The Big Sick

124 min.

Hallelujah, another romcom. With some coming-of-age elements. And fish-out-of-water, because this romantic comedy largely involves an immigrant family in the USA. Which means there’s people of colour involved as well, score! I know this could be read as sarcastic, but I feel like romantic stories are even more often super white than other The-Big-Sick-postermovie genres.

Kumail and Emily meet when he’s doing a standup show, both decide that this meet up is going to be an one time thing.  Good thing we know there’s way too much chemistry between the two of them to believe that.

Romantic gestures, fights, breaks ups and make ups are (mostly) thrown aside for a much bigger game changer: Emily becomes seriously ill. How does a relationship work with/around that?

Kumail goes through some Life Lessons, while Emily is (more) fleshed out through the presence of her parents. It’s their chemistry that doesn’t make you ask too much questions, just look at the darn cute of them. The other characters are everything you need in a romantic comedy.

The Big Sick, FilmNation Entertainment 2017

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The Wedding Party

110 min.

The world is a global village: how else would I have discovered a Nigerian movie (and had been able to watch it through Netflix, thanks Netflix)?

The-Wedding-Party-posterThe glorious years of endless amounts of fun romantic comedies seem to have come and gone, so I take everything recommended. It’s not essential, it adds some fun variety between everything Marvel churns out versus Oscar material. The Wedding Party was recommended with ‘Not as dramatic and all over the place and most Nigerian movies. And cute.’  So yes, sure, why not.
If this wasn’t ‘not as’, I’m curious about the usual level of hysteria and dramatics. Because in this movie there’s plenty of yelling, fake fainting, (muttered) insults and musical introductions. As in – families are introduced with dancing. This might be a regular Nigerian wedding thing, but it definitely changes up the well known wedding mile. Anyway, the drama has a valid reason (of course): the husband’s family doesn’t think his future wife is good enough for him, the wife’s family handles the insult with as much grace as a hippo in a mini pool.
It’s fun though. It’s loud and weird and kind of all over the place, but it’s clear what everyone’s place is and how this story is going to end. In case you need a romantic comedy, here you go.
The Wedding Party, FilmOne 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel recommend

The strange woman standing on Hope’s main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous.

Cutely annoying, not annoyingly cute (which I think is weird to say as both a negative or positive critique, by the way). And I say this because the main character takes her time with growing a spine and taking her place in the world, and that her surroundings are one-dimensional small town cliches for a while. This book needs a bit of your patience.

But darn it if it doesn’t turn out to be adorably charming, with just the right amount of quirk to save you from having to roll your eyes.

A Swedish tourist visits a small American town and stays. She comes alive, the town comes alive around her. There’s plenty of love for books, and a belief that there’s a book for everyone. There’s romance, on different levels.

And just like that, the fish-out-of-water plot turns into love-for-life. Life lessons for everyone, cuteness all around, a novel like a biscuit with unexpected great tasting filling.

The Readers of Broken Wheel recommend, Katarina Bivald, Chatto & Windus 2015

The Museum of Innocence

It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it.

Brace yourselves.

Not for this story, but my opinion on it. A Nobel Prize winning author it may be, a deep, emotional romance in the loved city of Istanbul it may be, I only found egoism and sexism, with a dollop of patronizing ideas towards women.

The male main character starts an affair with a much younger, and poorer woman when he’s engaged to a nice, intelligent woman of his age and social standards. He steamrolls his mistress into many things, while not giving anything in return, only to throw a tantrum in any way but yelling when she disappears after his engagement party. There’s moping, pouting, dramatic thoughts and work-omitting behaviour. But don’t view it as that, he all has to do that because he’s so in love!

This goes on for years and years. Whenever there’s an interesting look into (high) society in Turkey of the seventies and eighties, the lens is turned back to the ever-suffering man. How dare she, how dare his mother worry, how dare his brother ask to come to work again, and so on, and so on. After eight years things turn in his direction again, but still there’s the woe-is-me tone.

An exhausting, frustrating novel that is interesting for about 10% of its pages: whenever Kemal Bey deigns to show a look at the world around him, instead of the one inside of his head.

The Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk, Faber and Faber 2009

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

Beautiful Ruins

The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come in directly – in a boat that motored into the cave, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier.

Wist ik bij Fates and Furies niet hoe ik mijn onder-de-indruk-heid moest overbrengen, weet ik nu niet hoe dit boek als ‘goed maar teleurstellend’ uit te leggen. Het lijkt wel een beroep, dat recenseren.

Beautiful Ruins werkt van veel mysterie (wat zijn de verbanden tussen deze mensen, waarom leven ze (niet) op deze manier, wie is de vader) netjes alle lijntjes af tot alles duidelijk is. Bijna te duidelijk dus, want zo verandert zwoel avontuur in “verkeerde tijd, verkeerde plaats, verkeerde persoon”. Een kater van een boek, verdorie.

Misschien had ik moeten onthouden dat het mij aangeraden was als een ‘summer read’, net meer om het lijf dan de aanraders van Cosmopolitan. Maar het zette zo hoog in!

Beautiful Ruins is dus best te lezen en fijn vermakelijk. Houd de verwachtingen alleen laag.

Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, Harper Collings 2012

Fates and Furies

A thick drizzle from the sky, like a curtain’s sudden sweeping.

It’s been five days since finishing this and I still don’t know how to subscribe it without feeling like I’m undermining it. No, it’s not just a love story, yet what else is there but the decades of loving and marriage between a man and a woman?

It’s both sides of their story, it’s the views from the outside(rs), it’s how family and society builds and breaks, all coming back to Lotto and Mathilde. It’s written in such a way that the mundane and the boring have a pull, and even when you feel your eyes wander just a little, there’s the gem that’s Lotto and Mathilde (not Mathilde and Lotto, as you will learn) to guide you back to them, to assure you that this is there for a reason.

It’s been a while since I’ve been swept off my feet by a book, but this one definitely tugged at my feet aggressively, pulling me under several times.

Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff, Riverhead Books 2015