SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

animation, audiobook, book haul, books, currently reading, Johnny Depp, Netflix, Penguin Books, recently watched, Will Arnett
Bit of a confession time to start with: I’ve just got Netflix back and it’s meant my amount of reading time has decreased quite a bit. I knew I was going to go back before Season 2 of Stranger Things came out but I’ve so easily fallen back into my usual binge watching. I’ve read a bit but definitely not as much as I should have. I’m definitely blaming work; if I wasn’t so tired I wouldn’t find it so easy to just collapse in front of the TV for hours. It would also mean I’d have finished writing this post hours ago instead of now. Although, to be fair, I have been busy today. I’ve taken my usual load of Instagram photos (with a new Halloween aesthetic – so look out for that) and then I’ve had a good tidy. I’m, once again, trying to sort out my life and get rid of loads of stuff I don’t need anymore. Like clothes I haven’t worn in ages or don’t fit. Eventually I’m going to own a normal amount of items and be able to walk around without having to step over piles of books that take up every inch of available space… but that doesn’t sound too much fun really.

Weekly Bookish Post

  • Classic gothic fiction – where to start?

In my new series of, hopefully, helpful bookish posts, I wrote a handy guide to early gothic fiction. I’ve encountered a few people over the years wondering where to start or having trouble getting into The Mysteries of Udolpho. I use my years studying these novels to suggest a way into these novels.

Currently Reading

  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
I’ve read a bit of this recently and am still loving it. If the chapters weren’t so long that I keep falling asleep in the middle of them then I’d be further on by now. However, I put it aside in favour of some more appropriate Halloween reading.

  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Starting with one of my favourite Christie novels. It’s a creepy crime tale that is full of death and intrigue. It also helps that I’m reading the Facsimile edition and it’s pretty fucking spooky. I’m hoping to finish this ASAP before moving on to something else. I’ll also attempt to finish my Dracula audiobook. It’s the Audible exclusive featuring a cast including Alan Cumming and Tim Curry. I’m sure it will be fantastic. 

Recently Purchased 
  • Vintage Penguins

 Another week and another batch of new, old books. This time I’ve found the classic Penguin copy of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, the iconic Milton Glaser cover of Run, Rabbit Run by John Updike, and, finally, a rare (ish) edition of Island by Aldous Huxley. They’re all gorgeous and I can’t wait to see them in person.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Rick and Morty, BoJack Horseman
So, after all this time, I finally get Netflix back and what is the first thing I do? Watch the 3rd season of Rick and Morty again. I genuinely think this was the best season so far. It featured the best episode so far (‘The Ricklantis Mixup’) and my least favourite ever episode (‘Morty’s Mind Blowers’). Despite this, it was just a great all round season. The episodes all worked well together and everything was just so entertaining. I can’t wait til the next series comes out in a million years. Then, after having to hear a colleague talk about it recently, I watched the entire new series of BoJack Horseman in a day. I loved it but I’m feeling a bit pyschologically drained. I’m a huge fan of dark comedy but this series was super intense. The episode about BoJack’s mother was fantastic but left me feeling more than a little empty. I definitely think it requires a second watch… just after I’ve got over the first viewing I mean.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

I watched this for the first time in years for my latest TBT review. Find out what memories it brought up in my review here.

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

Batman, books, currently reading, Kiefer Sutherland, Lego, poetry, recently watched, Will Arnett

Yesterday marked the start of my holiday from work and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve needed some time off and am planning on making use of it whilst I can. Knowing me, though, this will actually entail me sleeping til noon every day and then wasting my days in front of Netflix. Hopefully, I’ll get some reading done and some actual stuff accomplished. I’m definitely planning on seeing The Ghost in the Shell later on this week. I’m not sure how I feel about it but have some faith in it. I feel pretty safe with Scarlett Johansson but the film hasn’t done well so far. I can’t tell if that’s because it is genuinely bad or because people are just boycotting because of the whitewashing outrcry. I understand why people are pissed, obviously. There is a problem with casting white actors in roles that should be filled with Asian actors and Hollywood continues to deny that that problem exists. However, I’ll give the film a chance because that’s what I do. And because my friend really wants to go and see it. No doubt you’ll see my thoughts on here very soon.

Just Finished
  • Little Black Classics
In order to shamelessly get my reading count up for March I ingested a few of these LBC. I got through The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, O frabjous day! by Lewis Carroll, and On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas De Quincey. They were all as fabulous as these books always are and I succeeded in making it seem as though I’d read more books this month than I would have done.

Currently Reading
  • The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion
Slowly getting on with this one and, quite frankly, I love it. At first I didn’t think that it was quite as engaging as The Rosie Project but I think I’m actually liking it more now. I realise that Adam Sharp is a bit of a cad but he is an understandable one. Everything he does seems realistic and is reminiscent of how normal people would act in those situations. It feels more representative of real life than The Rosie Project ever did. 
Recently Purchased
  • So Much Poetry
I got a bit excited yesterday and ordered a few books of poetry. I didn’t need to but I’m just in the mood for poetry right now. They are all contemporary poets who mostly deal with issues about love but that’s fine with me. I just need to get back into poetry. The works I bought are: Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics, the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace, and No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay.

Recently Watched
  • Lego Batman
I have to admit that I was excited to see this film and I wasn’t disappointed. Find out more in my review last Tuesday.

  • Batman and Robin
Re-watched this 90s classic, which is so often called the worst film ever made. Weirdly, my TBT review didn’t just consist of me criticising it. Want to find out more, check out my review.
  • Netflix binges: 24
I have to admit this week’s Netflix binge wasn’t actually a Netflix binge. I’ve gone back to my collection of 24 DVDs and have finished season 5 and started season 6 in the past few days. I love season 5 because of Martha Logan and Aaron Pierce. Fabulous. Of course, it presents sadness from the heartbreaking death of Edgar. I’ve never gotten over that one. However, season 6 is, perhaps, the worst series of the whole show. It’s so boring and everything gets bogged down in politics and the Bauer family drama. I don’t give a shit about his brother or sister-in-law. I just want him to fuck up more terrorists.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Lego Batman (2017)

animated, animation, Batman, Channing Tatum, DC, films, fucking beautiful, fucking funny, Lego, Ralph Fiennes, review, silly, Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis

Let’s be honest, Batman has something of a chequered history when it comes to live action adaptations of the comic book character. Aside from the supremely cheese but colourful television show of the 1960s and the best forgotten Joel Schumacher films of the late 90s, the Dark Knight has provided something of a literal interpretation. The films created by Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan and, Zack Synder are all part of that super cool, edgy and moody brand of superhero film. Batman has long since shed the image of his cartoony caper when Adam West was the man behind the cowl and has transformed himself into an angsty longer who most probably listens to MCR and muttering about people just don’t “get him”. So, when Lego Batman, voiced by the supremely funny Will Arnett, became the breakout star of the 2014 The Lego Movie nobody was sure how his solo outing would fit within Batman’s canon. Especially cause, as we know from the past, comic book fans are massive dicks about this kind of thing. A colourful, family friendly and comedy filled story is hardly on a even playing field with the politically heavy and mature narratives on display in Nolan’s trilogy. After all, the sillier that Batman became the more his fans complain. I mean are we still not ready to admit that there is something so gleefully bad about Batman and Robin that we kind of don’t completely hate it? No? Okay then.


I was excited about Lego Batman and I could never understand the people I met who weren’t. The signs were all there that it could end up being magnificent. The Lego Movie was great, Will Arnett is always super funny and Lego leads to so many possibilities. Like all the other Lego video games I’ve played over the years, the Lego Batman one were full of in-jokes and silliness that made my heart leap. The only thing that could go wrong are the fans. As we’ve seen before, there are certain Batman fans out there that take their shit very seriously. They don’t like the idea of someone taking the caped crusader and making a mockery out of him. Which, when you think about it, is kind of silly considering what he’s put himself through over the years. He is an ageing billionaire who dresses up at night and plays with expensive toys in the streets of Gotham. If that doesn’t deserve even some gentle ribbing then I don’t know what does.

And Lego Batman is full of references to the character’s past. There are multiple references to the comics as well as each film adaptation and the, now, infamous television series. We see flashbacks to previous costumes and mentions of iconic moments. We are in no doubt that this is supposed to be the same characters who, as he points out himself, has aged remarkably well since his first appearance. There will be people who will fan this continual fan service annoying and will become irritated by the endless in-jokes and self-parody. I, however, have always been one of those people that loves it when these Easter Eggs appear.

Of course, none of this means that Lego Batman doesn’t know who it’s main audience is. There are plenty of jokes for the older members of the audience who remember where Batman has come from. However, it is, at its heart, is a children’s film. It is filled with the same sort of action and adventure that the first one offered and it hammers home its major theme with exuberant force. That moral being “it’s better to face things together than alone”. After all, Batman is the solo hero who never plays well with others and avoids significant relationships. There is a beautiful moment, after he has once again saved Gotham, where Bruce Wayne sits alone in his mansion eating Lobster and watching Jerry Maguire. He doesn’t celebrate with her super-friends but microwaves his dinner and reminisces about his dead parents. He’s sad, wounded but has too great an ego to realise it.

Until he finds himself unwillingly taking on partners. When Commissioner Jim Gordon retires at the start of the film his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson) offers the masked vigilante a chance to work with the police instead of against them. He, unsurprisingly ignores this offer and, when his nemesis the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) hands himself and his evil colleagues over to the police, Batman, against Barbara’s better judgement, decides it is time to rid the world of Mr J once and for all. When sending him to the Phantom Zone only results in the escape of every famous villain of film, television and literature Batman must finally accept help to get things back to normal.

All the while Bruce must come to terms with his issues with family when he accidentally adopts an orphaned boy, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), his father figure and butler, thinks it will help him to accept the boy but Batman just uses him in the same way the Lego Star Wars games used young Anakin: to get into small spaces. The back and forth between Batman and Robin is fantastic and their relationship is a perfect melding of both sides of the coin. We have a sidekick who is straight out of the 60s TV show and a brooding hero that has more in common with Christian Bale than Adam West.

There are moments when Lego Batman loses its grip slightly and some jokes that just don’t land properly. There is an awful lot going on and a huge range of characters to contend with. A usual criticism of super hero movies is the final act when the big bad is suddenly joined by more big bads to up the tension. Here, we see every possible bad buy stepping forward to cause chaos and, whilst the end results is exciting as fuck, it proves to be a tricky thing to pull off. It doesn’t quite work on a visual basis and there are perhaps one too many irons in the fire. However, I feel as though it’s worth it for Eddie Izzard’s Lord Voldemort and Jermaine Clement’s Sauron. The final action piece is another of those moments that has so much fan-service to contend with that the story gets lost a little. It could have done with some refining.

Watching Lego Batman is not the same as watching The Lego Movie. But it’s not supposed to be. This isn’t a sequel and it has dropped several of the themes that made the previous film so refreshing and original. It is, instead, a celebration of an iconic character using the same beautiful animation and propensity for fun that it’s predecessor was so loved for. This is a Batman film like we’ve not see before. In a sea of endless bleakness where Bruce Wayne is concerned, this film puts him back in the fun zone and shows us that superheroes don’t need to take themselves so seriously, Who else but Will Arnett could get away with rapping his way to victory? Not Christian Bale that’s for sure. Unlike everything we’ve been programmed to believe, Lego Batman shows us, once and for all, that silliness is best and being broody and dark is not the best way to achieve anything. Wouldn’t you rather microwave Lobster for four instead of one? This isn’t the Batman we know but he is the one we deserve. And, after the abysmal Batman vs Superman, he’s also the one we desperately need right now.

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

Ben Affleck, books, currently reading, Harry Potter, J K Rowling, motherhood, Netflix, recently watched, Will Arnett

It’s Mother’s Day so I hope you all treated your mothers with something lovely. Or that your children surprised you with something wonderful. On Instagram today I’ve been celebrating my favourite literary mother: Molly Weasley. There aren’t many positive examples of motherhood in the world of Harry Potter because, quite frankly, there aren’t many of them. The main two that we experience are Molly and Narcissa Malfoy. I know Tonk’s has Teddy but she’s a mother for about half a book or something. Plus, you could argue that her decision to leave her newborn baby to go into battle was the wrong one. I realise she was fighting for the freedom of the wizarding world and it was a tough decision. However, you could argue that, having basically just given birth, she would have been distracted and perhaps not in the best frame of mind to fight. Essentially the decision to have her leave her baby was so JK Rowling had symmetry between Teddy and Harry. I hate plot points that only exist for reasons beyond the narrative itself. Anyway, this isn’t the time to start another rant about the Harry Potter author. I have a rundown to write.

Currently Reading

  • The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion
Still enjoying this but, at the moment, it’s not quite as addictive as The Rosie Project. I’m empathising with a middle-aged man more than I ever thought possible but I’m not sure the main character is quite as easy to love as Don Tilman was (even with the aspects of Simsion’s characterisation that I disagreed with). Still, it’s a story about lost love and getting older. Those are things that every reader can relate to. Plus, it’s still super easy to read without being too simplistic. Simsion has a skill to make things palatable. 
Recently Purchased
  • There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker
I am so glad that I bought this. It’s a fantastic selection of poetry that use political and pop culture references to explore what it means to be a black American woman in the 21st century. I’ve only read a handful of these poems so far but I’m already super excited. 

Recently Watched
  • Chasing Amy
After my book review of The Animators last Tuesday, I wanted to find a relevant title to review for TBT. I couldn’t think of any until I stumbled across this Kevin Smith classic on Netflix. A film about a comic book creator and questions about sexual identity. It’ll work.
  • Netflix binges: BoJack Horseman, Ricky and Morty
I finished BoJack Horseman this week and I really enjoyed it. I’m not sure it was as good as I’d been told it would be but it was enjoyable enough. The third series was nowhere near as good as the second but it was still better than the first. I have hope for a season 4. Whilst going through Netflix to find a new series to watch (I’m still putting off Iron Fist cause I’m too scared it’ll be another Luke Cage and I’ll never go back to it). I keep passing Flaked, another Will Arnett series, but it just seems like BoJack set in real life minus the horse. Is he destined to play the same part over and over again? So I decided to rewatch all of Rick and Morty and I’m so glad I did. It’s a fucking awesome show.

TBT – The Lego Movie (2014)

animation, CGI, Channing Tatum, Chris Pratt, Lego, review, TBT, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell

No matter how old I get, I will always love Lego. So much so, that when my family asked what I wanted for my birthday today it took all of my self-control to say anything other than Lego. I have a secret supply to bring out when I’m bored, I’ve been known to obsessively play every Lego video game that’s ever been created and have wasted more hours than I’d care to admit dreamily going through the Lego website wishing I could afford it all. So yeah, I fucking love Lego. However, when I first watched The Lego Movie last year I wasn’t that impressed. Yes, it was funny and really well made and I had that fucking song stuck in my head for months afterwards… I just thought something was missing. So, when I discovered the DVD on offer with free Vitruvius minifig I felt I owed it to myself to give it another try.

The Lego Movieis the creation of duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who have started to garner the reputation as people who can create fucking amazing films out of questionable building blocks. They found great success with their animated feature Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the surprisingly clever and fucking funny reboot of 21 Jump Street. If anyone was going to create a film out of a much-loved childhood staple that wasn’t as brain meltingly awful as Battleships then these were the guys to ask.
There was always the question of how they were going to tackle the storyline of a film about plastic bricks and, on the surface, The Lego Movie seems fairly boring and clichéd. Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) is your average Joe who happily goes about his day living within the rules. Working in construction, Emmet literally follows life’s instruction manual. His life is repetitive and unexciting until he finds the prophesied ‘piece of resistance’.
As it turns out, the mystical Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) had a vision that a chosen one would find the piece and stop the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from destroying the world. Once the piece is within his possession, Emmet finds himself battling against the straight-laced despot and being aided by a renegade group of Master Builders, visionaries who prefer to rip up the fucking rule book and live outside the box.
Thanks to Lego’s recent film and comic book themed sets, the race of Master Builders is punctuated with all too familiar faces, including Superman (Channing Tatum), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill) and Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders). Of all of the supporting characters though, it is Lego Batman (Will Arnett) who reigns supreme and has, unsurprisingly to all involved, has gained his very own spin-off film.
The Lego Movieis undoubtedly a riotous affair. The characters dip throughout the multi-dimensional world appearing in worlds that are all too familiar to fans of the titular toy. The most action takes place using the Pirate sets, the Wild West and Space but the film is littered with references to the less recognisable, like Fabuland and Galidor. The detail of the film is breathtaking and there is an abundance of sight gags and in-jokes for the true aficionado.
For a film that is basically just one massive advertisement for Lego, The Lego Moviecertainly doesn’t feel like one long product placement. It has respect for its subject matter and treats it with the correct sense of fun. The plot isn’t exactly the most inspiring despite the fact that the duo do everything they can to invert the tired ‘chosen one’ narrative. However, if we’re honest that’s pretty much what Lego itself is. A collection of bricks that, on their own, are fairly dull bits of plastic that are fucking devastating to stand on. Lego is all about imagination and its potential is infinite.
So yes, the script may not always hit every single target but neither does everything you make out of Lego. The visual gags are incredible and the sheer energy behind every scene is non-stop. It’ll leave you breathless and on the edge of your seat. Although this is a bit of a double-edged sword and there is a moment during the middle where things get a little too chaotic; almost as if you allowed your child to drink a butt-load of coffee and let him loose on a large quantity of blocks. The writers just seem to let their imagination go a little too crazy and there are too many random ideas to keep control of.
Thankfully, you can trust the pair to eventually reign it in and get proceedings back on track. I wasn’t sure about the ending after my first viewing but second time around I found it fucking heart-warming. I think I was initially disappointed at such a convoluted way of explaining all the events but, actually, the ending is the perfect way to tie up all the loose ends.

Of course, The Lego Movie is something that you shouldn’t really put too much thought into I suppose. Like the bricks themselves, it’s all about having fun and being silly. Lord and Miller have written a slightly insane, witty, clever and strangely sassy film that will delight children and adults alike. The animation is stunning and makes standard CGI look like stop-motion. So much thought has gone into the look of this film from the blink and you’ll miss em sight gags and the scratched, scuffed pre-loved feel the blocks and characters all have. Add to that a flawless voice cast with impeccable timing and you have something I feel fucking stupid to have been disappointed in. Hey, I can’t be perfect all the time.