I know we have the same conversation every time some new contemporary author is compared to Agatha Christie but it’s the kind of thing that bears repeating. Modern readers really underestimate her skills. It seems as though all you need to do these days to be compared to her is either mention her/her books or write a small scale crime thriller. By small scale, I mean not one of these overly dark, psychological thrillers but more of a slow burner that revolves around a domestic or small setting. Here’s the thing: Agatha Christie knew what she was doing. She understood people, she understood motivation, and she understood murder. She had the ability to shock and she knew exactly what her readers wanted. Her books are light on detail and character study because they don’t need it. They do what they set out to do. She wasn’t an indulgent writer because she understood how to craft the perfect whodunnit. She didn’t need gimmicks or excess plot to distract her readers. She hid everything in plain sight. Something writers these days tend to struggle with.
Can we all come to some sort of agreement, please? That we stop comparing contemporary crime thrillers to Agatha Christie? I know that she still has a reputation as a cosy crime writer but Christie is the type of writer that very few can live up to. She has a deep understanding of human behaviour and knows how to mislead her readers convincingly. I blame her writing for the fact that I so often guess book twists. She, and to some extent Arthur Conan Doyle, has trained me to start thinking too critically about everything I read. I’m always disappointed by modern crime books. Especially those super hyped ones that everyone loves. Like The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. I’ve heard so many people praising it but I was not blown away. I’d guessed who the victim was from the start and it was super obvious who had killed them. So, I hadn’t intended to read her follow-up The Guest List. Until the ebook was on offer. It might not be a great read but at least it would dull the boredom for a while.
I don’t really remember buying this audiobook on Audible but I think it was one of the Daily Deals that sounded good. Or at least sounded like something that would be interesting. And I admit that it makes me something of a hypocrite. How many times have I declared that I’m finished giving psychological thrillers another chance? Possibly thousands. Yet, I continually get sucked in by them. I’m a mug who always ends up annoyed that she’s just finished another stupid book. So, I went into this never expecting it to be good but to be something that would be an easy listen. To be fair, it was a pretty easy read. I didn’t do a great deal of reading last weekend so I wasn’t sure that I’d finish this in time. But I managed it. I regretted it horribly but I managed it.
I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. Last week’s Oscar week was a lot and I definitely don’t think I’ll be blogging that much again for a while. I posted 12 times in the last 7 days. I’m not sure if I even managed that during my 30 Books for My 30th series. I guess I could check but I really can’t be bothered. So, I’m just going to say that it’s a Motherbooker record. But, the reverse of that is that I haven’t had a good amount of time for reading. I’ve been madly watching films and madly writing about them. Plus, I’ve actually done stuff this weekend. It’s terribly inconvenient for my schedule. Also, the reason why I attempted to write my review of I Lost My Body after I’d got home from a beer festival on Friday. It actually worked quite well but I was very repetitive. So, yeah, reading hasn’t been high on the agenda. Meaning I’m getting behind again and am still relying on audiobooks to get my numbers up. Starting with this one.
Just when you think Chris Evans can’t get any better than beardy Captain America in Infinity War, we get Chris Evans in knitwear Now, I’ve always been a huge lover of knitwear because I’m a secret grandma. What I didn’t expect was for knitwear to be quite so sexy but Rian Johson clearly saw that as a challenge. Therefore, we have ourselves an original and exciting new Hollywood film that also features some of the hottest knitwear scenes ever. And I say that as someone who once bought my friend a book of sexy knitting projects. I’ve spoken a lot about Oscar snubs recently but the biggest one by far is that the costume department on Knives Out didn’t automatically walk away with the win for making Chris Evan’s cable knit an internet sensation. No offence to the actual nominees but none of them have made quite the cultural impact that whoever first pick up that cream jumper has done.
I try not to read much criticism before I watch a film. I love reading it but not necessarily to see if I should see something. I prefer to use my own judgement on whether a film’s worth it. But I do like reading it afterwards. For one thing, you might get a different insight on what you’ve just watched. I know it’s not really the point of reviews but I don’t want to be swayed by somebody else’s opinion. And it’s good practice to help avoid spoilers. Most reviews are fine but these days film criticism has moved beyond just giving you an opinion. It’s all about getting that word count up so some people use their platform to reveal most if not all of the plot. It’s ridiculous. But I’m getting distracted. The point I wanted to make was this: so many people seem to have been criticising Sam Mendes’ film for not being a true single-shot movie. They’ve complained that it’s too obvious where the edits are and some have even described it as “distracting”. I have to sigh. Do we know the cuts are there? Yes. Does it make the whole thing any less impressive? No freaking way.
After reviewing The Irishman this week, what else could I watch for this week’s TBT post? So many people have given Martin Scorsese’s latest film the title of his “best film since GoodFellas“. It was the perfect excuse to back and watch the classic film. GoodFellas is one of those films that will always stand the test of time. This year marks its 30th anniversary and, though it has 2 years on me, it has held up much better than I have. And, on the plus side, Robert De Niro looks like a real human being. Of course, he was only in his 40s at the time. It also features a wonderful performance from Ray Liotta who was last seen having a fun time as a smarmy lawyer in Marriage Story. Yes, The Irishman may have Al Pacino going for it but, I’ll be honest, I’d rather watch Scorsese’s earlier work than his latest. After all, you could watch it twice in the time you’d spend watching uncanny De Niro’s creepy eyes.
This weekend saw the 77th Golden Globe awards take place. Unusually, the winners were pretty much the people you’d expect them to be. Well, apart from Olivia Colman winning for her work on The Crown. I love Colman in anything but she wasn’t given anything to do in that series. I know the Queen isn’t exactly a highly dramatic character but she was the least interesting character in her own show. But the most interesting thing to come out of the evening was the massive snub of Netflix’s two major award contenders. Neither Marriage Story or The Irishman walked away with any of the awards they’d been nominated for. Was this just a vicious snub by the HFPA or should Netflix be worried for the Academy Awards? If not even Scorsese is a guaranteed winner then who knows what will happen? Although, I’m sure Sam Mendes is a deserving winner. 1917 looks fucking amazing. But Netflix really had put massive work into getting the Oscar they so clearly deserved with Roma. Is this really proof that, no matter what they do, Netflix will never be accepted by the awards committees?
The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle was on my Most Anticipated Fiction of 2016 list. It sounded like a really interesting story and, according to reports, had a really great twist. I gave it a chance but wasn’t exactly wowed by it. I thought that the twist was pretty obvious and I just wasn’t a fan of Searle’s writing. So, you may be asking, why was I in such a rush to see the film? Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, of course. I guess I was also interested to see how the story worked on screen. Maybe the story of an elderly con artist and his naive victim would come together in this way? Or maybe it would be just as tragic and awful as King of Thieves? Boy, cinema doesn’t really do much for older men. Don’t get me wrong, women have it way worse but old men don’t have it easy either.
After watching The Lighthouse I wanted to give Robert Pattinson more of a chance. I’ve not really seen anything that he’s been in. So, I did the only thing that I can think of and found his highest-rated film on Rotten Tomatoes. Unfortunately, that was The Lighthouse. What a throwback that would be. Remember last week when I watched Willam Dafoe and Robert Pattinson man a lighthouse? Ah, they were good times. Not quite the same. So, I went for the next one. Which, actually, had the same rating. Although, if Amazon reviews are anything to go by, audience reactions weren’t quite as good. So, just how good is this gritty crime thriller? It has the look of something that shouldn’t be sitting at 92% positive reviews. It looks like the kind of film you’d find playing late at night on one of those channels that have the word men in the title.