” Life is messy. Life has Lint Rollers.” -Tavi’s Apartment

Check out this quick video of the creator of Rookie Magazine , Tavi Gevinson, on her apartment and its stories.

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Film..

Whatever the intention, there’s something uncomfortable about a person who makes me repeat something I’ve just said. I cannot catch my earlier light-hearted expression, and the entire point has now been missed. They’ve lost the impression, the sentiment in my tone, the reason I said it when I did, the alchemy. A friend of mine does this a lot. I particularly dislike when I’m giving her my time, my close attention, hyper focused eye contact and I’m perched, physically showing an interest in her hesitations, her wonderful revelations. As if I were at the cinema, I begin straining my eyes to the light leaving her lips, wincing at the darkness drenched in backbiting blue. I’ve said something profound now, something classic. I’m talking one time only stuff, and this friend, who possesses the opportunity to listen to me, out of curiosity, possible equal respect even, turns to me and requests something like, ‘say that again!?’ or ‘stop, wait, start again’, attempting to pry herself from her phone or tablet.netflix2

It’s my personal choice to tell stories, ones replete with sketches and mementos captured by a life filled with several hilarious east African personalities, blended with a fondness for character. People make me repeat myself sometimes, simply so they can laugh at a joke again. As if the first chuckle failed to flex their core muscles the way they’d have liked, as if I were a human television set, a film on repeat. On some occasions though, my friends and family fail to grasp that my silence or my poise through the chatter, indicates a refusal to repeat myself. What I’ve said won’t be the same. It was something destined for that very moment which required they’re full attention. It was a story.

notebookI have no issue however repeating the lines that Ryan Gosling recites in The Notebook. Especially the ones in my favorite scene, where he’s literally imploring the love of his life to please choose him.

‘‘So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me… everyday.’’

I listen with fresh ears at these words when I re-watch this film, because they’re lines I love, from a movie I adore. It’s the sentiment in his tone in that moment which I’ve memorized. It’s a moment with such affection, such sincerity, that my skin often produces goose bumps watching Gosling’s passionate pursuit of his love interest, Ally. Maybe it’s about understanding the concepts of too much and not enough, about unleashing romance in all its wonder, about appropriate timing when safeguarding an explosion of buried truth. Or about asking ourselves as Noah asks Ally, ‘‘Dammit! What do you want!?, what do you want!?’’ In more ways than one, film is a reminder of craving, need and passionate emotion.

I sleep in a Queen Daybed and if you were to lift its mattress, you would find built in drawer’s underneath filled with clothes, accessories, photo albums, books and lots of them. Spread over my books like icing, you’ll also find a bunch of DVD’s, films I’ve kept like children, covers that have aged as I have. Not with grace, but by force.

My kooky, black and white bookshelf beside my bed is embedded with Shakespearean quotes like ‘‘say as you think and speak it from your soul’’, the shelves bursting with books of course. I’ve dedicated the two bottom shelves, to films I’m more likely to re-watch on the weekends; days when I have the time to putter between the kitchen and Netflix, barefoot so I can feel the front rooms cozy carpet fuzz between my toes, the scent of freshly washed linen ready and waiting to be folded top of the dryer.

mbfwI reach for a film that I can pour myself into when in need of an emotional pick me up, a mental cuddle. I look for ones that capture the seasons, that capture the essence of my memories, a story line that dislocates me, one that creates a temporary forgetfulness of who I am. These are the movies I watch with a cup of tea or coffee bubbling in my hand — a hug in a cup. The ones that require me to create my own alcove on our firm couch, one fit to house my many personalities and countless moods as well as some food and shelter; meaning a small homemade nook, a fluffy blanket and red packets of Butterkist popcorn.   romancing

Outside, the earth is tired. The city moves with a cause for concern and it’s like finding something rotten in your fridge. The joie de vivre of the times seems to be dying in a place meant to preserve it. In film, exuberance seems alive through form. Or, the groan of life is able to seek refuge at least in untangling itself through character, through tales.

My home is my special place, similar to the rose-colored space I’ve reserved in my heart for Robin Williams and Jim Carrey; the same one where I also preserve Tom Hanks as an uncle type. The place where I’d often google him whilst lying down, just to check that Uncle Tom’s still alive. A residence where winter means Lana Del Rey, candles and hot water bottles, and summer means cold drinks, R & B music and crisps. Anything in between can house the reliable satisfaction that stems from caffeine. Films have always been valuable to me in a tremendously charming way. I can’t say that I don’t know why. It simply has been and still is one of the things I run to, to escape — a tree-house.

riding

A great movie can set alight tremors in me reserved for just that — a remarkable film. Why a film is remarkable to you is debatable. It’s too personal. To me, films are about seeing rather than watching. A film is a snow globe and you are covered in white. Your left cold by the end and your lips have become purple but it’s okay, because you’re now thinking of how trees breathe, the shape of water and if the moon is offended by the sun dodging it.

Curzon Cinema

You’ve probably walked past it so many times that you’ve now lost count. It’s on Brunswick Square, not far from Russell Square station and once, even I walked by it not understanding what this building actually was. It was Christmas and wonder was in the air, fairy lights and large birds made entirely of bulbs adorned the square like jewellery. They almost distracted me from the foreign movie posters. What were there these new films displayed on the glass? They definitely weren’t typical of UK cinemas. They were movies I’d have loved to watch on the big screen, movies I’d watched people debate about on twitter but had no idea how to access. I’d seen the poster of a beautiful black woman on Spike Lee’s ‘ChiRaq’ in the window, the chilling darkness of James Franco’s locks in ‘The Disaster Artist’ amongst other colourful movies like ‘The Florida Project’ that seemed to me, as stirring as a blurb on a new book I was dying to read.

I decided to go one evening with a friend, entering in a nosy way as you would a new museum, crouching slightly. I was impressed immediately. Inside Curzon cinema, you’ll find an artistic interior at the reception. Lots of browns and beiges– bare colours on the walls. The architecture is elegant creating a sense of classy urbanism one would only find in the student area of Brunswick. This simplicity and inner-city vibe becomes key when faced with the bar. The food river is the opposite of simple. It’s crowded with items and prices and the place where you’ll buy your tickets, cake and drinks from the friendly and welcoming vendors.

curzonYou can just tell this place has had film premiere’s here and that celebrities have walked these corridors. It’s something about the thick richness of the carpet, the names on the doors of screens like Renoir and Plaza, the dull glare of the doors shading where dressing room names may have gone. Even the toilets were giving me that whole, this could be a scene from an American high school toilet scene vibe. There’s a seating area in the reception too, perfect for a quick nibble and catch up with friends or your date, while jazz music plays and maybe you discuss what movie you’d like to see today? Maybe you’ve bought your ticket online, sure of why a certain movie will become notable. You’re excited because it’s different and that’s the beauty of Curzon. Maybe you want to watch a different type of movie and lose yourself in another school, one of thought.

On your way upstairs, you may notice that the building is layered like right angles that have been instructed to make a cheerleader pyramid shape, and ordered not to move. The walls look like they’ve been washed with egg wash and painted over with a matte shade, the lighting catching the guest’s shadows, and eating it as they walk up and down the staircase. What will stop you in your tracks is the huge movie adverts, standing up by itself in corners of the stairwells. Arabic movies, Jewish movies, French movies, all as magnetic as Star Wars or Harry Potter. You’ll see booking information, quotes and stars describing the exhilaration, the chill and claustrophobia maybe. The words Curzon Home Cinema may prop up too. Yes, you can rent and watch movies that Curzon hold online. I know, where has it been all your life right?

Only dedicated movie goers have permitted Curzon cinemas to end up in the excellent place it is today. Once inside, after choosing a Syrian movie called Insyriated (2017) about a Syrian mothers last attempt to keep her family safe in her apartment during the war, I noticed the luxurious seating as you will, I’m sure. You have to, because the extravagance will reach your eyes. In the Plaza there were couches only which surprised me. But they were grey, loving smooth couches with no tables, cup holders – nothing. People held glasses in their hands like they were in the arms of their living rooms and shoes were off, coats slung behind or on laps, lovers cuddled. I came back again to watch a subtitled French film Happy End (2017) and was seated in the larger Renoir screen, an even more vintage style screen with private viewing cubicles making you feel as if you were at the Opera, holding binoculars and wearing long silk gloves. It was very Great Gatsby.

The trailers too are tremendous because they are different. They advertise foreign films coming soon, Curzon Home Cinema and show a different sort of advert you would not see in the regular pictures. The films themselves have not failed to impress me and I always leave feeling as though I must write about them in a tweet, a song or blog post. I always want to Lana Del Rey the hell out of them, because they all seem to ‘rock me like Motley’, as does Curzon in its blue moon kind of way.

After that experience, your class is around the corner, life is in full bloom and view. You are changed, and still Curzon cinema is there for you during the rough times. A friend, growing with ideas, and themes and stories. Treat it well and visit often.

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Stephen Chbosky – The Perks Of Being A Wallflower: Book Review (1999)

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still-of-melanie-lynskey,-logan-lerman,-emma-watson,-ezra-miller-and-erin-wilhelmi-in-the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower-(2012)-large-picture“There’s nothing like deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons.” 

Stephen Chbosky wrote a simple masterpiece, perfect for surviving souls out there.  Set in the nineties, this novel is written with a schoolboy innocence as the main character Charlie, writes diary like letters to a anonymous friend, chronicling his lonely high school debut and the demons that haunt his mind. He begins revealing truths about his friend whose recently died, recounting his shock and dismay at everyone’s continuance of their lives ever since.

With a genuine innocence about him, Charlie begins high school and meets a girl, Sam and a guy, Patrick. These smoking buddies welcome him in spite of his age, accepting each other despite all their flaws and secrets. Charlie falls in love with Sam, though she is uninterested and already in a relationship. His innocence is further highlighted as he promises that he loves Sam – so much, that he feels a gripping horror at even thinking about her in any bad way ever. Charlie is dramatic and timid, constantly crying about his life, but in that, there’s something so pure and endearing about him that you will fold to his woes.

ThePerksOfBeingAWallflower“I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning.”  

It’s clear that Charlie loves his family dearly. He misses his brother who’s away at college playing football. He has a close relationship with his loving mother who understands his ways wholeheartedly. She also the only one skilled in knowing how to deal with him when he’s in a very dark place. But most of all, he misses his Aunt who died in a terrible accident. This is revealed in a interesting way.

Charlie’s friends become his life so much so that, when they’re not around, he finds it hard to breathe. When they argue, he falls apart and will do anything to go back to how they were. Charlie also experiences drugs, music, girls and books. His English teacher becomes inspirational as he realizes Charlie’s potential in writing and provides him with advanced books to read.

The simplicity of this book reveals Charlies state of mind and how he deals with his feelings in a childlike manner. With many turns of events and life changing moments, this is a book which can be read over and over again. Chbosky’s writing is enticing and somewhat addictive, in that he sets the scene as if you were present in the nineties. If anything, you won’t feel like a wallflower. You will feel like you’re driving fast, listening to cassette tapes and feeling infinite.

 

 

Loving Julia Roberts Wholeheartedly- Pt 1

julia-roberts-pretty-womanI understood obsession and awe early on in life when I first watched Julia Roberts on screen. Let’s look at Julia Roberts. As a whole I mean, really look at Julia Roberts. She’s perfect. That slightly pinched nose, her very normal smile accompanying that odd hysteria in her laugh, that green vein that dances on her forehead when she cries. That hair is iconic of course, but only due to the nostalgia. It’s as if the raging jealous vapours of the early nineties had rested on her head literally. If you look closely, there’s a pain in her eyes too. The question is, is there a lesson to be learned from loving women who are not always graceful, not always happy? Capture

I watched ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ a lot in my teen years on VHS and would label it my favourite movie. Not that I preferred to be pessimistic necessarily, but even as a teen, the realism that the protagonist did not get the man she wanted, stayed with me. He was never hers to keep. He simply wasn’t meant for her. I’d rewind the first scene and analyse the bounce of her hair; the red that was not ginger and not brown, but a flushed red hue. I then watched ‘Pretty Woman’ for the first time also on VHS, a copy my mother had bought a long time ago from Germany with no label, no cover, just a guarantee that it was ‘that film with the lady with the red hair and those long black boots.’  I thought how brilliantly simple that title was, how achingly true. How pretty she must have been for him to want to attempt to change her.  How charming was Richard Gere! How innocent I thought could a film about a prostitute could be? Not very. I recall, even in my teens feeling disappointed that Julia took on such a role. julia-roberts-945

Many other movies with Julia can still send me reeling, but more so the classic ones. In ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’, I wanted Julia’s eyebrows and her large Cape Cod beach house, minus the abusive husband of course. I hated her in ‘Stepmom’, in turn, hating myself for hating on Julia. How dare I? Still, I thought she held a coolness by virtue that I wished we all had inside us. In ‘Mona Lisa Smile’, I felt just as those young female students did; inspired by her will, her need to prove people wrong as she also did in ‘Erin Brokovich’ when she was an absolute badass and I loved it! Here, I realised not only was she naturally beautiful, but I decided that I respected her as an actress.    I encountered bliss when I went to see ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ with my best friend as we succumbed to Julia and her charms yet again, except this time we were women, grown women and we appreciated her tale of loss and discovery so much more because we had both encountered it in plain sight. nh

I walked through Notting Hill with my partner in the summer. The heat was subtle, rivalling the days earlier hot spell, offering an overall gist of serendipity in the air. I was happy, and it was summer in London. I felt the slight ripples from Julia’s coolness and the smell of old books blended like a family through the summer breeze, as I took slower, bigger steps. My sandals clicked, as if walking through Notting Hill meant I was now an actress, a music video extra. I wore a dark green maxi dress and shades and I felt like a movie star, in awe of a place I had come to know as belonging to, or I had at least visited before in my head many times.

The sky gawped at us blissfully, appearing to be powder like and sprinkled with marmalade as we thought of how the movie ‘Notting Hill’ had affected us both. He wrestled with a decision, choosing to call it ‘a nice movie’ though I knew it meant more to him. It was veiled in his voice when he said he would watch it again. Men sometimes assume women are drawn to toughness. But like how a hard sweet is better when it softens, displaying rations of sensitivity is often preferred. In comparison, I expressed that to me, the film was ‘perfect and made me cry.’

In the noughties, my movie collection began simmering as if a Bouillabaisse in a pot, as soon as I saw the title of ‘Notting Hill’, watched the trailer and noted that Julia was involved. These essential ingredients came to pass when I finally watched it. London, the bookshop, the girl in tears, the love – that line!

“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

There’s nothing wrong with a film that makes you cry. Why invite shame? To be set off by a movie and to cry is to observe beauty that has maybe dislodged you, or there’s a sadness that you’re temporarily managing which is okay to feel. The film has summoned blue feelings, some tenderness you are expressing as a token of your investment in these characters. You’re laying siege to their lives and to their woes which are maybe yours too. Or maybe you had a bad day, and you want to cry, and Julia Roberts is on TV shivering and requesting that this man who has just rejected her, please love her. It hits a nerve in you. I don’t want to live in a world where I’m wrong for blubbering at ‘Notting Hill’, for letting it all out.

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African American Vs American African: Americanah (2013) Book Review

ngoziChimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s brilliant novel  ‘Americanah’ (2013) reflects an unbelievable life journey, highly capable of impressing readers with its unending and satisfying chain of events. Adichie’s manner fearlessly tackles major topics of oppression, race and identity as well as the principal themes of love and culture. ‘Americanah’ is unlike other mainstream fiction of its kind simply due to its brash portrayal, deep rooted honesty and African flavour.

Adichie introduces brazen main characters Obinze and Ifemelu, two strangers who meet and soon create a deep mutual romantic love and bond that readers will grow to dote on. Ifemelu is a strong protagonist, direct and unassuming that we as readers should in any way understand her life and most importantly her Nigerian culture and her blackness. The writer leads us through her mind anticipating Ifemelu’s motives, at times, encouraging us to sympathize even.

At the start of the novel, the politics of black hair is very much alive as Ifemelu describes visiting a hair salon to get her hair braided. After disagreeing with the Senegalese hairdresser that she does not need a relaxer to soften her hair to fit in, the hairdresser offers a compliment on the improvement of Nollywood films lately, expecting Ifemelu to understand, speaking to her as if she is the sole person accountable for the Nigerian film industry.

‘‘She nodded in agreement because to hear ‘Nigeria’ and ‘good’ in the same sentence was a luxury.’’

The start of the book reinforces the irony that Ifemelu has become her own worst nightmare, as she strolls through New Haven, Princeton University. She begins to understand that you still cannot be a black African in America, not the way Ifemelu arrived. You must morph into an African American. This story is surprisingly refreshing with an incredible balance between the harsh difficulties in both characters’ lives, intertwined with the recurrent love story peeking through the blinds. The integral theme throughout is the importance of culture and remembering who you are, wherever one resides.americ

The other main character Obinze on the other hand is a rarity. He’s a charming and educated young man, who reveals a sensitivity one can only spot as a fly on the wall or maybe weaved into Adichie’s prose. He exudes a warmth and romance through his interests and ideals, yet eventually turns into almost the opposite person he intended to be. Both characters long to leave their small homes in search of a big dream and we completely understand. They become each other’s backbone through Lagos school, holding tight to big dreams of a visa and a life altering move to America.

“She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection. He made her like herself. With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.. It seemed so natural, to talk to him about odd things. She had never done that before. The trust, so sudden and yet so complete, and the intimacy, frightened her.. But now she could think only of all the things she yet wanted to tell him, wanted to do with him.”

Obinze is inspired by his mother to read books and so he buries his head in American novels which sustain him through the years. Nevertheless, the dream is and always has been leaving home and boasting that they’ll each soon have a glowing shiny visa stamped in their passports. However, when Ifemelu is presented the opportunity to flee and study first, she promises to wait and has no choice but to leave Obinze behind. Years later, Obinze’s opportunity to change his life leaves him with England as his only option where he attempts to find solace unhappily without Ifemelu by his side. Both characters lives take unexpected turns, changing both of them forever. The couple lose touch and begin to think their journey is over.

“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America. When you are black in America and you fall in love with a white person, race doesn’t matter when you’re alone together because it’s just you and your love. ”

Obinze struggles in the UK financially and meets up with friends from Nigeria, back home, friends who have established themselves in English society; they’ve married English now and are sporting new accents. He can’t begin to understand how this much change has taken place, how the cultural differences leave him itching to argue during dinner parties where they eat on ‘ethnic plates’ alongside his old friends and new acquaintances. Obinze struggles with controversial conversations with these people who discuss ‘foreignness’ like a disease and he’s instantly infuriated. The character becomes a lone wolf and faces many hardships in England. Eventually, Obinze is forced to return to Lagos by the English authorities who catch him in a desperate act to stay in the country with no official paperwork.

Ifemelu also struggles terribly when she first gets to America. With a thick accent and no chance of getting a part time job, she slowly sinks into a depression which is maximised as she begins contemplating and eventually partaking in a sexual favour for money. Eventually, Ifemelu represses those memories finding a respectable escape as a babysitter for a caucasian family who feel a need to discuss Africa or African women whenever she is in the room. Adichie introduces Curt and Blaine (new men in Ifemelu’s life) which allows her to fasten Ifemelu to a pedestal as the token black girlfriend. Short hair, dark skin; a foreign beauty.

“When it comes to dressing well, American culture is so self-fulfilled that it has not only disregarded this courtesy of self-presentation, but has turned that disregard into a virtue. “We are too superior/busy/cool/not-uptight to bother about how we look to other people, and so we can wear pajamas to school and underwear to the mall.”

From arrival in America to her departure, Ifemelu battles the weighty topic of race relations. Race is achingly relevant as Ifemelu eventually creates a blog where she  constantly vents about race in America through her Nigerian eyes and she eventually makes enough money to stop working.

Adichie reinforces the importance of family as she paints Aunt Uju and Dikes story, reinforcing cultural acceptance when moving to the west. The story suggests  America is like a uncle who spoils children. Cousin Dikes suicidal episode reinforces the stigma of not seeing the signs of turning western so to speak, or simply the shock of how dare a Nigerian child even view suicide as an option?

“I realized that if I ever have children, I don’t want them to have American childhoods. I don’t want them to say ‘Hi’ to adults I want them to say ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good afternoon’. I don’t want them to mumble ‘Good’ when someone says ‘How are you?’ to them. Or to raise five fingers when asked how old they are. I want them to say ‘I’m fine thank you’ and ‘I’m five years old’. I don’t want a child who feeds on praise and expects a star for effort and talks back to adults in the name of self-expression. Is that terribly conservative?”

The position of Nigerian women and relationships they partake in is a huge topic in the last third of this novel too. The give and take notion whereby Nigerian women stay in unhappy relationships so their men can pay for everything, is reinforced when Ifemelu exposes her friend’s relationship. Ifemelu’s eventual return to Nigeria is intriguing as she does not so much adjust to life in Nigeria, but slips back into routine, although even she learns to accept that though she has changed, Nigeria has changed a great deal too.

Obinze becomes a rich and popular man, married even and this is where the story becomes light hearted while birthing a major cliff-hanger. By the end of this novel, the importance of Americanah is startling. Adichie cleverly critiques society’s stupidity but also cultural foolishness. This is a racially charged novel but a extremely relevant one nonetheless. Adichie writes impressively, challenging culture and loving it in the same breathe. Even at points when readers try to predict what will happen, she shocks and delivers. Adichie did not seek out to create a hero and heroine, rather she tries to bravely evoke love and the realistic truth she has lived. There is a truth to this book that will make you ache.

Conspiracy theory (1997)

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Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) speeds around rainy New York City in his yellow cab, dropping off passengers whilst collecting stacks of newspapers from his buddy down the street. They dabble in talks of politics as they make predictions and reveal conspiracies to one another that one wouldn’t necessarily believe.
On his way home, a clumsy yet talkative Jerry arrives at his home uttering conspiracies out loud while he locks his steel door to his tiny, cluttered apartment equipped with three locks. Obviously paranoid, Fletcher searches through his stacks of newspapers copying stories and creating conspiracies he believes true, ready to be posted the next day.
A rather interesting turn of events as Jerry makes his usual visit to Alice Sutton played by Julia Roberts, and explains his worries about the U.S Government and the detrimental effect he feels they may have on the safety of others daily. When one of his conspiracies turns out not to be just a thought anymore, this two and a half hour film begins to unravel, displacing character profiles and testing knowledge as well as personality.  

juliaRated a 6.5 on imdb, this film may surprise you. Though starring the graceful Julia Roberts as Annie, there is little focus on her beauty as expected, rather the solving of the predicament is of key importance. The male gaze does not take over her character because she takes pride in playing a vital role in helping to sustain the U.S Governments image. Mel Gibson’s character on the other hand, attempts to unravel everyday elements of ordinary citizens’ thoughts on their safety, as well as future well being. Nevertheless, though seeming highly paranoid, Gibson does bring many interesting points to the surface.

Though from the nineties, if you have never seen this film,  it still deals with current everyday concerns Americans may carry but it also reveals fears we all have referring to the powerful leaders of our countries. A riveting action packed movie guaranteed to have you glued to your seat.

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