Why I love Working Girl

Working Girl was a pretty big hit when it was first released, and even garnered itself six Oscar Nominations, including one win for Best Original Song. More recently though it seems to have been forgotten about a little. It rarely turns up in people’s top ten of all time ever favourite movies, and most younger people have never heard of it let alone seen it.

tess beforeWorking Girl is one of my very favourite films. It makes me sad that it seems to get little love these days. Maybe it’s because it’s a little cheesy in parts. Maybe the giant hair is a little too much and the shoulder pads too broad and pointy. Maybe it’s because it can be a little sentimental in places. Or maybe it’s because the title makes it sound like the dodgy bargain bin version of Pretty Woman.

For me these are all positive points, I love the 80sness of it all. I love the hokey ending, and the questionable fashion choices. It has some of the best lessons in feminism and women in the workplace whilst all being wrapped in a candy coated rom-com coating.

The film follows the story of Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith), a go getting 30 year old woman. She worked hard a night school to get her degree, and probably knows more about the markets then the men she works for. She is desperate to make her way in the world of Wall Street, and will take any opportunity given to her, though these are few and far between and often a ‘business meeting’ organised by her boss turns out to be a hook up for his friend. After one such run in with Bob (Kevin Spacey) she humiliates her boss showing them she is not a forced to be reckoned with. She wants to get ahead, but she wants to do it on her own terms, not just because she slept with someone.

tess and kathAfter returning back to the office and humiliating the boss who set her up with Bob she gets re-assigned to work for Katherine Parker, who is delightfully over played by Sigourney Weaver. Weaver is able to play the supportive, yet underhanded boss very well, even if she occasionally veers off into Disney Villain territory.

Katherine appears to be the perfect boss, she listens to Tess and encourages her to come to her with ideas for their clients,with the promise of reward for hard work.

One day Tess comes to Katherine with an idea for a client to buy a radio station. Katherine appears to listen and take and interest. Though just before her departure to Europe on a skiing trip she informs Tess the idea was a no goer. The inevitable happens and Katherine breaks her leg whilst away, leaving Tess to look after her apartment until she can return.

Katherine represents everything Tess wants to be, elegant, poised, sophisticated, and, above all in power. So of course in an attempt to mimic her Tess goes through all of Katherine’s things, including her Dictaphone, which just so happens to contain a memo about Tess’ idea that Katherine has kept for herself.

fancy dress

So it turns out Katherine was a massive lying dirt bag all along. Tess decides not to take this lying down, ‘cause she actually kicks ass. She sets up a meeting with Jack Trainer (the ever sexy Harrison Ford). The night before the big meeting Tess gets dolled up in Katherine’s finest clothes to attend a party where the famous Mr Trainer will also be in attendance.

He espies her across the room and tells her Jack Trainer just left before she got there, but she should totally have a tequila with him to make up for it. She ends up getting hammered, thanks in part to the Valium she had taken earlier to calm her nerves.

 

I love this scene, it’s all about how you can be an empowered woman who can handle business without having to give up your femininity and dress, as Jack Trainer himself puts it ‘ how a woman would think a man would dress if he was a woman’

jack trainer

Together Tess and Jack pull together the deal with the client, and on the big meeting between the client and the radio station they are buying Katherine returns from Europe, and discovered Tess’ double-cross when she finds her diary that was left behind in her haste to leave and get to the meeting.

sigourney weaverKatherine manages to get dressed and down to the office where the negotiations are taking place and burst through the door like the wonderfully campy villain she is and kicks Tess out for lying and stealing her idea, all whilst flailing her crutches about. Though at the final meeting the truth prevails. Katherine gets her comeuppance and Tess gets her reward in a new job in a junior position with a new firm, as well as falling in love with Jack. 

On Tess’ first day in her new job she automatically places her things on the secretary’s desk, only to be told by the woman appearing from the fancy office that she is in fact the secretary and the office now belongs to Tess. As she does her introductions to her new employee she decides not to be like Katherine, and be a better boss and a better support.

alec baldwinThere are so many lessons to be learnt from Working Girl, you don’t need to pretend to be a man in order to fit in in places of business. You don’t need to sleep with someone to get ahead. It’s OK to get rid of unsupportive people in your life (At one point Tess finds her unsupportive boyfriend (Alec Baldwin) in bed with another woman, so she kicks him to the curb). It’s OK to be supportive to your friends with aspirations, Tess’ best friend, Cynthia (Joan Cusack, who also has the best ever New York accent and some of the highest hair I’ve ever seen) is always there for her, no matter what. Even joan cusackwhen she might not agree with Tess’s actions, she supports them and doesn’t judge her for wanting a career over her cheating boyfriend. Above all, it’s about how everyone should come together and supportive of each other in the workplace in order to achieve equality. We are a little closer to this goal nearly thirty years on, but with men still in the vast majority of positions of power we still have a way to go.

Yes, the production values are little dated. Yes, the fashion choices are questionable. Yes, it’s a little fluffy and things happen at the convenience of the plot. But this is a wonderful film, it’s hard not to get swept up with Tess’ ambitions and fight to be taken seriously in a world dominated by men. She refuses to give up her morals for the sake of getting ahead. She is truly a feminist hero and a great inspiration for any young woman wanting to enter big business.

 

Advertisements

The Top 5 Worst Video Game Music Tracks

Video game music can be a beautiful thing. Using relatively primitive hardware (by today’s standards) composers in the 80’s helped transport us to far off worlds and created some of the most recognisable tunes in gaming. 

However, in the wrong hands the sound chips of our old consoles can be used to create a cacophony worthy of a demon summoning. The silver lining of this is that most of these crappy games would have faded into obscurity if not for their ridiculous soundtracks and now they can live on forever in infamy.

5. Crazy Bus – Title Theme

Composer: ???

Information is very scarce about this “game”. All the internet seems to know about it is that it’s Venezuelan, was made in 2004 and is horrible in every way. Not only is the audio unlistenable but the visuals are a chore to look at too. The “game” consists of you picking a bus you’d like to drive which you can then move forwards and backwards on the screen while you listen to this rockin’ tune… and that’s about it.  

I don’t even know how to describe this track with words. It’s very possible that the notes have been chosen randomly because if someone actually composed this purposefully then that would actually be impressive. The reason this isn’t higher on my list is because it seems to have been created as a joke. There’s just no way something this repulsive could have been created unknowingly.

4. The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin – Swing Time 

Composer: Mr. Big

Yes, the masters of guitar wankery with the lovely hair themselves.

Mr. Big were apparently commissioned to write a song about Spider-Man. Problem is, whoever wrote the lyrics didn’t seem to know a lot about him. Sure they got in plenty of web analogies but I’ve never heard Spider-Man described as “Flying for justice” or that he “Takes no prisoners”. Apparently there’s no mercy from your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man kids!

Overall this is just a bad rock song, unless you love Mr. Big (does such a person exist?) this is just embarrassing to listen to. Once developers got hold of CD technology they probably thought this would sound really cool but all it actually does is make this game sound like a ridiculous 90s relic.

3. American Idol Gameboy Advance – Whole Soundtrack 

Composers: Various 

Now we’re getting into the good stuff. Just let that heavily compressed cover version of Jennifer Lopez’ “Waiting For Tonight” wash over you. Feel the off key auto tune penetrate your soul and gaze into the true face of fear!


I don’t know whose bright idea cramming a musical rhythm game onto a GBA cart was. If the music wasn’t so hilariously bad sounding you could even be a little impressed they managed to fit the whole game on there. Even if you perform the song flawlessly and don’t miss a note your monstrous singer still warbles aimlessly along with the backing track. This game fails in every way possible, unless they were trying to create the stupidest GBA game of all time.

2. The Adventures of Rad Gravity – Title Screen

Composer: David Warhol

I’ll admit I didn’t even know this game existed before I started researching this topic. I was happier in then. The Adventures of Rad Gravity is one of your run of the mill 2D platformers that sprung up after the success of Super Mario. You take control of Bruce Campbell wannabe Rad Gravity as he goes from planet to planet stabbing cyborg zombies and aliens with his off brand lightsaber. The game might be ok but you know what they say “you never get a second chance at a first impression” and Rad Gravity’s title screen music is just about the worst first impression in all of gaming.

The opening few seconds of this track are impressively bad. If anyone was ever curious what a descent into madness actually sounds like then I think this is the closest representation. The problem with this song is that it actually has a catchy rhythm underneath all the high pitched atonal nonsense, this is the part that infects you mind and will never go away. It…Just…Never…Stops….

The Chessmaster – Title Screen

Composer: Peter Stone


The Chessmaster theme is definitely in contention for one of the funniest songs ever created by the human race. It really is the crown jewel of bad video game music. It’s got everything: farting bass guitar, an atonal piano solo and drums that sound out of time which is almost impossible to do when you’re making digital music!

Chessmaster is exactly what it sounds like, a chess game. Can you imagine sitting down to a nice game of chess with a loved one accompanied to this track? Classical music would have been a better fit with the chess theme, not this experimental jazz-funk slop they came up with. Surely this song is some kind of joke by the developers and composer. I don’t believe that anyone could seriously create this and not be constantly laughing throughout the whole process. Even the eponymous Chessmaster himself looks pained by having to listen to this track.

 And I don’t blame him.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

If you grew up or were born in the 80s, that chances are you watched the Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles at some point. Me and my brother, we were huge fans out mum even made a turtle costume for us to play turtles with. Here’s the photo to prove it.  little me

In the UK they were called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, just incase kids were corrupted by ancient martial arts and nunchucks or something like that. The reasons are a little hazy.

I haven’t seen this since I was a young kid, and I remember it being… Not great, but then what did I know, I thought  . When it was my turn to choose the movie for  my regular bucket o’ chicken night with my friend I had a hankering for some nostalgia, and I wanted to wipe the Michael Bay effort from my mind.

So, the movie starts out with various news outlets reporting about a spate of break ins and gang activity in New York, which has been linked to a Foot Clan, which originated in Japan.

A plucky young reporter by the name of April O’Neil comes under attack in the Subway after some super sleuthing  led her to talk about the Foot Clan on television. After she gets knocked unconscious a mysterious turtle like figure comes to the rescue and takes her back to his sewer.

turtlesHere April meets the rest of the Turtles, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo (Raphael being the one who rescued her), as well as their master, Splinter.

At this point it’s worth mentioning that the characterisations are spot on. Even through those strange rubber suits, they’re all just as I remember them from the show. Raph is the wise-ass, Mikey’s the party dude, Donatello’s the techy guy and Leonardo is the natural leader of the gang. Even dear old splinter is full of Eastern wisdom and serenity just like the old days. Most important of all, they’re still obsessed with pizza!

april oneillThe best character, though is April. She goes out there and follows her heart even though she could get in trouble or lose her job. The truth is what is important to her. Best of all, she has not been overly sexualised. She’s just a regular woman trying to do her job well. She’s not some glamazon, she’s not doing it for revenge or some convoluted reasons about her dad. She’s trying to be a good reporter who is accountable for her own actions. Though sometimes she’s a little left out of the action sequences she still kicks ass in her own way.  

After the introductions it becomes clear that a Foot Soldier has followed Raph back to the turtle lair, after some (intentionally) comedic fighting they all manage to escape, apart from Splinter who gets kidnapped and taken back to meet the leader of the Foot Clan, the evil Shredder.

shredderShredder doesn’t really have that much to do in the film, apart from skulk about and make threats. He also has a hat that looks like a bicycle helmet with bits stuck on and wears a top that looks like he stole it from Prince’s wardrobe, but he does a good job of skulking about.

The turtles and April team up with Casey Jones and start to prepare to take on the foot clan, and ultimately Shredder to take back the city, and their Master from the evil scourge.

I was really expecting this to be really, really terrible. Like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter terrible. Actually, it wasn’t nearly half as bad as I remember it.

Yes, it was pretty cheesy, but so was the cartoon. If you just go with it you’ll love it. There’s plenty of bad puns and dad jokes to give you a good groan, with a secret ‘that was pretty funny’ smile. As well as some great slapstick moments.

Speaking of which, the choreography is done pretty well. When you consider they were four guys in rubber turtle suits it’s actually kind of impressive. The fight scenes are al interesting and provide a good mix of cheesy puns and actual fighting, which is never too violent as this is a PG.

splinter gif.gifThe puppetry works well even if they couldn’t quite get the hang of lip synching and Donatello has this weird thing where his lip keeps going up at the end of every sentence. Though it has to be said, the scene with a pre-mutated Splinter practising ninja moves whilst watching his own Master, Yoshi. It truly is something to behold.

 

Something else I really loved about this is that it really encapsulates the feeling of New York in the late 80s/early 90s when the city was still years away from becoming the relatively safe tourist destination it is today. It feels grimy and dirty, even though it has that PG rating it feels like there is danger in the air every time it ventures into the street of New York.

Even though it has been watered down and made acceptable for children it’s also a great showcase for how gangs operate by finding vulnerable people and giving them a place and people to call their own, a substitute family.

turtle wax

Overall this is a bit cheesy, and maybe a bit naff in parts. Sometimes the story becomes a little confused, but you still get the jist of what’s going on. It might not make a greatest ever movie list, but for what it is, it is great. A piece of nostalgia you can let wash over you like snuggling up to a favourite childhood blankie.

 

Gone Home Review – PS4

Do a cursory online search about this game and you’ll probably see a lot of forum threads asking if Gone Home can actually be classed as a video game. The gaming community has dismissively dubbed games of this nature “Walking Simulators” basically meaning it’s a game where you walk around an environment to experience a story. This is a unique type of storytelling that you can only be done in a video game, where the story can be uncovered in different ways depending on how you explore.

This review will contain general spoilers but I’ll try and keep it vague

In Gone Home you take control of Kaitlin Greenbriar as she returns home from a midnight flight in 1995. You arrive to find the house deserted and a mysterious note on the front door from your younger sister asking you not to go looking for answers. So of course my first instinct is to ignore this and start rummaging around for stuff! Along your way you’ll find handwritten notes all over the house which slowly drip feed you parts of the overall story. When you find an important piece of info you’re treated to a voice over from your sister Sam as she seems to have left you a trail of diary entries explaining what’s happened to her. 

Only 90s Kids Will Remember…

This game is awash with 90’s nostalgia, pretty much every object in the house can be picked up and examined. You’ll find cassette tapes, answering machines, old TVs, recordable VHS tapes labelled “X-Files – season 1”, Super Nintendo carts and lot’s of other innocuous household items young people won’t recognise. 

At it’s core Gone Home is a story of two young girls (your sister Sam and Lonnie) bonding over Street Fighter 2 and punk music and eventually falling in love. As you move through the house you find evidence of their cute moments together. You’ll hear about them going to a punk show together then shortly after you can find a tape of the band they were talking about which you can play in the many cassette players dotted around the house. One of my favourite parts was finding evidence of them making their own Riot Grrrl punk fanzine even showing how they glued together the front cover. This hit close to home for me because my parents met at a punk show in the 80s and punk cassette tapes, fanzines and Super Nintendo games were all things that could be found in my house growing up.

Parental Guidance 

On your travels you can also find out about their parents through notes and items. You can discover that your father is a struggling writer by finding letters back and forth with his publisher and later on coming across a depressingly large stack of his unsold books. You also find evidence that your mother has received a big promotion at her forestry job but later on Sam’s diary entries reference how distant she’s become as a result of her increasing workload. You’re not required to find out about the parents to progress the game but it really adds to your understanding of the story if you do seek it out.

It’s amazing how every piece of information you can find is connected. You’ll see something that seems unimportant like there’s a Skull ornament you can see in the foyer right at the start but you don’t find out until much later that this was the first gift Lonnie gave Sam after a trip to Mexico. Technically you could miss some of these connections too, I’m sure there’s a lot I missed on my first play through but that just makes it even more satisfying when you do link something together. 

I don’t really want to say anymore about the game because the story is best experienced for yourself. This is a pretty short game too, a normal playthrough seems to last about 2 hours depending on how thoroughly you search the house. I really enjoyed my playthrough and for me it’s been a game that has became more impressive the more I’ve been thinking about it. At the time of writing the PS4 version of Gone Home is free for PlayStation Plus subscribers till July 5th so if anything I’ve said interests you give it a download.

★★★★☆

Top 5 Remakes That Were Better Than The Original

As we groan in abject disdain as Hollywood pumps out more and more seemingly pointless remakes (hello Robocop and the-stuck-in-development-hell Highlander) we are in danger of losing sight of the fact that sometimes the remake can actually improve on the original. Yes, the percentages are low, for every Coen Brothers True Grit there is a bargain basement Get Carter, but remakes can sometimes surprise us, adding a new dimension to an old story, and in some cases (which there are two of on this list) new technology and visual effects can provide a more visceral experience.

I admit, I am a little bit of snob when it comes to remakes, especially those that don’t seem have a point to it; doing a remake for the sake of ego boosting or raising the profile of a particular actor/director makes absolutely no sense to me, there has to be an advance or something fresh whether it be political, technological, sociological, whatever… that the original either was lacking or fudged in the first place.

So here we are, my own personal top 5 remakes that were better than the originals.

1. Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1978)

1442674161_11782345_10153643951418914_2886042245437724411_o

The 70s remake of ‘Invasion…’ is on every single one of these remake lists and usually at the top. The reason being because it is absolutely bloody marvellous. The original ‘Invasion…’ was released in 1956 and dismissed without fanfare by the critics but as time as passed it has been widely re-assessed as an allegoric masterpiece tapping into the paranoia and fear of the US populace during the rise of communism and the Soviet Union. The remake keeps the main themes intact, the dangers of conformity, or not asking questions of those around, of just blending into the crowd, of someone exerting complete control over your mind and body, but ramps up the visuals with some deeply disturbing and Cronenberg-esque body horror (see the scene in the garden with Donald Sutherland and bunch of replicated bodies writhing on the grass). And that final scene, oh that final scene, hopeful at first and then horrific afterwards, I dare you to find a closing scene that gives you such a conflicting shock of emotions. Also you get a very, very youthful Jeff Goldblum and Donald Sutherland with a moustache and perm. I don’t know what much more you would need.

2. The Thing (1982)

The-Thing-1982

A remake of an adaptation of book that has its own prequel, The Thing has its origins and tentacles all over modern cinema, but John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi horror is unparalleled in both technical achievement and as a perfect example of how to execute a simple plot in one location with small band of actors. We all know from a previous post how much i admire Kurt Russell and his glorious beard, but credit also has to go to the supporting cast, specifically Keith David as Childs and Donald Moffat as Garry (who has a cracking one liner during the tense blood test stand off). Like ‘Invasion…’ above, the main progression from the original is the special effects. Rob Bottin and his team create some effects and pieces so disgusting and strange that it’s both mildly stomach churning yet extremely difficult to look away. The Thing is not a complex watch but is a compelling one, and again like ‘Invasion…’ and all good sci-fi horror films, the ending is bleak but open for endless theorising, and I am not ashamed to say that I have watched the videos and read the message boards about whether or not Childs or MacReady or either of them is The Thing at the end (and it’s a heck of a rabbit hole).

 

3. The Departed (2006)

The-Departed-6

A remake of the Hong Kong crime drama Infernal Affairs, The Departed is absolutely rammed to the gills of all the actors the Scorsese had on speed dial, apart from De Niro who was probably off making a shit comedy because he is De Niro. You’d think with all that talent, and egos probably, that The Departed would possibly sink under the weight but this is Scorsese and he is the king of keeping an ensemble cast in check (I’m guessing by boomeranging his eyebrows if one of them gets a bit feisty). This is one of those remakes that sort of doesn’t have a point to it apart from it being adapted from the Far East in order to suit the American market and usually that just doesn’t work (I’m looking at you Oldboy and Dark Water), but The Departed is one of those rare occasions  where everything just works. Damon and DiCaprio are the two sides of the same coin with Jack Nicholson, as unpredictable as ever, flipping between the two of them. The supporting cast is sublime (the scenes with Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg out-yelling and out-swearing each other is worth the price of a dvd alone), the script has some wonderfully ornate foul language and strong twists and turns, and while it does run on a little long, The Departed just pips Infernal Affairs in high crime drama stakes.

4. The Fly (1986)

flyhed

Of all the body horror films The Fly is the one that stays with me the most, probably because it’s the most…. juicy. A remake of the 1958 film, it sticks to the core plot of mad scientist mixes atoms with a fly after a cross-contamination incident but takes the gore and excess to new heights. There’s acid vomit, a maggot baby, Jeff Goldblum (who obviously has good taste in sci-fi because this is his second appearance on this list) falling apart in the most grotesque manner possible, and some phenomenally vile set pieces. The 1958 version was shocking at its time, the visual effects disturbed and appalled in equal measure, but watching it now it’s almost amateurish, so Cronenberg’s remake is a prime example of how advancing technology aids and gives reason to a great remake.

 
5. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Audrey-II-in-Little-Shop--007

I’m being bold here and letting you all know that I am not a fan of musicals. Most musicals bring me out in a serious case of hives. Just give me drama, give me comedy, don’t sing it at me. Ya dig? However, I will let Little Shop of Horrors through my musical defences. A remake of a Broadway musical which in turn was based on Roger Corman’s 1960 film, Little Shop of Horrors is an absolute blast. With its tongue firmly in cheek, it presents the story of sad old Seymour and Audrey, desperate to escape the NYC slum and end up in the possession of a strange plant that feeds on human blood. What follows is a bizarre, amusing and pleasingly camp 90 minutes with some wonderful musical song and dance routines, and some glorious cameos from Bill Murray and Steve Martin. The original 60s film wasn’t a musical at all, just a very low budget black comedy and it did work, but when presented with the 80s form with musical additions then you realise that this remake is exactly what Little Shop of Horrors needed.

My Top 5 Books Set In Paris

I’m addicted to Paris. There, I said it.

Around six year ago, my best friend and I decided to travel to Paris, this was my first ever real visit to the city (I’d previously stopped off for a ten minute break while en route to Spain) and the beginning of my obsession. Once I was home I missed Paris more than I can explain so I decided to pretend I was still there by living through books, soon I realised I’d read quite a few books set in Paris and I thought I’d share my favourites.

 

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barberyimages

I wasn’t sure about this book when I first picked it up. It ticked a box by being set in Paris but I’d seen a number of mixed reviews, it seemed some people loved it and some people hated it. The book is translated from French and follows Renée, a concierge for an elite Paris apartment block, who is seen to be fat, lazy and addicted to TV by the residents of the block. In reality Renée is well cultured and actually loves philosophy and art. Paloma is a resident, a twelve year old genius who plans to kill herself on her thirteenth birthday. The two form an unlikely friendship, they both hide their true selves from the world and this forms a strong bond between the pair.

When I first went in to read this, I was worried that the book would be pretentious and boring. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I fell in love with Paloma instantly and cared about her more than I’d cared about a fictional character in a long time. The story was charming and the bond between the two characters was heart-warming.

 

A Week in Paris – Rachel Hore22845483

A romance novel set in Paris during the war? Sounds like everything I’ve ever needed from a book.

It was. Hore’s A Week in Paris was everything I look for in a book.

Fay was born on the day WWII started but she can’t remember the first five years of her life, she has a photograph of her dad but again she cannot recall him, she only knows what people have told her, that he died in an air raid. On a trip to Paris with her orchestra, Fay feels a bond with the city and a feeling she has been there before. She sets out on a quest to learn more about her mother’s past and her own childhood.

I honestly can’t recommend this book enough. The story was beautiful and seeing a young mother struggle to keep her child safe during WWII was endearing. Before I started the read I assumed it was your typical chic lit read but after a few chapters I realised it was much more than that. It was an enjoyable read and I would tell any of my friends to read it. I laughed and cried all the way through.

 

An Officer and a Spy – Robert Harris18007532

This was the first book I read by Harris and instantly I knew I loved his writing. An Officer and a Spy follows Georges Picquart, an ambitious officer who has just been promoted to head of counterespionage. Picquart has been pivitol in the case against Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer, convicted of treason. At first Picquart is sure of Dreyfus’ guilt but as things progress he realises it may not be as black and white as he thought.

This is based on a true story and after reading I was surprised by how easy I found it to read. At times I cried and at times I rejoiced but in the end I came out feeling like I’d read about an important part of history and was better off for it.

 

Sleeping with Paris – Juliette Sobanetparis

Charlotte has everything she’s dreamed of. She’s a French teacher with her dream of moving to Paris to study at the Sorbonne University with the love of her life, merely  days away. Then she finds her finacee’s secret online dating profile along with the messages he’s been sending to a beautiful redhead and her life is thrown into turmoil. Charlotte confronts the situation and decides to move to Paris alone where she can forget her past and embark on a new adventure.

Now I loved this story, this was the first book that really made me want to move to Paris. I loved seeing Paris through Charlotte’s eyes and you could tell that the author loved Paris just as much as I did, if not more. The story and the characters felt real from the beginning, I felt Charlotte’s struggles and I felt her love for the city and the new friends.

And can we just take a second to appreciate Luc… Perfect fictional man alert!

 

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris – Jenny Colgan17618928

Now this is the biggest chic lit novel on the list. Anna works in a chocolate factory in England and she loves her job but after an accident at work she finds herself jobless and very upset. While recovering in hospital Anna meets Claire who helps to teach Anna French during their time in hospital. To help Anna recover, emotionally and physically, Claire offers to help Anna out, she puts her in touch with an old friend from Paris who offers Anna a job in their chocolate factory. Anna soon finds out that Parisian chocolate factories are a lot different than English and she realises that Paris might be everything she needs.

This story was beautifully written, I’d previously read a Colgan book before but struggled to get into it. This time however I was hooked within a few pages. The description of Paris was beautiful and after reading, all I wanted to do was run around those cobbled streets with an attractive Frenchman on my arm.

Fantastic Four Review

spoiler alert

There are spoilers in here, so proceed with caution if you care about spoilers.

 

The Fantastic Four do not have a great history when it comes to big screen adaptations.

1994
For some reason it didn’t do well

There was the 1994 adaptation that no one really remembers, though I’m not sure how anyone could forget that Thing costume. He looks like one of the Goombas from the Mario Bros movie.

Then Marvel waited eleven years and released a reboot, after all comic book movies were farting out money by this time. It was like they couldn’t fail. Yet the 2005 movie managed to do just that. It left both critics and fans pretty cold, though it must have made some money because Marvel decided a sequel was well worth the effort.

Rise of the silver Surfer was the only Fantastic Four movie I had seen, and it was… Not good to say the least, with an incoherent plot and a lot of questions about the relationships between the characters, it was pretty excruciating to watch.

2015
Look at how dark it is. Must  be really gritty and realistic.

After so many failures I was quite surprised to hear they were doing another reboot. Naturally I approached this new reboot with some trepidation, worried that it’d be full of weird costumes and quips that just aren’t funny. My caution was well deserved.

The films starts with a young Reed Williams (Miles Teller) who gets picked on for inventing a teleport at the age of 12. He recruits the help of one Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) and the become BFFs, awww.

The science teacher declare his science project unscientific (for some reason, I suspect it was supposed to be out of fear) and declares them disqualified from the science fair. Luckily Professor Storm just so happens to be there and recruits Reed to help him and his kids Sue (Kate Mara) and Johnny (Michael. B Jordan) on a project to build a ‘quantum gate’. Which is not so much a gate, but like a pod… Thing.


After them doing some sciencey type stuff Reed, Ben, Johnny and a guy called Victor Von Doom (I bet you can’t guess what happens to that guy) go into the quantum gate on a mission for science, leaving Sue Storm back at the office to look after the computers and stuff.

green planet

Stuff goes wrong on the alternative planet they find themselves on after stabing the ground and angering it. Reed, Johnny and Ben manage to get back to the gate (though not before getting a dose of radiation) and Sue gets electrocuted from her computer or something. It was hard to tell exactly what happened with her.

Unfortunately they couldn’t save Victor Von Doom from, well, his doom and he gets left behind

After spending a few months of being hooked up to various beeping machines Reed escapes and finds his friends have been turned into a talking pile of rubble (The Thing), a fireman (The Human Torch) and an invisible lady (The Invisible Woman). He feels really guilty about this, so he escapes leaving them in the hands of the government for a year.

In the last 20 mins of the film they go back into the quantum gate for some reason and find Victor still alive, though after spending a year on a radioactive planet has left him looking kinda like a big lump of coal. After dragging him back to Earth it turns out he’s a little bitter about the whole being left on a violent glowing, radioactive planet for a year and starts to destroy the world.

doom

And here you will find the best line in the film. They’re trying to reason with Victor only to be told ‘There is no Victor, only Doom’. I can’t figure out with that was an intentional reference to Ghostbusters or if they were all in the writing room feeling very pleased with themselves for coming up with such an awesome line. I like to think it’s the latter. 

Finally the heroes get together to fight the big evil and become the Fantastic Four.

OK, so the main thing that’s wrong with this film is that It takes far, far too long to get to the good stuff, which is super heroes with some awesome powers fighting a bad guy with equally awesome (but evil) powers. This though, gets all bogged down in it’s own history. As if the audience is going to be sitting there not believing what they are seeing because they don’t know every precise detail of why that guy can light himself on fire. He’s a super hero, it’s the sort of shit they do! 

I feel it would have actually worked a lot better if they had just left the origin story thing for now and just let them have an adventure with mild references to their origins. Thus setting it up for another movie and which could concentrate on just one or two of them.

mr fantastic
It’s actual cannibal Miles Teller

Miles Teller always has a bit of a gormless look on his face and somehow manages to come across as an even less charismatic Shia laBeouf, making Mr Fantastic (as he is known once he becomes stretchy) just, meh. He’s there and he’s smart, there is nothing else to say about him. The others were just as bland. Personally I found there to be little chemistry between the main four actors. With the exception of Reed and Ben they just felt like four work colleagues who didn’t really like each other. So it felt a little forced when they come together at the end to fight the sudden appearance of Doom.

The special effects are pretty awesome and they’ve really made the characters look great and realistic once they do get their powers. It just takes so long to get to that point and the characters themselves are so bland that you simply don’t care. It’s like at Christmas when you came downstairs all excited at the presents nestled under the tree with their bright wrapping, inviting wrapping paper. Only when you tear it off it’s a roll of sellotape and a pair of black socks, not even novelty ones.

The story is just all over the place and you just don’t care about anything that happens, there’s no one strong character to route for or care about. They’re all just floundering  about with nothing to do. 

Marvel clearly really love The Fantastic Four. They keep resurrecting them every few years despite it being a major stink bomb each time. Maybe they love them too much and need to take a step back and look at it objectively. Stop dragging these poor guys through the mud, Marvel!

I’ve never read the comics, but they’ve been going for years, surely there’s an interesting story in amongst the hundreds of issues for them to draw on instead of yet another origin story?

joss whedon
He even comes with his own hat

Come on Marvel, just draught in Joss Whedon again and let him have a go next time. It is not good when your movie earns five Golden Raspberries (though Worst Picture was tied with 50 Shades of Grey… Yeah, that’s right, this is 50 Shades bad!).

 

 

If you’re a really big fan of the comics there might be something in here for you to enjoy, though I would recommend giving this a miss.

★★☆☆☆