Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Great Gatsby…

You hear the description ‘visual feast’ too often. Far more often than it actually applies, in fact. But in this case it is accurate. When someone told me that in this film the flappers would be dancing to hip hop and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book would be a distant memory, I wondered whether Baz Luhrman had gone too far.

The answer was no. Moulin Rouge was an exceptional film. Romeo and Juliet was impressive too. The Great Gatsby is a delightful assault on the senses – another phrase that is probably used too frequently but again is accurate here. The critics have been too harsh if you ask me.

First off the book is certainly far more present than I was led to believe. Carraway narrates the story from its enticingly mysterious opening through to the melancholy ending, and much of the story is in place where it should be and is more than recognisable.

The soundtrack contains some modern music, as I was pre-warned, but is also chock full of powerful jazz saxophone and piano melodies that reflect the mood of the scene, and somehow Luhrman manages to make this look perfectly right alongside the luxurious settings and lavish costumes of the 1920s, which feel totally correct in their accuracy.

Besides the amazing visuals, Leonardo DiCaprio craved the most attention, as is fitting for the character, and he looks more comfortable in his own skin these days. His portrayal of Jay Gatsby was exactly what I wanted, and despite the character’s age being lowered for the film, again it worked.

Yes, there are elements of the film that I would have changed, and there was a great deal of creative licence used – necessary in some parts when one remembers the length of the novel and the lack of detail and dialogue surrounding some elements of the story – but I can’t fit the criticism I have read with the film I watched. I loved it and as soon as it finished I was left with the feeling that I wanted to watch it all over again.

Elloise Hopkins.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Secret Eaters…

Channel 4’s Secret Eaters has me fascinated. Those who know me will know I’m not much of a tv watcher and particularly not into ‘reality’ or ‘junk’ tv. But after hearing about this at work I gave this series a go and quickly became addicted to the gob smacked experience that is watching an episode. For the peoplewatchers of the world (myself definitely included) this is a joyous snippet of human life.

The premise, roughly, is that members of the general public who are struggling with weight loss go on the show and endure a week’s scrutiny, involving hidden cameras, private investigators and undercover agents, to work out why they are not losing weight. The answer is always very simple – they are eating too much; generally at least twice as much as they need in a day and twice as much as they think they are.

The format of the show has become pretty dull after watching a few episodes, but still I watch. What scares me the most is that the people on the show (for argument’s sake I am pretending it is all real and there are no actors or scripts, nor is there any editing or sensationalising going on) have no perception of what they are eating. The programme uncovers the ‘secret calories’ they consume, and there have been some shocking examples. My favourites include the ‘healthy eaters’ that used an entire block of cheddar cheese in a cheese sauce, the most humongous roast dinner I’ve ever seen followed swiftly by a bowl of double cream with a token slice of apple pie in it for good measure, and the numerous fizzy drink and alcohol guzzlers and takeaway scoffers.

I’m not professing to be all righteous and healthy, but when I go out drinking or eat a big meal, when I pick at crisps and snack foods, when I indulge in chocolate or pile a salad high in mayonnaise I know that I am not, in that moment, being healthy. But then I was raised by people who understand food and always provided healthy home-cooked meals. Is food education in general so bad that it has spawned these generations of processed food lovers who think they eat healthily? Quite possible, I concede, when I think back to my cookery lessons at school – the sandwich was a highlight(!), along with the ‘decorate a yule log’ session.

Anyway, I digress. There is so much I could discuss from the show but I think the main lesson to learn is that ‘diet’ products are generally not doing their consumers much good. The perception seems to be that because something is ‘diet’, or ‘reduced fat’, or low in sugar/salt/anything then there is licence to consume as much of it as you want, because it is ‘good for you’. What a terrible misconception to have. It amazes me that people can consume food and drink all day long and think that they are eating healthily and only taking in the recommended daily amount of calories. Frightening.

I have to stop watching it now because I’m becoming too disturbed by the world around me, as usual. But here are my lessons children:

1) If you eat all day you are eating too much.
2) If a product is billed as being a diet product it does not mean it contains nothing bad or no calories.
3) If you think that fizzy drinks, alcohol, crisps, chocolate bars, six meals a day and constant snacking is the healthy way to live, then there’s no hope for you, but watch the show anyway because it’s funny.

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Ranty, ill-informed, public accusations…

I’m all for a good rant, as readers of my blog will be aware. But whenever I rant, I first make sure I am well enough aware of the subject/person/thing/animal before I rant about it. I ranted about 3d movies because I have experienced 3d movies and have done 3d animation. I ranted about paying attention to detail because I have encountered many a lack of it in my time. I ranted about the errant apostrophe because, well, let’s face it, that deserved it. You get the idea. I only rant about topics that I feel qualified to rant about given the realms of my experience.

What I don’t do is see one comment/picture/video clip/tweet/whatever and jump to a conclusion about the subject/person/animal/thing/things and immediately launch into public accusations against them. Because that would be remiss of me. And spontaneously immature. And irritating to all those people who are vastly more informed on the matter than myself. And hurtful to all those people who are genuinely fighting for the very thing I am ranting about but are going about it in the right way, and who are actually making a positive difference. For me to completely disregard that in my ignorance would be rude, and would damage me as much as it would damage them.

So before you make public attacks against people/animals/inanimate objects/whatever, ask yourself ‘am I qualified to rant about this?’.

·      Do I know anything about it?
·      Have I done my research?
·      Is my information up to date?
·      Have I actually thought about what I’m saying before I rant?
·      Am I confident that I’m not just blindly throwing ill-informed accusations around?
If the answer to any of these is ‘no’ then keep quiet and don’t launch into ranty, ill-informed public accusations.

If you are inadequately informed on a subject or if you are not qualified to comment on in, then don’t. 

It belittles you and damages the very thing you are campaigning for.

Elloise Hopkins.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Don’t blame the music!..

Last Friday night I caught an episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit, and apart from being an incredibly frustrating and irritating hour of television, days later I am still fuming about some of the content. The whole episode, in fact, was fairly poor, considering the powerful storylines that are sometimes offered by the series. This particular one relied on generic, stereotyped characters that were weakened by their familiarity, and brash delivery of subjects that unfortunately lost all meaning because of the way they were explored.

What has particularly stuck with me, however, was the first part of the episode, in which a generic ‘vampire wannabe’ was allegedly going around the city biting necks and draining his victims dry. What really annoyed me was the fact that this menace was dressed in a long, black, leather coat, had long hair and liked rock music. Of course, because what other kind of vampire could possibly ‘exist’ in the realms of television? And what leap did the writers make after strike one? Immediately the man’s issue must be a direct result of the music he listens to. Aren’t we all bored of this format yet? Haven’t we realised that listening to rock music doesn’t automatically turn us all into vicious killers? The very fact that I am still a free woman testifies to this.

The band in question was described as being like “Black Sabbath or Judas Priest, only sicker and more violent”. Sabbath and Judas Priest sick and violent? Sick and violent? Really? In this day and age we consider them to be sick and violent? What songs were the writers listening to? What lyrics were they traumatised by? What videos scarred them for life? Why this constant assumption that every bad deed is a result of rock music? I am so bored of this narrow minded attitude that refuses to place any blame for peoples’ bad deeds actually on them. Gods forbid we should be responsible for our own actions!

And this line was delivered by none other than Ice-T, a rapper whose career history, coloured with gang affiliation and parental guidance stickers, could far more easily be described as sick and violent than Black Sabbath. I’m not having a go at Ice-T, you understand, nor transferring blame onto any other kind of music or influence. I’m merely illustrating the contradiction here. Anyway, Black Sabbath. I’ve seen them live. I’ve had a pint with Tony Iommi. I assure you there was nothing sick or violent about them, nothing at all untoward beyond that melodramatic style that accompanies rock music from the era.

I could rant about this all day, and probably already have spent a large part of my life ranting about the fact that rock music doesn’t make us violent, so we need to end this continual blame that is placed on the music. I shall continue to rock on and attempt to rise above these ridiculous refusals of people to take responsibility for their actions.

Elloise Hopkins.