A Book and Film Blog

Friday, 30 June 2017

Film Review: The Age of Adaline

'The Age of Adaline' is yet another film that tries to address the concept of ageing, using implausible "science", to justify an essentially very silly plot. If you can get over that, and the inexplicable and often jarring storybook narration throughout, there's stuff in here to be enjoyed.

Blake Lively stars as Adaline Bowman, a woman born in 1908 who meets and loses her husband in the construction of the Golden Gate bridge. Years later, she's involved in a freak accident of her own ; she's struck by lightning and from then on doesn't age, staying fixed at 29 forever. While she can be killed, she will never die of natural causes, striking  an interesting dynamic  between herself and daughter played by Ellen Burnstyn, though the film doesn't explore this nearly as much as it could have.

Adaline realises she'll have to spend the rest of her life on the run and every decade or so, she slips away reappearing somewhere else as somebody else. Bar one time in the 60's when she fell in love with a medical student, William - a medical student, she's been keeping her distance from everyone. That is until she meets Ellis Jones, a perfectly "nice" philanthropist who awakens her longing for love and companionship.

Ellis and Adaline - now Jenny, make a rather bland couple; both attractive, sweet ... precious even but lack any other identifiable traits. Adaline is constantly described as "remarkable" when the truth of the matter is, the only reason she's great at trivia and speaks so many languages, is because she's been around a bit. As they fall in love, she crosses paths with William (Harrison Ford) who by a random turn of events, is Ellis' father. Ford's gives a strong performance as a man rattled by the similarity between "Jenny" and his lost love Adaline. As he  begins to unravel, and a series of events follow that threaten to expose the truth.

While Lively and Huisman are perfectly acceptable leads, their presence doesn't demand much of us and for the most part, 'The Age of Adaline' feels painstakingly slow. Ford however elevates the film, giving it the gravitas and much needed emotional tug this film so desperately needs. That said, it's not really enough. The film's neatly tied up ending just goes to show its overall failure to take risks and develop any of it's more interesting fairy-tale like aspects.


Saturday, 24 June 2017

libraries, diversity + Malorie Blackman

I got into reading when I was 8 and discovered my school library. Free books? Everyday? Yes please. At the time, I was reading a lot Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo, Judy Blume, Enid Blyton + Mary Kate and Ashley. Our school librarian would give us "recommendations", and always tried to point me in the direction of non fiction about "African drums" (obvs noone was reading her token diversity picks). Like babes, I just need to know who Mary Kate picks to prom do you have the next instalment of So Little Time or not?

Anyway, all these books were my gateway to literature and in many ways, I was spoilt for choice. Between them, I found diversity in themes, genre and style. Judy Blume taught me puberty and being a girl, Enid Blyton gave me my detective fix (those Famous Five, such thrill chasers) and I'm pretty sure up until 14, everything I knew about the Second World War was based on like 2 Michael Morpurgo books - probably not great but we all start somewhere.

After a year a so, I did start searching for characters I could identify with. I'll give you a little bit of context, I'd just moved from Ghana, straight in a very white world. I was one of 5 people of colour in my entire primary school and I just wasn't fitting in. I wasn't making friends, I had people feeling up my hair all the time, asking me how I spoke such good English, if I used to live in a mud hut and I just got increasingly pissed off tbh. That's the thing about experiencing racism + ignorant comments, the first time you encounter it you don't really know what it is. It just doesn't feel nice and it's so hard to communicate as to why, even to yourself. So books became my safe space. And now, I wanted to read books with characters that looked like me. Characters I could identify with from a racial/cultural perspective. Simples 😊. Not that deep 😘. Not a big ask 😎.

Things are improving now but finding  POC in YA was a real struggle. Or maybe they were there but our school didn't see the need to stock them because obviously, books with POC are only for POC and white characters are the norm - they're for everyone.

When looking, I found Bali Rai; whose stories are set in this multi-cultural Britain that I hadn't seen before. It wasn't around me, it wasn't in books or on TV. Rani and Sukh was a revelation - where. were. these. people. And then one day, I was scouting the shelves and found a book with a black boy on the cover, and the book had nothing to do with race. It was A.N.T.I.D.O.T.E by Malorie Blackman: a detective story, with a main character who just so happened to be black. Mind = blown. And it was a great read?! #Spoilt

In case you haven't read anything by Malorie Blackman, her books are YA but don't baby their audience; he's covered ghost stories, thrillers, race, identity, family dramas, teen pregnancies, health - no subject is off the table.

I remember reading Noughts and Crosses for the first time and being completely hooked. It's set in an alternate society where Sephy, a member of the ruling dark-skinned ruling class falls in love with Callum, "colourless" from the underclass and the two  navigate this world of distrust and prejudice. It's such a thought-provoking, emotionally charged, complex, thrilling, sad look into racism and I've never read anything like it since. Malorie Blackman just opened up my world. I grew up with some of the characters in these books and I felt seen.

It is so powerful, so important, so empowering, to see yourself in literature. For a long time, when POC appear in fiction, they're either dropped in  passing or given fairly linear side plots loaded with stereotypes. It's really hard to dream, aspire or have self esteem when the culture around you just fails to acknowledge your existence. I've  seen a shift in the YA being published; it's a lot more diverse than when I was at school but it's still nowhere near where it should be. The stats I found ^ are actually US figures from 2015, I couldn't even find UK stats but I know it's a lot harder to find BAME authors from the UK than US.  We're still at a stage where we have to be actively looking, to find them, especially in UKYA. So I'm going to leave a few links I use, to help you find some! And  guys, do yourself a service and read Noughts and Crosses πŸ’—πŸ’ž


Friday, 16 June 2017

Summer Plans 🌞πŸ₯πŸ¨πŸ“š✍🏿

Summer holidays are here wohoo and I have plans. Summer normally isn't very easy for me. Once I've moved out of my uni bubble, I'm not surrounded by people or deadlines and I become aware of  so being lonely and just not feeling so great. So it's really important for me to have plans to keep myself busy. 

  • Uni ! This has already happened :L but yes a week after landing home, I went off to uni for a few days. Next year, I'm president of Blog Soc *woop* so I had a few meetings and met the committee. Everyone I met was lovely and just confirmed the fact the bloggers overall, must I be the friendliest group of people :') I also met up with a couple of friends I hadn't seen in a year!! Much needed catch up. 
  • Read. Duh. But it's actually harder during the holidays because I wake up thinking I have all the time in the world and reading just naturally falls on the bottom of the list. That said this year, this summer, there's just too much I want to read so I need to get a move on. I told myself I wouldn't buy any more books till I've finished the 12 on the TBR but I'm dying, actually dying to read Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo Lodge. And, about 5 other books have also just popped up on my radar. So I'm now in a mad rush to finish everything! 
  •  Blog. Again, probably a given. But this summer, I really want to work on the film side of this blog which has been neglected for a long while. I found it harder to make creative film posts quickly so I had to take a step back and plan how I'd revamp. I've got a few ideas floating around now so expect some new film posts from next week! I'm excited.
  • Food writing! Random, right? I used to love food writing and creating recipes and, I've started doing it again. At the moment I'm just doing it for myself but I may share one day, who knows. 
  • Go to a Lit Event/Festival. As in, literature πŸ˜…. I'm eyeing one up at the moment and the people over at Mostly Lit will be there so I really want to go. It's just annoying because all these events are always in London so I'm currently working out the logistics/money side of it all.
  • Newsletter? I think I want to start a newsletter! I don't know. We'll see.
  • Dissertation. I know, I know. Imagine. Uni is making us work on our dissertations over the summer but I'm grateful because at least it'll be a bit of a head start. Currently having a little bit of a crisis because I can't do the question I really wanted to do - *le cry* but overall, grateful. 
  • Grammar. Moving to France has really motivated me to make sure my French grammar is on.point by the time I start uni again so I've been really working on it lately.
  • Work! I got a really fun job lined up in a summer school :)  
  • Holidayy. I'm going away for a week  with my friend from the States who I literally last saw, nearly two years ago. I'll post more on that soon enough but hype hype hype.
  • France. I'm planning to go back for a week and eat all the brioche, croissants aux amandes and Pomme/Vanille compottes to my heart's content.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Γ€ bientΓ΄t!

I had no idea what to expect going into the year abroad and it's been no secret that it wasn't always smooth sailing. But now that my time in France has come to an end, I'm so sad it's over! About an hour before getting on that Gatwick plane it dawned, I mean properly dawned on me; that my French was bad, my public speaking skills were bad and my memories of school were pretty much all bad - definitely not an ideal situation for an insecure, anxiety filled individual on their way to teach teenagers in France for 8 months. And yet, so much good came out of my move!

  • I didn’t know it at the time but I needed a year out from uni to reset. I love university (admittedly more when I'm not there and can appreciate it from afar) but I've always felt swamped by the workload and trying to balance that with everything else. It takes a physical and emotional toll and I just felt like university was happening to me. With a year out, it was super nice to not have to worry about any of that and, actually remember what life is about: brioche, almond croissants and Netflix. πŸ–’πŸ–’
  • My confidence drastically improved; I'm telling you, fake it to you make it actually works. On Day Two, I was left alone in front of 16 16 year olds so as you can imagine, I didn't really have time to gradually get comfortable in talking to groups of people.  This ended up being was a blessing in disguise because I really had to push my myself early on, which sped up the confidence process.
  • I feel like an  adult. Moving out to live and work full time in another country demands a whole other level of independence that wasn't necessarily required of me when I moved out to uni. You can't reach your parents as easily, you can't just go home when you want and, you're treated as an adult in the workplace.
  • Small town living πŸ’— I lived in a town called Les Herbiers in VendΓ©e and ngl, first day I was like, never seen so much green space in my life and I'm not crazy about it. There are only 2 buses that leave the town every day and there isn't a train station so it's just not that easy to leave unless you have a car. In the beginning when I wasn't settling in, I did feel really alone and trapped. And in hindsight, that feeling was linked to not knowing anyone. Once I made friends, I really appreciated living in a small town! Everything is so cute and dainty and! the slower pace of life and sense of community is something you can't always find in a city. And I miss my local bakery. Sigh.
  • Friends πŸ’— I made some great friendships! 
  • I have a new appreciation for teaching. Not that I didn't before but seeing more of the teaching side of things made me realise how hard it is to teach well! Sidetrack - I also learnt that teachers are like some of the gossipiest people ever like wowwowwow who knew?!
  • And I've fallen in love with France! What a country. The language (once you can semi speak it :L), the food, the people - it's a beautiful and really unrated place and I can't wait to go back!

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