So, you may have noticed that this week’s Throwback Thursday post is actually a day late. And, if I’m honest, I nearly didn’t write it at all. I ended up meeting a friend yesterday so couldn’t get time to post. And today? Well, I just couldn’t be bothered. I watched the film earlier in the week and it left me totally uninspired. But I’m here. Trying to stick to my schedule. If I start letting myself believe that I don’t have to do things then I won’t do them. It’s like Instagram. I’m having a massive Instagram crisis and I keep telling myself it doesn’t matter. Which, to be fair is true but that’s not the point. The whole reason for keeping this blog up and doing my Instagram stuff is to help in my career. Now, I’m not being delusional. I know that this isn’t going to get me anywhere but it means I can try things that might help at work. So, yeah, what I’m saying is you’re my test subjects. Don’t you feel special? At least I kind of know what I’m talking about with you guys. I work for a company that sells football kits so, now I’m in charge of their blog, I have to write a football related post every week. I know nothing about football. I don’t even know the vocabulary. In the last week, I’ve used the word “cross” in a football-related context countless times never knowing if I was using it correctly! Best not to dwell.
One of my best friends works for Vintage books so she is constantly offering to pick up cheap books for me. I know I know. I’m making it sound like a bad thing when it’s not. The only problem is that I never remember to ask her. I buy the book myself and then have to put up her with telling me she could have got it for me. So, when I heard about Ian McEwan’s latest book dealing with AI, I knew this was one of the times I should take her up on it. I was a massive fan of Ian McEwan as a teenager but I’ve lost my way over the last few years. Basically, everything after On Chesil Beach has remained unread on my shelf. And I’ve been okay with that. Sweet Tooth and Solar I wasn’t that interested in but I did really want to read The Children Act and Nutshell. Honestly, I did. I just never got round to it. But this one sounded interesting. An alternate reality 1980s where AI technology exists. Part of me was worried, though. AI has become a bit of a thing in literature recently and I wasn’t sure that McEwan was the best to add to the conversation. But, I couldn’t let my friend down again.
I didn’t get a chance to watch a new cinema release this week so I turned to Netflix. I’ve not really been keeping up with Netflix original films of late. I watched Rebel Wilson’s Isn’t It Romantic one boring bank holiday weekend. It was almost as dire as I’d expected but I guess it wasn’t all bad. Not as funny as it thought it was but the overall message wasn’t as dire as it seemed. But it still wasn’t enough to suggest that Netflix had turned itself around in terms of original comedy films. We’ve discussed my feelings about this in the past but, as I’m never against talking about it, I’ll remind you of them. Netflix comedy films suck. They are never original or clever. It’s just basic stories mixed with big-name stars to draw people in. To be fair, it’s a fantastic strategy in terms of getting viewers but it doesn’t make for critically acclaimed features. But, with the announcement that Amy Poehler’s directorial debut was coming to Netflix, surely things were about to change? I mean Poehler reuniting with plenty of SNL alumni in a female-based comedy about middle age? It sounded like it could be perfect.
My last read was one of the books I bought in my post-Endgame book trip. I had needed something to cheer me up and nothing cheers me up quite like looking at books. I’d been attracted to this cover for ages because I’m a sucker for anything yellow these days. But I had also been wanting to pick this up for a while. I’ve seen it around quite a bit and heard good things about it. So many people bring up Agatha Christie when talking about it that I felt I had to give it a try. I’ve been a Christie fan for years and admit that she is one of the few crime writers I never get bored of. I’ve never been a big crime fiction reader. I always find them underwhelming. The twists are too obvious and I guess them from the start. I know it’s probably not in the spirit of the book but if it’s staring me right in the face what am I meant to do? Maybe there just are no crimes to write about anymore? Has every possible murder been committed in literature? I kind of feel like it has because I get such a sense of deja vu whenever I read the next big crime novel. But, that also doesn’t stop me trying so I’ve got nobody to blame but myself.
I definitely watched Dumbo when I was younger but I can’t say that it was ever one of my favourites. I don’t think I ever really rewatched it. Of course, I remember the adorable elephant because it’s the cutest creature to come out of any Disney film. I remember the clown scene, the song, and, obviously, the flying. My memories of the film were that it was a really sweet but not very exciting film. We were more of a Lion King and Aladdin family. So, I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the upcoming remake as I have been with some of the others. Besides, I’m a huge Tim Burton fan. I even liked his reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. Although, I never saw the second one so I might hate that. Still, I was excited by the first look at this film. It had a great cast and it looked fantastic. And, with the dodgy history of this film, making it a bit darker or creepy. If nothing else, it’s 2019 and the idea of keeping elephants captive to perform in a circus is not exactly great.
I’ve had this book sat in my NetGalley account for a while now and, as I’m trying to get better at sending my feedback, I decided it was finally time to read it. This was one of those books that sounded like a really interesting read. I don’t tend to read much fantasy these days and I tend to particularly avoid fantasy for younger readers. It’s the kind of genre that can be done so well but, on the flip side, just be turned into a horrible stereotype of things gone before. There is a fine line between creating a brilliant fantasy world and just shoving a load of random letters together to get a magical sounding city name. But, despite my misgivings, I’m always willing to give the genre a chance and this one sounded interesting.
Not knowing a great deal about manga, I definitely could have gone without seeing Alita: Battle Angel. However, a friend of mine was desperate to see it so I decided to be a pal and go with her. I mean we’re talking Robert Rodriguez directing, James Cameron producing, and starring Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali. There was so much going for this film that I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. And, as I have the tastes of a 12-year-old boy, I do love a film about fighting cyborgs. Especially when those fighting cyborgs are being directed by someone like Rodriguez. So, I was all set to enjoy this film despite my initial hesitation. But, considering the lukewarm reception is received from critics, could this film really live up to the expectations it set for itself? Was this another case of harsh critics or easy to please fans? I had to find out for myself.
Anyone who’s been keeping up with my Sunday Rundowns of late will know that I’ve been making painfully slow progress with Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson. So, when I was approached by Linh Le James to read her novel #Toots for a review, I decided it would be a good excuse for a break from my current read. And, thankfully, it was a quick read that proved to me it’s not that I’m in a slump that Byrson is taking so long. It’s just the book itself. So, I’m now wondering, still being only about halfway through at 2.5 weeks, whether it’s worth carrying on with it. I don’t want to give up considering how much time I’ve put into it but it feels like this uphill struggle is never going to end. I mean, there’s only so much pleasure you can take reading the history of a man who we know next to nothing about. It’s pretty much all speculation. I’ll be honest, I could have been asked to review any book right now and I’d probably had agreed just to give me the excuse to put Bryson down again. Maybe that explains why I got through #Toots in only 3 days? Or maybe it was just the best book I’ve ever read?
Boy, were there a few surprises during this weekend’s Oscars. I was tempted to write a post about it but decided it would just be another rant about how undeserving Green Book is of the Best Picture title. I mean, seriously? I know Roma is a Netflix film but how can anyone say it wasn’t the best film of this year? It’s fucking madness. Another (sort of) surprising turn of event were the winners of Best Actor and Best Actress category. I loved both Rami Malek and Olivia Colman’s performances and I know they both won at the BAFTAs but I just didn’t trust the voters to let them win. And, after finally seeing The Wife recently, I thought Glenn Close was kind of shoe-in. I mean, without wishing to spoilt the upcoming review, she was fucking breathtaking in that film. And this makes it her 7th time of being passed over. It’s insane and, if I didn’t love Colman quite so much, I’d be outraged. Just be sure that if Gaga had won I’d have genuinely flipped. I’d have demanded the Oscar be taken away and given to Close instead.
So, after a brief stop last week, normal service is resumed and I have a book to review. This is one that has sat on my shelf for a while. I bought it a year or two ago when I decided to try out more short story collections. I figured it might make me a better or, at least, quicker reader. As expected, it did neither of those things and I just shoved it away with my other unread books. But I’m trying really hard to get through my unread books this year so I randomly plucked this off the shelf a few weeks ago. I can’t remember what prompted it but it was probably because I, naively, believed it would be a quick read. And February hasn’t exactly been a stellar reading month for me. I’ve still got two books on the go and this marks my second finished read. I’ve been doing so well so far that this is a genuine crushing blow. Still, let’s not start this review on a downer. Especially as I started this book with high hopes. A short story collection connected by a common theme and character? It sounded wonderful.