Taking Stock: February 2014 | Monthly Roundup

woody uk lifestyle blog
 woody contemplating important things -

B: Sunny mornings, writing things down and the fact that I've had a good reading month
L: The Metal Gear Solid franchise, chasing Woody, 12 Years A Slave & American Beauty, The 1975 and Bear Nibbles fruit yo yo's


WATCHING  {check out our february film reviews}
B&L: A lot of films, Luther S1, The X Files S1, Brooklyn Nine Nine S1, The Walking Dead S4 & Parks + Rec S1
BPortlandia S1, The Office (duh!) and my beloved Corrie
L: Ender's Game (will review next month)

B&L: If I Could Change Your Mind - HAIM, Under Control - Foster The People and Bed Of Nails - Wild Beasts   

PLAYING {check out our first Co-op Quest post}
LDon't Starve!, Endless Space, Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid 4, Killing Floor, Minecraft and Unreal Tournament 2004
B&L: Little Big Planet Karting  

READING  {check out bee's february book reviews UP SOON!}
B: The Sonambulist by Essie Fox (and 10 other books) 
L: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick and How Not To Write A Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark

BSummer days, new clothes and a productive March
L: Someone to pay my car tax and a pet lizard named Gordon

B: Put A Bird On It and Whatsapp conversations with Lyzi
LBad Grandpa, Celebrity Juice and 8 Out of 10 Cats

B&L: Our trip to Scotland and our trip to Zante 
B: A trip to London and my dissertation
LThe early stages of my novel and what to read in March 

B: To get writing, to go on a London adventure with Lyzi and to study more
LTo get more of my novel done, to go on an adventure and to take Woody to different places

  What have you been up to this month? 
• Do you have any plans for March?

LEAVE US YOUR ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW or tweet us @tftcblog. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to subscribe through Bloglovin and check us out on Twitter. We'll see you on Sunday!

with regards, THE FINER THINGS CLUB.



February Film Reviews | Monthly Roundup

FILM ROUND UP the finer things club uk lifestyle blog

Surprise surprise, we've been watching films again! We have been watching quite a few different TV series this month, inspired by our 10 TV Shows We Need To See post, so we haven't managed to watch too many movies. However, the ones we have got round to have been quite varied, so it should make for interesting reading. We hope! Comment below if you've watched these films and let us know what you thought of them! Also, check out our January film reviews if you've yet to do so. 

uk movie review blog

1. silver linings playbook (we loved it!)
2012 | 122 min | comedy / drama / romance
After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

BWe've had this on our 'to watch' list ever since it was at the cinema but we only got round to watching it this month. We were idiots, clearly, because this film was superb. The cast was stellar, the plot was highly engaging and the dialogue was heartfelt. I was so impressed by Bradley Cooper. I don't think I realised just how talented he really is! I cannot wait to read the book, because I've heard it's even better! Watch this film - you won't be disappointed. 

LI have to say I don't agree with Bee. I wasn't surprised by Bradley Cooper's performance in this film as I've seen quite a lot of films he has been in lately, and I think he has steadily become one of my favourite actors. Admittedly a few of these films he has been in recently, such as A Place Beyond the Pines and Limitless, have been disappointing but I think his performance did well to lift them. Silver Linings Playbook, on the other hand, is a film fitting of Cooper's talents, especially alongside Jennifer Lawrence's equally impressive performance. 

american beauty film review uk blog

2. american beauty (we loved it!)
1999 | 122 min | drama
Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after developing an infatuation for his daughter's attractive friend.

BKevin Spacey is really bloody good at what he does, and his performance in this film was a testament to his talent. American Beauty was sobering, darkly comedic and executed perfectly. I can't wait to get started on House of Cards so I can enjoy even more Spacey!  

LThis film is one of those ones that if you have not yet watched it you really should get round to it. It's been on my radar for quite a while but I've never got around to watching it. Luckily that changed this month and this film has further solidified my opinion that Kevin Spacey is, and has been, one of the best actors for a number of decades now. Whether he's voicing Gerty in Moon or playing the intriguing character that is Roger Kint in The Usual Suspects, he never seems to disappoint. Fascinating topics, characters and an impressive script are just a few things that make this film a real beauty of American cinema! 

thor 2 the dark world film review uk lifestyle blog

3. thor: the dark world (we thought it was ok!)
2013 | 112 min | action / adventure / fantasy
When Jane Foster is possessed by a great power, Thor must protect her from a new threat of old times: the Dark Elves. 

B: Thor is one of my least favourite superheroes, just because I'm not crazy about the setting. However, as Luke watches so many films that I suggest, I thought I'd give it a chance. There was a lot of action, and impressive special effects. However, I just wasn't crazy about it. I really didn't like the way they portrayed Natalie Portman's character. She plays a highly intelligent scientist, yet she spends the films being defined by her love interest. I just found it really disappointing. I also think they could've done a bit more with the plot, because the setting does have potential. I do have to admit that the ending was pretty explosive, and I can see people really enjoying this film. I'd recommend it to fans of the superhero movies, but that's about it. 

LI'm going to have to disagree with Bee again on this one, as I think Thor and his home world of Asgard offers one of the most interesting settings of all of the Avengers. It's a shame this film couldn't really build on that, every time it jumps back to Earth from Asgard my interest dropped. I'm really not a fan of Natalie Portman's character in this film, its a damsel-in-distress constraint that in my opinion was a hindrance to the film and the scope of its plot. I loved Asgard, its characters, setting and somewhat unique mix of sci-fi and Norse mythology, and I just wish it would have been the main or perhaps even sole focus.  

only god forgives uk lifestyle blog film review

4. only god forgives (we abandoned it!)
2013 | 90 min | crime / drama / thriller 
Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving Bangkok's criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother's recent death.

BCan we please stop Gosling from doing silent stylised films?! I just don't get them. They aren't enjoyable. They're confusing, and they don't make for interesting viewing. This was all gore and no substance, for me, so we switched it off. Watch it if you're intrigued, or like your films quiet and gorey, or have a niche interest in old men singing for no apparent reason. Terrible. 

LThis was too stylised - way way too stylised. I just couldn't watch it, and I hate not finishing films! I couldn't work out whether it was like watching raw footage of something that had only just finished filming, or a film that had been edited by a mad-man bent on removing almost all dialogue, possible character attachments and general plot direction. Only watch this film if you have to, or you are immortal and have all the time in the world to waste. 

bad grandpa film review blog

5. jackass presents: bad grandpa (we liked it!)
2013 | 92 min | comedy
86 year old Irving Zisman takes a trip from Nebraska to North Carolina to take his 8 year old grandson, Billy, back to his real father.

BJackass movies are my guilty pleasure. I was a bit apprehensive about watching this one, because I wasn't sure whether the narrative would fit around the pranks seamlessly. Thankfully, it did. The narrative was also surprisingly warm and heartfelt in places! There were a few moments in this film where Luke and I were in absolute hysterics, so it's definitely worth a watch if you're a fan. 

LThere is no denying that certain scenes in this film made me laugh, a lot. Like Bee, I was also apprehensive about this film, but mainly because I just didn't think Zisman's transition from small scenes in the Jackass franchise to fully fledged feature film would go that well. My worries were gladly put aside, however, and I'm glad to say I liked this film. Like I mentioned earlier, it did make me laugh a lot at times and for the most part it kept a smile on my face. Like you'd expect it does err very close to certain soft spots in society but in the end I think it's done well and largely with the aim of making people laugh!

catfish the movie film review

6. catfish: the movie (bee loved it!)
2010 | 87 min | documentary
Young filmmakers document their colleague's budding online friendship with a young woman and her family which leads to an unexpected series of discoveries. 

BI'm a massive fan of the TV series, so I just had to watch the original movie. I found it absolutely fascinating, and I'd recommend it to Catfish fans, those who love a good documentary and those who are interested in the online world. 

mud film review lifestyle blog

7. mud (we liked it!)
2012 | 130 MIN | drama
Two young boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the vigilantes that are on his trail and to reunite him with his true love. 

BThis was quite an interesting film but it was the dialogue that really allowed its actors to shine with McConaughey, Witherspoon and the child actors all putting in great performances. I think McConaughey is a really interesting actor at the moment, and I'm looking forward to checking out more of his work - True Detective, in particular. I'm not sure whether this is one of those films that you can only watch once, but it's a good one at that!

LWow, if I had my own boat and an island to explore as a kid I would barely be seen in civilisation, in fact, give me those things right now and the outcome would be pretty much the same. I found it really fascinating to see the lives of the two kids in this film, helped by their impressive performances, living with the responsibilities of adults in comparison to the world I've been living in. It's all the little things that surround the main plot that made me really like this film and if you give it a chance they could be the very things that make you like it too.

jackass number two film review blog

8. jackass number two (we liked it!)
2006 | 92 min | action / comedy
Chris Pontius, Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera, and the whole crew return to the screen to raise the stakes higher than ever before. 

BAs I said above, Jackass films are my guilty pleasure. You know exactly what you're going to get from them, and whilst they're near the knuckle, and unpleasant, they're also quite fun and made to make you laugh.

LI think this is the fifth time I've watched this film now and it still manages to make me laugh and wince at the expense of the hilarious cast. It's one of those films I seem to enjoy more when I'm watching it with someone who hasn't before, just to see their reaction. It's mindless laughs, unless you're a health and safety fanatic.  

2004 | 119 min | adventure / comedy / drama
With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son. 

BI'm a sucker for Wes Anderson's films, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. I think they're just beautifully done, and this was no exception. Whilst it's not my favourite Anderson, Murray was perfectly cast as Zissou and the supporting cast perfectly delivered the dialogue that was both pleasant and poignant. Also, it's got Jeff Goldblum in it. 

brother bear film review uk lifestyle blog

10. brother bear (we thought it was ok!)
2003 | 85 min | animation / adventure / family
When a young Inuit hunter needlessly kills a bear, he is magically changed into a bear himself as punishment with a talkative cub being his only guide to changing back. 

BWe fancied a light watch, so we thought we'd revisit Brother Bear. It had a pretty good message, was quite aesthetically pleasing and both the mooses(?!) and the rams delivered some funny lines. However, I think the voice acting could have been a lot better, and I would've appreciated a bit more adventure to really pull the film along. I'm also not sure just how much this film appropriated Inuit culture, either. That said, it's a relatively fun family friendly film for a quiet afternoon. 

LThis film wasn't as good as I remember it being but I guess that's the risk you take when you re-watch films from your childhood. Like Bee has mentioned, the voice work could have been better, especially for the main furry protagonist, but saying that I thought the supporting cast did well to pick things up at times (especially the mooses). I remember a lot more happening in this film so it was disappointing to see the adventure not really take off. Putting my bugbears aside though, I think it has a brilliant message, for kids and adults alike, on how to treat animals.  

12 years a slave film review
11. 12 years a slave
2013 |134 MIN | biography / drama / history

B: Just, wow. This film is a masterpiece. I can only hope that this powerful piece of cinema helps to open up a wider dialogue on race, and the white privilege that still plagues today's society.  

LLast Sunday I found myself sat down watching the BAFTAs, largely due to the alluring voice of Stephen Fry but also I guess because its a good barometer of the films that I should really make an effort to see this year. One film that seemed to stand out among the rest was 12 Years A Slave, and it wasn't just because it won best film. It was the reaction of so many in the crowd that caught my eye, how proud and satisfied everyone looked when Steve McQueen and others went up to collect the main award of the night. It seemed like it was far more than just a film and after watching it for myself I feel I can safely say it is the best piece of cinema I have seen in a long time. Of all the films in our list, this is the only one I would say you really really should not let pass you by.  

B: 12 Years A Slave
L: 12 Years A Slave

  What have you watched this month?
• Do you have any recommendations?

LEAVE US YOUR ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW or tweet us using @tftcblog. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to subscribe through Bloglovin and check us out on Twitter. We'll see you on Wednesday!

with regards, THE FINER THINGS CLUB.



The Finer Snacks Club: LIDL Edition

As you've gathered, we watch a lot of films and television shows and, for us, that goes hand in hand with grazing. We usually end up buying the same sort of snacks week after week, so we've decided to do something a little different this week and take you lot along for the ride. We put on our gladrags and headed to Lidl, a supermarket that we rarely frequent, to test out some snacks from across the pond. Here's our haul...

the finer things club uk lifestyle lidl
freeway orange (49p)  
Also known as cheap Orangina (without the bits)! It definitely rivaled the big name brands, such as Tango and Fanta, and we'd definitely get it again. Although, we don't really get why they decided to name it Freeway...little bit of an awkward one to offer to your grandparents or in-laws!!

Mister choc milk chocolate bars (11 for 99p)
These were so yummy! The packaging was also pretty great, and they were the perfect treat size for those that like to show some restraint (hint: we don't!). We think these would make really good additions to treat jars or party bags too. The only thing that annoys us about them is that they come in a pack of 11...why 11?! Round it up to 12, god damnit! However, we'd definitely go back for these little bars of chocolately goodness. 
ritter sport white chocolate with cornflakes (£1.49)
The posh chocolate! In our humble opinion, the combination of chocolate and cornflake is an inspired one. Creamy, yet crunchy, this bar was pretty irresistible. The packaging was really nice and simple and, as a result, we think it'd look really good in a hamper or alongside a bouquet of flowers for someone special. We'd definitely go back and try all of the other flavours. 
fritt cherry flavoured chews (59p)
We liked the packaging but that's about it. They smelled and tasted like scented nappy bags, not gunna lie. We didn't even know it was possible to capture that flavour in something, and then market it as edible. We wouldn't buy these again. Stick to MAOAM! 

paprika rusti chips (94p)
Pringles cheaper, albeit a little dishier, brother. We preferred the texture of these compared to their crumbly counterpart, as we didn't find them as 'cardboardy' as Luke so beautifully put it. Compared to the price of Pringles these days, these are a really good option. We'd probably buy these again. 

sondey sandwich biscuits (99p)
The packaging was pretty fun, with a princess on the outside and a castle imprinted on every biscuit inside. These weren't bad but they were very very dry. Don't attempt to eat them without dunking them in a cool glass of milk or a hefty mug of tea! The chocolate to biscuit ratio could have also been a bit better, but otherwise they weren't bad at all. You certainly don't need more than one or two at a time so they'll last you forever in a bit of tupperware. 

choco softies choc coated marshmallows (£1.49)
These were like marshmallows on steroids. They were absolutely huge! Kids would probably kill for them. The chocolate was really thin and the marshmallow was nice and gooey, and those two factors admittedly did make them quite endearing. However, we would've preferred them if they were on a biscuit base, as opposed to a wafer base. Bee couldn't get through a whole one, and we both found them a bit too sickly for our tastes. However, if you're a big marshmallow fan, you should probably give them a go because of the novelty value.

if we could only re-buy one thing, it'd be: 
The Mister Choc chocolate bars and the Freeway! Yes, we know that's two but it's our blog so nerr! 

Not content with just showing you our haul, we thought we'd share a few other things that didn't quite make the cut...

uk lifestyle blog snacks
These drums of paprika flavoured crisps and tortillas....
uk lifestyle blog tea food
These gorgeous looking 99p teas...

food uk lifestyle blog
These heart shaped chicken nuggets...vom


 What are your favourite things to snack on?  
  Will you be on the look out for any of these in the future? 

LEAVE US YOUR ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW or tweet us using @tftcblog. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to subscribe through Bloglovin and check us out on Twitter. We'll see you on Sunday.  


*this post isn't in collaboration with anyone or anything, this is just genuinely how we spend our free time!