Sunday, 7 December 2014

Revival by Stephen King

I never really know what to think about Stephen King. I have a great deal of respect for him as a writer and for his attitude towards the publishing world in general. However, the last few of his books that I've made my way through have never quite delivered the promise that his reputation makes for them. I fell in love with the gorgeous, pulpy cover for his 2013 book Joyland but found the final twist to be really fucking dull. Am I missing something? Or is this King of contemporary horror just a little pedestrian these days? Not terrible by any means but nothing to get excited about. Although, he always has this way of drawing me back in. My fucking huge TBR pile has prevented me from buying Mr Mercedes so far, his first 2014 release, but every time I see it on the shelf I get a little bit closer. It was the connections to Frankenstein and HP Lovecraft that persuaded me to break my book buying ban for Revival. If something connected to Mary Shelley then I'd probably be tempted to break anything to try it.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

I remember a fair few of the key jokes so I'm sure I watched Dumb and Dumber in its entirety when I was younger. However, if I did, it wasn't one of the films that made a massive impact on me. Still, when news of the sequel came out I was still hit with a wave of nostalgia at the thought of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reuniting as Harry and Lloyd once again. At least until I saw the first on-set picture of the pair. Then I just felt sad, embarrassed and old. The only thing I've seen recently that's more tragic is the S Club 7 reunion. I mean if Paul can no longer 'get down on the floor' then what's the point?

Monday, 17 November 2014

Us by David Nicholls

This years Man Booker prize long list proved two things: that last years embrace of female writers was a bit of a fluke and that the judges were going to extremes to prove that they were fans of more popular literature. Or at least this felt like the most likely explanation for the inclusion of David Nicholls' Us. Don't get me wrong, after one false start, I liked One Day as much as the next person. However, Nicholls' books aren't necessarily prize worthy; they're nice. A term that, in regards to literary works, takes on a sickeningly patronising tone most often applied to works enjoying unprecedented sales success. Then again, I have been known to be over critical so I thought I'd give his new, Booker prize longlisted novel a chance.... plus it was on offer at the time.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Gone Girl (2014)

(As I seem to be one of the only people on the planet not to have read Gillian Flynn's bestselling novel spoilers probably won't be an issue. On the other hand, if you're part of my team this may be verging on the dangerous ground.)

As I'll no doubt have mentioned by now (after all, deep down I'm still annoyingly Indie at heart), I never finished reading Gone Girl. I can't remember how far into the book I actually got but it was well before the 'big twist'. I just couldn't keep going with the writing and I thought it was painfully obvious where Gillian Flynn was going. Having learnt about the plot, it turns out my predictions were pretty accurate so I don't really regret my decision to stop. Life's too short for that shit. If my undergraduate dissertation had been as signposted as Flynn's bestseller, my tutor would have fucking loved me. However, I have a certain amount of faith in David Fincher and if anyone could make me like this story it was likely to be him. All I needed to do was convince my friend to go with me. Thankfully I had a secret weapon up my sleeve: the promise of Affleck penis.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

'71 (2014)

It was a busy Saturday afternoon at work when my friend suddenly decided I was a suitable back-up plan for her evening. I was spared an evening of bowling failures (spared... geddit?) thanks to her raging hormones. We'd seen the trailer for '71 when we went to see TheRiot Club although our reactions to it were pretty different. Whilst I'd seen a historically and aesthetically interesting thriller, she saw an opportunity to stare at Jack O'Donnell for nearly 2 hours. Never mind, eh? I can think of worse reasons to sit in a dark room on a Saturday night. Plus, she's been threatening to drag me to endless Zac Efron films for the last few years so I'm just too grateful when our interests overlap to really care why.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Riot Club (2014)

No matter how much I loved An Education, I have to be honest, I never wanted to see The Riot Club. Unfortunately, a friend of mine was desperate to see it because “she loves posh boys”. As the only alternative film I had in my arsenal was the new and most likely disappointing Woody Allen film, I couldn't change her mind. Still, considering Douglas Booth has a fucking beautiful jawline (who's with me, ladies?) I was pretty sure I could work with it. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a bit of social commentary on a Wednesday afternoon?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Roald Dahl Day: Who is your favourite character?

As you all may know today marks the anniversary of Roald Dahl's birth and the world has taken to celebrating the much loved children's author. Especially considering this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This milestone is partially being marked by Penguin through their new Classic edition which, as we have discovered recently, is a pretty controversial topic. To be honest, and at the risk of feeling the wrath of the internet, I'm not as opposed to the questionable picture as most seem to be. I admit there is a certain amount of sexualising the young girl at the centre of the photo but, after watching far too much Toddlers and Tiaras over the last few days, maybe I've become somewhat immune to it. Plus, I also quite like the combination. Dahl was a lot darker than people tend to appreciate. Of course, he wasn't that dark but I like the idea of an adult addition that pays attention to it.

Confessions of a Grown-Up Potterhead

So I'm a pretty big Hank Green fan and I have recently put him back on my “Day to Day” Spotify playlist. However, I can't help but feel a little guilty when I listen to his Harry Potter songs. OK not guilty but at least sad that I'm not that big of a Harry Potter fan. It's something that has always made me feel a little awkward and constantly has me considering handing back my geek ID card. It's not even like I hate the books: I'm just kind of ambivalent towards them. So whenever a song like 'Book Eight' comes on I can't fully appreciate how downright awesome the song actually is because I don't fully understand the sentiment.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sex Tape (2014)

I imagine a certain type of person reacting to the news that Cameron Diaz would star in a film called Sex Tape as though it's the best thing to happen ever. Although it wasn't this person that Vue cinemas felt they needed to advertise it to. I first saw the full trailer for Sex Tape before my viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy. It was the middle of the Summer holidays at about lunchtime so there were kids aplenty. It seemed a bit fucking weird to me. Do fathers, out with their kids, really want to be titillated by the thought of a naked Cameron Diaz? Do parents really want their children being forced to imagine Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel filming themselves getting down and dirty? Clearly marketing strategies still centre around fucking ridiculous stereotypes of desperate and sexually frustrated comic book nerds.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

It was back in 2010 that Marvel started making public suggestions about a Guardians of the Galaxy film. I have to admit that I didn't really pay any attention to it. My limited knowledge of the comic book world had let me down again so I had very little knowledge of this part of the Marvel universe. With every new piece of information my eyes rolled with increasing exaggeration: chubby yet adorable Chris Pratt as a Hans Solo type? Karen Gillan? Bradley Cooper? Vin Diesel? Certainly nothing that really left me inspired enough to pick up a comic book. That was until the first teaser trailer was released... and I was fucking hooked. I bought some of the comics, found out as much as possible and made weird high-pitched noises whenever I saw new pictures of the newly buff Pratt.

Monday, 21 July 2014

The Dinner by Herman Koch

After finishing the disappointing Summer House With Swimming Pool a few days ago I decided to dip my toe a little further into the pool of YA fiction. I started reading the much praised Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell because she's all anyone on the internet seems to fucking talk about these days. I can't say I was blown away and, after getting bogged down in the awful teen melodrama, I took a peak at the ending (which incidentally I do a fair amount of the time and I see nothing wrong with it). It didn't really fill me with any great desire to finish the book any time soon. Therefore, it seemed like fate when, after an early finish from work gave me a bit of charity shop time, I found a cheap copy of the Herman Koch novel that preceded the topic of my last review. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

Another of Huff Po’s summer recommendations which, from their description, sounded like a simple and, hopefully, trashy murder thriller. I was desperate to get my hands on this book, particularly the beautiful hardcover, so I tracked down a copy from outside the UK to get it all the sooner. However, thanks to my increasingly short attention span, I finished The Enchanted and bought another huge pile of books that somehow managed to make their way to the top of my ‘to read’ pile. I seriously cannot be trusted in book stores these days. When I eventually got round to it I was once again halted thanks to my desperate need to criticise the fucking stupid binding that made page-turning a bit of a nightmare. Perhaps patience really is a virtue?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

On one of my random lunchtime bookshop trips I found this beauty on sale for half price and decided to pick up a copy. I thought I’d heard about it from someone on YouTube but, after some research, I’m pretty sure that I was mistaking it for another book. Nevertheless, I found myself at the starting point of a few uninspiring novels and, after being excited by the writing in the final sentence of the first page, I started my journey.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

I first read about this book on Huffington Post months ago and I spent weeks searching every bookshop to track down a copy. Of course I could have just clicked a few buttons on a certain website but I’m trying to avoid it. By the time I actually found a copy IRL I was too far into The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August to finally sink my teeth in. Suffice it to say that I powered through that novel in order to finally read the book I’d been desperate to get my hands on. Every day beforehand, I was drawn to the beautiful, metallic cover art and prayed it would be as delightful as it sounded.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

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I have to admit, I’m a little bit in love with John Green. It’s one of the unfortunate side effects of religiously watching various YouTube personalities. The number of people I’m currently besotted with is getting fairly worrying. However, despite this innocent infatuation, it wasn’t until I became intrigued by all of the hype surrounding his runaway success The Fault in Our Stars that I actually read his books. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen the point of YA fiction. I hardly indulged when I was a member of the intended audience bracket so definitely couldn’t be bothered after I left it. After reading, I was pleasantly surprised. Green’s novel is well written and deals with certain subjects in a sensitive and realistic way. However, I hated his representation of modern day teenagers and felt that some moments were just uncomfortable. Plus, despite the warning from a young colleague of mine, I didn’t find myself turning into an absolute wreck at the end because it becomes painfully obvious where the novel is heading very early on. It’s something that stopped me from finishing Gone Girl and it almost prevented me from making my way through TFIOS.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

Not that I want to start sounding like a broken record but I've often thought Seth MacFarlane is my ideal man. He's clearly hilarious, likes classic musicals and sings like fucking Frank Sinatra. Due in part to my continuing romantic delusions, I was very much looking forward to his latest film A Million Ways to Die in the West. To be honest though what isn't there to be excited about? Wild West setting, Liam Neeson and Charlize Theron, and a shit ton of gratuitous violence: sounds ideal. 

Maleficent (2014)

Wicked has an awful lot to answer for these days. The novel that created a back-story for the Wicked Witch of the West and went on to become a runaway success as a stage show has started something of a trend in Hollywood. After last year’s disappointing Oz: the Great and Powerful attempted to explain the origin of the great wizard, Disney have set another much loved family film in their sights. Their big live-action blockbuster Maleficent is the long-awaited rewriting of Sleeping Beauty (1959) from the perspective of the terrifying and terrible witch whose spell sent Aurora to her rest. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

Last year, HarperCollins launched their Austen Project with the release of Joanna Trollope’s updated version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The project was clearly born out of a well-thought out marketing strategy to take the hard earned pennies off both the modern writer’s pre-existing fans and Austen lovers whilst introducing her works to people scared of dipping their toes into Romantic era prose. However, the publication of the first in the series didn’t offer the resounding success that the firm were clearly hoping for. The major reaction tended to be that, whilst the novel was fairly well written and very tounge-in-cheek, it was all a bit pointless. Back in March this year, the second modernisation was released: an update of the under-appreciated Northanger Abbey, a novel Austen wrote in her youth, by crime writer Val McDermid. Northanger Abbey is my favourite Jane Austen novel (not that it means a lot coming from an Austen cynic such as myself) so there was a lot more riding on this than the previous attempt.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

 (Sorry it's another long one.)

As I’ve already spent time on here trying to prove that we owe a lot to Bryan Singer and his early adaptations of Marvels’ mutant heroes. Without the well-made and still brilliant X-Men back in 2000 we quite probably wouldn’t have been treated to such cinematic delights as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Night trilogy, Joss Whedon’s Avengers and the revamped Amazing Spider-Man. Singer was the guy who, after the heartbreak from Joel Schumacher’s reign of terror, reminded us that comic book films could be great. The moment he stepped away from the franchise was when it all started to go wrong. So I have been on tenterhooks ever since it was announced that Bryan Singer would be back to direct this sequel to 2011’s acclaimed X-Men FirstClass. Add to that the fact that it would be an adaptation of the brilliant ‘Days of Future Past’ storyline and we have a painstaking wait for the release date on our hands. I watched the trailers so many times that I was acting them out in private doing my best P. Stew impression.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Godzilla (1998)

 The same colleague who continues to push his misguided, positive Man of Steel feelings on me is currently trying to pique my interest for Gareth Edward’s upcoming Godzilla film. As much as I want to believe Edwards can pull off a film that adequately honours the 1954 Japanese original, I just can’t trust it. Now I can tell what some of you are thinking and I get it: none of the many films starring this reptilian nightmare can really be classed as “good”. There are issues with continuity, the portrayal of the monster, and the basic filming techniques to be found in pretty much all of them. However, there is something about Ishirō Honda’s original that just works so well. Yeah, it might not even be on a par with the 1933 King Kong in terms of quality but fuck it: he’s a goddamn giant lizard monster. Of course, I’ve been burned by heightened anticipation in the past so I’m trying to calm myself down a little. What better way to do this than by rewatching the Matthew Broderick centred travesty from 1998?

Friday, 25 April 2014

Breaker of Chains: When you watch the Game of Thrones you cheer or you rant

So Season 4 of Game of Thrones is in full swing once again and so far it’s been pretty standard. As someone who has already made her way through George RR Martin’s original works, I’ve always through that the show stayed as faithful to the book as it possibly could (considering the author’s potential lack of focus) and, at times, improved upon the original. I have enjoyed the book but I certainly think Martin has a tendency to overcomplicate things. The show has done a great job of fitting the huge books into seasons of 10 episodes and has created some memorable original scenes. The ones that instantly leap to mind are the moments at Harrenhal between Tywin and Arya. Of course, there is every chance that my appreciation of these scenes may have something to do with my utter adoration of Maisie Williams and the fact that I think Charles Dance is a fucking legend. However, I suspect it has more to do with the fact that the original scenario where she works for Amory Loch followed by Roose Bolton just wasn’t as attention grabbing.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

I have to admit that if I had to pick one director as my spirit animal then I’d probably go for Wes Anderson. That’s not to say that I, hands down, consider him the best director of all time (we all know his had his fair share of misfires) but, out of everyone, it is his cinematic vision that always has the ability to make my heart leap with joy. I mean I still smile to myself when I remember the gorgeous stop-motion animation of Fantastic Mr Fox. He also happens to be a very divisive director and I often find myself having to justify my Anderson appreciation to one of my closest friends who often dismisses him as hipster pretentiousness. This is the same friend who has also spent years trying to convince me that her love of Ralph Fiennes is anything other than madness. To her dismay, I’ve never really got over his insistence on pronouncing his name “Rafe” or been able to forgive him for Maid in Manhattan. However, after watching his recent films, Coriolanus and Skyfall, I found myself coming round to her way of thinking (although his time as Magwitch in Great Expectations proved to be unintentionally hilarious - I mean that death scene) and if any man could prove her to be correct it’s Anderson.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

I, as you probably know, am an unashamed Muppet maniac. I vehemently defy anyone to tell me they aren’t funny. It was a bleak world when the Muppets ceased to appear on the big screen. Thankfully I was not the only person who thought so and back in 2011 Jason Segel and his co-writer Nicholas Stoller set out to reintroduce the Muppets to a modern family audience. Their resulting film proved to be a hit with both critics and audiences alike and Disney swiftly signed up the furry stars for a sequel. This sequel has been hotly anticipated and, for a time, it seemed that a week didn’t go by without another big name star signing up for to play a role in the second part of Kermit and co’s comeback. The first real piece of news was that Jason Segel wouldn’t be returning and, to be honest, I couldn’t be happier. Don’t get me wrong Jason Segel did a great job with the script and is a decent enough actor but I was kind of bored by his whole romantic plot. I’m a bit traditional when it comes to my Muppets and I prefer hilarious chaos rather than romantic comedy. However, I did enjoy the film and felt it was as successful a comeback as everyone else. Unsurprisingly, I have spent the year eagerly awaiting the release of the follow up: if only to experience more of Bret Mackenzie’s sensational compositional work.


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Frozen (2013)

When the first teaser trailers appeared for Frozen way back when I wasn’t convinced it would be my kind of thing. When it comes to animated films I’m not likely to get as excited about Disney’s offerings as I am about the work of other studios. Though I’ve been a fairly loyal fan since my childhood there can be no denying that they don’t always offer the animated prowess of their sister studio Pixar or the originality and intelligence of Ghibli. I find it hard to mention any recent Disney film that I have got really excited about. I enjoyed Wreck It Ralph but the idea was greater than the execution. However, these days you can’t really go anywhere on the internet with somebody mentioning this supposed ‘game changer’ and its Oscar nominated song ‘Let it go’. So, once again, I bowed to peer-pressure and checked it out.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Oscar Predictions 2014

In the few years that I’ve been writing this little blog I’ve always meant to write something pre-Oscars. However, this is the first year in which I’ve managed to watch all of the major contenders before the winners are announced. There have been some significant and absolutely breathtaking films this years and a great deal of well-deserved nominations. Of course, on the other hand, there have been a few ‘par for the course’ nominations that perhaps should have been distributed elsewhere. As there’s nothing that can be done about it now I’ve decided to put my unblemished reputation on the line and offer my predications for Sunday night.

Friday, 21 February 2014

12 Years a Slave (2013)

We will constantly be told that 12 Years a Slave is groundbreaking and necessary filmmaking and it is true. A year after Quentin Tarantino placed the slave trade under his unique spotlight, Steve McQueen takes a more sombre look at that bleak part of American history. Comparisons can and will be made to Tarantino’s revenge Western but, aside from the theme that unites them, there is little to be drawn from such an association. Tarantino locks his slaves inside a cartoonish world where the damaged Django is able to gain some sort of catharsis through his violence. Steve McQueen makes this film knowing that there can be no easy answers. Whilst you could easily walk away from Django Unchained feeling that some form of justice has been served, there is nothing to shield you from the horrible truth in McQueen’s third film. Rather than revenge, we are being served up the unpalatable truth. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Philomena (2013)

So whilst I’m planning a romantic valentine’s day with vampire Tom Hiddleston, a friend of mine is arranging to take her fiancé to watch the significantly unromantic Philomena: the adaptation of Martin Sixsmith’s book about an elderly woman’s journey to find the son she was forced to give up as a teenager. Not a terrible film but hardly the kind of film you’d consider for a romantic night out.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

I like the idea of vampires. Not romantic and sappy Twilight vampires but back to basics vampires. I’m thinking those who build on the foundations laid out by John Polidori (let us not forget the true father of the literary vampire) and Bram Stoker: basically Lord Byron but with a bigger appetite for blood. So vampires: tick. As you probably also know, I really like Tom Hiddleston (I’m talking worry proportions here). Therefore, after finding myself alone on Valentine’s Day, I made the best of the situation by watching a preview showing of Jim Jarmusch’s vampire love story with friends. I ask you, dear reader, if you can think of a better Valentine’s companion, than sexy vampire Hiddleston. No, thought not.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

It’s 2014 and the world has become a strange place. Matthew McConaughey is fast becoming an incredibly talented actor. Yes, the same man who fronted limp rom-coms How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Failure to Launch is steadily making waves in the industry. After critically acclaimed performances in Mud, Killer Joe and The Paperboy, McConaughey now finds himself nominated for his first Best Actor award. I still find it hard to connect these two people but, as we know, I eventually adapted to proper actor Marky Mark without much emotional upheaval. Maybe I could even get used to the serious but probably still shirtless Matthew McConaughey.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Nebraska (2013)

I always feel strange watching road trip movies because, unfortunately, I suffer from tiny bladder syndrome. Whenever I sit down to watch characters partaking in epic journeys I can’t help but feel a little bit jealous of the idea of not stopping for hours on end. A film depicting a car journey from my own life would have to consist of numerous stops or forced dehydration. Thankfully this doesn’t prove to be the case in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.

Monday, 10 February 2014

August: Osage County (2013)

I love Meryl Streep. She’s a fantastic actress, she’s an awesome human being and she just doesn’t give a fuck. However, I find myself liking Meryl Streep films less and less as time goes by. She has an increasingly strange habit of choosing to star in really odd and terrible films, particularly ones involving the ridiculous Phyllida Lloyd. Streep is always a reliable and amazing performer but she just doesn’t seem to picking the productions worthy of her brilliance. However, I have been excited about August: Osage County for a while now because of its amazing cast and the potential brilliance from adapting Tracy Lett’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize winning play. Casting Meryl Streep as the unstable head of a fractured and eccentric family and surrounding her with other great actors could only be a recipe for success. Plus, as I’m sure you’re aware by now, I’ll happily embrace anything involving Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones (especially when there's singing involved).

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

When it comes to saucy films my boss has strange ideas about what classes as outrageous. In his mind The Inbetweeners Movie is about as filthy as cinema gets simply because of the male stripper that appears about half way through. (With that kind of attitude I’d love to hear his reaction to Steve McQueen’s Shame.) He affectionately referred to Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s fifth collaboration as “an orgy movie”. I’m not normally one who likes to agree with his hyperbolic and slightly priggish nature but I have to admit that he has summed up the film fairly well. So when another colleague announced that she was going to see the film with her father I couldn’t help but think the entire experience would be utterly cringey. I’d probably have run off to the toilets after 10 minutes and stayed there for the duration.

Friday, 7 February 2014

American Hustle (2013)

I’m not entirely sure whether or not I like David O. Russell. The celebrated writer and director has garnered quite a reputation for himself over the past four years thanks to his award-winning films The Fighter (2010) and Silver Lining’s Playbook (2012). Regular readers will know that I wasn’t exactly wowed by Russell’s supposed reinvention of the rom-com but I couldn’t deny it was of a much greater calibre than the usual Nicholas Sparks adaptation. However, with the still questionable talents of Bradley Cooper in the lead role I could never completely get on board with it. Regardless, the cast list and costume department had got me suitably interested in American Hustle for me to get over my apprehension.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Her (2013)

There is a face that people always make when you bring up Joaquin Phoenix’s name in conversation. Over the years the actor has built up quite a reputation for being wacky and abrasive. This is mainly thanks to his infamous appearance on The Late Show to promote his mockumentary I’m Still Here. Regardless of the way he has behaved in recent years, I still like Phoenix. He is a careful and considered actor who sometimes gets a little carried away with his roles. It takes a certain type of actor to basically front a film on his own and I was looking forward to seeing how Phoenix coped with it for Spike Jonze's fourth film outing. So despite all of the groans I heard when discussing my excitement for this film, I couldn't wait. 

Friday, 31 January 2014

Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

A few years ago it was announced that The Austen Project would task six bestselling contemporary writers with updating one of Jane Austen’s novels. Most probably in an attempt to introduce modern readers to one of England’s most loved authors and to prove that her work is still relevant within today’s society. The news was received with the inevitable dismay of her many fans who think it sacrilegious to mess with the words of their beloved novelist. To the chagrin of my Romanticism professors, I have never been a major fan of Austen: in fact I can only really admit to actually fully enjoying Northanger Abbey, which is simply because the second half of the book is batshit crazy and Gothic. It’s always seemed to me that Austen was writing Bridget Jones’ Diary with added corsets which meant that women of every generation have lapped up the hopelessly romantic journeys of her heroines whilst still feeling as though they are enjoying some sort of feminist doctrine. 

Now I’m not trying to say that she isn’t talented and there is real evidence within her novels that she was clever and very witty. However, no amount of random and bitchy tangents can change the fact that she is the grandmother of chick-lit and I’ll never be able to get excited reading the tales of annoying girls falling in love with utterly objectionable men. Regardless, I was interested in this modernisation plan because when it is done well it can be fantastic. For example, Emma may be my dad’s favourite Austen novel but you can just give me Clueless any day of the week. Plus, no matter what I may have just said, I don’t really mind Sense and Sensibility but that is mainly thanks to Emma Thompson’s lovely adaptation. So, as soon as I could find a cheap enough version, I set about to see whether Trollope had pulled off a Clueless or a She’s the Man.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

A few years ago I got into a fairly heated Twitter argument with my old flatmate about Todd Hayne’s unconventional Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There. I wanted so much to love it but, aside from Cate Blanchett, found very little to get too excited about. It was an interesting concept but I couldn’t help feeling it was all style and no substance. He, as someone who is a hell of a lot more Indie than I am, was outraged at my criticisms. I always intended to go back and rewatch it but my first viewing has filled me with an unending wariness of films loosely based on the lives of famous folk singers. So it filled me with dread and some sadness to discover that for their latest film the Coen brothers took inspiration from the memoir of the late Dave Van Ronk, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, to tell the tale of Llewyn Davis. Whilst not an out and out biography there was some concern about how it would end up. Plus the Welsh link isn’t exactly subtle and it is hard not to add your own level of subtext. However, the trailer is just magnificent and the Coens so rarely steer me wrong. If anyone could rectify Hayne’s mistakes it would be Joel and Ethan, right?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

The Hobbit came out last year amid great despair that it wasn’t a fitting adaptation of Tolkien’s loved children’s fantasy. As you may recall, I loved it and thought the real-time Dwarf dinner would have been exactly how Tolkien would have envisioned a film version of his simple tale. I was filled with excitement for the second instalment as soon as I stepped out of the cinema that first time but, thanks to the pressures of Christmas and a shortage of staff at work, I was left to wait until last week to view it. With the state of mind I was in, Peter Jackson would have had to do something horrific for me not to be even slightly impressed. Particularly when one of my many great loves, Benedict Cumberbatch, was the sexy voice of Smaug the dragon.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

If there is one thing you can say about Anchorman 2 it’s that it has definitely utilised its marketing team. For the past few months (though it feels like years) we have seen Will Ferrell dressed as Ron Burgundy on anything with a captive audience. Not that I’m really complaining. I utterly adore the first Anchorman film and, along with Zoolander, will watch it whenever I need an instant boost. That said, ever since the sequel was announced, I found myself unsure whether it was necessary. Anchorman was a complete film and I just couldn’t see that there was any need to bring back the characters to continue their story. However, a friend and I found ourselves having only had about four hours sleep on New Year’s Day and needing to find an activity that took place in a dark room and didn’t involve interacting with other people. It seemed like destiny was calling.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Gravity (2013)

Gravity is one of the films that has featured in a pretty much every ‘Top Films of 2013’ lists and, despite being extremely late to the party, I managed to fit in a viewing before the year came to an end. Despite the cavalcade of positive feedback that poured out following its release, a friend of mine saw this fairly early in its release and came up with the one word review of “weird”. Although, as she is the same friend who argued the case for the awful 2011 Three Musketeers remake, I wasn’t prepared to miss the opportunity based on her analysis. (She also hated Hugo which, if you ask me, is unforgivable.)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)

James Thurber’s 1939 short story, ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’, has, despite its low page count, now spawned two Hollywood adaptations. Thurber tells the story of Walter Mitty, a put-upon husband, who retreats to daydreams of heroic acts to get away from his humdrum existence. It’s a lovely short story that doesn’t attempt to move beyond a familiar reality in quite the way that the previous 1947 adaptation did. Taking inspiration from the war-time setting, this version eventually took Walter out of his dreams and placed him into a world of espionage and drama. It was a fairly big leap from Thurber’s simple and unassuming original but it was certainly more suitable for a Hollywood film. There has been talk of a modern adaptation since the late 90s and a host of comedy performers have been discussed into taking the leading role. It wasn’t until Ben Stiller came aboard to direct and star in that the film began to really take shape. Now I really like Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig but I can’t say I was exactly rushing to watch a film being hailed as “the new Forrest Gump”. However, the trailers suggested that there may be potential for humour and sentiment so I thought I’d give it a go.
 
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