Month in Review – February 2018


February has been a much busier month than I expected.  Firstly it was my birthday, which was relatively low key this year, because I finally got to see Hamilton the day after (having booked the tickets well over a year ago).  Two people close to me both gave birth to their first children, so I’ve been getting baby updates, and my friend is dog-sitting so not only are there regular pics from her, but I got to have a birthday lunch with Misha the dog.

What I’ve been watching…

This month I managed to head to the theatre twice: the first time to see Brief Encounter at the Birmingham Rep, which I wrote a review of here; the second time included a trip down to London to see the wonderful Hamilton play, by Lin-Manuel Miranda.  I bought the tickets in January last year so it feels like a very long wait, but was worth it – even my mum, who was very sceptical, called it “brilliant”.  I’m hoping to do a little round up of it, so I’ll link here when I do.

As well as all the films I mentioned in this round-up, I also saw…

Pad Man, which I wrote up in more detail here. It’s based on the real-life tale of a newly married man who sets about trying to make sanitary protection more affordable for the women in his life, and his village.

Call Me By Your Name was one I missed on the first run, but a local cinema was showing rerun of Oscar contenders. It reminded me of Stealing Beauty, both films telling a coming-of-age story largely set in beautiful Italian summer house.

Black Panther has all of the hype and I’m still trying to piece together my thoughts on it.  Culturally it’s one of the most important films of the year, but trying to divorce that from the film itself is proving to take some time.

I, Tonya is another based on real-life tale, this time of figure skater Tonya Harding and her connection to the attack on her rival. It’s a sort of ‘mockumentary’ style film, jumping between interviews and flashbacks. I thought it was generally pretty good but suffered from over-hype and felt more of a non-mainstream film that a Hollywood blockbuster.

I finally cracked and taken up my Amazon Prime 30 day free trial.  Having watched Lucifer season one on my transatlantic adventures last year, I’m now powering through season two.  Back on Netflix I’ve been watching some new episodes of Jane the Virgin, and started the 90’s nostalgia-fest that is Everything Sucks.


What I’ve been reading…

To try and encourage myself to read more I set myself a 24 book challenge to read in 2018.  I’ve been chugging along quite well, but a sort of nested-challenge is to read more Own Voices stuff.  Own Voices is a termed by author Corinne Duyvis to describe novels containing diverse characters written by people who share those identities.

I started with I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan, which, if I’m honest, I found pretty problematic.  It tells the story of Muzna Saleem, a fifteen-year-old British-born Pakistani who struggles with controlling parents and exploring her faith, which is challenged when she meets the hardline older brother of her crush.  This book has had a lot of positive press but the portrayals of Islam felt really lacking – the only characters who seemed to offer a more ‘everyday’ type of Muslim was Khadijah and a few schoolmates who were completely side-lined.

The second book I read was Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson, which was much more successful.  As one of the only black girls at a private school, Jade is determined to make the most of her scholarship but also keep her head down.  But some opportunities, like  Women to Women, feel more like trying to fix her.  This is a quiet sort of novel with some really powerful punches that creep up on you – there’s a scene in a shop which illustrates micro-aggressions superbly.

And here are some interesting articles I found online…

The Problem With Rupi Kaur’s Poetry
The milk and honey author’s use of unspecified collective trauma in her quest to depict the quintessential South Asian female experience feels disingenuous.

Saving the NHS means forcing us to change the way we lead our lives
It’s not just Big Macs that would have to go: M&S, Waitrose, transport and sport must be rethought for the common good

Single Minded: The Difference Between Being Single And Being Alone
Bella Mackie dreaded not having a partner in her thirties. But the reality has been full of surprises

Don’t Demonize Driving, Just Stop Subsidizing It
As a matter of fairness and practicality, drivers should pay for the roads they drive on.

Black Panther has a burden that no superhero is strong enough to carry
That such a mediocre film has been highly praised reflects a need for hope in gloomy post Obama times

‘Everything Sucks!’: Every Song from Season 1 of Netflix’s ’90s-Heavy Dramedy — Listen

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