Watching - March 2021

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
As I write this, I am listening to Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen", which can only mean one thing: we watched the incomparable Ferris Bueller. Z hadn't seen it and no further excuse was needed for us all to watch it again, on our Saturday pizza 'n' movie night. Great fun, as always - I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy it, as I have seen it so many times, but it was and is brilliant. And yes, you can get bogged down with carping about how entitled Ferris is, or about some of the more dated scenes (Ferris dashing past two women in bikinis and then stopping to introduce himself) but I think to do so is largely pointless. It's nearly forty years old, for goodness' sake. Just enjoy it as a slice of eighties escapism.
High School Musical (2006)
HSM first entered our lives when K was about five, I think, and so is forever known in our house as "Highsical Musical", because that's what she called it at the time. I have sometimes described my relationship with it as being down to a kind of Stockholm Syndrome but, crassness aside, I really do love this film now - as does the whole family, and we can basically all talk and sing along with the whole thing.
High School Musical 2 (2007)
... and so the following evening we watched the second HSM. Notably less keen-ness from the family (two of whom disappeared from the living room half-way through), and possibly because it's not quite as good as the first one. Still, plenty to smile about.
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008)
The dining room was still out of action (being decorated) so we were eating dinner in the living room and that was apparently reason to continue our theme of the last few nights. Enough excuses though - once you're in the HSM world this is a great finish to the trilogy and ties off all ends satisfactorily. I don't think we'll go on to Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure though.
Friends With Benefits (2011)
I watched this about a year ago on a whim (on Now TV iirc), not because I knew anything about it but because it sounded like a cool film. I really enjoyed it, bought the DVD and wanted to come back to it. It's sparky, sassy, sexy and probably a bunch of other things beginning with 's' that I can't think of right now; Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake (neither of whom I knew anything about, as actors anyway, before this) are great together, and if there are couple of slightly disjointed moments on second watching, it doesn't detract from the film for me. A bit cliched perhaps (it's a very standard romcom story arc) but no worse for it - great fun.
The Muppets (2011)
For some reason this has 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, which was partly why we watched it (on B's suggestion). It's not that good (TMDB's 66% is more realistic) but it's pleasingly meta to begin with, even if the plot becomes pretty standard ("we can do it if we all pull together!"), and it's a nice family film. For adult, there's enough cameos to make spotting them entertaining - my favourite was Dave Grohl as a substitute Animal - and B and I were happy to realise that the reason we knew the main song was because Sara Cox uses it in her show.
The Truman Show (1998)
I showed this to Z last year on the off-chance and was slightly surprised he liked it. But he did, and it was his choice this evening. A classic, of course, even if (as always) the details don't bear too much thinking about (so Meryl says she wants a baby, but actually she's an actor, so really that makes her ... errr).

Reading - March 2021

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (2020)
This is, of course, a very clever book, as you would expect from Richard Osman. Clever in its plotting, clever in its use of language, but, above all, clever in its choice of setting and characters. Essentially a modern-day Miss Marple, set in a retirement village instead of an actual village, it is very up-to-date and very English at the same time, with a selection of characters who aren't stereotypes but nevertheless cover a nice spectrum of today's Britain. Osman, a man whose "real" job until recently was creating shows people would want to watch, is clearly now doing the same for people who want to read. I don't think it's criticism to suggest that a fair amount of thought probably went into what would appeal - and very successfully, clearly. None of which is to say that this book isn't very good, or to try and damn it with faint praise - I enjoyed it very much. Osman writes very well - definite shades of Victoria Wood and Alan Bennett, which is a Good Thing - and there's more then one scene that I found moving. Highly recommended. (and a big thanks to C, who bought it for my birthday!)
Ramble Book by Adam Buxton (2020)
I know vaguely who Adam Buxton is but I am pretty sure I have never heard or seen him do anything at all, apart from the "Help the Police" sketch which a friend sent me once and is very funny. So perhaps I should have watched more. Anyway, my lovely sister recommended this book because it's about growing up in the 80s while being slightly obsessed with David Bowie, which she said sounded like me for some reason.  And yes, it has plenty that rang a lot of bells. It's easy reading, Adam is pleasant company, and I enjoyed it.
The Guitar Magazine (April 2021 / Issue 391)
More Than A Woman by Caitlin Moran (2020)
A follow up to the excellent How To Be A Woman, but one I found uneven and frustrating, even though I agree with so much of it. It starts off very light, almost like observational comedy - and when she's saying things like "all women have a cushion strategy" (pre-empted by Coupling there though!), this kind of sweeping generalisation is amusing, because it's (surely) tongue-in-cheek. But the tone of the book gets gradually more serious and those kind of statements become uncomfortably at odds with her obvious desire to help women escape exactly these kind of stereotypes that imprison them. I like the fact that she's changed her mind on some issues as she's got older, and she's eloquent as ever on the pressures faced by women. It just bothers me that, despite her upbringing in a very poor household, she now seems to completely live in media land. Obviously, getting harassed on Twitter is a real issue and a real problem - but is it a real issue for most women? Or just the ones she knows (who all happen to be public figures)? Very readable, very funny and very candid and definitely worth reading, but falls short as a polemic.