London Fashion Week #LFW may be over but you can keep the style going with @tresorparis #fashion #style

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 08.28.28Another LFW is over so its time for Cara Delevigne to give her eyebrows a rest and for Anna Wintour to pack her bags and head back to Vogue Towers. But if you’re not all fashioned out, then we have the perfect solution for you, and it comes in the form of Tresor Paris. 

This year, the  UK Jewellery Award winner has once again collaborated with fashion house Fyodor Golan to help put the finishing touches to their SS 2014 collection ‘Electric Children’. Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 08.29.00

Inspired by their pedestrian commute to their studio every day across Waterloo Bridge, the collection focuses on shape, colour and energy. Ceramic Tresor Paris beads were entwined on to bra-let tops and dresses to embellish and define the shape element of the collection, which on the one hand was beautifully fitted and on the other was contrasted with looser bomber-style jackets in fine fabrics.Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 08.27.35

The runners and bikers in particular stimulated the duo to design ‘luxe sport’ inspired pieces, epitomised with insignia FG sweat tops. These were then paired with various geometrical separates which were cut with an aesthetically clean line, such as wide floaty trousers. The ‘Fyodor Golan Tribe’ element is created through the bold splash, embroidery designs and enchanting multi-coloured feathers and pleats protruding from dresses.

Colour schemes range from bright yellow to black which contrasts with the soft pastel tones of mints, baby blues and nudes to create a dazed feeling which is enhanced by the colour splash embroideries, feathers and prints. The snakeskin apparel was also coated in pastel colours to evoke feelings of contemporary sexuality.

This high energy dynamic colouring inspired by the rave movement is visible in the particularly bright pieces adorned with the iconic smiley face.

Pieces will be available from Harvey Nicholls www.harverynicholls.com and Then & Now and www.thenandnowshop.com

Get creative this party season with these amazing #baking products from @passion4cakes @hobbycraft @therangeuk #cakes #baking

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So party season is not too far away, and all you budding bakers out there may need a bit of inspiration if you’re trying to impress with your culinary skills this Autumn. Well fear not, if it’s a ghoulish delight that you’re after for the perfect Halloween party next month, its time to invest! We’ve found this devilishly brilliant bakers airbrush kit from Shesto that may just put you into the highest rankings when it comes to sweet treats!  Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 18.44.52

Using  the Cassie Brown Cake Craft Airbrush Kit, this special cake decoration technique gives beautiful, professional-looking results every time, and you don’t have to be an experienced chef or baker to use it (phew!) . The airbrush kit is quick and simple to set up, use and clean, and comes with three mixable colours, so it’s ready to go – straight out of the box.Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 18.45.01

Why all the fuss about airbrushing?! 

Airbrushing is a relatively new cake decorating technique and is one of the quickest and easiest ways of adding colour to a cake, eliminating the need to work with multiple pieces of coloured sugar paste or royal icing, and at the same time reducing waste and mess. The liquid cake colours are sprayed smoothly through the tip of the precisely-designed airbrush using compressed air, giving the user complete control over the design and finish.

So if you fancy yourself as an ‘artisan artiste’ this winter, we would highly recommend that you give this a go!

Where can I buy this amazing contraption?! 

The Cassie Brown Cake Craft Airbrush Kit is available directly fromwww.shesto.com, or from leading craft and kitchenware retailers including Hobbycraft, The Range and craft and cake decorating shops nationwide, at a suggested retail price of £99.99.Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 18.45.19

What? There’s more?! 

And just in time for some ‘spooktacular’ spell binding cake decorating, Cassie Brown has also brought out a “How-To Christmas and Halloween DVD (£14.95) featuring top tips from the award-winning sugar craft expert on how to make stunning seasonal cakes.

So what are you waiting for… get baking and share with us your creative creations!

 

Get yourself top of the Glam List with @lip_smacker @Barrymcosmetics @GloMineralsUK @styloko #beauty #makeup #shopping

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 09.03.27So every girl loves the opportunity to play around with the newest and hottest make up trends. There’s a never ending flow of amazing products coming our way, so its hard to try and find the best of the best. Well, fear not Snoochers as we’ve done it all for you…From eyes to lips to foundation, we’ve picked our top two  make up brands to show off some of their latest trends and then introduce you Styloko a whole new shopping experience that will help you finish up that ultimate glamour puss look!
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First up, the most fun make up brand Lip Smacker is back with a whole new collection ready for the Autumn//Winter season. From cleverly allowing you to channel your inner Disney princess with its fun Lip Smacker Disney Collection, you’ll feel more like Beauty than the Beast in no time.Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 08.50.27
 And priced at a super affordable £2.50 you’ll be rushing to Debenhams to grab the full princess line up! 
Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 09.06.08Launching on the 25th September, well known beauty brand Barry M has some incredible new buys which will give you everything you need to party this Winter. Another very affordable buy, these products range from £3.99 upwards, which wont break the bank for your own purchases before you start spending on everyone else this festive season…so go on, spoil yourselves! 
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  • Palettles- A first from Barry M these eye and cheek palettes can you give you party glamour or daytime beauty in an instant. Complete with 6 eyeshadow shades that compliment each-other, a blusher, a large mirror and  two brushes- these palettes will become your go-to for eye and cheek colour every time! – £6.49Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 08.54.57
  • Matte Nails – A/W13’s must have nail look, available in matte Nude, Berry, Black and Brown you can have this seasons hottest grunge nails for just £3.99 .

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If you need something a little bit more sensitive for your skin, then look no further than Glo minerals which offers a naturally nourishing array of products and beauty tools suitable for all skin types. Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 08.58.01

From bronzers, foundations and concealers to mascaras, eye shadows and lipsticks – The range’s pharmaceutical-grade ingredients with high-pigment minerals, and exclusive combination of Vitamins A, C, E and green tea extract heighten the skins natural lustre. glō minerals also offers broad-spectrum UV protection to maintain the health of the skin while protecting it from further damage. 

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And finally, if you need more than just make up in a hurry this party season, then online site Styloko promises to slash the search time for online shoppers. 

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Having just re-launched, Styloko is offering a brand new online shopping experience connecting people to the products they love quickly. The new-look site is based around personally curated virtual boutiques, which contain only the brands and items users love and want to shop.

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On Styloko you can add products to your very own virtual boutique either from Styloko’s own website, which aggregates almost 700,000 products from nearly every major UK retailer, or from any other site across the web – simply by using their browser button.

And if you want to tell everyone about it, you can then share your boutique, comment on items, follow other stylish users and shop from other peoples’ boutiques. And, (BARGAIN ALERT!) when an item in your boutique falls in price, you’ll get an instant notification by email – so you will never miss a sale again.

So there you have it – dont get down in the dumps about the impending winter ahead its time to get prepped for the party season in a big way!! Enjoy!

Forget the doom of winter and keep on shopping! @tjc_uk @opOceanPacific @shimlajewellery @lucetmundi

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Yes the days are getting shorter, the mornings are getting longer and night time approaches quicker. But don’t get all doom and gloom about the pending winter months because we’ve found some last minute Summer specials for the family and also a few bits and bobs to get you looking forward to Oct, Nov, Dec…basically we just found a whole load of cool stuff from some amazeball brands which we think would suit you lot a treat… enjoy and let us know if you buy any of these treats!

The Jewellery Channel isn’t just a TV show it’s a way of looking gorgeous and glam!

The Jewellery Channel is an online store that stocks over 16,000 pieces ranging from £2.99 to £5,000 so there’s literally something for everyone!  In addition to being known for their diverse range of stunning items, TJC is also well known (and respected) for doing everything possible to undercut normal retail prices so that jewellery is made more affordable. So if you’re after a bargain, this is the place to be, and here are a couple of our favourite pieces currently on offer!

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Get the kids still remembering their summer holidays with Ocean Pacific!

If you’re still planning a holiday with the kids, then we recommend you make them look like the coolest kids on tour with these cute swimming trunks from Californian surf lifestyle brand OP (Ocean Pacific), sold exclusively at Sports Direct. OP launched this Summer and is one of the leading lifestyle brands in the US, even Twilight star Kellan Lutz has been seen rocking a pair of board shorts!

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Delve into some Dutch Delights this Winter with Barts!

Or if you’re properly preparing for winter there is nothing nicer than these winter warmers from Dutch brand Barts!  Far beyond the selection we have to show you today, the collection has woven scarves in linen, viscose and cotton, which are designed using a pallet of beautiful basic colors as well as radiants, checks, stripes and flower- and other beautiful prints.

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Get in touch with your spiritual side with Shimla’s gorgeous jewellery! 

And if you’ve ever felt like you just needed some jewellery with some secret hidden powers to give you that va va voom in life then look no further than Shimla!

Named after the picturesque Shimla Valley in the Himalayas, Shimla’s shamballa style bracelets are highly detailed, interwoven with sparkling fireball crystals, semi-precious stones, stainless steel beads and beautifully crafted charms. This Autumn/Winter collection sees a range of beautiful hand-made bracelets adorned with charms said to ward off bad luck, including Hamsa or the “Hand of Fatima,” a palm-shaped amulet recognized and used as a sign of protection in many societies throughout history, the Om symbol, a sacred and important mantra and mystical Sanskrit sound of Hindu origin, and the Evil Eye symbol, said to protect the wearer from evil spirits.

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Make money look fabulous with Lucet Mundi!

And finally, we’ve got a celebrity special for you! Lucet Mundi is an elite jewellery brand famous for its iconic interchangeable coin necklaces and earrings designed in a stunning array of metals including Rhodium Silver Plated, Rose Gold Plated and Gold Plated, Lucet Mundi have taken the market place by storm and are now stocked across the globe in leading jewellery retailers including Ernest Jones and Goldsmiths. Whats more here’s just a few of the long list of celebrities who just love to wear it! Peter Andre, Maria Fowler, Lauren Goodger, Robbie Savage, Nicola Mclean, JLS and Emma Rigby.

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So what are you waiting for, stock up on yourselves before you start blowing your hard earned cash on everyone else for Christmas!!!

Happy Monday snoochers!

Upgrade to a sleek super sound system with @otoneaudio #tech #gadget #music #audio

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 08.32.46Need to upgrade your sound system? Then if you’re into the latest gadgets look no further than this bad boy! OTONE Audio is set to invade the speaker dock market with the launch of its very first docking system, SoundShip Micro.

It all sounds seriously space age, this cheeky device is named the SoundShip Micro because of its compact, orbital, space-like design, which also features a unique ‘push and pop’ core that houses all of the devices connectivity ports and also acts as a stand – so its streamlined to perfection with no unsightly wires etc need to be seen.

If you’re also on the move, the SoundShip Micro can be used anywhere thanks to its handy rechargeable lithium ion battery, which provides up to 10 hours of portable playback. The speaker also comes with a handy carry case, giving it license to travel.

I bet you my phone doesn’t work with this…

…well, you’re betting on the wrong card if you think that! One of the things that we love is that connecting to the Soundship (we like that phrase!  – it sounds pretty space age!) couldn’t be easier. The system boasts an array of functionalities, including Micro USB connectivity for Android, Bluetooth and an AUX line in, making it compatible with any device.

Considering it measures just 115x250x45mm in size, the compact portable speaker also provides impressively clean and crisp audio via its two 40mm full-range drivers, packing a punch with a combined audio output of 6 watts.

How much does it cost? 

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At £99.99 its a pretty good investment for the long term. With optimum sound clarity, and original design its pretty much in demand by anyone who likes a high end spec to not only their lifestyles but also their gadgets too.

The SoundShip Micro is the latest in a line of product launches for the brand, following the successful launch of the Sonora AV-Lance soundbar in May.

For a full list of system specifications and features check out its website www.otoneaudio.co.uk.

Dear Skin, how much do I love thee? And how much do I spend? @katscapades #health #beauty #skincare

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@katscapades is back and this time she’s getting up close and personal with her skin! So read on and don’t forget to follow her blog too!

I’m one of the billion people who spend money on skincare products. My spending habit from five years ago is vastly different from how much I invest now when it comes to taking care of the largest organ of my body. I’m grateful that my parents passed on the good skin genes and I’ve always wanted to maintain it, more so, improve it. Who wouldn’t want a healthy and younger looking skin all the time?!

I’m not denying that I also went through the stage of break-outs and unhealthy looking skin during some periods of my life.  Ergo, I was also one of the billion people victimised by aggressive marketing campaigns on skincare products – which actually did more harm than good at times – not just my skin but also my budget!  Glad the skin cells regenerate every 7 days (according Standford School of Medicine) and thank God I’ve got a job to recover my unwise-impulsive-skincare-shopping-habit – that’s learning it the expensive way!

Over time, I’ve realised that the importance of a healthy-looking skin goes a lot deeper. Reading various articles also helped me discover and rediscover facts about skincare. Dedicated to everyone who’d been asking me about my skincare secrets and to all my readers out there, I’m more than happy to share (publicly as I’ve been sharing a lot via private messages, skype and chitchats over a cup of green tea) the things I use and do and most importantly, how I prioritise my budget when it comes to my skincare expenditures.

So I’ve created a skincare spend-o-metre starting from the highest to the lowest:

SPENDING LEVEL: HIGH

1. Kitchen Machines

a. JUICER. About five years ago, I didn’t care that we had an existing juicer at home and I had no idea what joy it could bring into my life back then.  However, as I moved to France with my husband and learned the importance of juicing along the way.  I initially bought a juicer for just under a €100 and now investing into a €400+ Hurom Slow Juicer. My skin benefited a lot from juicing fresh vegetables and fruits and my juicer has been one of the busiest machines in my kitchen.

Frequency of Spending: Twice – one for my previous juicer and one for the slow juicer.

b. In-home alkaline water ionization technology . Actually this came into our home first before the juicer. “Drinking plenty of Alkalized water will maintain the pH of our bodies neutral, between a healthy range of 6.8 to 7.8, ideally 7.4. This neutral pH, not acidic-not too alkaline, prevents our immune system from malfunctioning or getting weaker and prevents diseases developing and keeps it strong and healthy” (click here for the source). To put it simply, healthier body = healthier skin. After careful research and consideration, we chose Kangen by Enagic USA but this machine comes with a huge price tag (you may want to close your eyes like we did when filling up the order form and handed the payment!).

Frequency of Spending: Once in a lifetime (filters have to changed yearly though)

 2. Fruits and vegetables.

You’ll probably notice that it’s cheaper to buy a big pack of Haribo Gold Bears or Doritos rather than a 100g of blueberries-rich-in-antioxidants or a bag of vit-c-filled-oranges for snacks; it’s cheaper to fry pork chops or grab those processed foods rather than making your own pesto sauce or making a hearty salad with the 5-a-day component. If I have €20 in my pocket and drop by at the mini supermarket, I could easily fill my shopping basket with junk with that amount versus going green – but I’d rather not. Fruits and veggies can also be used for some D.I.Y. skincare treats at home such as the famous diminishing-dark-circle-around-the-eye cucumber and avocado-super-face-mask to name a few (but to be honest, I haven’t done one in a long time since I love eating or juicing them!).

Buying organic produce also brings these green love goodies on this high spend-o-metre level. But trust me, it’s worth it.

Here are the usual fruits and veggies that I incorporate in my daily diet which are good for the skin: spinach, avocado, lemon, banana, cucumber, carrots, oranges and the following depends on their availability: berries, broccoli, mangoes, tomatoes and sweet potato.

Frequency of Spending: Daily.

3. Good exercise outfit.

I strongly believe that when you like what you’re wearing, you exercise better. Sports bra, running shoes and others to complete the fitness outfit are quite pricey! Make sure you buy comfortable and long-lasting items. It’s worth checking outlet stores too 🙂

Okay what’s the connection with skincare? You’ll see later on.

Frequency of Spending: Once in six months (sometimes more if I reward myself from working out)

SPENDING LEVEL: MEDIUM

1. Nutritional Supplements.

As I become more health conscious, I’m so paranoid of what I put in my body including what fitness drink or vitamins to take. I choose Juice PLUS+® since it’s plant-based and super safe even for pregnant nursing women and kids. JP Complete (choco / vanilla shake x 6 cans) costs around €160 inc. VAT and JP premium costs €76.75 per month, including VAT and delivery, that makes it €2.55 per day of full nutrition from 26 different varieties of fruits, veg & berries – which you cannot get that amount of nutrition under €3! In total, both JP Complete and JP Premium capsules cost €3.85 per day (or like buying a cup of cappuccino everyday). I thought it’s quite pricey (esp for people like me who don’t buy a cup of coffee daily) but equating the costs vs the nutritional benefits makes sense so it goes under this level of spend-o-metre.

JP Premium

Frequency of Spending: Monthly

2. SPF protection

I do invest into a good sunscreen protection especially when I’m out and about. I use Avène Sunblock – it’s more expensive than generic brands since it comes in a smaller bottle but I’m happy with its light fragrance, easy-to-apply texture without leaving those annoying white marks like other sunscreen creams do and it provides ultimate protection while being gentle on the skin. I also had the privilege of visiting Avène’s Hydrocentre and their team showed me how they make their products. Please click here to read the full story.

Avene

Frequency of Spending: My Avène sunblock was part of goodie bag from my previous trip at their Hyrdrocentre (yahoooooo, freebies! love the perks!). But I’ll probably be buying it once a month depending on how much I go under the sun during summer (less frequent during winter).

3. Make-up

Well, I just have a few essential things in my Make up bag. I opt to be make-up free most days of the week.  I think that my skin needs to breath and make-up clog my pores – oh that’s just me. I put make-up at this level of spend-o-metre since they are expensive pretty little things plus they must come with a gentle make-up remover, however, they last a long time since I hardly use them 🙂

Here are some of the make-up free, no-filter, no-edit selfie shots I’ve taken using my iPhone since I started juicing:

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Frequency of Spending: Once a year.

4. Facial Cleanser

Here’s another revelation: after cleaning my face with a paraben-free facial cleanser (I use La Roche as seen on this post), I spray Avène Thermal Spring Water on my face and leave it til it gets dry before I moisturise.

Spray

Frequency of Spending: Every 6 weeks.

5. Fish

My husband and I eat fish at least 2-3 times a week. Fish is more expensive than meat here in South of France (not sure about your area – hope it’s the opposite as fish is supergood and yummy!). Salmon and other cold water fish are high in protein which can help to speed up the skin’s natural healing process according to Glamour.

Frequency of Spending: We buy supply good for a week, so weekly.

SPENDING LEVEL: LOW

1. Daily moisturisers

JLo said in an interview a few years ago, if there’s one thing she’ll teach her kids, it will be to moisturise. Moisturising is a skincare essential. I used to be obsessed in buying the mid-range to expensive pots. Oh I loved seeing them lined up in the special section of my bathroom back in my London days. I fell in love with Liz Earle’s Organic Moisturiser, Mandelular Sensuous Body Soufflé by Sanctuary and of course, my super Molton Brown products. Moreover, I kept collecting bottles from other brands too. Can you imagine what  my bathroom looked like then?

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Liz Earle and those nicely packaged creams but like what my husband told me, if you find products that are good for your skin, stick with it. Nowadays, I’’ve been using the affordable Oil of Olay Day and Night Cream for the face and for the body, I use Nivea Soft Cream daily (under €5).

I’ve also read somewhere that experimenting on different products may be harsh to our skin. Well, it’ll be a quest to find what really suits your skin type before sticking on it and I’m not stopping you if let’s say Crème de la Mer is the one that works for you but living a healthy lifestyle can save you from spending too much on creams and reallocate your budget such as sustaining the juicing habit.

Frequency of Spending: Face creams last upto 6 weeks and 7-10 days for the body cream shared between us

2. Other Basic Toiletries

I try to keep a low maintenance practice on the basic toiletries such as body wash (currently, we are using Dove); deodorant (I always use the DEOROCHE SPRAY – an all-natural potash alum spray with no colouring agents and fragrance plus it’s paraben free; and hair removal tools i.e. Veet facial/body easy-wax strips and Venus razor.

Frequency of Spending: Between 2-3 weeks

3. Green Tea and Eggs

Super cheap anti-oxidant polyphenol-rich green tea’s good for the skin too and eggs too – I don’t take them together though :p

Frequency of Spending: Between 2-3 weeks for a pack of green tea and every 3-5 days for the eggs

SPENDING LEVEL: NADA

1. Running 

It’s free and it makes me sweat! “Sweating is our body’s way of helping to keep our skin clean. Every day, toxins build up in our pores that need to be released. If they’re not, then our skin can break out and cause pimples, rashes and other skin infections. By sweating out these toxins, our skin stays cleaner and, over time, it will appear to look healthier than ever” (please click here for the source). Amen.  Since I started running, I haven’t had any breakouts.

2.Hydration

I don’t count the water bill on my skincare spend-o-metre as I charge it under monthly household expenditures (which by the way is included in our rent!). On top of juicing greens, I drink loads of water throughout the day and avoid sodas and other fizzy drinks. I know coffee has benefits too but I don’t drink coffee, I prefer green tea (a good source of antioxidants too).

 3. Sleep

My best friend used to have this pink pillow with a caption – Live Now Sleep Later. I’m not denying I went through that kind of lifestyle which was so-against skincare 101. According to Day, who wrote the book, Forget the Facelift, “Your skin, and your whole body, goes into repair mode when you sleep. It’s repairing and restoring and rebalancing”. My gorgeous uni friend once said, “if I sleep late, I don’t feel better the next day. If I don’t feel better, I don’t look better”. Hear, hear! Oh you must see her well-maintained skin too! In the past few years, I try my best go get 8 hours of sleep daily and I think I’m pretty good at it (*wink). Day added however, “do not oversleep as it can actually increase skin cell breakdown”.

 4. Smile

Smiling is always free and it always adds glow to the skin.

Hope you find this useful. Remember having a healthy glowing skin comes from the inside out. It’s living a healthy lifestyle – proper diet, regular exercise with good sleep and hydration plus the help of the skincare products that work for you. Don’t forget to smile too! It’s important that we take care of our skin – it’s the only skin that we have 🙂

Remember your awkward teenage Summer with @Thewaywayback #filmreview #film

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If you love Sam Rockwell as much as we do, then you’ll be queuing up to watch him in this quirky Summer coming of age flick which hits cinemas today.

The film follows shy 14-year-old Duncan as he goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.

Nothing overly dramatic happens in this film, it’s just more of a reminiscent and nostalgic journey into all of our uncomfortable adolescent selves where we’re discovering new things, good and bad, meeting new people and most importantly having that very awkward, lonely teenage Summer.

The film boasts a great cast and starts very well. We see a new Steve Carell, no longer a slap-stick comic character, this time a straight talking stepdad which any teenager would find offensive and domineering. Toni Colette is the ‘glass half full and things could be worse so I’ll put up with it’ mother of Duncan and Sam Rockwell is the saving grace coolest guy in town who runs (rather haphazardly) the Water Wizz water park.Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 08.35.07

These are only half the key characters in the film, but immediately you see a pattern forming. These characters are very clearly stock and presented in an almost formulaic approach to what you would hope would make a good/poignant/funny film. In addition you have the constantly drunk neighbour – who provides a monologue of comic proportions as the family arrive at their Summer home; her overly confident sharp talking tween son, additional neighbours who turn Carell and Colette’s characters into relatable drunken parental figures around the dinner table and finally there’s the shy inquisitive beautiful girl who doesn’t conform to her bimbo girlfriends and inevitably becomes the object of Duncan’s affections.Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 08.34.40

These all sound like the recipe for a classic coming of age tale, and if they had all come together perfectly The Way, Way Back would have been one of those must watch films, but something just doesn’t quite gel together. You will probably be willing this film to be much more enchanting than it actually is and will most likely find sanctuary like Duncan, at the Water Wizz water park where Sam Rockwell dominates. His effortlessness and ease provides a distinct contrast to the rest of the cast who feel slightly more contrived, which some may argue is a testament to his talent as an actor.

But by no means is this film unwatchable, there are some brilliant moments of comedy, and over arching reminders of many of our teenage experiences plus some brilliant performances across the board in their own rights. It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly doesn’t work, but you certainly do come away trying to work out what could just make it that little bit better

3 Stars

The Way, Way Back is out on general release from today.

 

 

 

 

Step into another world this week with The #MortalInstruments #outthisweek #film #filmreview

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So what happens when you grow up as a normal teenager and suddenly one night you start drawing symbols all over the wall? Well you get pretty freaked out… and who do you turn to? Your mum of course, but she’s keeping secrets from you and suddenly disappears. Things really aren’t going to well are they? Its tough being a teenager, its even tougher being a Shadowhunter teenager as Clary Fray (Lily Collins) finds out…Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.44.21

Based on Cassandra Clare’s bestselling novel, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones looks like the successor to all the Twilight and Hunger Games books that have started to send screaming fans into a frenzy. This big budget Hollywood film has a predominately British led which is refreshing, and although it opened here yesterday with the help of the cast and director stepping through a major global promotional tour, its currently slightly underperforming over in the US.

However we shouldn’t take that too literally because despite the doom and gloom that some are saying about this film, its really rather enjoyable. You have a strong female protagonist (quite like what audiences related to with Bella Swan in Twilight) and there are lots of laughs and one liners – some more forced towards the end – plus there are demons, ghouls and a whole underworld that is living right under Brooklyn… what’s not to love?! Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.43.16

The film keeps you guessing and is a classic case of a first film in a series where characters are being established and so there are only three main parts, Clary, Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) and Simon (Rober Sheehan). The rest come and go and one assumes we will see more in the second installment. There is so much going on in this film that you can’t really help but be swept up in it all and despite it feeling ever so slightly over long in form, its not unwatchable, quite the opposite.

What fans of the book may feel is that this film has tried to be so true to the original content that it maybe fits a little bit too much in it, in order to be truthful, and that unfortunately provides more of a clumsy outcome in parts. Others may feel that the casting isn’t quite what they imagined, and in the press conference Jamie Campbell Bower was particularly vocal with his thoughts on the matter saying that some rather nasty social media reactions to his casting “were based on image and image looks alone and that was two and a half years ago, and I think as an actor and as a performer I’m very much aware of the fact that my job is to change both physically and emotionally and that was what hurt the most, that people were judging me based on nothing.” Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.42.44

Although there are clear issues with this film and it won’t please everyone, there are lots of great elements to it, the CGI is out there but not too over the top and the characters are believable, watchable and sympathetic. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is certainly for the younger audiences out there, but even if you don’t believe in magic or demons, there’s still a rollercoaster ride for you to watch…just remember to not walk out of the cinema when the unforgivable comment about the musician Bach is made, just take a deep breath and carry on. When you watch the film, you’ll know what we mean.

3 Stars

Friday Feature: Photographer @tomwootton1985 talks #silhouettes and #poledancing

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An unfortunate accident led Tom Wootton to pick up a camera and start a favoured hobby. Eventually that lead to a lucrative business photographing pole dancers and creating stunning works of art. We chat to the photographer to find out what inspires him and how difficult it really is to make a stand out business when with apps like Instagram, “everyone” counts themselves as a “photography expert.”

What got you started in photography?

I broke my leg playing rugby and over the 3 month period that I had lying around I decided to invest in a camera. I practiced all the settings on various objects around the room as I was pretty much bed ridden! When I could walk again I started going out into the streets practicing and found a real love for all the tricks that you could perform on the camera. It really was that simple and I’ve been photographing more and more ever since, honing in my skills and developing a niche for where I would like my photography to take me.

It’s becoming quite popular to get a DSLR camera, what made you decide to invest particularly in that rather than just taking a good snap on your smart phone?

It was the ability to do more tricks with the light, as a couple of examples in terms of night time photography I could get a better range of shots and with objects I could blur the background whilst making the immediate foreground crisp and in focus. It was just that in general the variety with a professional camera is much richer than with even some of the best smart phones or bridging cameras.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 22.55.43How did you progress from photography being just a hobby to making more of a business out of it? 

I did a whole heap of different things from going out into the streets and doing voyeur photography at the Notting Hill Carnival, to the streets of Twickenham during rugby matches. I wanted to get used to as many different situations as possible and try and capture life photography as it happened in front of me rather than just trying to set up the shot perfectly. That led me to being comfortable in terms of getting natural shots and capturing the moment, which I still really enjoy doing.  I then took an apprenticeship with a wedding photographer and learnt a huge amount about structuring shoots and planning key events in a short time frame. Just as a side track I took the street/life photography and tried to mix it up and make something a little more commercial with lego figurines re-enacting some of those life moments. It was then, and the result of those shots working so well that I started thinking more about the business opportunities within photography and really focused towards that goal.Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 22.55.10

You’ve now really centered your business on silhouette photography, can you tell us a little more about that?

The interesting thing about silhouettes is the shape that they make, and just by accidentally discovering the variety you can capture when it’s as simple as the sun just reflecting behind a person was fascinating to me. So I looked at how I could push this idea more and felt that the best shapes came from dancers. With dance, particularly professional dancers they can push (and hold) shapes that are more extreme than the normal person, and when captured at the right angle you get a beautiful shot. What I like in particular is not making a stenciled picture, but having just enough light to see subtle muscle contours and detail that when observed closer, demonstrates the skill involved to achieve this particular shape.  I suppose it’s an appreciation of what the subject can do creatively in front of me and what I can do creatively with a camera.

And your key focus at the moment is pole dancers, pole fitness… 

Yes, well there was an opportunity to look at a lot of different dance styles as well as gymnastics, but actually, there are so many shapes that you can pull and hold with pole dancing or fitness that its actually an obvious choice for silhouette photography as the results are fantastic.Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 22.59.36

How have people reacted to this particular subject matter?

I actually think that this is an area that deserves more credit than it gets. There is still a lot of connotations around pole dancing only being associated with Gentlemen’s Clubs, when actually the skill involved and the benefits of doing pole fitness is really impressive. There should be a lot more appreciation of the strength these girls possess to carry out this dance discipline. Taking it further afield we’re now seeing more women and men using a pole in other performance areas such as circus, and the skills they are showing off in that arena is almost mind blowing! That is the next step for me to capture with my photography, but for now, photographing pole fitness is a great way of showing the women who take this up as an exercise class just how much they have improved and what they can achieve.Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 22.53.22

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to move into photography and potentially professional photography?

I think you should definitely always pick up a camera and give it a try. You may surprise yourself with what you can achieve, that’s what I found, and it inspired me to carry on and build my interest and understanding of the camera and skills in photography. I think you should also look to find a niche and really develop that, then in terms of stepping into the world of business, one golden rule is that its very easy for people to say that they like your photos, but not so easy to get them to buy your photos… there is a lot of competition out there with smart phones and bridging cameras, but if you’re truly trying to make a business then find yourself a key area to focus on and just keep building your understanding and skills to make sure you stand out amongst the rest.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 22.57.21You can find out more about Tom’s photography on his website:  www.mysilhouettephotography.com 

You can also follow him on Twitter @tomwwootton1985

#HayleyAtwell and a superb cast bring @thepridewestend back to the London stage #theatre #review

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So last night was opening for the third installment of Trafalgar Transformed. Starring Hayley Atwell and Matthew Horne as two well known names that make up half the cast, The Pride is an award winning play directed by Jamie Lloyd.

It follows three people Oliver, Philip and Sylvia, who in two separate time periods (the 1950s and the present day) are all brought together in a complicated love triangle. The through riding theme is homosexuality and sexual liberation and not how the outside community deal with it, but how those directly involved approach their own complicated relationships given the attitudes and oppressions of their timeframes.Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 08.50.19

The play, cleverly intertwines between the two time periods; the future providing a more relatable and humorous approach, with a stronger message underlining.  Although billed as the lead role, Hayley Atwell plays second fiddle to the superb Al Weaver, who portrays Oliver, the only character in both periods who is happy to admit his sexuality and drives the experiences that occur. His sharp interchange between the two eras is the most challenging out of all the actors and he handles this with ease and gives the audience strong distinctions between his character of past and present. Atwell, is a superb support, as an audience member you relate strongly to her Sylvia of the 1950’s as its not far off to many period roles you have seen her on screen before. Bring her to present day though and you see Atwell embrace a more modern role which initially surprises the audience but also allows you to warm to her.

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Harry Hadden-Paton who plays Philip is a more somber, cautious character, in the past he battles hiding his real sexuality behind a marriage, until Oliver comes into his life and in some respects brings him to life in his true form. However all the restraints of the 1950s causes inevitable turmoil and destruction and Philips wife Sylvia can only watch her marriage unravel. In present day Paton plays the estranged partner to Oliver and his infidelity and Paton plays a strong clear calming balance to Weaver’s much more flamboyant take.

The real stand out, is Matthew Horne, used sparingly as a variety of characters, Horne demonstrates his versatility as an actor from a Nazi dressing rent boy (which provides some much needed light relief) through to a cheeky chappy know-it-all but actually knows very little magazine editor. These characters may be written as relatively extreme in the script but his ease in transformation made you wait with baited breath for his next appearance.Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 08.51.17

Alexi Kaye Campbell’s fantastic writing is brought to life brilliantly with the synced cast who deliver the quick pace with ease. You can see why this play was award winning when it first premiered at the Royal Court in 2008, it brings light and dark contrasts on the subject of sexual liberation and more importantly relationships, and has a fantastic cast to pull it off. If you can get yourself a ticket, are interested in the subject and love good theatre, then this is definitely one to watch.

4 Stars

You can purchase tickets for The Pride from its official website here

And follow @thepridewestend on Twitter