What’s the longest that you’ve had a book on your shelves for? I’m not sure of the exact number but I’ve had You by Austin Grossman since 2015. I’d also bought his book Soon I Will Be Invincible because it sounded really fun. I did try and read that book but I couldn’t get to the end of it. It just spent too long going round the houses and not getting to the point. I guess it didn’t exactly get me in the mood to keep going with him. It also didn’t help that I’d recently read Ready Player One and not enjoyed myself at all. I really wasn’t ready to get into another video game book. I picked it up in May because I was in need of a book starting with “Y” for my Spell the Month challenge. I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t needed this book for that challenge, I definitely wouldn’t have finished it.
As I mention far too often, I’m currently taking part in a virtual book club. It’s something my friend set up at the start of the first lockdown and one that I joined after a couple of months. I never thought of myself as a book club kind of person but I’m really enjoying discussing the books every week. My major problem is having nothing of interest to say, which mostly happens with books that I don’t really like. When the monthly pick is an underwhelming book, I tend to forget a lot about it before the meeting. Part of the reason that I try and read the book as close to the deadline as possible. Luckily for me, there has only been a couple of duds since I joined. In fact, it’s been a great range of titles that I’m really glad to have had the chance to read. This month, I wasn’t particularly drawn to any of the potential titles, so I didn’t even vote. Considering how it’s turned out, I think I’ve learnt a valuable lesson about taking responsibility for yourself.
As we’ve already discussed, I’m a petty and stubborn person. I stayed up way too late on the 31st August to make sure that I finished this damn book before the month was over. After all, I had already included it in my August Reading Wrap-Up and I didn’t want to miss my book count of 10. Thankfully, I did manage it and I didn’t end up being too late a night. The question is, was the book worth it? I wasn’t exactly expecting a great deal from this book because I really hadn’t thought much of Vox. When I wrote my review of Christina Dalcher’s previous novel, I discussed the rise of feminist dystopia and how bored I was with it. I guess, on the plus side, Dalcher has taken a broader approach. Women don’t exactly have it easy in this one but at least it wasn’t another literary world specifically created to torture women into submission.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Robert Downey Jr. as much as the next person but, let’s be honest, he’s been playing the same character for years now. The actor was getting his career on track during the early 2000s but it wasn’t until Iron Man that he really became a person to watch. Since that point, it’s kind of felt that we’ve been getting the same thing in almost every film. He’s basically just playing a hyped-up version of himself. The major difference between his Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes is a hundred or so years. Now I think RDJ. is a great guy but there’s just no surprise any more. When you see that RDJ is in a cast, you can be pretty sure about the kind of character he’s going to play. Yeah, I understand that Dr Dolittle is a pretty odd guy but he’s inherently British. He’s described in the books as a well-respected and quiet man. Not an absurd comic figure of fun. I just couldn’t see how a big Hollywood adaptation with RDJ in the titular role would work as well as the classic 1967 film did. But I was willing to be proven wrong.
When we were teenagers, my friends and I were the biggest Eurovision fans. We got together every year to watch it. We made scorecards and were really clear about what we were looking for in a winner. It was one of the major popular culture events that we really looked forward to. I bloody loved it. Then, a few years ago, Eurovision started taking itself a bit too seriously. Countries suddenly wanted to have good quality songs and think about choreography and staging. It really ruined the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of weirdos on there and some of the staging is fucking insane. Yet, something is missing from it. Eurovision was always mocked for being campy and silly but that was why we loved it. Now it’s had the X-Factor treatment and people seem to be using it as a platform for a singing career. So, I have to wonder why Will Ferrell is setting his sights on it now. It feels as though this film should have come out at least 10/15 years ago. I didn’t want to watch it but I felt I owed it to my past self.
As we’ve seen in the past few Tuesday Reviews, I’m not a fan of Netflix comedies. What I’m even less of a fan of is romantic-comedies. What I’m even less of fan of than romantic-comedies are quirky romantic-comedies based around weddings. So, a Netflix original quirky romantic comedy based around a wedding really wasn’t the film I was desperate to watch. Under normal circumstances, I’d have pretended that this film didn’t exist and go on my merry way. But this is the “new normal”. We have to get used to a new way of life and maybe that includes not ignoring everything that looks really shit?
There’s a point in Love Wedding Repeat where it looks as if we’re about to go back and replay all of the story again but with one element slightly altered. When that moment arrived, I was almost sick at the thought of having to sit through everything again. Thankfully, it doesn’t go quite that far but it should tell you everything about the first half of the film. Was this the first comedy film that Netflix got right? Not at all. What we get is a very uninspiring and overused premise. Somebody clearly thought that this film was going to revive the rom-com tradition that Richard Curtis made work for him in the 90s but, instead, this is just embarassing. It has a feel of Steven Moffat’s Coupling about it but it has the terrible writing and boring storylines of Steven Moffat’s tenure as showrunner for Doctor Who.
Love Wedding Repeat is actually a remake of a French film, Plan de Table. It takes us to Rome and the day that Hayley marries her Italian fiance, Roberto. When an old flame of Hayley’s turns up ready to ruin the wedding, she asks her brother, Jack, to help out. By giving him a dose of her potent sleeping drops. Jack puts the drugs into Marc’s empty champagne glass. Unfortunately, a group of meddling kids move the names around so everyone is in different seats. Instead of Marc, Hayley’s actor friend, Bryan, is drugged. This means Jack can’t concentrate on flirting with Hayley’s American friend, Dina, who he met in Rome 3 years ago but failed to make a move on. Instead, he has to run around preventing Marc dropping a bombshell and making sue Bryan doesn’t make a fool of himself in front of a famed Italian director.
The central idea for this film is how many possible paths there are to take in life. The knowledge that it takes a certain chain of events to end in one particular moment in time. Just take the 8 people sat around a table at a wedding. They could be arranged in thousands of different ways and each one would cause a different outcome. Life is about taking chances and hoping that it’s the right one. Through several brief glimpses of alternate timelines, we see that very few of the arrangements of people at the table will lead to a happy ending for the newly married couple. Love, we are told, can be derailed by the slightest thing. So, the message here is that love is kind of meaningless and just comes down to chance, right? Or are we being told that such tiny odds means love is all about fate? I don’t know and I doubt anyone making this film knew either.
It feels like this film didn’t really have a plan besides the create an ensemble farce that takes place at a wedding bit. Love Wedding Repeat has the air of a much more intelligent film but it’s just stupid. It doesn’t even know how to be funny and has to rely on dick jokes and people slipping roofies into champagne. This kind of story should write itself but it’s gone horribly wrong somewhere. There are a few sort of funny moments and some strong-ish performances. However, the majority of the actors are just dull and flat. And let’s be honest, even though I was glad we didn’t properly repeat the narrative a bunch of times, the way the film gets around it is sloppy and adds nothing to the plot. It’s a waste and it makes it hard to see what the point of that motif is.
Remember when Deadpool came out and Olivia Munn made a really bitchy comment about how she turned down the role of Vanessa because she didn’t want to play a girlfriend again? She wanted to fight and not just be eye candy. Obviously, she went on to play Psylocke and we know how that turned out. But, watching this film, I have to wonder what she thought she was signing up for with this film. Her role as Dina is the definition of eye candy. Yes, there is a moment where they try and give her a tragic backstory but it’s never presented with any weight. Nobody involved in the film, either in reality or on screen, gives a shit who Dina is or where she comes from. She’s just there for slow fuzzy zooms on her beautiful face. Although, it might explain why she didn’t want to play “the girlfriend”. Her lack of chemistry with Sam Claflin here suggests she wouldn’t be able to sell it.
I’d be tempted to suggest that Love Wedding Repeat is one of those Netflix films that was purposefully made to be as bad as possible. The ones like A Christmas Prince where the streaming service relies on word of mouth to get people to watch it. They know people love shit films so they continually knock out cheap and shit films so people criticse them on social media. But I’m not actually sure that’s what is happening here. For one thing, it’s not as over-the-top in its shitness as most of their films are. For another, this film lacks that self-awareness that the majority of their romantic-comedies have. Someone, somewhere clearly thought that they were onto a winner here and I don’t see why. There’s is nothing funny nor particularly romantic about this film. It’s not so bad that you remember if after you’ve seen it. I can still remember almost everything that happened in A Christmas Prince but I had to Google so much of this film. I only saw it yesterday. Netflix is really scraping the barrle with this one and that’s saying something.
I’m not one to agree with film snobs like Steven Spielberg but there is part of me that wishes Netflix would stop making films. It’s not about watching films at home or on your phone. It’s about quality. To be fair, it’s not just a Netflix thing but they tend to have a pretty dire output. Especially when it comes to comedies. Whoever is in charge of greenlighting films needs to really take a step back for a minute. Yes, they’ve had a few epic hits in recent years but that shouldn’t erase all of the rest of it. I can’t name one of their comedies that has been worth a watch. So, I wasn’t holding out much hope even if it did star Taraji P. Henson. After all, Proud Mary taught us that she’s doesn’t necessarily make good choices all the time. It’s not just that the film is a Netflix original. The fact that it doesn’t even make it past the 90-minute mark is a clear sign of bad things. How many films go under an hour and a half these days? Only the ones that didn’t have enough jokes to fill a few more minutes. But with cinemas closed and films being postponed, I’m going to run out of recent films to review. I’m just going to have to bite the bullet.
You have to give the mind’s behind Sonic the Hedgehog their dues. When they heard the criticism for the first trailer, they literally went back to the drawing board and redesigned the main character. It’s more than the Cats people did. They waited until after they’d released the film to try and fix some of their mistakes. Yes, it will definitely have come down to money and want to ensure as many people bought tickets as possible. After all, the amount of free publicity they got out of it will have made sure that plenty of people who were never going to see it wanted to. But it’s also a positive thing because Sonic is such an important figure from many people’s childhoods. It was important to get this right. Especially as so many video game films are so badly received. For plenty of people, this film would have been important. I’ll be honest, I was never much of a Sonic fan. I was more of a Super Mario kind of gal. But I have had some fun playing as the blue blur in my time.
After finishing two audiobooks last weekend, I decided to keep the good times rolling and listen to another one during the week. As I mentioned in my Sunday Rundown yesterday, I still haven’t been able to pick up a physical book so I decided to keep going with audiobooks. I’m hoping that it will stop me falling ina to a slump. The book I chose was something I bought ages ago on Audible. I imagine it was a deal of the day because it really isn’t my usual kind of book. I was intending to listen to it before I went to bed, on my commute, and on my lunch break at work. In the end, I listened to it for most of Tuesday as I got on with my jobs. I work in an office with 4 other people and it’s super quiet. Most of the time, we’re all just plugged into our music and getting on with stuff. I know it sounds really unsocial but it means we all just get on with things. There is still enough chat but it means we just do our individual thing. It also means that, on days when I don’t have as much writing to do, that I can listen to an audiobook. It’s quite effective.
I had Monday off this week because of a hospital appointment. Officially, I didn’t need the day off but I thought I’d do it anyway. After all, taking the morning off and going in the afternoon would make me sad. So, I basically had a free day. I decided to take the opportunity to get another book read this week. I say read but, really, I mean listen. I’ve decided that audiobooks are going to help me get my reading groove back. Getting another chance to get through a whole book in one day means I’m back on track with my numbers and gives me a bit longer to finish my current read. It takes the pressure off a little. I’ve never been a massive fan of audiobooks because I find that I get distracted too easily. This is still a problem but I’m getting better. And being more exposed to them is helping me see the positives. There are certain books which just work better as an audiobook. Let’s not forget Lincoln in the Bardo which was one of the greatest listening experiences I’ve ever had. Then there are books that really need to be read out by the author. Like Nomad from last week. This is another one. I’ve never been a huge fan of celebrity memoir/self-help style books. It’s just not my thing. But I like Miranda Hart and wanted to give this a go. And it wasn’t like I had anything else going on today.