Friday, November 10, 2017

Books and films: big disappointments and pleasant surprises

On many occasions, I have gone to see a film or bought a book on the basis of a very promising trailer, extract or review only to have my high expectations severely disappointed.

On a very few occasions the exact opposite happened when I gave the benefit of the doubt to something that had bad reviews: I watched the film and read the book with very low expectations, only to get some pleasant surprises.

Perhaps it is time I learned not to fall for the very old trick where the best parts are used to entice people into watching the film or buying the book in the hope of getting much more of the same. The suckers discover the hard way that they have wasted their money; what they have already seen or read was as good as it gets.  

A very disappointing book
I need to learn to recognise misleading hype too. I am still feeling cheated and angry about a book I bought on the basis of a one-paragraph extract that resonated strongly with my interests and experience. This was a while back; there was no Look Inside option – there still isn’t, I wonder why - and not much in the way of reviews either.

I was disgusted to find that this one good paragraph was all the book had to offer: the rest was what seemed to me like rubbish and ridiculous drivel. I was expecting it to be serious and informational. There is now a very negative review on Amazon that I could have written myself. Interestingly, the good reviews are written by semi-literate people.

I won’t give the author publicity by naming it, and I won’t be getting the other books in the series either.

Two unexpectedly good films
Perhaps these things are partly a matter of personal taste, although when it comes to films, in the majority of cases I agree with the majority of reviewers’ opinions and classifications.

There are two big exceptions. I decided to give them a chance despite mostly bad reviews because something told me they were worth watching and because I could see them at home on TV via Freeview.

I really liked The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Someone told me that Sean Connery thought it was the worst film he had ever made, but I don’t care; I form my own opinions. I love the way the classic characters come together to fight evil. I hope that it comes on TV again soon. A sequel, or perhaps a remake, is said to be in preparation.

Another film that I would love to see again is the prehistoric epic 10,000 BC (not to be confused with One Million Years BC, which I thought was awful). It has been described as spectacularly historically inaccurate, but I don’t care. The civilisation that resembles Ancient Egypt and the mysterious ruler ‘The Almighty’ are what made the film especially worth watching for me.

Lessons to learn
Intuition can go into reverse and inner demons can cause us to waste resources and make mistakes.  It is also best to do research before making commitments. 

Even where relatively small matters such as buying books or going to see films are concerned, it is best to make decisions on good days. If I had not been very preoccupied because a new bathroom was being installed, I might not have bought that awful book.