Feels strange to think at the beginning of the month I was in Australia visiting my sister, snuggling my niece and getting Nick to explain Love Island to me. Flying back is always hard because I never want to leave, and spending the best part of a day going through several timezones (Australia, Singapore, Dubai and UK) is tricky.
But I landed back and then a few days later got to enjoy Lets Ride Birmingham, which closed off a few of the main roads around the city – and of course, I got to meet Sir Chris Hoy. The rest of the month was taken up with work, theatre trips, the rescheduled Flight of the Conchords gig at the LG Arena, getting to check out the very posh Odeon Luxe and heading off to the BBC Good Food Show and Gardeners World.
Looking back, it was a pretty busy month!
What I’ve been watching…
Lets start with films, because there’s a continuation of the film reviews I did for my friend Louise, noting all the films I watched on the mamouth trip back from Melbourne to Birmingham…
Well this is off to a bad start – emirates haven’t updated the on-board computers and the films I intended to watch aren’t here. There’s also crying babies and we’ve been on the plane for 15mins. So I’ve resorted to Jumanji – if nostalgia and The Rock can’t fix this then the world is a darker place than I thought.
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – The Rock’s eyebrows should be given an Oscar. This is actually a pretty clever updating of the original concept where Jumanji morphs into a video-game and gives the players three lives and in-game cutaways. The acting is very good, Karen Gillan, The Rock and Jack Black in particular. It’s a film which low-key challenges a lot of stereotypes and doesn’t resort to cheap cliched jokes – it has a surprising amount of awareness. And one of of the Jonas brothers.
None of the air stewards know anything about the June movies.
- Finding Your Feet – some heartwarming British pick me up. Woman leaves her husband after discovering he’s having an affair and reconnects with her sister, and herself. You know what you’re getting with this one, it’s charming British comedy, heart-warming with a touch of reality in case you feared it was too sugary. Oh sod it, there were tears shed. There’s also a chase along a canal which is totally up my street.
Turns out the plane should’ve been updated on the 1st…its now the 5th.
- Virginia Casta (Colombian)- Spanish language film with the sort of slight magical realism they’re famous for. It’s loosely about life being made up of memories, it takes a snapshot of Virginia’s life at a time when things aren’t going so well; after being dumped by a total fuckboy she almost jumps off her building, becomes a minor local celebrity in the process. I’m not entirely sure what the plot is meant to be, and yet I enjoyed it…maybe because it made me feel less aimless!
- Up – thought I should probably get round to watching this because apparently I haven’t had enough upset today. Old man tries to honour a promise to his departed wife and takes his house to Paradise Falls. I’m concerned at the impact all these helium balloons would have on the environment, especially given Kevin and her babies. A delightful gem, shouldn’t have left it so long.
- Bittersweet Brew (Korean) – a guy who really likes coffee and wants to be a barista but his mum wants him to be a lawyer. He moves to his aunts at the seaside. There is a gay semi-vampiric police officer with a massive crush on him. The aunt had lung cancer and her son has learning disabilities (think Leo in Gilbert Grape), and a failing coffee shop. It’s kinda weird and yet I liked it.
- Wonder – the story of Auggie, who has a significant facial deformity, and the people who orbit around him, as he starts school for the first time after being homeschooled. I adored the book and whilst this does a good job of staying faithful to the story it doesn’t quite have its spirit, but it does try.
Return journey 2 – Success! They’ve updated the system and I think I should be able to get at least three of the four films I wanted to watch.
- The Boy Downstairs – a charming indie-style romcom film about a girl who accidentally moved into the same building as her ex-boyfriend. Told by split narrative of past and present, it’s about second chances, and the uncertainty of being a young adult.
- Thoroughbreds – is it lazy to suggest this feels a bit like an American version of Heavenly Creatures meets Cruel Intentions? In so far as it’s about two friends with an unhealthy bond who are cold, calculating and emotionally void. They plot to kill the creepy stepdad of one of the girls, trying to rope in the local small-time drug dealer. Odd, very odd. Felt a bit slow but I think that’s because I want to be asleep.
- Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool – an aging Oscar winning film star has a passionate love affair with a younger man. But all very late 1970s British. Slow paced, possibly a little too slow for a marathon plane journey, but emotional and nuanced. Jamie Bell should be a national treasure, why isn’t he in more things?
- The Female Brain – I was going to watch something a bit more worthy but I couldn’t face it. I feel like I’ve seen this before, like really seen huge clips of this. But when?! I’m not sure how sound the science is (not to mention the whole sex vs gender) but it’s a nice easy to watch film.
And then of course, I can’t forget the cinema.
- Can You Dig This – uplifting documentary about urban gardening in south-central LA, and how it changed lives. More on the blog post
- Hereditary – pretty meh about this. A few genuinely scary moments, but all in all felt like two different types of film squished together
- Adrift – seen in the fancy Odeon Luxe. Based on the real-life story of a couple who attempt to sail a boat back to the US but get caught in a storm. Interesting, but felt quite typical of the genre
- Love Sonia – opened the Birmingham Indian Film Festival and was a really brave choice. A story about a young women who ends up in sex slavery after trying to find her sister. Sensitively shot but no less horrifying, it showed the worldwide problem of sex trafficking
- Ocean’s 8 – made me want to strut out of the cinema, call my gals and plan a heist. Typical heist movie (because they all are), but with an all-girl team, no love interests and a lot of girl power. could’ve done without James Cordon though
- Deadpool 2 – kinda felt like more of the same from the first Deadpool movie, which was fun but nothing particularly wow. Did like the introduction of Cable, and the end credit scene with Green Lantern
- The Book Club – I was the only person in the cinema for this. Four terrific actresses in a pretty generic rom-com but for retired women rather than the usual twenty/thirty-something.
- Cycle – another BIFF film, about a well-respected man in his community whose bike is stolen, and the way the thieves play off his good reputation to stay fed and watered. A darling film, but I still maintain a horror when your beloved bike is outside.
What I read…
Another dismal month for reading, but at least I did finish one book – Nina is Not Okay by the comedian Shappi Khorsandi. It’s a story about a teenage girl who develops a drinking problem, much like the one that killed her father. After the break up of a relationship, Nina goes out drinking and have having one too many finds herself kicked out of a club with a man she hardly knows; next thing she’s in a taxi, clutching her knickers and not sure what’s happened. This begins a spiral of alcohol abuse and sketchy situations with men, until one time she goes too far.
Nina is Not Okay manages to tackle some pretty big issues (alcoholism, parental bereavement, sexual abuse) all whilst creating a character who is unravelling on the page but somehow despite all of her issues with addiction and self-destruction, still likeable. It’s not an easy read; it’s tougher than The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven but less bleak than Asking For It by Louise O’Neill, both of which also deal with sexual assault, teenage girls and partying. But it’s a very well crafted book, I’m not sure enjoyable is quite the right word, but it was certainly a book I’d recommend.