Thoughts on…

Thoughts on… My Most Watched Actors (2019 Edition)

Back in October 2017 I posted about which actors I’ve watched the most films from. Two years later, I thought it’d be fun to revisit that and see what might have changed. I get these stats from Letterboxd where I have a pro account. I love the stats Letterboxd can give you as it’s not just your yearly film-watching stats, but also there’s stats that take into account every film you’ve ever watched.

First thing I noticed that’s changed over the past two years is the amount of films I must’ve watched in general and it’s made getting a spot on my top 20 list quite competitive. In 2017 my most watched actor (Samuel L. Jackson) had 35 film to his name and the least watched actors (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rachel Weisz) each had 19 films to their name. That’s changed a lot in just over two years and now my most watched actor (still Samuel L. Jackson) has 43 films to his name, while my least watched actors (Rachel Weisz, Jim Broadbent and Maggie Smith) each have 24 to their name. I think this is partly down to how last year I watched 365 different films – don’t ask me how I did it, I’m not sure but I’m definitely not putting that kind of pressure on myself again – plus, you know two years going by means there’s a lot of time to watch films from a variety of actors.

I’m happy to see over the past couple of years that there’s more female actors making into my top twenty most watched actors list. Keira Knightley (whose films I’ve watched a lot of this year) and Maggie Smith have joined Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson. Also got two more black actors here with Idris Elba (who has actually made my most watched actors list two out of the past three years I’ve had Letterboxd and he’s comfortably going to be on it again this year) and Denzel Washington.

It would obviously be nice if more women and people of couple made my top twenty most watched actors of all time but baby steps. I know for a fact there’s some actors like Anna Kendrick, Anthony Mackie, Dwayne Johnson and Emma Thompson that are just missing out on a spot. Still, based on a quick scan of Letterboxd, at the moment it’s more likely that a white woman will get a spot on my most watched actors list than any other person. This is obviously down to my taste in films, and what films are available to me in the cinema or via Netflix of similar, but it reinforces the fact I still want to broaden my film watching horizons.

Though saying that, I do watch more films not in the English language and more independent films and more films made by women each year. I think the problem is that historically I didn’t have the statistics to look at (I got Letterboxd in 2016) so there was over 20 years of film watching where I watched what I wanted without any real thought about who was in it bar whether or not I liked the actors. And that’s fine because for most of those 20 years I was a child/teenager where I just watched what I liked and what was available without a care in the world.

I know making my film viewing more diverse will take time and that’s OK. I still watch what I want to watch, whether that’s because it’s got a certain actor in it I like, or the trailer looks good, or it’s a genre I like, without feeling pressured that I should be watching highbrow films that are from a certain niche area.

In short – watching diverse films with diverse talent is a good thing that I want to continue doing, but this revisit to these stats two years on shows me that making a big dent in this will take time. But I have my whole life to watch as many films as I like with many different people starring in them, so while I will probably continue to check in on these stats every couple of years to see how things stand, I won’t stress about it too much.

My final thought about looking at my top twenty most watched actors list today is; it does make me smile that in two years I’ve only watched one more Bruce Willis film since 2017 (I told you I wasn’t a fan of his) but he’s still got quite a comfortable spot there.

Thoughts on… Reading Slumps

I like routines especially when it comes to my blog. On Monday’s I post a film review and on Thursday’s I post a book review and if there’s something else I want to write about it’ll go live on any other day – that’s how I’ve done it for years now. I’m pretty consistent when it comes to that “schedule” but it’s tough to keep up with it when you’re in a reading slump.

I’ve read two books this month and I’m currently in the middle of two more; The Dry by Jane Harper on audio and I’m reading a physical copy of Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi. It’s not unusual for me to be reading one book on audio and another in physical format at the same time, but what is unusual is that it’s two and a half weeks since I started the physical book and it’s less than 300 pages long.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a reading slump.

I think this one has been brought about by life being a bit more busy than usual. I’ve started a new job, I did a movie marathon for charity, and I have family-related things I’m perhaps I’m subconsciously worrying about. I say subconsciously as I’m very much a person who doesn’t think they get stressed, until my body gives up in some shape or form and I realise I wasn’t feeling that great. Time to read and being in the right headspace to read is definitely the main factor. And while I do find the premise of Frankenstein in Baghdad interesting and I like how it has a large cast of characters, I never feel compelled to pick it up even though when I am reading it, I enjoy it. It’s a weird situation to be in.

This long weekend I plan to either finish Frankenstein in Baghdad or consciously put it aside and pick up something else. I can always go back to Frankenstein in Baghdad when I’m more in the mood for it. Because that’s something I’ve learnt about myself over the many years I’ve been reading – I am a mood reader.

That’s why my TBR’s are often pointless as I might read one or two books from them but the rest of that week/month/whatever I’ll read completely different things. With my Read the World Project I do think I put pressure on myself to read certain books and quickly. The plan with that project was to read a book from every country in the world before I turn 30 which is in less than two and a half years now and I have about 100 countries still left to read. While I enjoy reading books from different people in different places, and I’ve certainly found some favourites that I would never have heard of if it wasn’t for this challenge, there’s sometimes an underlying sense of guilt if I’m reading books that don’t fit for the challenge.

I think really for me, reading slumps are something that happens when I’m drained, can’t focus on the physical act of reading, and can’t find a book that suits my mood. To get myself out of reading slumps I tend to go to graphic novels as they are so much shorter and quicker to read than a novel. If I read a couple of graphic novels, I feel like I’ve achieved something and can then attempt to read a novel next.

I’m still learning to tell myself that putting aside a book to try it again at a later date, or just admitting that it’s not for me and DNF-ing it, is absolutely fine. I haven’t “wasted time” on that book and it’s totally OK to just have a break from reading if my mind is not up to it – blogging schedule be damned!

I hope this all makes sense. I was trying to write through how my feelings on reading and how that relates to blogging. I also have a clearer idea of how I’m going to think about my current read, my reading slump, and what kind of book(s) I want to read next. Have you ever had a reading slump? And if you have, how have you gotten yourself out of it? It’s always good to hear other people’s tips and tricks.

Thoughts on… Blogmas

Blogmas is almost over and it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve felt I haven’t really given the blogmas challenge my all, especially in the past week, and that’s been due to life, a lack of inspiration for posts and not being as prepared as I hoped to be.

I’d decided I wanted to try and do blogmas way back in October. I had some blog ideas, had even started drafting some, but didn’t have anything properly written or scheduled. Then I was without a laptop for almost three weeks in November due to mine dying and having to be sent away to fix. I was able to borrow a laptop from work, but I definitely didn’t get as much blogmas prep done compared to if I’d had my own computer.

I took part and completed blogtober last year and towards the end of that challenge I was finding it hard to think of things to write about, so because blogmas is shorter (by six days but still) I thought it’d be easier. In some ways it was. I fell back on weekly posts like Book Blogger Hop and Top 5 Wednesday to help me out, and I had my usual weekly film and book reviews, but that still left three or four other days each week to fill. I did write some posts I’m proud of. I loved writing all my thoughts on audiobooks and how my attitude towards them have changed, and the Avengers: End Game trailer led me writing a trailer reaction for the first time in ages and one that was almost 800 words long.

I do enjoy how events like blogmas gets me to push myself when it comes to blogging. It gets me to think of more creative posts than my usual book and film reviews, but at the same time it makes me appreciate my weekly book and film reviews. I like having a routine with my blog, both because it’s nice for me and, I presume, my readers like the regular mix of film and books and don’t mind my eclectic tastes that much.

Blogmas, like blogtober and the A-Z in April Challenge, taught me that I can write more and manage to post everyday – whether that’s through being organised and scheduling days or weeks ahead, or by getting something up at about 10pm like this post is going to be. But I don’t want the pressure of posting every day if I don’t have to have it. Blogging should be fun, and for me it still is even after having this blog for five years now. That’s an achievement to me and I hope I still enjoy blogging just as much in five more years – if blogging is still something I want to be doing of course!

Thoughts on… Foreign Language Films

I’ve realised that this year I’ve watched way more films that aren’t in English, than I have in previous years. In fact, in the Spring I watched more films in a foreign language than I had in the last couple of years combined.

I’m not sure why I don’t watch more films that are in another language because there’s so many films out there that could be great and to not watch them just because I’ve got to read subtitles is just silly.

I’ve noticed that when I watch films with subtitles, I pay more attention to the film and can therefore get absorbed into the story and characters more. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve found some random film in English on Netflix that I’m not super excited about and it’s just something to watch, I often find myself scrolling through Twitter etc as I can still hear and understand what’s happening even if the film doesn’t have my full attention. When I’m watching a film that’s not in English and has subtitles, I don’t touch my phone for the full runtime of the film and I get so much more out of it because of that.

One of my favourite foreign language films is Banlieue 13. It’s a French action film full of brilliant stunts and it’s a lot of fun. The first time I saw it, I watched it dubbed as it was playing on a coach on a school trip to France. I loved it as soon as I saw it and bought my own copy, including the sequel, as soon as I could. Ever since then I watch it with the subtitles.

I prefer to watch films not in English with the subtitles, as then you get to hear the voice performance of the actors as the filmmakers intended. I get pulled into foreign language films and barely notice the subtitles once I’m 10 minutes into the film.

Some of my favourite films not in English that I’ve watched this year is the South Korean Train to Busan and the Danish The Guilty. Both are fantastic and super tense and, or course, they are both set to get American remakes. It’s a shame that so many people don’t step out of their comfort zone and won’t watch something that’s not in their native language. There’s so much out there and I know there’s more I want to catch up on so give me all your foreign language film recommendations!

Thoughts on… Film Award Season

It’s mid-December and that means only one thing – film award season is heating up.

Award season is interesting to say the least and it can be annoying, overwhelming and relentless. I do have a vague interest in award season and what films get nominated for Golden Globes, SAG awards, Oscars and everything else. Part of it is because I’m a part of #FilmTwitter as there’s no escape from it all. It can be annoying and all the arguments when different films are slated or snubbed or praised can make me dislike a film. Which of course is not a good thing because the film should be judged on your viewing experience of it, not what awards it has or hasn’t been nominated for or what other people think about it.

One year when I was at university, I think it was the 2013 to 2014 awards season, I decided to try and watch all the films that would be nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress at the Oscars. Living in the UK that meant that I would get the “Oscar bait” aka all the films that was likely to be nominated for the big awards a month or two after America. It was an interesting experience but not one that I want to repeat any time soon.

I watched films that I wouldn’t normally watch. For instance, Nebraska which I can’t remember anything about and August: Osage County and the only thing I remember about that film is disliking every single one of the characters. Attempting to see all the films that will get Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress nominations was something I did to be able to say, “I’ve seen that film!” and when the nominations actually came out, I could have an opinion on all the nominees in a category. Now though, I can’t be bothered to be honest. I would rather watch films that I think I’m going to enjoy or are something I want to see no matter what nominations it does or doesn’t get and while there can be some very enjoyable and interesting “Oscar bait” films I don’t want to force myself to watch them if I don’t want to.

I think this time of year with all the awards it is sometimes just a bit much. Everyone has an opinion and there’s so many films out there, so naturally some of the films and the performances that are being talked about I haven’t seen but now I don’t feel that I must catch up. That’s because the films or performances are ones I don’t want to watch or are in horror films or are other genres that I’m not interested in and am 99% sure I won’t enjoy.

I’ll admit I’m a bit surprised that Widows isn’t getting more nominations, as I thought the performances and script were top notch, but I’ve learnt not to get too caught up in awards season. Though, I do readily admit that I love that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is one of three films (the other two being Ben-Hur and Titanic) to have one 11 Oscars and, I believe, is the only film to have one an award in every category it was nominated in. But besides that little titbit, I’m not going to let awards season, and the 2019 Oscars, get me down.

Do you try to have an opinion on every film that gets nominated for the big awards? Or does Oscar-season just pass you by?

Thoughts on… Audiobooks

Before this year I had never listen to an audiobook for before. Well, that’s kind of a lie. I remember listening to cassette tapes of the Animal Ark books by Lucy Daniels when I was a child. I word listen to them on a walkman and I had a cassette player by my bed and I would sometimes listen to them at night before falling asleep instead of reading a book.

Back from the age of say 7 years old to nearly 20 years later I haven’t really listened to audiobook but that was until this year. At the end of 2017 I started a new job where I could walk to work every day, instead of getting the train as I had previously. When I was commuting to work by train I would read on the train, but now I didn’t have that time I wasn’t reading as much. So that’s when I started looking into audiobooks, so I could listen to something as I walked to and from work and also maybe when I was walking around town on my lunch break. Obviously, I’d heard of Audible but when I looked into that it’s kind of expensive and I rarely read physical books more than once so I doubt I’ll ever listen to an audiobook more than once so when I joined local library I discovered they have audiobooks you can borrow from the library.

I downloaded a couple of apps one is called Borrow Box and another is called RBdigital and these are the two I use the most. Obviously different libraries have different catalogues, so some have more choice than others but since January I’ve listened to two audiobooks a month on average depending how long the audiobook is.

I’m finding that audiobooks are a great way for me to read more books during a month or a year. And it’s a way for me to read books that have been on my shelves for a long time that I was perhaps intimidated by. For instance, I listen to the audiobook of The Three Musketeers over the summer, a book that I’ve had on my shelf for at least 15 years and I had yet to read it and I doubt I would have read the physical copy. Last month I listened to the audiobook of Dune by Frank Herbert and that was definitely a book that was so big and such a classic that I really don’t think I would’ve read it if it wasn’t for the audiobook. I listened to Bleak House on audio this year and I think that made it an easier book to understand because listening to the characters talk and the description made it less dense than the few times I’ve tried to read my paperback copy of Bleak House.

I find audiobooks are not only good way of reading intimidating books that I’ve had my possession but also to find new books I hadn’t heard of before. It has been audiobooks that I’ve listen to a lot for my Read the World Project and because I’ve borrowed them through the library, they haven’t cost me any money.

I think once upon a time I believed that audiobooks weren’t “real books” and if you listen to audiobooks you weren’t reading but I stand corrected. Whether you read a book that’s a physical copy or an e-book or you listen to an audiobook, you are still consuming the story and I think that’s the most important thing.

I am now an audiobook convert I think they’re brilliant and so handy and such a great way to get stories to people that might not have the time to sit down and dedicate time to reading a physical copy. I can listen to a least an hour each day of an audiobook on my walk to and from work. If I’m doing the cleaning or cooking, I’m usually listen to my audiobook then as well so I’m still paying attention and I’m still consuming the story, but I don’t have to dedicate all my time to the action of reading when I’m listening to an audiobook.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, where do you get your audiobooks from? I’m always looking for cheap and new ways to listen to audiobooks.

Thoughts on… Living Alone

I’ve been living with a flatmate for a year now and it’s going really well. We have different schedules, I work 9-5 during the week and he works from home and stays up super late, so we don’t really see each other that much but it works for us.

Every now and then my flatmate goes away for anything between a few days to a couple of weeks for either work or a holiday. He’s away at the minute and he’s been gone for almost a week and won’t be back for another week and a bit, and anytime he’s away I find myself acting like how I presume I would if I lived alone.

Let me explain. First of all, my flatmate doesn’t cook. Seriously, all he uses is the microwave and the toaster. I’m not exactly an adventurous cook but I do regularly use the oven and/or the hob so that means I use a lot of kitchenware. We have a dishwasher, but my flatmate is the only one who uses it as I’ve previously never lived anywhere that had a dishwasher, so I don’t know how to use the thing. That means I wash all my dishes and pots and pans in the sink – I’m happy to do that as it’s what I’m used to. When it’s the two of us, I wash and dry and put away all the stuff I’ve used straight away. But, when my flatmate’s away I find myself still washing everything up straightaway, but I leave it on the draining board to dry and then it might take me two days to put things back in the cupboard. To be honest I haven’t put the bowl and spoon I have for my cereal each morning away since he’s been gone – it lives on the draining board now.

I find myself doing other odd little things as well like leaving things in the lounge when I’d normally put them straight in my room or walking around the flat in my pyjamas when I’d at least put a hoody on top first.

None of this stuff is particularly bad, and I’m sure he has habits or forgets about certain things when I’ve been away for work or a holiday, but it makes me think that if or when I ever get a place to call my own (#millenialproblems) will I leave stuff to dry on the draining board, or will I want my home to always be neat and tidy? I don’t know.

I know I’d tidy up and make sure all the dishes were away if I ever invited friends over, so why don’t I do that extra step when I’m on my own? Let’s be real, I know the answer to that – laziness. Still, while I’m sharing this flat with my flatmate, I’ll keep all the shared living space clean and tidy, at least when he’s here! I’ll make sure everything’s back to normal the day before he gets back!