Thursday, 23 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Twenty-Three

Best of the year:

1. Party: our housewarming party was not only one of my favourite events of 2010 but one of my favourite events of EVER. It’s very rare to enjoy myself so much that I never want it to end. So much nostalgia, and the joy of seeing old faces, and so many things going on that my head was spinning with happiness. I want to do it all over again next year!

2. Show:  hmmm, most have been the shit this year, but exceptions: Lost made me cry buckets when it ended in May; The Walking Dead impressed me no end;  Pretty Little Liars has been my guilty pleasure; I LOVE WE NEED ANSWERS SO MUCH

3. CD: Band of Horses “Infinite Arms” (to be predictable!)

4. Film:  films have also been poor this year. “Inception” was probably the best, with close runners up being “Up In The Air”, “Going The Distance” and “A Town Called Panic”. But my favourite film of the year was actually one we downloaded that came out in 2009 – “Triangle”. I made everyone watch it at Halloween because it’s so ace! There’s just so much to discuss when it finishes, and it was unexpectedly so clever I am still in awe!

5. Song: I’m not even gonna lie, it’s “Nothing In Common”! HA!  One of the best things a1 have ever done! I can unashamedly listen to it on repeat.

6. Experience:  buying a house. Not the stress of moving out of the flat, and living without gas for two weeks, and discovering we had dangerous electricity – but shopping for carpets, painting walls, making button lampshades, browsing secondhand furniture shops... I loved all that. I didn’t want to go back to work!

7. Concert: either Band of Horses where I danced around like a loon (and sang badly on videos which cannot be posted to Facebook) or Iron & Wine at End of the Road, because it was outside and just turning dark, and when Sam Beam came on it stopped raining. He did beautiful acoustic versions of Ressurrection Fern and Such Great Heights, and it was one of those moments where you want to hold up a lighter flame and sway.

8. Book: God, I don’t think I’ve read very much this year to my utter embarrassment. I keep starting books and then losing interest (Super Sad Love Story, The Book of Lost Things, One Day, The Shadow of the Wind – although I did finish that).  *pause* I’ve just gone to look at my bookshelf to see what books I have read and realised that the reason I can’t recall many is because 7 of them were Pretty Little Liars books – ha ha!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Twenty

One of my favourite Christmas tunes - just about sums up how I feel about the event!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Nineteen

It's nudging towards end of year review time - here's TWOP's take on the TV of 2010.

I must say I agree with a few of their 'disappointments'...

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Thor Trailer, and a Golden Globe Nomination

Hi Folks.

Meant to post the official Thor trailer last week, so sorry for the delay! Here we go, and it's as unsatisfying as the teaser from Comic Con:

3D? Meh. Natalie in 3D? Argh, dilemma!

In more exciting news, Natalie has secured a Golden Globe nomination for Black Swan - her first for Best Actress. Squee! It's also more exciting as Annette Bening - her only real rival in the awards race for the overrated The Kids Are Alright - is in the Comedy/Musical category, leaving Natalie free to reign supreme in Drama. Well, we hope so anyway.

The awards take place on January 16th - five days before Black Swan is released over here. I CAN'T WAIT!

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Eighteen

Ahhh, Boxing Day (wait WHAT! It's only the 18th!) - the day when everyone is bored of their presents, bloated from crazy combos of food (a selection box, a Christmas dinner, half a tin of Roses, some crisps, Christmas pudding, some sweets... barf) and everyone is bored to tears by the whole festive thing. A perfect day then, for BOARD GAMES.

I am somewhat of a board game geek - even though I don't own very many, I can spend hours playing them and looking at them in shops (especially in Travelling Man where my heart does a spinny dance every time it sees the wall to wall of boxes filled with die, counters, cards and other delights). Here are my top five board games to play this Boxing Day.

1. Trivial Pursuit - always a good one to test those brain cells, but try and get an up to date one and not struggle like us with a 1970s one from a charity shop

2. Hero Quest / Dungeons and Dragons - either or, they're both as good as each other. Even better when someone voluntarily WANTS to be the DM (!)

3. Scene It? - one of my favourite games ever, as I love the interactive element to it, and of course, it's all about FILMS! I must also cheat a bit here and throw in a good word for Buzz as well, even though it's not technically a board game, it's still brilliant fun

4. Dread Pirate - one we play every year, to name our ships stupidly if not collecting all the sparkly gems

5. Arkham Horror - this had to be included as it's all I've been doing since I got it for my birthday about three weeks ago (whoooops to the blog updates!). It's just the most complete board game experience I've ever had, and play can stretch up to a whole day - bliss when you have endless amounts of tea and foodies. I urge you to play it, and when you have it, try and refrain from buying all the expansion packs - I DARE YOU

PS - this is my 100th post! Hurray!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Seventeen

The Best thing Family Guy have ever done.

"I'm not really following the story arc, here..."

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Sixteen

A lil giggle, and a turning point of 2010 - or at least in the way I say "owl":

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Fourteen

God, don't you just love Philippe?

He writes the best novels.

He tries his best to please everyone.

He tells it like it is.

He's got the cutest button mouth.


Monday, 13 December 2010

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Twelve

For those still struggling with Christmas present purchases (cough, cough) here are my top five online shops where goodies await your pennies:

Not On The High Street: one of the first places I go if I'm just looking for a quirky gift

Bombay Duck: Good, and very pretty, for the home

Play USA: For all those Region 1 DVDs and newly released CDs in America

Folksy: A place to buy handmade gifts, support amateur talent and sell your own creations

Montezuma's: yummy yummy chocolates, and it's all Fair Trade!


Once again, sucked in by the good reviews. Monsters has to be one of the biggest disappointments of the year.

It's not as if I was going in thinking that this was going to be an action film with spectacular set-pieces and special effects, but I thought at least it would be on a par with Cloverfield: lots of tension, lots of mystery, lots of twists and turns. Monsters had none of this, and even if it was trying to be more of a love story stroke road trip movie, at least make the characters likable for God's sake, or throw up the odd surprise.

Photographer Andrew is asked by his boss whilst in Mexico to bring back his daughter after she is injured in an attack by one of the inhabiting 'creatures'. Annoyed as he wants to stay and capture some images of the otherworldly beings, his job is a priority and so after finding Sam they set off to go back to America. However after being robbed in a cheap hotel, the two can no longer afford a ferry back to their homeland and have to risk being chaperoned by locals across the 'infected zone' - the home of the monsters.

So many lacklustre things I'm not sure where to begin. The poor (deliberate?) lighting and sound of the film made a lot of dialogue inaudible and many of the scenes impossible to decipher - the most exciting moment of the film when their entourage is attacked in the infected zone was in almost pitch darkness, so the affect of teasing the audience with little snippets of action wasn't even achieved. I could understand what the director was trying to do - sometimes the scariest thing can be when you can't see but can only hear the danger - but it doesn't make for a very thrilling experience for the audience. Perhaps they should have thrown in a few more blood curdling screams or inhuman noises and taken out some of the octopussy tentacles.

I could not have cared any less about the main characters of Andrew and Samantha - both were bland, selfish, contrite, arrogant. Considering the two actors are now married it's astonishing their chemistry was so weak. The predictability of their 'romance' only exasperated me further (they hate each other but will soon love each other) and their coming together at the end after sharing the magical moment of a sexy monster cuddle (ahem) was just ridiculous. Just kill them both! Selling her engagement ring to buy them both ferry tickets...zzzzzzzz. I could not root for them one iota. The scene where Sam runs off to the harbour after believing Andrew has slept with a girl was completely absurd:

"What are you doing?"
"Getting on the ferry."
"Then why aren't you?"
"Because you have my passport."

WHAT? Why did you run off then, you silly mare? It was so ludicrously off-kilter it made me wonder if Gareth Edwards had had a little snooze during editing. The monsters themselves didn't rise to the challenge either - they weren't powerful enough to be terrifying, and they weren't victimised enough to be sympathetic.

I'll concede it was beautifully arty (when you could see what was going on), and I liked the way the monsters had integrated themselves into everyday life, so all that was happening around them was almost normal. But this also worked against the film as the blasé attitude of the characters meant the suspense level never shifted from zero.

Certainly a different take on the genre, Monsters is only interesting on paper. The five star reviews baffle me, as this is a film that deserves only a shrug and no recommendation from me. A sad waste of money.

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Eleven

Brrrr, it's cold out. How about one of my favourite drinks to warm us all up?

Not just for Christmas, but FOR LIFE! AMT Coffee is just beautiful at this time of year, and that's because of their milk steamers. They are the sweetest drink that my mouth ever doth come across. I've had nearly every one now (barring coconut, that just doesn't count) with only caramel to go - I think you need to be in a very sugary place to try that. Favourite is still Gingerbread: sprinkle on a bit of cinnamon and away you go.

Try them today!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Eight

For Day 8 I thought I'd shine the spotlight on one of my workplaces - The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds - and run through some of the upcoming events in the new season calendar. A comprehensive guide is here, but I'll highlight the ones I'm looking forward to the most. Perhaps a day trip to Leeds may be in order..?


A Christmas Carol: Charles Dickens' classic tale of bah humbug (there's a few of those around here...) in the Quarry Theatre upstairs. This is the Christmas musical spectacular of the Playhouse, and always more enchanting and memorable for the ones who don't have to work it for 2 and a half months... (Until January 15th)

Aladdin: my favourite of the Christmas shows, I'm always amazed by how the cast and stagehands manage to construct all the props out of the scenery. Last year's pumpkin coach for Cinderella was breathtaking! This year it's Aladdin, and is sure to be just as delightful. It's for the little 'uns in the cuter Courtyard theatre, but I always make sure I see this (Until January 15th)


Lost and Found: another kids play, but I am so pleased the Playhouse is putting on a production of this as it's such a beautiful story and the TV adaptation made me cry! Looking forward to seeing how they play the penguin, and also create the vast, blue sea. (24th - 27th)


Stewart Lee: Vegetable Stew: definitely highlighting this show, because as well as it being Stewart Lee and guaranteed to be laugh out loud funny (and clever), it's also the show I saw at the Edinburgh Fringe this year so I KNOW it's good! Go for the crisp jokes (14th)

South Pacific: sometimes a full blown musical is just what you need - and this is a classic which I'm actually really looking forward to seeing. The same company put on Fiddler On The Roof earlier this year, and whilst that wasn't really my idea of a night out, I think this is a real escape (26th March to 2nd April)


Goodnight Mr Tom: probably best known for the TV series with David Jason (and less the book!), this is going to make everybody cry. As the characters are so synonymous with the TV actors it will be refreshing to see them brought to life a different way, and on the stage as well. A definite one to go and see, and only for a few days as well! (6th to 9th)


'Tis Pity She's A Whore: one of the most controversial plays in history, and something bold and exciting for the Playhouse in May. This is something I really want to big up - you know what to expect from a lot of shows but this is going to be different. It has a real quality about it, and whether I'm working it or not I'll be securing a ticket. My most eagerly anticipated event of the season. (7th to 28th)

Connections: sorry to be so blunt as to say it but ignoring all the school stuff here, new work from up and coming theatre companies and scriptwriters is always a treat to watch. They're pushing the most innovative ideas, and there could be one that blows us away. Plus there's a company called Duck Egg Theatre involved - I'M THERE! (11th to 14th)

Hugh Hughes: I'm not sure who this guy is, but he's merited having four of his productions playing at the Playhouse over one month including his latest as of yet undeveloped new piece which relies on improvisation and input from the audience - sounds like the Edinburgh Fringe coming to Leeds! But he's won me over as the blurbs for each of his shows sound wonderfully quirky, as does the man himself.
Floating: 17th, 21st
Story Of A Rabbit: 18th, 21st
360: 19th, 21st
Stories From An Invisible Town: 20th

Bronte: bringing some local culture and history to the stage, a new fictional telling of the lives of the Bronte sisters growing up on the Yorkshire moors and putting to paper some of the most recognisable and classic books today. This will be an interesting watch for me as I don't know a great deal about the sisters and this may make my much talked about trip to Haworth a reality. (24th to 28th)


Transform: I have absolutely no idea what this is going to entail, and neither does anyone else (except of course the WYP insiders). It sounds like a premise for a Light Night event: "work inside and outside of the building; pieces that last one hour and others that last two weeks; interactive installations and performances in the dark." I just hope it's not as disappointing as that Night always turns out to be. Still, I like this new throw caution to the wind Playhouse. (3rd to 25th)

The Wiz: I LOVE THE WIZARD OF OZ. Whilst I wish this was more of a straightforward adaptation/musical, I'm open to it being done in the style of Motown. I haven't seen any of the original Broadway production or film so I have no idea what to expect - just hope it's a lot of fun and not too off the course of this fabulous story. (June 24th to July 16th)


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Seven

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Six

Dear Santa (the nice one, not the Rare Exports one),

All I'd like for Christmas are these lovely schuhs. Make it happen please! For even a mouse needs heels that look like screws.

Lots of love,


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Five

Total giggles today - enjoy! And if you haven't read anything by him before, I suggest you have a wander around the rest of the site.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Two

What's behind door number 2? Some tasty Christmas treats!

When I think of Christmas Cake I think of the horrible dense, slightly stale fruit cake that people lap up after their lunch. But in Japan, their Christmas Cake looks like THIS:

A sponge cake filled with cream, topped with strawberries and a sign to say 'Merry Christmas'. It's 100% better and I want it!

I've just learned about an old French tradition in the Provence area - the 13 desserts of Christmas. Sounds amazing, but 'desserts' is really a loose term. The 13 foods are supposed to represent the 12 apostles and Jesus Christ, and are consumed by families on Christmas Eve.

I'm not sure if this is in the definitive order, but it goes something like this:

  1. Le Pompe a Huile (bread made with orange flower water and olive oil)
  2. Black 'evil' Nougat made with honey and almonds; White 'good' Nougat made with pine nuts, pistachio and hazelnuts
  3. Yule Log
  4. 1st beggar: Hazelnuts; 2nd beggar: Almonds; 3rd beggar: Raisins; 4th beggar: Dry Figs
  5. Oranges
  6. Quince Jellies
  7. Dates stuffed with Marzipan
  8. Green Melon
  9. Candied Melon
  10. Apples and Pears
  11. Prunes
  12. Grapes
  13. Calisson d'Aix (Marzipan sweets)
Actual items vary depending on the region, and can also include biscuits, waffles and fried pastries.

One of the more common Christmas sweets enjoyed by many countries is gingerbread. A couple of years ago, the man and I had a go at making a gingerbread house. It was the most fun ever, EVER.

It's made me want to do it all over again - but maybe this time a train, or a castle. Or anything from here.

Aiden Grimshaw - lost on The X Factor

I didn't really have time to endorse Mr Grimshaw before he was outrageously voted off the show a few weeks ago. I didn't really notice him during the auditions, but his first performance on the live shows doing Mad World was just incredible. Over the next weeks I began to realise that my main reason for watching the programme was to see what Aiden would be singing - everything else was just decoration.

When he ended up in the bottom two in Week 6 I was shocked beyond belief - but it was alright because he would still be saved. And then he bloody left. I had a bit of a tantrum (bring back Fame Academy!, etc) and suddenly my whole interest in this year's series vanished.

Hopefully Aiden will continue to pursue a music career - I think he has a stunning voice and amazing stage presence for someone so young - and an album will one day appear on the horizon. Until then, so I don't forget, here are all of his performance's from this year's The X Factor including the sing off which should have kept him in.

Week One - Mad World

Week Two - Jealous Guy

Week Three - Diamonds Are Forever

Week Four - Thriller - my favourite! He did the Imogen Heap version!

Week Five - Nothing Compares 2U

Week Six - Rocket Man

Sing Off - Don't Dream It's Over

It's still a bit upsetting he's not in the finals :-(

Yay Ann!

The only winner, really. Chelsey's throwing a hissy fit somewhere...

Ann Ward - winner Cycle 15

Through The Grater Catch Up

Well there's one good thing about all this white stuff falling from the sky and creating chaos on the roads - a day off work so I can catch up on culturemouse and all the gossip from tinterweb. For those of you who think I've been slacking off - I HAVEN'T - I've been busy at the Leeds Film Festival and you can read all the reviews over at sister site screenmouse. But now that's all over, and I've celebrated being a year older, it's back to the old faithful, and as a special treat the culturemouse advent calendar has begun, with 24 treats to keep you occupied for at least a couple of minutes a day. How marvellous!

Now onto what's been happening in the world of moving images and the loike - but first, I've been meaning to put up the trailer for the Coens' new flick for a while now, so we best get on with it.

You're in safe hands with these two - an amazing film always guaranteed. True Grit is out on January 14.

So let's start with TV news.

Firstly there's word of many a new show being developed over the pond. Two have caught my eye - JJ Abrams' Alcatraz which has begun naming its cast, and a yet untitled supernatural thriller from Kevin Williamson, he who wrote Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer and Dawson's Creek and The Vampire Diaries for TV. Now JJ Abrams I can take or leave - he either creates the good shows with a lil bit of mystery sci-fi (Lost, Fringe) or the boring spy thrillers (Alias, Undercovers) - I just hear the word 'CIA' and phase out. But this new one sounds an intriguing mix of the two: a group of missing prisoners and wardens from the island prison reappear in the present day with a team of FBI agents on their trail (not so hot on the FBI). The acclaimed producer has taken one of the Lost alumni with him - Jorge Garcia - and has just cast the main female lead with Sarah Jones. It'll probably be a good year or so before we see the fruits of this project, but with the recent cancellation of Undercovers he'll be wanting his own piece of the small screen back. The Kevin Williamson project I'm interested in, but not so much for the "companion to the Vampire Diaries" description that's being bandied about - hopefully it will stand alone - and to be honest, it sounds like the CW lining up a successor for when Supernatural is bound to depart into oblivion next Summer.

Something definitely worth a gander - Armando Iannucci's US version of The Thick Of It coming to HBO under the name Veep. Although the comic writer is stressing that it's not a remake ala The Office, but rather a "cousin" to the BBC 2 show, and will have the same feel of the American political system and dealings in In The Loop. But he's writing the script so it doesn't really matter, right?

Another project that may be worth keeping a wandering eye on: ABC Family have green lighted the pilot for The Lying Game, which sounded familiar and after a bit of reading realised it was the new series of books from Sara Shepard, whose Pretty Little Liars grace the same channel. They must be pretty confident in its success as the book has only just been published in America. It sounds a little samey to me, so it's not yet on the list of things to watch.

For a good round up of other babes in the melting pot, go here.

Time for a crappy trailer, me thinks.

Dear God it looks awful. Is it trying to be Angela Carter?

Back to TV briefly: Damages is back next Summer for a fourth series. I had thought it would return in January as always but I suspect the to-ing and fro-ing over whether it still even existed has delayed things somewhat. Still, it will be here before we know it. No word on the plot just yet, or any star cameo castings.

And a shout out to all you crazy people who have not yet tuned into AMC's The Walking Dead - you're just crazy! The final episode of Season 1 airs this weekend, and then we have to wait a whole year for more Andrew Lincoln being a sheriff. Sob, sob.

Onto film!

If you've been on the blog and Nataliedar recently you'll know that a couple of Ms Natalie's upcoming films have had their trailers released, and everything is moving along nicely. 2011 is set to be a very busy year with Black Swan, No Strings Attached, Thor and Your Highness all within six months of each other! Natalie is currently being linked with a number of new ventures including a new Alien reboot, the next Batman film, and more seriously, an adaptation of Cloud Atlas. Whilst nothing has been confirmed yet, Halle Berry herself has mentioned that Natalie is involved, so there must be some truth to the rumours. Whether it will be a major role or a little sojourn to get her teeth stuck into whilst she searches for something meatier is still unknown.

She's also busy producing and developing her own material at the moment - as well as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which she now won't star in, she also has Bring Your Own in mind - a raunchy comedy about two girls on the lookout for a boyfriend. Anne Hathaway has also been linked to this, so perhaps she and Natalie will be playing the two main characters?

Easy A, so very pleased that Emma Stone and director Will Gluck will be teaming up again for another film. One of the delights of the last film was the sharp, sassy script (delivered so well by Stone) so here's hoping writer Burt Royal will also be in the mix.

Lastly, some news about Wes Anderson's new film Moon Rise Kingdom - always exciting to have a new Wes Anderson project to grin about. In a departure from his usual regulars (although the ever loyal and watchable Bill Murray is present) the film is courting Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton and will focus on a small town in the 1960s where two teenagers in love run away together, and the neighbours unite to try and find them. It's going to be good anyway (he's never made a bad film), but this premise looks super good, and right up my, er, cul de sac. I think he could make this brilliantly farcical in that quirky eccentric way of his. It sounds kind of magical, doesn't it? No news yet on who will play the lovestruck teenagers.

To finish, here's the slick new trailer for Source Code - Jake Gyllenhaal's new film from the director of Moon. It looks like something we've seen before...

Oh yeah - Quantum Leap.

Over and out!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day One

Door One of the Advent Calendar finds us a picture of culturemouse's favourite Natalie Portman at the New York premiere of Black Swan. But what was she carrying around with her pretty dress all evening?