A Book and Film Blog

Sunday, 21 January 2018

We Have a Podcast !

Aaaaaah!! This has been such a long time coming!! We had a few complications along the way and around November I just didn't even know if it would happen. So I'm so excited to tell you all about my podcast with my pal Shreya !

It's a chatty discussion show; we pick topics we want to get off our chest/have a little bit of a rant  and often find ourselves going off topic, hence the name.We're going to some guests on tooo and I just can't wait for people to listen to it. Do give it a download here, follow us on Twitter and share with yo friends ♡

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Friday, 19 January 2018

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie



I reread Purple Hibiscus on a long ass coach journey last week and couldn't believe I'd forgotten everything about it ! In my defence, I was pretty young when I first picked it up, probably about 13, and just don't think I was emotionally prepared to really process this story. Now, I've been waiting for a new Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie book forever and I 100% do Google at least twice a month, to see if one's coming. Sigh. But reading this was like reading it for the first time.

We follow 15 year old Kambili and her brother Jaja, who are growing up in a strict household in post-colonial Nigeria. Their father, Eugene is a religious zealot who subjects his family to emotional and physical abuse and uses his Catholicism to control them.  Kambili and Jaja take a trip to visit their Auntie Ifeoma and her 3 children, where they're suddenly exposed to a world of laughter and freedom. And soon enough, Kambili starts to change as the family begins to unravel.

Purple Hibiscus is first and foremost Kambili's coming of age story. Growing up in a house that expects her to be silent, she's quite socially awkward and isolated at school. The book is also about family and how a family can hurt and scar you in the deepest of ways but can also heal you. Chimamanda's writing is so poetic and engaging in a way that doesn't take away from the story telling. I normally struggle to focus when writers are trying to do the absolute most, to say the simplest things. And I think Chimamanda strikes that balance really nicely in every book she's written. She's also able to navigate the political situation in post-colonial Ngeria and we've it seamlessly into the story without taking away from the main plot.

Kambili's Auntie is also a Catholic and I have to say, it was a relief to see that Catholicism wasn't going to be painted in a really bad light. Yes on one hand you Eugene who represents what can happen when you, in an extreme sense, replace faith with "religion"; how it can consume you. And on the other hand, we see how Christianity can bring joy.

5/5
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Sunday, 14 January 2018

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi's debut novel begins in the 18th century with two half sisters living in different villages in Ghana - they don't know each other. One marries an Englishman working in the slave trade and she moves to the Cape Coast Castle with him. The other is captured and sold into slavery. The book then splits into alternate chapters, each narrated by someone who is a descendant of the two sisters. We get a snippet into their life and, get to experience the effects of the slave trade on their descendants.

This concept was fascinating. I actually grew up in Cape Coast but up until last year, knew so little about the history of Cape Coast so on a personal level I felt like I learnt so much. And I also absolutely loved the idea of following their descendants, the parallel paths they end up on and really seeing the legacy of slavery. We start in Ghana (then Gold Coast), go through Mississippi, the American Civil War ... it's incredible. I will say that the first half of the book is definitely better than the second half.

It's very much about human nature, compassion and how we're all ore connected to each other's experiences than we realise. Homegoing goes does as one of my favourite books of all time.

5/5
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Friday, 12 January 2018

Award Season Films on My Radar


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This film gives me major Spotlight vibes. You know in the same way the tension and suspense in  Spotlight was completely driven by people sitting in offices, looking for files? Seems kinda dull but I found myself on the edge of my seat. Anyway the stakes also seem really high because, Meryl and Tom could go to jail for publishing the Pentagon Papers and like Spotlight, the film engages with the pre-internet publishing world.

Image result for Three Billboards Film
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This is a bizzare one and I feel, has had no advertising in the UK because I literally heard about Three Billboards for the first time, about 3 days before it swept up all those Globes, Critics Choice and Bafta nominations – on Kermode and Mayo when the director was interviewed. I love the concept, which I believe was loosely inspired by a true story; a mother looking for answers after her child goes missing and shames the authorities for not doing enough. Expecting some strong performances and a whole lotta drama.

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Elle was nominated for best foreign film at the Golden Globes, which only confirms that the Golden Globes is just a party for celebrities and doesn’t take itself seriously. Because I’m pretty sure a. the film came out in 2016 and b. it's already done the award circuit - last year. Should it even be eligible?

Well, I’ve already seen it and it must’ve been the most unsettling film viewing experience I've ever had. It’s about a woman who gets raped, finds out her rapist is her neighbour and then plays a sort of cat and mouse game to lure him in. Only she does it multiple times and it’s not really to expose him. So the entire mystery of the film is working out why she’s luring in someone who rapes her every time and whether she’s enjoying it? Isabelle Hubert is incredible and I’d watch it for her performance alone but it’s one of those films that asks of a lot of its viewers.  

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Being the avid Neighbours fan that I am, it’s still a bit surreal seeing lil old Margot Robbie as a leading actress. I’m a fan and can’t wait to see her lead her first film, which she also executive produced yas. I'm not really going in, expecting to be convinced that Tonya had nothing to do with Nancy Kerrigan's attack because ... well I just don't think I can be convinced. But I do want to understand her better. 

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Simply because its Daniel Day Lewis’ last film. I wouldn’t see this for any other reason, as the plot seems pretty basic; a wealthy tailor who falls in love.  

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Disney are doing the damn thing. The reviews for Coco have been amazing and I’m so here for the new direction they’re taking. It’s meant to be a really beautiful portrayal of the Mexican culture, a message about familial bonds and fab music. I am just living for this new Disney era. 
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Sunday, 7 January 2018

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

This lil book was all the rave last year. It's a debut novel by Ayobami Adebayo  and it was shortlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize which is the first time I heard about it. Now, I'm just going to get this out of the way.

Lets👏stop👏comparing👏all 👏black👏female👏writers👏to👏Chimamanda.   Please. 
Because another reason I kept hearing about it was because it kept on being recommended to me ... was because I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. 

Yes they are both Nigerian.
Yes they are both women.
Yes they both write books.

But they are not the same.  
And it just meant I had really different expectations going in. Because when you tell me a book is like another writer's books, I think you mean similar in terms of style. And then I can't stop comparing the two writers when I'm reading and I don't want to do that ! I just want to enjoy the book for what it is.  

Now, I did enjoy reading this book and I couldn't put it down. But the not all African writers are the same okay fab.


Stay With Me is about a couple that fall in love and it's all fab and blissful and everything is going well. And then two years into the marriage our main character, Yejide, has not produced a child despite the fact that they've been trying ever since they got married; and she's absolutely devastated. Despite being super smart and a successful businesswoman, she doesn't feel fulfilled so it's really difficult for her and was pretty heartbreaking to read. Akin, her husband doesn't seem too fussed. I think he's more upset by the fact that she's so devastated and there's nothing he can really do about it, especially when she slips into a depression.  But his family are so embarrassed by the situation to the point where his mum, gets him an additional wife, so that she can produce a child. 

Mate. 

I'll have to stop there I'm afraid because what ensues next is a little crazy and in heavy spoiler zone. There are quite a few juicy twist and turns that I mean no-one will see coming and it gave me such Nollywood vibes at times which I bloody loved !

But I was super impressed by such a bold choice of theme for a debut novel ! Infertility, at least in West African communities isn't really openly discussed. There's still unfortunately a stigma attached to it and women who cannot have children or chose not to, I think are still sort of shamed or mocked, some people may think you're cursed or its punishment etc etc etc. And this isn't just an African thing, it presents itself a little differently here. Women are still generally expected to want children. And if you don't, people tend to think you've got some deep rooted childhood trauma, or you're just selfish. And infertility is still met with a lot of faux sympathy. 

Yejide really takes all of this pressure on and the weight of it all was so well executed. I will certainly be reading anything that Ayobami brings out now !

4/5


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Friday, 5 January 2018

Girls Trip + 3 Fab Black Girl Comedies

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I finally saw Girls Trip this week and honestly, what a treat. I think the reason it resonated with so many people, including myself, is because it showed the pretty normal side of black women that we so rarely see on screen. Girls Trip gave us a representation of black women that wasn't tied to our struggle or stereotypes or the caricatured angry black woman, black women best friend or the slave narrative. It showed that can be  carefree and have fun and we're sensitive and we're smart and we're loyal and we're our own bosses and we're great friends anddd I could go on.  And it also showed the power and strength of female friendships and how good friends are your home. And in a world of Real Housewives (though I do love me some Atlanta Housewives), we don't get to see a lot of non catty, bitchy women on screen. It showed black joy! And all the black girl magic !

This film is able to keep the amazing comic sequences and laughing out loud one liners coming and while developing all of its characters. Tiffany Haddish, I should add, gives a scene stealing performance and deserves all the accolades going her way.Its not a super long film but you get a really good sense of who these ladies are as people, we get some good cameos that are woven into the plot nicely and, we genuinely believe these 4  have been lifelong best friends, a chemistry that is so hard to get right in 1.5 hour film.

In case you haven't seen it yet, Girls Trip is about the "Flossy Posse" a group of best friends from university who have grown distant over the years. So, when Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall), dubbed as "the next Oprah", is invited to be the keynote speaker at the Essence Festival, she extends the invitation to all her friends and turns it into a girls trip. Of course they all have some issues going on in their personal lives and a little bit of chaos ensues !

Now what did surprise me, was how everyone was talking about this film, as if it's the only all black female comedy, because I've seen quite a few.  We 100% do need more and this will only happen if we have more POC behind the screen producing, directing and writing. But we also have to put our money where our mouth is and support the ones already out there.

Here are my 3 favourite black female comedies.

Girlfriends

No not the ITV show ... this one:
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This is honestly one of the most underrated TV shows. I'm telling you Girlfriends was doing everything we're praising Girls Trip for ... in like the year 2000. Smart, successful, confident, funny, sharp black women with their own very distinct personalities on screen ... for 8 seasons ...you're very welcome.

Think Like A Man + Think Like A Man 2
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Do you know what, if you want a longer list just Google Regina Hall movies. Again,you're welcome. The plot of this film is:  there's a best selling book by Steve Harvey called Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man (real book) and this friendship group are all in a bit of a rut regarding their love lives.  So they all read it and take on the book's advice, quite literally.

The Best Man/The Best Man's Holiday
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You know what? Imma just tell you about The Best Man's Holiday which I've talked at length about here if ya want more details. It has Christmas and families and really strong black female friendships that have stood the test of time and been though the best and worst of situations. It'll make you laugh and cry and it's just all the feels. And do you know what it doesn't matter that it's no longer Christmas watch it, I first saw it in like June.
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