal and abandonment. Lux perhaps has a different incentive to the other sisters for suicide; she has learnt that she will be perceived as a fantasy object or as a sexual plaything; either the Madonna or the whore. As she does not see herself is either, she is forced instead to reject these inferences, removing herself altogether.

First love

Before Lux is betrayed by Trip, the two look like a fairytale couple. Lux is again looking upward, but this time not to the heavens, but into Trip’s eyes. Lux is dressed in white (again, virginal and innocent) and Trip in black symbolising experience but also corruption (his own corruption and his ‘corruption of Lux’). Again Lux means light, and Trip is the dark force that impedes her childlike existence and shows her the world she and her sisters are being protected from. We can visibly see Lux, after all, we are always voyeurs to the sister’s story, but Trip is hidden from us; unknown, deceptive and shady. The background is muted white and blue, looking like a starry night, but also warning us of the unhappy ending to the couple’s puppy love.


Death in this film is always shown as an escape or as something to be celebrated. Here Bonnie hangs herself, but she is dressed for the occasion and the room is strewn with party items, indicating that her death is more of a party than a tragedy. Of course, the imagery clashes horrifically with the family’s loss of their five beautiful daughters, but for the girls themselves, this was a premeditated plan with the intention to be liberated from the shackles of their family, religion and the expectations they have been entrenched in since birth.

Dreaming of Lux

Here, Lux is remembered by the neighbourhood boys. She and her sisters are immortalised by them. Lux is still depicted as an angelic thing, breaking through the summer sky amidst the puffy white clouds. She winks at the boys suggestively and teasingly. It is this contrast of innocence with maturity that the girls come to represent as if they know secrets that no-one else does. The faded essence of Lux implies that she is a memory, a fantasy – not a flesh and blood thing, and that the whole thing has always been a game.

Lux and the unicorn

The boys remember the girls through a filter. They envision them as fairytale things, similar to unicorns, the girls that the boys want can never really exist. Here Lux is faded again (she is still a dream/fantasy) and she is suggestively dressed. She represents joy, freedom and virility. This is the Lux that Lux wants to be (free) but also the Lux that the boys want (an intriguing mixture of innocent and sexual). She is mythologized beside the unicorn indicating the impossibility and naivety of their desire for her to be what they want. Lux can never be their fantasy thing. In death, she has become cemented as an idealised creation always available to them in their dreams. The sisters are as much an escape for the boys, as death is for the girls.

Girlhood items

Tellingly the girl’s belongings represent a clash of religious imagery and beauty products. The crucifix is pronounced and hangs over a perfume bottle like a noose representing the girl’s suffocation and guilt at being women. The items are chaotic and cluttered. Most of the items are coloured white and blue for purity, but the red nail varnish and amber bottles indicate a more sexual and attention seeking element. The products represent awareness of femininity, beauty and sexual appeal (highlighted further by the freedom represented by the birds) stifled or repressed by the religious icons, which evoke a sense of confusion and sin.

Cecilia’s diary

The boys know the girls through Cecilia’s diary entries. They imagine her writing in a cornfield. Cecilia embodies escape and a desire for freedom. She is not enamoured with the physical world. Cecilia is often perceived in nature where she can be a natural thing, and not a construct. The golden colour highlights the sense of fantasy and nostalgia surrounding her.

Sickness, anyone?

Green desserts and a green camera hue represent society’s sickness. The film focuses on the obsession with happiness at all costs and the inability to understand misery and mental illness. The green colour is a stark contrast to the earlier peaceful hues used, indicating that the neighbourhood is growing sicker, the contamination is here to stay and society is gorging itself on sickness.

Finger in the water

One of the girls has thrust her finger into a small tank of water, possibly housing sea monkeys. The hand itself is adorned with a ring, almost as if the child is a bride. The book below the tank reads ‘Sacred will of sacrifice’. The girl’s death is a preservation of themselves; their innocence, beauty and youth. Water is often associated with the unconscious and with femininity. The link between the girl and the world beneath the water suggests an understanding of her own subconscious mind (at the very bottom the need for sacrifice) and an acceptance of this, on her own terms. It also represents the effect of a penetrating outside force shifting the dynamic of a self-contained world. The girls own external experiences cause them to feel desperately unhappy in the stifling stasis of their childhood home.

I had never heard of Rose Hip oil until I heard my favourite super model (Miranda Kerr) proclaim that she used it every day. For those that are not familiar with Miranda, she has the sort of dewy, raindrop-splashed skin usually only exhibited by babies and goddesses. Other than sounding deliciously dainty, this product is a skin saviour.

If you Google Rose Hip oil you will be presented with a lot of relatively expensive, high end brands, and this initially put me off. I didn’t want to spend close to £20 on one small bottle of Miranda Kerr’s secret beauty miracle. If you browse a little more thoroughly however, you will find some very competitively priced Rose Hip oils minus the frilly bottles and fancy names, that do the job equally well I’m sure. I located one of these bottles, read the reviews and ordered myself one.

I have now been using my product for a week and before I talk about the benefits and effects on my skin, I should probably talk about my skin type. I have naturally quite oily, sensitive skin and some scarring from some pesky, persistent spots. All in all, I feel a lot better when I can put a little foundation on.

I am reluctant to call any product a ‘miracle’ but for me, this really was. You are advised to use 2-3 drops of Rose Hip oil in the morning and at night, but as a heavy handed consumer and connoisseur of all things, I used 2-3 drops more. The oil is very soft and pleasantly scented and it rubs easily into the face. It brightens and smooth’s the complexion instantly giving it a radiating sheen. It works brilliantly as a moisturiser and leaves your skin feeling fantastically soft. I was slightly concerned that using oil on my naturally oily skin would turn me into something we were likely to go to war over in the Middle East, but it actually seemed to balance my skin somehow, lapping up my gross oil and leaving me looking hydrated and bright. My scarring is still apparent but is definitely less visible than before and I notice I’m using a lot less make-up to cover up any imperfections and my break outs have diminished greatly (although my break outs are more hormonal in nature so I’m sure that won’t be the last of them!).

Rose Hip oil is the champion of dry skin, surface scarring, fine lines and wrinkles. It’s a really gentle, light oil with an instantaneous effect. It’s so gentle that it didn’t even agitate my eyes as most products usually do.

Use morning and night (2-3 drops) and gentle massage into your skin in circular upward motions. No skincare product is ever guaranteed so use a little and watch for how your skin reacts. If your skin breaks out or looks excessively shiny, either tone down how much you use or consider switching to a different product. I have heard that many people mix a little oil into their usual cream moisturiser rather than applying it directly to the skin.

When purchasing Rose Hip Oil:

  • Don’t worry about purchasing expensive, branded products. You can purchase Rose Hip oil for much cheaper if you look online. You could try ‘The Little Green Nursery’ website, Amazon or EBay for cheaper products.
  • Most sites advise against using on ‘live acne’ or spots, but I haven’t noticed a problem with this personally and use the oil all over.
  • You can apply a small amount to the eye area as it does not agitate.
  • A little goes a long way! You don’t need to overuse this product.
  • Rose Hip oil should come in a dark bottle. This prevents the sun causing the product to become rancid. Do not purchase a product that is in a clear bottle. You want to store the product out of direct sunlight and you may wish to refrigerate it. Some women swear by storing their beauty products in the fridge.
  • You won’t notice a drastic change in your skin if you continue with skin-damaging habits. Ditch smoking, excessive drinking, poor night’s sleep, poor dietary habits and sunbathing, and you will likely notice a far greater impact!
  • Rose Hip oil can also be used on areas of skin that suffer from poor pigmentation, eczema, sun burn, stretch marks and rosacea.
  • Rose Hip oil is packed with various natural vitamins and minerals including vitamin A (retinol), vitamin C and essential fatty acids.
  • Supposedly Rose Hip oil effects are best noticed after 3 months (it’s a slow burner) but I noticed an effect far quicker than that!
  • As with all products, do your research. It is possible that some sellers are selling Rose Hip oil mixed with something else, or lacking something. Read the label to see what your product contains.
  • Not all products work the same for everyone. Buy a cheap brand first and try just a little to see if it works for you.

1.      I realised that I am a lot stronger than I ever thought I could be

Emotionally, mentally and PHYSICALLY. For me the decision to volunteer for a month was a massive leap into the unknown. It was overwhelming, surreal, transformative and incredible. I learnt that I am capable of far greater independence, resilience, courage and hard work than I previously thought possible. Long days, oppressive heat, physical labour, sleepless nights and culture shock were hard hitting for my first couple of days, but your body and mind quickly adjust to the demands.

2.       I realised that I can do something on my own

People always make a ‘big thing’ out of the person who eats alone, or goes to see a film alone.  Although you quickly make friends and bond with the people sharing the same experience as you, one of the most important things I gained from my experience was realising I could fully trust myself to do something that I really wanted to do – ALONE.

 3.       I realised I have to give myself time…

Sometimes when you leave your comfort zone, you have an instinctive urge to run straight back to it. You put one foot out the door, nod satisfactorily and shut it closed again. On my first day of volunteering, I didn’t like it. Not. One. Bit. The phrase that was floating around in my head was ‘quit or commit’. I didn’t make a rash decision to leave. I stuck with it, and after the adjustment of the first few days, I fell in love with the experience. Looking back, I realise that if I had left when I felt awkward and uncomfortable, I wouldn’t have all the pictures, memories and experiences that I came away with.

4.       You don’t need as much as you think you do

Inexperienced at launching myself into the big wide world for long durations, I packed a suitcase that could have served as a life dingy for survivors of the Titanic. I tended to wear the same clothes on repeat, barely used a hairbrush, didn’t use a hairdryer once and probably wore the same socks more times than is recommended. Outside of my torch, sun tan lotion, my mosquito spray and a toothbrush, I didn’t really ‘need’ any of my things, and after full immersion in the dirt and grime, I didn’t really miss much of it either. Cold showers refresh you quickly and certainly prevent you from languishing on ‘vanity time’.

 5.       The beauty in people is not physical

I was surrounded by people who for the most part wore not a slick of make-up, wore dirty, unfashionable clothes, were covered in cuts, grazes and mosquito bites and had the odd tick jumping to and fro, yet the people I lived and worked with here were honesty beautiful to me in their courage, commitment and compassion to the project we worked on. Stripped of anything superficial, materialistic or glamorous you see people only for who they are and what they have to offer.

6.       Nature is an amazing alarm clock

It is better waking up to the calls of gibbons, the trumpeting of elephants and the howling of territorial dogs than it is to hit ‘snooze’ on a bleating alarm clock.

7.       Very different people can unite under the umbrella of a singular cause

The people I worked with were from various countries, cultures and some spoke different languages. What we were connected by was a desire to help. Everything else falls into place.

8.       Even in a ‘good’ place, there will be ‘bad’ people

You could be staying in a nunnery and still come across someone you can’t stand. People are people wherever you go.

9.       When you live with the sun all day every day, you learn to be smart with it

Vacation sun and everyday sun are very different. You learn to cover up, keep up with the sunscreen and no, no, NO sunbathing.

10.   White is…not your colour

White clothes will end up anything but white if you insist on wearing them to clean bear enclosures, go swimming and machete banana trees.

11.   Belly button piercings will not stay in

Carrying a basket of food around all day will eventually dislodge it…and the next one…and the other one…AND that one.

12.   The only things impressed by your shiny jewellery are the gibbons, and they will try to grab it!

You don’t really need to ‘dress to impress’ anyone.

13.   Prepare for the unexpected

Sometimes good people are the targets of the very bad. Sometimes places that serve as a sanctuary are invaded by those with hostile intentions. During my stay, we were raided by the DNP (Department of National Parks) who removed 100 animals from the centre using violence, cruelty and a complete lack of professionalism or compassion. I felt it was important for me to witness this to understand firsthand the threats facing wild animals and those that try to protect them.

 14.   God/fate/guardian angels…something guides you to where you are meant to be

My desire to volunteer came from out of the blue. I typed in ‘volunteer’ and ‘elephants’ not really knowing why and having no expectations. What came out of that Google search was one of the most enriching experiences of my life.

15.   Caring for animals is a 24-7 job

Volunteers and staff care tirelessly for the animals they work with. The vets in particular dedicated uncountable hours to the treatment, rescue and care of numerous animals. Little life’s need constant maintenance and lots of consistency and routine.

16.   Your heart will get broken

You will fall in love with the animals. You will learn their stories, grow mad at what happened, and then have to leave them.  You will communicate without words, you will admire the love and patience of such animals, who after so much abuse, torture, neglect and suffering can still play and are still happy to see a human.

17.   You will learn about local life

The good, the bad, the hidden, a few odd words here and there, throw in some misunderstandings and miscommunications, maybe a romance or two, hospitality, rudeness, ‘sniff kisses’ and swear words.

18.   You will realise that home is where you are now, not where you were raised

It’s amazing how strangers can become your tribe, animals your guardians, and strange, basic bedrooms can become your sanctuary.

19.   You will start to hate their food

I was so un-infatuated with the food that I lost a stone. That should speak for itself

20.   Your feet will hate you

The only other ‘vacation’ to batter my feet so much was a shopping marathon in New York.

21.   You won’t need language to be understood

People will take an interest in you, or they won’t and if they do, you will both find your own language.

22.   Time will fly

So enjoy every moment and be open to everything that this new and strange culture can show and teach you.

23. Life goes on if you keep moving

So keep moving!



Product Purpose:

Dyed red hair unfortunately fades very quickly. They say that all good things come to an end and this striking, dynamic colour is included on that list. The pigments in red dye are larger, so it easier for them to fade quickly, leaving you less Rita Hayworth and more Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Aveda Madder Root deposits red colour back into the hair whilst conditioning, helping to ‘top up’ your red in between dying, keeping it vibrant, fresh and unmistakably red.


This product is typically priced at £20 a bottle making it a pricier option but you can also purchase it on Amazon for around £17 or slightly less.


An earthy, herby scented product which is quite subtle.


You can buy a bottle containing 250 ml of product so you can most certainly get your money’s worth out of this product. It can last an age if you use it sparingly.


Just recently I had my hair dyed a mixture of copper red and brunette. It wasn’t actually what I asked for, but when I saw myself in the mirror, the bright, vivacious colour slapped an instant smile on my face. The intensity of colour does not tend to last much further than the salon, but I have noticed definite colour deposition back into my hair. I then run Moroccan oil through my hair to add softness and moisture which will hopefully help to seal the colour in further. I also never blow dry or straighten which isn’t particularly popular these days, but keeps my hair in far healthier condition. This product is pricey but it does work and the bottle contains so much that you can definitely make use of this product for a long time. Directions advise leaving the conditioner on the hair for 3-5 minutes, but unless your hair is particularly light, I would recommend 5-10 minutes (or longer) for a deeper deposit of colour. Check for irritation on the first use (I have sensitive skin) and if you notice no problems, settle yourself in for a rewarding love affair with a hair colour that will liken you to a fox, tiger or Jessica Rabbit!


I remember growing up in the 90’s and never really appreciating Daria, which aired every Saturday on channel 5. I was drawn to the pleasing aesthetic of the show but I could never relate to this ugly, gawky outcast and besides, I didn’t find it funny and the characters voices irritated me. Perhaps I was just too young to fully appreciate her.

Recently there has been somewhat of a Daria revival on freeview channel VIVA, with Daria episodes airing left, right and centre, and this time round, I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with the show which has definitely seen Daria dragged off the mortuary slab, resuscitated and thrust back into her high school uniform to relieve those painfully awkward days.

For those that don’t know, Daria is a series following the lives of the Morgendorffer family, but particularly titular character Daria as they ride the peaks and weather the troughs of life in a new town.

Daria herself is best known for her cutting cynicism, wicked wit and sinister sarcasm. She’s not depressed and she doesn’t have low self esteem, just ‘low esteem for everyone else’. She dresses in drab fashion, clashing colours that would never work on the runway and she seems genuinely bemused and wearied by American teen life.


Little sister Quinn embodies everything that Daria despises about the teenage experience. She’s pretty, popular and perky, a real life Jessica Rabbit, and an odd mixture of doe-eyed Lolita like sexuality and padlocked celibacy with a love of everything bright, shiny and fashionable and a dislike of anything hot, sweaty and dirty. Quinn does indeed have all the depth of a puddle but she still manages to be quite a mesmerizing character. She personifies young newly awakened sexuality that parades but doesn’t really understand itself yet, immaturely beautiful, understanding the effects of her looks but not the responsibilities they entail.

Dad Jake is the little boy who never grew up, and constantly berates himself for selling out and following the conventional norms of society and wife Helen is the businesswoman-cum-mother who tries to excel at it all whilst wearing her perfectly preened suit.

Outside of the intriguing family dynamic and clash of characters are the students of Lawndale high who encapsulate the little world that Daria and Quinn are propelled into. For Daria, this world consists of equally outcast artist Jane (famous for her red jacket, short black hair and witty quips), her brother Trent (a guy who may or may not have finished high school who now spends his time playing in a band called Mystic Spiral – name liable to change, on whom Daria develops the crush to end all crushes and okay, I was won over by Trent myself…), students Brittany and Kevin who exemplify the cheerleader/jock archetypes and Upchuck, the resident deluded lothario with about as much charm and sex appeal as a cockroach mated with a rodent.

Quinn’s world consists of a very different set of acquaintances. Within seconds of her arrival at her new school, Quinn is snapped up by the fashion club and becomes their vice president. Sandi, Stacey and Tiffany form her image conscious gang, symbolic of everything shallow, self-conscious, materialistic and insecure about teenage girls. Indeed, this gang are a kind of pre-Mean Girls or alternate ‘Ashleys’ gang from Recess. They talk boys, eye liner and beauty products and little else. Daria and Quinn’s high school experiences are polar extremes; Daria exists on the periphery and Quinn excels in the spotlight under the glare on the precipice of popularity and obscurity.

Beyond the student body, the teachers are an equally dysfunctional bunch. Mr DeMartino can barely repress his rage at the apathy and stupidity of his students and constantly wishes he was doing something else, whilst Mr O’Neill is still in the Pollyanna mode of teaching, believing that he is making a difference with his blood curdling sensitivity and focus on esteem and emotions.

So what is it that hooked me about Daria this time around? Daria is a show that is a skilful slice of everything that the 90’s was.  Each character represents and relates to a very definite aspect of many peoples lives.

For anyone that’s ever felt isolated by their morals or intelligence, there’s Daria.

For all the ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s’ of our romantic life’s, there’s the aching, embarrassing, hormone riddled infatuation that Daria has on Trent, a crush that probably would have little basis for a long lasting relationship but is definitely relatable to every teenage girl on earth.

Quinn is the shiny, super cute queen bee who has everything, and shows moments of maturation and growth beyond her desperate desire to fit in, acknowledging that everyone has something that they are good at, and for her, it’s being popular.

The fashion club represent herd mentality to hilarious effect, Jane represents alternate living, and Trent personifies the lazy but contradictorily ambitious attitude of a slacker with dreams.

Helen and Jake represent the power house matriarch and the coddled, ineffectual father becoming increasingly prevalent and I’ve never seen a better example of a teacher who just doesn’t give a rat’s ass (that would be Mr D.)

Daria is a brilliantly clever take on 90’s life seen through the eyes of a disillusioned teenage girl who can see through the fluff and pretence of cute clothes and bouncy hair, but what’s most important about this show is its heart. If it were made today, Daria would be portrayed as vivid and beautiful, and wholly unrelatable as an outcast loser ‘brain’. Instead, we can relate to Daria’s reluctance to fit in, her ability to soar above the average teenage issues (like getting a nose job or updating your wardrobe) and her awareness of the fact that there is more to life than high school. In this way, Daria is a role model for any outcast girl, or indeed, all outcasts, to escape from their petty problems and realise that Daria has been there and done that already. Daria doesn’t get the guy (Trent is always just a ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ crush, she  is never popular and she never manages to achieve bouncy hair) , but she does survive high school, and she does so by never sacrificing who she is, and that is all any of us can really ask for.

Seth MacFarlane is the marmite of the comedy world, segregating audiences between a tidal wave of love and loathe. I am both a fan of ‘Family Guy’ and ‘American Dad’ but I just could not bring myself to enjoy Ted as much as was intended.

The plot centres on man child John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), who as a boy, wished that his toy teddy bear would come to life and be his best friend forever. He makes the right wish on the right night and Ted springs to life comforting him on thunder filled nights. Fast forward a good few years, bypassing a blip of 15 minutes of fame for the bear that can speak and it seems that Ted is everything deplorable in a human being deposited into the sweet, enchanting exterior of a toy bear.

Perhaps this is the fundamental flaw with the character of Ted. He is simply unlikeable. He drinks, does copious amounts of drugs (he settles on ‘Mind rape’ after debating ‘Gorilla Panic’ and ‘This is permanent’), uses vegetables to penetrate hookers, is unemployed and throws the F bomb around at an explosive rate. Ted is essentially a 15 year old, responsibility free Peter Griffin, and not just in terms of the voice which is UNMISTAKEABLY Griffin, but the demeanour, the behaviour and the hostility. Ted’s sweet features and sentimental back-story don’t do much to deter us from the fact that is a rather repugnant character. Perhaps it is simply that I’ve outgrown McFarlane’s humour, or perhaps it’s that ‘Ted’ is too much like Griffin to be appreciated as a truly unique, one off character.

There is a certain audience that would gravitate to Ted. This would be the same audience that appreciates Stifler or Mary styling her hair with ‘hair gel’. It’s not an immature or unrefined audience. Most of us have a space or two in our bellies for a bit of toilet humour, but when the entire character is constructed around such gags with little to no redeeming qualities, the character becomes hard to stomach. The character of Ted is 98% jokes with only a 20-30% laughter success rate. In fact much of the humour was generated by other characters, rather than Ted himself, and he worked best with the odd quip or one liner, rather than any lengthy conversational exchange.

John and Ted’s friendship is one of debauchery, co-dependency and fun. Ted is John’s security blanket from his childhood but also a representation of simpler, happier times. Their friendship is dysfunctional but real and clearly of much importance and value to both. Two may be company but three is most definitely a crowd, enter John’s girlfriend Lori (panther like Mila Kunis), who wishes for a more mature relationship with John which is hindered by Ted’s predominance in John’s life. Whilst John dithers between his future with his girlfriend and the past cultivated between himself and Ted, father and son duo Donny and Robert would very much appreciate taking Ted off of his hands!

Ted is a mixture of humour and fantasy but don’t be fooled, this is primarily a romantic comedy with a wise cracking talking teddy bear thrown in.

The crux of Ted seems to be a man’s choice between childhood and manhood. Ted represents John’s ties to his former self and Lori represents the potential of his adult future. But does he really have to lose one to have the other? Or can a man’s inner child survive alongside his enlightened mature self? This is the classic ‘bros before hoes’ tale; should John choose Ted or Lori? His best bud or the love of his life? Does he have to choose at all?

Some of the jokes are pure and simple hilarity, as if ‘Family Guy’ animations were transported into the real world. There were moments that made me explode with demonic laughter, but for the most part the film falls flat and fails to live up to its immense potential. It could be that McFarlane has been heavily censored or perhaps it was his intention to deviate slightly from the controversial foundations of ‘Family Guy’ to breach a wider audience. Either way, something fundamental is missing and heavy segments of ‘Ted’ simply sag.

Mark, Seth and Mila fulfil what’s required of them, but the sneaky scene stealers are the bit parts. I can’t help but think that if their roles were elevated, the film might have drawn a few more laughs from me. Giovanni Ribisi is creepier than a creeky staircase as crazed fan-boy father Donny whilst his Susan Boyle lookalike son Robert portrayed by Aedin Mincks is the Veruca Salt of this story; spoilt and deplorable. There is a lengthy cameo appearance from ‘Flash Gordon’ front man Sam J. Jones and a cameo from Norah Jones that made little to no sense to me whatsoever. But for me the hugest accolade belongs to Patrick Warburton who famously voices Joe Swanson of ‘Family Guy’ as the undecided homosexual who eventually comes out with a mild mannered Ryan Reynolds.

Don’t get me wrong; parts of ‘Ted’ will have you cradling your split sides in tickled agony, but far too much of it falls flat, and if we take out the talking teddy bear, we simply have a hiccough between the love story of Mark and Mila, and therefore it essentially feels a little lazy.

Selena Kyle: There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.

Some films are heralded by the sound of rampant applause and acclaim long before they even make it to the big screen. One such film is the third and supposedly final in Christopher Nolan’s revamp of the campy Batman series, to create a sleek, stealthy, sinister world of decadent darkness.

Eight years on from the harrowing events of The Dark Knight, Gotham resides in a state of melancholy peace following on from the tragic death of the cities former hero Harvey Dent and climactic capture of Batman’s warped  ‘dog chasing a car’ nemesis the Joker.

Millionaire socialite Bruce Wayne has also retired from the public sphere, whiling away time in his palatial surroundings at Wayne Manor, convinced that life no longer has anything to offer him since the murder of his long standing flame Rachel. Physically in detriment and mentally distracted, Wayne is no longer the powerful hero the city had come to depend on.

Unfortunately, he is forced to don his leathers again, roused out by the craft and cunning of cat burglar Selena Kyle. A new antagonist has ventured into town, an adversary far more physically powerful and brutal than any of Batman’s former contenders – Bane. Recruiting disillusioned men from the world above down in the sewers, Bane quietly builds a formidable army to assist him with destroying Gotham. It is not simply that Bane wants to eradicate Gotham from the map (though he does indeed want this). He firstly wants to give the people of Gotham hope, hope for freedom and hope for escape, before plunging them into total eradication.

Tricked by Catwoman into a confrontation with Bane, Wayne is defeated and locked in a cell in a remote desert prison. The aesthetic of the prison outlines Bane’s concept for defeating Gotham in perfect clarity. All prisoners, from their dank and dark surroundings, can glimpse the beaming light of hope and freedom above. All they must do to claim it is climb the rope and escape. Unfortunately, none of the prisoners have ever achieved this, except one, a child. Bane tantalizingly teases Wayne by providing him with video footage of the destruction and despair he reeks on Gotham in his absence causing Wayne to begin focusing on sharpening his mind and developing the potential of his body.

Meanwhile Bane isolates the city of Gotham by detonating several devices that render it impossible for the inhabitants to leave. He forces the wealthy and powerful into hiding, returning the city to the damaged, despondent, disillusioned, imprisoned and impoverished, releasing prisoners chained up during the Dent Act and revealing the truth about the actions of former Hero Harvey Dent. Now that the city belongs to ‘the people’, in a warped re-enactment of the Last Judgement, the accused are forced to choose death or exile, forced onto the frozen wastes of Gotham before plunging to their deaths in the water below.

Now that Bane has provided the citizens with a glimmer of hope, reclaiming the city from their rich oppressors, he can wait quietly as the bomb slowly ticks down. But Wayne has grappled with a very important finding. He cannot escape the pit when he uses the rope and inches his way closer to the top. Instead he mimics the actions of the child who escaped before him. A child who freed themselves by lunging their body forward, powered only by the fear of death, the desperation of escape and the tenacity toward freedom. Accepting his fear of death, Bruce manages to escape the confines and returns to his city.

What follows is the reunion of our protagonists and anti heroes, Batman, Gordon, Fox, Blake and Catwoman as they attempt to thwart Bane’s plans, save their city and expose an unlikely adversary.

The film ends in such a way that indicates the franchise could be returned to. This could be the closing of a chapter, or the gentle shutting of a book, but it could also be planting the seeds for an entire new direction. Certain facts and loose ends are left up in the air, leaving us only to assume that this is the end, or a new beginning for several of the characters involved.

Nolan is renowned for casting unpredictable wild card choices that tend to confound and polarise audiences. His decisions are never ‘obvious’. He gave the role of the Joker to Heath Ledger when he was only really known as a romantic lead in teen fair such as 10 things I hate about you, and what he received was a man who enmeshed and immersed himself in the role with such totality that he became the twisted face of manic insanity and chaos. In this film he bestows the role of Catwoman to a rather unlikely candidate, star of The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, wholesomely lantern eyed Anne Hathaway who similarly transforms and transcends her limitations to become the sinisterly sensuous Selena. Anne surprisingly slips into the sombre mood with effortless ease, creating a crafty, cautious cat of a woman, scarlet lipped, kohl rimmed bottomless black eyes, lycra clad and buxom. I have a feeling Anne’s career is going to go in a completely different direction after her participation in this franchise.

It is Nolan’s faith in these seemingly random choices that creates a sumptuous cast that surprises and ensnares. Many mocked him for casting unconventional beauty Maggie Gyllenhaal as Wayne’s love interest rival, and likewise his decisions for many other roles are unusual, but work astonishingly to breathe life into their roles. It is interesting to see actors and actresses sizzle and intensify under Nolan’s watch, shedding former skins and showing their true capacities to become new characters.

Christian Bale brings his usual thoughtful, reticent intensity to the Batman role, Michael Caine astounds in more emotional, heartfelt exchanges between Alfred and Bruce, Gary Oldman is fantastic as ever, reprising his role as Commissioner Gordon, Cillian Murphy is suitably bewildered and dishevelled as Dr Crane and Morgan Freeman lends his gentle tenacity to the role of Lucius Fox. But there are two other newcomers that really steal the scenes for me.

The forceful intense tenacity of Tom Hardy who also incorporates a graceful, magnetic vulnerability is the villain of the piece Bane – literally the bane of Batman’s existence in this movie. His presence is startling and instant. It is at times difficult to understand all of Bane’s lines (something the Batman franchise consistently suffers from) due to his masked exterior, but Tom’s eyes and muscles do all of the talking to create a truly formidable and memorable opponent.

Nolan has brought in many of his Inception pals, gracing Joseph Gorden Levitt with the role of Blake, a police officer branded a ‘hot head’ who is promoted to Detective thanks to Gordon’s recognition of his talents. Gorden-Levitt has a youthful vulnerability hiding in a brooding exterior that make him perfect for this dynamic world of Nolan’s creation.

Another Inception star, the stunning Marion Cotillard plays the understated role of Bruce’s new love interest Miranda Tate, who is not all she seems. A startling face that only has a fraction of screen time most definitely deserves a shout out, the baby faced; adult eyed Joey King, who portrays the role of the child escaping the pit.

Nolan creates a dark, gothic, hyper realistic atmosphere compared to Burton’s earlier campy style. This world is a bit of NY, a little London and a sprinkling of Chicago. Not so unrecognisable to us, but a stone’s throw away. Shakespeare used to set plays picking apart London’s social and cultural issues by transposing them to Italian towns. Nolan behaves similarly. Particularly with the world as it is, many of Batman’s themes and points resonate poignantly. Have the rich and powerful held the poor and desperate down for too long? Are many of us dual, doing what we can to survive in the concrete jungles we’ve created? Batman is essentially a humourless franchise, with only the odd second of inferred humour. It is a thick, muddy, swamp like world of depravity, money and evil.  Hans Zimmer demonstrates this with his delicious soundtrack that will literally raise the hairs on your arms and tingle and jangle along your nerves. He creates music built for flight or fight, with a power and rawness rarely matched. Action fans will not be disappointed at the animal confrontations of Bane and Batman that had me hanging on my seat with apprehension.

Batman has always been a study in morality. Gotham is a world where good and evil do battle behind guises and masks very much mirrored in our own world. An exposed face can do more good hidden and anonymised. Unfortunately, this film will forever be tarnished by the real life actions of a crazed murderer in a small Colorado town, but this is not a film that glamorises violence, this is a film that shows the necessity of fighting for what’s right, appreciating what we have and not taking things at face value.

Series 2, Episode 3

Channel 4

9 o’clock

Channel 4 is renowned for its provocative, distasteful titles but does tend to scrape the surface of some rather poignant matters.

This time, the focus is on our obsessive relationship with a very narrow definition of beauty that an increasing number of women and men are cutting, injecting and butchering themselves to fit.

A handful of highly desired features are sought after by the individuals who pursue the never-ending search for idealised beauty: full lips, long luscious locks, large glimmering eyes, pearly white teeth, a smooth, wrinkle free forehead, a slim figure complete with large breasts and an ample bottom (buxom and gravity defying of course) and skin the colour of untrodden golden sands.

Few, if any of us, are naturally endowed with the majority or all of these attributes but yet this has become the pinnacle of perceived human attractiveness. The achieving of such beauty has generated a market of make-up, plastic surgery, hair extensions, false tan and various other products designed to strip the bank balance of girls and boys with disposable incomes (or their harassed, harangued parents) and the far reaching grip of the marketing machine is targeting younger and younger age demographics, forcing girls and boys to become preoccupied with their appearances earlier and earlier.

There has always been a pressure to look good and it’s not difficult to envision that there always will be. Beauty has always been valued, but over the years the definition of beauty has shrunk to fit a narrower, more defined margin, to the exclusion of an assortment of various other looks.

Magazines, movies and newspapers tend to portray a certain kind of look, to the exclusion and alienation of all others.

So what happens when the cataclysmic combination of a self-confessed beauty worshipping narcissist shares life’s with a person with a facial disability/disfigurement?

What can the two exchange and learn from one another?

Is there merit to the fanatical pursuit of beauty? Do we need to shift our priorities? Is our quest for beauty draining us emotionally, mentally and spiritually? (As well as financially).

You might come to this show with preconceptions about the ‘beauty’ and the ‘beast’. You might assume the beauty is vacuous, insecure, self-oriented, lacks will power and has all the sustenance of cotton candy. You might also assume the ‘beast’ is warm hearted, has triumphed over adversity, and has a greater grounding and understanding of what ‘really’ matters. This show attempts to unravel these preconceived notions, or solidify them. The interesting thing is that many of the beauties are adamant that they are self-confident and completely at ease with their dedication to a strict beauty regimen, perceiving it as both achievable and necessary. Some light probing though, suggests that the majority of the women are caught in a cycle of both short sightedness and deep rooted insecurities. By fixing the outside excessively, they feel they are soothing some great internal monster that threatens to engulf them with a yawn. What the show tends to reveal, as a trend, is that the beauties, despite being aesthetically appealing are often dealing with a ‘beast’ of their own in the form of a mental disfigurement, rather than a physical one, be it depression, an eating disorder or devastating insecurity.

This week we meet Holly Kent and Nelly Shaheen. Holly is a model and pole dancer, who initiated her career at the tender age of seventeen. Self-assured and assertive, Holly appears entirely in control of her destiny with the same cold tenacity worn by successful glamour models such as Jordan. She finds pole dancing liberating and claims she never feels happier or more at ease anywhere else than in a gentleman’s club. Although she doesn’t claim so directly, it appears that her career enthuses her with a sense of identity and womanhood.

Nelly by contrast, suffers with harlequin ichthyosis, a skin condition that forces her to partake in a gruelling skincare regime every morning to sooth her blistering skin.

The two instantly click. Both are confident, direct women who are cardinal in their approach. But Nelly exposes Holly’s less than glamorous past, revealing her battles with bulimia and crippling insecurity. Holly then turned to plastic surgery, parting with her cash for fillers and Botox at the tender age of twenty-two to combat the looming signs of aging long before their onslaught.

Holly is stubborn in her declarations that her chosen path makes her happy, but Nelly whisks her away to LA where hardened ex industry girls reveal their disillusionment and dissatisfaction with a world that centred itself solely on their looks and had no use for them when they were no longer novel and fresh out of the box shiny.

The girls become firm friends, cementing a new ideology that the external may be shallowly and superficially important, but the inside is the generator of all potential and power that can inspire a life. Nelly shines as a happy, warm and powerful young woman with the perspective to guide and inspire legions of others who struggle with disabilities or insecurities, and hopefully Holly will put her powerful ambition to a more worthwhile cause that will benefit her both in the short and long term.

Katsuro: Hey girls! Hey mister! What an insane world we live in.

Horror is an interesting genre. Our media is saturated with reports of human violence and depravity on a daily basis. In fact, at the time of my writing, 24 year old James Holmes wounded and killed several cinema goers at a midnight screening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, another film that revels in the depiction of acts of terror and annihilation. Our society and culture is one in which real life crime and murder is sharply juxtaposed alongside sensationalised, no holds barred movie violence. Horror consistently lulls in exhilarated audiences. There is a definitive pull in people to witness, to inspect, and to voyeuristically be part of the dark damage and danger in others as they commit the most deplorable of acts. In 1998, artist Tracey Emin unveiled ‘My Bed’, a trashy ode to sex, alcoholism and bed ridden breakdowns, and called it art. In the same way Tom Six has made a film about three people being sewn together and called it ‘horror’. If true horror is about presenting audiences with the vile and unimaginable, breathing life into the warped, twisted and unnatural, then Six succeeds.

I’ve long been fascinated with the horror genre; at the insight and revelation it can provide as it enables us to delve into the darker, more nightmarish aspects of some of societies sicker individuals. Tom Six’s 2010 release ‘The Human Centipede (First Sequence)’ is a film that has extracted much curiosity and controversy from horror lovers and loathers alike. Many reacted and recoiled with horror at a concept that is truly distasteful and projected in a most harrowing and relentless way. For this reason, I decided to open Pandora’s Box and watch a film that both intrigued and revolted me in equal measure.

The concept of The Human Centipede is simple. Lindsay and Jenny are native New Yorkers on a road trip through Europe. Currently vacationing in Germany, the two are destined for nightclub ‘Bunker’ to meet a companion. En route their car breaks down and they seek solace at the home of Dr Josef Heiter. It soon becomes apparent that Heiter is not the most compassionate of hosts. He pretends to call a car company to resolve the girl’s problem, lacing their water with rohypnol and watching the drug take its drowsy effect. Lindsay and Jenny awake beside a man who Heiter announces is not ‘a match’. He promptly disposes of the man and replaces him with Katsuro, a Japanese tourist.

Heiter introduces himself and presents his idea. Through Heiter, Six introduces us to a concept that sickening sinks to a yet untold level. Heiter, a retired leading surgeon sustained himself with a career spent separating Siamese twins. This idea of separation led him to a fascination with the possibility of conjoining, of completing and creating. His first attempt at concocting a pet for himself emerged when he connected three Rottweiler’s to form a ‘three hound construction’. The Dr reveals that he now intends to concoct a ‘Siamese triplet’ consisting of components A, B and C. As he anesthetises his patients, Lindsay releases her binds and escapes, sealing herself in an upstairs room, but Heiter, growing increasing aggressive at his escaped victim, appears at the window with a loaded gun, smashes the glass and follows her as she runs away and falls into a swimming pool. Heiter picks Lindsay as the middle piece for punishment and pushes a button to entomb Lindsay in the pool. The electricity cuts out and she returns to the house to release Jenny, interestingly choosing to leave Katsuro behind. Lindsay manages to drag Jenny outside but is shot in the neck by Heiter’s anaesthesia dart.

The three awaken connected and bandaged – a new perverted, unnatural creation, laid at their masters feet. Heiter attempts to ‘train’ and ‘torment’ his pet but tires of the lack of cooperation from the lead Katsuro who he taunts and teases with racist slurs. Katsuro’s screams of anguish keep him awake at night and he realises that his pet is less of the compliant subordinate that he desired. The centipede rear, Jenny, is contaminated with blood poisoning and Heiter realises that he must replace her, creating a four person centipede instead.

Two detectives, Voller and Kranz investigate the area attempting to locate the missing tourists but find themselves targets for Heiter’s groundbreaking experiment. The film ends unapologetically with the deaths of Voller, Kranz, Heiter, Jenny and the suicide of Katsuro who believes his selection as part of the centipede to be punishment for his mistreatment and neglect of his family. Lindsay alone remains alive, trapped between her two dead ‘body parts’.

What I have witnessed is a stark, bleak, brutal, nihilistic exploration of the meaningless of human life and the bizarre, moronic ease with which it can be snuffed out and stripped away with relentless, immediate, unapologetic and unforgiving readiness.

How can I organise my thoughts clearly when a wave of numb, shocked, apathy washed over me upon completion of this film?

The first issue I wanted to address was language. Heiter targets three foreign tourists; two American females and one Japanese male. Prior to this, language itself serves as an unbreakable barrier for the women when their car breaks down and a German driver pulls up alongside them. He converses with the girls in German but the three are unable to understand one another. As such he is unable to assist them and instead regresses into crude sexual facial expressions. Heiter himself speaks in German when he initially becomes angry with the girls leaving them essentially excluded from the root of comprehending such unbound nonsensical hostility. He is angry, and the girls know he is angry, but they do not know why. The language barrier is an interesting way of making that which is already, by the very twisted sickness of its nature, impenetrable and unknowable, even more maddeningly evasive. We can never bring ourselves to understand the deplorable workings of such an evil mind, but even if there was some way, some insight to be garnered through communication, this is blocked too and inaccessible. The Doctor does not want to converse with them, he does not want understanding, he does not want to be understood, he wants to use them.

Katsuro himself speaks no English or German and so he is completely alienated. He cannot ask why, he cannot plead for help and he cannot beg for escape. Lindsay and Heiter regularly converse but Katsuro, ironically the front of the centipede, is completely unable to comprehend a word the Doctor says. He cannot comfort the girls, nor can he insult the Doctor. He is simply stuck in the limbo of his own language. However, language is not needed to understand this assault, because it cannot be understood at all. The issue of language is one further barrier, but even with words, there is no way to grasp the horror and pointlessness of Heiter’s experiment.

Language is one in which Six enables us to experience the dehumanisation of his three protagonists. Katsuro in particular, in not being able to communicate with the Doctor, is reduced to no more than a yapping dog that the Doctor cannot understand need not answer to. Lindsay and Jenny, the mid and rear of the centipede are stripped and silenced of language altogether, stitched and sewn up so that Heiter need not address them. They are not the head of the centipede; they are merely its body. He has removed any autonomy and independence and any sense of rebellion, of courage and of spirit is literally stuck and sandwiched. Lindsay, who puts up the biggest fight, is rendered the most helpless.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

The film also got me thinking about common horror themes; the sense of disassociation and individualism that abounds in modern day civilisation that enables so many to commit such atrocities unprovoked and often undiscovered. You may be familiar with Josef Fritzl who imprisoned his daughter Elizabeth in his basement and impregnated her. Many feel separate and isolated, culture and community has broken down and so individuals live hedonistic, secular life’s, barricaded in their own fantasies and escapes. Some escape to alcohol, others drugs, some sex, or video games, others retreat into a deeper, denser madness. How must one perceive ones fellow humans in order to be able to treat them in this way? Killers commonly proclaim that they felt distanced and disconnected from other humans, that they saw them as animals, or lesser still. On the whole, we are disconnected from nature, from animals, from others, from ourselves.

Heiter is a misanthrope. He confesses: ‘I don’t like human beings’. What he likes is the idea of a pet, a slave. He can transform human beings into something animal, something he feels is subservient and malleable.

The film is also an exploration of perversion and what constitutes a perverted act. Most cultures and civilisations, bound by some form of modesty or decency, are unravelling at an alarming rate as our concept of freedom clashes with ideas about morality and respect. Sex is no longer taboo. Instead it is sensationalised, saturated, commoditised and capitalised as never before. The film insinuates that the acceptance, tolerance, perhaps even normalcy of everyday perversion has enabled and exemplified larger acts. It is these smaller, almost unnoticeable perversions that act as a microcosm of a larger, festering truth. The driver who initially appears to want to help the girls instead makes a salacious remark about ‘fucking’ and makes crude facial gestures. Heiter seems to receive some sexual pleasure from the fantasy of his centipede. He reacts with great joy when Lindsay is forced to swallow Katsuro’s excrement. There is something pornographic about his joining and merging of the three tourists, the implied threesome, the intimate physical connection forged and the humiliation and training of his new ‘pet’. The film is asking us: what is the line? How much can we watch? How much can we take? What is an analysis of the debauch of the soul and what is simply a peek into the vapid black hole of soullessness?

The nature of quick, fast, instant access to anything, including that which was previously taboo, means that every fantasy, every desire, every need and every want from sex to violence to fast food can be acted on immediately with little pre-thought and little analysis afterward. We no longer need to mediate on why we want what we want. We can simply have it. The horror genre is constructed in such a way that it must continue to out-titillate and tantalise itself. This is something sex and violence have in common. ‘Vanilla’ sex and ‘vanilla’ violence can only satiate the hungry viewer for so long, before the baying mob craves more to satisfy their cravings. ‘Scream’ revealed a potent horror truth, a sacred rule, sequels must have a higher kill count…and the killings must be more inventive. Contrasting Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ and ‘The Birds’ with modern day horrors such as ‘Saw’ and ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, we can see a shift from horror of the mind (the warped Norman Bates for instance) and pure, brutal, unflinching, visual horror that leaves no room for exploration or understanding. In the Human Centipede, there is no strict, stark motivation. We are presented with a clean, sterile monster with no morals and a loose conscience, who seems to have no real reason to be doing what he does. And we like to rationalise evil with reasons because then we can understand it and box it away.

Many horror films provide us with a villain we can analyse because boy do we love to ‘understand’ the bad boy. Jigsaw is motivated by karmic redemption, Norman Bates was the victim of severe mental illness…but what intentions can we instigate for Heiter?  He is an intelligent, amoral man of great precision and skill who creates a centipede because he can, because his dextrous hands can breathe life to the brutality of his every fantasy, he can create his very own monster a la Frankenstein, and in a world of separation, disillusion and veneers of normalcy, he can do just that with complete protection and anonymity. We are protected from being uncovered because we have become unknowable.

The film generated further ideas for me also….

  • What is the significance of a German doctor as the films adversary? Is it a parody, a spoof of German efficiency and history?
  • What is the significance of three foreign tourists as the protagonists? Is this an exploration of the idea that the ‘other’ is always excluded, ostracised and exterminated by the native?
  • What is the significance of Katsuro’s playboy tattoo? Does this represent the normalisation of hyper sexuality and the commoditisation of sex?
  • What is the significance of Katsuro being at the front of the centipede? Does this reflect and represent patriarchy? Do women literally have to swallow the s*** of male leadership and influence from a position of enforced powerlessness?

The Human Centipede could easily be dismissed as something sick, irrelevant and banal, but I found it both disconcerting and worryingly relevant. I think Six’s style of straightforward, merciless cruelty reveals a great deal about the fragmented psyche of supposed normal individuals who commit abhorrent crimes. Our newspapers and TV’s are littered with them. Are we really any closer to understanding the true motivation of such consuming evil?

I’d like to explore some of Six’s own revelations and inspirations regarding the making of this film.

  • Six explained that the motivation for this story came from a joke shared with a friend regarding an appropriate punishment for paedophiles. This for me introduced an interesting truth – perfectly normal people can envision pure evil as punishment for something they consider distasteful and morally abhorrent. Evil can be a reaction to other evil
  • Six loathes political correctness and the Human Centipede is definitely as un-PC as they come
  • Six was fascinated with shows such as Big Brother and more importantly the idea that people partook in unusual activities when they felt they were unmonitored. We are conditioned to behave a specific way when we are watched but when we are not, what comes out? What outlet do we have for the ‘darker’, uglier aspects of our natures?
  • Six reflected that ‘The Human Centipede’ is in part a look at fascism and the ripples and repercussions of guilt felt by generations of ordinary Germans in the aftermath of WWII. He explained the film as a “grotesque [parody] of the German psyche”. We can dehumanise others when we feel they have dehumanised others in turn. History repeats itself. We are guilty of the very thought processes that have incited hatred in every corner and quadrant of the world
  • Six enjoys using and breaking various horror movie clichés, such as the naive, gullible leads, the wandering through the woods and the broken down car. This sets an uneasy contrast between audience expectations and the gravitas of the subject matter

I believe that the horror genre continues to be an essential medium for the focus and exploration of our darker selves. I believe horror can be an important outlet and assist us with grasping and comprehending others completely alienating acts. Was this a film that needed to be made? This is not your typical slasher movie, nor is there a satisfying conclusion where there is a glimmer of hope for the victim. This is bleak, dire material, much like ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, ‘Dogtooth’, ‘Antichrist’ and ‘Melancholia’. There is no rhyme or reason, no sense nor logic, to the calm, static madness of Heiter and the insanity of his scheme. Is this a film to generate discussion or is Six merely seeing how far he can push us, laughing all the way? There are sensitive, psychological, poignant horrors and then there are relentless road runners that go straight to hell and don’t dwell.

Undoubtedly, The Human Centipede will continue to be a cult classic, dividing and polarising audiences for some time to come.

Product: Olive Oil

There are a myriad of hair products on the market; solutions, sprays and serums designed to sleek, sooth, shine and soften the hair.

Some of these products are affordable and others are far pricier and involve somewhat of a financial commitment to maintain.

It seems silly to me that we spend so much on these products collectively when hair produces its own natural oils to lubricate and clean the hair.

Besides, if we are eating a healthy, balanced diet, the effects should shine through our hair, and I know many women who use no products on their hair whatsoever, whose hair gleams and shines au natural.

What has added to a nation of dry, Weetabix haired women is a tendency to over style with heat: blow-drying, straightening, curling and dying, something which most women are guilty of at some time or another.

My hair has been in much better condition since I stopped drying and styling and I actually prefer the way it looks naturally, but there is still some damage from my old straightening days.

The best cure is a permanent solution: cutting out the damage.

But if you are reluctant to do this, or the damage isn’t too severe, you might want to use products to soften dry, limp ends.

Rather than investing in expensive products that might not even work and are usually full of as many damaging chemicals as nourishing ones, you might want to try a natural solution first, which has apparently been bandied around for a long time, so naturally, I have only just heard of it.

As my hair is quite thick and down to my waist, I would like a solution that’s cheap and consistent (and preferably works!), so I tried the ‘Olive Oil’ look, a product that knocks about in most peoples kitchens (especially Jamie Oliver’s).

The effects on olive oil on the skin, hair and nails are often heralded, and you don’t need to break the bank to incorporate this into your beauty regime. A lot of oils and greases in products are synthetic and coat the skin/hair rather than actively absorb and hydrate it, creating an illusion of softness that doesn’t really permeate. A lot of synethic products cannot be actively absorbed, and those that can often also contain chemicals that are not great for your body, meaning you are absorbing all of those too.

I drenched my hair in olive oil and left if for about an hour. I ran myself a bath and washed it out.

Not only was my hair a lot softer (aside from one area of damage which is probably beyond repair) my skin was loads softer too! (Two birds with one stone).

I think I actually used TOO much because the top of my head was slightly greasy.

So learn from me:

1)        Less is more

2)        Wash thoroughly

For shiny, soft hair on the cheap!

I’m relatively new to meditation but it’s something that everyone seems to recommend consistently for every ailment in the same way that the benefits of apples, water and a good night’s sleep will never go out of fashion.

Meditation is a relatively simple process in theory. You sit or lie in a quiet position and simply let thoughts pass in and out of your mind without analysing or obsessing. In this way, you practice mindfulness. You attempt to quiet and steady the mind.

I’ve been practising a variation of a meditation/self-hypnosis supposedly used to banish fear, but I think it could equally be used to obtain focus, ease you to sleep or create a feel or mood of power, or even just a deeper connection with the elements and the soul. Fire can produce a powerful atmosphere that can totally transform and transcend regular surroundings. If you’ve ever entered a temple or place of worship, the use of candles really can elevate a basic setting to a spiritual and instinctual place. It can invoke passion, anger, lust or leadership, but when it flickers with a steady flame, it can be a source of great comfort and strength.

The original meditation is very simple.

You sit or lie somewhere quiet and light a candle (scented or unscented is a matter of preference).

Focus on the candle for anywhere between 20-30 minutes.

During this time, simply concentrate on the candle and allow your thoughts to come and go. The idea of concentrating sharpens focus and serves as a distraction. If you recall the feeling of sitting around a camp fire or by your fire place on a cold day, you’ll know there’s something soothing and calming about the pulse of a steady fire flaring nearby. This distraction enables fear to melt (or squirm) away, even if temporarily. It’s a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety and to put your trust back into all things elemental.

The exercise also encourages you, once you’ve practiced focusing for 20-30 minutes, to use this time to focus on the issue or problem causing you fear and think of ways to resolve/ease the feeling that arises. An answer, solution, relief or acceptance may come to you during these moments.

I find it difficult to sit in complete silence so I’ve created a playlist which is essentially a mixture of Native American and Middle Eastern music (with a few curve balls thrown in).

None of the songs include singing, and those that do are chanted/sung in a foreign language, meaning that I don’t focus on the words. Instead I focus on the beat and swell of the music, music that represents and solidifies what I want to feel.

I let the playlist run and stare at the flame.

I feel a strong sense of comfort, calm and the greatest paradox of all, peaceful and powerful.

During this time, I simply sit and stare at the flame, I let myself think thoughts I want to purge myself of and mentally place them into the flame. I then admire the flame. In focusing on it, I see all of its details. I start to refine and focus my thoughts repeating affirmations, ideas, desires that I want to manifest in my life and in myself. Finally, I lose all thoughts altogether and instead I just feel….alive, real, okay…

As I said, this meditation/hypnosis combined with the right music really calms the soul.

It can ease fears…

Sooth you to sleep…

Placate anxiety…

Inspire creativity…

Wake you up…

Get you in touch with fire and all traits associated with it…

Help you feel powerful…

Help you focus…

Inspire ambition/inspiration/action…

Purge you of toxic thoughts/feelings

I urge you to try it out and see what feelings arise and melt away….

Happy meditating!

Original meditation/hypnosis taken from ‘The Answer’ by Glenn Harrold

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”