THAT’S WHAT SHE READ – SUNDAY RUNDOWN

THAT’S WHAT SHE READ – SUNDAY RUNDOWN

I’m not really one for making New Year’s Resolutions. For one thing I have fuck all will power and don’t like being reminded of this fact too regularly. Especially if it’s about a week into vowing to eat less or exercise more. Nah, I’d much rather suprise myself by slowly realising that I’m a fucking adult and making small changes to how I live my life. One of these changes is how I approach this blog. I’ve already impressed myself with how well I’ve kept to my new schedule… if you ignore that month when I fucked off without warning. So I plan to keep pushing myself and make sure I actually read/watch things I can talk about. Otherwise, this will become my online therapy session where I rant endlessly about everything that’s going wrong with my life. I’m an adult now, Everything in my life is going wrong. So with that in mind, I will hopefully have something else to write about in my Currently Reading section of my weekly rundown very soon.


Currently Reading
  • A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor
I’ve actually read a fair chunk of this recently. My plan for 2016 is to read something every day. We’re 3 days in and I’ve already failed so I’m not hopeful about it. Still, the writing in this book is fucking beautiful and the narrative moves really quickly. Recommend to anyone.


Recently Purchased

  • Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney
Working in a kitchen I’m always interested in how it is represented. I’m a big lover of the show Masterchef but am always annoyed when people have a romanticised view of what it is to be a professional chef. It’s fucking tough and can be super stressful. Now I’m not saying I’m anywhere near being a real chef but even working at this low level I know I’d not be happy in a proper kitchen. In this book, chef Michael Gibney creates a narrative of 24 hours in an upscale New York restaurant. Giving a hopefully real and in-depth view of what it is really like to cook for a living. 
  • Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
I’d read a lot about this one before I got round to buying it but it wasn’t until I ‘needed’ to make an Amazon order up to the free delivery minimum that I bought it. It’s the story of a lonely man in his fifties who finds companionship in the dog he adopts. Baume’s debut was a huge success and I can’t wait to read it.

  • Beach House by R.L. Stine
This one was born out of a huge fucking wave of nostalgia. After watching Goosebumps earlier this year, all my memories of the series came flooding back. It got me thinking about all of my childhood reading. Having an older sister, I was able to easily transition from Goosebumps to the slightly older Point Horror series. There was one book that I’ve never been able to forget and, if I’m right, this is it. If not I’ll read it anyway.It all counts towards my 2016 book count after all.
  • I Love Dick by Chris Kraus (Kindle edition)
I bought this one after seeing another blogger talking about it. I did a bit more research and it sounded magnificent. I got a copy as soon as I could. 
  • DIY Pickling: Step-By-Step Recipes for Fermented, Fresh, and Quick Pickles (Kindle edition)
I fucking love pickles. One of my favourite Christmas presents this year was a fucking huge jar of jumbo gherkins. Obviously, the basic principles of pickling is easy but I’m always looking for new and exciting flavour combos. Who knows, next year everyone might get some of my home-made pickled goods.


Recently Watched

  • Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Fucking hell this was so much better than I could have imagined. I don’t think it ended up being as clever as Moffat may have thought it would be but it was still fun. The old-timey Sherlock world was amazing and, despite being a tad obvious, the little touches that suggested this was all just imaginary were great. I can’t believe that it was necessary going through this whole plot just to tell people what happened to Moriarty. I think it was obvious what happened: particularly to anyone familiar with the stories. I mean have we all forgotten Sebastian Moran? It was always obvious Moriarty wasn’t back from the dead but that someone was taking his place. All these conspiracy theories were fucking desperate.
TBT – Sherlock: A Study in Pink

TBT – Sherlock: A Study in Pink

Today is New Year’s Eve and people all around the world are excitedly waiting for the biggest event in the calendar. Yes, we are a few hours away from the Sherlock special. The first episode in almost a year, which is admittedly less time than we’ve been kept waiting in the past. An episode that take us back to the world of the books and places Tumblr’s favourite Otter in Victorian England. It’s an exciting concept and has allowed Martin Freeman to sport a much more impressive moustache than the last one. Now, I’ve not always been on board with Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ modern Sherlock and still only really like a couple of episodes in seasons 1 and 2 and all of season 3. I just feel like they keep mixing up Arthur Conan Doyle with Doctor Who and it’s really fucking annoying. I understand the logic: you want to persuade your already loyal Whovians to follow your new series so you make it so fucking familiar its like their watching the same show. It makes sense. It just doesn’t always feel right to me. I know it’s a modern interpretation but Sherlock is sometimes too quirky for my liking. I like my Holmes to be more stiff-upper-lipped than bouncy.

Still, back in 2010 I eagerly watched the first episode along with the rest of my family. Being major fans of the books, my father and I felt like we had a lot riding on this. To be honest, I liked the first episode. It struggled from the usual first episode problems but was promising. It was the second episode that stopped me watching. In fact it wasn’t until a good couple of years later that I finished series 1 and series 2. The scene in where Sherlock looks for clues in the office just pissed me off. That’s not Sherlock: that’s the Doctor.

It’s not even the fact that I’m a stubborn purist, The idea of modernising Sherlock Holmes was a fantastic one and the casting was superb. I’ll forget about any original material when something well-written and enjoyable is on offer, ‘The Blind Banker’ is one of the shittest things I’ve ever seen. You know how Star Wars purists feels about the prequels? Yeah, that’s how I feel about series 1 episode 2 of Sherlock.

Anyway, I’ve since changed my mind… at least partially. It’s all thanks to Mark Gatiss really. His Hounds of the Baskerville episode is the best thing in the entire fucking series, That man is one of the best television writers we have at our disposal and I always look forward to anything he’s helped to craft. It’s equally telling that the best episode of series 1 is also written by Gatiss. I dread to think what Sherlock would have been like without him.

But I digress. Before we see a more traditional version of the character we have come to know and love, I think it’s prudent to look back at the Cumberbatch’s first outing as the great detective. There was a lot of pressure all round when ‘Study in Pink’ first aired. How well would the modernisation work without the whole thing feeling like a bit of a gimmick? How well would the stories translate into a modern setting? And, most importantly of all, who would play the wiseman?

‘Study in Pink’ may not have fully proved that the new series was destined for greatness it certainly showed there was great potential. The use of social media and new mobile technology were used greatly and the graphics on screen allowed them to fit into the narrative. It is no new idea that Sherlock liked to be ahead of the times and loved to play with gadgets. It fits in with his character that he would utilise the internet and smartphones in his investigation.

As for the story, the plot isn’t the greatest crime mystery ever crafted but it works. There are few unanswered questions and a few dodgy moments but, in the end, it holds up. Obviously, the first episode of any series has the awkward task of introducing the concept and the characters. It had to bring our main characters together and create the dynamic duo. It had to quickly allow the audience to get to grips with Sherlock’s character and his history with the supporting cast. The actual case is neither here nor there but it has all the hallmarks of a traditional Holmesian tale.

What really made the series great was the casting. The supporting cast is amazing with Lousie Brealey, Mark Gastiss and Una Stubbs standing out. Although, for my part, I’ll always have a soft-spot for Rupert Graves’ Lestrade. Not only is he astoundingly handsome but is a bloody good actor. Of course the main event is in the casting of Holmes and Watson themselves. Bringing together Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman is quite honestly the greatest thing that Steven Moffat has ever done. It’s no wonder that Tumblr have accept the pair as a tried and tested ship. You can tell the success of a television pairing by the number of people drawing pictures of them in romantic situations and writing fanfiction about them adopting children together.

‘A Study in Pink’ deserved a much better follow-up than ‘The Blind Banker’. It’s a smart and stylish episode that showcases the talents of its actors. It is a strong opening episode that hinted at great things to come. You can tell that Gatiss and Moffat know their stuff in terms of Conan Doyle law and truly enjoyed updating the tales. It’s just as obvious that all the actors involved relish their roles and loved making the series. I’ll never be truly convinced that this is absolute greatest adaptation of the tales we’ll ever see but I’ve come around to the idea that it’s the best we’ve got at the moment.

The Lobster (2015)

The Lobster (2015)

So it’s been a week since I intended to post this and I’ve probably forgotten everything about the film. Well apart from the fact that I fucking loved it and haven’t stopped recommending it to everyone. At the same time, I’ve just got a new laptop for Christmas and everything has shifted to the left slightly. Without meaning to sound big-headed, I’m fucking great at typing and this is throwing me off completely. I have’t typed this slowly since I first used a fucking computer. So I warn you, there may be spelling mistakes and random symbols that shouldn’t really be here. I blame my inability to accept change. So a badly written and ill-informed review. Who else is really fucking excited to see how this turns out?

I don’t know why I first wanted to see The Lobster. It’s one of those films I heard snippets about but never really registered with. I’m so fucking glad I eventually started paying attention though. I loved it. Set in a future where being single is an unacceptable way of life. Anyone not in a relationship is shipped off to hotels full of other single people in order to be paired up as soon as possible. Those unable to find a suitable mate will be turned into the animal of their choosing after 45 days.

So it’s safe to say that The Lobster is a fucking weird film. Not least because it may completely change your opinion of Colin Farrell. The Irish actor has done what every big name actor does at some point and has de-handsomed himself. With a new paunch and a dodgy moustache, the Hollywood hunk is far from the hunky macho men he is so used to playing. Although, if I’m honest I’ve never really seen the appeal of the trampy Farrell and found myself more attracted to his The Lobster dad-bod look than I’ve ever been before.

I also found myself praising his understated and subtle performance: a thing I would never have believed possible a few years ago. Taking the role of David, Farrell is subtle and funny. David says very little but Farrell nails his deadpan attitude to the absurdity around him. He flourishes in this strange, dark comedy more than he ever did in the shitty Horrible Bosses. It almost makes me wonder why I hate him so much.

There’s something about director Yorgos Lanthimos’ story that helps make him so charming. There’s something about David that makes him stand out. Unlike everyone else, he doesn’t just want to become a dog. He sees the ridiculousness of his situation but is just as desperate to make it as anyone else. You’re rooting for him to make it and, in the latter half of the film, you are fully on board with his weird romance.

Although, the second half of the film loses its way a little. Once David escapes from the hotel and finds support from a band of permanently single outlaws the pace slows and the focus gets blurry. Still, with a little help from the always wonderful Rachel Weisz, Farrell manages to make a rushed love story utterly compelling and incredibly funny.

The Lobster isn’t a film that everyone will love. It’s a strange and self-indulgent film. However, if you persist you will hopefully find a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted and darkly funny film. The film takes a satirical look at our society’s approach to dating and the idea that love is a science. It is a clever film that, despite a few missteps, is a joy to watch. Thanks in no small part to an incredibly strong cast, including the likes of Olivia Colman, Ben Wishaw and John C Reilly.

As someone who admits they didn’t watch a lot of films in 2015 it means fuck all to say that this is one of my top films of the year. However, that shouldn’t mean nothing. The Lobster is my kind of film. I love the weird and dark. I apparently also love chubby Colin Farrell. This has certainly been a year of unexpected revelations.

THAT’S WHAT SHE READ – SUNDAY RUNDOWN

THAT’S WHAT SHE READ – SUNDAY RUNDOWN

Just a quickie this week. Christmas has sort of taken over my life and work has been hell. I’ve not really had the time or inclination to do anything other than sleep. Plus, old friends are back, family are around and my entire fucking county seems to be covered in water. Reading, unfortunately, has had to take a bit of a back seat. Still, Christmas is a time of giving and a few people have given me good booky presents. Now I have my own Personal Library Kit I won’t have to face the injustice of an unreturned book. My colleague has had my copy of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August for months and I’ve long passed the point I can ask for it back. I hate this fucking shit. I should just stop lending my books to people. Although, now I have the kit that seems like a rather foolish thing to do. 

Currently Reading
  • A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor
I’ve actually read some of this in the past few days. I’m so proud. Still so fucking good but it’s Christmas. Who has time for reading when there’s so much fucking food around?
  • Hotels of North America by Rick Moody

Slowly getting there. I will have it finished before 2016.. possibly.

  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

I don’t even think it’s fair to say that I’m still reading this one but, dammit, I need all the content I can fucking get. 

Christmas Haul

  • NOPI: The Cookbooks by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully
Working in a kitchen it’s fairly obvious that food will be a big topic. I love a bit of food talk but I’m not exactly au fait with the greatest chefs. If I were to have an outright favourite it’d definitely be Yottam Ottolenghi. Not only does he seem like a jolly nice man but he creates some fucking glorious food.Getting his latest book for Christmas has allowed my current Ottolenghi collection to be completed. I can’t wait to look through this. 
  • Sweet by James Martin
I have been known to have a massive sweet tooth and, even though I say so myself, am a fucking great baker. My James Martin loving friend bought me this because we both have a bit of a soft spot for him. He’s a lovely, slightly chubby Northern chef who loves butter. How could you not love him a little bit. Now he’s by no means the greatest chef of all time but the photos in the book are fucking glorious. I can’t promise I’ll make anything from it but I will lust after all the food porn-y pictures. 


Recently Watched

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Fucking hell. I’m still trying to take it in. Can’t wait to see it again. I have some issues but it was so fucking good. Plus, I’m such a hardcore Poe/Finn shipper that I simply can’t even.
  • Star Trek Beyond trailer
I hate to say it but I’m think I’m over these films. Loved the first one. Sort of loved the second one. This one looks shit. Maybe it’s the lack of JJ but it just feels like Star Trek is trying to become a Marvel film. It’s a shitty copy of Guardians of the Galaxy and it deserved to be so much more. This trailer left me fucking cold. Plus, I think I’m done with Simon Pegg.

TBT – Elf (2003)

TBT – Elf (2003)

So it’s Christmas Eve and I’m full of festive cheer. I’m also fucking exhausted. I made the reckless decision to watch The Force Awakens last night despite having to start work at 6am. I’ve only been able to keep going thanks to my continued delight at how wonderful the whole thing turned out to be. Obviously I have a few gripes but The Force Awakens was the best present I could have hoped for. I admit it was a bit fucking stupid seeing it so close to Christmas. It would really have taken some of the joy out of the festive period if I was brooding with hatred for JJ Abrams. It would have taken something very special to lift me from that foul a mood. Thankfully, at this time of year there is always a feel good film on somewhere. I got home to the end of Finding Nemo and instantly forgot how much I hate all of our customers when Dory encouraged me to “just keep swimming”.

Although, it’s not exactly a Christmas film so in keeping with the time of year I’d probably turn to my Top 11 festive treats. Number 3 on the list is the always enjoyable Elf. Is there a single person out there who doesn’t love Will Ferrell as the fun-loving Buddy? If there is, then they’re the biggest fucking Grinch to ever walk the planet. Will Ferrell is the kind of person who could bring humour and charm to any piece of shit and he manages to elevate an otherwise forgettable film to great heights. 
Elf is the story of Buddy; a human child who snuck away in Santa’s sleigh and was raised by elves. Growing up believing he is one of Santa’s helpers, Buddy’s world is shattered when he discovers the truth. This starts him off on a journey to New York to reconnect with his father. With a lifetime spent in the magical North Pole making friends with narwhals, Buddy doesn’t exactly fit into life in the big city. His father, children’s book publisher Walter Hobbs, believes his long-lost son is crazy and shuns him. Still, Buddy manages to find a place in the real world and his childlike personality starts to make a difference to the people he meets.
When it comes down to it, Elf has a really shitty plot. It’s nothing very exciting and the emotional stakes are pretty low. The problem with a lot of holiday films is that they don’t fully believe the message they’re trying to sell to the audience. The Christmas film is such a by-the-books genre that you can just include a few tropes and claim to be pushing the Christmas cheer. The narrative isn’t supposed to be about development but just a means to the big, festive finale. 
There is nothing shocking about the road the characters in Elf travel. You know what’s going to happen and you know how it’s going to get there. What keeps you going is the main character. Ferrell throws himself into the role with such gusto that it’s impossible not to get swept up with Buddy’s fun-loving, naive charm. 
The rest of the cast is pretty stellar but they have fuck all to do. James Caan’s Walter is reduced to over-the-top Grinch who threatens to ruin Christmas for his loving family. Zooey Deschanel gets incredibly short shrift as Buddy’s love interest, Jovie. Deschanel is as adorable as we’ve come to expect but she is reduced to giving doe eyes and singing whenever the need arises. 
When you look too deeply, Elf is nothing more than a few silly sketches tied together by one of the laziest plots imaginable. That’s not to say I don’t love it. There are some very funny moments and a lot of reasons to enjoy it. There’s a reason I put it at Number 3 on my list. It might not be the most sincere Christmas film but Elf is certainly one of the most charming. It’ll give you more than enough warm and fuzzies on a cold winter’s night. 
Hermione Granger: The Next Racebender

Hermione Granger: The Next Racebender

I was all set to write a review of The Lobster today. I watched it yesterday and really enjoyed it. Then something happened and parts of the internet went crazy… supposedly. It was announced today that the actress playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter play, The Cursed Child is Swaziland-born actress Noma Dumezweni. Now I’m pretty pissed with myself for talking about this because the whole idea of doing an eighth installment as a stage show is fucking stupid. Not just because it’s going against all those times Rowling said she was done with Potter but because it also means so many fans will miss out. However, the story has blown up on new sites with many journalists defending the decision to the naysayers. That, my friends, is the reason I’ve decided to break my silence. Not the defence itself: I couldn’t care less who plays Hermione Granger because, in my opinion, nobody can be more annoying than Emma fucking Watson. No, I’m annoyed because is there really any need to defend it?

The media tend to sensationalise things and there is nothing that gets them more riled up than matters of race. Now I agree that there is a definite whitewashing taking place in film and television at the moment that needs to be addressed. However, we can’t let every little thing turn into a platform to debate when there is no debate. I’ve read a fair few of these “Why shouldn’t Hermione be black?” posts today and have seen no real evidence of any of these naysayers. I’m not saying there won’t be. The world is full of small-minded idiots that can’t handle things like this. However, the overriding feeling seems to be that Harry Potter fans are in favour of this.

In fact the Harry Potter fandom at large probably has less of a problem playing with the race of their beloved characters than any other fandom out there. Just browse Tumblr for a moment and you’ll see racebent illustrations of the main trio all over the fucking place. Especially when it comes to Hermione. There is a great sense of mirroring when you imagine that she suffers prejudice in the muggle world only to be taken out of it and into a world where she is again viewed negatively by many. It makes the already strong and intelligent female an even greater character. Imagine Hermione as a girl who has spent her whole life being judged for something she cannot help whilst she still upholds her beliefs and her sense of self. Fucking brilliant.

There is no doubt that Emma Watson is, in many ways, the epitome of Hermione’s character. She is clever, articulate, strong and has a unflinching moral stance. She is everything JK Rowling wanted Hermione to be. Well, with the exception of her face. Rowling has stated often that Emma Watson didn’t have the right look to play Hermione. In fact, it was only after talking to Watson on the phone that the author decided she was destined to play the schoolgirl. Emma Watson is a beautiful girl which helps Hollywood execs but doesn’t quite fit in with the books.

So what do we know about Hermione Granger’s physical appearance? Well, other than her bushy brown hair, brown eyes and large front teeth, not very much. Hermione isn’t a character that is defined by the way she looks but rather by the kind of person she is. In fact, for the most part JK Rowling didn’t seem to give a shit about the physical appearance of most of her characters. It’s all about who they are not what they look like. Which of course begs the question, why does it matter that the new Hermione Granger is black?

There is the obvious answer of bigotry and the idea that race-swap is political correctness gone mad. However, I’d say the most obvious answer is the films. The hardcore Tumblr fans clearly don’t have much of a problem with the new actress playing Hermione and Rowling herself has come out in favour of the casting. It’s the fans of the films that don’t seem to be able to handle it. The fact is, we have gone from having a very beautiful, young Emma Watson looking Hermione to a very non-Emma Watson looking Hermione.

Nobody likes change and when you become so familiar with a character looking a certain way it’s an adjustment when they change. This isn’t about race per se, but about our unwillingness to move on. The Harry Potter films are such a big part of people’s past that changing it could feel like you’re whole worldview has been skewed. Fans relate to books and films in such a strong and emotional way that seemingly tampering with them in any way feels like a betrayal. I mean we’ve been witnessing the fragile emotional state of Star Wars fans since 1999. When something becomes set in a fans head it can be difficult to rewrite it.  We don’t have to immediately start to imply people are just bigots.

I’m not saying the media are wrong to discuss race in relation to this announcement. I think there will always be a platform to bring up issues of race in theatre, film and television. However, was it necessary to have the sheer volume of articles announcing that it’s okay to have Hermione played by Dumezweni? Doesn’t this only strengthen the idea that society’s major feeling is that it isn’t? The more you have to disagree with something the more you’re suggesting that viewpoint is the norm. How are we supposed to move past the idea that a hero is automatically white until stated otherwise if the media continue to treat ever announcement in this way? It’s not like someone’s just discovered Nessie for fuck’s sake. An actress of colour has taken a role originally played by a white teenager. Why can’t we all just see it for what it is? Absolutely fine.

THAT’S WHAT SHE READ – SUNDAY RUNDOWN

THAT’S WHAT SHE READ – SUNDAY RUNDOWN

So it’s five days until Christmas and things are getting super stressful at work. Tensions are rising and people are arguing over really fucking trivial things. It’s ridiculous. I’m managing a team of people ages 30-60 and they all act like fucking kids. It’s meant that the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is read so, once again, this rundown is a pathetic review of my literary failings. On top of that, writing about all my new purchases is getting my super pumped to read everything on my TBR and I can’t help but want to pick up every new book as soon as possible. I’m so fucking fickle when it comes to books. Fingers crossed 2016 is the year I get my shit together and work out how to concentrate on one book at a time. Until then, I’ll just have a currently reading list that is exactly the same size as my TBR. 


Currently Reading
  • A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor
I started this the other day after I was bored with my other current reads and I’m already hooked. The writing is fabulous and the plot is great. If I hadn’t been working all week I’d probably have finished it by now. Can’t wait to really get into this one. 
  • Hotels of North America by Rick Moody
I’ve started to lose momentum with this one. I still love it and am enjoying reading it but it’s all a bit samey after a while. I figure the best thing to do is pick at it every so often. I’ll probably read a couple of the reviews every so often and slowly make my way through it. It’s still one of the best things I’ve read this year. I’m just in a bit of a pre-Christmas reading lull and my literary ADD has kicked in. Ever get that feeling that, no matter how good the book you’re reading is, there’s always something better/different out there? So many books so little time.
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Not read a single page more. But I’m really fucking trying.

Recently Purchased

  • What She Left by T.R. Richmond (Kindle edition)
I read the extract of this book about a month ago. It didn’t strike me as the greatest book I’d ever read but it was piss easy to get through. Considering the rate at which I’m going through books I’ll take anything that gets me reading. 


Recently Watched

  • Not Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I haven’t had chance to see this yet so I’m really edge about fucking spoilers. I’ve already warned people I work with that I’ll make their professional life difficult if they tell me anything about the plot. I work in a kitchen so I couldn’t rule out violence if anyone reveals too much. Thankfully, the guy who normally ruins films for me has been on unusually polite form and has told me nothing. Telling me he’d hate to ruin the experience for anybody. I guess Star Wars fans really are fucking great people. 
TBT – Jingle All The Way (1996)

TBT – Jingle All The Way (1996)

Shopping at Christmas has to be the biggest pain in the arse. There are people everywhere and being around people isn’t good for my sensibilities. I’m not ruthless enough for the December chaos. So I tend to try and avoid the physical act of shopping and do my purchasing online. That, of course, is fraught with it’s own difficulties as the postal service takes a fucking age to get things here. I feel bad for postmen but why can’t they give me things when I expect them? As well as being glad I don’t work for Royal Mail, every year Christmas comes around makes me even happier that I’m not a parent. Fucking kids, eh. You spend a fuckload on a fake hoverboard and the bloody thing blows up.  Having to track down that year’s ‘It’ toy just goes against my who shopping ethic. It’s not something I want and having to fight people for it is something I don’t have the inclination for.

I think the films and television of my youth has played a strong role in my current feelings about kids. Hollywood makes them seem way more trouble than they’re worth. Certainly my idea of waht it is to be a parent at Christmas may have been slightly skewed thanks to Jingle All The Way. The idea of having to compete with Sinbad to gain my kids love and stop my neighbour fucking my spouse just seemed like more trouble than it was worth. Sinbad: the best form of contraception.

To lay my cards on the table immediately, I kind of love Jingle All The Way. It’s such a fucking bad film that I feel as though I should like it. As I’ve mentioned before, I love an underdog. If a person is overlooked entirely then I’ll naturally be drawn to them. It’s the same for films. If everyone hates them I will naturally want to find loads of great things about it.

I’ll be honest, that’s a difficult thing to do with Jingle All The Way. It tries to so hard but fails on so many levels. It’s too bright, loud and ludicrous. Sinbad and Arnold Schwarzenegger are both terrible and fail to bring much humour to this tale of commercialism. The direction by Brian Levant is just fucking terrible and does nothing to make way for any comic potential.

I guess the narrative means well with its attack on Christmas consumerism. It takes its inspiration from past Christmas crazes of Cabbage Patch Dolls and Power Rangers, which both sold out before many desperate parents could get hold of one. Jingle All The Way turns a successful business and family man into an idiotic wreck in his pursuit of Turbo Man, the new super hero kids love. Going against all logic and common sense, Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger) goes to great lengths to find his son’s most-wanted toy and, in the process, must overcome his new foe, postman Myron Larabee (Sinbad).

Christmas films are supposed to put you in a festive, happy mood. Jingle All The Way offers neither laughs nor warm fuzzy feelings. It’s a mediocre comedy that tries to tap into the Christmas market whilst also targeting the Christmas market. The writers obviously wanted to make a point about picking love and family over stuff but it gets lost in the mayhem on screen. Losing most of its satirical potential, the film instead focuses on violence and trying to get cheap laughs. There is no real
emotional connection and the dialogue is best ignored. There is nothing too offensive about Jingle All The Way I guess but there is nothing outstanding about it. It won’t leave you crying with laughter but it won’t leave you fighting the urge to vomit everywhere. Although, the last half hour is just batshit crazy; obviously from when the film-makers clearly stopped giving a fuck in order to get it ready in time. As Christmas films go, there are much better ones out there but, as I’ve already established, there are worse ones.

THAT’S WHAT SHE READ – SUNDAY RUNDOWN

THAT’S WHAT SHE READ – SUNDAY RUNDOWN

This week I’ve been on holiday from work. It was my intention to relax before the Christmas rush really starts and buy any remaining presents I needed. The reading side of my plans hasn’t gone awfully well but I’ve done almost nailed the present side of things. I have to admit that I’ve probably bought more for myself than other people. You’ll get a small glimpse into this further down the page. I’m so fucking selfish that as soon as I spend time looking for other people I find at least three things I “really need”. I’ve also bought about 5 different Christmas party dresses (four of which went back) and a shitload of make-up that will eventually go to waste. Considering Christmas is one of my favourite times of year it doesn’t half show me how terrible I am at life.

Currently Reading
  • Hotels of North America by Rick Moody

Another book I read about online and couldn’t wait to order. It’s a book that sounds fucking weird but is so engrossing that I’m sure I’ll recommend it to everyone. Hotels of North America is the story of hotel reviewer Reginald E Morse as told by his postings to RateYourLodgings.com. When Reginald goes missing it is his reviews that give a real insight into the man and why he suddenly vanished. Moody’s novel is almost impossible to put down and expertly blurs the lines between reality and fiction. Read it now. I urge you.

  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

See last week.


Recently Purchased

  • Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

This is one of the books from this year that I really wanted to read. It’s one of those books that you can’t get away from online and my interest was immediately piqued. This debut from American poet Essbaum has pretty much received unanimous praise. Following the story of a young American housewife who turns to adultery to escape the boredom of her suburban life in Zurich. The novel has the potential to really get under the character’s skin and sounds fucking amazing. Can’t wait to start it.

  • A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor

I have no idea where I first discovered this gem but as soon as I read the synopsis I knew I had to read it. When a young woman escapes her arranged marriage and runs away with her boyfriend, we are introduced to an intense and new version of the city of Dehli. As someone who has accidentally found herself stuck in a mostly white male dominated reading list, A Bad Character is the book I’ve been searching for. I can’t fucking wait. 

  • Young God by Katherine Faw Morris

Another book I’ve had on my Wishlist for fucking ages but never got around to buying until now. It’s a short but seemingly incredibly powerful tale. It sounds fucking perfect to me. Nikki is our teenage protagonist who must go down increasingly dark and dangerous paths to reconnect with her father. This probably isn’t for the faint-hearted but I’ve never been accused of that.

  • The Zone of Inerest by Martin Amis 

I’ve wanted to read this long before it came out this Summer. Martin Amis has written a novel to ask important questions about mankind and how we deal with out true selves. It’s going to be dark, clever and witty. It’s a fucking shame it got overlooked for the Man Booker… probably. I’ll tell you for sure when I’ve finished it.

  • The Verdict by Nick Stone (Kindle Edition)

Another purchase I only made because it was cheap. Although I may have read about it somewhere. It’s a run-of-the-mill legal thriller. I can’t imagine it’ll wow me but it’ll certainly keep me busy on the cold Winter nights. 

  • Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

I must admit that I didn’t mean to buy this. I was at a Christmas market the other day after a few too many steins. In a drunken haze I got a bit too far into the festive spirit and bought a copy. I love Terry Pratchett and am slowly rebuying the books I loved when I was younger. Maybe not all the things you buy when you’re pissed are a bad thing?

  • The Official A Game of Thrones Colouring Book
I don’t think it’s ever been a good idea to leave me alone in a bookshop. I can’t stop myself buying something. As we’re beginning to see, it’s a even worse idea to leave me drunk in charge of a iPhone. Having Amazon just a tipsy click away is only a bad thing. This book is beautiful but, as I’ve already established, I’m probably not going to colour it in. 

Recently Watched

So I love all Lego videogames regardless but the newest trailer for this has just made my heart fucking sing. Unlike Lego Marvel Superheroes, these games closely follow the film releases. It looks fucking awesome. Add to that the open world side of things and this could possibly be my favourite Lego game ever. Even beating the original Lego Star Wars… the one that started my love affair with the whole series. 

TBT – The Holiday (2006)

TBT – The Holiday (2006)

As you all know by now one of my greatest loves is Christmas films. As a permanent child, I fucking love everything about Christmas and fall victim to the festive spirit in all forms. However, there is nothing that annoys me more than a cliched rom-com. So I’m a little bit torn when it comes to Christmas rom-com. Half of me hates everybody for being so bloody oblivious whilst the other half just get caught up in the festivities. Of course, there are some special cases that manage to be so fucking awful that I don’t need to worry about potential warm and fuzzy feelings. You can take a look at my Top 10 Worst Christmas Films list for more details on some of these but I want to focus on a film that I get more resentful towards with every passing year. I’ll be honest that has a lot to do with my annoyance at Jude Law’s questionable acting talents but there is a lot to The Holiday that we should be opposing.

Now I really like Jack Black. He was one of the main reasons I was so keen to so the new Goosebumps film. You can put him in the shittest of concepts and he’ll still make things enjoyable. Particularly, you might think, when he’s paired up with the equally lovable Kate Winslet. I mean the idea of those two falling in love at Christmas should make your heart grow at least 1 size bigger. However, Nancy Meyers has managed to create a romantic-comedy so cloying and formulaic that even something that sentimentality is all but lost.

The Holiday spans two continents and follows four characters who are all losers in love. Winslet plays Iris Simpkins, a writer for the Daily Telegraph who is desperately in love with a man who only manipulates her feelings for his professional gain. When the object of her affection gets engaged Iris skips town and swaps homes with Amanda Woods, a Hollywood bigwig responsible for creating movie trailers. Obviously, the pair then meet their ideal romantic match and the plot is dragged out until everyone realises what is starring them in the face.

That’s the problem with everyone in romantic comedies: they’re all either fucking stupid or just blind to the obvious. If people were honest and up-front with one another then there would be no need to mess around with misunderstandings and pointless wallowing. What is about people that insists romance be hard when it’s depicted on screen? I don’t know about you but I’ve never had any hilarious mishaps when it comes to romance.

But I guess you can’t really blame The Holiday for that. It’s just one of the awful tropes of the genre. What you can blame The Holiday for is the insipid characters. Black’s character, Miles, is hardly developed at all and Jude Law is playing a single father in an incredibly lazy attempt to create sympathy for a one-dimensional figure. There is nothing for these actor’s to work with and even Kate Winslet, who could do an amazing job with anything, is left lost. Iris has no depth. She’s a nice but pathetic female who is defined simply through one dodgy relationship. It’s infuriating.

However, not as infuriating as Cameron Diaz’s emotionally scarred executive. Hurt by her parent’s divorce years ago, Amanda put aside her emotions in order to be the great business woman that she. It’s such a tired and frankly fucking disgusting idea that women can’t be both emotionally in-tune and business savvy. Not to go all feminist ranty on you all, the scene in which she tries to cry is a fucking abomination. Maybe this thing could pass in the 1980s but this was fucking 2006. Women are real people too now folks.

The Holiday attempts to fill it’s audience with festive cheer thanks to the snowy Surrey landscape but it’s not enough to distract from the awful narrative and underwritten characters. Taking a step back for a second, this isn’t the worst film that’s ever been made but, if you’re looking for a charming and fun holiday watch, there are plenty of much better ones out there. Check out my Essential Christmas viewing for proof.