Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

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Plot: Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Continuing on my slightly unhealthy craze of Pride and Prejudice and all things Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet related, I had to watch this 2005 adaption again. I can’t find a review for it anywhere on my blog, and I know I’ve seen it before – is it possible that I did it pre-blog? I’ll never know!

I had a great time. I remember enjoying it the first time but not really appreciating the ending back then – I think I didn’t get at that stage just how British this story is and how perfect that ending was.

There are a number of changes made, but it was organic– I didn’t feel that it deducted from the story at all. The changes made were done to fit the span of the book into a movie, so a lot of information and pivotal scenes were ignored. As I said it didn’t damage the film much, but the book certainly provides a more comprehensive scope of Darcy’s character and the change Elizabeth was able to inspire in him.

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Matthew MacFadyen is truly a perfect Darcy. He is a wonderful actor, truly being able to convey emotions without saying too much. He is perfectly British and his contained atmosphere and telling outbursts as Mr. Darcy is spot on.

My love/hate relationship with Keira Knightley seems set to continue. The way she has of pulling her mouth frustrates me to no end. But, as I listed here, the fact that she has an annoying mouth does not derive from the fact that she is an accomplished actress. Ms. Bennet is as challenging to a female lead as Mr. Darcy is to a male lead – complex, intelligent characters with the weight of being a beloved classic weighing them down. She manages her role admirably and is a delight as Ms. Bennet, and has sufficient and delightful levels of impertinence that made me love her all the more.

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Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet was a choice that I was not that all that pleased with, but she did her best. There was a desperation to her impression of Jane that I did not enjoy – Jane is shy and sweet natured and a bit too believing in the best of others, but she isn’t a desperate woman. Jenna Malone as Lydia Bennet was a perfect choice – Lydia is really the worst thing, she is a flirting little girl with no sense or morals or particular care for her family. It takes a strong actress to bring that particular disregard to family and tradition to life, and the callousness with which Lydia does it as well. Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet properly emanates that exhaustion Mr.Bennetmust feel from a lifetime with the skittish and irritating Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) – who can’t but help being such an annoying person. I wish I could have seen more of Rupert Friend as Mr. Wickham – he was good on screen but not particularly often on it, which is frustrating as Mr. Wickham is quite important to the events that unfold. I wish I liked Simon Woods as Charles Bingley – he was just too ginger for my idea as Bingley. I did like Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley – she was as snobbish and backhanded and mean spirited as her character requires.

I felt similarly in the book – a need to rush through and to get to the end to know everything, but the pacing was slow and careful and makes you subsequently pay a lot more attention. The British countryside is beautiful despite the depressing weather, and the director managed to capture it and incorporate it into this very British movie.

The ending of the film is different to the book only in execution, with the phrases altered slightly but still much the same. It is powerful and touching, and the chemistry between Knightley and MacFayden is through the roof at that very moment. I’ve seen the extended version and the normal version, and the extended is a lot more true to what happens in the book.

I enjoyed this adaption so much. It is a great cast, it is well paced and despite missing some key events it still tells what it needs to tell. Watching this soon again is inevitable. An 8.5/10 for me.

 

Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

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Plot: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

Can you hear that sound? It sure sounds like the patriarchal system starting to crack. Since I watched Wonder Woman Friday night I haven’t been able to stop looking at photos of young girls entering the cinema in their Wonder Woman costumes looking excited and elated. Someone of their own gender entering battle and saving people! I haven’t been able to stop checking on the financial success of WW, which is helmed as a victory of super heroines and female directors. I can’t help but laugh with glee how mad all the men are about the women only screening in Texas – how dare women want to celebrate and feel strong without having to hear whisperings that Steve Trevor is the actual hero? MADNESS.

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Director Patty Jenkins was the perfect choice to direct this film. A film about a woman by a woman. If you will bear with me, I will tell you why – Diana Prince is portrayed as a strong woman who fights for herself, sees her love interest as secondary to her mission, is fierce and formidable while being beautiful and smart and adoring children at the same time. I feel like women are constantly told you can either be the soft maternal type OR the fierce business woman, and it was nice seeing a character on screen that didn’t just do it, she made it look positively easy. Gal Gadot strides on screen with her incredible face and intimidating charm and manages to be warm, pure, sweet, funny, caring and kick-ass without breaking a sweat. It is a standout performance of which she can truly be proud, and she’s truly the Wonder Woman we needed.

The opening scenes with Themyscira is certainly some of the weakest parts in the film. I enjoyed the women fighting sequences, it was beautifully choreographed. The beauty of the hidden island is a perfect contrast with the war Diana plans to enter. It did feel just a bit out of place with the strong structure of the rest of the film. The scene where Steve Trevor crash lands and brings a horde of Nazis behind him is heartbreaking to behold, and the consequences of his arrival made me very sad. The fight scenes aren’t ridiculously drawn out, something Mr. Zack Snyder just loves to do, and it is DC’s saving grace. I haven’t seen a DC movie like this ever, and it is the first I’ve able to place above many Marvel movies. If DC can take this magical formula and copy it directly over into Justice League, please note that I will buy a ticket again and be completely on board with cheering for the male heroes too – something I can do without feeling my gender threatened, hem-hem.

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Where DC usually spends their entire films being depressing and dull, Wonder Woman manages to balance the serious with banter and some light-hearted moments. That is actually where Marvel sometimes messes up – they can be too light-hearted. Steve’s insecurities that can’t help slipping out when Diana refers to him as an average man is quite funny, as well as Diana’s comments on why women should even want to tuck their tummies in had me laughing – so very well aimed at society’s double standards.

There is always the stock standard romance, and while it was present this time around, there was nothing stock nor standard about it. Steve is such an incredible guy – he has a purity that is very nearly Steve Rogers about him – morals, etiquette, the ability to see war as injustice on both sides. He allows Diana to do her thing and after only a few slips begins to understand that she will do what she wants to whether he thinks it is allowed or not. Chris Pine was a great choice as this character. He is a talented man that is finally getting some good exposure. He had good chemistry with Gal Gadot. Honestly – he looks like a wartime hero and that certainly gave him impact as well.

Did I see some of the plot reveals coming – I saw the one, but there were a few others that managed to surprise me. It made for interesting watching – and no, I’m not telling you. This movie is way too fresh out to be spoiled on my blog.

If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet – go right out and do it. I will need a really strong contender to even ruffle this movie’s feathers as my favorite film of 2017 going forth into the remainder of this year. It is an excellent superhero film in a time where superheroes are stock standard. Let me know if you’ve seen it, and what your thoughts were!

Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: Underworld Evolution (2006)

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Plot:Picking up directly from the previous film, vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them.

When films like Evolution gets hated on online I am always quite surprised. This said trashed film and it isn’t nearly as horrible as it is made out to be. The entire Underworld franchise is garbage rated on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, but here’s the kicker: it’s actually not that cheesy, it is quite dark and violent and the history between the lycans and vampires are well thought out. Is there some sort of secret society in the entertainment industry that decides to trash things for reasons unknown? Oh wait, that’s the Academy right?

Continuing immediately after the events in Underworld, Seline and Michael narrowly escape after her killing the vampire elder Viktor (Bill Nighy). Seline hopes by awakening Viktor’s brother and last remaining vampire elder Marcus (Tony Curran), she will be able to save her life and Michael’s life. But even though Marcus and Viktor have a long line of dispute between them, Marcus is furious to find his brother dead and sets out on his path of retribution. He is terrifying as some sort of hybrid, and they have a dangerous road to survival set out to them. A whole lot of other things also occur and in it is more insight into the lycan and vampire history.

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Evolution remains dark, sexy and violent. It is not so much different from the first film. We are still following the gorgeous Seline and the gorgeous Michael, and we are treated to some sexy time between them. It was a little risqué, much more than the usual amount generally applied in mainstream films, but it continues to suit the tone of the series and stops just short of being icky.

More history is given about both species and I enjoyed that. I’m not sure whether there was a real point to bring in a father figure of Markus and Viktor and explaining all that sordid history, but at least it ultimately makes Seline able to walk in the sun.

At the end of the film all I wanted is Michael and Seline to be together and safe. That wish is mostly granted. It still ends with some depressing voice overs, but for the most part we are left with our favorite couple in a relatively safe future.

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Underworld Evolution is enjoyable, gritty, oddly romantic and with a lot of sexy Undertones. I’d give my left pinky toe to be built like Seline, and I wouldn’t mind dating Michael either, hybrid or not.

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

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Plot: A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.

Nocturnal Animals is self-indulgent, narcissistic bullshit. It is also incredibly dull. I’m surprised it got such a good feedback – I watched it specifically because of said good feedback. Instead I watched some weird shit for two hours without a proper ending. For a film written and directed by a fashion designer the main character spent the majority of the film with lipstick that didn’t suit her features. It is a small thing, but it made me hate this film even more.

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The acting is the best part of Nocturnal Animals but it isn’t enough to save the film. Jake Gyllenhaal is persistent in his mission for me to like him, and so far he is winning. I’ve inexplicably never liked him much. Maybe because until recently I only saw him in Donny Darko, which is the strangest film I’ve ever watched and that is saying something. Southpaw impressed me despite such deliberate emotional punches, and I’ve since been getting more exposure to this man. I liked him here too – he had a character that underwent great development and he handled the phasing well.

The story makes a valiant attempt at being mysterious and fails admirably. It tries to be artistic and visually stimulating. Its opening sequence is a desperate visualization of the attempts to make this film more than it is – a self-indulgent expedition of Tom Ford. Ford can be glad his fashion designs aren’t this desperate to be liked or he’d have failed as a designer a long time ago.

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Nocturnal Animals has a litany of celebrities taking part and they have no idea what to do about it. Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have the most screen time, and they do their best to make their characters work. Taylor-Johnson proves that he is more than just a pretty face. He’s a creepy mcCreeps in here, and I was so freaked out by his strange and awful character and felt dirty every time he was on screen. Amy Adams had the hardest work set out for her – to make the selfish Susan worthy of our empathy. It is hard to sympathize with a woman whose unhappiness stems from every decision she ever made. She had a good, kind man who she left because he wasn’t successful. She’s led a life she swore she wouldn’t, choosing a rich man who sleeps around over a poor man who loved her. Her treasonous acts reach unparalleled heights for which we judge her harshly (well, I did anyway), so sympathizing with her was really hard.

Michael Shannon is such a serious looking bloke, and thus all these serious bloke roles suit him well. He’s this strange cop in the story, with his own little built in mission, and I enjoyed him immensely.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I marginally liked the story more when I realized what was going on. I’ll say this – it is stories within a story. The within story was better than the actual story. It was a meaty revenge piece. It disappointed, but it remained better than the obvious story. I’ll stop using the word “story” now, because it is starting to irritate me.

The cast that gets a few seconds on screen – Isla Fisher, Michael Sheen, Pam from True Blood, Jenna Malone – so much to work with and yet so little attention paid to them. I love Michael Sheen now, my Underworld exposure made me team-Sheen, and I was happy to see him only to be disappointed a few scenes later.

Nocturnal Animals is way too long. I just wanted to get to the end, and then the end sucked so much I felt even more aggressive. It’s an open ending, and we all know how I much love that. Sure, I’ll think a bit about what I watched but dammit, give me a proper ending or watch me rage.

I consider this movie a terrible waste of time and am still upset that I will never get these hours back. The only good thing I got from this was writing this review, it was my catharsis to this terrible piece of shit.

Rating: 4.5/10

#100HAPPYDAYS ROUND 2: DAYS 61-70

Happy Monday everyone! Here’s another 10 days worth of happiness, posted on my Instagram account. I am almost done now, and I can’t wait to have another successful happy days behind me.

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Day 61: Did a Parkrun and got some excellent step counts in. Woohoo!

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Day 62: My mom got me this France mug. It is now my favorite mug.

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Day 63: No visit to Nelspruit is complete without a trip to the coffee shop around Bestie’s house, and we went three times. Because coffee is delicious.

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Day 64: Besties birthday!!! We had delicious steaks at Cicadas in Nelspruit. This is Steak with Halloumi, bacon and Onion jam. Salivating.

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Day 65: After an astonishing day of bad service, we licked our wounds at Cicadas with Strawberry Daquiries and Burgers. SO GOOD, with excellent service

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Day 66: We got our movie day in with two old favorites. The two new films (Chef and Arrival), now joins the favorite list.

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Day 67: A fun birthday braai with illuminating new terminology learnt!

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Day 68: Remember my project on day 58 – check how it grew!

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Day 69: Roadtrip home. It was such a wonderful visit, thanks bestie!

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Day 70: More rings from Woolworths. These are so me!

What have you been up to lately?

Blindspot 2017: Basic Instinct (1992)

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Plot: A violent, suspended police detective investigates a brutal murder, in which a manipulative and seductive woman could be involved. 

 I had a vague, vague idea what this film was about. Turns out it was so vague it was barely an idea. I was expecting some mildly sexy murder drama. MY POOR EYES. It is just wild sex and murder and flashing vaginas everywhere. Did I like it? I’m actually not even sure. Objectively thinking I know it was a good thriller. It is shocking to behold. I can’t help but be of the opinion that the films that are currently being produced is relatively tame compared to some of these classics. My benchmark up to here for risqué old school thrillers had been Cruel Intentions, but after watching Basic Instinct Cruel Intentions is a Disney animation comparatively.

 Excellent writing, acting and directing makes sure neither the watcher nor the investigators know whether Catherine Tramell is guilty of the brutal slaughtering of her lover. She’s cold and brilliant. It is excellent work by Sharon Stone, who is a master of manipulating her emotions on screen – she’s cold and distant, overtly sexual, sweet and charming and devastated at the snap of her fingers, expertly bringing Catherine to life in a way few other actresses would have been able to.

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Michael Douglas is the male protagonist who you aren’t ever sure is a protagonist. He’s a cop with questionable ethical values, a heavy drinker and recreational drug user who seems to have a habit of accidentally shooting people. His addictive personality is activated after meeting Catherine and he becomes obsessed with her on multiple levels. Only someone with a damaged psyche would even go close to such a person as Catherine, and that is great insight on his character.

 I enjoyed the tone of the film as well. It is a slow paced thriller with a soundtrack that suits every scene, with great cinematography. Director Paul Verhoeven is a good with creating atmosphere. The perpetual dread and distrust Detective Curren experiences is portrayed well to the audience.

 Basic Instinct is a shocker of a film and was clearly desired to be. Sharon Stone is a standout performer as this film and it is clear to see why it has become such an iconic role. I was really disturbed and shocked. It is not easy watching and will stay with you for quite a while (it is STILL with me and I watched this the beginning of April!). As for the Blindspot selections, it is worthy if only for being thought provoking and I can finally say I’ve seen it. Have you seen Basic Instinct? Let me know what you thought!

 Rating: a traumatized 7/10

#100HAPPYDAYS ROUND 2: DAYS 51-60

51Day 51: Just a basic picture of my lunch. It was really delicious and super healthy though.

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Day 52: My bestie came up for a quick pop-in, and we went to watch Beauty and The Beast.

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Day 53: Makeup spoils. I really have such a problem. Rimmel is one of my favorite brands, and I am liking Essence quite a lot these days – for a “cheaper” brand they really have quality products.

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Day 54: My mom got me these bunny slippers for Easter. They are so toasty and have the additional benefits of being bunnies.

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Day 55: Another manicure, this a Revlon one. I’ve really gone for the pinks lately.

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Day 56: To get more steps in, I again visited the Nature reserve. It is such a beautiful place and I am always so surprised that it is smack in the middle of Joburg and manages to be so quiet.

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Day 57: My favorite snacks. 70% Lindt is as dark as I’ll go, and it is such a delight of tastes. It is really low in sugar, so if you are craving some chocolate, you only need to look as far as this.

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Day 58: I watched Warm Bodies for the 100th time, and I enjoyed it. Also see my crochet project here? It is growing super-fast!

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Day 59: This was SO good.

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Day 60: Had drinks with the work colleagues at the Hogshead in Illovo. It was lovely, and although I didn’t get a picture of it, their Consol glasses look fantastic.

Decades Blogathon – Jackie Brown (1997)

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Welcome to the penultimate day of the Decades Blogathon – ‘7’ edition – hosted by myself and my partner in crime Tom from Thomas J.For those who don’t know, the blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the seventh year of the decade. Tom and I are running a different entry each day (we’ll also reblog the other’s post) and today I’m very pleased to welcome Natasha from it’s the turn of the one and only Zoe from Life of this City Girl who is too-cool-for-school in her choice of QT’s Jackie Brown.

Jackie Brown PosterPlot: A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119396/)

A quick peek over at Tom’s blog alerted me to the fact that it was time for his and Mark’s annual Decades Blogathon. In the past…

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Movie Review: Arrival (2016)

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Plot: When twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.

Since I haven’t read one bad review about Arrival and about ten million people asked me whether I’d seen it, I was really rather excited to get to this. I also loved Sicario, which at that stage had been my exposure to director Dennis Villeneuve’s work.

Arrival is one of the most unique and well thought out films I’ve watch in ages. It is some of the best work I’ve seen from 2016, and would certainly have altered my Top Ten list of 2016. Villeneuve has a talent to direct the dark and dreary. His signature style is tense and the subsequent underlying tension makes him a formidable force to watch in the future. He knows how to get the most intense emotions from his films’ stars, most evident in the way Amy Adams, Jermey Renner and Forrest Whitaker portray their part of Arrival.

"Story of Your Life" Day 37 Photo: Jan Thijs 2015

I guess I see now why people were so riled up when Amy Adams was not nominated for best actress. She was fantastic as Louise, a linguist who is tasked to extraterrestrial beings when they mysteriously appear in random locations across the globe. The lingual exploration was fascinating, which explored the dissection of communication and language. It made me realize that we take language for granted and how it forms and changes us. Talking is so natural, we rarely pause to consider how remarkable it is that we are talking.

I am also appreciative that Villeneuve once again provided a film with such a strong female lead. He obviously has an appreciation for strong female characters – can we have more of him please?!

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I always feel like a complete noob when talking about CGI. Visual design is one of the areas where I truly have no experience in (or a desire to get experience in). My adventures into more serious films have shown me however how much tone and proper CGI can affect a film. Arrival has incredible CGI. The Aliens are formed in a way that is slightly revolting and highly fascinating, light years away from our perception of beady eyed human forms. There is a particular scene with Adams that was mesmerizing – I get goosebumps just thinking about it. The directing also is sad and heavy and dark, and impresses the sadness which Adams’ character carries with her.

The eventual conclusion to this two hour masterpiece will stay with you – I am still wondering about the implications of it all. The focus, despite the entire plot, is not truly on the Aliens. It is more about how would we even talk to Aliens should they arrive on the planet.

Rating: A well-deserved 9/10

#100HAPPYDAYS ROUND 2: DAYS 41-50

Happy Monday Everyone!

I’m way behind with posting these… I am now almost at day 75 as I am scheduling this, which is great as it means I am very likely to finish this round too. Let me know how you’ve been in the comments and if you are doing something similar 🙂

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Day 41: I went to a Singles Event where you had to choose four words that would ruin a date. Some people were really creative, and some just pulled things off the internet. The event itself was hosted in a section of a trendy bar, but felt a bit crowded. The people were also really just focused on winning the game instead of getting to know each other, which is the whole point of the exercise. I really doubt whether these events actually succeed in hooking people up, but it is a great exercise to becoming more outgoing and actually speaking to strangers.

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Day 42: I really adore this Lovisa necklace my sister gave me for my birthday. It is just so pretty. I have a slight Lovisa problem.

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Day 43: This is literally just a screenshot of my WordPress calendar showing that I had shit scheduled throughout the month. Definitely doing it this month too, it makes life really easier.

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Day 44: Anyone who has successfully dieted will tell you that if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail. I nearly failed the one day after I forgot to pack lunch. My colleague saved me with this yogurt, apple and walnut salad, which was pretty delicious.

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Day 45: I really love this pretty pink Sorbet nail polish titled Pink Cheeks – it can’t be more appropriately labeled.

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Day 46: One small cheat with a Woolworths Marshmallow egg. I am not a marshmallow person, they are generally too sweet and sticky for me, but I do like the Woolies ones, they are superior quality.

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Day 47: I went to the SA on Tap festival with a friend. I’m really not a beer person, so this was quite enlightening. I also saw some other people I know, which was good – being seen with a guy always ups the street cred, so no complaints from this side

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Day 48: This post, which I thought was just the lazy and basic pic of my breakfast and dinner, got a huge amount of likes (yes – 52 likes are huge for me!). I was so pleased.

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Day 49: I’ve been laughing myself silly at 2 Broke Girls recently. I wasn’t a big fan of Season 3, but seasons four and five seem to have gone back to their roots and it worked really well.

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Day 50: I go batshit crazy at work if I don’t have hand cream readily available. Something in the hand soap here makes my hands so dry, and without cream I want to scratch all the time. I’ve stopped buying creams now as I have so many unused ones at home, like this one. While I’m not the biggest fan of lavender, I did like this cream. Which reminds me that it is nearly done and I should bring another one tomorrow.