TBT Review – Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019)

films, reviews, TBT

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was at university when Between Two Ferns started, which was perfect timing. I spent all my free time on the internet and, as an English literature major, I had plenty of free time. It was as if it has been tailored my sense of humour. I was a huge fan of awkwardness and making people uncomfortable. So, watching Zach Galifianakis play the role of an awkward interviewer was perfect. Of course, it’s good that the show didn’t run on for years and years because it’s the kind of premise that would have got tired very quickly. So the announcement that there would be a movie spin-off was interesting. We know from the likes of SNL that short skits don’t translate well into a longer form. Which is probably the reason that I’m only just getting round to watching it now.

Book Review – The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Considering the obsession with the royal family in last week’s newspapers, it seems appropriate that I’m reviewing this novella. I don’t know what the absolute fascination with the Queen and her offspring is. I’m don’t consider myself ardently anti-royal because I can see some of the benefits of their existence. However, I wouldn’t be sorry if we got rid of them altogether. It’s an outdated institution and they do waste a lot of taxpayers money each year. I know The Crown is trying to make the seem like ordinary human beings but you just need to look at the reaction to Harry and Meghan taking a step back from public life. Given the media response, I can see why they’d want to. The Queen and her family just seem so far removed from the rest of the world. It seems like such an odd dynamic. I realise that they’re meant to be part of our great traditions but do they have to be quite so archaic about it? But I’m digressing. The fact is, there is such a fascination about their lives that people have always used them as a basis for their stories. After all, nobody can really imagine what life as a royal is really like. There will always be a market for books like The Uncommon reader and there will always be writers willing to imagine life behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace.

Book Review – All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

One of the positive side effects of taking part in my friend’s virtual book club is that I find out about loads of great books. Of course, most of the time we don’t end up reading the ones that I’m really interested in, so I have take it upon myself to read them. This book was my pick or February’s Valentine theme and it was one that I knew I had to buy for myself. It just sounded like such a different take on a love story. Although, I did have some fears about it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel about super heroes that I’ve enjoyed. The superhero genre is such a visual one that I think it’s really hard to translate that in words. Could you imagine trying to write a novelisation of some of the most popular graphic novels? It’d be so difficult. As this book didn’t sound quite as bothered about the superhero element, I figured that it might be a bit safer.

TBT Review – Gremlins (1984)

films, reviews, TBT

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We’re used to the “is it a Christmas movie?” debate surrounding Die Hard and it seems that every year someone takes the opportunity to write another article about it. But it’s not as if Die Hard is the only film that may or may not be a Christmas movie. There’s every Shane Black film, Trading Places, Batman Returns, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’ve argued plenty of times with a friend of mine about Meet Me in St. Louis. She claims it’s a Christmas movie and I am adamant that it’s not. There are plenty of films that are set at Christmas that don’t focus on the holiday itself. Films that barely even recognise that the festive season is upon us. Many of these films are just old favourites that people enjoy watching. Like Gremlins. People like the film so why not watch it at Christmas? After all, it’s a time when we’re meant to embrace the people we love so why not the films too?

TBT Review – Borat (2006)

films, reviews, TBT

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The first Borat film came out just before I headed off to university, which meant my entire 3 years were full of bad impressions and catchphrases. I lived on a floor with about 50 people in total and there were a lot of idiot guys who thought the only indication of their sense of humour was being able to regurgitate film quotes. Oh, and let’s not forget one of flatmates who bought the character’s trademark mankini and wore it to every social event possible. I know it sounds like I hated the film but I didn’t. It was just fucking endless. It was everywhere. My undergraduate course was defined by Borat quotes and that Linkin Park and Jay-Z Numb/Encore mash-up. It was an interesting time.

Book Review – Top Ten Greek Legends by Terry Deary

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Hand holding teacup, a plate of toast, a bowl of strawberries and the book Top Ten Green Legends by Terry Deary

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Do you ever revisit the books of your youth? It’s one of those big dilemmas. Do you reread them to see if they’re as good or do you not take the risk? It’s awful going back to something that you loved and realising that it’s just not that great. That was my quandary with this book. I had thought about it for years but couldn’t find it anywhere. It didn’t help that I’d forgotten the full title and didn’t know who wrote it. There was a point where I genuinely believed that I’d made it up. Although, I also remembered how much I loved this book. I am sure that it was the reason that I love Greek mythology. It must have been my introduction to them. I can’t remember where I bought it but it was probably at the Scholastic book fair. Those places were magical. I miss the rush you’d get at one of those. Nothing in adult life can match it.

Book Review – Heartburn by Nora Ephron

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wp-15923476140881336085707848777981.jpg 5_star_rating_system_3_stars I had to take a quick break from my current anti-racist reading list to read my book club’s choice for this month. I’d put it off for ages because it was only short but we’re meeting over Zoom on Thursday. That meant I only had a couple of days to get through it. Thankfully, it’s only 170 odd pages and I managed to get in a quick read of Noughts and Crosses over the weekend first. This was the book that I voted for because I really did want to read it. I can’t say that I’m a massive fan of Nora Ephron’s films. I’m not a huge romantic comedy fan. I even disliked When Harry Met Sally and that’s a film that nearly everyone has seemingly agreed to enjoy. I admit, she certainly has a way with words and it’s not necessarily the writing that I dislike. Okay, that’s not true because the story is the writing. But it’s not a matter of quality, it’s just not my thing. I am convinced that she is a great writer and, provided I could find a story that I can get on board with, I was confident I’d enjoy it. So, why not this one? After all, people have been showing off their copies on Instagram for ages now. Although I have to admit, I hate the Virago Modern Classics diamond cover. I love a cover with texture but it doesn’t wow me. I tried so hard to track down the cover I wanted but it would have taken ages thanks to bloody Coronavirus. Of course, without Coronavirus, I wouldn’t have been in the book club anyway.

Book Review – Ramble Book by Adam Buxton

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wp-15899260084674539161241120264418.jpg5_star_rating_system_5_stars I’m an avid listener of Adam Buxton’s podcast and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of his new book. He’s been banging on about how hard it’s been to write for ages, so I was worried that we’d have another George RR Martin on our hands. But he did it. The book was finished and it started appearing on book sites. Obviously, I’ve preordered a signed hardback of the book for when it’s released in August but, thankfully, Adam Buxton is a really nice man.  He decided to produce the audiobook version himself so we all had something to listen to in quarantine. I used my Audible credit to preorder the audiobook and waited for its release. It took me a while to get through it because I started it on a bit of a whim. I couldn’t sleep one night and decided the only thing that would calm me down was listening to something. Then I had to finish the other books that I was reading before I carried on. But I got there eventually and, thanks to a bit of desperate listening this week, I finished it in time to review.

TBT – Team America World Police (2004)

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team_america_poster_300px5_star_rating_system_4_stars1

I like writing. I know that this won’t come as a shock to you considering I’ve been writing reviews that barely anyone reads for nearly 10 years. I also work as a copywriter. It’s not as if I’ve been keeping it a secret but it’s worth saying. I like writing. I pay attention to writing a lot and I often get jealous of good writing. When I rewatched his film for my post this week, I got irrationally annoyed that Trey Parker and Matt Stone came up with one of the funniest and stupidest lines I’ve ever heard. Seriously, I spent a lot of time wishing I’d come up with it (I was 16 when it came out and a fucking moron. It would never have happened.) and being sad that it would be impossible to get close to it. The line? When Gary gets in the flying limo and says “Okay, a limosine that can fly. Now I have seen everything.” Then Spottswoode replies with “Really? Have you ever seen a man eat his own head?” Greatest line ever. It gets me every single time. It’s so simple, so obvious, and so fucking funny. I’ll never be able to write anything that strong.

My sisters and I grew up watching Gerry Anderson’s supermarionation tv shows. We were obsessed with Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Stingray. So I have a certain love for puppets. Or at least, seeing puppets gives me a great sense of nostalgia. So, I was all in when it was announced that the creative minds behind South Park were making their own film starring puppets. I remember seeing this film with my friends. I was 16 and we’d gone to see it in Leeds. I specifically remember being a dickhead when Kim Jong-il said the line about friends being in movie theatres and gasping. I was a such an idiot. But I really loved this film. And why wouldn’t I? It’s silly, ridiculous, and has an amazing soundtrack. I listen to these songs now. They’re really good.

This is a film that hasn’t aged that badly either. And, let’s be honest, with the current American president, it might be becoming more relavant every day. Upon its release, there were plenty  who praised Team America for its take-down of the liberal elite. The celebrities who lecture people about political issues while they sit in their huge mansions and holding their massive paychecks. And it does. But this is a film that also points out the ridiculousness of the gun toting republicans who think you can shoot your way out of political upset. Even though it doesn’t actually include George W. Bush and co. Within all of the silliness, this film looks into the experience of being an American on the world stage during George W. Bush’s time in the White House. Yes, everyone kind of hates you but you’re still a huge political power. This is the ultimate form of acceptance. Call us whatever you want but you can’t quite do without us.

It has all the trademark depth and intelligence that has become Parker and Stone’s style in the later season’s of South Park. I’m not a huge fan of the earlier sesons but they have turned it into a shewd and important example of social and political analysis. It’s also really funny and not just in the toilet humour sense that it used to favour. They have genuinely funny and clever jokes. Team America is a great mix of childish humour and more thoughful comedy. Take the scenes where real things become part of the scene. The scale of the puppets making a cat into a panther. It’s always going to be funny and it shows the detail of the world they created. As a contrast, the name “Matt Damon” has never been funnier for such a stupid reason.

I was worried that I’d watch this film again and think that I’d outgrown it. I had nothing to worry about. When something is this good and this creative, it will always be enjoyable. The way the pair parody the work of Gerry Anderson by purposefully making everything terrible is great and, though he didn’t approve of the language, Anderson himself thought they did a good job. Do you need any other recommendation than that?

Tuesday Review – Onward (2020)

films, reviews

onward_poster5_star_rating_system_3_and_a_half_stars Pixar has been responsible for some of the great family films that have ever been released but they have been pretty focused on sequels recently. They haven’t released an original film since 2017’s Coco and that was a massive hit with everyone. So, it’s safe to say that Onward had a lot to live up to. Pixar has never been afraid to experiment with styles and show children the harsh realities of life. Let’s not forget that Inside/Out offered a better analysis of mental health than anyone had before. Unlike Disney, Pixar is always trying to change the game and do something different. Well, they did before they decided to keep going back to the same old characters and do the same old things. Surely Onward was going to be something special. Plus, it stars Chris Pratt and Tom Holland fresh off of their Endgame high. At the very least, it was something to take notice of.