The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2 (4 Stars)

Thankfully, this film saw a return to the form of the original film and it was brilliant.

For me the ideas of concepts within the original film were quite powerful. Being in Holocaust studies I was particularly impressed with the way the film tackled key ideas and concepts that can help to understand why people can be so barbaric and how totalitarian systems can operate. The second and the third film did not really help carry these messages across. The fourth film however begins to tackle with the idea of Victor’s justice and how society can be shaped by the close of a war and how early implementation of a new society with law and order can help determine the future of that society. Although this film only lightly touched on the idea of a zero hour and in typically Hollywood fashion the happy ending comes with virtually no trouble at all. I have parallels with my current work on exploring the West German government and their decision to give amnesty to Nazi war Criminals in order to help rebuild a defeat and desolated Germany. I can see how ideas and thinking from that period have played out in this film and I am particularly impressed how the film, based on teenager books can help to spread meaningful situations,  reactions and discussions. Although it is probably just me over analysing it and others way just watch and appreciate the film at more face value. Nevertheless it is a good film.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1 (2 1/2 Stars)

I think the problem with a lot of franchise films, such as Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games…is that inevitably there is an end period. What Hollywood seems to do in such occasions is try and extend that franchise to make two films out of one book, or even in the case of The Hobbit – three films.

The problem with this film, as with the case of the Hobbit, I don’t think there needs to be a cutting of the story. The Hobbit certainly didn’t need the invention of the storyline for the entire second movie. I can’t quite fully comment on Mockingjay, as I have not read the books and I do not know the storyline to follow. But this film was just unnecessarily long and not as good as the first two, for the reason you could just tell the were trying to produce another movie out of it. It annoys me that sometimes stories can in the way of making movie for Hollywood, and I think that is wrong.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (3 Stars)

I was disappointed with this film. I loved the first one and it seemed somehow above the usual quality of Hollywood – yes it had all the plot twists of a Hollywood and the glamour, but the messages that came out of it for me were powerful. Especially working as I do within Third Reich and Holocaust studies. People can sit there and say why didn’t people stand up to the Nazis. Well some didn’t because they believed what was being said. Some didn’t because they feared losing their positions. Some were just trying to live there lives in a quiet and as safe a way as possible. Others tried to fight against the Nazis, they either fled for their lives or they ended up dead. It’s always noble to have hind sight and say you would do things differently, but when forced into the situation, when you have to make the choice, what would you do?

In this film there are no lasting moral questions. The film was very much just an average Hollywood film – it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t as good as the first one. This one just felt rushed. Like you know it was building to something at the end, so the details were just skipped over or rushed through to get to the end bit, the important bit.

The Hunger Games (4 1/2 Stars)


If you’ve never read the books before then the film begins with a very dramatic black scene with white text where it outlines the plot of the film. It begins with the Treaty of the Treason – a very formal document that spells out in simple terms that during the Reaping a boy and a girl from each district and aged between 12-18 will be selected to participate in the Hunger Games, where they will fight to the death until there is a lone survivor. It’s very clinical and neat…and intensely horrific at the same time.

The film introduces a new world with a new set of rules, if you’re not aware of the books you’re not aware of the history, although there are a few clues – such as there were 13 districts, yet only 12 districts enter the Hunger Games. There are in essence two worlds, the districts and the Capitol. I love the contrast of the 1940s vibe from the clothing of the districts, particularly in 12, compared to the über modern and opulent Capitol. The Capital fails to understand the human cost of the games, they are just power hungry and enjoy the sport, like the rich upper elite of the Romans who held power over the Gladiators.

Yet, you are forced into a impossible situation, if you want to live you have to play the game. But at what cost? What does winning mean for you for your sole? Can you play the game to survive but also remain true to yourself?

Steve Jobs (1 1/2 Stars)



This film had potential and the acting from Kate Winslet and Michael Fassbender was outstanding. I just ended up with a headache from watching this film. However, my Dad really liked the film and he is the computer gig who lived through this period…so maybe if you’re a computer geek you may enjoy it more.

The film is set around three events and focuses on the making of Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender). The first two, his failures of the overpriced and non-customisable Macintosh in 1984, The all-glamerous non-substance NeXt Cube (1988) and then finally the game changer: The IMac. The film takes place in the same building, or at least it really looks like the same building and towards the end Apple have customised it backstage – so I think it is the same building. It mostly revolves around Steve’s relationship with the mother of his child, Chrisann (Katherine Waterstone), his daughter, Lisa, his ‘work wife’ Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), as well as Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) and Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg).

The film is basically the same arguments played over three scenes from 1984-1998. You get the difficult and strained relationship of Chrisann and Steve, who Steve thinks is just trying to get money out of her. His daughter Lisa, who he refuses to acknowledge as his daughter and who can see if under immense difficultly to cope with her mother – yet he never steps in to help. Then his strained relationships with co-workers, Joanna who tries to keep Steve’s personal and business personas on track. His Co-founder Wozniak; the real brains behind apple and the struggling relationship to acknowledge their beginnings and Andy Hertzfeld – a key engineer who Steve bullies to get things his way.

The film is designed to show Steve as an asshole, he’s not an engineer – he’s a conductor. He plays those with talent to get the image of a computer from his head. Let’s face it, he had some brilliant ideas, but the film leaves you with the impression that he is the star – undeservedly so. The film selectively shows Steve at his most stressful points of his career, the three launches – a time when the worst comes out in people – especially Steve.

One of the things I really liked was the homage to Alan Turing – with the apple rainbow logo meant to represent him…Steve merely says Apple was taken from a list of words that were aesthetically pleasing. Is that the real reason behind Apple? Or is it like the Lisa, the origin is clear but Steve can’t handle the truth so makes up a lie to cover it?

I think you’d appreciate this film more if you didn’t get a headache from the arguing and like computers. Maybe it’s a good thing the film stripped away from of the foundation myths (such that Steve was fired unfairly from Apple) and presented the real person, but I can’t help question if the one-sidedness was really necessary. What was he like outside of the highly stressful computer launches?

Filofax: Printing your own trifold inserts

So my last post on Friday was about how to make a fold out monthly insert…and now I’m going to show you how to print them (apologises if you’ve been trying to work out how to do it all weekend as this post went out on Monday…). Anyway, if you want to know how to make them you can read that blog here.

In the post I showed you just a basic design…I customised mine to my own style – namely German font and pictures from German history and a bucket list…so my finished product will look like this:


Now to print I recommend just focusing on page at a time, once you’ve set up and printed the first one and it’s gone ok you can print the others off very quickly by just changing the numbers on the Print Custom Range.

Firstly check the print preview and make sure everything looks ok, my checklist includes:

  1. Number order
  2. Spelling errors
  3. Where are the punched holes going to go? Did I mess that up?
  4. Is everything between the crop marks?

If you’ve not got crop marks you can add them:

Click the down arrow on your printer (just above printer properties) > Advanced Output Settings > Marks and Bleeds > Allow bleeds > Crop Marks

Next we’re going to set up the page.

Print Custom Range > Relevant page numbers (3-4 in my case) > One page per sheet > A4 > Manual 2 Sided Print (Flip sheets on long edge)

Now just hit the front and back on your print preview make sure it looks ok. Now hit print. If like me you don’t have a duplex you’ll have to manually change the paper. Don’t click the pop up box that comes up. You’re going to have to work out which way round to load your paper, this is mostly trial and error. If you have an up and over one like mine you lie the paper print side up with the text on your left hand side.



Then you just need to cut and punch. I recommend cutting on the first page side (in this case the January or the odd month). I find cutting on the other side can get it out of alignment a little bit (damn A4 and the inability for it to be 29.8!). To fold them you need to keep in mind that you’re rings are going to take up space so you can’t do a straight forward fold. One think to do is punch the holes first. I flipped my page over so I was on February. Folded the end which had the calender on it up to the bullet points of the bucket list. I then flipped it over and folded it back on itself until it there wasn’t anything over hanging on it.


There you go. Revel in the fact you can now see your month and weekly at the same time.

Filofax: DIY Monthly Fold out

My last tutorial on how to make your own planner pages, namely a week on two page template was very popular and this is one of the other major inserts I have made and use in my planner. So I thought it was about time I showed everyone how to make it. If you didn’t catch my other post though you can find it here.


So if you’ve not guessed from the title already, the above photo shows you what this tutorial is going to make. A DIY fold out monthly calender. I think these are great because it allows me to see my week and my month at the same time, so when I am filling out my weekly page I don’t have to keep flipping back and forth. It is also great because I printed my months double sided so when I am on an even month, say October. I can move September/October to the front of my weekly inserts and open it out, whilst having November on the right behind my weekly inserts. It allows me to see two months at once – which is great for planning weekend trips away! Sadly the only downside is if it is an odd month, like November. I can’t see December because it’s on the back of November. It’s not too much of an issue and I’d rather conserve the paper bulk in my planner and so don’t keep one month to one page.

So like my previous post we’ll be using Microsoft Publisher again. It’s a great little program that’s probably on every windows pc/laptop, that you’ve probably never opened! I find it much easier to use than word for making templates. Like my last tutorial this is going to focus on a personal sized planner, but changing the dimensions up you can easily adapt this to other planner sizes.


First things first…we need to create the page size. Now this is an uncommon size. The standard size for a personal is 171mm x 95mm. (I like printing at 172mm –  I don’t know why, just do) In order to make a tri-fold you need to measure where your holes on your weekly layout come to. With my hole punch I lose about 8mm of space. so I rounded this up to 10mm, or 1 cm. Which means my first 1/3 of the page will be the standard 95mm, whilst the next two thirds will be 170mm, or 85mm each. So let’s get started.

Open Publisher > File > New > More Blank Pages and Sizes > Create new page size.

Width: 26.5cm

Height: 17.2cm

Margins: 0mm.

Ok > Open a new blank page with this template. 

Now you want to create a table, in this tutorial I’m going to show you with the columns being days of the week (you could easily adapt this to days as rows if you would prefer to do that). So we need to create seven columns. For the moment I recommend creating the table as a 7×1 and having the height of the table at 4mm.

Insert table > 7 x 1 >

Height: 0.5cm

Width: 16.8cm.

Now the size of the table is for a reason. You need to leave 95mm of space free. This will be the section you punch the hole in and when you put you’ll weekly pages on top of it, it’ll be the same size and so cover it. So the remaining 16.8cm is where we want to put the table. However, I’ve left 2mm off just to allow for folding and such.

Now we need more than one row so although this process seems to be long winded and time consuming I recommend doing it with way to get the best visual effect. But to make it simpler you could easily to add in another 7 rows and make the height of the table 17cm. Then just adjust the days of the week row and the month row to a smaller size. I like to be precise though so I’ll show you my way. First we need to align the table.

Select Table> Align > Relative to Margins > Align > Top > Align > Right

Next we are going to duplicate the rows until we reach 17cm in height.

Select table > Right click > Insert > Insert below

To make this process faster:

Ctrl A and repeat the above step (this will double the amount of rows per insert action).

Now we have our table properly established we are going to realign it but first we’re going to add some margins.

Page Designs > Margins > Custom Margins > Right: 0.1cm

Now align the page to the middle and to the right margin. This will give us 1mm of space to allow for printing and cutting error.

Now persuming I have counted correctly we have 34 lines. Now if you look at a calender there is sometimes the possibility that a month can stretch over six week, where part of the first and last week are incomplete weeks. When I looked at the calender for 2015 I think it happened about twice. So I made the decision to have six rows. This means alot of months you won’t use the bottom line – but that could always be used for notes or a quote or something and it just means those two months look neat. So 34 divided by 6 is 5.666. So we don’t have a nice round number to fit in the daily boxes but I want to use some as headers. So we are going to use five lines per box. Now if you would like your monthly calender to be lined you can skip this step. But if not we’re going to merge some cells, so starting at the bottom of your table,  count up five lines in the first column – and make sure only the first column is selected.

Layout > Merge cells.

This will create your daily box.


Keep repeating this step until you have six boxes in the first column. Once completed move onto the other columns. You should have four unused rows at the top. Starting with the fourth row from top, or the one immediately above your daily boxes you’re going to write the days of the week in each column. Pick whatever font you want. The one in this tutorial is Calibri font size ten – nothing special so get creative and do your own font style, but just to keep it within the 5mm box.

Next we’re going to do the month. I merged all the remaining three lines together across all the columns, if you want you could make the day headings a bit bigger and the month one smaller. In my tutorial the month is in Calibri front size 28.


To align the text within the box

Select box (Ctrl A or highlighting with a mouse for multiple boxes) > Layout > Select whatever design you want. I used Centre middle and Centre right.

Now it’s time to colour in some borders. Again this is can be done however you want to do it. I don’t really like borders around the Month or the Day headings…but if you do put them in. Now if you want lines in I recommend changing the colours of the lines. In my one I have showed the clear black borders and the lined grey with the black outside border.

Select the boxes for borders > highlight them > Design > Select line width > Select line colour > Select lines to be coloured.

For the black lines I picked, a width of 1/4 pt, the blackest black and I selected all borders. If you have kept you lines I suggest then selecting all your horizontal lines and changing the colour from black, mine are the second lightest grey.

filled in

Then you need to fill it in. Grab a calender, I use my mobile phone for this. Now November starts on a Sunday. So I’m going to go to the first of the box rows and the last column and put a 1. Going to repeat that until I put 30 on the last Monday row (November spans across 6 weeks so it’s great for this).

Now I don’t like the black borders being around ’empty days’. As Sunday is only filled on the first week I took out the vertical lines that weren’t in use. You can repeat the step above but just remove lines rather than adding them. I also centred my numbers to be top middle but repeating the steps like we did before.


And that is the month complete.

Now we are going to do the reverse month which is just a simple change. On the left hand side of the program you should see a miniature of your monthly page. Right click that and duplicate it, placing it below your November. This is going to be December. But it’s going to be reversed. So to do that we’re going to add a margin of 2 mm (this will onset the printer adjustment), and then move the table to the new position.

Page Design > Margins > Custom Margins > Left 0.2cm

Select Table > Align Left

Now I changed the November heading to December and also moved it to the left. Then just delete the numbers and reorder them to the correct days. Adjust the vertical lines to add them in and take them away at the right places and you are done making you’re monthly layout. Just repeat for the following months.

The next post will show you how to print them. If you have any queries please leave a comment below and I’ll answer them for you.