When Hamilton first came to the stage in 2015, I was adamant that I wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon. I mean, everyone was banging on about this musical and how amazing it was. How different and inspiring. It didn’t help that my interest in American history is basically non-existent. But, for whatever reason, I stubbornly avoided it. Until one day when I decided to listen to the soundtrack. I don’t know why I decided it was the day but I was on my way to a job interview. I wasn’t really paying attention on the way there but I was hooked by the time I got home. I couldn’t stop listening to it and I’ve not been able to stop since. Most of my top songs on Spotify for 2019 were from Hamilton. My top artist for last year was Hamilton. It’s become my go-to album and works for any mood. When I’m tired, sad, happy, bored, or just facing a long day of work. Hamilton would always be the perfect thing to sort me out. So, when it was announced that the West End run in 2019 was being lengthened, I knew I had to get tickets. Seeing it live was one of the best theatre experiences I’ve ever had. And I’ve had some great ones.
It’s been another tough week but, hopefully, it’s going to get better from here on out. We’ve been super stretched but things are getting easier. And I might actually get a break this month. Pre-Covid, I was meant to be going away with my family this month. Obviously, the holiday is off but I might still be able to use my days. Although, work may very well turn around and say they can’t spare me. Hopefully not. The idea of having a week off is the only thing keeping me going right now. A week to read, relax, and catch up on my sleep. Yes, it’s not like I go anywhere or do anything but I’m a homebody anyway.
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.
The live-action Disney remakes are a curious thing. They’re making a shit-ton of money but, from what I can tell, nobody really likes them. I guess that not only means that we’re all suckers for going to see them but that Disney really is despicably good at business. We all love to get nostalgic and the curiosity of seeing how they’ve been updated is always going to get people buying tickets. It’s the reason that I initially bought so many of the books in The Austen Project. Of the live-action Disney movies that I’ve seen, only The Jungle Book really worked. I’m hopeful that Mulan will be amazing because it’s refusing to go down the musical line. It’s not that I don’t love a musical because I bloody love a musical. There’s a reason why my Spotify end of year round-up was mostly the Hamilton soundtrack. It’s just, Disney animated movies work as musicals because they’re animated. You don’t need to question why everyone’s singing because it’s not real. When the action starts to get realistic, that starts to be problematic. Stage musicals work in a similar way because you accept that you’re watching a play. Live-action films become a little tricky. It can work. I know I didn’t like Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables but, because there is no spoken dialogue, the singing at least makes sense. The live-action Disney movies raise too many questions. Especially when you add animals into the mix. So, when the new Aladdin film came out last year, I wasn’t convinced it would work for me. But, I have been a long-time lover of Will Smith’s musical career, so I wanted to give him a chance. It was time to find out once and for all.
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.
Lady and the Tramp is a great Disney film but it was never one of my favourites. I mean, I loved the dogs but it lacked most of the things that I loved most about these films. The songs weren’t as catchy and there was no deliciously evil bad guy to stand up to. It’s lovely but there are more memorable ones. So, it’s not as if the live-action remake was ever going to make as big a splash as the recent Lion King or Aladdin films. I guess that could be another part of the reason why Disney decided to forgo a cinema release and leave it as part of its opening line-up for Disney+. Yes, it would have made money but does it have the popularity to bring in the big bucks? Also, the exclusivity would just make the people still wavering feel that their subscription was worth it. But how much value does it actually add to the platform?
How is the current lockdown treating you all? I hope everyone is managing to stay safe and stay sane in the current climate. As a high-risk individual, I’m doing everything I can to avoid going to the house. It means that any time I do get outside, it feels like the best thing ever. I went for a necessary blood test on Thursday and it felt like a holiday. But I’m keeping busy enough. I’m still working during the week so I’m not having to fill too much extra time. I’ve got a load of puzzles to work on and a huge pile of books waiting for me. Oh, and all of Disney+ to work through. All I need to do is keep active. I’m going to have to figure out a better fitness routine to counteract all this staying indoors.
When I first opened Disney+ this week, I didn’t automatically go straight to the original content. I didn’t catch up on The Mandalorian so I could get some context for Baby Yoda. Nope. I started rewatching old episodes of The Simpsons. The animated show that has been going for over 30 years has plenty of great episodes and having them all in one place is too good an opportunity to miss. I know that it gets a lot of bad press these days and it can’t be denied that quality has gone downhill. But it’s not as if it isn’t watchable. There’ll always be something nice and familiar about it. To celebrate and justify my week of watching 90s episodes of a cartoon, I decided to discuss some of my favourite episodes. There are so many of them at this point that it was pretty difficult. This is by no means an exhaustive list because who can remember everything that’s happened in the past 30 odd years? But there are some genuine gems here.
Can we be honest for a second? Let It Go isn’t that great a song. It’s a repetitive song that gets stuck in your head. That doesn’t make it the best ever. That makes it unforgettable. Now, I’m not trashing the song. There is something good about it but you’d think it was the best composition to come out of Disney film. Yes, it sounds great and really evokes the film. But compare it to the stuff Disney was churning out in the 90s and you’ll realise it’s not all that. Now, I didn’t want to start this review off in a negative way. I’m trying to present a more positive attitude on the blog these days. But I read a review of this film the other day that annoyed me. It suggested that the big song from Frozen‘s sequel, Into The Unknown, wasn’t as good as the first film’s earworm because it repeated the title 3 times in a row. As if Let It Go wasn’t repetitive because it only repeated the title twice in a row. God almighty! What is the deal with that song? I know it’s got a really positive message but that’s not the reason it was played repeatedly. People see it through such rose-tinted glasses. It annoyed me so much that I almost didn’t want to see the sequel. But I owed my friend for making her see the godawful Joker earlier in the year.
Watching two versions of The Addams Family this week gave me a huge hit of nostalgia this week. Addams Family Values was one of the first films that I remember watching again and again. It was definitely a childhood favourite. There’s a lot to be said about nostalgia and how it changes your perspective on things. I know that many of the films I loved as a kid aren’t actually that great but that doesn’t spoil them. I can still watch all of those films as a grown woman and love them as much as I did then. So, having spent ages sitting here wondering what to write about this week, I’ve decided to discuss some of my favourite childhood films that still bring me joy. This is only a small list because I could go on and on forever with this. I’m leaving some for the next time I lose inspiration and make a part 2.