I’ll tell you what, the 25th really can’t come quickly enough for my liking. I am so tired and really craving a break. Which is another reason why my heart really isn’t in this post. It’s probably going to be a fairly quick one because it’s quite late as I’m writing this. I’m also currently listening to a Spotify playlist called Christmas Lullabies so I can feel festive and get ready for sleep. I’ll be honest, I’m not feeling particularly festive right now. No matter how hard I try, it’s just not there right now. Watching a Christmas film every day hasn’t done much to help but that’s possibly due to the films I’ve been watching. They weren’t necessarily the best of the bunch. I’d better get round to my favourites soon or I’ll run out of time.
After finishing Mr Wilder & Me, I was hoping to start reading Jonathan Coe’s Brexit novel Middle England. However, I knew that if I did that, I would never finish it in time for today’s review. Instead, I went to my Audible library to find a quick read that I’d been putting off. I guess the melding of fact and fiction in Mr Wilder & Me made a bit of an impact on me because I went with this Julian Barnes book. I don’t know as much as I should about classical music and I don’t know as much as I’d like about Russian history. I did know enough about the Stalin’s Russia to have been excited about this one. Could I have done with knowing more about Shostakovich before I went in? Possibly but, then again, wouldn’t I find out everything I needed to know?
I used to listen to Brett Goldstein’s Films To Be Buried With podcast when I was working. For those who haven’t listened to it, each episode was based around a series of film question that Brett put to his guest. It included the question “what is the funniest film ever?” Comedy is one of those genres that is so subjective, which is perhaps the reason why comedy films don’t have the same lasting appeal as dramas. Some comedies do have staying power but funny films tend to age quicker than straight films. There are only a handful of really important classic comedy films, so most people answering this question would pick more contemporary ones. Of course, the one major exception is This Is Spinal Tap. It was the film that was picked most often in this category. So, is Spinal Tap really the funniest film ever made?
You’ve probably seen that Bill Clinton Swag thing going around Instagram, right? You’ve probably even been tagged to do it. Well, yesterday some absolute bastard tagged me to do it. Now, I’m a very indecisive person. Although, I’m not actually sure I’d describe it as indecisive. I just don’t like the idea of ranking the things I like. Why should one thing be superior to the rest? It depends on the context. Why is everyone so obsessed with finding out what my favourite book or film is? I have loads. I love Goodfellas but it’s not the kind of film I’m going to want to watch all of the time. I love The Monk but it can be a bit much to read at times. That’s why we have collections. But I decided to try and play ball and it was going well until I was thrown another curve ball. Another friend made a point about everyone picking male artists and I realised I’d picked 4 albums by male artists. So, I went back to the drawing board to make it more even. But I still had too many to decide between. At least it gave me a Friday Favourites idea. I had to limit myself or I’d have been here forever but I think this is a pretty cool list.
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.
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.
After the success of my audiobook on Sunday, I decided it was a great idea to try another one to get me out of my slump. This is the audiobook that had me go back to Audible recently. Not only do I love H.G. Wells but I really love Jeff Wayne’s music. Speaking of, I’m still extremely bitter about a pub quiz question regarding this album. It was something like “which book was the subject of an album during the 1970s?” or something like that. Obviously, I knew the answer but my friend’s dad would not listen. In the end, he answered Wuthering Heights because of Kate Bush. I was so mad and I’ve never quite let it go. A classic case of mansplaining gone wrong. Anyway, there was another reason that I was so keen to listen to this Audible Original: Michael Sheen. God, I love that man. I have done for years. Since I was about 16 in fact. He’s lovely. His face is lovely and, more importantly for an audiobook, his voice is lovely. Also, quite fitting for him to be taking the role that was originally given to Richard Burton, right? So, I was all set to enjoy this and to be able to knock off another book this week. This audiobook thing might be the key to getting my numbers up.
I was determined that I wasn’t going to like The Greatest Showman. The reason? A friend of mine said, with complete confidence, that he thought I’d love it. Now, anyone who read my review of Dunkirk will remember, I’m really stubborn. So, I decided that I couldn’t let him be right. Then, I went to a wedding. At this wedding, the DJ played the title song from this film. It seemed like a weird choice but whatever. The point was, a little girl was alone on the dancefloor performing the shit out it. She was dancing, singing, and giving it her all. It was the funniest, sweetest, and weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. Obviously, we all clapped when she was done but, as you’d expect, that only encouraged her. So, she kept trying to get the same attention for the rest of the night. Unfortunately, I was one of the only people paying any attention to her. I mean how could you not? She was hypnotic. However, it did mean she was performing to me for most of the time and it scared the shit out of me. You don’t know fear until you have a 7-year-old girl staring into your soul whilst singing popular songs. Still, I got over the experience and was left with a strange desire to finally watch the film. That’s how haunting that girl’s performance was.
I have a certain love for Elton John. I definitely grew up listening to his music and, because I’m not one for change, have continued to listen to him as I grew up. I remember us having the ‘Candle in the Wing’ CD single that was released in honour of Princess Diana. ‘Candle in the Wind’ is a decent song but that wasn’t the song I was interested in. The CD also featured ‘Something About the Way You Look Tonight’ and I loved that song so much that I would play it on repeat. I still love that song because he sounds incredible. But I’m getting off-topic. What I’m trying to say is, I was excited about the release of this film even before I’d seen any of the trailers. When they came out, it only made it worse. Taron Egerton was perfectly cast and the whole thing looked fucking insane. The perfect antidote to the tame Bohemian Rhapsody. This really looked like the kind of biopic that Elton John would want. It was loud, over-the-top, and brutally honest. Yet, as most films do these days, its release came and went without me doing anything about it. Although, actually I was supposed to see it with a work friend but then I selfishly got another job and it became a nightmare to organise. This weekend I decided it was time.
I always wonder what’s wrong with the people who wish they’d been born in another year. Like all of those Tumblr teenagers who wish they’d been born in the 80s. It doesn’t make any sense. Yeah, I love John Hughes movies and glam rock as much as the next person. But living in the 80s? I don’t think so. The only people who ever say things like that are the people who only know that era through a microcosm. Ask the people who lived in the 80s, they’d probably tell a different story. Certainly in England, the 80s weren’t the magical place so many young people want to believe it to be. The economy had gone to shit, people were out of work, there was so much violence and hatred on the streets. Kinda like now but with even bigger shoulder pads and double denim. It wasn’t a great time overall. I’m sure people made the best of it but it will have been so difficult for so many. To romanticise any era of the past solely based on your pop culture/fashion tastes is to trivialise the reality of that time. And, as you can tell, it annoys the fuck out of me.