A Wrinkle in Time

It was a dark and stormy night.

This was a cooler experience than expected. I expected a children’s book from another age, not a mix of Abarat, Narnia and love of science. There’s discussions of religion, space travel and personal development.

And it all starts with a missing father and strange creatures asking Meg, her weird brother, and a popular boy for help. All three of them are essential – for different reasons – in the fight against the scary dark. It’s all very visual and vibrant, and I’m quite curious about how and how much it will be shown in the movie that’s made based on it.

It’s a children’s book like one of those that are mentioned in fiction, and reading it as an ebook somehow felt like I was missing part of the experience. Yes, there are some questions raised, but they are the kind you accept as unanswered because they don’t sabotage the story and/or we know an answer might follow (there’s a lot more books in the series).

I read this for a Book club, and I didn’t even feel like it was a waste of time. Which sounds like little, but means that I feel like it added to my Books Read, instead of subtracted.

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, Farrar Straus Giroux 1962

Beaches

123 min.
Why didn’t I watch this sooner? And why did I had to dig down to the eighties for a Female Friendship Is Awesome kind of movie? How do I get my hair like Bette Midler’s red curls?

beaches-movie-posterBeaches is the story of Hilary Whitney and C.C. Bloom. Two young girls from very different backgrounds start a friendship. Of course, as friendships go, it’s not just roses and happiness. One of them grows up a lot more colourful than the other (Midler’s C.C., who goes all out in outfits and hairdo’s to fit her star studded career path), fights happen and are resolved again. It’s almost completely focused on the two women and how they evolve. Heck, there’s even conversations that aren’t about men, making this a Bechdel-friendly movie.

But? Yes, friendships don’t always end well, even if the people involved don’t want them to. It gives a tad more weight to the happy fluffiness — because it’s so very clear that Hilary and C.C. are the Real Friendship Deal. The movie’s balanced enough to not hurt your teeth, just your heart.  Still, it’s worth the fun and colour of it all. A classic on the softer side of things.
Beaches, Touchstone Pictures 1988

In The Flesh

9 x 56 min.

More zombies? Yes, but possibly like you’ve never experienced them before. These zombies view brains as a delicacy, they are back from the dead, and they are medicated in such a way that they are not rabid any more and need to assimilate (back) into society. The bbbc-in-the-fleshBBC sometimes likes to spin things just a bit differently, and this time they do it well.

If the pain and discomfort of having undead murderers move back into your neighbourhood, add a bit more human horror with having the neighbourhood being a small, Northern England one, and have the main character be different in another way as well: main character Kieren is gay. It’s hard to discover which one is viewed as worse.

That makes In The Flesh – possibly more than other zombie stories – a show to look at your way of viewing the other in society, and the hypocrisy of Not In My Backyard and the like. This doesn’t turn it into a Save Humankind pamphlet, which might make things even a little bit more depressing. And yet, it’s a show to watch, a pain to suffer. That darn BBC again.

In The Flesh, BBC 2013

The Privileges

A wedding!

Rich people getting richer and investing it in all kinds of things, followed for give or take twenty years. If it would have been written by a woman and for a younger audience, it would have been compared with Gossip Girl.

Is this comedy, or slice-of-life? Does the family portrayed deserve sympathy or is this only a devoted piece to capitalism?

Possibly all of the above. When it’s mentioned that there’s more money “than we know what to do with” or that will last four human beings several life times, it’s easy to curl a nose up in disgust. Even when the age old Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness gets more and more support, because oh no — the rich girl has decision-stress.
And yet. Jonathan Dee manages to keep the human side of things very close. That way The Privileges stays mildly interesting, easy to read. In the end, an adult Gossip Girl with more mention of finances, less brand name dropping and more believable characters.

The Privileges, Jonathan Dee, Corsair 2011

Mrs. Bridge/Mr. Bridge

Maar waarom bespreek ik twee boeken tegelijkertijd? Omdat ik ze alleen als één boek was tegengekomen, tot de Nederlandse versie. Ik ging uit van een twee-kanten-van-dezelfde-munt-verhaal, ondanks dat er tien jaar tussen zit.
Ik had niet helemaal gelijk.

Haar voornaam was India – ze kon er nooit aan wennen.

India Bridge leeft een leven in een gouden kooitje, en niet eens omdat haar man en de samenleving haar daarin hebben opgesloten. Nee, ze is zelf niets, weet niets, heeft geen prikkels om te doen, laten, ontwikkelen. Ze leeft in de jaren dertig van de VS, in een rijke en veilige omgeving. En zodra haar kinderen oud genoeg zijn om voor henzelf te zorgen (en dan is er ook nog de meid), is er niks voor Mrs. Bridge te doen. Het is benauwend en gekmakend. Is zij een creatie van het tijdperk of wordt haar karakter alleen maar versterkt door haar situatie en omgeving? Kan alsjeblieft iemand uit haar cocoon trekken om te ontdekken of er wel een mens in zit? Kleinburgerlijke horror dat zich eigenlijk dus niet eens zo lang geleden afspeelde.

Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell, Viking Press 1959

Vaak dacht hij: mijn leven begon pas toen ik haar leerde kennen.

Is het voor mannen dan veel beter? Nou ja, ze worden in ieder geval niet als porseleinen leeghoofdjes behandeld. Maar het keurslijf van wat moet zit ook aan deze kant goed strak. Is mevrouw Bridge op allerlei momenten emotioneel, meneer Bridge kan alleen met materialisme zijn genegenheid tonen. Opvoeding gaat hem ook niet goed af, want dat is tenslotte een vrouwending. Men leeft naast elkaar, niet met elkaar. Het is een geschiedenisboek dat wederom laat zien dat mannen ook feminisme nodig hebben, dat ‘vroeger was het beter/charmanter’ een term is van mensen die niet verder kijken dan de lak van de mooie auto’s. Eerst de een, dan de ander, of tegelijkertijd met steeds een paar hoofdstukken mixen, beiden zijn het lezen waard.

Mr. Bridge, Evan S. Connell, Knopf 1969

Between The World And Me

Son, last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body.

Required reading, indeed.

Coates gives the reader a view of his world, one he shares with a lot of black Americans. It’s a letter to his son, it’s a reality check for everyone outside this world.

A world in which your body isn’t your own. In which there is no safety from society, authority, their own surroundings. In which police violence isn’t just two years old and a news item, but a reality you grow up in.

It’s plenty of ugly truths, but Coates’ love for his son, his family and his people (the people the rest of society only wants to use, not accept) prevents this letter turning into a wall of tears.

We have to know this angle, because ignorance supports a status quo that doesn’t include every human being.

Between The World And Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Spiegel & Grau 2015

Ayanda and the Mechanic

105 min.

I probably mentioned before how location and people used can inject originality into a (stale) story.
Because yes, Ayanda is a plucky, stubborn young woman who needs to Let Go and Learn Things, and has love right in front of her, but can’t see it.

ayanda-and-the-mechanic-posterBut instead of this being a white story in the USA, it’s a black story in South Africa. And these facts aren’t even the main reason for all the added colour, that’s Ayanda’s amazing outfits.

Ayanda tries to keep her deceased father’s garage up and running while her family is less than supportive. Things happen, tears are shed and so on. Ayanda and the Mechanic is just a little bit too long but still leaves you with a happy heart. It’s so nice to see women prosper and learn.

Ayanda and the Mechanic, ARRAY 2015