Oh October

Left it a bit late, oops!

Books:

I read a work related book called ‘Superfandom: How Our Obsessions are Changing What We Buy and Who We Are‘ by Zoe Fraade-Blanar and Aaron Glazer. It’s interesting from a marketing point of view but it doesn’t really go into too much depth on the power and motivation of fandom. Interesting to see how fandom works in other contexts but probably not as much detail as I’d like. I also read ‘Fated‘ by Benedict Jacka, the first in a series about an London wizard named Alex Versus. A friend of mine really rates this series so I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. It’s very similar to the Dresden Files (which I got bored of very quickly) and lacks the charm or innovation of the similarly premised Rivers of London series. Would really recommend the latter if you’re looking for some good urban fantasy but I’ve decided to keep going with the Alex Versus series for now to see if it improves. Lord, how I hate a series. Finally, I read ‘Manhood: How to Be a Better Man – or Just Live with One‘ by Terry Crews. I adore Terry (especially in Brooklyn 99) but really knew nothing about him. This was a quick and easy read that certainly revealed a lot about the man and what he’s gone through. Really hated how he referred to women only ever in context of being wives, mothers or sisters, well-meaning though he is. An interesting read and made the bf read it as well.

Music:

Will never get tired of ‘Northern Downpour’. Never.

 

Movies:

My Year With Helen: This documentary follows former NZ PM Helen Clark during her campaign for UN Secretary General. This made me want to do something that actually made a difference in people’s lives. Helen Clark is a national treasure and a bona fide role model. The realities and bureaucracies of politics and government is, as always, soul crushingly disappointing. Would recommend.

Blade Runner 2049: This film is so achingly beautiful to look at. Weta just does such incredible work. Lots of complaints about its length but I thought it was perfectly paced (and I didn’t feel like checking my watch once during it, which is always a good sign in my own opinion.) It felt really true to the original Blade Runner and had the feel of classic films from ye olden times, the type we just don’t get anymore. Both Gosling and Ford delivered great performances. I am so here for it.

Thor: Ragnarok: This film is everything I ever wanted in life. The first Thor has always been my favourite of the Marvel films because it was unexpectedly hilarious and strong ethos. Ragnarok is simply a beautiful build on that. The comedic timing, the characters, the easter eggs, the cinematography, the music…everything is on point here. Taika Waititi is a DELIGHT and if you haven’t seen his other films, get on that asap. Also, Cate Blanchett. Enough said. Sometimes I just think of the scene below and crack up laughing. It’s a serious problem.

tenor

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Sweet September

Books:

I managed to read two books in September, so that was nice. ‘Obernewtyn‘ by Isobelle Carmody was the first cause, as you should know by now, I love a bit of YA. I’ve been meaning to read this author for years as she’s quite well known in Australia but somehow never got around to it. It’s your basic fantasy YA. Overall, I found it enjoyable enough and a very easy read. I wanted to get to the end to find out what happened, but I’m not really invested in the characters enough to keep reading the series. The second book I read was ‘Purple Hibiscus‘ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Adichie is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary writers. Her writing is thoroughly engaging and her characters are masterfully constructed so you can’t help but be engrossed by their stories. I also find her scene setting really powerful, and I enjoy her characterisation of Nigeria, and Africa. Having grown up in sub-Saharan Africa, I feel a lot of it viscerally, in a way I’ve never experienced before (take for example Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’, which I enjoyed, but it never felt real, not like Adichie’s Africa feels real.) And of course the story itself is powerful, and harrowing, and also inspiring. Definitely reading more Adichie.

Music:

The Demi Lovato track puts me in an ass-kicking mood. And new Sam Smith, finally.

 

Movies:

Kingsman: The Golden Circle: Meh. I wanted to like this. I really enjoyed the first one as a fun spy romp that sort of took the piss out of spy films, and I generally also like Michael Vaughn’s work, but this was suuuuuuch a waste of time. Too long, unnecessary scenes, story decisions that didn’t make much sense, and also drawing something that could have been a fun little joke out for far too long. It just didn’t really make sense and it took the things that really stood out in the first film (i.e. the church fight scene) and tried to re-do it again and again. And sadly it just didn’t have the charm to pull it off. Also why would you have the comedic genius of Channing Tatum in your film and then not use him for most of it? What a waste. Probably just setting up the buddy comedy that will be Kingsman 3. Ugh. Who can be bothered? So yes, ultimately disappointing, you’re better off just watching the first one again.

Yogalicious

I’ve been doing a fair bit of yoga lately and it has genuinely been a revelation. It sounds incredibly wanky, but I feel so much lighter afterwards and I feel like it’s genuinely had a positive impact on my mental health. Even if I am still terrible at it.

Things I have noticed since starting to do yoga:

  • Breathing is better. I’m always sick/congested but find that it’s not impacting on my breathing as much as it used to (especially when I’m trying to sleep.)
  • I do a lot of strength training, and I’m not that great with the stretching afterwards, so my muscles can get super tight. Yoga is helping so much with that, and also helps with my recovery time.
  • I’m much more aware of my posture when I’m at my desk so I’m sitting a lot better (instead of twisting myself into a knot). Also, sitting cross-legged on the ground has become noticeably easier as it was actually becoming a bit of a bitch.
  •  I’m a pro-sloucher so awareness and practice has been invaluable to improving my posture. I’m already noticing a change in my body when I walk and I’ve only really been doing this consistently for three weeks.
  • I am seriously so chill afterwards, I feel like a whole different person. Even if I’m super stressed or wound up before class. I think it’s actually helping me not get so worked up about things in every day situations as well. I feel like I’m becoming better at letting go of things.

I must admit that I’ve tried yoga before but the classes I attended felt judge-y and more focussed on fitness/performance. I don’t do well with people looking over my shoulder and critiquing what I’m doing. I like doing things for fun, rather than the feeling like I’m going to be tested on it. So I’m very pleased that I’ve managed to find two teachers who really push the mindfulness aspect of it, as well as technique and working with your body. I’ve found it super valuable and genuinely look forward to the classes.

10/10 would recommend.

 

August, where did you go?

Books:

August was kinda terrible in terms of getting anything done in my free time. I had these grand plans of reading three books while I was in Perth for a week, but I turned out to be too anxious and spent most of the time glued to my phone. So no books were read in August.

Music:

Movies:

Atomic Blonde: I wanted to enjoy this much more than I did. The trailer looked amazing so I was really looking forward to it, but it’s also one of those films where the best bits are in the trailer. It’s still a really solid action flick, and is a nice change of pace from the usual Cold War era spy flicks. Charlize Theron is amazing. AMAZING. Also a solid 80s soundtrack that includes George Michael’s ‘Father Figure’. Oh, and James McAvoy. What’s not to love?

That’s it. Pretty dull. Work was in overdrive with domestic Test season kicking off and Women’s Rugby World Cup in full swing, so I was pretty much wiped out when I got home. C’est la vie.

 

July’s the winter of our discontent

Books:

I read two books in July while off sick. I needed something easy to read, that wouldn’t leave me exhausted, so opted for ‘Landline‘ by Rainbow Rowell. I’d really enjoyed ‘Fangirl’ and ‘Attachments’ previously so thought it would be a good fit…and it was. I read it in a single sitting which is pretty much my ideal way of reading a book. I did struggle a bit with the characters as communication is such an important thing to me, so it was frustrating that they were just so bad at it. I also read ‘Places no one knows‘ by Brenna Yovanoff after the author was recommended to me by a friend. This one didn’t really do it for me. I really liked the main character and the way her detachment was handled, but I struggled with the best friend and the story felt a bit too tediously high school for me. I do enjoy that both novels had a touch of magic/supernatural that’s never explained though – books that are set in the real world but have one random magical element always appeal to me.

Music:

Presented without comment.

Movies:

Wonder WomanThoroughly enjoyed this one, it’s basically Thor meets Captain America: The First Avenger. I loved the background of Themyscira and would happily have watched a whole film about Hippolyta and Antiope kicking ass. But nevertheless I really enjoyed Diana’s innocence and hope, neither of which stopped her from getting shit done. And I loved how the overall theme of it was very Dumbledore-esque. I saw this twice and it really struck me on the second viewing how so much of it is about self-belief. It’s when Diana believes in herself that she can be what she needs to be. And I am here for it. Also, the Wrath theme is a thing of beauty and I want it playing in the background whenever I do anything, ever.

Spider-Man: HomecomingI’m not a huge Spider-Man fan (comics are ok, loathed the Toby Maguire films, Andrew Garfield’s was fun) so I wasn’t tripping over myself to see this, but bf is a big fan so off we went. It was overall pretty enjoyable. The thing I enjoyed most was that Tom Holland is actually believable as a high schooler. He fits that part perfectly. And I liked that Peter was a nerd but it wasn’t that loner sad kind of nerd, he had a kid who bullied him but it wasn’t a jock, and he was just going about his life, being a nerd and not minding it. More of that in films please! It’s not sad being a nerd! Anyway, it was an enjoyable watch. Some funny one liners. Too much Iron Man though.

Baby DriverObviously this is a film that revolves around its soundtrack. The music is everything here. And I love good film soundtracks. I thoroughly enjoy Edgar Wright’s films (Scott Pilgrim is one of my all time faves) so I had high hopes for this one. It mostly delivered. Solid car chases. Solid supporting actors – John Hamm is great, and Kevin Spacey is just living his best life. I loved that Baby and Joseph used sign language, and how natural that was – more mainstream films with that sort of thing please. What I didn’t like was that the whole thing kind of fell apart towards the end when Baby could easily have solved all his problems by simply answering a yes/no question honestly. There was no motivation for him to not do so. Also, he goes on like two dates with Debora and then they’re in love and running away together? Uh. Ok then. Overall enjoyable, and well worth a watch.

DunkirkHoly CRAP. I do not like war films, I don’t cope well, I get extremely anxious and end up crying because of the waste of human life, so in general I avoid them. But everyone was going on about this and bf wanted to see it so off we went. This film took about 20 years off my life. I’ve never been this stressed in a movie theater. I had my hood up the entire time and had marks on my neck from where I was digging my fingernails into my skin to stop from freaking out. This film is incredible when it comes to recreating the feeling of war. One review described the experience of watching it as being reminiscent of shell shock and that’s certainly how I felt. It is relentless. I’m really sick of non-linear storytelling but I thought the way this was told was actually quite clever, seeing the timeline from different points of view. I really appreciated the minimal dialogue as it felt true to the story being told, and the horror of war doesn’t really require many words. The score was incredibly important in creating the tension and anxiety in the viewer, and it did a damn good job of it. Overall, very effective film, would not say I enjoyed it.