I almost didn’t post a Friday Favourites today because I was out of inspiration. I’m super tired this week and I just didn’t have any ideas about what to write. I’ve always believed that I shouldn’t be writing content for content’s sake. It needs to be something that I give a shit about otherwise it’s just pointless for everybody. I’m not suggesting that this idea is better than anything I could have forced myself to write but at least I’m into it. Why am I into it? Because it gives me a chance to indulge in chat about my birthday. Anyone who’s been around for a whole will remember that I made a huge deal about my 30th birthday. Not only did I spend the whole year review TBT films from the year I was born but I dedicated the whole of March to writing about the books that made an impact on me. I did enjoy writing 30 Books For My 30th but, looking back, it does seem incredibly self-indulgent. This year isn’t quite as bad but I decided to list my favourite fictional characters who were born in the same month as me. Thereby proving that many of the greatest people were born in March. All information regarding fictional people’s birthday’s found here. Although, on further inspection, many of these were actually wrong.
I appear to be having a bit of a Tom Hanks moment right now. I reviewed Sully the other week, A Beautiful Day in the NeighborhoodA Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood on Tuesday, and Splash on Thursday. I decided that I might as well embrace it by picking my favourite Tom Hanks films. Though, I quickly realised that I’ve not watched a great deal of them and, of those that I have watched, I don’t like many. I think Saving Private Ryan is just messy even though Hanks gives a great performance. I think Big is creepy. Forrest Gump isn’t as good as everyone says that it is. As a person who gets bored by romantic comedies, I can only just appreciate his films with Meg Ryan. So, I really started to worry that I didn’t really have any favourite Tom Hanks films. But I have no other ideas for today’s post so what the hell. There are a few that I’ve missed off not because, though they are good films, I didn’t quite enjoy them as much. This isn’t just about quality. We can’t only love Oscar-worthy films, you know.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my bookish chums! I hope your day is filled with love or books or whatever makes you happy. What does my day have in store? This afternoon I’m leaving work early to get a chest x-ray. No matter what they tell me, I’m sure it’s to find out, once and for all, whether or not I do have a heart. You see, from my general demeanour and attitude, you’d probably think I’m a pretty cynical person. I guess, to some extent, that I am. However, having grown up surrounded by books containing some of the most hyperbolic love stories ever told, it’s difficult not to have something of a romantic side. Although, I do worry about what books have done to our idea of romance. So often I see bookish people falling under the spell of utterly abhorrent characters. Novels are dangerous, man. You take one quote out of context and suddenly Severus Snapeisn’t a creepy stalker. You focus on one line of a book and Mr Rochester isn’t just the worst. You repeat a few quotations over and over and Heathcliffe and Cathy had a perfect love. You get the idea. Words are dangerous when you remove them from the bigger picture. Is that going to stop me listing my all-time favourite quotations about love? No. I need a post and it’s bloody relevant.
Hopefully, you’ve noticed that this week I’ve gone a bit Oscars crazy on the blog. Every year I watch all of the Best Picture nominations before the ceremony and this year, as I was already well ahead, I decided to get through as many as possible. This meant that I was faced with a load of films that I wanted to review. With my schedule as it is, I’d still have been reviewing my Oscar watches two months from now. So, I decided to just go with it and get them done this week. It’s not been easy but I’m getting there. This weekend is going to be interesting but I’ve come this far. As of today, I’ve only got a couple (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Pain and Glory and Richard Jewell) left to watch. I’m not going through foreign films, short films, or documentaries otherwise I’d probably die. And I know there are two films nominated for technical awards only that I haven’t seen (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and The Lion King) but I’ll have to live with that. Despite that, I’m going to talk about my winners for the main categories. That is the people I’d like to win not who I think will win. We can talk about that before the awards on Sunday when I’ve seen everything I’m going to see.
I have never really been the biggest Jane Austen fan. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t describe myself as a hater but I can’t say that she inspires me greatly. And let me tell you something, being a bookish person who doesn’t automatically adore Austen is tough. I don’t judge anyone for liking her but there’s a certain amount of blind faith in her that means you can’t go against her without getting some backlash. My issue is that Austen has been turned into some sort of literary heroine. Somewhere along the way, female writers in history appear to have been erased from the public consciousness and Austen has taken the crown for most important female writer ever. This is nonsense. It’s like the fucking Beatles all over again. Jane Austen did not invent female writing. She has great insights into human nature and is quite funny. But it’s like romantic-comedy. It’s safe because everyone knows where it’s going. The reason that Jane Austen survived wasn’t that she was doing anything incredibly revolutionary or different. She survived because she’s readable. That’s not a bad thing. Obviously readable is good but it’s not necessarily exciting. Austen’s novels never did anything daring enough to have people decry them. They just stayed in the middle of the road. And as for Austen being a feminist? Yes, she writes about strong female characters but Austen was not influenced by the burgeoning feminist narrative going on at the time. It’s very much domestic feminism and it’s very much confined to its little bubble. The main reason that Jane Austen is often given the position of the greatest female writer is that you’re not encouraged to read the others. For whatever reason, they’ve been removed from the conversation. So, here are some of my favourite female writers who, in my opinion, are better than Jane Austen. I’ve not included every single one but there are definitely some women here that I think everyone should read.
I love words. I’d love to say that I always have but I’m not sure that’s true. But I’ve always enjoyed writing and putting words together. I always got carried away. I remember once in my school days writing an essay that was 3x the length of my friends’ essay. I just couldn’t stop. Then there was the time at university when I wrote a piece of coursework that was double the word count. It was an absolute bitch having to edit that thing down. It’s entirely possible that some of it didn’t even make sense in the end because I couldn’t cut enough words out. I just bloody love words. When I used to work in a kitchen and a waitress needed the chicken adding to their Caesar salad, I’d make then ask for a “Caesar pleaser”. Just cause I love a rhyme. The best part of my new job is being paid to write stuff. I’m super annoying though. I’ll rewrite everything my colleagues write because it doesn’t sound good enough to me. I’m sure they all hate me. But, at the same time, they’ve spent all of today trying to tell me that it should be “kids shirts” and not “kids’ shirts”. So, fuck ’em. Instead, let’s focus on those beautiful bookish words. Here are some of my favourites.
This week it was announced that Billie Eilish was going to be the next singer to write and record a theme song for a James Bond film. The US singer is going to sing the title track for the upcoming No Time To Die which will make her the youngest singer to do so. I’m the kind of 30-year-old who doesn’t keep up with contemporary music so, though I have heard of Eilish, I don’t think I can say I’ve ever purposefully listened to one of her songs. Still, good luck to her. She can’t do much worse than the last two. I’m sure there are plenty of awful naysayers out there moaning about how Eilish isn’t the right choice but they’re probably the kind of people who thought Sam Smith and Adele’s abysmal efforts were decent Bond themes. Sam Smith wrote a song that I can’t remember 1 minute after I finish listening to it and Adele wrote a Adele song. And I don’t really like Adele songs. Seriously, take the strings away and that song doesn’t fit. The vocals don’t work, the lyrics don’t work, and the way she has to force the rhymes is laughable. It’s the most narcissistic Bond theme ever written. It was the song that was meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the franchise and it’s not even focused on Bond. It’s awful and it’s disgusting that it was the first theme to win an Oscar. It only did because everyone was jizzing over Adele at the time. Skyfall is one of my least favourite theme songs. She’s lucky that Madonna was such a shit show or she’d be at the bottom for me. But this isn’t about how much I dislike Adele as a singer. This is about my favourite Bond themes. It’s a very personal thing. It depends on who you are, when you were born, your favourite Bond, and what kind of music you like. I doubt that anybody would ever be able to produce the same list as someone else. I might do a definitive ranking one day but, for now, here are my faves.
2019 was definitely the year of Marvel. I know that there were countless great films released last year but Endgame was a movie event like no other. Whatever you think about the film in general, you can’t deny that it was one of the biggest film moments in the last decade. It was the culmination of so many years of work and saw a whole host of characters come together for the biggest superhero film of all time. There’s a reason that I keep crying every time I see the portals scene: all of our favourite characters in one place trying to save the world. It was something that we never thought would work but it did. So, 2020 has a lot to live up to. Can anything next year bring people together in the same way? There are plenty of films coming up next year that I’m really looking forward to so it made sense to discuss them during this week’s Friday Favourites. Obviously, this isn’t all of them but I could have added loads to this list. 10 seemed like a sensible amount.
Everywhere that I look people seem to be writing Best of the Decade lists. I’ve seen lists about books, writers, films, music, television and more. Part of my thinks that, as a respectful blogger, I should have written my own such lists. However, I know that my terrible memory means that I have no idea what I’ve consumed in the last 10 years. And, even if I could, it would only be a tiny fraction of everything. Certainly with books. I won’t have read much for the first part of the decade. It was only when I started to review books more that I started keeping track of my books. It’s been really useful but I should have started doing it earlier. So, instead of looking back for this Friday Favourites I’m looking forward. To the books, I want to read this year. I’ve made a promise to myself (that I’m already wanting to break) that I won’t buy any new books. I’ve got too many unread ones on my shelf that I have to stop buying. So, 2020 is about the books that have been around for weeks, months, years without being opened. Its time. Because my TBR pile is pretty huge. Although, as we all know, not every TBR book is created equal. As much as I don’t like to play favourites, I know there are certain books that I’m more excited about reading. These are just a few that are currently at the top.
So, the BBC and FX have made a new adaptation of A Christmas Carol. This one isn’t like the rest though. It’s by the guy who did Peaky Blinders and has Guy Pearce playing the youngest looking Scrooge ever seen on-screen (probably, I can’t be bothered to fact check). And it has Andy Serkis playing the ghost of Christmas Past. Although, no matter how stylised or different the story might look, every adaptation of A Christmas Carol is the same as the last. I mean the story never changes and there are only so many new ways to interpret it. Yes, I think it is an apt tale for modern times when the gulf between the rich and poor is bigger than it has been in decades (again, probably, I’m neither an economist or a sociologist). But I do have to ask “do we NEED another one?” And I say that as someone who bloody loves the book. Also, I’m not alone. I read a story that suggested Andy Serkis said the exact same thing when he was offered the role. I’m sure it’ll be a great adaptation but, no matter how many times people say it’s the most original adaptation we’ve ever seen, I’m still not convinced it’ll be that groundbreaking. And I should know. I’ve watched a lot of adaptations in the past few weeks in preparation for this list. I’m still nowhere near seeing all of the various ones but I’ve got a good idea of what’s out there. And, it’s safe to say, I’m bloody bored of hearing the same lines over and over again. Well, until I watch the new one on 22nd December.