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.

Why I must be best friends with Busy Philipps

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I’m sure you recognise Busy Philipps from classic shows like Dawson’s Creek, E.R, or Freaks ‘N’ Geeks maybe? How about that girl she played on 2004‘s White Chicks ; the one obsessed with the rich creep, who embarrasses her? There’s a chance you recognise her from ABC’s Cougar Town, alongside Courtney Cox where she played the hilarious party girl/assistant Laurie Keller? Or like me you’re obsessed, and extremely jealous of her friendship with actress and bestie Michelle Williams. It’s understandable to desperately want a Sandra Dee style sleepover with them both ASAP!

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Philipps recently rose to Instagram fame with her unique and entertaining Instagram stories, where she relays her fun filled gym sessions on trampolines (sweating enough to fill a whole bath) and narrates her life in a sitcom style, giving advice and explaining this world that is hers, all the while keeping viewers safe in her pocket as she goes about her LA day to day life. She updates us, weighing up pros and cons like pink hair dye VS voting. Her sarcasm is charming and the captions on her posts never seize to put a smile on followers faces. Philipps is also wife to screenwriter Mark Silverstein and mother of two beauties Cricket and Birdie (I mean come on, how Busy are those names? I love her!)

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“This is not who I am now. This is who I’ve always been.”

She is me and she is you; on that day when you feel spotty, bloated and simply in pain for some unknown reason. She’s not afraid to voice her opinion and her valley girl accent only adds to the chaos that is Busy; this beacon of hilarity and whole foods recommendations. She ricochets from amusing escapades to paid ad posts, equally as much as she captures moments of honesty, recommending good health and self love.

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The best part. Busy has now teamed up with her 6’6 giant friend Steve Agee, for their new podcast ‘We’re no Doctors’. Steve and Busy are both known hypochondriacs who’ve joined forces to discuss all things awkward about our bodies. They manage to easily seize a nice blend of tender and horrific storytelling and recall ludicrously funny/scary moments about sickness and near death experiences. More often than not they do so through intriguing anecdotes and vivid description. They discuss everything from childbirth (natural & C-section), legalizing marijuana, to being knocked out. Then come viral infections, stomach inflammation and so on – you name it. A recent episode centred on the dangers of sugar, presents the hilarious good-natured comedian Dean Delray explaining how he juiced himself into diabetes and how he fixed it through healthy eating.

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Philipps had no qualms in sharing all the details of her own ovarian torsion and hospitalisation while on the set of her husband’s movie ‘‘I Feel Pretty.’ The rare condition left her hospitalised but once more she proved to be a familiar friend. One whose able to share, care and be there and still claim, she’s no doctor.

So go follow her Instagram, subscribe to her podcast and binge on Cougar Town! And then you will understand exactly why, I must be best friends with Busy Philipps now please.

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I watched Gilmore Girls season 5 again and here’s what I learned:

 

”She interrupts me, wild-eyed, begging for coffee..”- Lukeseason 5

Snuggly autumn theme, extreme coffee drinkers and boutique inns equals happiness in my world. Having watched every episode of Gilmore girls and loving each and every one wholeheartedly, it tends to get hard when going through withdrawals (I often miss Lorelai) to pick which season to watch again. So, when I randomly chose the rose pink box set, with a cup of coffee in tow, I was not ready for my new understanding of these flamboyant characters. There was such trepidation on my end, simply because it felt like forever since I last watched the aftermath of Rory and Deans unspeakable affair, and honestly, I shocked myself with how much I identified with Lorelai this time round. Here’s what I learned:

season 52The first majorly awkward storyline rears its ugly head as Lorelai and Rory argue for the first time and it’s so so bad! Still, it’s even more uncomfortable to watch knowing they will fall out again down the line again. I relived the shock and dismay I felt the first time – the time when Rory decided to ignore the simple fact that Dean was married. I could sympathize the first time round because all I could think was that Rory was young, she was attached and in love with this six foot heartthrob but now, I suddenly acknowledged and understood Lyndsay’s POV! This was clear and obvious. Anyway, I found myself also in agreement with Lorelai’s in that, this was forbidden and I couldn’t shake how mortified I felt at Rory’s awful plan there. I felt it was extremely uncharacteristic of her the first time and this time it just screamed unacceptable.

Lorelai on the other hand begins the season like a new woman! There’s an obvious spring in her step, a kind of contagious bounce making her seem all the more successful, and as gorgeous as ever. She still drinks too much coffee of course (who doesn’t), and she’s still the most fun mother on earth and maybe too polite to Kirk (it hurts sometimes). She’s got a new man now, new business and for the first time not the one with the relationship complications. There’s no doubt that Lorelai puts out fires constantly, but she does her best to avoid them this season at her dismay.

Rory however begins the season painfully, so much so that she’s almost tainted from the start. Portrayed as weak from the jump, she’s seen as stubborn and a definite brat. Not only does she have an affair with a married man (Dean) and fight with her mother, but she then moves on very quickly to her new rich boyfriend Logan. Her role on the Yale Daily News is pivotal this season, cementing her further career choices to becoming Christiane Amanpour, but there are definitely obvious changes in her character due to Logan and the Life and Death Brigade. She really goes to town with the college experience, slowly leaving behind the importance of Dean and Stars Hollow while embracing the halls of Yale and Logan’s lifestyle unequivocally.  Rory’s sweet nature is so darn contagious though, so we learn to forgive and love her all over again while we join her on her new experiences.

logan etcEmily and Richard are acting weirder than ever, their surprising separation cementing their love ironically and we begin to understand them better as single characters rather than an entity. Similarly, we get the opportunity to dote on Zack and Lane, single and as a couple. Christopher appears to have Houdini like qualities and pops up when he is least needed and wanted. Rory’s initial dismissal of his company is intriguing as there was a time when she and Lorelai would have killed to have him in their lives. The lovely Michel and Sookie are so consistent in their friendship to Lorelai, it’s beautiful to watch from the kitchen and lobby of the Inn. Paris is still one of the most well written characters to me; constant in her pursuit to be the best at everything, even during an unlikely attempt at fasting during Ramadan.

em and richI noticed Luke as more attractive than ever too, now a father figure to Rory, so protective it makes you aww unknowingly. He deals with the Gilmores so well, dinner with Emily, golf with Richard and still remains the sweetest guy ever. Having always been team Jess 100%, I opened my eyes this season and realized Uncle Luke was the main man all along. He’s consistent (backwards baseball cap and all), loving and kind and exactly the kind of man Lorelai needed all along. Their almost perfect relationship distressed me this time because I knew it would be over soon (SPOILER ALERT). Amy Sherman-Palladino, I beg of you, make my prediction true! 2016 is Luke and Lorelai’s year, I feel it.

season 56I genuinely enjoyed the unexpected shocks I had forgotten about, the awkward out of the norm relationships I had grown accustomed to made me feel like I had to pause and remind myself what happened last season. Friday night dinners were no longer the same and I suddenly realized, anything could happen and I would still love this show. The simple fact that I can change my opinion of characters from season to season reminded me how timeless Gilmore Girls is. Thank you Stars Hollow, my age old friend.