One of my best friends works for Vintage books so she is constantly offering to pick up cheap books for me. I know I know. I’m making it sound like a bad thing when it’s not. The only problem is that I never remember to ask her. I buy the book myself and then have to put up her with telling me she could have got it for me. So, when I heard about Ian McEwan’s latest book dealing with AI, I knew this was one of the times I should take her up on it. I was a massive fan of Ian McEwan as a teenager but I’ve lost my way over the last few years. Basically, everything after On Chesil Beach has remained unread on my shelf. And I’ve been okay with that. Sweet Tooth and Solar I wasn’t that interested in but I did really want to read The Children Act and Nutshell. Honestly, I did. I just never got round to it. But this one sounded interesting. An alternate reality 1980s where AI technology exists. Part of me was worried, though. AI has become a bit of a thing in literature recently and I wasn’t sure that McEwan was the best to add to the conversation. But, I couldn’t let my friend down again.
What were your favourite TBT films in 2018?
You may have noticed that I didn’t post a Sunday Rundown yesterday. That was mostly because, after a bad night’s sleep, I fell asleep before writing it. But it was also a tactical choice. After all, it’s that time of year when I need to start posting my Top 10 lists of the year. So, instead of wasting your time with a rundown of the week, I’m going to waste your time with a rundown of the year. Yep, what a 12 months it’s been. I’ve turned 30… not sure I mentioned it. To celebrate I decided to only watch films that came out in 1988 for my TBR series. It would mean I could watch some old favourites and see some new films. I was looking forward to it but the results were dicey. Thankfully, there were still some amazing films also turning 30 this year. Here are my top 10.
This may seem like history repeating itself because I’ve already reviewed Die Hard on this blog. But, considering it was the inspiration for the title of my blog, there was no real alternative to end my Throwback Thirty series. Not only is it one of the best films of 1988 but it is one of the most loved films of all time. Seriously, you mention Die Hard to pretty much everyone and they’ll respond positively. Plus, it’s kind of timely considering this year the whole “is Die Hard a Christmas film?” debate started raging again. “And is it?” I hear you cry? I don’t really care. Officially, I did put it on my list of ‘Essential Christmas films’ but I’d watch this film at any time of year and be happy. That’s not something I could say about the majority of other films on that list. In my heart, it doesn’t really feel like Christmas until I’ve watched Bruce Willis run around in a dirty tank top but it’s only real link to Christmas is the setting. But, I say again, who gives a shit?
I know that the whole world is madly counting down the days until Christmas because they still have presents to buy and stuff. Me? I’ve got a different countdown in my mind. After today, I’ve only got two more Throwback Thirty posts. That means I’ve only got two more films from 1988 to watch this year. And I already know which ones they’re going to be. Now, I don’t want to spoil it for you all. I’m sure the world is on tenterhooks waiting to see which it will be. Instead, I’ll focus on today’s choice. And it’s one I’ve been waiting for all year. This is one of the infamous films currently holding a 0% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. How could I possibly get through this series without reviewing a film that bad? It’s the film that resides on all of the list of worst films in 1988 and tops most of them. At the very least, it might act as some sort of therapy to help me see that something worse than me came out of 1988. Sometimes a gal just needs a boost I guess.
As I was reminded today, there are only 19 more sleeps until Christmas. This means that Christmas shopping is in full swing. I like to think I’m doing well with the amount of gifts I’ve already bought but, when I really think about it, I still have loads to buy. And I’m starting to get desperate for ideas. When I read something on Twitter about the 30th anniversary box set of My Neighbour Totoro I decided it was the perfect present for a friend… until I saw the price and almost died. I mean, I love her but no. Sorry. On the plus side, it reminded me that I’ve been putting off doing a TBT post about this film. I don’t know why it took me so long as I really love this film. In terms of Studio Ghibli films, it is one of the all time classics and Totoro has become a massive part of Japanese pop culture. By this point, he’s essentially the Japanese Winnie the Pooh, right? If I was going to be sharing my 30th birthday year with anyone then I’m really glad it’s Totoro.
This is last TBT post of November. A fact that can only mean one thing: we’re only 4 posts away from the end of this whole series. In just four weeks time I never have to watch a film from 1988 ever again if I don’t want to. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid watching any of the “decent” films that I had intended to watch. I kind of feel like I need to at least watch Cinema Paradiso as it was the Oscar winner from that year. But, then again, when there are still so many shitty films out there it’s impossible to imagine sitting down to watch something good. I know that I’m watching both Scrooged and Die Hard in December so it just begs the question, what are the other two going to be? But, let’s not think about that now. Not when we have a film all about female empowerment. It’s all feeling very progressive but is it as predictable as I think it’s going to be?
I really am getting to the point know where a lot of the 1988 films that I only have the more serious films left to pick out of my TBT jar. Mississippi Burning, Cinema Paradiso, Colors, Gorillas in the Mist are films I am sure will be worth watching but I’ve kind of got used to watching the sillier ones. I normally end up watching these films on my day off when I’m not really in the mood for an intense 2 hour plus watching experience. I’ve come to enjoy the fact that there are so many films from the 80s that don’t make it too far past the 90 minute mark and many that don’t even make it that far. And, really, that’s a good thing. I’m not suggesting that all films need to be shorter but I’m a busy girl. Okay, nobody believes that. I’m a lazy girl. I just need highly concentrated bursts of cinema. Preferably with dodgy special effects or weird narratives. Oh, and a whole bunch of actors who make me sit there with my head to one side thinking ‘where do I know them from’. I can’t even start to work out how much of this film I spent madly searching IMDb to find the movies I’d seen certain people in.
Ever since I watched this week’s Throwback Thirty film I’ve had the song ‘You’ll Be In My Heart’ in my head. You know the one. The Phil Collins song from Disney’s Tarzan movie. I’ve only seen about half of that film but I fucking love that song. It must have been on a Disney compilation album I had when I was younger. It was probably the first time I was aware of Phil Collins as a person. I’d no doubt heard more of his stuff but never known who it was. But I knew it with this song. So, that song has become so intrinsically linked with Phil Collins that I can’t hear his name without it spending days in my head. And those drum beats are bloody memorable. And then there’s the fact that the film’s soundtrack is full of classic Phil Collins songs. So, it’s been a pretty Collins heavy week for me. I definitely need to go and listen to something else as soon as I’ve written this review. And forget this ever happened.
Some weeks I plan ahead what I’m going to watch for this throwback post so I know what I’m going to be in for. Other weeks I just randomly search for a 1988 film and pick the most ridiculous. This week was the latter. I’ve just not been in the mood this week. I’m in a massive funk right now thanks to various things so I just wanted to watch something simple and easy. And if it involves Tommy Lee Jones then all the better in my opinion. I’ve always kind of love his blunt and no-nonsense attitude. I love the fact that the man I probably first became aware of in Men in Black actually has no time for jokes. Just remember what he was like at the 2013 Golden Globes with his stony-faced reaction to every joke. It’s iconic. As someone who often just has no time for people, Tommy Lee Jones is kind of my idol. So, a random made for TV movie where he falls in love with a ghost? How the hell could I not?
Sherlock Holmes is quite the character. According to certain statistics, he’s the most portrayed human literary character. Way back in 2012, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded him the title after it decided the sleuth had been depicted a whopping 254 times on-screen. A number that beat Hamlet by 48. All in all, the great detective has, according to the numbers, been played by over 75 different actors so, by this point we’re definitely starting to get that sense of déjà vu. Which is probably why so many TV and film executives keep trying to find new and interesting ways to reinvent the character. We’ve seen him with deerstalker, without deerstalker, with a coke habit, without a coke habit, with emotions, without emotions. He’s been played by American actors, by British actors, by Grand Moff Tarkin, and by Dr Strange. So many options. It’s amazing anyone even keeps trying when there have been so many options! But, apparently, people will never stop trying to make it new again. Something director Thom Eberhardt took to a new level in 1988 when he turned the traditional premise on its head starring two of our finest actors.