Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

book haul, books, Colin Firth, currently reading, Daniel Craig, James Bond, Kristen Bell, Mark Strong, Netflix, recently watched, snow, spy
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.

Frozen (2013)

animation, Disney, family, fucking beautiful, Kristen Bell, musical, review

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.

Frozen, Disney’s 53rd feature film, is another in studio’s traditional yet modern style of storytelling that has become their trademark since John Lasseter made his way over from Pixar. Disney may be well into the technological age with their computer-generated animation but Frozenjust goes to show that the studio still hasn’t given up on its primary principles: namely wholesome family fairy-tales chock full of courage and fun garnished with big musical numbers and charming characters.

Disney has been playing around with the idea of adapting Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queenfor a fairly long time but it wasn’t until Jennifer Lee’s screenplay that they found the best way to translate the tale for its audience. Lee took the decision to rebrand the villainous Snow Queen into an isolated and scared teenager with the power to control ice and snow.
That teenager is Elsa (Idina Menzel) who, after an incident involving her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell), is taught by her father, the King of Arendelle, to conceal her powers and hide herself away. When their parents are tragically killed, Elsa and Anna must fend for themselves and Elsa goes to greater lengths to hide her powers from both her sister and the rest of the kingdom. Unfortunately, her skills are revealed at her coronation leading the new Queen to flee the city whilst accidentally enveloping it in vicious winter weather.
Anna is much more impetuous than Elsa and, after hastily getting engaged to a virtual stranger, the youngster instinctively rushes off after her sister to bring her back and fix the situation. On her journey Anna is aided by an ice harvester Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his pet reindeer and a talking snowman Olaf (Josh Gad). The sisters must battle great obstacles to save each other and their subjects: taking part in the ultimate battle between love and fear. It’s hardly a massive leap from the tales of old but there is something refreshing about the focus on two females.
Frozen contains all of the state-of-the-art and breathtaking animation that we have come to expect from the studio. The frosty landscape is engrossing and shiver-inducing: Elsa makes her magical flakes whirl across the screen; frost collects beautifully on windowpanes and boats; and the ice palace is an awesome glistening spectacle. The focus here has been put more on visuals than narrative but I can forgive the patchy nature of the story when the animation is so wonderful.
Like any self-respecting Disney film, the action in Frozen is occasionally halted to make way for an uplifting song and dance routine. These musical numbers have been written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (known for their work on Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon) and have a musical theatre style to them. Not only do these moments appear infrequently but they also happen to sound fantastic: at the very least they’re annoyingly catchy. Kristen Bell proves to be a formidable vocal talent and plays Anna perfectly. Unfortunately, she has been overshadowed by Idina Menzel (a Broadway personality) who, in my opinion at least, has been horribly miscast as Elsa. Menzel’s rendition of ‘Let it go’ has been eaten up by audiences but I just found it uncomfortable. The lovely song has become hyperbolic in her hands and sounds very nasally and strained. It is too Broadway (not meant as a compliment I’m afraid) and Menzel is far too mature to play the youthful Queen.
Though this isn’t really Elsa’s film and, after Anna, the key figures are the more high-profile supporting characters of Kristoff, Sven the reindeer and Olaf. Sven defies Disney logic by being unable to speak but, in a self-aware and tongue-in-cheek touch, Kristoff often provides the voice for his friend in their one-sided conversations. It is Olaf, though, that comes out on top here. Despite the annoying presence he had in the endless marketing campaign, the snowman is a naive and caring figure who provides plenty of warm and humorous moments.
Frozen can certainly be classed as a ‘modern’ take on a Disney princess films thanks to its awkward and dorky heroine Anna, its knowing winks to the tropes of the genre and its unrelenting focus on the two female leads. However, I have seen a worrying number of people claiming it is the first major step to a feminist Disney era. Whilst watching the film I found myself enjoying it more than I expected, having long passed the age when I unquestioningly engulf these types of narratives, but I can’t say that I saw it as a major step towards any real gender equality at the studio. Yes, it does portray strong female relationships over the typical male/female ones and I obviously celebrate that. However, there are still enough worrying gender stereotypes to prevent me from celebrating too quickly.