Cool Things on the Internet #1

Welcome to my new series of cool things I have recently found/seen/read on the internet. I don’t suppose we need anymore introduction than that, do we? Continue reading Cool Things on the Internet #1

If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.

Starring: KiKi Layne • Stephan James • Regina King • Brian Tyree Henry • Dave Franco

TW: Sexual Assault

Honestly, if Beale Street could talk I don’t think it would because it would be too busy snoozing in the middle row of the theater, next to a teenage boy cracking his knuckles.

This movie is sooooooo boring. Aggressively boring in fact and I couldn’t wait for it to end. With a run time of almost 2 hours, I felt every single minute. Luckily my viewing partner was on the same page so I didn’t feel quite so bad when I didn’t like it at all (not that that normally matters).

Are the critics and people who loved this so much talking about the same film? I am so disappointed. Barry Jenkins is, of course, the director behind 2016’s masterpiece Moonlight so to say I went it with high hopes is an understatement. I even packed a wad of tissues expecting to sniffle my way through.

Well, I didn’t tear up once and that, my friends, is a bad sign. I can’t sit through an episode of Hollyoaks without bawling but as the end credits played, I was dry eyed with my heart of stone firmly intact.

Credit: Annapurna Pictures

*Minor spoilers*

I suppose I should go into the things I did like, which will be easy because it’s a short list featuring just two words: Regina King. Thank God for her because without I probably would have walked out. If I’m being extra generous, the story-line – of a black man falsely accused of sexual assault – is also interesting in its own right. Had this focused more on the crime element of the story, I think I would have been way more engaged. There’s a segment in which Sharon Rivers (Tish’s mum) travels to South America to speak to the victim which is very good.

I can’t say this isn’t an important movie, it’s the kind of movie I want to see and it has a lot to say about society – and similar neighbourhoods and black communities across the US. It makes you think about all the innocent men who go to their death just because they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time – and only because of the colour of their skin. It’s sickening and this is just one story in a pool of thousands.

I just wish it was better. Based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name, it focuses on the love between Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), childhood sweethearts with their whole lives ahead of them. When Fonny is wrongly accused of a brutal sexual assault, Tish and their families are forced to do everything they can to prove his innocence. Which is made all the more vital when Tish discovers she’s pregnant with Fonny’s baby.

The film takes us back and forth on the timeline of their relationship, giving us a glimpse of two kids at play in the tub together – to the conception of their adult relationship (then their baby) – to present day – and right back again. That’s not hard to follow and I like how the film looks, I suppose. Some of the lighting is gorgeous and the soundtrack is nice too.

No shade to any of the performances either. In addition to the skill of Ms King, newcomer Layne does okay. Tish just isn’t that exciting and there are times she irritates me with her doe-eyed innocence. Tish’s fiery sister Ernestine (Teyonah Parris) is great too.

There’s also some interesting support in the shape of the mighty Brian Tyree Henry, Diego Luna and even Dave Franco.

Stephan James’ Fonny isn’t a character I particularly care for. There are times he takes his frustrations out on Tish and although I get what they represent, I didn’t like it. And there’s a lot of meaningful eye contact which I could do without. Talking of which – the extended ‘cherry popping’ scene was unnecessary and a little awkward.

Dance your way into a better movie, guys

So you could say this was not a hit with me at all. I don’t regret seeing it but I have no emotional attachment to the central characters at all. I’m not surprised it didn’t appear as a Best Picture nominee this year, although Regina King has been rightly recognised for Supporting Actress.

⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Plant Life

I’ve been thinking of going vegetarian for a while now. I love a good burger obviously or a nice hearty stew but I can’t deny that I’ve started to feel guilty about meat consumption and it feels like a habit most of the time. I’ve always been a meat and two veg kind of girl and I’d like to change that.

In my head I thought I’d just quit meat right now and that would be that but if I’m going to do this, I want to do it properly. So I’ve been looking online at the easiest ways to do it. The general consensus seems to be to start making changes slowly which isn’t as dramatic as I’d imagined but it is sensible. And I’m nothing if not sensible.

On my hunt I found this little checklist by Zen Habits and thought I would use it at the heart of this post. I don’t know anything about vitamin supplements or meat substitutes really but I’ll see what I can find on the old web and through speaking to vege friends.

Have good reasons…

I do feel guilty about animal cruelty and the damage we are doing to the planet by trying to sustain fields of livestock just for food. According to Peta, meat-eating is listed as the second-biggest environmental hazard facing the Earth. A fact I’ve ignored on purpose for many years.

Read up…

I don’t know of any specific resources but I’m sure they’re easy to find online. Any recommendations are welcome, obviously!

Find good recipes…

This will probably be the most challenging part, given my aversion to cooking. However, Quorn and meat substitutes seems to be so good these days I’m looking forward to a little experimentation.

Try one recipe a week…

See above. I’m really craving a massive meat-free spag bol – look I told you, I’m not a fancy person, okay?

Substitutions…

I only know about Quorn and Linda McCartney but I’m sure there are bajillions of options out there now. I know M&S have an impressive plant based selection, so I’ll keep an eye out.

Start with red meat…

This should be the easiest bit to be honest. Goodbye bacon and burgers.

Then the other meats…

I think fish might be the hardest for me but it’s going to happen, I swear.

Consider dairy & eggs…

Hm. We’ll see how far we get. Baby steps and all that… Jazzzzzz.

~

Joking aside though, I think it’s better to do something small to start than do nothing at all – and fortunately, Glynn’s been thinking along the same lines. So we’re doing it together.

We might not become vegan straight away or even at all but we can start here and see where it leads us, right? I mean the intention is there, surely that counts for most of it.

Are you vegetarian? Was it a hard change to make?

Whip It

Both Jill and I have been surprised by how lack-luster our choices have been so far this Feminist February, so I wanted to go for something I knew would be guaranteed fun. How can it not be with this cast? Plus, although I don’t always appreciate Ellen Page in her movies, I like her politics in the real world – so I chose this also because of that. Plus DREW BARRYMORE.

*Minor spoilers*

Whip It (2009)

Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is a teenage misfit in the small town of Bodeen, Texas. Pushed into local pageant life by her former-beauty queen mother Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden), she is expected to conform to certain ladylike ideals. When she rocks up to one of the competitions with blue hair, Brooke is suitably disappointed.

Bliss’ heart just isn’t really in it, you know? She feels stifled by small town life. Luckily she has a cool best friend in the shape of Pash (Alia Shawkat), who is all too willing to be roped into side adventures. The pair also work together at The Oink Joint where the specialty is something called “the Squealer”.

“This little piggy went to Austin, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy joined the derby…”

During a shopping trip with Brooke to Austin, Bliss sees a couple of derby girls handing out flyers. Under the guise of going to see a football game, she and Pash go back to Austin on their own to witness the derby for themselves. During the show the Holy Rollers defeat the Hurl Scouts and Bliss falls in love with the sport.

After the show she meets Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) who persuades her to come to the next team try out. Lying about her age, she does and – lo! – discovers she has natural agility on the rink. Unfortunately her skill also catches the attention of mean girl Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis) who’s naturally threatened by this new kid on the block (I feel you girl). She also meets wannabe rock star Oliver (Landon Pigg) who quickly, and predictably becomes her love interest.

“What do you think of my big helmet?”

Bliss is forced to lie again when she tells Oliver she lives with roommates in Bodeen. The two quickly become an adorable couple but Bliss, now with the stage name Babe Ruthless, is heading for a fall. And exactly how long can she keep up this double life anyway?

Her parents think she’s signed up for extra SAT classes while Oliver thinks she’s an upwardly mobile badass of the world, something’s got to give, right? Well, when Maven gets her mitts on the truth, she has just the leverage to get Ruthless out of her life and off the team for good.

This is a lovely coming of age movie with a dream cast. Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut is based on the novel Derby Girl by Shauna Cross. She also plays Smashley Simpson and is the most accident prone of the group. Support includes Eve as Rosa Sparks, Ari Graynor as Eva Destruction and Zoë Bell as Bloody Holly.

I’m supposed to buy you shoes from a… a head shop? Does that really strike you as responsible parenting? ~ Brooke Cavendar

My face every time I remember Juliette Lewis is a Scientologist

I really like this movie, which I have seen before. I was really happy to revisit it and I think what I enjoy most about it is the mother/daughter element. While Brooke projects her own issues onto her daughter, despite her obvious reluctance to be part of the pageant scene, it’s hard to watch. And when Brooke lashes out and disses the derby girls, despite their kindness towards Bliss, she’s lashing out at a different way to be a woman, one she just doesn’t understand.

This film does not rely on men, all the men are secondary, even Oliver who fucks up as soon as he goes on tour. He doesn’t break Bliss nor does he feature again once she’s burnt his jacket and told him she’s not going to be the girl hanging about waiting for him at home.

Scream if you love Drew Barrymore

The derby girls are fucking great. While Maven is outwardly hostile she eventually gets over herself enough to admit why Babe sticks in her craw so much. But everybody else is welcoming and supportive, sticking two fingers up at the notion that women should always be competing. Sure, they are on the rink but beyond that, it’s a different take on a real and loving family.

This is wonderful sisters doing it for themselves stuff, it’s about following a dream, even if it’s just a dream for now. It’s about getting smashed in the face multiple times and getting back up. It’s about understanding your own needs and going out there and nourishing them. And it’s about looking fucking cool in knee pads.

I’m inspired to be more me when I think about it, even at this ripe age and although my answers probably won’t be found on the end of a pair of skates, it’s nice to know there might be something out there for me too.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my derby girl think of this one? Would she trip it violently or be on hand to patch it up, no questions asked? Find out here.

“I really liked you in Too Young To Die…”