My top 10 US comedy series

After last week’s Top 10 British comedy series last week I thought I should feature my top 10 US comedy series. Generally I prefer British comedy to American, mostly because British comedy is just that much more risque. However there are a few US comedy series that really crack me up. Here they are.

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That 70s Show
Years on: 1998 – 2006
Starring: Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Laura Prepon
The premise: Eric Forman and his group of friends grow up in Wisconsin in the 70s
Best character: Kitty
Best episode: Garage Sale
“[Kelso just told Jackie a list of embarrassing things he's done in his life, in an effort to be honest]
Michael Kelso: Oh, and that time we were about to fool around, and you asked me if I washed my hands, I had just actually finished playing with six dogs. Oh, but that’s not nearly as bad as the time…
Jackie Burkhardt: OK, Michael. Enough. You know when I talked to you about honesty? Let’s talk about SELECTIVE honesty.
Fez: And basic hygiene.”

BBT

The Big Bang Theory
Years on: 2007 -
Starring: Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting
The premise: Aspiring actress, Penny, moves in over the road from two physicists and gets sucked into their nerdy world.
Best character: Sheldon
Best episode: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis
“Sheldon: I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested!”

Friends

Friends
Years on: 1994 – 2004
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Le Blanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer
Premise: Six friends experience love, life and more in New York
Best character: I’ve always said Phoebe but I am realising that all my favourite moments feature Joey
Best episode: The One Where Ross Got High
“Phoebe: So let’s say I’m the interviewer and I’m meeting you for the first time. Okay. Hi. Come on in, I’m uh, Regina Philange.
Chandler: Chandler Bing.
Phoebe: Bing, what an unusual name.
Chandler: Well you should meet my uncle, Bada.
[pause]
Chandler: I’ll let myself out.”

MF

Modern Family
Years on: 2009 -
Starring: Ed O’Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen
The premise: The three very different branches of the Prichett family may not always agree but they’re always there for each other
Best character: Phil… but I love Gloria… and Mitchell, who I am just like.
Best episode: Open House of Horrors
“Gloria Delgado-Pritchett: There is the mark of the devil in our family. My great-great grandfather found an emerald mine, and sold his soul for it.
Jay Pritchett: Is there any paperwork to prove this?
Gloria Delgado-Pritchett: On my great grandmother’s wedding day, a large bird picked him put and carried him off.
Jay Pritchett: Did you realize that a remarkable number of your stories end with a family member being carried off by a giant bird?
Gloria Delgado-Pritchett: I only say what I am told.
Jay Pritchett: I’m just saying, by the third time we might think about moving the party inside.”

Office

The Office (US)
Years on: 2005 – 2013
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Steve Carell, John Krasinski
The premise: The weird and wonderful happenings at the Scranton Office of the Dunder Mifflin paper supply company
Best character: Dwight Schrute
Best episode: Dinner Party
“Dwight: I wish I could menstruate. If I could menstruate, I wouldn’t have to deal with idiotic calendars anymore. I’d just be able to count down from my previous cycle. Plus I’d be more in tune with the moon and the tides.”

PR

Parks and Recreation
Years on: 2009 -
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman
The Premise: The trials and tribulations of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department
Best character: Ron Swanson
Best episode: Pawnee Zoo
“Ron Swanson: I call this turf ‘n’ turf. It’s a 16 oz T-bone and a 24 oz porterhouse. Also, whiskey and a cigar. I am going to consume all of this at the same time because I am a free American.”

W&G

Will & Grace
Years on: 1998 – 2006
Starring:  Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally
The Premise: Interior designer, Grace shares an apartment her gay best friend, Will.
Best character: Karen
Best episode: Lows in the Mid Eighties
“Karen: [on hiring Jack to play a straight man in a commercial] No one in the world would believe you’re straight. You’re as gay as a clutchpurse on Tony night. You fell outta the gay tree, hitting every gay branch on the way down. And ya landed on a gay guy… and ya did ‘em. No, no, honey, your gayness can be seen from space.”

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Beavis and Butt-Head
Years on: 1993 – 2011
Starring (voices): Mike Judge, Dale Revo, Tracy Grandstaff
The premise: The adventures of white trash best friends, Beavis and Butthead as well as their commentary on music videos and later reality TV
Best character: Beavis
Best episode: Steamroller
“Beavis: Hey Butt-head, is it normal for the inside of your bunghole to itch?
Butt-head: Beavis, it’s not even normal to ask.”

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South Park
Years on: 1997 -
The premise: The celebrity studded very politically incorrect adventures of the inhabitants of South Park
Starring (voices): Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Best character: Cartman
Best episode: Pandemic & Pandemic 2
“Kanye: There are a lot of people out there making up rumors about me that are malicious and untrue. But I’m going to prove once and for all: I’m not a fish. Because I am a genius, I’ve ascertained that fish have gills. [a doctor steps up next to him] Doctor, do I have gills?
Doctor: He does not have gills.
Kanye: You hear that? No gills! So I can’t be a fish. And I’m a genius voice of a generation so I’m not gay! So that is that! Alright?! It’s over! Now are there any questions?
Reporter 1: Do you like fishsticks?
Kanye: Love ‘em!
Reporter 2: You’re a gay fish. [a third reporter laughs and soon the rest of the room is laughing]
Kanye: No I’m not- AAAARGH! [grabs the sides of the podium and shakes with anger]“

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2 Broke Girls
Years on: 2011 -
The premise: Flung together by bad fortune two very different waitresses try to get enough money together to start a business
Starring: Kat Dennings, Beth Behrs, Garrett Morris
Best character: Max
Best episode: And the Broken Hip
“Caroline: Invade your privacy? You shave your junk with the door open.
Max: So?
Caroline: To the apartment.”

Film Friday #202

’71 (2014)

After completing his basic training, Private Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) is stationed in Belfast to assist the Unionist paramilitary in their attempts to stamp out the IRA, working alongside a crack team of undercover agents. His first assignment sees him holding off an angry Catholic mob as paramilitary soldiers conduct a brutal search through their homes. As the situation starts to turn ugly Gary is sent to retrieve a gun from a small child who has run off with it, he is accidentally left behind by his unit. Now trapped in the labyrinth of Belfast streets in the wrong uniform with the wrong accent, he must try to make his way back to the barracks before the IRA finds him. This dark and tense story takes an even more disturbing turn when Gary bears witness to an event that casts negative aspersions on the British Military and leaves him unable to know whom to trust. With an outstanding performance from rising star O’Connell (once again making use of his intense native Derbyshire accent) as well as impressive supporting performances from Sam Reid as Hook’s commanding officer and Sean Harris, as the particularly shady Captain Sandy Browning. ’71 is a an edge of your seat thriller with an impactful message about the futility of war and how expendable the average solider is. Unlike “Hollywoodised” depictions of similar scenarios O’Connell plays Gary as terrified and very, very vulnerable, which along with significant glimpses into his past make him that much easier to root for. 4/5

Fuck this! I'm out of here!

Fuck this! I’m out of here!

The Maze Runner (2014)

The Maze Runner starts with a bang as Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up to find himself underground in a box hurtling to the surface, unable to remember anything from his past. On arriving at the surface he finds himself in a place called “The Glade”, which is run by a group of teen and pre-teen boys in a society which they have set up. The Glade is surrounded by a maze, which closes at nightfall and is inhabited by giant spider-like monsters called Grievers… and there are only thee rules – don’t hurt another Glader, do your part and stay out of the maze, unless you’re one of the specially elected Runners who traverse the maze daily looking for a way out. Thomas is immediately more curious than the existing Gladers and despite the warnings of dorky, Chuck (Blake Cooper), who has been set the task of looking after him, asks endless questions that no one can really answer. When their leader, Alby (Ami Ameen) is injured and at risk of being trapped in the maze Thomas feels compelled to help and enters the maze where he and runner, Minho (Ki Hong Lee) will be lucky if they survive the night. But who put them in the maze in the first place? Why can’t anyone remember anything? And who is the mysterious girl who has suddenly arrived in the Glade. I can’t say I expected much from The Maze Runner. I have read the first novel in the series and it was okay but really didn’t wow me due to its relatively simplistic nature and regular fails in logic – something which is carried over and intensified in the film. However, O’Brien gives a surprisingly good performance along with Will Poulter who plays the brutish Gally. If you can forgive the relatively flat dialogue and the lack of development of some of the supporting characters and go with it there’s a lot of fun to be had here and it’s one of the better YA adaptations I have seen recently. I am left with one big question that was also left unanswered in the book… if you leave upwards of twenty pubescent boys to live together for three years with no  females are you seriously telling me there’s not going to be any homoerotic activity whatsoever? And that no one is going to attempt to get it on with the first female to appear in that time? I have my doubts. 3/5

No, I do not want tomeet "LIttle Thomas"... now back off

No, I do not want to meet “LIttle Thomas”… now back off

Short Term 12 (2013)

Grace (Brie Larson), a care worker at a residential facility for at-risk teenagers discovers she is pregnant at the same time that a new staff member (Rami Malek) joins her team, one of the longest standing residents turns eighteen and a troubled new girl arrives. Although Grace has been involved with her colleague, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) for a long time, she finds it hard to trust him and her feelings about her pregnancy are at best mixed – which is exacerbated by the fact that new girl, Jayden’s (Kaitlyn Dever) problems are far too reminiscent of her past. As Grace becomes overwhelmed by everything happening around her it will take everything she has not to fall apart. I found Short Term 12 touching and very engrossing. It was easy to care not only about Grace but also Mason and the residents of the facility, particularly Marcus (Keith Stanfield), whose fear of being left to his own devices leads to drastic measures. I suppose there is an argument to be made that the story all wraps up a little bit too tidily considering the level of emotional damage and hopelessness the characters are facing . However with Grace specifically it feels like she goes through a journey that ultimately should end with some kind of reward for her and where I’d usually be disappointed by an overly happy ending I found myself glad that things had worked out. Great performances from the whole cast. 3.5/5

I am going to the Justin Bieber show and you can't stop me!

I am going to the Justin Bieber show and you can’t stop me!

What Maisie Knew (2012)

Maisie (Onata Aprile) is the seven year old daughter of Susanna (Julianne Moore), an aging rock star and Beale (Steve Coogan), who is some kind of art dealer. When her parents split up after a series of angry arguments a bitter custody battle ensues with Maisie set to split her life between them. Beale almost immediately marries Maisie’s nanny, Margo (Joanna Vanderham) and Susanna retaliates by marrying a much younger bartender called Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgård). Although both Susanna and Beale appear adamant that they want Maisie completely to themselves they are so self-centred that they treat her more like a plaything than a person and she is cared for almost exclusively by Margo and Lincoln, who are just as neglected by their respective spouses. Told through Maisie’s eyes, this tale of a child who wants for nothing material but is also hopelessly neglected by her parents was both upsetting and uplifting. Some of Susanna and Beale’s behaviour is so irresponsible and damaging that it’s hard not to want to slap them. There is one particular example where Susanna drops Maisie off unannounced  outside the bar where Lincoln works without even checking if he is on duty and she is cared for by random strangers, which really stands out. Watching the simply lovely Maisie interact with both Margo and Lincoln is wonderful but it is her scenes with Lincoln, who doesn’t immediately seem parental, which are truly special. (As if enough women didn’t already want to breed with Alexander Skarsgård. *Cough* Zoë *Cough*.) Although this film ends on a positive note I was left with a sinking feeling, wondering just what would actually happen to Maisie in the future when one of her obviously petty parents decided to exercise their parental rights… and I can’t stop thinking about it… which is clearly the sign of a good film. The four lead adult performances are all excellent but it is Aprile who steals every scene she is in. A star in the making. 4/5

Look.., you might be a princess but I was the vampire Sheriff of Bontemps!

Look.., you might be a princess but I was the vampire Sheriff of Bontemps!

Things I have been cooking lately #93: Traditional British scones

When I was a child and my mum used to make scones I was always a little bit disappointed because they lacked the chocolate, sprinkles or mountain of icing I normally enjoyed with my baked goods… and my mum made a lot of amazing baked goods. However as an adult have learned to appreciate their simple magic. Although they seem to be easy to make from a method perspective, ensuring that your scones are light, fluffy and rise right up takes a couple of little tricks, which I will share throughout.

Traditional British scones

350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
A heaped 1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
85g butter, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons caster sugar
125ml buttermilk or 125ml milk and a squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beaten egg to glaze

Preheat your oven to 200C. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter  and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Place your milk or buttermilk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Heating it helps to activate your raising agents and make the scones pop right up. If you are using milk add the squeeze of lemon juice and set aside for a moment. Add the vanilla extract. Again the acid in the lemon juice mimics the acid in the buttermilk which also works on the raising agent. Pop a baking sheet the oven.

Make a well in middle of the flour mixture and add the milk or buttermilk mixture. Mix together quickly using an eating knife. If your dough needs some help to come together you can use your hands but work the dough as little as possible or your scones will be tough.

Spread some flour over a work surface and place your dough on it. Dust the flour with dough as well as your rolling pin and roll the dough out to about 4cm deep. Again, work the dough as little as possible. You can now cut the scones to whatever size you prefer. I like my scones about 5cm across but you can make smaller or bigger ones. If you can, use a pastry or scone cutter to cut the dough and cut straight down without twisting. If you don’t use a proper cutter or if you twist the cutter you will seal the side of the scone and it won’t rise properly. Keep pressing the dough together to cut more scones.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the scones on it. Brush the top of each scone with a little beaten egg. If your scones are smaller than 5cm, bake for 10 minutes, if 5cm 15 minutes and if larger about 17. They should be golden brown and well risen.

The best time to eat scones is when they’re still warm and definitely on the day they were made. Serve with thick cream and the jam of your choice. Whether the jam goes on the bottom or the cream is a subject of great British debate. As you can see from my picture below, I think the cream belongs at the bottom!

Makes 6 – 12 scones

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My top 10 British comedy series

British TV has a really strong tradition of comedy, especially of the more off the wall kind, which is really quite different from US TV comedy. Being married to a Brit, I’ve been lucky enough to be introduced to a number of older shows that I probably would have missed out on because they were on before I moved to the UK. Fortunately almost all of these shows are available on BBC, iPlayer, Netflix, 4OD or Amazon Prime for you to enjoy. These are my 10 favourites.

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The Fast Show
Years on: 1994 – 2000
Starring: Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Simon Day, Mark Williams, John Thomson, Arabella Weir and Caroline Aherne
The premise: A sketch show where most of the preamble is dispensed with and the punch line hits almost immediately.
Best character: Where do I even start? Probably the news readers from Channel 9.
Best episode: The final one where Johnny Depp visits the suit shop.
“Billy Bleach: She was half woman, half fish. Terrible in the kitchen, but a bloody good swimmer.”

SWzoI4A

The Mighty Boosh
Years on: 2003 – 2007
Starring: Noel Fielding, Julian Barrett, Michael Fielding
The premise: The surreal adventures of best friends Vince Noir and Howard Moon
Best character: The Moon
Best episode: Call of the Yeti
“Vince Noir: [grabbing book] Look at this one!
Naboo: Don’t touch that!
Vince Noir: All right! Easy!
Naboo: This is black magic. This is hardcore. Don’t mess with the occult.
Vince Noir: I thought it was good for you.
Naboo: What?
Vince Noir: Well, you know, good for your digestive system.
Naboo: That’s Yakult!
Vince Noir: Oh, yeah…”

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Outnumbered
Years on: 2007 -2014
Starring: Hugh Dennis, Claire Skinner, Tyger Drew-Honey, Daniel Roche, Ramona Marquez
The premise: What makes this family sitcom stand out is that it’s part improvised so the kids say the most hilarious things
Best character: Karen
Best episode: Cousin Julie’s wedding
“Karen: How can you not like somebody you’ve never met?
Sue: Good point, Karen.
Karen: Yes, you should only hate people you know.
Sue: Ye… er…
Karen: Like Miss Braybrook.
Sue: But you love Miss Braybrook! She’s the reason you’re Christian!
Karen: Not any more, that’s all rubbish.
Pete: Rubbish is a bit harsh.
Karen: I don’t believe in God anymore, I’m a Satanist.
Pete: I think that’s an atheist. Satanists…do things to goats.”

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Peep Show
Years on: 2003 – 2013
Starring: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Olivia Colman
The premise: Roommates, Jez and Mark are total opposites but somehow their friendship seems to survive all their terrible adventures, which we get to watch from both of their perspectives.
Best character: Super Hans
Best episode: Mark’s stag do
“Jez: There’s only so much happiness in the world and they’re hoarding it all!
Mark: That’s not how happiness works! (It completely is.)”

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The Morgana Show
Years on: 2010
Starring: Morgana Robinson, Tom Davis, Ninette Finch
The premise: I don’t think anyone but Paul and I watched this bonkers sketch show but I love ever moment of it
Best character: Gilbert
Best episode: All of them

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Coupling
Years on: 2000 – 2004
Starring:  Jack Davenport, Gina Bellman, Sarah Alexander, Kate Isitt, Ben Miles, Richard Coyle
The premise: Six friends  navigate romance, relationships and life
Best character: Jeff
Best episode: The End of the Line
Susan: Well, you know what it’s like at the start, when they’re all fiery-eyed, and eager, and they haven’t seen you naked yet. And it’s like he’s smashing at your door with his mighty battering ram. And he’s promising to ravish you forever. So you brace yourself for man overload, and throw open the doors, and what do you find standing there? An oversized toddler who wants his dinner. And before you can say, “There’s been a terrible mistake,” he’s snoring on your sofa, the fridge is full of empty bottles and the whole place smells of feet.”

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How Not to Live Your Life
Years on: 2007 – 2010
Starring: Dan Clark, David Armand, Leila Hoffman
Premise: Dan inherits his grandmother’s house and would have a great future ahead of him if he didn’t keep making such terrible decisions.
Best character: Treacher
Best episode: Don Meets His Maker
“Don Danbury: [repeatedly during sex] Can I have my job back?
Maggie: [repeatedly] No
Don Danbury: [about to ejaculate] Can-I-have-my-job-back?
Maggie: [climaxes] Yes!
Don Danbury: So, shall I start Monday morning?
Maggie: Start what!
Don Danbury: My job, you said I can have it back!”

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Spaced
Years on: 1999 – 2001
Starring: Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes, Nick Frost
Premise: Tim and Daisy move into a flat together where they have to pretend to be a couple… endless pop culture infused shenanigans ensue.
Best character: Marsha
Best episode: Art
“Daisy: Right, I’m going to the shops. D’you want anything?
Tim: Porn.
Daisy: Tim, I’m not going to buy you porn. You can get it from railway sidings like everybody else.
Tim: I can’t, I’m an adult. I’m supposed to leave it there.”

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Blackadder
Years on: 1983 – 1989
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Hugh Laurie
Premise: The adventures of Blackadder and his faithful servant, Baldrick, throughout history.
Best character: Baldrick
Best episode: Beer
“Blackadder: I seek information about a Wisewoman.
Young Crone: Ah, the Wisewoman… the Wisewoman.
Blackadder: Yes, the Wisewoman.
Young Crone: Two things, my lord, must thee know of the Wisewoman. First, she is… a woman. And second, she is…
Blackadder: Wise?
Young Crone: You do know her then?
Blackadder: No, just a wild stab in the dark which is, incidentally, what you’ll be getting if you don’t start being a bit more helpful. Do you know where she lives?
Young Crone: Of course.
Blackadder: Where?
Young Crone: Here. Do you have an appointment?
Blackadder: No.
Young Crone: Well, you can go in anyway.
Blackadder: Thank you young crone. Here is a purse of moneys… which I’m not going to give to you.”

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Father Ted
Years on: 1995 – 1998
Premise: The surreal adventures of a group of priests living together on the remote Craggy Island with their housekeeper Mrs Doyle
Starring: Dermot Morgan, Ardal O’Hanlon, Frank Kelly, Pauline McLynn
Best character: Father Jack
Best Episode: A Song for Europe
“Father Dougal McGuire: I’ve never met a celebrity before.
Father Ted Crilly: You met the Pope.
Father Dougal McGuire: Did I?
Father Ted Crilly: Yes, do you not remember that time we were in Rome?
Father Dougal McGuire: That was the Pope? That old fella living in the art gallery?
Father Ted Crilly: The Vatican, Dougal! The Vatican!
Father Dougal McGuire: Still, he’s not a celebrity in the true sense of the word.
Father Ted Crilly: He’s God’s representative on Earth, Dougal!
Father Dougal McGuire: You’d think he’d be taller.
Father Ted Crilly: You mean like a giant?”

Honourable mentions: League of Gentlemen, Little Britain, The Inbetweeners, Gavin & Stacey, That Mitchell and Webb Look,  The Office

10 Actresses I would watch in just about anything

Abbi:

Check out Ruth from Flixchatter.net’s top 10 actresses she’d see in almost anything.

Originally posted on :

Top10ActressesBnr

As part of a continuation to the Top 10 Actors I’d See in Anything post, I figure I’d do the same list for the fairer sex. If anything, my love for actresses seem to be more constant than for actors, not sure why but aside from some new discoveries, I’ve been a fan of most of these actresses for a decade or longer. Again this idea originated with Abbi at Where the Wild Things Are Blog. The same as the actors, it’s not that I’d watch them in literally anything because there are some movies with them in it I haven’t seen and probably never will. But having their name in a certain film would certainly make me more inclined in watching them.

Here they are ranked from bottom to top so #1 is my MOST favorite:

10. Kristin Scott-Thomas

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Ever since I saw her as Fiona in Four Weddings…

View original 1,951 more words

Film Friday #201

Gone Girl (2014)

On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns from the bar he owns with his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon) to find his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing. There are clear signs of a struggle so Nick reports Amy missing and an investigation into the apparent kidnapping commences with Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) at the helm. At first Nick is deluged with sympathy but as more evidence is uncovered, alongside Nick’s odd behaviour suspicions, are aroused that he might know more about Amy’s whereabouts than he is letting on. At the same time through Amy’s journal we learn about a marriage in crisis plagued by unsatisfied expectations and the pressures of real life tearing apart a shallow connection between two people both pretending to be something they are not.  My book club read Gone Girl almost two years ago before there were any whisperings of a film and it was a firm favourite so I was definitely looking forward to seeing this. Unfortunately the problem with a story that relies so heavily on a massive twist is that knowing the twist really affects your experience and I am finding it almost impossible to extricate my experience of the novel from the film. It’s hard to know how I would feel about the film if I had gone in blind. What I can tell you is that unlike many others, I thought the casting of Amy and Nick was inspired before I saw the film and that did not change in viewing it. Pike has exactly the kind of icy beauty required to play a woman as calculated, manipulative and distant as Amy and Affleck’s smarmy charm makes it easy to hate and pity Nick simultaneously. All of that said, despite the fact that Gone Girl is two and a half hours long, elements of it feel underdeveloped and I didn’t feel as in tune with the characters’ motivations as I did while reading the novel. Although I enjoyed it, I left wanting more. Would I have felt like that if I hadn’t read the book? Quite potentially not but at this stage I think it’s almost impossible to tell. David Fincher does a solid job of translating the source material to screen but for me, it’s not his best. 3.5/5

XXXX

Now that Nick’s wife was missing he could wear her panties without any fear of repurcussions

Life After Beth (2014)

When Zach Orfman’s (Dane DeHaan) girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza) dies, he finds himself lost in a slump of misery, mooching around in black clothes, disconnected from his family and obsessively spending time with Beth’s parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) despite the fact that their relationship was having troubles before she died. One day he pops in to see Beth’s dad, Maury and spots Beth in the house discovering that she has come back to life. Zach is ecstatic but Beth has no memory of dying, in fact she’s a bit hazy on a lot of details. The more time Zach spends with Aubrey stranger her behaviour and appearance becomes and he starts to suspect that she is a zombie. Now he’ll have to figure out how to break up with her without her killing him in the process, while at the same time keeping out of the way of an ever increasing horde of the undead. To some extent it feels like Life After Beth was a good idea that would have made a fun episode of Buffy but just isn’t a coherent enough concept for a full-length film nor does it pack enough laughs to make you forget just how silly it is. DeHaan is suitably type-cast as quirky, Zach but Plaza spends most of the film doing little more than gurning angrily, which gets tired quite fast. My favourite character ended up being Zach’s trigger happy brother Kyle, played by an always excellent Matthew Gray Gubler. After reading Cinema Parrot Disco’s review I found myself agreeing that there isn’t enough exploration of what Zach and Beth’s relationship was like before she died and that might have been a better use of screen time than dragging out all of Zach’s dead relatives and it would have made the concept of knowing when to let go much clearer as a theme. Points for effort but not the final result. 2.5/5

As a girlfriend, Beth was head and shoulders above the rest

As a girlfriend, Beth was head and shoulders above the rest

White House Down (2013)

I can’t believe I actually have to try and remember what happened in this idiotic film but anyway… Channing Tatum takes his whiny daughter on a tour off the White House on the same day he is going to have an interview with his ex-girlfriend (Maggie Gyllenhaal) to be in the secret service. That goes tits up because he’s a bit crap with authority. Poor Channers. Then some angry dudes break in and try to kidnap the President (Jamie Foxx) but Channing holds them off and he and Barack… I mean Jamie… have to stop the angry dudes from starting world war three. But it’s not actually the angry dudes in charge… it’s James Woods and he’s supposed to be the President’s best mate! LOUD NOISES! And then everyone thinks the president is dead so a whole bunch of people get to have a go and being president including Richard from Eat Pray Loathe. And there’s an RPG! And Channers saves his daughter and Barack. The end. 1.5/5

XXX

Where’s the mothefucking RPG? You said I could fire a RPG?

The Family (2013)

The Manzini family find themselves in Normandy, renamed as the Blakes, after their latest witness protection programme relocation. Their handler, Robert Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones), desperately wants them to fit in but old habits die hard and it’s not long before mum, Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) is blowing up grocery stores, dad, Fred (Robert De Niro) is exerting unnecessary pressure on the local council to sort out his plumbing, son, Warren (John D’Leo) has several criminal operations on the go at school and daugter, Belle (Dianna Agron) is trying to seduce her maths tutor.  This becomes the least of their problems when a series of ridiculous events leads to mob boss, Fat Willy (Vincent Pastore) finds out where they are. The Family’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t know what kind of film it wants to be and so it ends up as a bizarre mishmash between a thriller and a comedy, neither of which works. De Niro has one great scene where he relays stories of his childhood to the film club he’s been invited to join but other than that this is a waste of a good cast on ill-conceived material. 1.5/5

God save me from the terrible direction my career has taken

God save me from the terrible direction my career has taken

 

Things I have been cooking lately #92: Raspberry fudge cake

I’m not sure if everyone is as obsessed as I am with The Great British Bake Off but I can’t help tuning in to see what they’re going to make next. My baking skills are nowhere near the kind of level that’s necessary for Bake Off but I do enjoy flipping through the cookbooks and dreaming about what I might attempt. This easy raspberry fudge cake comes from The Great British Bake Off Everyday and it’s delicious! It is worth mentioning though that this cake needs to stand for 24 hours before you eat it.

Raspberry fudge cake

240g butter
5 tablespoons of raspberry conserve
70g cocoa
300g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
100g flour
A pinch of salt

To decorate
2 tablespoons of raspberry conserve
300g fresh raspberries

Grease and base line a 20cm springform tin and heat your oven to 180 C (170 C for a fan oven).

Place the butter and raspberry conserve in a pot big enough to hold all the ingredients. Put the pot over the lowest possible heat and melt the butter stirring regularly with a wooden spoon.

Once the butter is melted place the pot on a damp cloth to prevent wobbling. Sift in the cocoa and then add the sugar. Stir until well combined.

Beat the eggs and vanilla together until just combined. Add the egg mixture to the pot a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift in the flour and salt and stir until you have a smooth, glossy batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 160 C (150 C for a fan oven) and bake for a further 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out slightly sticky (if you have a demon oven like mine check after 30 minutes so you don’t over bake).

When the cake is done place the tin on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and then leave it on the rack until completely cold. When release the spring and then wrap the cake in foil and store in an airtight container for twenty-four hours to settle.

When your cake is ready to decorate, gently heat the raspberry conserve and then brush over the top of the cake. Arrange the fresh raspberries over the top and serve.

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