Winter by Ali Smith: a pause in the disconnect

‘Ali Smith writes about memory and truth and belief and delusion and nature and protest and distance and disbelief and lies and the possibility at once for both hope and sadness.’ These are the notes I scrawled into my notebook in a coffee shop on Saturday morning. I was up early for a rubbish reason and had carried Winter around with me in my bag all week yet barely started it. I left later on having read it furiously to the end.

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Let me start by saying that I am a big Ali Smith fan. If you met me at any point during my final year of university, you probably saw the anguish on my face as I told you about how badly my dissertation was doing or fell asleep as I raved on about Hotel World and There but for the.

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Doctor Who: i’m enjoying it and that’s nice.

No one is more surprised to see this post than I am, believe me. I have been outspoken about my opinion of Doctor Who, and what I saw as its gentle decline from a show I was thoroughly engaged with online and offline into a show that I no longer enjoyed. I made gifsets and read conspiracy theories about Moffat’s intense story arcs. I remember the frustration over the inexplicable extra floor of Amy’s house. I even watched a countdown timer for the entirety of that Saturday leading up to the series 6 finale. But gradually my interest has lessened and I’ve become increasingly disconnected with the show.

This won’t be an academic essay nor an unbiased review. This is just a run down of my relationship with the show over the seasons, and a lot of that does depend on my headspace at the time as well. Besides I got to hand in my dissertation last week (!!!!!) so I’ve been having some time off. Not really feeling like doing more formal analysis just now. So strap in for an incredibly informal look back at Doctor Who from my perspective.

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Get Out: the fantasy of justice

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

I’m late to the party, and yes, this is another post about something people have already raved about. But I finally saw it on Sunday and had to talk about it. Get Out is a tense horror grounded in the real world but managing to balance realism with hypnotism, brain transplantation and ‘the sunken place’.

Art by Jermaine Rogers (jermainerogers.com)

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Nasty Women: publishing as history making

I finished Nasty Women on the train to meet my family for a day out and on the way back, my sister complained about always being bored on trains. I handed her Nasty Women and told her to read it. She read the first four essays on the train and asked me what intersectional feminism was so I count that as a supreme success.

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Currently: 13th

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(via Netflix)

I say currently, I watched this last week, but it’s obviously still with me now.

13th, directed by Ava DuVernay (of Selma-directing brilliance) is a powerful, intense and emotional documentary that manages to get you angry and move you to action without draining you. The information is presented in simple terms, explained by experts and eyewitnesses whilst the numbers slowly tick by, in blacks, reds and greys, setting the tone for the film: one of complexity and violence. The film is named after the 13th amendment to the US Constitution that declares the end of slavery unless a crime has been committed. This loophole leads to the high, high numbers of incarceration of black people and the perpetuating of a narrative that regards black men as violent and dangerous criminals. Racism is entrenched in the US’s political system and this film makes a clear case for that whilst also avoiding too much hopelessness.

My explanation is nowhere near as well done as DuVernay’s so I recommend you just stop reading and watch it now if you haven’t done so already. And as soon as I finished, I watched the featurette with DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey which only made me appreciate the film even more. At this time in politics, and in particular the precarious relationships between US politics and media and race, this film is a strong statement, quietly presenting facts and statistics and opinions from both sides in an unbiased way. As a white Scottish woman, I cannot understand what it means to be black in the US but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t learn about it.

The film and the featurette with Oprah are both on Netflix so easily accessible! Also you should follow DuVernay, she’s great! I mean, look at her twitter handle, that’s how you know someone’s good.

Molly.

Currently: The Animators

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker (2016)

I’m enjoying this book a lot. I’m not very far in but the characters are engaging and I’m excited to read more. It’s the first time in a while I’ve read something and identified so strongly with a character or a paragraph without in any way trying to find myself in it. I went into this with no idea what it was about beyond the blurb, two animators form a close bond in college and in life afterwards. I thought, great, that’s a story I haven’t really read much about. The two woman so far are distinct, well-defined characters with nuance. Sharon, who was lost in college and didn’t know what she wanted, feels so real to me.

So far, this paragraph resonated with me: 

And I think a lot of people would feel the same way. Coming to university with vague notions of a career you might like to pursue can be tough when it seems as though you are surrounded by people with concrete plans and dreams they strive to achieve. You’re terrorised by the fear of committing to anything in case you’re not any good at the thing. I’ve never read anything that captures that catch-22 situation so well; reading it felt like the author has lifted it from my brain.

That’s good writing. Just a short post to say, I’m reading this and I like it. You should read it too! (Also this was published in 2016 but I borrowed this from my local library! More on libraries and how great they are soon.)

Molly.