The Little Things

There sleeps inside me an understanding that it’s the little things in life that I adore.

It’s divine, discovering the petite. Noticing neglected preoccupations.

Things worth noting, worth celebrating.

Miniaturization, I’ve come to know as a comrade. A place for shelter.

Like why the name of the Sequoia Tree entices me infinitely, though I’ve never sat under one, and written a poem.

How people spend entire weekends dancing, while the political world decays and mounts.

Why have I always viewed Route 66 as the world’s highway, Paris as personified by the smell of Le Petit Marseillais Lait soap?

How we are involuntarily inside the seasons. Would you request winter if you could?

Why people pop back into your life, when you need them least?

How Lana Del Rey blinks fast when she sings a tough note.

My mother’s pancakes, a place to seek refuge; my father’s fragrance is memory.

The name O’Byrne, sounds like a person begging to be saved.

How hurtful, the prestige way a woman may flick her hair dismissing you.

Why do our hearts feel stuck in our throats when sad? A warning perhaps, that it needs to escape.

How rude the sun can be, burning us in a season of healing.

Are things really on fire, or is fire on them?

It’s possible for the eyes to die.

How I sometimes imagine if we had to carry all our worldly belongings on our heads.

Do deserts have seeds?

How sitting in an aeroplane’s window seat, reminds you of God instantly.

I’d rather think than talk, if given an ultimatum.

How people recall memories from the 80’s, and it makes me wonder what they were wearing in that moment, how big were their glasses?

The elegance of beauty spots. The attitude of whom they choose.

How I wonder what a naked brain feels like, its temperature.

That frightening moment of despair and glee, when you’re right about something you didn’t want to live through.

How the smartest people in the world, tend to have no rims on their reading glasses.

Impatience can be captured in a photograph. Simply look back at yourself as a child.

How it’s possible to multitask, even if you deny that you can, while you refute and persuade, at the same time.

‘Carpe Diem’, and how I only associate it with Tia and Tamera Mowry.

How bananas look like they’ve been sent to bed.

The colour jade isn’t blue, and isn’t green. Is it black, fermented?

How air can bruise your heart, if words still linger there.

Eating a tangerine can sometimes make your veins go sour.

How we forget that the rocks below us have travelled such a very long way. If we dig them up, it’s the first time they are seeing sunlight.

Books can hold a person’s desires, the entire world squished in a spine.

How many bugs we have killed in our lifetime intentionally?

My memories of New York City, are bullied by the boat trip to Ellis Island.

How in some countries, depression is renamed laziness.

It’s possible to live in a person’s laugh.

How a smell can transport memories, rushing at your ears.

The colours, green and purple can make me smile, if in the right shade of regal.

How people forced to grow up quickly have always been adults, out of focus.

 

 

 

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Film [Part 2]

robert de niroIt’s the small things I tend to notice in films that often make my friends and family chuckle when I recall scenes. It must be the impressions I make of gangsters often with grapes in my cheeks. I could literally forget what happened in a film, plot wise, but still, I’ll remember what I want to remember. Like when Robert De Niro’s girlfriend in ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ is late, and arrives wearing a beautiful white dress. They’re walking to the car when she asks him apologetically ‘‘been waiting long?’’ The gangster that is De Niro, puts his arm around her snug, and gazes into her eyes lovingly. ‘‘All my life!’’ he says smiling. As most probably do, I often notice the random person who may be walking through the background, the detail on the outfits the characters are wearing, and the difference that subtitles can make to a movie experience. My forte includes noticing the extras in a film and what they are up to, or the woman’s blouse that goes from ironed to creased within the same scene. The skill is seeing the first time that Kenickie in ‘Grease’ slouched during the entire movie so as to appear shorter that the lead character Danny Zuko. danny and kenickie

There’s something so distinguished though about eighties films, so much so, that I feel I should have been a teenager back then, wearing high-waisted mom jeans and riding my bike, unburdened by technology. These films are like a bottle of mascara at the end of its life; still useful, still great and full enough to leave a mark. The slow tempo of the eighties comes through in films like ‘Three Men and A Baby’ (1987), ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986) and ‘The Breakfast Club’ (1985). In the early nineties, I was a pup learning to be human, so I caught up on cutesy films like ‘Father of the Bride’ (1991) ‘Groundhog Day’ (1993) and ‘Mrs Doubtfire (1993) at a later stage. Sunday films at my mother’s house over time became traditional, an opportunity to get everyone together. I would often call a family movie, a ‘Sunday film’ because a Sunday film meant an eighties soundtrack, possibly Eddie Murphy with rolled sleeves undercover in ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ his laugh reminiscent of the donkey in Shrek. It may mean Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito and Kathleen Turner in 1984’s ‘Romancing the Stone’, a great action film set in Columbia. Or it means watching 1985’s ‘The Goonies’, a film my friend Roshni made me promise to watch, so that we could be cool again and she would speak to me again on Monday. A film on my mother’s Arabic cable box can bring the family together. The comforting face of Adam Sandler in ‘Spanglish’ on MBC4 with Arabic subtitles may be playing on a Sunday. How my mother would say ‘‘that was a nice film’’ meaning that it bought a serene mood into the room, one that made her grown children cuddle with her on her king size bed.

Why do we switch off the lights when we watch films? To limit distraction or to celebrate
darkness? There’s no handling of things and your body is not moving through or over places when watching films; you’re essentially a tourist through just the eyes, windows of a house. You cannot touch what you’re feeling. But there is such impression, such elevated heart rates and waves of emotion. Simply put, a cinematic experience. You think you’re able to distance yourself from the murderers, bad luck in love characters or cancer patients. But are you really? Don’t we watch films to understand, empathise but mostly to relate. I’m sure, more often than not, that we reach for the films we have the most in common with. The films we don’t necessarily choose to watch but watch anyway, are sometimes the ones we cannot relate to. It’s like dealing with something you shouldn’t have to deal with. Like sitting in the cold when there’s a heater in the room. We suddenly become toffee-nosed critics, expert professionals and we know everything there is to know. Your place in the world is solid in that moment, so you’re fine to pry on fictional characters lives with no issue, because you are comfortable in your alcove but not so comfortable in your obligations maybe?mullholland

I once overheard my colleagues discussing a film called ‘HellBoy’, and I couldn’t help but laugh. ‘‘He’s not tryna be a monster though is he. He’s just tryna be a guy’’ Sometimes the movies we haven’t watched, are as appetising as films we decide to re-watch. When people describe them, though I haven’t experienced them, they sound like something I may have once felt, and I’m completely sold on the idea. Like putting weight on a swollen body part, if its bad you feel pain. If it’s good, it can soothe the itch. Listening to my colleague describe David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive made me think of ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ but on crack. My university lecturer describing the first scene of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ had me momentarily arrested in thought of first scenes, brutal openings and the art of creating shock. I find that I return more frequently to films that do not open with a bang because I feel I know what’s coming around the corner. I’ve been there, bought the t-shirt. It’s the openings that are subtle, that we miss like a friend, that we come back to like you would a beloved clothing item, that become timeless.

There’s a film that begins in New York City on a grey morning and an orchestra plays a
popular melody, an overall sense of weariness and want fills the moment. A yellow taxi cab is pulling in and a wonderfully glamorous woman steps out of it. She wears a black evening dress and the bones of her back are peeking through. She’s wearing pearls, black chic sunglasses and her hair is in a up do. She’s outside a store and we see that she is poised and elegant; simply incandescent like the summer morning she’s entered. New York is asleep. Her beauty is offset by what she carries. It appears to be a doggy bag and a take away coffee. She reaches inside the bag and hangs a croissant from her mouth as she fiddles with her coffee and returns to watch the window display. The music is as pretty as the actress, as lovely and warm. She longs for something in the window, her head bent left in the shot as she eats in a pretty way. She walks away begrudged, but in a regal fashion and in comparison, you notice that the city is grubby. She is Holly Golightly; the orchestra is playing ‘Moon River’ with violins and this is ‘‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ Like a perfume you find impossible to describe, I know this opening and entire film is a classic. I only ever want to give it my perched head and the attention it deserves.

Once, I went to a drive-in cinema in Mississauga, Canada on an evening when I had just
flown in, desperate with jet lag and dissatisfaction. We watched ‘Dark Knight’ and the experience was peculiar to say the least. I sat in a car with my cousins, no indication or warning of how important my seat choice would be before we squeezed in, all four of us in the back, two in the front. I sat behind the driver, eyes dragging. My cousin who was driving, paid a clerk who let us roll through and so we parked in what looked like a park in the day, a lonely climbing frame to my left had been wrecked with sand, scarred with sandal burns. Suddenly, my cousin tuned her stereo to a number she had written on a bit of paper, and there it was. We could hear everything coming from the glowing screen ahead quite far in the distance, blowing out of the radio speakers. I was impressed to say the least, now able to tick this off on my bucket list, but also at the mechanics of this thing. Then, I was quickly irritated as I moved my neck to try and get comfortable, practically pushing my sister to get a middle view that was veering near impossible and believe it or not, I ended up falling asleep and missed most of the film. Heath Ledgers death had been the first celebrity death to have really rocked me, and I refused to watch his last movie with tired eyes. I was supposed to come to my first outdoor cinema or drive in with the love of my life. In my head, we would procrastinate about things we had not yet finished, and we would slip out to watch something in a vintage car with a topless roof, the summer nearing the end, yawning. I never imagined watching my first drive in movie with a car full of teens, one with her shoes off, toes in the air, the other bored, head out the window and talking throughout. And there was me falling asleep, unable to stop myself, in two places at once.

 

Speaking my Language

gwangbak

What I’m saying is that, I’ve considered moving to Korea because I’m aware that at least my emotions have migrated there already. I became a super fan overnight which also, is dramatic in itself. When I say super fan, I mean of Korean culture itself. It all started unplanned on a weekend in June when I watched Korean Drama, ‘Wangs Family’ for the first time on very stuffy Sunday afternoon. Its grip on me was also as instant and close-fitting, as the heat. The sympatico of this unknown language became suddenly proverbial to me, a place for me to rest. Since I’ve entered this biosphere with such intrigue, it’s dented my psyche to the degree where I’m struggling to watch anything in English anymore, simply for the reason that I miss my Korean dramas during the working day, in a way that’s far from fleeting, but more the way you may miss your mothers homemade pancakes —with a wild urgency.

hobak

Korean dramas are as comforting as stretching your body in the early morning, or like that first sip of hot tea after a long day. It’s a clean cut, pleasant place to be, to simmer alone while snacking and to watch ‘Wang’s Family’ with the subtitles on. It’s a place that allows you to feel like your leaning on a beanbag, a place to perch over characters woes. Like when Subak apologizes to her family for single handily losing their home, or as her grandmother and mother heatedly discuss relevant family affairs that foreshadow the entire show. I’m emotionally invested when characters like Sangnam frets over his life troubles, like his lack of education when approaching Gwangbak’s family to propose marriage, and they ungracefully decline. I too, sit with the Wang family at dinner, cross legged on the living room floor of their home in Seoul, and consider the depth of their father’s voice, Bong Wang, as he scolds his adult children for not following the family motto of ‘putting yourself in the shoes of others.’ I wince when this sixty year old man, cries to his wife that he feels he has not raised his children well, when they all simultaneously disappoint him.

What I’m picturing is the intensity of Minjuing’s face in episode #6 where he looks as though may burst a vein in his neck, enduring his wife’s Subak’s Banshee like screams when she finds out he’s now bankrupt, proclaiming ‘‘How can I handle this?’’ Then, her further cries when they move to a small, cheap apartment where she clarifies that she regrets marrying him, and regrets their children ever being born even. And in her desperation, succumbs to using a chamber pot as a bathroom equivalent. Subak is a horror to watch, and her words though stinging, are also phonetic poetry to my English ears. The contraries in her tone when speaking Korean are as telling as moods, sharp sometimes, tapered at others, but always true to the situation. The drama however does not mask what the shows unshakeable purpose is —the capacity to understand and sympathize with your family at least, but above all to show respect to all.

It’s reflected in the show, this idea that throughout life, things happen, things made to clip our tolerance, and to ration our understanding. In Korea, it seems to be things like financial strain, marriage ideals and cultural norms that though dramatic, Korean dramas house the notion that we are highly aware anyway of life’s intensities and their effects. The events that transpire in Korean dramas, are real to Korean culture and eye opening to the western eye and ear. For example, if a character is upset, her distress is realistic because she is shown to be troubled in real time, for four, five, maybe even six episodes even.

wangs familyThese days, I could be at work, and hear down the corridor the faint hum of noises from an everyday conversation, and it will get me wondering about the honorific form; pronouns used in Korean, meaning politeness and humbleness. Ultimately, there’s something about the imagery of the side dishes, chopsticks and of the clean city of Seoul, about how you must bow when you see your parents and grandparents that rearranges me. Check out Wang’s Family Episode 1 below:

 

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.

notebook

I 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)

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.