13th

100 min.

13th-netflixAren’t there documentaries with happy/happier subjects? Of course there are, but isn’t a documentary supposed to educate? About things that may not be a day-to-day subject for a lot of people? I think 13th is smack right on that with it being about the USA prison system and how black people suffer from it.

This isn’t an emotional appeal, this is layers and layers of facts and numbers and statistics showing how authorities use everything in their power to control the minority population. How there’s no equality in punishment for the same crime, how there’s no fairness and that believing in the system is more than naive, it might be lethal.

It’s the strength of the people featured that prevent you from completely circling down the drain of ‘Is this really society’. People that keep speaking up, that keep fighting, the Davids to the  many-headed Goliath.

Ignorance is not an argument. Know what’s wrong.

13th, Netflix 2016

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

The Sapphires

103 min.

My support of The Sapphires was present before even having watched the movie.There was a stupid situation regarding the movie poster. Originally, it has the four girls front and center, it’s their story, they are the movie title. But when the movie was shipped off into the rest of the world (it’s Australian), a secondary character was moved to the main spot. A white man, firmly in front of the four Aboriginal women it was about. How blatant, how stupid. I was ready to fight wars for The Sapphires.

the_sapphires_correct_posterGood thing the movie gave me plenty of ammunition. Based on real people, this story doesn’t has to dramatise any events to land their message. It’s history lesson, family drama and romcom all in one go, and equally balanced out.

The Sapphires are three Aboriginal women in the seventies, and they want to sing. There’s one white man who believes in talent over racial profiling, and with another cousin attached, they go off to Vietnam, to support troops. As Australian law still viewed the indigenous people as ‘flora and fauna’ back then, it’s easy to recognise it didn’t happen without bumps in the road.

It’s a story worth time in history classes around the world, while being funny, sweet and uplifting.

The Sapphires, The Weinstein Company 2012

Everything I Never Told You

Lydia is dead.

This is one of those books that you just stare into the distance for a while after finishing it.

Still, that doesn’t necessarily make it easy to review. Because, the bare bones of it, it’s a very simple story. A daughter dies, a family completely unravels. It’s the time (seventies/eighties), the people (a mixed Asian-American family) and the family members (hurt, unwanted, invisible) that make the story.

Ng makes you want to reach out through the pages all the time, simultaneously hugging the family members and giving them a kick in the behind because seriously, how can one human being be so selfish, insecure, loving and hating? And honestly, can small town America stop making a freaking fuss about people that don’t have blond hair and blue eyes?

It’s her so very human touch to these characters that leave you uncomfortable yet appeased.

Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng, Blackfriars 2014 

Mudbound

Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep.

This is a tough one. Not because this novel is badly written or has a boring story, far from the opposite. This is a tough one because some of the situations in it made me very uncomfortable.

Mudbound tells the story of different characters. The family that moves into a cotton farm, the people that work for them and serve them and the bystanders from the nearest village. As all of this happens in 1946 Mississippi, so you might already understand that there are no balanced relationships here. The woman needs to serve her family first, the  man needs to take care of the farm and protect what is his from ‘those’ people, while the members from ‘those’ people desperately try to break free from the box society pushes them into.
It made me slightly nauseous to read how careless slurs and threats are thrown around, how someone, only based on their skin colour , can turn into a free for all for entertainment and anger and shame.

And yet Mudbound is more than a confrontation with racism. It is an image of a vastly different time not that long ago, of a family that is drifting and pulled apart by its surroundings. And there is a raw, uncomfortable beauty to the way that had been written.

Mudbound, Hillary Jordan, Heinemann 2008