I did not give permission for Mamma Mia 2 to make me so emotional

2018, film, lifestyle

Hello!

So, Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again came out on Friday – let’s jump in to a spoiler free, not at all critical review!

The casting was absolutely fantastic – from the trailers, we knew that the basic plot of the film was looking back on Donna (Meryl Streep) and her life when she met the three men that could be her daughter’s father. The actors who played young Donna, young Harry, young Bill and young Sam were just wonderful (and all four just drop dead gorgeous) – they all captured the fun, silly nature of the film and the likeness between them and the older versions of their characters is right on the nose.

The cast of the first Mamma Mia film was stellar and in this one it just gets better? I didn’t hold out high hopes of Cher’s part to be perfectly honest – I thought it was putting Cher in a film for the sake of Cher being in a film but she actually had a character, she had a purpose and she did play it quite well. All in all I was taken aback by this film and the performance of the cast is one of the main reasons for it.

Also, Julie Walters is one of my favourite humans of all time.

Obviously, Mamma Mia is a musical and the songs are a big part of it – I was worried they were just going to rehash some of the songs from the first film and call it a musical but I was surprised by the new numbers. It was some of Abba’s more obscure songs so the audience weren’t as happy clappy as perhaps in the first one but the songs they chose worked well, or if they did feel forced it was funny – opening with ‘When I Kissed the Teacher’ was this huge, completely unrealistic dance scene and it captured everything that Mamma Mia is. It’s ridiculous, huge dance sequences and ‘perfect vocals’ aren’t the focus, in any way shape or form, but it’s fun and silly and it makes you wish it was real.

Well, I wish I was in a dance sequence on a pier on a Greek Island, don’t know about everyone else.

I also think the inclusion of some of the songs from the first film was a really nice bridge between the ‘sequel’ part of the film and the previous instalment. It didn’t feel like recycling, it felt like a genuine connection. Yes, maybe Piers Brosnan shouldn’t be allowed to sing, but he’s trying and it’s somewhat endearing. ‘I have a dream’ and ‘The name of the game’ were really cleverly used in both films.

Can I just reiterate how wonderful Lily James and those three beautiful young men were?

And then, all of a sudden, at the end of the film, I was crying? Like a lot? It was a surprisingly emotional film! There isn’t anything that’s particularly sad and I don’t want to spoil the plot or anything but the end is very poignant and I imagine something that a lot of people will relate to – it definitely struck a chord with the people I went to see it with!

Overall, I didn’t go into this film expecting a lot – I thought it would be a jumped up sequel cashing in on the success of 10 years ago, but it was actually incredibly well done. I really enjoyed it, to the degree that I would pay to go see it again. I want to see it again, as soon as possible please!

So don’t forget your tissues if/when you see ‘Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again’ at the cinema!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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“a million dreams are keeping me awake” – The Greatest Showman

2018, lifestyle, music, student

Hello!

I’ve been running Sonar Film, my university’s cinema and film society since last June. One of my favourite parts of what we do is being able to look at the films coming out and picking what films we show.

I’ve had my eye on The Greatest Showman for a little while now and we started showing it on Friday. I worked opening night because I’d heard such mixed reviews and I was so excited – Hugh Jackman, Zendaya and Zac Efron in a new original musical about the first circus, it was right up my street!

There aren’t any words for how obsessed with this film I now am – I was completely absorbed from the first note to the last. I had tears in my eyes for most of the film and I felt this weight in my heart as the credits rolled because I was just so full of love for the music, the characters and the story.

I think this film is everything La La Land wanted to be without being tailored to Oscars, it’s not pretentious or trying to be nostalgic – it’s full of genuine love for musical theatre, incredibly passionate songs and a surprisingly modern soundtrack considering it’s based in the 19th century.

The rhythms and drums I think are the thing that really modernised the music for me – it was a huge part of the opening number and paired with the choreography it was really impactful and, as part of the audience, it was really gripping. I was genuinely sat watching the film bobbing along in time, resisting the urge to clap on multiple occasions. The rhythms and choreography were really poignant in ‘The Other Side’ and ‘From Now On’ – ‘The Other Side’ was really clever and the way the bar man was choreographed in was just so much fun. But while the rhythms are modern, the music doesn’t seem out of place for the time.

Side note, the dancing was so much fun – the bit where his daughters join in the dance from the audience is just so cute.

It’s such a beautifully human film – there was a quote from the critic character James Bennett at the end that said something along the lines of ‘a happier critic would describe it [the show] as touching every circle of humanity’ or something along those lines (I’ve scoured the internet, I just can’t find it anywhere) and I feel like that’s how the film should be summarised because it’s a beautiful celebration of everyone and anyone. It very delicately touches on issues like racism in a gentle and realistic way for the 1800s – it was relevant without being focal and I adored it.

The words I wrote in my initial rambly ‘omg I’m obsessed‘ plan for this post were that it was heartfelt and human and flawed – the characters weren’t perfect and where it was so easy to be stereotypical and predictable and it was so genuinely not. I’m now really interested to watch Barnham (a West End Musical about the same circus) and somewhat compare the two and how they tell the same story.

I did make a lot of jokes about Wolverine and Troy Bolton singing together though, I can’t lie. And can I just say – Zendaya is only ten days older than me, she must have been part of the High School Musical generation and omg I was fangirling on her behalf because while Zac Efron is so much more than he was in the DCOM days, he was still one of my first celebrity crushes.

I really wanted to make this more than just a review of The Greatest Showman and at this point I don’t know if it’s even a review or if it’s just me gushing about why I love it, but I think there’s a place for sharing things you love in your own words on the internet, so here’s me adding to my corner.

Also, I read at the end of another post about the film (I’ve done a lot of reading about it since seeing it two days ago) that I wanted to reiterate – my adoration for this film doesn’t mean I support the idea of the modern circus and treatment of animals as performers. It’s something I hadn’t actually thought about (partially because the animals in the film are quite clearly CGI) but it’s something I want to reiterate because supporting the film based in the 1800s doesn’t condone it now.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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Wonderland – Mayflower Theatre

2017, lifestyle, music, student

Hello!

I was lucky enough to be invited to see Wonderland at Mayflower Theatre in Southampton by @sotonbloggers and I’m going to try and put into words how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. ‘Try’ being the operative word.

Every time I sit down in a theatre for any reason I get goosebumps – architecturally I find theatres to be absolutely beautiful and I love sitting in a room full of people who love musicals and shows as much as me – but when the first notes of the first song begin I will always feel like I want to cry just from pure joy. With musicals like Wonderland that combine more traditional orchestral instruments with modern rock instruments like drums and guitars make for an even more interesting opening number.

The music is one of the most incredible parts of Wonderland – the musicians were absolutely astonishing and seeing how small the band is and how huge the sound was just made it so much more impressive. The vocal performances in this show were astounding – Rachael Wooding, who played Alice, was incomparable. She completely nailed the childish wonder of Alice but had this huge voice that suited the fast, silly songs, the slow, emotional songs and the massive power ballad  duet ‘This Is Who I Am’ with Natalie McQueen as the Mad Hatter.

However the dancing in this show was as important as the singing and balancing the two is a difficult feat – there was some incredible choreography and some wonderful dancers, but credit has to go to Dominic Owen, who played a truly wonderful rendition of the Cheshire Cat and also managed to continue belting out a pretty big song whilst doing a handstand. As someone who can do a (rather rubbish) handstand and has had vocal training, I really appreciate how difficult that would have been and needed to talk about it.

‘Wonderland’ is quite a different take on the traditional story of Alice, with more of a focus on Through The Looking Glass, the sequel to the more commonly recreated Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The musical follows a grown up Alice, reluctantly divorced and looking after her daughter Ellie whilst neighbour Jack is desperate to catch Alice’s eye. The Looking Glass is a key feature of the musical, as it completely changes who the characters are – whilst trying not to spoil it, it reverses what each character deems important, for example – nice, helpful, wonderful Ellie becomes a typical, stroppy teenager.

But for me, the most amazing part of The Looking Glass was the quick changes involved – I reckon Ellie and Jack were inside the looking glass for maybe 10 to 20 seconds and in this time they completely changed what they were wearing, how their hair was styled and without any fumbling or mishaps with mic packs. The whole production was so slick and well-rehearsed and completely without fault – I was completely immersed.

The Queen of Hearts saw a particular twist in this version of Alice in Wonderland.

One of the characters that saw the biggest changes was the Mad Hatter – she was not written as a traditionally male character, she had an incredible costume and an even bigger voice. She owned every song she sang and every word that came out of her mouth just oozed the character of the Mad Hatter – I wish there was a soundtrack or a studio recording of this show because I’d love to hear her songs again.

From the point of view of characterisation, the Mad Hatter and Alice showed some clear parallels and it was really interesting that writers Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd chose those two characters to align, especially with the huge duet at the end of the musical – This Is Who I Am.

I can’t quite describe how much I adore this song – it has roots and inspirations from the duets in Wicked but the beautiful, powerful harmonies contrasted with the softer lines. I don’t know if it’s just something about the end of a musical when everything is starting to resolve and the characters realise that they’re strong and independent but I really wish there was a soundtrack recording I could listen to because I want this song and these girls singing on loop whenever I feel like I’m not good enough.

There’s a version on YouTube that doesn’t sound very legally recorded and I wouldn’t normally support that but I thoroughly recommend listening to the song, it’s just beautiful. Totally 100% worth seeing in person.

“This is who I am, who I really am, i’m not going to pretend or apologise”

Then, of course I can’t forget the boyband, led by Alice’s neighbour Jack – their songs and choreography were brilliant and ring true of N-Sync days gone past.

One of the reasons I went in to seeing Wonderland so apprehensively is because I’m not a massive fan of Alice’s story – I don’t particularly like the Disney film, I have no interest in the Tim Burton films and the whole concept just isn’t my cup of tea. But this unusual take on the story, the musical and the production have completely changed my mind – the way the story was interpreted and aspects of certain characters adapted and shown differently made me thoroughly enjoy it, hopefully I’ll get to see it again!

Wonderland is showing at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until Saturday 22nd April, to get your tickets called 02380 711811 or go to mayflower.org.uk – students get more than 10% off tickets with a valid student card!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Press ticket provided by Mayflower Theatre via @sotonbloggers. All photos belong to Mayflower theatre.

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15 things that make me happy

2017, lifestyle, music, student

Hello!

A lot of my posts recently have been a bit mopey, so I thought I’d write a post that focuses on a much more positive outlook! Not tips or advice or any talk of mental health, just fifteen simple things that bring me joy!

Some require more detail than others – some need no explanation but others I’d like to give a little bit more detail to. This post is as much for me as it is for my blog, so I hope you enjoy it.

  1. Long drives with my mum
  2. Listening to music with really good headphones on – my Apple headphones really loud are great, but really high quality headphones in a quiet room where you can hear literally every line of the songs; love it
  3. Lindor chocolate
  4. When things are organised and tidy – ironic considering the state of my bedroom and desk but when everything is in it’s place my brain feels just that little bit happier
  5. Seeing live music – my favourite bands concert, a local band performing in a cafe, even a decent busker – live music that show’s real talent just makes me happy
  6. The sea – I don’t know if it was growing up so far from the sea, but being near the sea and hearing the sound of the waves and watching the water ripple calms me down a lot
  7. Coloured pens – I’m basically like a child, colours make me happy
  8. Wearing a dress and feeling really cute
  9. When you’re having such a good time with friends and you don’t notice the time until it’s 3am
  10. Having everything on my to do list ticked off
  11. The woods and open fields – the complete opposite to why I love the sea, but fields and trees and woodland areas remind me of home and I would love to act a scene in a wood, I’ll write it into a book one day
  12. Getting a good grade on something I worked really hard on – the nerd in me just loves doing well, but getting a first on any assignment feels like I’ve actually done well
  13. Creating, in any form – writing, video, blogging, photography, fiction, I just want to make things
  14. Being able to just dance in an open, empty dance studio
  15. Looking back at old photos – I’m a very nostalgic person

I could have gone on and listed more, but I didn’t want to overdo it – when I started this list I struggled a bit but the more I got into it the more and more I listed and the more I thought of. Even if you don’t have a blog I thoroughly recommend making a list like this because it really makes you appreciate the littler things – things that make you happy doesn’t have to be a person or a big event, little things like feeling good about how you look or having a nice selection of pens.

I hope you’re feeling happy and you’re having a good day! Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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La La Land review | film

2017, music, student

Hello!

I’ve never really ventured into film reviews before but I didn’t like the idea for the blog post I had intended to write today and I saw La La Land last night so I thought I’d share my thoughts!

Disclaimer: don’t get me wrong, I like this film, I just didn’t love it. Solid 6/10. Also this is an attempt at a spoiler free review but there may be some minor details, no massive plot spoilers.

With 14 Oscar Nominations, two in Best Original Song, and all of the hype all over the internet, I had really high hopes for this film being a newer version of Singing in the Rain and Summer Holiday – the classic musicals I love and grew up with.

And part of this is my fault I think – seeing all the hype and adoration online, I decided I loved it before I went in so when I actually saw the film in the end out and came out with a dry eye and disappointment, I can’t entirely blame the film.

The music is obviously one of the biggest parts of the film – the opening number is so incredible and I thought that it would set the tone for the rest of the film; huge vocals, massive dance numbers and gorgeous block colour costumes… and then it wasn’t.

I have a musical theatre background and appreciation – I love huge, strong voices like Carrie Fletcher, Alfie Boe, Ramin Karimloo and that’s what I expected from a film that was so heavily inspired by Singing in the Rain and I hate to say that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone don’t follow through. They can definitely sing and in ‘The Fools Who Dream’ (my favourite song in the entire film by a long shot, though the others are brilliant too) Emma shows a sign of that full on West End voice but until that point they both sound like they’re not quite giving  it their all? It sounds quite raspy and breathy and I just felt it didn’t match the jazz music it went with.

And I have similar thoughts on the dancing I’m afraid – as someone who’s favourite dance style is tap and I was really excited to see some really good dancing, my main criticism is that there wasn’t enough dancing and the dancing they did was basic as anything, I’ve seen kids under 10 years old doing what they could do. I know Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling aren’t dancers, but their characters were meant to be in an industry where dancing is kind of important and it really let me down that the scene that the movie poster takes it’s picture from wasn’t this huge dance sequence.

The story itself I do like – the struggling artist, what it’s like to try and get into the industry and the different stages of a relationship and ‘what could have been’, from that point of view the film was quite realistic (apart from the random bursting into song, that’s a given for musicals that we pretend it’s normal). The story and the script were brilliant and the intent was in the right place but personally I wouldn’t say it was successful.

One thing I thoroughly praise is the diversity in this film – the first character to sing is a tall, gorgeous black woman, there are people of all shapes, sizes and colours and roles are not bound by gender stereotypes. The example I use for this is when Mia is working in the cafe, she had a female manager and all the cafe staff were female, however when she returns at the end the manager is male. It’s the little details and they really worked.

I also very highly recommend watching Dodie Clark and Daniel J Layton talking about the film – Dodie adores the film whilst Dan doesn’t have the same obsession for it and they both have some really interesting thoughts. Though, these reviews aren’t spoiler free but they’re worth the watch once you’ve seen the film.

But what do you think? Have you seen La La Land? My social media are linked below, let’s start a discussion!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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Playing the Piano

2016, music, Uncategorized

Hello,

Music has always been a massive part of my life – I grew up surrounded by so many different genres of music and I’ve been playing music since I was 8. From keyboard, flute, singing, saxophone (till I was 18!), piano on and off and self-taught guitar, I definitely grew up around music.

I recently asked my dad to bring my gorgeous electric piano down to Southampton so I can use it and whilst it barely fits in the flat, I’m loving using it so much. It’s so beautiful with weighted keys but the perks of not having to maintain a real piano and keep it tuned and stuff (I can barely keep me alive, let alone a piano or a pet).

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I have a few pieces that I’d really love to learn to play but at the moment I’m learning Fairytale by Ludovico Einaudi (give it a listen if you’ve got a minute, it’s a really beautiful piece!) because it’s relatively simple and it’s getting me back into the swing of playing piano again! I often just play chords and sing along but I’m loving having it here to play.

I am starting to play way more regularly and having sheet music rather than playing off my iPad really helps but I’m thoroughly enjoying making more classical music again!

I think I’ll be playing a lot more when I go back to uni and I have more of a routine and for stress relief more than anything else but I also love having that skill under my belt and I want to be better! And I won’t do that without practicing and being a bit rough around the edges for a bit.

I’m going to start making covers again on my YouTube channel as of next week in a move towards making regular content again in 2017 and I’m excited to make the most of my piano, guitar and minimal ukulele skills alongside working with my much more talented friends to make some really cool content!

How lame did that sound? Wow, I think it’s time for bed!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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