Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Up here in the good old North of England we were promised a snow storm to end all snow storms. Okay, nothing that dramatic but if Ned Stark had been here he would have forever been saying “Winter is coming”. It was getting so bad that everyone I work with was starting to panic about how they would get to work. Except me, obviously. It’s just a bit of snow. The other night, as I was putting the bins out after work, I stepped I felt super Christmassy as the snow fell gently around me. Snow is too magical to be a pain in the arse. I love the way British people react so strongly to changes in weather. Our weather is hardly extreme but suddenly, at the mere mention of a blizzard, society starts to collapse. Imagine if we did start experiencing the kind of freak weather that other countries face so often? It’d be like Lord of the Flies or some shit. Take public transport, for example: you get a slight snow fall and suddenly the trains are all running super late. It’s not like we’re dealing with The Day After Tomorrow levels of snowfall here. I mean, we don’t need to be start sending Gerard Butler into space anytime soon. Other countries manage to get by with more snow than we do. How is it so hard here? It makes me laugh every time we get to December. People start treating the word “snow” like it’s Macbeth and they’re all about to go onstage. We should just get it over with and start calling it “the white weather”.

Weekly Blog Posts

  • TUESDAY’S REVIEWS – Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

I’ve wanted to see the sequel to Kingsman for bloody ages but it never happened. Cinema trips with friends got cancelled and then we missed it at out local cinema. Urgh. So I finally managed to see it this week but would it live up to my expectations? Find out here.

  • BOOK POST – Review of The Underground Railroad

It feels nice to finally be able to review a book again. Find out what I thought after finally finishing this book here.

  • FBF – Spectre (2015)

You watch one spy film and suddenly you start to crave all the spy films. I decided it was finally time to watch Spectre after it kept popping up on my Netflix feed. Find out what I thought here.

Currently Reading
  • Autumn by Ali Smith
Not even going to pretend I read anything this week. I’ve not picked this book up since I returned from London. I’m a failure. I know. I’m going to get better. I have Christmassy things to read goddammit!

Recently Purchased 
  • The Grip of Film by Richard Ayoade – Okay, I’ll level with you. I didn’t actually buy this book this week but I forgot to put in last week’s rundown. I’ve not actually bought a single book this week. I’m feeling pretty smug. I’m concentrating more on Christmas presents cause I’m so fucking selfless. Nah, just kidding, I’ve just been super busy all week. Book shopping has taken a back seat to everything I’ve had to do.
Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Friends from CollegeThe Good Place, QI
I’ve watched quite a few new shows this week. It’s a new thing for me. I’d been drawn to Friends from College for ages because it had a great cast. Now I’ve watched it I’m not sure what to think. It wasn’t bad but I don’t think it was good either. Maybe I need a rewatch? However, The Good Place was fucking amazing. I managed to be genuinely shocked by the revelation in the season 1 finale and it made everything so much better. I can’t wait for more episodes. I ate these ones up too quickly.
FBF – Spectre (2015)

FBF – Spectre (2015)

So, you may have noticed that this week’s Throwback Thursday post has actually become a Frowback Friday post. Last night was my work’s Christmas party so I was a little too busy to be posting. It also means, considering I started work at 7 am this morning, that I had no fucking sleep so I’m totally exhausted. So, I imagine this is going to be a pretty dire review of Spectre. I meant to write it as soon as I got home but, because I’m such a pathetic individual, I fell asleep instead. I’m not even 30 yet and I can longer cope with a night of shenanigans without every muscle in my body aching. It’s not as if I was even hungover. At least that would make sense. I’m just pathetic. Anyway, I’m here to review Spectre, which I watched for the first time this week. I loved Skyfall so was really interested in seeing how the follow up would work out. There was a time when it was believed to be Daniel Craig’s final time in the role so it was kind of bittersweet. I wasn’t entirely convinced that Craig would make a good Bond but he’s really grown on me. I think he’s perfect so it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. I love T Hiddle but really don’t think he should get it. Equally, I think Tom Hardy is amazing in every way but I have my doubts. My top choice? Idris Elba. Do I think it’s likely? Well, he’s getting on in age a bit so who knows. Anyway, Spectre has a lot to live up to for many fans. Skyfall had done so many wonderful things and we all felt Craig deserved a decent farewell. Plus, it was the first film for ages without Judy Dench. I bloody love that woman and everything she did within this franchise. I know The Grand Budapest Hotel really turned me around on Ralph Fiennes but I still wasn’t sure he could live up to the Dench. I mean she doesn’t give a shit about the CIA. Her role as M was phenomenal. But I digress and I really do need to get to bed asap.

Spectre takes us to just after the events that ended Skyfall. The old MI5 building is in a state of disrepair and the new M (Ralph Fiennes) is having to cope with a potential takeover from the Joint Intelligence Service. In light of recent events it looks like the JIS will scrap the 00 programme all together; something that becomes all the more likely after Bond causes utter devastation whilst in Mexcio. It turns out 007 got a posthumous message from the Judy Dench M and James is now on the hunt for a secret villain who could threaten everyone’s safety. However, after his actions, Bond is given a suspension from field work so must work in secret with the help of Q (Ben Wishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). As James finds out more information, it becomes clear that the present case has a strong link with his past. But who is the mysterious figure at the centre of everything?

I didn’t really know what to think about Spectre going in. I was excited but I’d heard mixed things about it when it came out. Obviously there was a chance this was just post-Skyfall fallout where anything the film did would have been seen as not good enough. However, it could just be a fairly underwhelming film. At the very least, the opening song by Sam Smith was the worst Bond song since Carly Simon’s effort. I mean I didn’t like Skyfall but this made that seem fucking amazing. It’s even more of a shame considering the opening title sequence is visually stunning. I’d say it’s one of the best ones ever made. A bloody great start to this film.

Just as the pre-credits sequence is perhaps the best thing we’ve seen in the Daniel Craig era of Bond. We see James in Mexico during the Day of the Dead, wearing a skull mask and walking through the carnival with a beautiful lady. He then leaves his companion and casually strolls over rooftops to spy on his target. It’s such a brilliant and understated piece that just works so well. It’s the kind of gripping sequence that should be saved for the end of a movie not the beginning. It’ll have you hooked.

Which is good because the rest of the film is a little less solid. The storyline follows up from Skyfall’s link with Bond’s past and makes 007’s vendetta with the big bad personal. Apparently, it’s not enough just to want to stop people endangering lives anymore; you have to want to stop them because they’re wronged you personally. There is a lot to this film that just makes it seem like they aren’t even trying any more. It’s a pain by number Bond that you could, genuinely, play 007 Bingo watching. We have the insane gadget that only becomes useful in the final seconds before Bond’s potential death; the two women who get very little development but are lucky enough to shag Britain’s horniest agent; there are enough car chases in weirdly quite cities to satisfy anyone who loves everything Jeremy Clarkson says; and there is the return of a villain who has had more comebacks than the Rolling Stones. This is the perfect Bond film for any fan of the franchise as a whole.

It’s not a bad film though and I really enjoyed it. Daniel Craig’s time as Bond has brought the grit back to the series and, in the past 2 films, we have seen a slight return in the camp comedy of Roger Moore’s era. However, story is becoming a problem. There is so much potential, especially with Ralph Fienne’s M (who deserves his own franchise by the way), that I kind of wish had been used more. This film would have been seen as exceptional after Quantum of Solace but we’re in a post-Skyfall era. This just isn’t quite good enough.

TOP 10 WEN-SDAY – Top 10 Fictional Jobs

TOP 10 WEN-SDAY – Top 10 Fictional Jobs

Today I was rejected for another job that I really wanted. To be fair, I highly suspected I hadn’t got it even after they spent 4 days longer than they said to contact me. It still sucks though because I thought it would have been a really good fit. I’m getting so used to getting psyched up for interviews and then coming out feeling like shit. I’m sick of job hunting. When I got a promotion at work a year or so ago I nailed the interview. Since then, every interview I’ve had has ended in rejection. So I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion the job I’m most qualified for is the one I know, wholeheartedly, I don’t want to do. Whilst the job that I’m desperate to get is the one that nobody thinks I should be doing. Great. So, I’ve got some thinking to do, which is convenient because a recent Instagram challenge prompt asked me to reveal my dream fictional job. It’s an interesting question. Yes, it won’t help me in my job search but when my current job is so fucking boring I need to pass the time somehow. This prompt happened to fall today which is the first Wednesday of the month. Perfect timing for a hastily put together Top 10 Wen-sday.
Ten: 00-Agent (James Bond)

I know that James Bond is an awful mess of sexism and nonsense these days but I always loved the films as a kid. I think I’ve always been fascinated by spies and secret agents when I was growing up. My favourite episode of Thunderbirds was the one with the secret agents and I was obsessed with Bond’s gadgets. I realise that I wouldn’t be as suave or sophisticated as 007 and I certainly wouldn’t be ordering Martinis when I walked into a bar. However, I’d be pretty happy to drive around in fancy gars with exploding pens in my pocket.

Nine: Paper Salesman (The Office)

I realise that the act of selling paper itself isn’t that dream worthy a job but it would be if you were doing it at either Wernham Hogg or Dunder Mifflin. I’d love to do this job for a short time just to get the chance to work with the characters on both shows. We’d all love to mess around with Tim/Jim and hang out with Dawn/Pam at reception. And, despite their flaws, I’ve have worse bosses than either David Brent or Michael Scott. This could be a breath of fresh air.

Eight: Man in Black (Men in Black)

This job may have more to do with the accompanying Will Smith song than a real desire to do it but I think that’s reason enough. This just feels like a cool job. Wake up, save the world from Alien scum, erase people’s minds, and go home. What a way to spend your day. This would be a job where you would wake up desperate to go to work and look insanely good whilst doing it.

Seven: A Detective (Sherlock HolmesPoriotMiss Marple etc)

In real life, I’d probably be shit detective. I’ve watched enough crime dramas and failed to work out who the killer is to know this. I’m probably either too trusting or not trusting enough of people. This wouldn’t work too well. I’d either suspect nobody or everyone. So, in my dream world, I’m a great detective. It’s perfect. You solve crimes and get to be kind of a dick to everyone. Plus, you always get some sort of great accessory that makes you stand out. Hat, moustache, knitting… I wonder what mind would be.

Six: Member of Starfleet (Star Trek)

I don’t even care what job I’d have to do for this to happen. I’d be a red shirt and run the constant risk of sudden death if I had to. Who wouldn’t love the chance to be on the Starship Enterprise? Especially if it was The Next Generation era. Working under Captain Jean-Luc and discussing great things with Data? Sounds like a great day at the office. Then there’s the whole holodeck thing… and we all know, what happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck.

Five: Auror (Harry Potter)

I reckon a lot of people who thought about this kind of list would say that a teacher at Hogwarts would be the best job in the series. However, I would hate it. I’ve already discussed my feelings about the way the school is run so I don’t think I could get on board with it. There would be far too much stress and so much work to do. Then you have to deal with kids. Not just any kids, mind, but magical kids. No, I’d much rather be the next Alastor Moody and go around kicking the arses of bad witches and wizards. Doling out justice with my wand in hand… I can picture that.

Four: Ghostbuster (Ghostbusters)

I’d happily be a part of either the original team or the new, girl-only team. I think the original film is clearly better but there was something about the new one that I loved. Whatever happens, I’d love to get the chance to test out a proton pack and capturing some spirits. I could even get on board with the unflattering jumpsuits.

Three: A Member of International Rescue (Thunderbirds)

I absolutely bloody love Thunderbirds so would love the chance to join the team. I’ve always wanted to be Virgil if I’m honest. Yes, he doesn’t get the glory in the way that Scott does but he’s probably the most important guy on nearly every mission. He carries the bloody supplies to each site and controls every piece of equipment that is needed. The guys a bloody hero but Scott acts like the big I am all the time. Ridiculous. Still, I’d rock the hat and I’d love to have a portrait that has light-up eyes.

Two: Pokemon Trainer (Pokemon)

This may not really count as a job but, in the game at least, you got money for winning matches. I’d love to wander around and catch Pokemon for a living. It’d be difficult but I think I’d get a pretty good team together. Then it’d be on my way to the Gyms to get my hands on the coveted badges. I’m already a proven Pokemon Master using my Gameboy so why not make it official?

One: Jedi (Star Wars)

Okay, I’m not entirely sure that a Jedi even counts a job either but I can’t deny that it’s something I’d love to do. Yes, the whole celibacy thing would be tough but I’d love to learn how to use the force. To travel around the galaxy and stop uprisings and shit. I think I’d be a pretty good General and could proved fairly useful in the Clone Wars. I think I could cope with the pretentious and moral act that I’d have to put on…as long as I could get my hands on a lightsaber. That’s the real draw.

TBT – Live and Let Die (1973)

TBT – Live and Let Die (1973)

This week, amidst all of the horrors of the terrorist attack in Manchester, we got the terrible news that actor Roger Moore had died at the age of 89. Moore has become a household name thanks to his numerous television and film roles but it is his time playing James Bond that cemented his place in the annals of pop culture history. Everyone has their own favourite James Bond but I guess Sean Connery and Roger Moore are two of the more iconic names associated with the role. Connery was the first Bond and created the basis for the character. However, it was Roger Moore who stepped in, after George Lazenby’s forgettable attempt, to give the character his own spin. For my part, I think Moore is my ultimate Bond. I mean a huge part of me will always love Pierce Brosnan because it’s Pierce fucking Brosnan. He’s ridiculous but wonderful. I’d also be so bold as to say that Brosnan and Moore both approached the role in similar ways, which probably explains why they’re both my favourite. I understand why people think Sean Connery is the best and, I admit, he’s bloody great. I just prefer my Bond to be a little sillier and that’s one thing we came to expect from the Sir Roger. Bur you know what, I’ll be honest, I think it really just comes down to the eyebrow.

If you don’t count Never Say Never Again, which a lot of people don’t because it isn’t canon, then Roger Moore played James Bond in the most films. If you do count it then he ties for first place with Sean Connery. No matter how petulant you are, it’s clear that these two actors are pretty important when it comes to the character of James Bond. Both had very different approaches to the role and, in quote you’ll have seen a lot since his death this week, Roger Moore himself suggests that Connery played the character as a killer whilst he played him as a lover. I think this sums up the differences quite well. Sean Connery had fun with the role but it was Roger Moore that really got to grips with the funny. He played to his strengths and presented the character as suave, sophisticated and very silly. Moore’s own sense of humour is evident in his interviews and he was always well aware of the absurdity that went with the Bond brand. So he used it for all it was worth.

As he got older, Moore’s bond relied on humour more than the physical side and some of his films are up there the best of the franchise. His first film, on the other hand, is fairly forgettable and. until I rewatched it for the purposes of this blog, I couldn’t have told you a lot about it. James is called into action after 3 British agents die in mysterious but connected circumstances. He finds that a dangerous Caribbean dictator, Dr Kananga, is running around town as his drug baron alter ego Mr Big. The plot itself is very convoluted and overly complicated. We see Bond stick out like a sore thumb in African American communities as the Bond franchise embraced the blaxploitation films of the era. It makes for kind of uncomfortable viewing nowadays but the film was a financial success at the time.

The problems with Live and Let Die aren’t necessarily that it’s a bad film. I mean it’s not great but there are some interesting ideas floating around. The main issue is that it’s a bad James Bond film. We lack that super villain presence and the crazy gadgets. Instead we just have groups of drug smugglers chasing Bond through the Louisiana marshes in speedboats. It’s exciting to a point but we’ve had better chases. And ones that weren’t punctuated with the world’s most annoying and stereotypically Southern Sheriff. This is a film that just doesn’t really know where it’s going or how to make it big enough. People had come to expect great things with James Bond and they wanted to see him fight a villain who could destroy the planet. Instead we see him chasing voodoo loving drug dealers. We were on more realistic ground but the simplicity of the plot gets lost in a confusing narrative. It should have kept things more basic.

Roger Moore takes some time to get used to the character and this is definitely not one of this greatest moments. Although, there is a certain twinkle in his eye that suggests he is constantly aware of how crazy this all is even if he keeps his poker face on for the entire film. It’s got all the aspects that will become Moore’s trademark but he isn’t quite self-assured enough to pull it off yet here. There are some pretty great moments, though, and it’s a good start. He also works really well alongside his female co-star, Jane Seymour. As much as I hate the huge 24 year age gap between the pair, I think they have great chemistry. and Seymour has to be up at the top of the most beautiful Bond girls of all time.

After watching this film again after so long, I’m kind of upset that I picked this film to celebrate the life of Roger Moore. It’s an overly complicated, lengthy and fairly forgettable film in the entire franchise. There are some great elements and some fantastic scenes but it never really feels like it’s on steady ground. It has a lot of things we’ve come to expect from a Bond film but it lacks the finesse and grandeur of the rest. It’s just not outrageous enough. We’ve seen with the Daniel Craig era that realistic Bond can be successful but it still needs to be over-the-top to give the character room to move. Instead, things just awkwardly plod from one location to the next. Despite all this, I still love Roger Moore and, when it comes to James Bond, nobody does it better.