As soon as I saw the trailer for this on Netflix, I knew that it wasn’t going to be the film for me. It just looked stupid and just sitting through a short preview made me cringe. Yet, part of me did want to watch it. I was intrigued about just how bad it was going to be. I wanted to see just how embarrassingly awful James Corden’s performance turned out. How over-the-top and unsubtle Ryan Murphy’s message of inclusivity was. How cheesy the choreography would be. I knew that I’d watch it eventually so it was just a question of when. I decided that, whatever happened, I couldn’t let it be the first film that I watched in 2021 because that would have felt as though I was jinxing my entire year. It also felt like the most appropriate film to end 2020 on. After all, the year has been a huge shit show. It’s not as if this film could make it anyway worse. And maybe it would put everything into perspective?
I’ve wanted to watch this film for ages now. I’d heard it was good. It sounded good. I know that I was going to love it. So, why did it take so long? My poor attention span. I’ve been watching films at home since March because of the pandemic which means I’m generally doing multiple things when I’m watching films. I might be writing another blog pot, tempted by my phone, or editing photos. It depends how much I have to do that day. It’s not that I mean to let my mind wander but it happens. I’m not like it in a cinema. Don’t go thinking that I’m one of those people who gets their phone out every few minutes. I concentrate in a cinema. Not at home. It’s difficult to find a two hour slot when I’m not also trying to do something else. So, a subtitled film isn’t exactly a good mix. So, when I found a window on Sunday, I knew what I had to do.
I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m far too stubborn about certain things. I’ve discussed it before and I’m sure it will come up again. When it comes to certain topics, I’m sticking to my guns regardless. One of those things is YA fiction. I’ve had such terrible experiences when reading YA fiction that I now avoid it at all costs. I’m not going to say that it’s bad but it’s not for me. And it’s not just books. Whenever I see another adaptation of a Young Adult novel, I just roll my eyes and ignore it.I rarely give them a chance because I just assume it won’t appeal to me. Although, I’m also someone who is something of a glutton for punishment. I’ve given plenty of YA fiction a chance. That’s the reason I’ve been disappointed so often. So, why not films? I decided to give one a chance as it really was the best companion for Dating Amber this week.
What’s this? Another teen original movie from an online streaming service? I know, I know. Have I learnt nothing from last week? You’d think that I’d had my feel of stupid teenagers thanks to Work It and Save the Last Dance but apparently not. I’ll be honest though, I picked this because of it’s runtime. My weekend was a bit hectic and I needed something I could breeze through in less than 2 hours. Although, I felt as though this also had a bit more going for it than Netflix’s offering. The LGBTQ+ centred story brought a new twist on the teen romance and I always think that things get less stereotypical when you take them out of Hollywood. Dating Amber didn’t sound like it was going to be groundbreaking but I was happy to believe that it would be cuter than your average romantic comedy.
Talk about “exciting times”. There was a huge question mark over whether or not I’d get this book finished in time to write my review today. I had a bit of chunk left on Monday night but I had an early blood test the next day. This meant minimum late-night reading. The plan was to finish it on my lunch break on Tuesday. Unfortunately, that never happened. A big issue with working from home is the proximity of my bed to my workstation. I tend to eat lunch as I work and have a break later in the afternoon. This means I can spend the whole time doing nothing. Yesterday, I set my alarm for an hour and had a nap. It was pathetic. I’m not going to be fit for anything once I’m no loner shielding. Still, it got me through the rest of the day. It did mean that I had to quickly get through the final 60 pages and write this review all in the same night. As you can guess, I managed it and with a pretty good chunk of time to spare. It’s all down to the power nap.
In his essay The Death of the Author, Roland Barthes argued that the only way to read a book was to separate it from its author. According to Barthes, authorial context and intent wouldn’t provide insight into the meaning of the text. Instead, it would limit the amount of meaning a reader could take from it. Giving a text an author before you analyse it was nothing more than a convenient and simple way to understand it. For Barthes, the meaning of a book wasn’t dependent on who the author was but on who the reader was. As we can never really be sure of what an author intended, trying to understand a novel based on who they were as a person would always be flawed. The author, thus, becomes not a God but merely a “scriptor”. They aren’t imposing meaning but merely translating putting the meaning on paper for the reader to untangle themselves.
I’m getting a bit worried that I’m not going to finish my current read in time to write my Wednesday post. I’ve already got a short audiobook ready in case I need to shove an extra one in somewhere. It all depends on tonight. Thankfully, I still managed to get my weekly audiobook finished in time. I can’t remember who first recommended Carmilla to me but it was definitely something that came out of Instagram. I think I was having a rant about how bored I was with vampire fiction. Over the years, vampires have lost their bite so I tend to ignore them. I’d never tried to read Carmilla though. I know that it was the inspiration for Dracula and one of the earliest vampire stories ever written. But if we go into that too much I’ll probably just start banging on about John Polidori again. And nobody wants that.
As you know, I normally try and link my throwback Thursday reviews to my Tuesday reviews. So, this week I could have picked any number of films. Another Pedro Almodóvar film or something starring Antonio Banderas. I didn’t just have plenty of options but plenty of good options. Instead, I decided to watch a random 90s comedy starring Kevin Kline. It had been on my mind since my last Friday Favourites. Looking at Tom Hanks’ Wikipedia page reminded me of the story that inspired In and Out. During his acceptance speech, Tom Hanks thanked his former drama teacher and an old classmate before describing them as “two of the finest gay Americans.”
Let’s pretend it’s Tuesday 18th June and not Monday 24th. This is the film that I had intended to review last week but, at the time, I was probably holding my one-day-old niece for the first time. And, as I gave up all ideas of achieving anything last week, I didn’t even think about taking part in the Creatively Squared hashtag challenge. So, to get myself back on schedule, I decided I would post two movie reviews this week. Starting with a film that has followed me around social media since it was released. I was skeptical about Booksmart in the same way that I am about any film being given almost universal praise. It always seems too good to be true. And as much as I like Olivia Wilde, this was her directorial debut. Could it really be as good as everyone claims? I mean I’ve seen people already describing it as their favourite film. I never trust people who do that. Anyone who says the last film they saw is their favourite is either an idiot, a liar, or someone who has only ever seen one movie in their life.
I meant to start writing this review last night because I’ve got a busy couple of weeks ahead of me. Inevitably, I didn’t manage it as I got distracted and, if I’m not careful I’ll do it again tonight. It’s all because of this book as well. I have been a fan of Greek myths since I was a kid and got given a book about them. Before writing this post, I decided that it was vital to find the book online so I knew the name. I never did, which is a shame because I bloody loved that book. It presented the Greek myths in a child-friendly way that really played up the humour. Something that really helped distract from just how horny Zeus and everyone really were. It meant that I became interested in the myths rather than disturbed by them. With that kind of background then this book should have been right up my street. So, why has it taken me 7 years to read it? A very simple answer… the cover. The original cover (featuring a breastplate that looks more Roman in my mind) just looks tacky. I know I know. Never judge a book by its cover etc. But, come on, it’s awful. If Bloomsbury hadn’t released the beautiful Modern Classics edition then I might never have experienced this book at all. I owe them.