Monday, 26 January 2015

January Reflections


What better time to reflect on January than with a glass of beetroot juice? Yeah I know beetroot juice sounds sick but why not surprise yourself in 2015 and give it a go.  Anyway, how is January treating you so far? Have you stuck to your resolutions or are you already over it? I've already found a few things in January I'm currently obsessed with that I feel the need to share.  Fun, new shiny things aside, I've also made a few lifestyle changes that I plan on sticking out as long as I can muster.

A Five Year Plan

The first thing I've had to do is actually reflect (of course I have, it's in the title) on where I've been and where I want to go.  It sounds like I'm about to burst into song or something but I'm being serious.  I'm in my final year at University, everyone is in my ear about graduate jobs and dissertations and full time employment and it's driving me even more psycho than I already am.  However, I've actually sat down and thought about what I want to achieve and where I want to be which has helped take the edge off any 'future me' anxiety.  I sometimes feel still 18 and it's so easy to forget how quickly time goes by and that I'm no longer a carefree semi-permanently drunk teenager.  My main priority? Owning my own property.  Taking the time to plan how much I'm going to need to deposit on the house of my dreams and how quickly I can get on the property market means I won't end up a 30 year old house guest in my dad's home.  Take a few minutes to decide where you'd like to be even in a years time and what you need to do to make that possible, you'd be surprised how it shifts your way of thinking.

Trusting My Gut

Instinct that is.  It's easy to subconsciously tap out of your own body and not even realise it.  Sometimes I can feel something is wrong, whether it be with myself or within a situation, and although I can feel it, I ignore it.  When it comes to having to make decisions, minor or otherwise, feeling 100% about it is what should take priority.  I recently had an incident where I fainted (for the first time ever) in the uni library (it was as embarrassing as it sounds) and I felt out of myself for a few days after.  That morning I had said to Tom I had felt off and I had debated missing uni to 're-center' myself but I didn't listen.  Although a minor example, it's so important to remember that you know what is best for yourself, whether it's to do with your health, your career or an important personal decision.  Listen, observe and connect.  This year I plan on being entirely selfish when it comes to myself.

The 3, 2, 2 Week

I've managed to find an eating schedule that works well for me so far and I plan to try and make it as permanent as possible.  I like to eat, I really do, but I'm an easily influenced eater. Basically, if it's in front of me or a viable option I will eat it without thinking and without stopping.  Afterwards I usually feel horrible and unwell and I don't look forward to eating my next meal.  When you eat mindlessly I think you lose the joy of eating all together and it is no longer exciting but more monotonous.  I've started to mix up my week with the following - 3 days a week I will eat as though I am a vegetarian, 2 days I will eat as though I am vegan and the other 2 days I allow myself anything I feel like.  I've found that on the days I allow myself to eat whatever I like, I am savouring the meals and not over indulging.  Equally, I've found I'm fully satisfied going without any meat or dairy on the days I don't have it.  Contrary to popular belief, eating vegan or vegetarian doesn't leave you undernourished and emaciated and staring at the fridge longingly.  In turn, I listen more to what my body is craving rather than stuffing my face with anything just to fill the void.    

Yoga With Adriene

I am hands down obsessed with this damn woman.  As part of my commitment to myself to become more mindful and to regularly practice yoga I have been trying to do at least 1 (if not 2) or her videos a day.  Luckily this January she has started a new series called '30 days of yoga' which has made regular practice extremely easy.  Her videos are so great because she is so easy to listen to and she is so fun and best of all the series is free.  Now that daily yoga has become a habit I feel pretty lost and restless if I miss a practice.  If you are new to the practice or finding it difficult to commit to a daily practice I cannot recommend her enough.  You can find her videos here if you want to give it a go.

Busaba Eathai

Tom and I were kicking ourselves knowing we'd walked past this place so many times and never bothered to go in.  It really is golden.  We first tried it before going to see The Curious Incident in the West End and we've been back several times since.  I find it pretty hard to find good thai food, or really any good asian food for that matter as I've grown up surrounded by flavourful and pungent dishes packed with spice and all the rest.  I've always found that a lot of places lack flavour because they're catering for an english audience which means I end up paying for a bland meal.  Busaba does not skimp on flavour or spice and the menu selection is fantastic.  It's very easy to eat nutritionally here whether you choose a warming coconut and lemongrass soup or a veggie dense stir fry.  When I eat, I like to consider how the ingredients I'm digesting serve my body which I admit is pretty gross and borderline obsessive but it means I usually end up really enjoying my food.  My favourite thing about Busaba is the atmosphere.  It's littered with golden buddhas, burning incense and huge wooden tables giving it a very zen spa-like feel.  Even better, throughout January Busaba are offering 50% off all food so you can give it a go and decide whether it's worth going back.  You can find the menu here if you're interested.

Flash Tattoos

I bought a cheap pack of these off ebay to see how they'd look in preparation for summer but I loved them so much I kept buying and sticking and shimmering.  These little darlings are basically transfer tattoos that every child with a kinder egg has tried at some point in their lives.  However, these ones come in silvers and golds and look amazing on bronzed skin.  I think Beyonce kicked this trend off (of course) and everyone else has hopped on board.  This time round I bought the proper branded ones from UniqueFreak and not some random 99p ones in the hope that they would last much longer.  You can find cheapy ones here and a large pack of 4 from uniquefreak here.

So that's it from me for January...is there anything you've discovered this year that you're loving?


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Spicy Strawberry & Cayenne Morning Smoothie

So I'm always trying out different combinations in my blender.  Mostly it works, sometimes the result is pretty shocking and occasionally  I find something I'll make repeatedly and drink until I get sick of it.  This particular concoction has been a regular over the last few days so I thought it was time to share it.  The one thing I struggle with is super cold drinks.  I'm not great with ice cream, I like to drink green tea with my meals and my water has to be room temperature.  Ever heard of the phrase 'digestive fire'?  The term actually comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine and I think it nicely explains why I don't favour drinking cold drinks.  Your stomach is like the cauldron of the body and your spleen is the 'fire' that heats the cauldron.  This internal heat is responsible for the movement and digestion of the foods you eat and without good digestion, your overall health is compromised. 

 Have you ever downed an ice cold drink after eating a meal and felt extremely uncomfortable...stomach cramps, excessive bloating, feeling like the only option is to curl up into a ball and cry? The way I think about it is that you're solidifying the food in your stomach and freezing up its 'fire' which often results in those weird sharp stomach pains and uncomfortable indigestion.  By drinking a herbal tea with or after your meals you're helping to stimulate digestion and ease up the processes happening in your body resulting in no post meal bloat or suffering.  Now I know it's not viable to always be drinking hot teas and water so I thought of a way to make drinking my morning juices and smoothies a little easier on the stomach.  By adding a little spice in the form of cayenne pepper, (great for boosting the metabolism btw) it's warming and stimulating properties make the effects of an otherwise cooling drink a little less damaging.  Health bits aside, this actually tastes amazing so even if you've skipped the whole lecture on hot and cold drinks you can be sure you'll be happy with the way the final product tastes.

You will need;
  • 4 tbsp of natural yoghurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1 satsuma
  • 1 small deseeded and chopped apple (red or green, you pick)
  • 5 fresh strawberries
  • a big handful of spinach
  • 5 frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds (optional)
  • A generous helping of cayenne pepper (to your taste)
  • A squeeze of raw honey
Put all the items in your blender in the order listed - always put your softer ingredients in first to avoid any excess strain on your blades.  Start on low and work your way up to your highest setting and let it run for 30-60 seconds (depending on how powerful your blender is).  It'll probably look a little something like this...

Sorry if you were expecting a vibrant strawberry red smoothie but anytime you add spinach into the mix it just overpowers any of the weaker colours...but I guess this technically counts as a green smoothie right? Colour palette aside, it still tastes very sweet (with the dominant flavour being strawberry, duh.) followed by a little kick from the cayenne.  Perfect for those new years resolutions I'm assuming you've stuck with.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Kale Ice Cream Smoothie


First of all let me wish you a very happy new year and I hope you aren't all suffering too much from any post festive period bloating.  Perhaps you've already made a few new year resolutions...I haven't made any resolutions as such but I'm hoping to continue on the path I left 2014 on, learning more about nutrition and holistic health (both physical and mental).  On that note I thought it was best to make the first post of 2015 a health related one.  For Christmas I was given the The Blender Girl, a gluten free, vegan recipe book by Tom's mum which I'm in love with and this recipe is actually from the book (with a few tweaks).  Try not to cringe too much at the thought of kale ice cream.  Yes, it sounds fairly hideous and I can admit that as a lover of greens.  However, after all the rubbish I'm presuming you've managed to cram down your throats over the last week or two, I'm sure your body will thank me for a well deserved break.  Tom and I have already used the Vitamix three times today to whip up an array of juices, soups and smoothies in order to detox so now it's your turn.

In the book, Tess mentions that SunCafe won an award for the 'best smoothie in L.A' for a blend similar to this one, and it's a hugely popular choice for those who aren't even on the green smoothie bandwagon.  As we're planning a West coast road trip for later this year, I thought it'd be cool to try this recipe out first before actually going to SunCafe and seeing how Tess's version matches up.  My tweaks are very minor, the original recipe doesn't use green grapes and only 1/4 cup of dates so it's up to you whether you want to add these changes - you can find the original recipe here.  So here it is, the kale ice cream smoothie.

You will need;
  • 1/2 cup of soaked, raw cashews
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 a cup of soaked, pitted dates
  • 1 cup of ripped curly kale (no stalks)
  • 2 bananas (frozen or ripe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 handful of green grapes
  • 2 handfuls of ice cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger (optional...in this particular version I haven't added it but I will try it when I make it again)

So this recipe does require a little pre prep.  Tess's book includes a whole section on the nutritional benefits of soaking nuts and a guide to doing it.  For this recipe in particular it is vital the cashews are soaked in order to achieve such a smooth, creamy consistency that can't be achieved with raw nuts.  The cashews need to be soaked in a glass container of warm water (with a little salt and lemon juice if you want) and covered with a thin towel for at least 2 hours - the dates need only 30 minutes.  When they're ready, pop all the ingredients in your blender, starting with the softer ingredients and ending with the hardest (ice is always last).

I added the dates and the water they had been soaking in for extra flavour but it's up to you whether you want to include the extra liquid.  I also drained the cashews before adding them to the blender, discarding the water they had been soaking in.  Have a taste and add as necessary (extra ginger, perhaps some maple syrup or date syrup or a bit more vanilla) and there it is.  Honestly, I was surprised by how nice it turned out.  Kale has a very earthy and slightly bitter taste but that does not translate at all in this drink.  It tastes incredibly creamy and slightly sweet and there is no way you would guess you were drinking a load of kale.  Perfect for an easy transition from your christmas diet.


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Headspace - A Guide To Guided Meditation


I think meditation is one of those things that at first seems a little scary and obscure.  Mostly, people aren't quite sure where to start.  After maybe googling a few things and finding a video to follow, you sit down and start to meditate before wondering if you're doing it right.  Then you complete say, a ten minute video, and then you think 'where do I go from here?'.  On the contrary perhaps you've tried it and are already bored and sitting still for a few minutes doesn't do it for you.  When I first toyed with the idea of meditation I encountered all of these problems a few times.  I was bored, I wasn't consistent, I had no set goal, I worried I was doing it 'wrong' and I'd never achieve a state of zen like the buddhist monks.

Over the last few months, I found something that kind of worked for me which were some youtube videos by TheHonestGuys.  The trouble though was that I'd be practicing irregularly, maybe once a week or when I remembered.  I needed consistency, something that made me feel as though I was progressing and learning.  This is where Headspace came in.  I'd been catching up with a friend over lunch, chinwagging over topics relating to yoga and meditation, when she told me she'd started a free trial over at Headspace.  All she did was show me the website and I was hooked by the cute animations and visually appealing layout (juvenile I know but they're seriously cute).  After just completing my free 10 day trial and subscribing to my first full month, I thought I'd write a review as well as (hopefully) some helpful tips on those new to the idea of meditation.

Why Meditation?

Good question.  Sure, there's scientific research backing the myriad of health benefits and sure, it's been practised for thousands of years across the globe.  All good press aside, it's important to understand why it is you are embarking on the journey.  Whether it's to de-stress, become more mindful, or help regulate your thoughts and feelings, I think it's always important to remember why you started the practice.  Once you've established the 'why', then you can look into the 'what'.  Meditation isn't just for hippies or monks or new age gypsies.  You'll ask 'what can meditation do for me?' and you'll find yourself surprised with the answers.  I'm not going to type out aaalll the benefits of meditation as I believe part of self motivation comes from personal research (yes, you will have to look into it yourselves) and instead, I will post this nice illustration I found on Pinterest.

Find What Works For You

So for beginners, guided meditation is the most easy to follow.  Having someone talk you through the process makes it much easier to focus, although there are different types of guided meditations.  The ones I followed on youtube had a voice as well as a backing track whereas Headspace is purely focused on the voice.  Equally, there's non-guided meditation which can just have a backing track ranging from sounds of the ocean to vibrating frequencies.  Once you've tried a few different options and decided which you prefer, you need to establish some sort of routine and consistency in your practice.  For example, I meditate in the evenings before bed in order to assess the thoughts and feelings I've had throughout the day and to help me relax before I sleep.  Some people prefer to do it first thing in the morning to get themselves into the right mindset and start their day with a positive mentality.  Find out whether you prefer to meditate in a room with little lighting or in front of a window with the sun shining through.  Perhaps light a candle or burn some incense to help enhance your practice.  Discover what is the most comfortable setting for you to practice in so you can fully let go.  Most importantly, don't make excuses and convince yourself you 'don't have the time'.  In the grand scheme of things, what is 10 minutes?  

Why Headspace?

What I've been most impressed with is the sense of progression I've had both visually and mentally.  The website shows your progression as you complete your chosen series, accompanied by short animations and a session chart.

  
  The initial 10 day free trial is set up clearly and easily navigated and starts with a simple 10 minute guided meditation daily.  I initially practiced the first 3 days by myself but after peaking Tom's interest he started practicing with me and has actually managed to stick it out (this is impressive because keeping still and silent is really difficult for him).  We've both found that we really look forward to our daily meditations and this is so important in encouraging us to keep up the practice.  Each session is guided by one half of the founding members, Mr Puddicombe (a former buddhist monk) and he presents it in such a way that it doesn't make the practice feel forced or unnatural.  I had a little snoop around what the rest of Headspace had to offer should I sign up and I was pleased by the variety it offered.


After completing the 'foundation' series, you can unlock other areas of focus such as health, relationships and performance.  These are all part of a series in which you progress through daily practice.  Equally, there's a singles tab for meditation than can be practiced for example whilst walking, commuting or eating.  I love that you can download the app on the phone, plug in and mentally drift away whilst travelling to work or eating lunch.

Now What?

Well there are options to subscribe monthly, yearly or permanently.  Tom and I have decided to pay for a month and see how we fare from there.  Personally, I've found a few things have changed since I've used Headspace daily.  Firstly, I've had the deepest, most undisturbed peaceful sleeps.  I wake up feeling more rested and wanting to be more proactive.  I've also found that when I feel a certain negative emotion arise (anger, sadness etc) I immediately assess why I'm feeling this way and I know how to mentally center myself so that I return to a state of calm.  It's a kind of weird reflex now that happens before I even realise it's happened.  Going back to feeling more proactive, I've also found myself more motivated.  I'm finding inspiration to do things (menial or otherwise) that I'd normally brush aside and ignore.  After completing a month and trying out the other sections Headspace has to offer, I'll post about my experience after meditating with them from more of a longterm perspective.  And as for you, head over to Headspace and start your free trial...remember, these things take time, there is no 'quick fix' and don't worry about doing it 'wrong'.  There is no 'wrong' way to do it.  Just commit yourself fully and openly to the practice and see the difference it makes.



Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Almond Christmas Cookies


I'm writing this post whilst waiting patiently for Tom to return home with some sort of Christmas tree.  I am always itching to get the festive decorations out (our place is littered with red candles right now) and in particular I love to experiment with some festive baking.  Luckily I found a kindred spirit in my supervisor at work who loves to chat about festive decorating and culinary tricks, and she gets full credit for this recipe.  Last christmas she came into work with a tin full of homemade cookies (that I've been thinking about ever since) so I cheekily asked her for the secret formula.  She kindly gave me the recipes for the two different cookies she brought in and I'm going to share with you the recipe for just 1 of them because I can't be giving away all her secrets.  I've changed the original measurements she gave me because I'm only baking for two (and worked with whatever I had in the cupboards) but it still yields plenty of cookies!

You will need;

  • 200g Self Raising Flour (roughly 1 1/2 cups)
  • 100g Ground Almonds
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 50g Icing Sugar (just under 1/2 a cup)
  • 100g Butter
  • 4 Tbsp Vanilla Essence
  • 2 Tbsp Warm Water
  • 3 Tbsp Strawberry Jam
  • Extra Icing sugar for dusting
First up, preheat your oven to 180c.  Combine all your ingredients with a fork (really smush that butter in) and then work with your hands.  If you find the mix is a little dry then add a tiny bit more warm water.
For the first five minutes it will look like your mixture could never resemble anything close to cookie dough.  Don't panic, just keep working it and mixing it until you end up with a smooth, perfectly tanned ball of dough.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the ball out flat.  The thickness will depend on the sort of cookies you want.  I made my dough quite thick so that I had a softer inside.  If you want it to be slightly more crisp then roll your dough out thinly.  Now you can cut any festive shape your Christmas obsessed self desires.

Lay your cookie shapes out onto a tray lined with baking paper and revel in how oddly pleasing it is to look at.  Pop your tray into the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes.  Whilst they are baking, put your jam into a bowl and microwave it for about 30 seconds until it's consistency is a little more liquidy.  After 10 minutes, remove your cookies and brush half of them (or all of them) with the jam and pop back into the over for another 6/7 minutes.
After you've taken them out the oven, dust them liberally with icing sugar and then take a bite!
They taste amazing (and very sweet) when they're warm, especially with the hot jam on top.  However, if jam isn't your thing they are just as nice plain with the little sprinkling of icing sugar, you can always decide to spread warm jam on at a later date.  I had a little bit of dough left over so I tried out an experimental batch whilst the oven was still warm.  All I did was flake pieces of a dark chocolate and orange bar I had into the dough, re rolled it and cut out some shapes.  If you have a family gathering coming up or are stuck with dreaming something up for a bake sale, these are perfect little treats that will take you less that 30 minutes to make!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Films You Should Have Seen (Part 2)


So I thought it was time for a follow up to one of my very first posts ‘Films You Should Have Seen’.  I wrote the post out of my love for film but also in the hopes that I could give some new recommendations to those reading my blog.  I tried to suggest a good mix of films but mainly ones that weren’t so mainstream, either ‘foreign’ films or slightly older films.  This time round I also want to include documentaries as I’m such an avid documentary watcher and I want to encourage more people to actively watch them.  Christmas is coming up so when you’re done watching the same repeats of Love Actually (great film) and a Muppets Christmas Carol (even greater film), you can refer back to either of my posts for some festive inspiration.

The Sea Inside 


This was a set film for one of my courses last year and I was extremely lazy and didn’t bother buying or viewing the film.  When we were discussing it later in class, the lecturer showed a clip from the film for us to analyse and I was instantly hooked.  I bought the film and ended up writing a 2,500 word essay on it because I was so enthralled by it.  This film is Spanish and therefore you will need subtitles, but please, do not let that deter you.  It won both the Oscar and Golden Globe for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, but with or without it’s critical acclaim it’s still a masterpiece.  It’s based on the true story of a man named Ramon Sampedro (played fantastically by Javier Bardem) who has been left quadriplegic after a diving accident.  He campaigns to the courts for nearly 30 years to the right to end his own life.  The film surrounds the last few months of his life and his relationships with his family and the people around him.  The real strength in this film is the calibre of the cast and most notably that of Bardem’s performance.  Bardem is not only playing a man much older than himself but one that cannot move from the neck down.  His whole performance is reliant on the use of his face and he is absolutely mesmerising to watch.  This is not really a feel good film, or a comedy or a romance.  It encapsulates several of these elements but ultimately it’s a film of exploration into human-kind, both thought provoking and moving.  I rank it 9/10 on the emotional meter.  





9000 Needles


I mentioned this documentary in my acupuncture post as I came across it whilst doing some research into TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).  The documentary is about Devin who suffers from a severe stroke at 40 years old and whilst going through treatment, his family feel failed by the Western medical system.  Instead, they fly him to China to be treated by some of the best TCM doctors in the world who use their methods to help aid in his recovery, with the main treatment being acupuncture.  Firstly, I am extremely interested in these subjects so I initially thought I'd enjoy it from a purely educational and informative point of view.  However, as the documentary developed I found myself feeling completely overwhelmed by the journey that he and his family go through.  The sheer determination and courage Devin shows is a good enough reason in itself for you to watch it.  It's educating, it's moving, it's inspiring...it is everything a good documentary should be.



Apocalypto


This one was actually recommended to me by my dad so shoutout to him for finding a film that's made it into my top 10.  I was a bit wary when he told me it was directed (as well as written and produced) by Mel Gibson but I sat and watched it with him anyway to keep him happy.  It's set within the Maya civilisation where a peaceful tribe are attacked by warriors seeking human sacrifices to appease their gods.  The film follows Jaguar Paw, who hides his pregnant wife and young child down a well to protect them from the attack, as he is taken by the warriors as a sacrifice.  He is barely saved from being sacrificed by the happening of an eclipse and he escapes to try and make it back to his wife and child.  It's very intense, with a lot of violence and very little monologue, but it is cinematically stunning.  The costume, the scenery, the shots are all exquisite.  It's basically an action film on crack.  It will have your adrenaline going and your mind racing, but most importantly you worry for Jaguar Paw and his family.  Most certainly not a film for kids but for everyone else it is a must see.  



The Green Mile


Now this one is much more well known but there are still a few people who have never seen it or (weirdly) even heard of it.  If you have seen it, hopefully this is a reminder for you to watch it again as it's definitely the type of film you watch more than once.  It was nominated for, and won, a shit load of awards and for very good reason.  I think Tom Hanks is a brilliant actor but he is exceptional in The Green Mile.  The story is set in the 1930s surrounding the death row guards at a penitentiary.  Their latest inmate has been convicted of child murder and rape but the guards discover he has a mysterious gift.  In particular, the character Tom Hanks plays becomes particularly close to this inmate and they all face the same moral dilemma as to whether this inmate should be given the death sentence or not.  It's a fairly simple plot but the characters are given great depth and  in particular the relationship that forms between Hanks and the inmate.  I ask you to be patient as it is very long but ultimately it is a very rewarding.  If you think you're not easily broken, give this a watch and tell me straight faced, hand on heart that you weren't sobbing by the end of it.


Forks Over Knives


Another documentary for this list and a very important one at that.  When I started to educate myself on health and natural healing, this was one of the first documentaries I watched that inspired me to keep researching.  I've mentioned this documentary in one of my earlier posts but I wanted to talk about it again in more detail.  The main discussion in this documentary is the phenomenal health benefits of switching from an animal based diet to a plant based diet and how the food we are eating has got us into such a dire epidemic of disease and obesity.  What's important in this documentary is firstly the research.  There are doctors who have conducted extensive research and studies, there are people who have healed their ailments through diet and there is the explanation of the largest nutritional study ever performed (the China study) and how certain regions have the lowest rates of cancer and heart disease in the world due to diet.  Obviously listening to a group of doctors and specialists doesn't always make for the most interesting watch but 'Forks Over Knives' doesn't make for dull viewing.  It's also a movie that weaves information with real peoples experiences that's delivered in an entertaining and enjoyable manner.  Ultimately, the diet plans and processed foods being shelled out by governments are there to benefit the food industry and not the people's health.  The same with the pharmaceutical and medical industries that benefit from keeping the population in a continued state of sickness so that they can sell more medication and more pills.  You can make your own minds up on the subject but there's no harm in educating yourselves on the foods you eat everyday.



Mystic River


First up it's directed by Clint Eastwood and it stars Sean Penn so for me those are already the foundations of a great film.  Three childhood friends suffer when one of them is taken by a paedophile and held captive for 4 days and the other two are spared.  They drift apart over the years but are brought back together 28 years later after Penn's daughter is murdered and Kevin Bacon's character is head detective on the case.  The third childhood friend who was taken (Tim Robbins) is now the prime suspect in the case and we follow the three men as they grapple with what happened to them in their childhood and what's happening in the present day.  Clint knows how to make the character development seem natural and unobtrusive.  It's a mystery and a drama that unfolds gradually and the cast carry the whole film with their acting abilities.  It's a raw and brutal examination into human nature and consequence.  I think it's the type of film that people feel strongly for and that has resulted in a mix of people really disliking it or being extremely impressed by it.  I'm in the latter category but I suppose it's up to you to decide for yourself.



How To Die In Oregon


In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalise assisted suicide.  The topic has always been raw and surrounded by controversy, but it is something that can only be understood by the person who makes the choice to decide how and when they want to die.  This documentary follows those involved in the practice, from those terminally ill and wishing to die, to their family, their friends and the doctors assisting them.  It can be difficult to watch at times but of course that's because it touches upon the nature of dying.  For me, the documentaries that hit a nerve and sometimes make for uncomfortable viewing are the ones that are most worth watching.  It's thought provoking and it will hit you hard within the first ten minutes, but if you're prepared to deal with the heaviness it brings it's the sort of documentary that will stay with you for a long time.  I can't really think of much more to say that will do the documentary justice, it's just something that you need to watch and process yourselves.