Yes, we should all be doing what we can to learn more about racism and how to live a more anti-racist life. Watching documentaries is a great thing but, every so often, it’s good to take a bit of time off and remember that life isn’t all bleakness. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by the things you’re hearing and reading about, do remember that Black people have been feeling like that their whole lives. So, it’s important not to let fatigue turn into ambivalence. After all, there are so many other things you can do to keep on living an anti-racist life. That includes watching and celebrating films made by, starring and written by Black people. We all know that there is a huge disparity in Hollywood when it comes to the representation of non-white people in all areas. It’s more than just Oscars so white. So, we need to start proving that people watch films starring BIPOC actors and telling BIPOC stories. And what’s the best way to do that? By watching films starring BIPOC characters.
After watching the lovely but quite sad Ordinary Love for my Tuesday Review this week, I wanted to find something a bit sillier for my Throwback Thursday Review. After all, we’re living in quite a challenging time, so it’s important to find something to laugh about. I recently watched Horrible Histories: The Movie and it was pretty good. I know that I’m way too old for the television show at this point but I think it’s genius. I know that I read the books when I was younger but I’m not sure I ever truly appreciated them. If only the show had been around when I was a kid. I grew up loving history but I was always a little out of my depth academically. Although, if there’s one thing I do know, it’s literary history. So, of course, I appreciated the fact that the people behind Horrible Histories have also made a film about one of literature’s biggest figures. I never watched Bill when it came out. Maybe it was time?
Last night, I attended my first virtual book club meeting. Despite being a massive book person, I’ve never actually been part of a book club before. So, to attend my first one on Zoom wasn’t great. I’m awkward and introverted at the best of times without adding being uncomfortable on camera as well. But, of course, it was mostly fine. I’d read the book in time and, as you’ll have read in my book review on Monday, I really loved the book. I knew before going in that it had been adapted into a film for Netflix but I didn’t want to watch it before reading. Fearing that it might alter my opinion of the book or something. Once I was finished, it seemed like the perfect choice for my TBT film this week. After all, any chance to watch Jane Fonda is something is welcome.
I like writing. I know that this won’t come as a shock to you considering I’ve been writing reviews that barely anyone reads for nearly 10 years. I also work as a copywriter. It’s not as if I’ve been keeping it a secret but it’s worth saying. I like writing. I pay attention to writing a lot and I often get jealous of good writing. When I rewatched his film for my post this week, I got irrationally annoyed that Trey Parker and Matt Stone came up with one of the funniest and stupidest lines I’ve ever heard. Seriously, I spent a lot of time wishing I’d come up with it (I was 16 when it came out and a fucking moron. It would never have happened.) and being sad that it would be impossible to get close to it. The line? When Gary gets in the flying limo and says “Okay, a limosine that can fly. Now I have seen everything.” Then Spottswoode replies with “Really? Have you ever seen a man eat his own head?” Greatest line ever. It gets me every single time. It’s so simple, so obvious, and so fucking funny. I’ll never be able to write anything that strong.
My sisters and I grew up watching Gerry Anderson’s supermarionation tv shows. We were obsessed with Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Stingray. So I have a certain love for puppets. Or at least, seeing puppets gives me a great sense of nostalgia. So, I was all in when it was announced that the creative minds behind South Park were making their own film starring puppets. I remember seeing this film with my friends. I was 16 and we’d gone to see it in Leeds. I specifically remember being a dickhead when Kim Jong-il said the line about friends being in movie theatres and gasping. I was a such an idiot. But I really loved this film. And why wouldn’t I? It’s silly, ridiculous, and has an amazing soundtrack. I listen to these songs now. They’re really good.
This is a film that hasn’t aged that badly either. And, let’s be honest, with the current American president, it might be becoming more relavant every day. Upon its release, there were plenty who praised Team America for its take-down of the liberal elite. The celebrities who lecture people about political issues while they sit in their huge mansions and holding their massive paychecks. And it does. But this is a film that also points out the ridiculousness of the gun toting republicans who think you can shoot your way out of political upset. Even though it doesn’t actually include George W. Bush and co. Within all of the silliness, this film looks into the experience of being an American on the world stage during George W. Bush’s time in the White House. Yes, everyone kind of hates you but you’re still a huge political power. This is the ultimate form of acceptance. Call us whatever you want but you can’t quite do without us.
It has all the trademark depth and intelligence that has become Parker and Stone’s style in the later season’s of South Park. I’m not a huge fan of the earlier sesons but they have turned it into a shewd and important example of social and political analysis. It’s also really funny and not just in the toilet humour sense that it used to favour. They have genuinely funny and clever jokes. Team America is a great mix of childish humour and more thoughful comedy. Take the scenes where real things become part of the scene. The scale of the puppets making a cat into a panther. It’s always going to be funny and it shows the detail of the world they created. As a contrast, the name “Matt Damon” has never been funnier for such a stupid reason.
I was worried that I’d watch this film again and think that I’d outgrown it. I had nothing to worry about. When something is this good and this creative, it will always be enjoyable. The way the pair parody the work of Gerry Anderson by purposefully making everything terrible is great and, though he didn’t approve of the language, Anderson himself thought they did a good job. Do you need any other recommendation than that?
I always worry when American actors take on roles in English period dramas. It just gives them free rein to use received pronunciation in that stereotype that they seem so keen on. The stuff of Downton Abbey. The kind of accent that doesn’t have a hint of geography or personal context. Add Gwyneth Paltrow to the mix and it makes everything even more uncomfortable. I’m still haunted by Sliding Doors where she tried to convince us she was British by saying the word “shagging” on repeat. It just didn’t do it for me, so the idea of her getting her Austen on did kind of fill me with dread. But I also felt like I should watch it. After all, I’d already reviewed Clueless back in 2015. As much as I wanted to rewatch that absolute gem of an adaptation, it felt like I was cheating a bit.
I’m not much of a gamer these days because I don’t have the time. I thought about jumping on the Animal Crossing bandwagon but I haven’t picked up my Switch since my birthday. It’s not worth spending the money for a few minutes use. Maybe when it’s cheaper. Back in the day, I spent most of my spare time playing video games. I’m not one of those gamers who likes MMOs but I enjoyed the classics. I recently started playing San Andreas again for the first time since I was a kid and it’s amazing. Yeah, the graphics are a bit dodgy by today’s standards but you can’t fault it as a whole. When we were kids, my sister and I used to be obsessed with the Tekken franchise. Mostly Tekken 3 on our Playstation. God, we played that game loads. My absolute favourite character was Julia Chang. She did this triple kick that was amazing. But that’s really beside the point. The point is, I’d never seen the Tekken film until this week. I just didn’t want to risk. We all know how terrible films based on video games can be.
As I mentioned on Tuesday, Lady and the Tramp was never one of my favourite Disney movies. Sure the dogs are super cute and it’s a very adorable love story. It just never stuck with me. It lacked the silly humour of the other films, it didn’t have the catchy songs, and it didn’t have a larger than life villain. For a Disney film, it’s kind of grown-up and serious. And though it centres around talking dogs, it’s more of a real-world film rather than a fantasy one. Set in the real world and taking much inspiration from society. Let’s be honest, the thing most people remember most from this film is probably the thing that Disney is trying so hard to cover up. The thing that Disney+ warns is an “outdated cultural depiction”. Aside from the meatball nose push, it’s the most memorable thing about the film. It’s a huge shame.
I’ve had Disney+ since it arrived in the UK on Tuesday but haven’t had much chance to use it yet. Work is still open because, apparently, football kit is now classed as essential. I’m glad to still have my weekly routine but it has prevented me from really getting to grips with the new streaming service. All I’ve done so far is watch random episodes of The Simpsons. Not that it’s a problem because there are some gems in the 31 seasons. However, I’m not really getting the most out of it. So, I decided to watch something from there for my TBT. As soon as I’d finished work today, I searched the list of films. I got to the first one and stopped. It’s been ages since I saw this film and, as a teenager, I played the soundtrack on repeat. How could I not?
To accompany my review of the latest Pixar film earlier this week, I was going to watch Coco. That would have meant buying a copy or renting it on Amazon. As I’m about to get a Disney+ subscription later this month, I decided that it was stupid to spend more money on it. So, I decided to go with something about fantasy creatures instead. I’d never seen Trolls but I bloody love that Justin Timberlake song. It’s the kind of irritating pop song that you know you shouldn’t like but you can’t help it. I just get swept away in it’s happy and upbeat melody. Plus, I do have a general love of Justin Timberlake. And I might like Anna Kendrick but I can’t really tell. She’s one of those irritatingly perfect human beings that I kind of love but am also incredibly jealous of. She’s kind of perfect and just reminds me of how imperfect I am.
In the Marvel vs DC debate, I’ve not been the kind of person who shows loyalty to one over the other. It’s weird. There are characters on both sides that I love and those that I don’t care about. I’m not entirely sure that it’s as much of a thing as it used to be now that so many people have been introduced to graphic novels and comics. Maybe I’m just naive though. I’m just happy to embrace anything well-written and well-drawn. However, that’s only for the comic. When it comes to the film side of things, I’m a Marvel gal all the way. DC films just haven’t had the same impact on me. They’ve just never been able to match the skill and precision that Marvel has become known for. And I don’t say that trying to pretend that Marvel films are perfect because there are still plenty of flaws. It’s just that they have embraced different approaches and have such a tight grip of where they’re going. Some might call it overthinking or overplanning but it’s clearly working. Just look at those box office figures mixed with the critical response.