Work Blogging Across the Universe

I’ve started writing for my work blog and the results have been interesting. I’ve had some really genuine and lovely feedback from people I don’t know very well (as well as close colleagues and friends) – and I’ve had more than a couple of moments of pure and utter anxiety about whether I’ve said too much.

I never want to hide who I am, even in a work environment but laying it all on the table, for instance talking about anxiety or telling an anecdote from my adolescence is different.

That’s who I really am, no messing, it’s me laid bare and it takes a lot to say you don’t mind sharing it with people you pass daily on the stairwell, who might stand behind you to buy a cup of coffee in the morning, knowing you’ve never really grown out of your teenage insecurities. (I greatly over exaggerate how many work mates read my words!).

It might make me second guess myself but it also feels real and that’s a weird one to define. I think it feels good to say you know yourself enough to share it with others. To write a post about your life long journey to accepting yourself for what you really are: perfectly imperfect, fucked up, damaged but still crawling, sometimes back up on two feet, sometimes running as fast as you can without looking back.

So yes, it feels good but I still have the fear. I guess I’ll either learn to put that aside or die trying*.

*Stop writing.

Happy Sunday, all.

Margarita with a Straw (Film) Review

An Indian coming-of-age tale this week and it’s a pretty nice one really. Certainly more joyful than the fucking miserable Duck Butter from last week. Thank God because I was not down for that much introspection again, not for a while anyway.

*Spoilers*

Margarita with a Straw (2014)

IMDB Synopsis

A rebellious young woman with cerebral palsy leaves her home in India to study in New York, unexpectedly falls in love, and embarks on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery.

My Review

Laila (Kalki Koechlin) is a rebellious songwriting teen who attends Delhi University. She also happens to have Cerebral Palsy. She writes music for an indie band which results in her falling in love with the lead singer. Unfortunately, when he doesn’t feel the same way about her, she is left devastated.

Determined to move on from her first real heartbreak, Laila fortuitously receives word that she’s been accepted on a scholarship at New York University. While her father (Kuljeet Singh) thinks it’s too far away, Laila’s mother (Revathy) is determined that she do what she wants and she moves with her daughter to Greenwich Village.

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Almost immediately Laila meets a hottie called Jared (William Moseley) who helps her in her creative writing course. At the same time she also meets young activist Khanum (Sayani Gupta), a blind girl of Pakistani-Bangladeshi descent. Enamored by Khanum’s passion and general badassery, as well as her attitude toward her own disability, she quickly falls in love and the two embark on a relationship. They also gladly take on caring duties for one another.

While Khanum seems cool with who she is, Laila finds it much harder to be free as the daughter of a very traditional mother. One who freaks out when she accidentally discovers Laila has been watching porn.

Laila is further confused when she doesn’t just stop being attracted to boys (especially Jared) and things become even more complicated when she has sex with him, something she immediately regrets. Not telling Khanum, the two return to Delhi together for Winter break to stay with Laila’s family. Shubhangini (Mum) still has no inkling of the true nature of their relationship and when Laila tries to broach the topic of her bi-sexuality with her, it backfires.

Will she muster the necessary courage to come out to her parents and find peace in who she is? And will she mess it up with Khanum?

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Unfortunately, the family are forced to come to terms with a situation far larger than any of them and this momentarily puts all their differences aside. There are some really touching moments in this movie, not least the ending where Laila takes herself out on a fancy date.

The central performance is amazing and Keochlin plays Laila very well but I was kind of disappointed to find out that she wasn’t really disabled. I’m not sure if this is the right reaction but for a moment there I got excited about true representation of disability on the big screen. When you think about this it’s no different to Daniel Day-Lewis starring in My Left Foot but I hoped we’d moved on a bit by now.

Laila is lovely and joyful though and it does have a very positive attitude. The film is not about disability really, it’s about a woman owning her sexuality, coming of age and gaining independence, and she just so happens to be disabled. I love that.

My Rating

3/5.

What did Jill make of this one? Would she lock it in the closet or help it to fly free? Find out here.

Duck Butter (Film) Review

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am really not a fan of ‘the disintegration of a relationship’ movies – or Doom Coms™?

This probably says an awful lot about me, that I can’t handle the truth, but there it is. Blue Valentine had me cringing and praying for it to end and there have been many films of the same ilk since. Duck Butter falls into this camp as far as I’m concerned and now I feel like I need my mummy and a big cuddle.

*Spoilers*

Duck Butter (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Two women, who are dissatisfied with the dishonesty they see in dating and relationships, decide to make a pact to spend 24 hours together hoping to find a new way to create intimacy.

My Review

Alia Shawkat is one of my favourite actresses at the moment so it is truly a joy to see her face whenever and wherever it pops up. In Duck Butter, as actress Naima, she meets the soulful (?) Sergio (Laia Costa) in a club and the two quickly hit it off. Somewhere during this evening together the two discuss spending the next 24 hours together, the plan being to shag every hour on the hour in order to create a super intense intimacy. Phew.

Initially, Naima backtracks a little because she’s just taken a new job making a film with The Duplass Brothers and this upsets Sergio.

Side note: the whole film within a film, Naima working with Mark and Jay who are playing themselves thing is so fucking meta that it actually hurts a little bit.

But when she is fired for ‘creative differences’, she persuades Sergio to pick up where they left off – and so begins 24 hours in the life of Naima and Sergio.

Well, there’s not all that much to say other than it starts hot, heavy and sexy, and then the ugly aspects of each of the characters begin to show and the love slowly but surely dies. Perhaps a relationship doesn’t need so much fucking examination all the time?

Naima is obviously still stinging from her professional rejection, while Sergio has a complicated relationship with her mother. Both women are creatives and this lends itself to a passionate and fiery joint temperament. Honestly, I must cop to not really remembering much of the nuance, this is more like a walking nightmare. By the end credits I felt as though I’d gone through my own breakup and I felt sad and battered.

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Both performances are hyper real and it is easy to forget you’re not peeping in on an authentic relationship. Neither are that likable either with needy traits (that lord knows I have when I’m in the midst of a anxiety attack). I think it’s sometimes hard to watch because the viewer will see so many aspects of themselves mirrored back at them. At least that’s how I see it.

There are plenty of awkward moments including a very forced orgy instigated by Naima to mark the end of the relationship Sergio doesn’t seem to want to end. Honestly, I was keen for the end credits to roll – and it was a beautiful release when they did.

I can’t say the performances were bad and aesthetically it’s a hipster’s dream, it just didn’t have the something I expected. I felt no true sympathy for anyone and also, how cheated are we that we only get Mae Whitman for a few measly scenes? It’s a total liberty.

While reading up on this I did find out that this was originally written about a hetero couple. Apparently, the extended sex scenes made Alia and her male co-star uncomfortable so it was rewritten for two women – thank god for small mercies, eh?

My Rating

2.5/5.

What does my love think of this one? Would she last 24 hours with it or would she kick it to the kerb within 90 minutes? Find out here.

Sun Bores

If there’s one thing worst than melting in the middle of a Great British heatwave, it is having to deal with all the people with Opinions™. If it’s not being bitchy about what people should wear (whether they be too fat, too thin, too pale, too leathery, too made up), it’s what they choose to do to keep cool. Honestly, can you just fuck off?

You might love the beach but some people are ginger and that means practically vampyric. Does the sunlight really seem like a good idea to you? Also, the beach is deathly boring and I’d rather be under a tree in the park or even better, at home on my bed under a fan wearing nothing but a smile – that’s how I deal with my Summer.

If I have to go out I’ll seek out the shade and I’ll wear what I want thankyouverymuch. If my eyeliner runs, that’s my business. If I want to go to the cinema in the middle of a scorching day, I will. If I want to wear black, guess what? Black it is.

Bellies out, arms out, ten Twister lollies in a day, shade, no shade, indoors, outdoors: whatever it is, it is.

The thing is, this heat is not typical for us, none of our houses are equipped to deal with these temperatures and we need unsolicited advice from others like a hole in the fucking head. We should be doing anything we can to get comfortable.

So this year, if you feel like sharing your thoughts on how others are doing Summer: just don’t.

The Firefly (Film) Review

Jill and I settled on Gay July because we’ve always had pretty good success with LGBTQIA films within the collab – and there are some great ones on Netflix at the moment. So let’s kick back with this Colombian love story, shall we?

*Spoilers*

The Firefly (2013) or La luciérnaga (original title)

IMDB Synopsis

After the sudden death of her estranged brother, Lucia accidentally meets his fiancée and falls in love with her.

My Review

Lucia (Carolina Guerra) is estranged from her brother Andres (Manuel José Chaves) because he failed to attend his own father’s funeral. There’s A LOT of family turmoil going on since he also believes he killed their mother (she died giving birth to him). As a result, the siblings have not seen each other for three years and Lucia is unaware that her brother is marrying Mariana (Olga Segura).

On the day of the wedding Lucia has no knowledge of, Andres decides he can’t go through it without her and jumps in the car to go and get her. On the way he is killed in an accident and neither marries the love of his life, nor reconciles with his willful sister.

On learning of Andres’ accident, both women are devastated. Mariana flees the wedding in her dress and collapses in the middle of a busy intersection, while Lucia takes to her bed and is unresponsive for days afterward. Her husband Adrian (Andrés Aranburo) is present to a point but he doesn’t seem particularly sympathetic.

The beginning of the film tells us that Lucia is going to break up with him anyway so he’s already marked as surplus to requirements, so don’t worry. Mariana tells her family she is going to Mexico and holes up in Andres’ apartment – which is fortuitous as Lucia has the same idea. The women meet here for the first time. YAY!

The movie comprises a heap of flashbacks to build a picture of Andres’ past relationship with his sister, up until the point they fall out, and how he met and fell in love with Mariana. Which is happy/sad to behold, particularly when Andres ruminates the loss of his sister to Mariana.

Healing is painful but together they are able to take the time they need to start the process. This involves drunken dance parties and Lucia writing a letter to Andres seeking his forgiveness. Mariana then makes her burn it. They also visit the graveside.

Little by little the bond the women share begins to turn into something stronger and it’s bloody amazing. Mariana is surprised when she learns that Lucia is married because she’s never thought to mention it. Neither did she mention the fact that she can’t get pregnant despite their many attempts to do so.

When Lucia tells Mariana her relationship status is complicated, she cryptically asks her: isn’t life too short for that? You’re damn right, M – it bloody well is. This rhetoric is further bolstered when Adrian fucks off on a business trip right in the middle of Lucia’s grieving process and she realises it’s over.

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M asks her to move into Andres’ apartment but Lucia suggests a mini break instead. Well, that trip changes everything forever but again it isn’t plain sailing because Lucia is seriously confused. Which you can kind of understand.

Will she follow her heart and take all this as meant to be? And why is Mariana throwing up all the time? Hmmmmm.

My Thoughts

The Firefly is lovely but man is it melodramatic. There are times it plays out like a telenovela – my God, ladies CHILL. Mariana’s Miss Haversham-esque few days swanning around in her wedding dress may be understandable, but it’s a bit over-dramatic. And there aren’t really any surprises here, the tale plays out by numbers. I’m not necessarily criticising it for that, it’s just an observation.

What I do criticise is the fact that Andres’ best friend knew he’d gone to find his sister on his wedding day and as far as I can tell, never tells her. You’d think that would be kind of a big deal to hear, non?

The strength of this film, as with any love story, lies in the chemistry between our leads. The hand holding and the loaded looks, the pool kisses and the fun they have together is lovely to witness – and it doesn’t help that both women are warm and so bloody beautiful. So, sure it’s a little bit all over the place but its heart is in the right place – it’s a good take on grieving and growing, of loving again as though you’ve never been hurt and of grabbing those fresh starts when you can. I’m all for that.

The Firefly 5
“I know you’re sad, but we need to talk about that horrible cardigan…”

What does the Queen of my Heart think of this one? Would she buy it dubious knitwear or leave it by the side of the road in the rain? Find out here.

Dreams Can Come True (But I really hope they don’t)

I’ve always been a dreamer but lately (and for a long while now) I’ve literally been a dreamer – every night I have dreams so vivid I have no fucking clue how to process them. Or even if dreams really do mean half as much as we give them credit for.

I’m thinking of getting a dream journal so I can work through them because some of my night time adventures are so off the chain they have to be something, don’t they? I want to believe they are, anyway. I know it’s really just my brain working through my anxieties and my thoughts from the day but could it be something more?

Last night, I dreamt I was being held hostage by a family of yetis in the woods. I managed to escape because I fortuitously found a yeti mask and was able to convince them I was one of them – and then I escaped. Not after having to grunt convincingly for the ringleaders, because one of them was suspicious.

WHAT THE FUCK?

It doesn’t sound as tense as the actual dream felt, but in the moment it was a life and death situation – and I knew my body language and my verbal nods had to seem legit. And when I was out, I felt that rush of being free, of being safe again – and it was GREAT.

So the yetis were a one off but I often have reoccurring dreams, or I explore similar themes. My horrid ex is always popping up, always angry and every time I’m trying frantically to get away from him – that’s a bad one to experience continually.

I suppose the reason I have that one is pretty straightforward; it’s my worst nightmare to bump into him or to ever have to clap eyes on him again – so duh.

I think those ones come down to guilt: the guilt of allowing myself to make the choices I did back then. It’s like a PTSD situation which might sound a bit casual to throw into a blog post about dreams but is testament to the damage leftover by an abusive relationship.

I wish those ones would stop because sometimes I act out violently and have a moment on waking where I believe I’m guilty of something I can never take back.

Ditto my old best friend, she makes appearances a lot but in a much less dramatic way. We’re usually friends again (no) and I feel guilty about having to tell my actual real life best friend. It’s a relief to leave those ones behind too.

Life is strange, isn’t it? We do what we have to do and everything we juggle can be overwhelming – and then we have to run away from Big Foot at night. It would be nice to switch off my mind at least half of the week – or maybe dream only on weekends?

What are your thoughts on dreams?

Weekly Digest – TV Special

While avoiding the World Cup and not watching Love Island, I’ve been doing far more intellectually significant things, obviously, such as watching these naked, lying under a fan and eating Wispas.

GLOW – Season 2

Liberty Bell and friends are back in the ring though things are far from plain sailing for any of them. Ruth (Alison Brie) becomes a problem for Sam (Marc Maron) when she gets ideas above her station and directs a really quite good promo video for the GLOWs. She also flirts with a cameraman and tries to rebuild her friendship with Debbie/Liberty (Betty Gilpin), which is easier said than done.

Deb, meanwhile fights for her Producer role (and to be heard as a woman) and is forced to examine the message the GLOWs are sending out to America when it is accused of being too sexy. Meanwhile, Sam struggles with newfound fatherhood and the girls are required to compete with one another to get in the show week on week, which causes friction, who knew.

GLOW is wonderful Technicolor goodness all round – bright, female popcorn viewing and it’s an easy watch, which means a lot on a Sunday afternoon.

The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Good Girls

I’m already fully addicted to Good Girls, the Mae Whitman/Retta/Christina Hendricks starring comedy/drama about three mothers struggling to make ends meet. When they knock off a grocery store they could never dream they’d end up on such a roller-coaster ride, inadvertently involved with gangsters and trying to get straight despite every single obstacle that keeps popping up.

Or are they about to go a different way? If Beth’s head for lady boss business has anything to do with I think we have our answer.

The women are amazing, not only dealing with the drama but also their own lives. Beth is working through the aftermath of her husband of 20 years’ affair plus four children; Ruby has a sick daughter and needs to find a way to pay for experimental treatment, while Annie and her daughter Sadie have to face bullying as Sadie works out who she is.

It’s fantasy stuff I suppose but it’s fun and I like fun.

Preacher – Season 3/Luke Cage – Season 2

I’m only one episode in on each other these but so far so good.

Luke (Mike Colter) is a celebrity right now in his neighbourhood and Harlem is abuzz with his heroics. How long will this last and what are Mariah (Alfre Woodard) and her reluctant man toy Shades (Theo Rossi) up to? Meanwhile, Misty Knight (Simone Missick) comes to terms with the loss of her arm (pretty well if the above image is anything to go by) – and something terrible is surely about to happen for Claire (Rosario Dawson) and Luke because they’re so blissfully happy together. I can’t handle it!

While I am quite done with the Marvel Netflix shows, I really enjoyed the last Luke Cage and some of the episodes are directed by some great female directors, including Lucy Liu and Kasi Lemmons. Can’t say cooler than that.

As for Preacher, Jesse (Dominic Cooper) and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) rush to save the life of Tulip (Ruth Negga) as is hangs in the balance. Sadly this requires the assistance of Jesse’s heinous family and some supernatural ju-ju. What could possibly go wrong? I’m delighted we’ve finally got to this point in Preacher, in the graphic novel my favourite parts revolve around the swamp lands and Jesse’s evil grandmother (played by Split‘s Betty Buckley). So consider me sitting here with high hopes.

What are you watching?