Christmas, it’s the perfect time for movies.

I think only Halloween comes close when it comes to eliciting a certain seasonal spirit, just from watching a movie. Honestly, Halloween movies only excite me because I know Christmas movies are just around the corner! I once watched Home Alone in the middle of the summer, and even though the weather was finally beginning to get warm, I couldn’t help wishing that it was Christmas. I quickly told myself to buck up and get outside for the 15 minutes shorts would be appropriate that summer.

Everyone has their own personal favourites, one that are absolute essential viewing when it comes to getting into that ‘Christmassy mood’. Mine is The Santa Clause, followed quite closely by The Grinch – the Jim Carey version.

However, Christmas isn’t just a time for festive films, it is also the run-up to Oscar season! There are so many movies I want to see in the cinema at the minute that it’s stupid. I know I will not be able to see them all, which is very disappointing. I didn’t see any of the Oscar movies last year before the ceremony, and as I was in California with family it is the only time in my life I’ll probably watch them in full. We even had a competition going to see who could predict the most winner, and I couldn’t even make educated guesses. Never again.

The one movie it is essential that I see in the cinema is Life of Pi. As you might know, I read that book during the summer and really loved it. Also, the film in 3D is meant to be visually spectacular.

One movie I have seen recently is End of Watch. I went to see it with my boyfriend, and generally, we have gone to see a lot of good movies together. He maintains that the only bad choices have been my fault. This includes our ‘first date’ movie, District 9, which I still refuse to back down on. I think I chose it because it seemed like quite a neutral choice, neither of us really knowing what it was about. It surprised me in a good way, so, with that, I will never concede defeat.

In the case of Iron Man 2, as much as it pains me to say this, he does have a point. Iron Man was fantastic as a stand-alone movie. While the second outing was generally alright as far as sequels go, it was pretty lazy, and I can’t imagine it being very enjoyable from the point of view of someone seeing it without seeing the first one. This was a selfish choice on my part, I knew he wouldn’t enjoy it. Much like I knew he wouldn’t enjoy The Avengers, but my friends had already seen it so he was my only option. Besides, The Avengers  was a great movie!

But back to End of Watch. This was my boyfriend’s suggestion, and for the first 90 minutes of the movie, he told me he was squirming, deathly afraid that he had made his first mis-step. That it because until the last 20 minutes of the movie, very little happens. Like, almost nothing. And anything that does happen doesn’t appear to amount to anything. From the beginning you have an idea of what will happen at the end of the movie, where it’s going, but it takes most of the movie to get there.

But once it does, wow. Wow.

I’ve seen a bit of controversy over the ending, about whether it was realistic, whether it justified the previous, drawn-out 90 minutes. I’m firmly in the “it did!” camp.

It’s been quite a long time since I experienced so many emotions in the duration of one film. At one point, it was so tense I felt sick. I had to watch it with my ears covered up, because, for some reasons, that helps. But End of Watch really took me on a journey, and I honestly don’t think that could have happened without the first 90 minutes.

The performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are brilliant. Pena, in particular. The exchanges between them are incredible, both hilarious and authentic, and without their relationship this movie would not have worked as well as it did.

Although there have been mixed reviews about End of Watch, and I admit to checking my own watch more than a few times during the beginning of the movie, I cannot remember if, or when, I’ve experienced so many emotions in such a short space of time.

For that, I would recommend it.

However, for similar reasons, one of my favourite moves ever is Kick-Ass, which I know a lot of people hate. So, do with that what you will.


And Harry Potter, while we’re at it!

Funny, given that my earlier post was on reading, but I just noticed that it was J.K Rowling’s birthday yesterday.

I had a professor ask us to think of who our heroes were. He didn’t really believe that people had heroes now, as much as they would have in other generations. Well, I thought about it for a while, and  when Mrs. Rowling popped into my head I couldn’t believe I had not thought of her before. I’m a die-hard Harry Potter fan, and any interview I’ve seen or read of hers has made me a fan of the author, too.

If you’ve never heard of her story, please do investigate it. I’ve read about it, watched documentaries. It’s very inspirational (and I don’t really throw that word around lightly).

Happy Birthday, hero.

p.s, if you’re also a Harry Potter fan but have never visited her website, do it! It’s so fun.

When I was younger I liked to read. A lot. I was the biggest reader of the children in my family. I read every night before bed, it just never occurred to me to do anything different.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped reading as much. I’d pick up books all the time, but if they didn’t immediately pique my interest, I would simply put them down again. I read the books required of me for school, for the most part, but I definitely felt that some of the enjoyment I gained from reading was lost when there was a time limit put on it. I do not like being told that I have to do things. Although I cannot remember exactly when or why I began to read less, I’m sure it had to do with me falling out of the habit of reading before bed. A combination of staying up later – relatively, we’re all early sleepers in my house – spending more time on the computer, and listening to music before sleeping eventually replaced picking up a book and holding it in front of my face until I no longer had the strength to do so.

This is kind of like a detached, mangled and pretty stupid story that proves true the old cliche, ‘You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone’. I never appreciated the value of reading when I was younger, but now I marvel at those who can converse easily on topics that don’t fall within their area of study, and speak with that natural eloquence that you can tell comes from an expansive reading list.

Fact: The two most intelligent people I believe I know are in the Medicine. One is a doctor, and one is in Medical school.

Fact: I have no idea how much either knows about medicine, or how they would rank in terms of medical proficiency, but their level of general knowledge makes me green with envy.

Fact: They are the two most prolific readers I have ever met.

There is no coincidence between the first statement and the last. These people are my best friend and my dad. They just read, all the time. My best friend actually gets annoyed at how quickly she finishes books. Just listening to them talk about various subjects they’ve read about, it makes me wish I could do the same.

And you know what? I can. And I will.

Over the last two years, I have made a more conscious effort to read. I can do it quite easily on holidays, or when I find a good series to really sink myself into. However, for the rest of the year, when there are more general interferences in life, my resolve fails me. Sometimes, when I get the urge to read, I become so overwhelmed by the amount of books I have yet to read that I give up before I have even started. For Christmas, I got a Kindle, which has already dramatically increased the amount of books I’ve read this year compared to last. However, that number is still too low.

So, I’ve decided to do something that I’m not usually comfortable with. Something I’m not usually inclined to do. I’m going to set myself a task, and I’m going to force myself to complete it by being structured and organised.

If you knew me at all, you’d probably laugh. ‘Structured’ and ‘organised’ are two words which have never be affiliated with me. Nonetheless, my challenge is as follows:

Read one book per week, for the remainder of the year.

For some of you, this might be the status quo. Or even less than that. However, for me, it’s a welcome improvement. That’s 26 books! Imagine how much I could learn in 26 books! Nerdy, yes. But exciting.

I’m using tips from this article to help me get started:

I’ve only set the challenge until the end of the year to give myself a goal to meet and motivate myself. The long-term aim will be to re-establish my old reading habits.

Currently, I’ve spent the last two days getting myself into ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel’. Since I’ve had fairly little to do, and I’m going to be working all weekend, I figure that it’s best to get myself off to a good start and try and finish the book before Friday. So far, I’m making good progress!