Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Amy Poehler, book haul, books, currently reading, Dickens, Marvel, Netflix, Paul Rudd, recently watched, Thor
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.

Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

book haul, books, currently reading, Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, Netflix, Paul Rudd, recently watched, Steve Carell, stranger things, Will Ferrell
Yesterday was Remembrance Day and, as usual, we had a 2 minute silence at 11am at work. Except, we weren’t given our usual warning before it started and I was so distracted by what I was doing that I didn’t realise what time it was and started chatting away whilst everyone else was silent. It was awful. One of those moments where you have an out of body experience and just start shouting at yourself to ‘shut the fuck up’. Thankfully, it wasn’t for the entire 2 minutes but I can imagine all the customers sitting silently and listening to me gabbing away to myself. I was mortified. I think it’s such an important practice so can’t think of anything less disrespectful. I recently read somewhere that about a third of young people are refusing to wear poppies because they believe it glorifies war. If it’s true and not just journalistic sensationalism then it’s absolutely fucking ridiculous. How can you be accused of glorifying conflict by remembering the people who died to bring freedom to persecuted people? Also, the money raised actually helps the armed forces. It’s not promoting war but helping people who have been affected by it. I don’t whether it’s just that I, having read a load of WW1 poetry in my time, have a pretty good grip on the grim reality of the conditions facing soldiers in the ‘Great War’ but I think wearing a poppy is an important practice. It doesn’t mean your buying into the notion that war fixes everything but it means we’ll, hopefully, learn from out past. Anyway, I wasn’t planning on getting in to this so let’s just get down to business.

Weekly Blog Posts

  • TUESDAY’S REVIEWS – 6 DAYS (2017)

With nothing else to review this week I decided to watch a film that I’d been recommended to watch on Netflix. 6 Days is about a historical British event that I knew very little about so I was quite interested in watching it. See what I thought here.

  • BOOK REVIEW: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE BY AGATHA CHRISTIE

Before Halloween I reread And Then There Were None by Agath Christie. I always love revisiting her novels because they are so charming and British. I wrote down my initial thoughts here.

  • TBT – NOTTING HILL (1999)

Another case of just watching whatever I could be bothered to click on when I was browsing Netflix. I’ve never been a big fan of Richard Curtis’ romantic comedies but, as it’s been a while, I sat down to watch Notting Hill. My review can be found here.

Currently Reading

  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
I’ve done some reading this week but, after a particularly difficult day at work, I was forced to stop mid chapter. I hate doing that so haven’t picked up the book again. I still adore it but it’s getting darker as it goes on. I realise it’s par for the course that a novel about an escaped slave being hunted would be a difficult read but the moments with the real underground railroad were so light and happy.

Recently Purchased 
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I’ve never read this book so when I came across the gorgeous Centennial Edition whilst browsing Amazon I couldn’t resist. And I always believe that buying a book for the cover and because it’s a piece of classic literature makes it an okay kind of purchase. I was probably going to read it eventually so I might as well buy a nice version of it.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Stranger Things, Anchorman 2, American Vandal
I finally got to the end of Season 1 of Stranger Things again and it was wonderful going back. I didn’t think it would be possible to love Hopper anymore but it’s happened. I’m obsessed. What is so great about season 1 is the relationships between the four main kids and how up and down it was. Dustin as mediator is just adorable. The only thing I didn’t like it Steve being a dick for most of the season. His character development between seasons was fabulous and now he’s one of my favourites. Although, that final showdown with the Demogorgon let him have his moment. Here’s to rewatching Season 2. Today, I’ve had a pretty lazy day and have just watched films. I decided to rewatch Anchorman 2 and I’ve decided that, whilst it’s not great, it’s better than I first thought. Finally, I watched the entire first series of Netflix’s true crime parody American Vandal. It’s super silly but also a really clever parody of the genre. I’d recommend it to anyone and I happily await a second series.

TBT – Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2008)

films, fucking ridiculous, Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Judd Apatow, meh, parody, Paul Rudd, reviews


Yesterday I left work a little early after feeling super ill all day. I was knocking back pints of ginger beer and peppermint tea in the hopes that it would prevent the waves of nausea that kept hitting me like a tsunami. So when I finally got home all I wanted to do was get into bed and watch the film I always watch when I’m sick. I know it’s a bit of cliche but how can anyone watch anything other than The Princess Bride when they’re stuck in bed? Well, as luck would have it, I couldn’t find my copy of the film so had to pick something else. Thankfully, the case of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? flashed out at me from the shelves and, as I haven’t seen it in ages, I thought it would be a nice treat. If only the fucking DVD had been where it was meant to be. So, to top off an already shitty day, I’m left blankly staring at a sea of films that I’m really not in the mood for. So I do what any person would do in 2017 when they can’t make up their mind: I googled it. Well, I googled “random film generator” and eventually came up with this. I’d never seen Walk Hard before but I used to live with a guy who spent ages trying to convince me it was the
greatest thing ever. I also adore everything about John C Reilly. So, after spending way too long on such an insignificant decision, I was finally wrapped up in the bed I’d been dreaming about since 9 am that morning.

For a time, it looked as though the early 2000s was a time of the music biopic. There was Ray, Walk the Line, La Vie en Rose, I’m Not There and god knows how many more all out within the first decade of the noughties. Despite being based on the real life of musicians, all of these films end up following the same sort of pattern. We see a troubled young wannabe struggle to get past their childhood, sliding out of obscurity into the big time and stopping off to sample women, booze and drugs before they finally become legends. It’s your average from zero to hero success story that oh so wonderfully follows the equation for the American dream. So it was only natural that Judd Apatow would see it as a genre was rife for parody. I mean I’m Not There already felt like a ridiculous spoof as it was so why not make a film that actually meant to be funny?

So in walks Dewey Cox played by John C. Reilly: a legendary rock star who has overcome a childhood trauma to become a decade spanning superstar. What is that trauma, you ask? Cutting his older bother, a gift pianist, in half with a machete. The death ways heavily on Dewey’s father, who blames his remaining son, and on Dewey himself, who believes he needs to produce enough success for the both of them. This is what drives him to pick up a guitar and aim for the big time. As he embarks on a massive tour, he finds himself drawn into the ever expanding world of drugs and groupies until he meets the woman of his dreams. Backing singer Darlene (Jenna Fischer) catches his eye immediately and, after singing a raunchy duet together, the chemistry becomes too much to ignore. With her help, Dewey is able to realise what is truly important to him.

There is a lot to enjoy about Walk Hard but it is a concept that never really reaches great heights. John C Reilly’s performance as Dewey is superb as he plays everything with a naive charm. Reilly’s musical talents were hardly a secret before this film but we now see how adept he is at imitation. Dewey goes through several changes of style during his career and Reilly becomes almost chameleon esque as he channels the likes of Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. It’s a highly impressive turn that, if I’m honest, this film doesn’t really deserve. Co-writers Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan made the perfect choice in casting the actor because it is his straight-faced and sincere performance that holds all of this together. Well, that and some amazing original songs. The soundtrack is truly remarkable in that it manages to be both hilarious and an incredibly well composed bunch of songs. Each one is a great quality and really represents the musical style of the time it was supposed to be mimicking. Again, it is something that this film didn’t really deserve.

It’s not that Walk Hard isn’t a good film or that it isn’t a humour spoof of the genre. It does everything it wants to quite well but it doesn’t exactly push itself. The jokes don’t exactly come thick and fast and, if I’m honest, a lot of them don’t quite land. This film would have worked better if it wasn’t too obviously trying to sell itself as a parody. The jokes that are desperate and downright silly get old really quickly. There’s a fantastic moment later in the film when Dewey ends up dropping acid with the Beatles in India. The Fab Four are played by Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Justin Long and Jason Schwartzman. Now these are obviously not the four actors you’d get to play the Beatles in any ordinary circumstances but it is the stand out scene in the entire film. In fact, all of the slightly miscast celeb “cameos” are hilarious. These clever bits of movie making just make the incredibly silly and unnecessary moments seem worse than they are. The times Walk Hard when this flies are the times when John C Reilly is allowed to get on with the job of playing the character. If this had been played a tad straighter then it could have been a different thing all together.

TOP 10 WEN-SDAY – RANKING MCU MOVIES

Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, comic book, comic books, Edward Norton, list, Mark Ruffalo, Marvel, Paul Rudd, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston

Tomorrow I’m watching Spider-Man: Homecoming and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve enjoyed the majority of Spider-Man films that have been released, probably only really excluding Toby Maguire’s third outing, but none of them have really done fantastic things. I think Andrew Garfield was perfectly cast but the stories just didn’t cut it. Toby Maguire was fine for the time and his films are still astonishing in terms of that era. However, his portrayal of Peter Parker just seems flat nowadays. With this film being the third time a new actor has taken up the spidey suit in 15 years, it’s starting to feel like every young-ish actor will eventually get the chance to play him. Still, I have high hopes for Tom Holland. His brief appearance in Civil War was an absolute treat within all of the heavy shit going on and proved that a solo film could be full of geeky fun. To get myself in the mood for watching this new film I spent today watching some past Marvel films: namely Civil War and Ant-Man. Both were great, obviously, but it got me thinking about my ranking of the films in the MCU. It’s something I’ve tried to avoid doing because it’s such a changeable thing. However, with another Top 10 Wen-sday upon us, I decided it was time to give it a go. Expect this to have changed by tomorrow.
Fifteen: Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 was the first of man disappointing MCU sequels and it is still the worst of the bunch. I understand that it had a lot to live up to because Iron Man was the film that gave the MCU life. Still, this is just a lacklustre film. It is only saved thanks to Robert Downey Jr’s charm. The film offers us two underwhelming villains (wasting the talents of the wonderful Sam Rockwell) and spends too much time showboating to offer anything real. It’s just dreadful.

Fourteen: Thor the Dark World

I think I always look favourably on The Dark World because it contains Tom Hiddleston’s face. Ever since his brief romance with Taylor Swift I’ve kind of gone off the guy. I know it’s fickle but how can I be a massive fan of someone who made that choice? Anyway, as such I now no longer see all of his films through rose-tinted glasses and can see how awful this film really was. The dark elves are not fleshed out in the slightest and Thor becomes a supporting character in his own film. This was a let down from start to finish.

Thirteen: The Incredible Hulk

Before Mark Ruffalo came along I was more than happy to have an Edward Norton shaped Hulk. I mean, yes, you couldn’t have got much worse than Eric Bana (who I assume was only hired because of his name) but Norton brought depth to the character of Bruce Banner. He wanted to explore the pain and suffering that lay behind the huge green rage monsters and it was a welcome change. The problem that this film really faced was that it’s just not going to be easy to make a solo Hulk film. This is something that has become more apparent as time went on but, clearly, having a main character who is silent and ragey most of the time just isn’t a workable formula.

Twelve: Avengers: Age of Ultron

I so wanted to love Age of Ultron. It had everything: Avengers had set us up with a great team full of banter; we were going to see Vision, Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver; and it had James Spader as the voice of Ultron. How could it go wrong? Well, apparently quite easily. Age of Ultron was exciting, maybe, but it was a huge mess of a film. The narrative was all over the place and it was basically just a Michael Bay-esque feast of explosion porn. With every viewing this film pains me more. Not just for how bad it is but for how much it let me down.

Eleven: Captain America

I realise that Captain America is a much better film than I give it credit for but, personally, I just didn’t love this film. I admit that I liked it much better on my second viewing for my TBT post but I still find it difficult to get too excited about Steve’s first outing. Hayley Atwell is amazing and there are some great moments but it all feels a bit rushed. Considering what followed in Steve’s solo outings, this film just doesn’t quite cut it.

Ten: Thor

As with above, this is primarily on personal taste and I’m sure most people would have this film higher up. I get it. Thor isn’t the typical Marvel film but I adore it. Kenneth Branagh may not be the most obvious choice to direct a comic book movie but I loved what he did with Thor. He turned it into a Shakespeare play and I think it worked. He was on firmer ground and Tom Hiddleston excelled at playing Loki as though he was Edmund in King Lear. It’s not perfect and there are some incredibly dodgy moments but Thor always makes me feel full of joy. I don’t care if I’m the only one.

Nine: Iron Man 3

I kind of wanted to put Iron Man 3 higher up the list because of how badly it treated The Mandarin character. That would have been petty though because, all in all, this is a pretty good film. Shane Black did a great job co-writing the script and directing the whole thing. It’s funny, exciting and dramatic. A huge improvement on the second film in the series. Black and Robert Downey Jr. have a great working relationship and Tony Stark is at his best. There were a few moments I could have done without but, for the most part, this was a winner.

Eight: Ant Man

It might just be because I’ve only just finished watching this film but Ant Man is much better than people give it credit. Paul Rudd is fantastic in the role of Scott Lang and there is plenty of fun to be had. It takes a character that nobody really wanted a film about but shows just how good of a decision it was. Yes, I still wish Edgar Wright had directed the story that he had wanted but this definitely showed the potential of the more random Marvel characters.

 Seven: Iron Man

When Iron Man came out way, way back in 2008 there wasn’t an MCU and Robert Downey Jr. was that drug addict from Ally McBeal. This film changed everything for the better. Downey Jr. became a household name and the MCU kicked off in style. This was a brash and exciting film that showed comic book movies could be a spectacle and also a really good film. As important as this film may be in terms of historical importance, it has to be said that it has been overshadowed by future releases. It’s still a great film but there are now better ones out there.

Six: Dr Strange

I can’t say that I was exactly overjoyed to hear that Dr Strange was coming to the big screen because I didn’t know enough about the character. Then I heard the immortal words: Benedict Cumberbatch. I will freely admit that my interest in the film was mostly linked to the face of this great actor but I think that’s reason enough to watch it. There are some fantastic moments in this film and breathtaking sequences where the laws of physics are just ripped to pieces. It’s a visual feast but I wanted this to be better. Dr Strange feels as though it wasn’t give the freedom to be everything it could be and was forced to fit into a Marvel template to keep everyone happy. I hope future films are given more of a chance.

Five: Guardians of the Galaxy 2

The second Guardians film was a great continuation of the series but it made the same mistake that most sequels tend to do. It wanted to make thing bigger and better. Yes, this still has the same funny and relaxed feeling that the first one did but there was something confused about it. The effects were too big and the fights too confusing. However, this was an emotionally charged film that finally added some consequences to the MCU. I adored this film but I wish it had been slicker.

Four: Captain America: Civil War

Again, it might be because I watched this today but Civil War is a fantastic film. It is the film that Avengers 2 wishes it could have been. Watching this film makes me truly sad that the Russo brothers weren’t allowed to direct Age of Ultron because it would have been a massive improvement. Yes, it still runs into the same problems as Ultron has because it deals with so many characters. Yes, the narrative isn’t exactly wonderful considering the comic book story it comes from. And, yes, the villain’s plan doesn’t exactly make sense when you think about it too much. However, this has some of everything. It had the fun and banter of The Avengers, the darkness of Winter Soldier, and the emotional conflict that has followed Steve through all of his films. It could have been better but it was pretty damn good.

Three: The Avengers

This was the film that nobody thought would be possible; something that gathered together every big name in the MCU up until that point and made them work together. With that many egos in one room, how was anyone going to be able to come up with a decent story. Thankfully, somebody agreed to let the legendary Joss Whedon have a crack and he managed to make it work. This was a funny, clever and exciting film. It knew what it was and it worked with it’s problems not against them. It gave us more of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, which cemented him as best villain in the MCU, and gave us our first glimpse at Thanos. As with all Marvel films, the evil minions could have been better and it could have been a bit slicker but this is still one of the greatest film the MCU has produced.

Two: Guardians of the Galaxy

The best thing about Guardians was that it was such a breath of fresh air. It came after Thor: The Dark World and Winter Soldier had given us a supremely grim and dark set of Marvel films. It seemed to be following the Batman trend that dark and gritty was better when it came to superhero films. Guardians was always going to be something of an underdog because the source material wasn’t as well known to the general movie going public at the time. So it decided it wasn’t going to take itself too seriously and, boy, are we glad. This was the first comic book movie in such a long time to have a real sense of humour about itself. Director James Gunn managed to create something so full of joy that was also exciting enough for comic fans. This had it all.

One: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I know a lot of people would put Guardians as their number one because it’s so watchable. I agree that it’s great but, in my heart, I know that Marvel as never been better than in Winter Soldier. Of course, it isn’t as fun or light-hearted but it’s really well crafted and it totally changed the landscape of Marvel’s future. It ramped up the emotional side thanks to Steve and Bucky’s friendship and it gave us the delightful Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson. It may have followed the Marvel staple of having a huge object fall to Earth in it’s finale but this film was so close to perfection. It deserves the top spot.

TBT: The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)

comedy, films, fucking funny, Paul Rudd, review, silly, Steve Carell, TBT

You may have read my post on Tuesday during which I went fucking mental about the novel Losing It by Emma Rathbone. The book tells the story of a 26 year-old woman who was desperate to finally have sex after so many years. In the days that followed the posts uploading I have calmed down a little but I still really hate the book. It gave a horrible image of women and strengthened the idea that a life without sex is something to be ashamed of. In many of the reviews I’d read about the book, critics declared it to be the literary and female version of the Judd Apatow film The 40 Year-Old Virgin. I’m going to blame this comparison with the fact that I was so desperate to read this book. I remember first watching the film when I was 16 with my friends. I really enjoyed it. Steve Carell and the rest of the cast were really funny and the film ended up being quite sympathetic to the plight of it’s main character. So, after the disappointment of the book, I felt it was time to revisit the film to see if my judgement is just off or if critics are just so lazy that they’ll compare a book about virginity with the only other really famous thing to also do so.
It seems weird to think that, before 2005, Steve Carell wasn’t famous enough to play the lead in a film. Especially when you remember that he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar 9 years later. It was The 40 Year-Old Virgin that gave Carell his first lead role in a film and he has never really looked back since. Alongside his much-loved turn as Michael Scott in the American version of The Office, it was this film that pushed the star firmly into the limelight and determined his place as a true comic genius. By the time it was made, he had already shone in his supporting roles in Bruce Almighty and Anchorman and this gave him the chance to show audiences what he really did best.

Which, as it turns out, it create a sympathetic portrayal of a geeky, shy man who has got through life failing to understand dating and women. Watching this film again now as weird because, when you think about it, it’s not the kind of film you could make nowadays. Especially when, as the Big Bang Theory is so keen to remind us in its unrelentingly sub-par manner, that geeks are sexy, I’m not suggesting that the premise is no longer relevant but the idea that a man who collects action figures and loves comic books is automatically not going to find a woman. Geek is chic and, according to the internet, people are so desperate to seem cool that they’re fraudulently claiming to be into geek culture.

However, 2005 was clearly a different time. We didn’t Tinder and internet dating  so men like Andy, our main character, were considered weird. So, after several failed attempts during his youth, Andy has given up on sex. He’s got through his life pretending to have an active social life and awkwardly getting out of any difficult or personal questions. He lives a pretty solitary life and he’s as happy as he can expect to be. Until his colleagues find out about his predicament and decide to help get Andy laid. Turns out its easy for Andy to meet women and not one but 3 women who would willingly have sex with him come along without any real effort on his part. Still, he fails to get the job done with any of these women but, instead, starts a romantic relationship with Trish (Catherine Keener). This piles on the pressure meaning Andy gets more and more nervous about finally getting his end away. So he just puts it off. Clearly, because this is Hollywood, it all comes out in dramatic style.

The 40 Year-Old Virgin is the kind of comedy that has stood the test of time despite being so fucking dated. I mean there is a scene discussing the end of VHS and the introduction of DVDs. It’s a different world. The humour, though, really stands up and the cast all do well in finding the humour in the situation without being mean. That was the truly refreshing thing about the film after reading the dismal Losing It. After some initial banter, there is never a moment wher people paint Andy as a huge freak because he hasn’t had sex. There is no sense that anyone but himself is trying to make him feel bad about it. Yes, his make friends get quite bro-happy about finding Andy some pussy but it all feels as though their heart is in the right place.

My only major criticism of the film is regarding its length;. What I’d forgotten about, or at least, not appreciated at the time, is that The 40 Year-Old Virgin is fucking long. It comes in at just over 2 hours which feels incredibly long for a film based around this pretty flimsy narrative. That’s why it’s jam packed with so many side-plots, random moments of improvisation, and numerous joke call backs. It’s all supposed to flesh out the main story but none of these stories feel worth my time. The plot repeats itself so many times you might as well be watching Groudnhog Day. Then there’s the endless supply of side plots: There’s the strand concerning Paul Rudd’s inability to get over his ex, Romany Malco’s Jay keeps his womanising from his girlfriend ntil he discovers she’s pregnant, and the weird but sexually successful Cal, payed by Seth Rogen, is just being an awful stoner who swears a lot. And that’s just the main ones. There’s so much going on that it just makes the film seem slow and puts off the inevitable for self-indulgent reasons.

Still, there are some truly funny and memorable moments in this film and it’s still worth a watch. Steve Carell is fantastic and there are some fantastic improvised interactions between the rest of the cast. Overall, it is a touching and silly love story that manages to take a potentially dangerous story and make it sympathetic instead of judgemental. It might not be as good as I thought it was at 16 but it’s still a wonderfully entertaining film. If only it were much shorter.

Tuesday’s Reviews – The Fundamentals of Caring

feel good, films, fucking sweet, illness, Netflix, Paul Rudd, review, rom-com

Today has been super fucking hot and I can’t really concentrate. The only thing I want to do is lie down in a bath full of ice and just sleep until British Summer is over… so about 2 days. Still, I have a deadline looming so I’m here in front of a fucking hot laptop feeling super gross. It’s days like this that I really start to resent my shitty job. Working in a catering isn’t really my passion at the best of times but on days where I’m in a sweltering kitchen that I don’t want to be in I find it even harder to feel positive about everything. Seriously. it’s not until you get changed after a sweaty day at work and try and squeeze into a pair of super skinny jeans that you realise how fucking shitty it is to cook for a living. But I’ve always been something of a drama queen and the only thing that gets me angrier than heat is hunger.

Netflix is certainly doing everything in its power to bag itself plenty of original content to release and has been moving further down the film path for some time. However, if there’s one thing Ricky Gervais’ Special Correspondents may have taught us, there could very well be a reason why Netflix is winning the bidding with a lot of it’s stuff. The Fundamentals of Caring was bound to get crazy attention due to the fact that its the kind of feel good indie that Paul Rudd is already well associated with. The problem is, it looks exactly the same as every other feel good indie film starring a few big name stars and an ex-Disney Channel twenty-something that’s out there.

On the surface, The Fundamentals of Caring is paint by fucking numbers: grieving father Ben Benjamin (Rudd), an ex-writer, takes a job caring for Trevor (Craig Roberts), an 18 year old suffering from a rare degenerative disease and slowly learns to love himself again. It’s the same sort of story you’ve heard a thousand times before but offers a guaranteed happy, life-affirming message at the end. Trevor is a shut in and spends his days terrorising his various carers and watching news reports on famous roadside attractions that he will never visit. Until Ben convinces his mother (Jennifer Ehle) that it would be good for the boy to visit the World’s Deepest Pit. Along the way, the pair pick up a straggler in the form of Dot (Selena Gomez), a teen runaway who quickly grabs Trevor’s attention.

The trio are a strange group both in the film and in the real world but somehow everything just works. Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts have great chemistry on screen even when the material given to them is just a little too cliched indie flick. They play well off each other and bring a sense of fun to the formulaic and heavy-handed narrative. Even Selena Gomez, who shocked everyone in 2012’s Spring Breakers, doesn’t feel too out of place here. Although, it’s hard to escape the idea that she’s just on a continuing journey to shed her cutesy Disney pop star image by playing sweary, grungy girls who don’t give a fuck about society or its rules. She and Roberts make as cute a couple as you could want from this kind of thing.

Really, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with The Fundamentals of Caring but it does the standard Hollywood thing of sugaring the pill. Just as John Green and co. showed us the sexy, romantic side of cancer, director and screenwriter, Rob Burnett, shows us the fun side of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. There are some attempts to show the harsh realities of Trevor’s illness but it is mostly pushed aside in favour of looking on the brighter side. Indie or not, this isn’t the place to show someone suffering from muscle degeneration. Even the source of Ben’s despair is slowly revealed to us in hazy, slow-motion flashbacks rather than as the Earth shattering moment that it would have been. This is not a film to dwell on pain but rather to teach that no matter how hard things get there is always something positive.

Which is fine, I guess. It’s Summer and we could all do with a good dose of positivity. The film does what it’s supposed to and it does it very well thanks to its main stars. It doesn’t push the boundaries or attempt to surprise its audience. Not that it needed to of course. The Fundamentals of Caring doesn’t claim to be anything more than it is and is happy to get rid of any inconvenient issue, like Trevor’s much discussed agoraphobia, when the plot needs it. But it’s okay. You know from the off where this story is headed and you’re fine happy to just go along for the ride. This isn’t the kind of film you watch to show you a gritty reality. This is the kind of film you watch to be uplifted… and it will certainly do that.

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

book haul, books, currently reading, Netflix, Paul Rudd, poekmon, recently watched
What a week it’s been. Well, thanks to last weeks fuck up it’s actually only been 6 days but at least I’m not dwelling on it. I, like so many people out there, have spent the last few days trying to live out a fantasy I’ve had ever since I was a kid with a Gameboy. Yes, I’ve downloaded PokemonGo. To be honest, I’m not that into it but I do enjoy the catching pokemon aspect of the game. I can’t really say that I give much of a shit about all that fighting, team and gym nonsense. I really just want to catch them all. As I was saying to a coworker the other day, I’d love if the App was more like the Zombie run thing where it was nothing more than a fitness thing encouraging you to exercise with the reward of catching Pokemon. I’ll probably dip in and out of it until I get bored of it. Until I lose the excitement of seeing a rattata appear in, sort of, real life. The child in me is still strong enough to get a kick out of that.
Currently Reading
  • The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
Still reading this one… slowly. I feel like I have a shit load on at the moment. The advanced course is now on Tuesdays and Thursdays which is really fucking with my blogging schedule so I always feel as though I’m behind. Plus, I’ve started trying to post to Instagram twice a day so I’m using free time to try and get a few good shots in ahead of time. What would really make my life easier is getting rid of the full-time job. If only it were that fucking simple. 

Recently Purchased
  • Sexus and Nexus by Henry Miller

I know this is starting to feel like déjà vu because these books were on my rundown last week. However, these are separate and completely different editions. They are much simpler and plain but no less lovely than the others. No doubt you’ll see them in my Instagram feed soon enough so look out for that. 

  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
Really not sure why I picked this up. Actually, I do. It was another of those “books you absolutely have to read” lists that I’m so fond of reading. These lists have such a huge influence on my that I can’t help but buy at least half of the list immediately. Still, this book also has some good reviews and is by a pretty popular science-fiction writer. If nothing less, it should be a decent enough read. 

Recently Watched
  • The Fundamentals of Caring
I admit that I was mostly interested in this Netflix original film because of my interest in Paul Rudd’s face. Still, this sounded like an uplifting sort of thing and I was in need of something to write about on Tuesday. 
  • Orange is the New Black
Okay, I admit it’s taken me a fucking age to get into this show but I started watching season 1 today and I see what all the fuss is about. Only problem is, the rest of the show will keep me from getting any reading done. As if that wasn’t already an issue.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Chris Evans, comic book, films, Marvel, Paul Rudd, review, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson

There was plenty of ridiculous drama that went into me finally getting to see the third film in the Captain America trilogy that I’m loathe to bring up. However, I have no other way to introduce my new topic so I’m going to retell the whole petty tale. I have a friend whom I love unconditionally but she’s a huge fucking drama queen. She’s recently got into a new relationship and is, obviously, all about spending her time with her new boyfriend. As such, she’s difficult to tie down for cinema trips. I’d promised her I’d watch this film with her because her new man isn’t much of a film lover and hates comic book movies. Problem is, she won’t commit to a date because she doesn’t know when he’s free. Considering how desperate I was to see this film I got understandably annoyed about her unwillingness to pick a date. Not a problem you might think, I can go without her. Unfortunately, if she ever got wind of the fact that I was contemplating going with someone else then she’d start thinking I’d replaced her with someone else. You see, fucking drama! At 28 I really don’t have time for that school playground bff bullshit so I’m incredibly unsympathetic about the whole thing. Which is exactly why I snuck off to the cinema with a mutual friend behind her back and why I’ll never tell her I’ve seen it. I love my friends to the ends of the Earth but nobody keeps me from the MCU.

Marvel films seems to understand Captain America more than any of its other heroes. He’s the only hero who’s sequel was better than the first and is the only one that has the strongest overarching narrative. These films are built on the friendship between Steve and Bucky and it is Cap’s struggle to save his best friend that has made these films worth watching. Civil War marks the culmination of everything Captain America and Winter Soldier have been preparing us for. I love you Peggy but we all know that Steve’s real OTP is James Barnes.

Civil War pretty much picks up after the events of Age of Ultron where the new Avengers are on a mission in Lagos to prevent Crossbones high-tailing it out of town with a vial of some deadly disease. In the drama Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) inadvertently creates chaos trying to stop Captain American (Chris Evans) being blown up. As this is just the latest in a long line of destruction for the super team politicians of the World unite and attempt to restrict the movements of Earth’s heroes. Unfortunately, the pals don’t all agree to the Sokovia Accords, named after the country that suffered during the battle with Ultron.

Cap disagrees with government control and refuses to sign the accords, something that Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has an issue with. Cap and his ever loyal sidekick , Falcon (Anthony Mackie) are told to hand in their guns and badge and leave the super life behind. Unforunately, that is exactly the same time that a bomb explodes at the UN causing the death of the King of Wakanda supposedly by the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) himself. Captain goes against the government to find his friend first and discovers that Bucky has been set up.

This starts an increasingly ridiculous situation that pits superhero against superhero to either protect or capture dear old Buck. Both Iron Man and Captain America have their followers who are fighting for various and, quite often, flimsy reasons but, provided we see a massive punch-up, I guess it doesn’t matter. Team Cap includes: Bucky; Flacon; Scarlet Witch; Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner); Ant Man (Paul Rudd); and ex-shield agent Sharon Carter. Team Iron Man is made up of: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson); War Machine (Don Cheadle); Vision (Paul Bettany); and the mysterious Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). I have an issue with the need for people to take sides but I can’t deny it creates quite a spectacle. The airport showdown is, quite possibly, the greatest scene in the MCU so far.

Captain America: Civil War makes me feel quite conflicted if I’m honest. I totally enjoyed it and the fan girl in me squeed for the full 3000 hour run. However, I felt like it was trying to do too much to the extent that things weren’t as good as they could have been. The airport battle was fucking intense but getting there was difficult and never felt like the logical end to the events on screen. It was never explained in such a way that didn’t make it all feel like a massive stretch. Motivations aren’t clear and most of the choices just don’t make sense for the characters we know and love. I mean I still have no fucking clue why Hawkeye is even fighting. Didn’t he retire? Why does he give a shit?

Plus, there was the desire to introduce so many recurring and new characters that it seemed a bit messy and bloated. It’s a long film and there were time when it felt like it was dragging. Although, I don’t really know what I’d want to lose because Spider Man and Black Panther were two of the best things about the whole thing and I’m super excited about their solo outings. I just wish the whole thing about the Sokovia Accords had had been cut out and it came down to a fight centred on Cap and Bucky’s friendship. I mean that’s essentially what the trilogy has been all about and is the only real reason that Steve would turn his back on his fellow Avengers. The government twist just made things messier.

Still, this was the film that Avengers 2 should have been. It was a great meeting of so many characters and was funny, dark and emotional. The actors all did a great job. Paul Rudd managed to be funny during the most intense moments and Tom Holland looks set to be a great Peter Parker. Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans manage to play their familiar roles with added depth as both Tony and Steve find themselves going down dark paths due to recent events. Tony’s continued declining mental state is both devastating and fantastic to watch. In terms of the characters coming together Civil War gets it right and it feels like it makes amends for the sequel to The Avengers.

However, it tries to do too much and include too much. The overall big baddie is pretty unnecessary and there are a few plot twists that I think we could have done without. Still, despite all of my natural criticisms, I couldn’t help but love this film. It shows that Phase 3 is going to be wild. Thanks to the plot looking at the consequences of extreme power, it shows that we are moving into more grown-up territory and a more mature MCU in the future. It explores some great ideas and, at the end of the day, gives the audience what it wanted from this story. Super heroes beating the shit out of each other. And, if I’m honest, it fucking rocked.

TBT – Anchorman (2004)

comedy, fucking funny, Paul Rudd, review, Steve Carell, TBT, Will Ferrell

Is there anyone out there who can say they dislike Will Ferrell? I mean the man knows how to make people laugh. Yes, he doesn’t always get it right but even in his worst films there is still plenty to giggle about. As we discovered in Daddy’s Home on Tuesday, there is ultimately enough heart and soul within his films to make them worth a punt. He’s not a genius, granted, but he can churn out quotable lines with the best of them. Ferrell has come up with much of his best work alongside writing partner Adam McKay and, arguably, their most successful collaboration has been Anchorman. It’s the kind of film that, if you love it, you’ve seen it too many times to remember and can quote it without even thinking. It’s a truly iconic film and, after watching the disappointing Daddy’s Home, it’s exactly what I needed to remember that Ferrell can be better.

It’s weird to think that back in 2004 Will Ferrell was still mostly known as the SNL alumni who primarily took the role of weird associate of other big name comedy actors. He wasn’t the main attraction that we are used to him being now. He was just the guy standing behind the likes of Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson. In fact, it wasn’t really until Old School and Elf that he really became a notable member of the comedy fratback of middle-aged men who probably should no better but just want to make the world laugh.

It was this recognition that has helped to give Ferrell the chance to showcase his own comedy writing. Co-written with Adam McKay, Anchorman was the 2004 runaway hit about a 1970s news anchor and his news team. Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is the top anchor in San Diego and is treated like a king thanks to his star status. That is until the studio decides they need to diversify and they hire female reporter, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). She quickly makes her mark by entering into a romantic relationship with Ron before usurping his position as lead anchor. Leaving the poor man alone and with no purpose in life.

I’ve already said that I love this film but I have to admit that it’s got it’s flaws. The initial concept is just a fleshed out sketch with more than a few big set pieces to keep the seconds ticking away. The film works so well because of how silly and absurd it gets but there are plenty of times during which that silliness gets a bit too much. There are moments that feel more desperate and cringey than laugh-out-loud funny. It’s understandable, of course, as it’s only the second Ferrell penned film, after 1998’s A Night at the Roxbury.

It’s also completely easy to forgive because for every over-the-top scene there is plenty of inspired stupidity to giggle at. That is mainly thanks to the superb cast of comic performers that Ferrell has brought together. With stalwarts like Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Michael Koechner and Fred Willard by his side, Ferrell has brought together a group of people able to embrace his improvised approach. The cast all gel really well together. It just works. Obviously certain people stand out more and it’s easy to see why Steve Carell rose so quickly to be the huge star he is today. Again, it’s weird to think that he was still a relatively small name at this point and it took this film to help showcase his talents.

Anchorman certainly isn’t the slickest film that Will Ferrell and co have ever produced but, especially in the wake of the disappointing sequel, it has a quality that is easy to love. Watching it again always brings about a great wave of nostalgia and is great evidence to show just how far these people have come. It’s a film I’ll always love and has inspired my biography page of this very blog. As a film it doesn’t always hit the mark but 60% of the time, it works every time.

Ant-Man (2015)

Avengers, comic book, Marvel, Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd, review, superhero
Is there anyone out there who isn’t even a little bit excited for the upcoming phase of Marvel films? It’s a fucking great time to be a Marvel fan and it’s set to only get better. There are so many exciting new faces set to make their first appearance and it’s bloody brilliant… even if some people won’t have as much knowledge of them. Ant-Man  is one of those superheroes that means a lot to people in the know but isn’t exactly one of the mainstream. Whilst waiting for the film’s release I’ve had to suffer the mocking tone of several colleagues who think it’s just some silly parody. Forgive the fucking awful pun but he’s simply too small to stand out against the likes of Thor, Captain America and the Hulk. He was the underdog, which made him the perfect focus for a writer/director like Edgar Wright. Shame that dream died a fucking horrible mess then. So, despite my unquenching excitement to see Paul Rudd take up the costume, I found myself sceptical that I would enjoy this film as much as I would have enjoyed the first one.


Ant-Manhas done for Paul Rudd what Guardians of the Galaxy did for Chris Pratt. That is to say, it made him fucking jacked. It’s incredible and I was sure that, even if this turned out to be the worst Marvel film since Iron Man 3, I would have something to rave about. It was something of a genius move to cast Rudd in the role of Scott Lang. Rudd knows he’s not the typical action hero and plays the part with this in mind. Instead he has that lovable quality that was necessary for telling the story of a thief turned costumed hero. He may have fucked up in the past but his love for his daughter makes my fucking heart melt. It’s a great strategy and Rudd gives the role enough heart and humour to make an audience fall in love with him. Does he convince as an action man, though? He’s not too disappointing when it comes to the crunch and handles some of the more fast-paced scenes well enough.

Of course, without a great mentor Scott Lang wouldn’t be able to recreate himself in such a way. Michael Douglas doesn’t necessarily get a lot of wiggle room playing Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man turned recluse, but he does a great job delivering several of Pym’s dramatic speeches about doing the right thing. Pym calls on the talents of Scott when his protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) threatens to crack the Ant-Man technology and utilise it for evil. With the help of Pym and his angry daughter Hope (Evangeline Lily), Scott must drag himself away from his life as a thief in order to steal from Cross.
Ant-Man is a fairly simple premise when it comes down to it. You set up your future hero, give him a training montage and set him off on his merry way. Every cliché in the fucking book is on display in this origin story and Peyton Reed’s direction does nothing to help this. It’s the same kind of shit we’ve seen time and again but it’s being presented in a slightly inferior way. Ant-Manhas a sense of awareness about how unoriginal it is and, rather than playing up to it, it lets it weigh it down. Despite it’s comic script, the film never manages to decide whether its serious or not. For every Paul Rudd quip there is an Evangeline Lily reminder of everyone’s impending doom.
There are many problems that become glaringly obvious within this format. Evangeline Lily looks set to be another Black Widow badass but she is relegated to the sidelines. She’s the bitchy wannabe that has to swallow her jealousy in order to let the inferior candidate take her place. It won’t help Marvel with feminists and it feels like a massive cop-out to leave such a great actress to a bland bit-part and rushed love interest. Even the villain of the piece never gets the chance to really shine. Stoll, who was so successful in House of Cards, could have been the perfect foil for everyman Paul Rudd. Instead, he is a substandard caricature who poses very little real threat and whose motivations were given less thought than Michael Douglas’ beard.
Ant-Manhas been favourably compared to Guardians of the Galaxy thanks to it’s light-hearted feel and ultimate sense of fun. I agree that Ant-Man is, on a basic level, one of the easiest Marvel films to enjoy: there are some superb visuals jokes and Paul Rudd plays for humour as often as he can. However, plenty of the jokes actually fall flat. Reed is by no means an abysmal director but he has been caught under the shadow of his predecessor. There are so many hints of Edgar Wright left within the script and you can’t help but think he would have helped the jokes land better than Reed. I lost count of the amount of times a joke is glossed over instead of being indulged.

Although that’s not to say I didn’t like Ant-Man. Critics may believe the concept is too small to justify but that’s exactly what makes it so appealing. There is a sense of nostalgia surrounding a man whose superpower is to shrink. Compared to the recent Age of Ultronand Winter Soldier, it feels more like a B movie than a Blockbuster. It could have been a perfect second-class Marvel film if it hadn’t pushed towards being more. It was never going to compete with the bigger films so it should have accepted its fate. There is plenty of potential in Ant-Man going further but, based on his debut, it looks doubtful that he’ll get another solo outing any time soon. So we must all sit here and mourn for the movie that Edgar Wright should have been allowed to make.. whilst still appreciating Paul Rudd’s abs obviously.