There was a point yesterday when I wasn’t sure that I’d get a chance to write this review. We had a power cut at about 5 o’clock in the evening and it made everything a bit difficult. For one thing, I had to use my mobile as a hotspot to finish my work for the day, which was a nightmare. For another, I hadn’t actually watched my TBT film for this week. The last few weeks have been pretty stressful and I’ve just been a bit off. Thankfully, my internet came back and I was able to get everything done. Except write the review, which I’m having to do quite late on Wednesday night in the knowledge that I have to get up early for medical appointment. Part of me just wants to forget it but I don’t want to start setting that precedent for myself.Read more
This week it was announced that, in honour of Chadwick Boseman’s death, his film 42 would be released in cinemas again. As cynical as I might be about the move, it is a wonderful way to celebrate his work as an actor. It was also a great excuse for me to watch it for this review. I have to be honest, I’m no fan of sports movies. Well, aside from The Mighty Ducks, Little Giants and Space Jam. It’s mostly because I don’t really care about sports. I can think of thousands of things that I’d rather be doing than sitting down and watching people kick/throw/hit a ball around a pitch. It’s not so surprising that one of those things isn’t sitting down and watching a formulaic film about people kicking/throwing/hitting a ball around a pitch. And I don’t know anything about baseball. It’s just complicated rounders. However, it felt like the right thing to do.Read more
10 years ago today, Edgar Wright’s film adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was released in the US. The final volume of the comics, written by Canadian author and artist Bryan Lee O’Malley, had only just been released before the film came out. Although, when Wright was originally approached to make the film in 2004, which was just after the first book had been published. It took 6 years for the film to come together and, though didn’t do so well at the cinema, it has become a much-loved cult classic. As somebody who loves the source material and the film, I wanted to dedicate today’s TBT post to the film’s 10th anniversary. What I hadn’t remembered was that I’d already written a review of this film. So, now I don’t really know what to do. I haven’t got time to watch something else and I haven’t watched anything old recently. Or at least nothing memorable enough to review. Well, what’s the worst that can happen?
As I suggested in my review of How to Build a Girl, there was an obvious choice for a companion TBT film. Almost Famous is a clear bedfellow for Caitlin Moran’s coming-of-age tale. The only problem is, I never want to watch Almost Famous again. I know that I’m in a tiny minority of people but I really don’t get what the fuss was about. It just seemed a bit too overindulgent and facile. It was pure Hollywood and didn’t really speak much to me or my experiences. I don’t understand why people adore it so much. So I needed to find an alternative. I went for another Kate Hudson film. Not one I was any more excited to watch but one that I could at least sit through. Handily, she plays a journalist who tries to get ahead by being unnecessarily mean. Oh, and it has “how to” in the title. Not a bad companion film after all.
Jumanji: The Next Level film might be the third film to include Jumanji in the title but it is actually the fourth film in the whole franchise. It’s easy to forget that Zathura: A Space Adventure is part of the same universe. Mostly because both the writer of the original books, Chris Van Allsburg, and director, Jon Favreau, wanted to distance it from the Robin Williams film. Favreau, in particular, didn’t like the film at all and wanted to make sure that people knew it. Yet, the studio was keen to show that both films were connected and Zathura is officially the second film in the Jumanji franchise. I’d never actually seen it, though, as I was 17 when it came out. It definitely wasn’t the kind of film the 17-year-old me would have been comfortable admitting to wanting to watch. So, I decided it was finally time. After all, it got a much better critical reaction than the first Jumanji film even if it didn’t do incredibly well at the box office. The opposite of Robin Williams’ film. Was the space adventure actually better or was this another time when the critics were way off in their assessment?
Do you know what we don’t talk about enough? Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for an Oscar for using blackface. Now I don’t necessarily want to criticise Robert Downey Jr or the film itself. I also don’t necessarily want to give it a pass either. I just think the fact that the academy thought it was Oscar-worthy is a bit weird, right? I mean, how often do they nominate a comic performance for anything? Then they pick the one where a white dude is acting like a Black dude? I find it weird. In terms of the film, I get what RDJ and Ben Stiller were getting at. It’s the lengths that actors go to fully immerse themselves into a role. Officially, RDJ is in blackface but it’s more complicated than that. The character isn’t a Black man but a white actor playing a Black character. I guess you can argue that it raises questions and adds to the conversation. At least more than something like Little Britain did. But, at the same time, you have to ask if nominating the actor for an Oscar legitimises the practice more. Instead of just being a humorous footnote in history. Read more
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?
Do you remember all of the Oscar nonsense this year? When a bunch of white filmmakers said something to the tune of “race shouldn’t be a factor and it should be based on quality”. Well, that whole image of the best films/actors/directors/etc being rewarded goes up in flames when you consider Selma. When discussing the recent Black Lives Matter protests, actor David Oyelowo spoke out about the way the Oscars turned their backs on Ava DuVernay’s film. For anyone that missed it, Selma came out around the time that Eric Garner was murdered. When the cast wore “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts to the premier, the Academy didn’t like it one bit. They went so far as to say to the studio and producers ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that.’ So, Selma, a film that had received critical acclaim, was shunned for speaking out against police brutality. A film about the civil rights movement, one of the defining political movements in American history, was criticised for being too political. The Academy spat out its dummy and ignored the story of Black people standing up for their rights. And people wonder why #Oscarssowhite trended all over social media?
Yes, we should all be doing what we can to learn more about racism and how to live a more anti-racist life. Watching documentaries is a great thing but, every so often, it’s good to take a bit of time off and remember that life isn’t all bleakness. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by the things you’re hearing and reading about, do remember that Black people have been feeling like that their whole lives. So, it’s important not to let fatigue turn into ambivalence. After all, there are so many other things you can do to keep on living an anti-racist life. That includes watching and celebrating films made by, starring and written by Black people. We all know that there is a huge disparity in Hollywood when it comes to the representation of non-white people in all areas. It’s more than just Oscars so white. So, we need to start proving that people watch films starring BIPOC actors and telling BIPOC stories. And what’s the best way to do that? By watching films starring BIPOC characters.
After watching the lovely but quite sad Ordinary Love for my Tuesday Review this week, I wanted to find something a bit sillier for my Throwback Thursday Review. After all, we’re living in quite a challenging time, so it’s important to find something to laugh about. I recently watched Horrible Histories: The Movie and it was pretty good. I know that I’m way too old for the television show at this point but I think it’s genius. I know that I read the books when I was younger but I’m not sure I ever truly appreciated them. If only the show had been around when I was a kid. I grew up loving history but I was always a little out of my depth academically. Although, if there’s one thing I do know, it’s literary history. So, of course, I appreciated the fact that the people behind Horrible Histories have also made a film about one of literature’s biggest figures. I never watched Bill when it came out. Maybe it was time?