A Book and Film Blog

Monday, 21 August 2017

Everywoman: One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips is a British Labour Party MP for Birmingham Yardley and an MP who's reputation definitely precedes her. She's known for being a staunch feminist who speaks her mind and so going into this book, I knew it'd be boldly written. When I started reading it though, I quickly how little I knew about her own story and work.

'Everywoman' is a hybrid between a biography and a feminist manifesto; each chapter entitled "The Truth about ... Speaking Up ... Equality ... Violence ... Sisterhood etc. Drawing on her experiences in her personal life, work with Women's Aid, work as an MP; she sheds light on gender inequality in different domains in society.

It's fascinating to have an insight into life in Westminster and I felt like she really humanises the political process. And because of her work with Women's Aid and, growing up in a working class background, I felt like she speaks with real authority on the ways we as a country have to go to gain social and economic parity.

It may not be the best written of boks; parts of it felt quite clunky and I didn't always understand the way in which the book had been divided - for instance the whole book really is about speaking up and equality and yet the two also have their own chapters. So at times it was hard to know what this book is really supposed to be.

But she writes with such clarity and honesty. Her voice is unapologetic and her frustrations, hopes for the future and urgency for change leap from the page. It's a quick read, very refreshing and one that left me feeling really empowered.


Saturday, 19 August 2017

Film Review: Spider-Man Homecoming (Spoiler Free)

Spider-Man fans everywhere I reckon were beside themselves when we found out Spidey was coming back home to Marvel. Following the not-so-successful 'Amazing Spider Man 2' which saw Andrew Garfield in the titular role; Sony and Marvel had finally managed to broker a deal that would see Peter Parker, introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As someone who's actually enjoyed previous Spiderman films and frankly sick of the constant rebooting, I was apprehensive going into this screening. Peter Parker's origin story has been done what feels like time and time again. What other angle could one possibly add? What more needs to be said?  The film's target audience know who Aunt May is, are aware his parents and Uncle Ben have died and know exactly how Peter Parker got his powers to become the Spider-Man. Studio executives have fortunately caught on and while the film still gives us an origin story, it skips all this jargon. The appropriate information is alluded too but we're given far more space and time to get an essence of who this Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) is.

In 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' we have an origin story that feels lighthearted and fun - as to not exclude a perhaps new and younger generation of viewers, while remaining fresh and loyal to its source material - something for the die hard fans.

The films picks up where the last 'Avengers' film left off following the Battle of New York. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keeton) has been contracted to clean up the city but, given the more supernatural elements left in the debris, Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr) US Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C) take over, leaving Toomes out of work. Out of work and frustrated, he and his associates decide to steal some of the technology to sell advanced weapons on the black market. It's with this technology that he's able to develop a specialised flying mechanical suit to become the 'Vulture' - a suit he wears to carry out more sophisticated criminal activity.  

Fast forward eight years and we meet a 14 year old Peter Parker. Stark isn't convinced he's ready to be an Avenger and in a quest to convince him otherwise; Peter spends his days fighting local petty crime in hopes of being invited back into the fold. All this is going on while he's trying to juggle his high school woes: staying on the decathlon team, getting the attention of his crush Liz and warding off high school bully - Flash. One night "on mission", he stumbles across one of Toomes' associates selling weapons. As events unfold, it doesn't take long for Peter to realise Toomes' plan to hijack a D.O.D.C plane transporting weapons from the Avengers' Tower to the new team's headquarters.

Many failed attempts, injuries and Tony Stark bailing him out later; the film's events come to a head when Spider-Man is faced against the Vulture where he has to realise and tap into his full capabilities to defeat Toomes.

As well as the very evident coming of age/identity themes, there's  a strong father/son dynamic between Stark and Parker that plays out really well. It's not glaringly obvious as to why exactly Tony Stark has made it his mission to be Peter Parker's mentor but as the film unloads, we realise there are so many parallels between himself Peter and Tony's origin stories and it begins to make total sense. Stark still wrestles with his own absent-father issues, the guilt and great responsibility he feels as a superhero and we're subtly reminded of the identity crisis -  very much tied to his suit. As he helps Peter navigate through some of these problems - in often laugh out loud sequences - Stark is given  a bit of character development which, nicely moves the cinematic universe forward while still very much being a Spider-Man movie. There's a very fine line to be drawn with a personality as big as Robert Downey Jr who it seemed, the studio was relying on too heavily to promote the film. If he had been in even one more scene, it would've been too much - too gimmicky  and one less and it'd have been pointless. Luckily the film know it's limits and he's not overused. 

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' does a lot of other things right too. Most superhero films suffer from having a third act that's way too long, over-relying on one character to pass the six laugh test and a 2-Dimensional villain. This film addresses and rectifies all these issues. Humour is distributed equally and well among the characters, all of whom at some point mould Peter's character. Keaton is delightful as Toomes, not only for the juicy plot twist you'll have to watch yourself to find out (!) but his strife and frustrtaion is understandable. His faults are what make him human and this human-like quality is what makes him that much more real and menacing as a villain. Having a short and sharp final act between the two of them make far more sense than having say, a Thanos like super-villain after this 14 year old boy because; this movie  is far more about setting up Peter in this universe and developing his character, than it is about him saving the world. And for this reason, Marvel nail what they do best; delivering strong genre movies. In this Spider-Man, we have a feel good, teen movie. 



Friday, 18 August 2017

Why I'm Loving Microblogging

I first heard about micro blogging - using other platforms as a mini blog - on Imii's blog. I guess I was aware of it before but had never really put a name on it. Now that I'm conscious of what it is - I bloody love it!

Obviously here on the blog, I talk mostly about books and films but the truth is, it takes me a hot minute to put posts together. I'm really working on it and I believeeeee (no really, I believe) that over the next few weeks we're going to be seeing miracles on here because I so badly want to be turning out good content every week! But the thing is, I read so much quicker than I can post and I put such an unnecessary amount of pressure on myself to write film posts I'm not sure why, that it just never happens. I think it's because they're probably my absolute favourite things to write that and I always feel like I have loads to say, that I just really work myself until I'm 80% happy with them, before putting them up. I'm currently trying to resurrect about 8 reviews that have just been chilling in my drafts for months - the struggle is real.

The thing with micro blogging - which I'm still getting used to, is that I'm able to document my instant reactions to books, TV, film + life in general without overthinking. I don't edit anything and it feels very free. And I'd say you get a much stronger sense of my personality from those posts because they really are unfiltered. I tend to react to literal pages as I read them :L and love live tweeting shows - especially 'The Bachelor/Bachelorette'.

There's a lot I read that won't ever end up on here  but it's nice to still be able to talk about them and see what other people are thinking too. We're all I feel more likely to comment on an Instagram post or Twitter thread than we are a blog post and we do have different discussions on the respective platforms.

SO! Do check out my Instagram *shameless promo* and give it a follow. And from Monday the 21st, I'll be reviewing every single episode of Marvel's 'The Defenders' and wow I literally decided to do that as I typed out that sentence I am wild. #lookatthisbooknerdgo #lifeontheedge #YOLO


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is one of those posts that aligned beautifully. Beautifully in that at the time of reading Chimamanda's latest offering Dear Ijeawele, so much other stuff was going on, that reminded me why this book is  so hardhitting,  so important and still so so necessary. What was not so beautiful was what was actually going down. I'll get to that.

'Dear Ijeawele' came about after Chimamanda's friend had just had a baby and asked her how she may raise her to be a feminist. She responded with this long ass email with fifteen suggestions and decided to share it!

<3 p="">In this short book, she boils feminism down to its bear essentials. These 15 pointers manage to perfectly capture the essence of what feminism is and its digestible. I've heard people say its "too simple", "it's for a new feminist" not for us, we're quite advanced thank you very much. And I think as someone who follows a lot liberal feminists on social media (after all you tend to follow people you agree/identify with), it's so easy to forget that a. a lot of people aren't feminists, b. a lot of people have  just hopped on the very popular feminist bandwagon without understanding what it means and c. you're not a perfect feminist and you don't know everything.

What sets Dear Ijeawele apart from other feminist essay collections, is that it constantly challenges sexist/misogynist rhetoric I'm going to be bold and say, that she sees in her Nigerian culture. And there's certainly stuff she calls out on, that I've heard/said/seen as a Ghanaian. 

She writes with such bold and unapologetic clarity and it reads so seamlessly. How simple it is I think adds a certain weight to what she's saying because it is so clear but we/society seem to have forgotten or just don't know.

"Teach her to reject likeability. Her job is not make herself likeable, her job is to be her full self."

"People will selectively use 'tradition' to justify anything."

"Sadly, women have learned to be ashamed and apologetic about pursuits that are seen as traditionally female such as fashion and makeup. But our society does not expect men to feel ashamed of pursuits considered generally male."

"I mean the sort of anti-feminists who gleefully raise examples of women saying 'I am not a feminist' as though a person born with a vagina making this statement somehow automatically discredits feminism. That a woman claims not to be a feminist does not diminish the necessity of feminism, If anything, it makes us see the extent of the problem, the successful reach of patriarchy. It shows us, too, that not all women are feminists and not all men are misogynists."

"Teach her never to universalise her own standards or experiences. Teach her that her standards are for her alone and not for other people."

"The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina. Cooking - domestic work in general - is a life skill that both men and women should ideally have."

"Troubling is the idea...that men are naturally superior but should be expected to 'treat women well.' No. No. No. There must be more than male benevolence as the basis for a woman's well-being."

"Teach her that if you criticise X in women but do not criticise X in men, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women. For X please insert words like 'anger,' 'ambition,' 'loudness,' 'stubbornness,' 'coldness,' 'ruthlessness'."

"Tell her that women actually don't need to championed and revered, they just need to be treated as equal human beings."
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At the time of reading this, Ghana's gender minister Otiko Djaba advised secondary school girls, to not wear short dresses because it can attract someone "who would want to rape or defile you". Sigh sigh sigh. Obviously, this is not the first time I've heard this and I think I'm so tired of it that if you asked me what I thought, I'd probably just roll my eyes and get on with my day. But I started thinking about this properly. About what it actually means to rape someone? And I quickly realised my go-to reaction is simply not good enough. The actual act of violating another human being's body is horrendous enough and to do it in such an intrusive and obscene way?! And then for the gender minister of an entire country, to not recognise this and spend her time telling young women that rape happens because we don't "take responsibility for our own actions". It's not even just problematic its dangerous that someone so influential doesn't understand that rape is not logical, it is an act of violence. And while it happens to both men and women, men are statistically more likely to be the perpetrators of rape; because we've conditioned men into thinking that they have power over our bodies and our sexuality and women into thinking that all we should and can do, is protect ourselves.

This is like, really obvious basic stuff but clearly, we don't all understand.

Again as I was reading this, my flatmate and I heard what we thought was a woman being violated , in some capacity I don't know, and screaming out for help. We called the police who was, I kid you not, the chillest policeman ever considering the circumstances. He firstly suggested we go downstairs and have a look and after we flatout refused because um no not tryna get raped and die in the French countryside thank you sir (maybe we should've gone down but we were quite scared); he's said something along the lines of,"don't worry about it it's probably just a couple having an argument. You did the right thing to call ... have a nice evening." This was the first time I'd ever called the police and I was just so appalled that another woman's life meant so little to the authorities. It still blows my mind.
<3 p="">
<3 p="">I say all this to say, we can dress feminism up as much as we like but there's still a case to be made for simple digestible feminist literature. We still need to be  armed with basic yet sharp arguments so because I want to be ready and bold when responding to some of the misogynist sexist shit happens around and to me everyday.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Water in May by Ismée Williams

**I kindly received a copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinions on the book.**

'Water in May' is about Mari Pujols, a fifteen year old girl who finds herself pregnant. Having had a not-so-easy upbringing after being abandoned by her parents; she's excited for the arrival of her baby boy. She's prepared to shower him with the unconditional love she's never had. Doctors however soon discover that the baby has a potentially fatal heart condition. So with the help of her friends and a committed doctor, we follow her as she navigates the decisions and emotions that challenge her to grow, heal and love in a way she's never had to before. 

Our protagonist Mari, demonstrates a level of strength and emotional maturity that I'm not used to seeing in contemporaries and it was so welcomed! Even as a 15 year old character, her voice seems so bold and as a character she's quite self aware and it was super refreshing to be lead through this story by an unconventional, strong female voice. Do bear in mind though that this book is written from the point of view of a 15 year old. Now I'm not saying y'all can't talk properly buttt, the grammar and language was at times difficult to get past. That said, rather than feeling ashamed or embarrassed about her pregnancy she sort of just gets on with it and pushes through the adversity. The sisterhood is also very present here because Mari doesn't have a lot of family to rely on; it was so great to see this group of female friends be a rock and just turn out for her!

While the story isn't particularly plot driven (the majority of which takes place in a hospital) having such bold and distinctive characters kept me on board. The turmoil of Mari and the other mothers particularly, I felt was authentic and dealt with delicately; something I think can be accredited to the fact that the author herself is a doctor and could draw on these emotions from experience.

A personal stumbling block was Ismee Williams' writing style which I think will really connect with some readers, and alienate others. It includes a lot of Spanish/ Dominican slang and translations only appearing at the end. And while I understand the choice because, it does immediately throw us into this almost visceral neighbourhood; as a non Spanish speaker I did find myself pushing myself through to get to the end. As I mentioned, because the plot is pretty slow going at times it felt like hard work. 

Water in May comes out on 12th September 2017. 


Comic Con 'Thor Ragnorak' Trailer Thoughts

Oooh this world looks gooooood?!


Is Thor in Hel (afterlife for the Asgardian dishonourable dead)? Why he here? What'd he do? So many questions.

Okay I see you Marvel, utilising Chris' comic timing


Oh my word the Goddess of Death YES THEN?!

Nahh Cate is doing the most I am so here for this. Is there anything that woman cannot play?!

Um no Thor and Loki are better AGAINST each other 


Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie yaaaas girl 

Ensemble casts standing in a super dramatic line is a definitely a 2017 superhero movie trend I am not here for 

What is going on? What is this sommotion? Why all the CGI? I LIKEE it though?! So conflicted.

Really impressed with the direction director, Taika Waititi seems to be taking with the Thor franchise! It seems more lighthearted, fun, OTT, touches of fantasy everyone loved in Guardians of the Galaxy and also; looks like it's going to be very mythology heavy which I'm so excited to see. I'm left with about 1000 questions though.

Comic Con 'Justice League' Trailer Reactions

Ever since BVS DoJ I've been super wary of the DC Extended Universe I can't lie, I don't even know if I want to be watching this trailer


Ahhh Wonder Woman!! What a fricking badass?! Sigh. SIGH


Also, good decision to open the trailer with arguably the DCEU's only successful superhero 🖒🖒🖒

@0.52 sooo we still haven't clocked that Bat Signal is the worst, least subtle distress signal - ever? Because surely then everyone knows Batman is on his way like how old is the Batman character?! Why haven't we fixed this?! Couldn't he just shoot him a text?

Affleck's so dull as Batman andd, I'm now having BvS DoJ flashbacks make it stop


Eeeeek Themyscira army YAAAS. Okay I'm enjoying these Wonder Woman touches - a welcome welcome surprise

@1.29 Okay Aquaman I see you?! 

I guess that whole thing where every DC character is making fun of Aquaman ...we're not going to be able to that here, are we. When he's Jason Mamoa? When's he's this fine?! Lol we tried it. 

@2.21 LOL. I said this before and I'll say it again, Ezra Miller casting was genius! Looks like they've captured that brilliant/weird/funny Flash from the comics YES!

@2.23 Has Cyborg said anything yet?

I am ... not fan of the Transformers vibes I'm getting from this trailer. This CGI is on fleeek - not in a good way. 

Eeeekk Aquaman :') 

Are we even going to pretend we didn't know that's Superman. Cheekyyy

Waiting for an Aquaman Trailer leak like

Send links pls 🖑🖑🖑

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