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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‘‘It’s much funnier in Somali’’- Somali Entertainment and its Ingenuity

ololSomali films and on stage productions are integral to the rich history of the Somali arts culture, and entertainment industry. Not only the latter but these pictures are held very dear to many Somalis hearts. The striking bright, confident colors, the original singing voices and the on stage story-lines prove nostalgic for the older generations. Classic songs, memorable quotes and over exaggerated movement on stage, reinforces the originality and essence that resonates within Somali actors and actresses.  Far from organized, Somali productions have a chaotic nature, a rugged temperament which one cannot simply overlook; which you will and can only find in a Somali riwayad. This includes the classic old Somali style long microphone wire, the band onstage nowhere near the background, quite the opposite actually. They are often mesmerized or simply unmoving as if they were back stage. Then comes the awkward, sometimes noisy pauses between scenes in addition to the sometimes unintelligible sound quality. Nevertheless none of this deters us from watching, singing along and enjoying the stories, creating a space for these titles in our memories.

More exciting for the younger Somali generation is the growth of ‘Somaliwood’ which originated and developed in Columbus, Ohio wherein there exists a prominent, thriving Somali society. Production companies such as ‘Olol films’ (meaning flaming hot films) have gained success in America and the U.K with some great relatable titles. These films have been taken to, considerably well and their success has led to the production of even more great titles which has paved the way for the Somali communities worldwide to explore contrasting issues within their societies.

For example Rajo (meaning hope), is a depiction of American Somalis by Olol films, directed by Abisalaam Aato. This is quite a modern film, which tells the tale of Omar, a young Somali man who has settled in Columbus, Ohio. The film touches on numerous topics such as rebuilding lives once groups have fled Somalia to the west, American gang culture which young males statistically have become heavily involved in, sometimes unbeknownst to them as the film reveals. It also deals with the matter of employment, love/relationships and family. Integrally though, the recurring theme is hope of a better life which is the forthright meaning of the title. If first watched when it originally was released around 2009, this was an entertaining, funny and original plot that lacked the production funds which had the potential to make it great. The absence of dollars however gives the film a surprising charisma which Rajo possesses in abundance, predominantly due to the casting. If you are interested in similar storylines which involve themes of love, family and culture VS religion in Somali cinema, recommendations include Ismaqabato, Ali and Awralah and Flight 13 which focuses heavily on culture vs religion.

Flight 13 refers to groups of Somalis who arrived from Somalia pre 1997 and post 1997 to reinforce their newness and the film reflects this well. Other titles include the classic scary story of Araweelo adapted into ‘Xaaskayga Araweelo’, ‘Qabyo’ which is a play and ‘Qabyo 2’ which was made into a film. Also, ‘Gabar Haloo Doono’’ also produced by Olol films which centers on the bachelor lifestyle of two young Somali brothers who have settled in America and how difficult they find it dealing with their old fashioned mother coming to visit, who in turn cramps their style.

Somali movies are sadly mostly not copyrighted and distributed through homes on illegally downloaded copies as opposed to being distributed legally, which is why the industry is failing fiscally. It is no way due to lack of talent which clearly the industry is brimming with. However, it must be said that these films are not an accurate representation of all Somalis and is fiction after all. There sometimes appear exaggerated versions of a stereotypical Somali and clearly does not always represent everyone. However, they are found to be highly entertaining and the topics these stories delve into do resonate throughout our lives, which is why we can relate and appreciate them in our homes, surrounded by a family that just might remind you of that character on screen.

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.