SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

book haul, books, currently reading, Edgar Wright, Nick Frost, poetry, recently watched, Simon Pegg
Writing something in Blogger on an iPhone is fucking awful. Yes, I know this is starting off this post in the most #firstworldproblems kind of way but I’ve only been doing this for the length of the song Hit Me Baby One More Time and I already want to bash my head in. So, as you can probably guess, my laptop is still busted. I’m hoping I’ll have the tools I need by Monday otherwise Tuesday’s review is just going to written in emojis or summed up with one word. Either that or we’ll try voice to text and have a good laugh about how shit that technology is. In other news, I’ve spent all of today lying in bed feeling sorry for myself. I’ve had a cough for a few days and this is my first day off since I got it. Which means whatever is slowly ripping away the inside of my throat has successfully drained me of any energy. It’s just another good excuse for this post being so shit I guess. Have pity on a dying girl guv’nor.

Just Finished

  • New Cemetery by Simon Armitage
This collection of poetry is both tiny and lovely. I read it in about 5 minutes but I really liked it. Not entirely sure it was worth paying full price for. It’s illustrated as well but, again, it doesn’t really justify the £13 price tag. Great collection but disappointing price tag.


Currently Reading

  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This was on my TBR Instagram photo for this month and, for the first time, I actually picked it up. I’ve not got too far but I already love everything about the writing. It’s beautiful. Can’t wait to really get stuck in. 

Recently Purchased 
  • New Cemetery by Simon Armitage

I went into my local bookshop on Saturday in honour of Bookshop day intending to only buy the new Books Are My Bag tote. I also accidentally picked up this small collection of poetry. It’s the Ilkley Literature festival at the moment and Simon Armitage was there the other day. This signed copy was calling tonne. It’s beautiful.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges:, Snack the Pony, Green Wing
So I’m now finished with NowTV and, considering they charged me after I cancelled my subscription, I probably won’t be going back. Despite this I’m not back to Netflix just yet. I intend to get it before Stranger Things series 2 comes out but, for now, I’m trying to focus on reading. I’ve still managed to binge thanks to Channel 4 catch-up and have spent the time in my such bed watching great comedies from my past. 

  • The World’s Emd 
I didn’t like this film when it first came out. My love of Edgar Wright is currently pretty strong so I decided it was worth another shot. See what I thought in my TBT review here.

TBT – The World’s End (2013)

British, Edgar Wright, films, fucking creepy, fucking funny, fucking weird, Martin Freeman, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Pierce Brosnan, reviews, Simon Pegg, TBT, trilogy

So, after my big spiel yesterday about a fresh start and uploading more content my bloody laptop has decided to have a huge breakdown. It means I’m having to find whatever means necessary to post today’s TBT whilst also figuring out I can put my questionable computer skills into good use to save it. At the very least I’ll do better than my University flatmate who managed to blow my PC whilst trying to save his own, pretty ancient machine. Anyway, enough of my technological woes. I’ve managed to get access to the internet without having to type a lengthy review on my phone. A prospect I really wasn’t looking forward to. It’s bad enough having to type the captions for my Instagram posts. I don’t know if I just have particularly chubby fingers but my iPhone keyboard clearly isn’t made for me to use. I honestly don’t understand how people can write anything longer than a tweet on a touchscreen. Now I realise that I’ve gone full Grandma pretty quickly here but, as I’ve mentioned a lot recently, I’m starting to feel my age a bit. It is exactly 5 months til I turn 30 but, in my head, I still believe that I’m 16. It’s not the ageing itself that I feel upset about; I’ve always been something of an old woman so am really looking forward to having a valid excuse to stay inside playing scrabble all day. It’s just that I’ve done so little in the last 30 years. I’ve had the same job since I was 16 and, if my recent applications are anything to go by, I’ll be hanging on to it for some time to come. I know I’m a fully fledged adult now but, surely, this is too son for a mid-life crisis? I haven’t even learnt to drive yet so I don’t know how I’m going to fulfil the necessary requirement of buying a sports car.

Perhaps it is my current mood of reevaluating my life that convinced me to watch The World’s End again? Or maybe it’s just because I’ve been pretty obsessed with Edgar Wright since I watched Baby Driver? Whatever the reason, I felt that I needed to give the film another watch. My love of the British director isn’t a new thing and I’ve been a fan of his work since I first watched Spaced way back when. I, like pretty much every living human being ever, adored the first two films in, what has affectionately been dubbed, the Cornetto trilogy. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are two of the greatest British comedies of the last few years and have never really been equalled since. So I was looking forward to seeing what Wright and co-writer Simon Pegg came up with next. Unfortunately, back in 2013, I came out of the film fairly disappointed. I don’t know whether it was the darker tone or the increase in special effects but something felt off about it. As far as I was concerned I was never going to see it again.

As it turns out, I’m super glad that I did. The World’s End is an incredibly clever film that manages to be both incredibly funny and very shrewd about modern society. There is plenty of commentary about the “Starbucking” of the British pub and loads of digs at the teenage male ego that never really disappears. It feels incredibly different from the previous two films but it also feels like a natural end to the trilogy. This is about a group of men facing the realities of life and the very different ways that they approach it. I guess in my current state of introspection made it easier to relate but I can’t help but feel a little kinship with Simon Pegg’s Gary King. I mean I’m not going to face my current crisis by trying to sink 12 pints in one night but I get where the fear is coming from.

It is Gary’s realisation that his life peaked on a night in June in 1990 that prompts him to round up his old friends and finish the pub crawl they failed to complete as teenagers. Unlike Gary, the rest of the group have accepted their maturity and are all seemingly happily married with children or experiencing professional success. They take a little persuading but, as we come to understand, there is no point arguing with Gary. The five men return to their home town with the intention of drinking one beer in each of the 12 pubs on the Golden Mile. However, upon returning to Newton Haven they uncover a secret that’s set to derail their plans. What started out as a group of childhood friends reminiscing over a pint quickly descends into as science-fiction horror that invokes some great classic films.

The opening to The World’s End is the film’s main let down. The process of ‘getting the band back together’ takes a bit of time and messes with the pace. It isn’t until the boys are, literally, on the road that everything starts falling into place. Edgar Wright, as usual, is an expert at keeping things moving and manages to make even the most mundane things seem like events to get excited about. This film has the same Wright look and feel that keeps fans coming back for more. The World’s End is a breath of fresh air amidst a sea of underwhelming blockbusters. It is a film that is full of joy and has been made for the sole purpose of entertainment. Even with an added budget and greater scope, the film never manages to lose the heart and soul that has been such a key part of the entire trilogy.

Pegg and his co-stars, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan, make a wonderful group and, despite all of the great action sequences, I found myself wanting some more moments of them interacting. This is a group of men who, in their own ways, are unhappy with their lots in life and haunted by their past. Their angry conversations around a pub table with a pint in hand are wonderful. Although, it is not something that is lost in the massive and incredibly impressive action sequences that come thick and fast towards the film’s finale. It is a film that never loses sight of what it is or what it wants to portray. It may be making broader commentaries but The World’s End is a film full of friendship and love. Like the Wright/Pegg predecessors, it is a wonderfully British film that tackles a traditional film genre in a unique but highly joyous way. I’m glad I gave this a second watch. It’s the kind of film that only improves with further viewings.

TBT – Hot Fuzz (2007)

buddy comedy, cops, Edgar Wright, fucking funny, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, TBT

So, the keen eyed amongst you will realise that last week I missed my TBT post for the first time in absolutely ages. The reason? I couldn’t think of anything to write about and I didn’t want to write anything shit just for the sake of it. This schedule has been really good for me in terms of planning and time keeping but there are times when the rigidity just doesn’t give me any room to breathe. So I decided to skip a week. In fact, I’ve been pondering getting rid of the whole thing entirely. I mean who really wants to read my review of a film that has been out for so long that pretty much everyone has had their say about it? Especially whilst I desperately try and tie it into my other posts that week. So we’ll see how long this goes on for. Until then I’ve actually got a topic for this week so I’ll get on with it.

On Tuesday I once again bemoaned the state of Simon Pegg’s career and his ability to agree to appear in any old shit. This, in itself, isn’t too big a problem because the man has to work. I get that. I’ve worked for in a job that hasn’t ever really given me any professional enjoyment. I understand the woe of having to sell your soul in exchange for a pay check. The thing that makes Pegg’s back catalogue so hard to bear is the fact that he’s been responsible for some of the greatest British films over the past twenty years. His Cornetto trilogy, written with Edgar Wright, are incredibly popular and are the perfect big screen follow-ups to sitcom Spaced.

Arguably, it is Hot Fuzz, the middle film, that is the best. Pegg and Wright wanted to explore the idea of a British version of the Hollywood buddy cop genre and they managed to create a film that was almost perfect. Pegg plays Nicholas Angel London’s top cop who is sent to a sleepy village of Sanford after he starts making the rest of London’s police look incompetent. He partners up with naive Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) and the pair uncover a mysterious plot that is leading to the deaths of some of village’s most prominent residents. Danny gets his first real glimpse of police work whilst Nicholas learns to ditch the rule book and embrace the kind of theatrics seen in most action movies.

At the heart of the village is the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance who go to great lengths to keep the peace and ensure the village remains picture perfect. However, Nicholas starts to suspect that one of its members, Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), is responsible for the deaths to cover up a secret property deal. Nicholas must use every trick in the book to convince his boss Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent) that he’s telling the truth and get the rest of the village’s inept force to help him track down the killer.

Hot Fuzz does great things with its location and the tropes traditionally found in big budget cop movies. It references several of Hollywood’s biggest action films and plays with the genre amongst the sleepy British setting. It offers both a satirical glimpse and a charming celebration of all things action and gives it a delightfully fresh British twist. I mean I can’t imagine Bruce Willis taking part in a high speed chase whilst having a lost swan in his possession, can you? The end result is biting, incredibly funny and hugely entertaining.

Thanks is no small part to the chemistry between Pegg and Frost. The pair have, as we all know, been friends for years and this is never more evident than this film. They are so utterly comfortable with each other that they don’t mind letting the other dominate when need be. They have a great understanding of how they work together and how they can make something funny. Their relationship on screen here is much more convincing than in Shaun of the Dead and is more heartfelt than in the dire At World’s End. This is vintange Frost/Pegg bromance and it’s great to watch.

Hot Fuzz boasts an incredible British cast including several drool worthy names. Jim Broadbent and Timothy Dalton stand out amongst the crowd and are joined by the equally captivating Edward Woodward, Paul Freeman and Billie Whitelaw to name but a few. The talent on show is fantastic and they all work with the material wonderfully. My only gripe with Hot Fuzz, if I had to admit to one, is that it’s a little self-indulgent. Something only highlighted by its cast. It allows itself a bit too much room for error and ends up missing a few of its marks. There are jokes a plenty and, inevitably, not all of them land in quite the right way. Still, it barely matters. No matter how many times I watch this film I still feel as elated and satisfied as the first time.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

Andy Serkis, comedy, family, motion capture, Nick Frost, Peter Jackson, review, Simon Pegg, Steven Moffat, Steven Spielberg

I have fond memories of Tintin but certainly would not presume to position myself anywhere near the level of fandom that many possess. Although I do think the original stories are wonderful  and eagerly watched the television series as a child. Tintin is a much loved fictional character so it is safe to say that there was an awful lot riding on the much anticipated big screen debut of Hergé’s infamous journalist and his faithful dog. 

The film itself has clearly divided opinion in a dramatic fashion. Like the much overused example of marmite, it has either completely captivated its audience or thoroughly offended them. It is easy to see why there is such a split in the reaction to Spielberg’s attempt to bring the character to life. On the one hand, the plot contains plenty of excitement and fun that many would associate with the original material but, at the same time, the film lacks the passion and soul that is associated with Hergé’s characters.

Spielberg’s decision to use motion capture is one of the major culprits for this important lack of heart. There is a great deal of emotion and heart tied up within the original artwork which has not been brought to life using this modern technique. It is, arguably, only the motion capture veteran Andy Serkis who is able to bring any amount of feeling to his animated portrayal of Captain Haddock. Serkis may be forced to spout several trite and painfully sentimental speeches about “breaking through walls” but he does so with the perfect balance of feeling and downright ham.

For the most part, the rest of the cast (each brilliant actors in their own right) seem to flounder when faced with this method of filming. We just need to look at the final showdown between Haddock and his archenemy Sakharine (played by Daniel Craig) to the see the stark contrast. This supposedly villainous counterpart to Haddock is decidedly flat. Craig shuffles through the role as if he were simply providing a voiceover. There is never any real show of passion that explains his hate-fuelled mission.

The plot, written by three British screenwriting legends Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, is made up of the plots of three separate Tintin stories. The titular Secret of the Unicorn, The Crab with the Golden Claws and Red Rackham’s Treasure. This results in a fairly mismatched adventure that is fairly clumsily put together. The rushed subplot of the pickpocket, whilst interesting in its own right, is included mainly for convenience and could perhaps have been replaced in order to better set up the main narrative of the film.

The script itself often seems clumsy and awkward. The obvious and almost out of place speeches where characters are forced to state exactly what is happening and why are far more frequent than should perhaps be necessary. Although, there are some outstanding moments and one-liners (mostly courtesy of Captain Haddock) and more than enough double entendres to keep the older viewers satisfied.

This being said, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the film. From the gorgeous opening titles and the tremendous introduction of our hero (briefly uniting the Tintin of old and this modern reincarnation) the film captured my imagination. The action never slows and it is constantly apparent that, despite taking the long way round, the plot is always moving forward.  Yes this fast paced approach may be at odds with the more laidback feel of the books but it was a necessary evolution for the move to film. As much as I may hate to admit it, we live in a modern age where the Tintin Hergé created no longer fits. It was a necessity that his adventures captured the imagination of a modern audience, even if this was perhaps at the expense of the true fans.

Yes, Tintin may not be exactly as we all remember him but this is to be expected. He fights his way out of tricky situations in a manner that would have impressed the likes of James Bond. Modernising the hero was something that was bound to happen and should have been embraced as openly as the recent reincarnations of Sherlock Holmes. He is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but he is good enough. If I may quote Commissioner Gordon here, Hergé’s Tintin may be “the hero we deserve, but he is not the one we need right now”.