Saturday, March 26, 2016

My Ten Favourite Films on Netflix Right Now!

Not sponsored, not affiliated with Netflix, I am a monthly subscriber.


I go through phases with Netflix. Sometimes I go for weeks without even logging on, other times I can't get enough and I'll devour a series over a few nights.

Last weekend, I logged on and found a few new movies - and when searching last night, I realised that loads of my favourites are there - so I thought I'd do a post in case you haven't seen any of these in a while (or ever - lucky you getting to see them for the first time!!). All images are grabbed from Netflix.

In no particular order:

Hocus Pocus

Year: 1993
Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Birch
Plot: A skepical teenage boy lights a candle on Halloween night in Salem, bringing three evil witches back from the dead. They need the lives of children to survive - but they've only got until dawn.

Why I Love It: This is one of my all time favourite films - I would be 100% confident that I could quote the majority of it from start to finish. I adore everything about it - the cast, the score, the musical number, the humour, the setting - just because it's March doesn't mean you can't embrace a little bit of Halloween!

A Night at the Roxbury

Year: 1998
Starring: Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, Molly Shannon
Plot: Two brothers have a shared dream to open their own Nightclub despite still living at home and working in their father's flower shop.

Why I Love It: This is just a fantastic feel good film - the soundtrack album is one of my favourites (Haddaway, anyone?), and it's a really funny, witty film. It's based on a recurring Saturday Night Live skit featuring the cast members. If you're a fan of Will Ferrell's type of humour, please give it a watch!

Desperately Seeking Susan

Year: 1985
Starring: Madonna, Rosanna Arquette, Aidan Quinn
Plot: A bored suburban housewife becomes obsessed with a couple who leave messages for each other in the personal ads section of the newspaper. When she has an accident and suffers amnesia, she gets caught up in their wild lives.

Why I Love It: I ADORE Rosanna Arquette in this. Interestingly, she wasn't considered the lead female in this film - they wanted to market it as a Madonna thing, especially as she used a new song, Into the Groove, just for the film. The fashion is amazing, Aidan Quinn is just gorgeous, and Rosanna is adorable. Love it!


Year: 1990
Starring: Winona Ryder, Cher, Christina Ricci, Bob Hoskins
Plot: A mother moves her two daughters to a new area everytime things get tough. This time, they end up in a small town where a shoe salesman becomes besotted with the mother. Meanwhile, the eldest daughter Charlotte is having a crisis of faith, trying to discover who she is while lusting after hunky bus driver Joe. It's set in 1963.

Why I Love It: I had such a crush on the guy who played Joe for years (Michael Schoeffling - also played Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles, John Hughes fans), it's not even funny - it goes without saying that the cast are all fantastic here, especially a very young Christina Ricci. Winona is a star, she completely owns the film (not an easy job when your acting alongside Cher).

Return to Oz

Year: 1985
Starring: Fairuza Balk, Jean Marsh, Piper Laurie
Plot: In a sequel of sorts to the original, this 80s film takes a decidedly darker look at the mysterious world of Oz. After returning from Oz and not being able to stop talking about it, Dorothy is undergoing electric shock treatment when she gets the opportunity to return to Oz, meeting some new friends and some terrifying adversaries on the way.

Why I Love It: This film stayed with me for a very long time when I first saw it - the sight of a headless Mombi screaming "Dorothy GAAALLLLEE" has been embedded in my brain since I first saw it years ago. Fairuza Balk is fantastic as Dorothy, and I like that this film is a lot darker and more twisted than the first one.

Where the Heart is

Year: 2000
Starring: Natalie Portman, Stockard Channing, Ashley Judd, Joan Cusack
Plot: A young pregnant girl becomes notorious when she gives birth in a local Wal-Mart store. A kind stranger takes her in where she makes a new life for herself and learns how family doesn't always have to mean blood.

Why I Love It: I stumbled upon this film late one night on telly and was delighted to find it again on Netflix. Natalie Portman is a fantastic actress and her portrayal of teenager Novalee is so believable, it's a great story and Stockard Channing is brilliant as always. It's just a really hopeful film (despite some tragedy) and all the characters are warm and lovely.

Summer Magic

Year: 1963
Starring: Hayley Mills, Burl Ives, Dorothy McGuire
Plot: The Carey family are forced to move to a new home when they run into financial difficulty. Widow Carey and her children move to a big run-down house in the country. They're beginning to find their feet when glamorous cousin Julia arrives and throws a spanner in the works for hard-working eldest daughter Nancy.

Why I Love It: This was one of my favourite childhood films. I think we taped it off the telly years ago and watched it repeatedly - it's a great musical, I still remember the words to some of the numbers. Hayley Mills is brilliant in it but I always wanted to be the cousin, she was so elegant! Do give it a watch if old-school musicals are your thing.


Year: 1995
Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Stacey Dash, Paul Rudd
Plot: A rich young student takes a new girl under her wing and gives her a makeover to fit in, all the while trying to impress a boy in her class.

Why I Love It: I know, I know - we've all probably seen it a million times, but not everyone knows it's on Netflix. It's endlessly quotable (way harsh, Tai), Cher's wardrobe is iconic, and who hasn't tried to put the word 'sporadic' into a sentence?

Kevin and Perry Go Large

Year: 2000
Starring: Harry Enfield, Kathy Burke, Rhys Ifans
Plot: Incompetent teenagers Kevin and Perry go on holiday to Ibiza with Kevin's parents. While there, they try to get the attention of DJ Eyeball Paul so they can get him to play their mix and become world famous DJS. They'd also like to lose their virginity.

Why I Love It: This isn't to everyone's taste but I love it, I love Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke in general, I've always been a fan of both. The music in this will bring waves of nostalgia back to anyone who was of Ibiza-going age in 2000, and while I could do without the whole spot-bursting scene, I still think it's worth a watch if you're into that type of comedy.

Girl, Interrupted

Year: 2000
Starring: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Brittany Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg
Plot: A young woman who wants to be a writer is incarcerated in a mental institution after a suspected suicide attempt. Adamant that there is nothing wrong with her, she finds it hard to adjust until she meets rebellious free spirit Lisa, who takes her down a dangerous road. Set in the 1960s.

Why I Love It: This is one of my favourite films and definitely my favourite Angelina Jolie performance. She is excellent and believable as Lisa, a tough character who is actually quite sad. There's a hilarious ice-cream shop scene, and a great turn from Brittany Murphy as a tragic young patient. Based on the book by Susannah Kaysen, about her own experiences as a teenager. I recommend the book too, but bear in mind that both the book and film could be triggering for anyone with self-harm, depression, or eating disorder history. I recently watched it for the first time since Brittany Murphy passed away and it was quite upsetting in parts, but it's a fantastic film.

Honorable mentions go to Spice World, Burlesque, Drop Dead Fred and Footloose (the remake) which was actually fairly decent as remakes go (but Dennis Quaid is no John Lithgow, and there's a sentence I never thought I'd write).

So that's it! Am I missing anything great? Have you stumbled upon anything good on Netflix lately? I'm always open to suggestions, but I don't have time to commit to a series right now so I'd love documentary or film recommendations please!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Books I Read in February

Not sponsored or paid, no ARCs featured


Wow, this post is late - usually I try to get the book posts up earlier in the month, so apologies. In February, I mostly read this:

I read and re-read it until I was seeing road signs in my sleep, so I didn't really have time for a lot of other books. It paid off - I passed the theory test - but it meant that my book total for the year came to a bit of a standstill.

I managed to fit in four other books in February, two fiction and two non-fiction.

Me and My Mate Jeffrey by Niall Breslin
Niall Breslin, better known as Bressie, is an Irish musician and TV judge on Ireland's version of singing show 'The Voice'. In this book, he is very open about his battles with depression and anxiety. I liked this book because it helped me understand more about those who do have anxiety - he also has some great advice without being preachy, and points out where he went wrong and admits that some of his decisions weren't the right ones. I think it's great for young men to have a book like this so that they can realise that it's not just women who battle their demons - but I wouldn't give it to anyone under 15 due to some of the content related to self-harm.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
When Peggy Hillcoat is 8 years old, her survivalist father takes her on a trip to the woods with every intention of them staying there for good. He tells Peggy that the rest of the world has been destroyed, and that they are the only two people left in the world. The book jumps between the time Peggy spends in the woods and the present day, where she's back with her mother - but what happened out there? The overwhelming feeling I had reading this was one of sadness, it's a sad book. It's essentially a look at a man's unravelling, and it's uncomfortable in parts, but it was a different type of read and one that has stayed with me. This was one of Richard & Judy's picks for Spring.

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
Leah Remini is an actress. This is the story of how she and her family were introduced to the world of Scientology by her mother's then boyfriend. She spills the beans on some inner goings-on at the church - including some not-too-flattering tales about Tom Cruise and his supporters. It's an interesting read, mainly because Leah doesn't hold back at all - about the church or about herself and the mistakes she has made.

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald
I'm a big fan of Helen Fitzgerald's writing style, her characters are usually razor sharp and full of life. In this latest offering, Su Oliphant Brotheridge and her sister Leah go on holiday with a group of friends to Magaluf after their A-Levels. Something happens out there that turns Su into a viral phenomenon - and she's afraid to come home. Her mother, a Family Court Judge, is determined to punish those responsible and get Su back where she belongs. This is not for you if you don't like foul language - even the opening line packs a wallop. I wasn't mad about the book, being honest, the mother seemed completely unhinged to me. There was also a family incident that I felt unrealistic and just thrown in there for handiness - but overall I'd recommend Helen Fitzgerald if you like something gritty and darkly comic.

So that's it - I'm totally counting that theory test book towards my yearly reads because it was a book and I read it.

Hopefully I'll be able to add a few more to the pile throughout the last few days of March!