Monday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Monday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Despite the fact that I’ve posted a couple of new things recently, it may not have escaped your attention that I failed to stick to my upload schedule over Christmas. I hadn’t intended to take a week off but Christmas didn’t exactly go the way we planned this year. Nothing major happened but it was enough to ensure that I kept missing the days I would normally post so I just decided not to. I can’t say that my rundown from last week would have been very exciting as December was hardly a great book month. The only major things I really put off were my reviews of The Last Jedi and Autumn by Ali Smith. You can expect them this week though. Still, I managed to get in my annual Most Anticipated Books List for 2018 which you can read here. This year I also posted a list of my Top and Bottom reads for 2017. It’s not something that I’ve managed before but it felt easier picking this year.

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Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Are you ready for Christmas? The big day is only about 7 days away and I still haven’t got my sister’s main present. To be fair, her birthday was only 2 days ago so I was more focused on that than her Christmas present. I have also got her a few small bits so I’m not doing too badly… right? Plus, there’s the added stress of waiting for everything to be delivered. I love getting all of my shopping done online but that does mean relying on Royal Mail to get it here in time. Plus, the desire to buy stuff for myself. I can’t even talk about the number of Christmas jumpers that I’ve nearly bought over the last few days. I’d probably have had enough for every day of advent if I’d let myself go crazy. I, at least, have been pretty good at not buying books. If it weren’t for having to buy a secret Santa present for someone at work then I wouldn’t have had anything to discuss this week.

Weekly Blog Posts

  • TUESDAY’S REVIEWS – A Christmas Prince (2017)

I’ve been feeling super Christmassy of late so I made the decision to watch as many Christmas films as possible. I started with this new Netflix classic that I’ve not been able to avoid of late. Is it the new must-see festive flick? Find out here.

  • BOOK POST – 12 Days of Christmas Book Tag

I didn’t have a book to review this week so I had to pick a random book tag to do. It seemed appropriate considering my Christmas theme. Want to know more about me? Click here.

  • TBT – Angel of Christmas (2015)

After trawling through Netflix for another random Christmas film I came across this gem. It’s very similar to A Christmas Prince but with added angels. What could go wrong? Find out here.

Currently Reading
  • Autumn by Ali Smith
You know what, I actually read something this week. It wasn’t a lot because it’s nearly Christmas for fuck’s sake. It does mean, yet again, that I won’t make it through any of my Christmassy books… for the second year in a row. This is why I don’t bother making TBRs anymore. I can’t stick to them.

Recently Purchased 
  • Women & Power by Mary Beard – Mary Beard writing a feminist manifesto? I mean as if I could say no to this?! This sounds perfect and I just couldn’t resist anymore. It wasn’t very expensive and isn’t very long. I can’t wait to read this.
  • Nutshell by Ian McEwan – I’ve wanted to buy this for ages because it sounds amazing. I mean it’s like Hamlet but with a fetus instead of a Danish prince. I love it. I’m already looking forward to reading it.
  • Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn – I’m in a bit of a Star Wars mindset at the moment that when this turned up for Kindle for 99p I couldn’t say no. I’m not even sure when I’m going to read this.
Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Miranda, Luther, Parks and Rec
I’ve just started an Amazon Prime trial so am enjoying the benefits of Prime video. Starting with finally finishing Luther season 2. It lost its way, somewhat, but I still really like it. Tom Ellis is amazing in the role and it’s a super interesting story. Season 3 awaits. Then, I decided it was time to watch some of favourite Parks and Rec episodes. I fucking love that show.
Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

So, this week a new Oxfam books store opened up a couple of doors down form work. I always try to buy books from charity shops if I can because it makes me feel less guilty about indulging in my passion despite having no space or money for books. You know, it doesn’t become a present for myself but a way to help the less fortunate. I’m not treating myself; I’m doing a good deed. It’s taken all of my willpower to not stop in every day this week and I managed to come away only having gone in their once. I made a small (ish) haul and was incredibly satisfied with the results. I also happened to be shopping at the same time as a rather attractive young man. A life of reading books and watching sappy TV and films had prepared me for this moment. As we were both browsing the classics section we would both reach out for the same book. We’d laugh awkwardly before bonding over our love of books. Boom! Love, marriage, kids. We all lived happily ever after. What actually happened was: I nearly tripped over my extremely long coat after perusing the bottom shelf, I nearly bumped into him and I left the shop no closer to finding my soul mate than I was walking in. Why can’t life be as simple as it is when an author is neatly plotting every twist and turn?

Weekly Blog Posts

  • TUESDAY’S REVIEWS – Thor Ragnarok (2017)

After trying to organise a cinema trip with a friend for ages I finally got to see the latest Thor. It’s no real spoiler to say that I fucking loved it but if you fancy more information my review is up here.

  • BOOK POST

I promise you I was planning on writing a bookish post this week but, when it came to Wednesday, I just had nothing in me. I was exhausted and fell asleep far too early. I’d rather post better quality stuff than rigidly stick to my schedule so this could be happening more than I’d like.

  • TBT – Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Watching Thor Ragnarok gave me the perfect excuse to finally watch Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople for my TBT review this week. Everything you need to know is here.

Currently Reading

  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
I was actually planning on spending most of today blasting through this book but I woke up feeling dreadful. I’m full of cold. Well, half of my face is full of it. My right nostril is so bunged up that every time I breathe in it sounds like the low growling noise the T-Rex makes in Jurassic Park. So, instead of reading I’ve slumped in front of Netflix and napped all day. Not a productive use of my day off but I appreciated it.

Recently Purchased 
  • Oxfam book haul

Believe me, there were plenty of books I could have walked away with but the stupid card machine wasn’t working and I only had a limited amount of cash on me. Thankfully I guess. I still managed to pick up four bargains. 

    • The first was a gorgeous simple copy of The Stranger by Albert Camus. I’ve not read any Camus besides The Plague, which I gave up on halfway through. This is widely considered to be his best book so I figured giving it a try might inspire me to restart The Plague eventually.
    • The second was a vintage copy of Crime and Punishment with a weird, trippy cover. I already own too many copies of this book considering how many times I’ve tried and failed to finish it. This is the smallest though so it might be better for reading on the go.
    • The third is a find I’m really excited about. You can so rarely find good quality Penguin Clothbound Classics in charity shops that I couldn’t pass up the chance to get Great Expectations. I book this just for the edition but this is one of only 2 Dickens books that I genuinely really like.
    • The final book is my favourite of them all. It’s a gorgeous and slightly creepy illustrated edition of Animal Farm. The illustrations are really striking and I just couldn’t put it back. I had to have it. The book didn’t have a price so I was super worried it would be out of my budget. Thankfully the woman named an incredibly reasonable price of £2.99. She even looked apologetic about it! I seriously could have hugged her.


Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years LaterJohnathan CreekJack Whitehall: Travels with my Father
I’ve still not let myself start rewatching Stranger Things 2 yet because I rushed it last time. I feel like I’ve got to give myself time for watch number 2. Instead I’ve binged all of Johnathan Creek: a series I’ve watched far too many times considering the amount the quality drops after the first few series. Still, there’s something about Alan Davies playing a magicians technical consultant who also solves crimes that just gets me excited. Today I watched the new Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later. I watched and semi-enjoyed both the film Wet Hot American Summer and the Netflix series First Day of Camp when I watched them but can’t say I was particularly blown away. Still, the cast list always manages to drag me in so I eventually watched it. I just still don’t think any of these are as clever as anyone making them thinks they are. They’re not even silly enough for it to good. I don’t know. There were some good moments. Finally, I started watching Travels with my Father and I adore it. I’m not the biggest Jack Whitehall fan but have watched him enough to want to see this. There have been so many awkward and hilarious moments that I hope there are more series to come.
Tuesday’s Reviews – The House (2017)

Tuesday’s Reviews – The House (2017)


Will Ferrell is one of those comedians that you can trust to be funny whatever he’s doing. Through the years, I’ve happily watched and enjoyed every film starring him that I’ve ever seen. Even the shit ones, like Daddy’s Home for example, have something fairly entertaining in them. The guy always gives his all in a role and is so naturally hilarious that you’ll find yourself crying with laughter at the stupidest things. So I kind of feel like I’m on solid ground with him and that’s before you even consider that Amy Poehler is also in it. Combine the pair and you have a powerhouse of SNL alumni. Of course, things start to unravel when you look at how the film is being marketed. It’s very telling that neither Ferrell or Poehler seem very eager to talk about the film itself. Interviews aren’t treated as a place to talk about the film but simply about getting the pair in front of a camera. Will Ferrell has done some shit films in the past so when he’s keeping shtum about a film then you know it’s embarrassing. 1 hour and 28 minutes worth of embarrassing. Yep, The House can’t even hit the 90 minute mark and we’ve all heard the one about good films
coming in short run times. Well, even if this is going to be shit at least it’s not going to be shit for too long. Let’s be thankful for small mercies.

The House is one of the films that sounds really good on paper. Taking two fabulous comedians, a great supporting cast of funny people, and giving them an interesting premise to work with. It should have been simple. When their daughter gets accepted into the university of her dreams, Scott and Kate Johansen (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) are over the moon. Until they discover that the scholarship they were being offered by the town has been scraped in favour of an exciting new town pool. In order to drive the plot forward, neither Scott or Kate had prepared for any other eventuality and have failed to put aside any money to pay for their daughter’s tuition. You kind of have to question parents who are this lackadaisical with regards to their child’s future. And, also, how far in advance does the town pick a child to fund? Did they know she was getting the cash from birth or was it just super lucky that her name was drawn?

Of course, I know the answers to these questions: because the narrative demands it. When the pair find themselves unable to send their precious daughter to her dream school they accept their weird friend, Frank’s (Jason Mantzoukas), suggestion that they open an underground casino in his empty home. Frank, as it turns out, is a gambling addict who is going through a divorce and in danger of losing his coincidentally casino-sized house. We all know that “the House always wins” so why not become the House? The mild-mannered parents take to their life of crime and wealth and embrace everything about it. Kate becomes addicted to weed whilst Scott unwittingly becomes a casino heavy who uses force to get patrons to pay their debts. Things quickly get out-of-hand as the narrative gets more and more extreme. Finally, ending with political cover-ups and a crazed mob boss played by  Jeremy Renner, in a completely underwhelming cameo.

The House isn’t the biggest disaster that you’ll ever watch at the cinema but you can’t get away from the fact that it’s just not good. You’ll probably watch it and think it’s okay but that will mostly be down to the three leads. All three actors at the film’s centre put everything into their characters but it can’t be ignored that there isn’t really much there. If I’m honest, I had to look up everyone’s names because by the time the credits rolled I had no fucking clue who anyone was. They’re just bland and underdeveloped characters who just take part in outrageous activities with no real justification. Their actions always seem unnecessary or unexplained outside of the “we thought it would be funny” argument. There’s an utterly pointless plot-strand that sees Scott being rubbish with maths that really goes nowhere and is, in actuality, not as funny as it may have seen whilst writing the script.

It’s just not very inspiring. There isn’t time for an aspect of the film to evolve into something interesting or even funny. The humour is mostly derived from awful stereotypes that directly tie to the actor’s involved. This film just feels like several short sketches haphazardly stitched together to create the kind of quilt that you’d definitely tell people was made by your young child. Handily, for a film concerning parents experiencing empty nest syndrome, this film is equal parts embarrassing and sad to watch. There are very few genuine laughs to be found but plenty of places where the writer/director attempts to force it with lame gags or physical comedy. It makes me both sad and angry that Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler were subjected to this and that they both allowed it to happen. This is the kind of disaster that should never have been made. Turns out, The House doesn’t actually always win.

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

I’m running so late with this because I promised to help out my brother-in-law with an essay he’s got to hand in. I’ve supposedly been proofreading it since Friday but I’ve really only just got round to it. This weekend has been rough so I’ve just put it off. So I’m rushing to get this out but I’ve not really done a great deal this week. I promise you aren’t missing out on much.


Currently Reading
  • End of Watch by Stephen King

I’ve read a bit more but I’m still not convinced it’s worth my time. Especially as the pile of deserving books is getting larger by the day. I’ll be fair and give it another week just to be sure.

Recently Purchased

  • His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
A book from the Man Booker 2016 Longlist that had a blurb so awesome I couldn’t help but buy it. A brutal murder has taken place in the Highlands in the 1860s and a young man has been arrested. The book, set out as a memoir, tells us that he is guilty but we must wait to discover what drove him to commit the act. It sounds fucking brilliant. Obviously, if I had unlimited time and money then I’d have bought the entire Longlist but I’m trying to limit myself to the ones I can’t live without. I decided this was the best place to start. 
  • Spider-Gwen Vol 1 by Jason Latour
When I was still wasting an insane amount of money on postage getting my weekly comic book order shipped to my house I fell in love with Spider Gwen. She’s awesome. However, I got a little behind with my reading when I stopped the comic books. So why not get every issue I  probably already own in one handy dandy book?
  • Batgirl Vol 1 by Cameron Stewart
Likewise, Batgirl. I love her. To be honest, this mainly comes down to her sense of style. It’s because of her that I’ve desperately seeking a cheap pair of yellow Dr Marten boots. I don’t think I have any physical copies of Batgirl so I decided it was time to track down the collection. I’ll get them all eventually. After all, I’m always willing to read a few good comics and if it means picking up a few fashion tips then it’s all the better.  
  • Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin (Blind Date Book Company)
To be honest, this really isn’t the kind of book that I’d have bought for myself. The coverart is pure chick-lit and the premise is too trashy thriller even for me. It’s the usual kind of guff, survivor of a serial killer suspects that the man she helped imprisoned is not the man who tried to kill her. Noting too exciting. Still, I found myself in possession of this novel when I took a chance on the Blind Date Book Company. I picked out this mystery book based on three simple words and ended up with this. I’m sure it will be a decent enough read but this was more about the experience of getting a surprise book int he post. it was fun and an experience I’m keen to repeat. 

  • Hostage by Robert Crais (Blind Date Book Company)
The second book in my Blind Date Book Company haul and another book I’d never have picked myself. That’s the fun though, right? This is another crime thriller about a frontline negotiator who is haunted by his dead family. After taking a job in a sleepy town, the police chief finds himself in the midst of a Mafia stronghold. Sounds like a mindless kind of thing that’ll keep me entertained enough. 

Recently Watched
  • Sisters
Kind of wanted to see this when it came out. Really wanted to see it when I found of Kate McKinnon was in it. Now regret being so excited. See my Tuesday review for more details.
  • Step Brothers
TBT really is just my chance to watch one of my favourite films once a week. This week was no different as I continue my TBT Will Ferrell retrospective
Tuesday’s Reviews – Sisters (2015)

Tuesday’s Reviews – Sisters (2015)

I have to be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting to be reviewing this film this week. It was a last minute watch so I could find something to talk about. I was supposed to go and see David Brent: Life on the Road with some guys at work but they proved to be too unreliable. I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad about this. From what I’ve heard it’s good but, obviously, nothing compared to The Office. I’m sure it’ll be funnier than Gervais’ last outing Special Correspondents but how easy will it be to slip back into David Brent. To be honest, once The Office finished I was done with Brent. I didn’t watch the shitty Learn Guitar series that he released on YouTube a few years ago because it just felt to desperate. Maybe that was just me? I love Gervais but he really believes that everything he does is the best example of comedy. If there’s one thing he last experiences in Hollywood have taught us, it’s that Gervais isn’t suited to every format. Just like the pair of funny women heading up the film at the heart of this review. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have not always been as funny on the big screen as they have been known to be on television. Now I’m not saying they’ve had fuck loads of major disasters but the films they star in tend to be forgettable ones. I had no real expectations for Sisters except that I was going to freak out whenever Kate McKinnon was on screen.
Without wanting to offend all of those idiots that went mental at the idea of female Ghostbusters, Sisters is almost like the female version of the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly comedy Step Brothers. That is to say that it revolves around two middle-aged siblings who, on returning to their family home, descend back into some sort of second childhood. Not able to deal with their vast emotional baggage and being scared to let go of the house they grew up in, the two sisters decide to throw a final epic blowout for all their old friends. And, because this is an incredibly unoriginal idea, the shit hits the fan with supposedly outrageous and hilarious results. 
Much of the comedy comes from the fact that the two sisters are polar opposites. Maura (Poehler) is the sensible one: she’s a nurse who just wants to help people but is unable to help herself following her recent divorce. Kate (Fey) is the eternal party-girl who is an unreliable employee, friend and mother to her teenage daughter, Hayley (Madison Davenport). They constantly bicker but the two sisters deeply care about each other. Whilst cleaning out their childhood bedroom, Kate decides Maura needs to experience the kind of wild night that she was always too good to be a part of when she a teenager. In exchance, Maura has Kate promise to take the role of “party mom” and prove that she can be sensible and care for other people. 
Sisters is basically just a run-of-the-mill comedy about two sisters in the midst of difficult times who come together to help each other out. There isn’t much to rave about beyond the chemistry of the two leads. Poehler and Fey have an undeinable connection that make them perfect in the role of sisters. They may be playing opposite to their typical characters but the pair make what little they are given work for them. Fey keeps the jabs coming as the frank and brutal Kate whilst Poehler adds more than a touch of awkward charm to the proceedings. It’s a testimony to the two stars that you end up caring for the pair and hoping they get their inevitable and schmaltzy ending.  
Still, this film is just another example of great comedic talents being relegated to lazily written comedies. Just like actors like Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, the two women who have earned countless accolades for their work on television are never given the kind of material they rightly deserve. Sisters has some funny moments but most of the jokes fall flat. Much of Jason Moore’s direction is just continuous reaction shots from the vast sea of supporting characters and the script, written by Paula Pell, is incredibly repetitive and chock full of all your favourite stereotypes. With anyone else in the main roles this film would hardly have been on the film radar at all. It’s just nothing that exciting. 
It sort of feels like a tired SNL sketch based on the hilarious premise of people over 40 getting wasted (lol) and elongated thanks to an endless stream of characters that wouldn’t even make it into the worst SNL sketch. The background characters are overplayed and single-note. Any humour they may provoke is based almost entirely on stereotypes or repetition. I mean as soon as they large group of lesbians walk in you can guarantee there’ll be some sort of girl fight and at least one of the of the women will make some sort of reference to it being her ultimate fantasy. The BBC are currently reviving their classic sitcoms from the 70s and 80s but Sisters clearly jumped on the nostalgia bandwagon first with humour that comes straight from the dark ages. 
I so wanted to like Sisters and, really, I liked it more than I should have. It’s not a particularly funny film that doesn’t find the idea of mothers and fathers enjoying a drink utterly hilarious. The main narrative is so unsubstantial that the film has been padded out with countless unfunny subplots, running gags and supporting characters. It’s like taking an old worn out teddy and stuffing it with a load shit. It might make it look plumper but it doesn’t make it better. It’s about time these two funny women join forces in a genuinely funny film that proves women can dominate in Hollywood. So far, we’re not getting much evidence to support that claim.