Weekly Ramble No. 18

The highlight of the week just gone was going to see the marvellous Horne Section at Loughborough Town Hall. The Horne Section are a six member musical comedy team as funny as they are musically talented.

It was a weekday night full of injuries ranging from the stiff neck of the woman whose shoulders her partner climbed onto at the behest of band leader Alex Horne during one of the many audience participation sections, the woman who fell on the stairs before the show even started, and one of the Horne Section who had knee surgery six months ago banging his knee against a glass coffee table while dancing along to a YMCA parody on stage.

The show was a hoot with lots of audience interaction (some might say too much) and non-stop comedy from the talented band. Some bits, like the ‘caveat songs’, ‘Lovely Day’ and the ‘Baker Street’ sections, were recognisable from their stints on Channel Four’s 8 out of 10 Cats does Countdown, but the bulk of their act was new to me and made for a greatly enjoyable evening.

Saturday night was Eurovision Song Contest night. I had some fun and games swapping one line comments about each act with friends on Facebook and laughing at Graham Norton’s irreverent commentary. I was particularly taken with the songs from Armenia, The Netherlands, Azerbaijan (always one of my favourites) and Belgium. Belgium in particular deserved to do better when the voting finally started – the nervous 17-year Blanche’s performance reminded me a lot of Lorde. There were two other youngsters competing and indeed it was Portugal’s very peculiar La La Land style song from a odd looking long-haired Jake Gyllenhaal lookalike that won the day. I thought it was pish. Siggy wanted Moldovo to win.

The songs were of disappointingly high quality this year but some of the staging more than made up for the lack of crappy lyrics. We were treated to a gorilla busting moves alongside the bookies’ favourite Italy, two White Stripes looking hippies on a boat for no apparent reason, a couple of semi-naked guys splashing around to Greece’s song and a big bloke singing a duet to himself. Oh and there was the yodelling/hip-hop crossover song. However, I’ll share my favourite from Belgium:

Also well done to the UK for getting enough votes to almost, almost, stay on the left hand side of the voting table. It was sure better than a lot of previous entries and let’s face it, we are never going to win unless we can somehow convince Little Mix to enter.

Also on the telly-box courtesy of Amazon video was Season 2 of Hap and Leonard subtitled Mucho Mojo. It was an intriguing tale of missing black kids in a Texas town based on the novel by Joe R Lansdale. As with the first season, it ran for only six episodes but was very enjoyable. James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams (Omar in The Wire) are the stars surrounded by excellent supporting actors.

Book vs Movie (and spoiler alert)
My reading matter was a sun bleached and battered copy of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins which I bought for Siggy a long time ago, she read on holiday and I cadged for future perusal. I finally got around to reading it as I was intrigued by the movie trailers and felt I was missing some kind of chicklit milestone.

I enjoyed it a lot despite figuring out who the murderer was going to turn out to be about a third of the way through. If you ask yourself why certain characters are included and look at their behaviour as presented very early on, then it’s pretty obvious.

Hawkins dishes out the supposed mystery-solving details in bitesize chunks evenly over the course of the book from the point of view of the three female characters – broken-hearted alcoholic Rachel, Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife Anna, and Megan the girl from a few doors down who Rachel often sees from the train and who goes missing and then is found dead. There’s no artifice in the first person narratives to make out they are found diary entries or confession transcripts; the characters just talk right at you. It works very well, and the concept of the ‘unreliable narrator’ comes to the fore.

So, with the book under my belt (or passed to Siggy’s sister in actual fact), Siggy and I sat down to watch The Girl on the Train movie adaptation. The choices of what to keep, what to change and what to ditch in the process of making a film adaptation of a novel fascinate me. The biggest change is that the film is set in America (near New York) rather than in the suburbs of London, so those British actors involved get to try out their American accents.

I imagined Rachel to be more frumpy than Emily Blunt who does a very good portrayal of a drunk. The lovely Haley Bennett (recognised by me as being in The Magnificent Seven remake) plays Megan. She says that Mac her old boyfriend was her dead brother’s best friend which I don’t recall being the case in the book. All the characters get to talk to other people a whole lot more than in the book which helps jettison the single-sided nature of the narrative.

Scott, Megan’s husband, is played by Luke Evans (Bard in The Hobbit films) with an American accent that is almost as bad as Jason Statham’s. Luke’s been working out since I last saw him, so he’s a pretty buff attraction for Rachel. Tom is played by Justin Theroux who after a quick look I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw him. Poor casting perhaps?

The mysterious red-haired man is featured very early in the film and so is not as mysterious as he is in the book. Rachel talks at an AA meeting that I’m sure didn’t happen in the book and police detective Gaskill takes appears subordinate to female detective Riley. A conscious effort to add a fourth female protagonist to the mix methinks.

The fact that Rachel isn’t working is revealed to her flat mate Cathy (played by Laura Prepon – Orange is the New Black) very early on and a whole lot smoother and quicker. Ditto telling the police about seeing Megan kissing an unknown man on her patio. It dawned on me at this point that the book and film a bit like Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

Anna’s decline into the same behaviour as Rachel isn’ brought out very well in the film and Scott finds out that Megan is pregnant before they even find her body. Edgar Ramirez as Kamal Abdic the shrink is far less ‘foreign looking’ than described in the book and doesn’t let the cat out of the bag about Megan’s piss poor parenting skills to the media.

Scott goes around to Rachel’s place to confront her over her lies and so doesn’t lock her in his spare room. So when Rachel goes to the cops to complain about him it’s not an accusation of kidnapping that she gives to Riley (Gaskill has long since shuffled off for a donut never to be seen again). The confrontation between Riley and Rachel in the police station bogs is a new scene and so is Rachel’s confrontation with the red-haired man at the bar, the lipstick smearing selfie video in some other bogs near the start of the film and the chat with Pheobe from Friends on the titular train. It’s good of her to provide the bombshell that ‘Tom got fired because he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants’ which triggers Rachel’s memories.

Talking of Tom, there’s no scene where they park near a lake and Rachel kisses his hand. Also missing is Libby’s grave alongside Megan’s after the dust has settled. What’s been left out on the whole is justifiable and I was impressed with the streamlining the screenwriters have done to keep the pace of the film chugging along like that train. It’s hard for me to be that impressed with the film though because the story was so fresh in my mind that there was pretty much zero suspense for me. It’s a pity some kind of droid memory wipe couldn’t have been performed before I watched the film, but then I wouldn’t have bene able to write this bit of the blog. And perhaps, perhaps, perhaps that might have been a blessing eh? Whatevs, until next week toodle-pip!

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