I like to think that I’m a musical theatre geek but, the truth is, I don’t actually watch a lot of musical theatre. I’m not just talking about during the Pandemic but in general. I know the classics but there are so many modern examples that I know very little about. Aside from Hamilton, I’ve not kept up with contemporary musicals. Add that to the fact that I’d not watched the BBC3 documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 and you can see that I wasn’t really rushing to watch the film adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. But, I also think it should be celebrated for putting drag culture further into the public domain and, you know, Richard E Grant is everything. So, I settled down this weekend to watch it.
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’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.
It’s going to be a tough Christmas all round this year thanks to Covid and the various restrictions in place. For the lucky ones, it will mean a pared down Christmas with fewer guest and more Zoom calls. For many families though, it will mean facing their first Christmas without beloved family members who died during the pandemic. It doesn’t exactly feel like a time for revelling but I guess we have to try to make the best of it. At least there’s a steady supply of fairly mindless Netflix original films to numb everyone for a few hours. Most of these films don’t tend to fill me with much hope or inspiration but there’s one that stood out this year. Dolly Parton has already done a great deal to help fight Coronavirus with her donation to help find a vaccine. Now, she’s here to entertain us all as we wait for it to be rolled out around the world. Even if this did turn out to be pretty standard fare, I was sure that Dolly’s mere presence would lift it. Surely there’s very little that woman can’t do?
When Hamilton first came to the stage in 2015, I was adamant that I wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon. I mean, everyone was banging on about this musical and how amazing it was. How different and inspiring. It didn’t help that my interest in American history is basically non-existent. But, for whatever reason, I stubbornly avoided it. Until one day when I decided to listen to the soundtrack. I don’t know why I decided it was the day but I was on my way to a job interview. I wasn’t really paying attention on the way there but I was hooked by the time I got home. I couldn’t stop listening to it and I’ve not been able to stop since. Most of my top songs on Spotify for 2019 were from Hamilton. My top artist for last year was Hamilton. It’s become my go-to album and works for any mood. When I’m tired, sad, happy, bored, or just facing a long day of work. Hamilton would always be the perfect thing to sort me out. So, when it was announced that the West End run in 2019 was being lengthened, I knew I had to get tickets. Seeing it live was one of the best theatre experiences I’ve ever had. And I’ve had some great ones.
To accompany my review of the latest Pixar film earlier this week, I was going to watch Coco. That would have meant buying a copy or renting it on Amazon. As I’m about to get a Disney+ subscription later this month, I decided that it was stupid to spend more money on it. So, I decided to go with something about fantasy creatures instead. I’d never seen Trolls but I bloody love that Justin Timberlake song. It’s the kind of irritating pop song that you know you shouldn’t like but you can’t help it. I just get swept away in it’s happy and upbeat melody. Plus, I do have a general love of Justin Timberlake. And I might like Anna Kendrick but I can’t really tell. She’s one of those irritatingly perfect human beings that I kind of love but am also incredibly jealous of. She’s kind of perfect and just reminds me of how imperfect I am.
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.
Christ, it’s hot. I know there are countries out there who consistently have much hotter weather than this but this is the UK. We’re not built for heat. Especially as my office has no air-con and we’ve been told we’re not allowed fans. It’s been so gross. To put it bluntly, I’m sticky. So, I need to get this sorted quickly and go for an icy shower. I’m a bookish person. We aren’t built for Summer. And I promise you, I hadn’t intended to start this post by talking about how sweaty I am. I had something planned and everything. But the heat has melted my brain. So, here we are. At least I can clarify something today. I don’t hate The Beatles. No matter what I may have suggested in my review of Yesterday, I actually enjoy listening to them every now and then. I just think we need to change the narrative that they’re the “greatest band of all time”. Maybe they’re the most popular band of all time but the greatest is a different story. Yesterday wasn’t a film. It was Richard Curtis trying to get Paul McCartney to notice him. It was weird and kind of sad. So, I thought it was time to review a film that actually does a decent job of using The Beatles as a basis for a film.