As you may know, I’ve been trying to go back and watch the films that I’ve already reviewed for 2019’s TBT section. Last week aside, I’ve been going through them in chronological order. Then I went rogue and watched a film that I wanted to. And the floodgates opened. There is no more order and the rule book is out the window. Maybe it’s because I know the next film coming up is one I’ve watched recently and don’t really want to go there again? Or maybe I’ve just got tired of setting myself these parameters for no reason? Either way, this week I had a craving to watch something random and I went through the films available on Prime and ended up here. Drawn in by Ewan McGregor’s face because, let’s be honest, the early 2000s were the peak time for his face. One year before Attack of the Clones and four years before the beardy goodness of Revenge of the Sith: Moulin Rouge is classic Ewan McGregor beauty. And he’s singing. I don’t know whether it’s the amount of Disney films I watched growing up but, for some reason, I’ve brought myself round to the idea that the ideal romantic partner is one who is an amazing singer. I feel like most people don’t see this as a vital ingredient to love but it is. It definitely is. So, let’s jump in.
Normally, I don’t like to take too much notice of critical ratings before I go and see a film. I prefer not to be affected by what other people think. But the mixed reaction to Bohemian Rhapsody did concern me before I saw it. All of my friends who’d seen it had aid it was worth watching, which went along with the majority of fan feedback. However, I couldn’t ignore the fact that so many critics were disappointed. This was one of those films that should have been guaranteed. A biopic of one of the greatest British rock bands with the talented Rami Malik playing the role of Freddie Mercury and directed by Bryan Singer. It should have been perfect but, as we know, the film making process was a huge struggle. Not only was Rami the last in a fairly long list of actors accepting to play Freddie but there were script problems and Singer was replaced by Dexter Fletcher at the last-minute. Singer was reportedly difficult to work with so was thrown off the project with about 3 weeks to go. Talk about drama behind the scenes, eh! So, with all that in mind, it felt like the critical response could have something to it. Meaning I went into this film kind of expecting the worst. But, considering it got a Best Picture nomination, I had to give it a go.
I’ve said it before and I will continue saying it until the day I die: Mamma Mia is the worst film ever made. I know it’s a contentious point because there are lots of terrible films that I’ve never seen and there are loads of people who bloody love this film. However, I fail to see any positives about the way that film was made and everything about it makes me angry. It’s terribly shot, terribly choreographed, terribly sung, terribly written, terribly acted… you get the idea. I hate it. There is one specific camera move during Meryl Streep’s performance of ‘Mamma Mia’ itself that really gets my goat. Meryl lies on the roof singing and the camera moves up and then, as Meryl waves her arms, crashes back down. It’s the worst shot I’ve ever seen. And then there’s the whole of ‘The Winner Takes It All’ where Meryl, I assume for lack of better direction, starts miming the lyrics as Bronhom stands completely helpless. It’s so fucking bad…. yet I find myself yearning to watch it every now and then. It’s like that second piece of cake at the end of a 3 course meal. You know you don’t want or need it. You know it’ll make you feel sick for the rest of the night. You know you’ll regret it for ages. Yet, you know you’re going to eat that fucking cake. Mamma Mia is that second piece of cake. I can’t just put it back in the fridge and walk away. I need something on which to focus my hatred. Which is why I always knew I’d go and see the second one at some point.
Last week the world lost a true icon. It was announced on 16th August that Aretha Franklin had died due to pancreatic cancer. Franklin was an undeniably sensational singer but she was so much more than that. She was the true Queen of Soul and defined soul in the Sixties. She was also an influential and powerful figure in history. Her songs became anthems for social change as women and African-Americans adopted them for their own. Just look at what she did to Otis Redding’s ‘Respect”: she made that song her own and gave women a rousing call for themselves. She was incredible. And I could easily go on and on talking about the massive impact that the singer made upon the world. I won’t, however, as there are bound to be better people out there doing just that right now. All I really know is, I loved Aretha Franklin. I think the first song I heard her sing was ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ and I adored it. She made it seem so effortless but, no matter how hard I tried (and believe me I tried) I could never replicate her skills. I just couldn’t believe how fantastic and powerful a singer she was. Everything else I heard just got better. But, no matter how much I love listening to her sing, there is one part of her career that sticks with me more than anything: her performances in the two Blues Brothers films.
I never saw Oliver and Company when I was a kid but I remember seeing the trailer for it whenever we watched a Disney film on VHS. Every time I saw it I wanted to watch it but it never happened. Probably because I’d get too distracted by whatever Disney film I was going to watch. It always looked really fun and, as someone who loved dogs, I was obviously into the idea of Oliver Twist being remade with animals. I mean if The Lion King has taught us anything it’s that taking a piece of great literature and retelling it with animals is a great strategy for storytelling. I mean who’d even heard of Hamlet before Disney introduced us to Simba, right? Plus, there is a whole host of Disney films that prove that dogs and/or cats having adventures together is an instant winner. I’m not a big fan of Dickens anyway so I couldn’t imagine how it could get any worse by involving household pets.