De voddenkoningin

Ik ben niets meer dan het ongewenste gevolg van de verjaardagsborrel die mijn moeder in het café ging halen op de dag dat ze achttien werd.

Nog een fijne Nederlander, maakt de afstand de liefde echt sterker?

Het is niet aan me te zien, maar ik kan kleding – goed, mooi, spannend, knap gemaakt, zeer waarderen. Bijna alleen voor de liefdevolle, precieze omschrijvingen van kledingstukken is dit boek het lezen al waard.

Maar er is meer. Koko’s levensverhaal is een geschiedenisboek, een familiedrama, een feministisch pamflet. En dat allemaal zonder ook maar één moment taai of nukkig te worden. Saskia Goldschmidt schrijft op een stevige maar luchtige manier, met ruimte voor woorden en eigen ideeën en beelden van de lezer. Het is een visuele pracht, verfilming niet nodig. Die zou alleen maar afbreuk doen aan de sprankel.

Boek of ebook vinden dus, en genieten.

De voddenkoningin, Saskia Goldschmidt, Cossee 2015


117 min.

Marvel won’t stop (as long as they’re making millions). This time’s turn is for a white, male anti-hero, to stay close to what they’re most comfortable with.

ant-man-marvelAs usual, the viewer gets a quick update about everything connects (Stark, again), before jumping in with violence, jokes, and the right guy at the wrong time.

But this time that guy is Paul Rudd, and he’s very probably the film’s saviour. Always easy in charming everyone on and off screen, he’s the guy that allows to be beaten up, insulted, taken from his daughter and being used as a pawn while becoming the one you root for.

Yes, there is a story about an evil pupil and another amazing yet terrible weapon. But neither evil nor good comes out particularly enchanting. It’s the CGI ants that steal the scene when Rudd doesn’t.

Marvel acted like this movie was a risk to make, but there’s really not a lot of difference with Iron Man or Captain America. Don’t worry, in the end our unlikely hero/underdog will make it. And yet we keep watching. Because of the people involved, because of it looked, because of the need for brainless entertainment. And a very well-trained, half naked Paul Rudd. At least this time.

Ant-Man, Marvel 2015


113 min.

I missed my chance to watch this in London, in the Netherlands, and now Netflix (Canada) helped me out. It’s so pleasing to find ‘smaller’ movies there.

girlhood poster canalplusWhy did I want to see it so badly? Because it’s a movie about girls. Female friendships and relationships, but not in the clean, Hollywood way. And the majority of the characters are black, something that outside a Tyler Perry movie doesn’t happen in Hollywood. Are black female friendships different from those of other women, then? Very probably not, but their backgrounds are.

Marieme wants to go to high school, but isn’t allowed to. Instead it’s the banlieu for her, where she lives with three siblings and her mother, between fights and dealings.
She’s picked up by a group of girls, but while the viewer may expect them to be the gateway to worse, they may be the right thing for her instead.

But French films don’t mind showing reality, so things happen outside Marieme’s power. The viewer starts to lose her not long after having found her. All we can do is watch.

Stories like these have to be continued to be told until every Marieme (and her friends) are recognised as a human being, instead of a threat or a burden.

Girlhood, Canal+ 2014

Het boek van alle dingen

Aan jullie kan ik het gerust vertellen: dat geval met Thomas kwam voor mijzelf ook onverwacht.

Ik lees vaker Nederlands wanneer ik in het buitenland ben. Misschien om de taal niet helemaal kwijt te raken. Dat betekent niet dat ik graag Nederlandse auteurs kies: liever vertalingen uit Duits, Spaans, Frans, enzovoorts. Nederlandse verhalen zijn te kaal, te stijf voor me, en altijd weer dat eeuwige seksekseks, pfoe.

Maar gelukkig is er Guus Kuijer. Van z’n kinderboeken (het soort dat oudere kinderen ook kunnen lezen) was ik altijd al fan en nu heb ik zijn eerste “volwassen” verhaal op. Een kleintje. Fijn.

En het is niet eens Guus z’n verhaal, het is van Thomas. Thomas’ slechte jeugd. Door Guus geschreven, waardoor slecht spannend, interessant en een wel-of-niet-echt verhaal wordt. Wat Thomas helemaal verdient, dat is duidelijk.

Zo heeft meneer Kuijer in één klap mijn ebookervaring naar een hoger niveau getild. Hopelijk heeft de ebieb ook ergens Grote Mensen, daar kun je beter soep van koken. 

Het boek van alle dingen, Guus Kuijer, Em. Querido 2009

The Book of Life

95 min.

There’s two points of critique from me, for this movie. One: why wasn’t it entirely drawn like some scenes and the credits. Two: if this is a Mexican based story, why were the voice actors of the main characters not Mexican?

book of life poster 20th century foxBut if you want a shot of colour, life and love on a gray (winter’s) day, The Book of Life is definitely for you. Sometimes it feels like an animated version of Moulin Rouge, with the use of pop songs and references. It once again shows that how you dress a story, any story, is a large part of the appeal.

Two boys and one girl are the best of friends, they grow up together. But both are in love with the girl, and supernatural creatures use them as pawns for their entertainment. What will happen, who will survive, who will she choose? And why does the Land of the Remembered look so awesome?

Visit for the looks of things, stay for the happy feeling it will leave you with.

The Book of Life, Twenty Century Fox Animation 2014


I could hear Mom at the phone in the kitchen gleefully shrieking to her younger sister, my aunt Gail.

I put this book on my To Read List because it’s main character is a transgender teen. Society still has so little clue (or care/interest) about the subject, and I think that fiction can be an accessible way to learn more. It clearly been written for teenagers gives some hope about future generations being more understanding. It also gives the not-teenage reader the feeling that they’re reading a children’s book (short sentences, point of view on certain subjects).

Our main character is Grady, whom used to be Angela, a girl and daughter. He needs to get used to shifting perspective, ‘coming out’ as to who he really is, but so do family, friends and school. His naivety fades quickly when he learns that humans really really need everyone to fit into a certain box. Luckily there are supporters (in unlikely places).

The Life Lessons are worked through quite effortlessly, but if you view this book as a first introduction to the subject, it might be best to keep it contained. It shows how support is so very important, and that character should trump exterior and gender.

Parrotfish, Ellen Wittlinger, Simon & Schuster 2007

Three Day Road

We walk through the snow, follow our trail out to the traplines by the willows. 

Usually I take my time between reading books by the same author, especially when the themes are similar. But if someone offers you the book you want to read.. why not? So Boyden and a story of the First Nations People, again.

This time it’s the Great War, World War One. The reader doesn’t only get the terrors of massacre and destruction, but also the alienated experience of being the other, only allowed around because it’s necessary. War is a beast that doesn’t mind who its fed on, after all.

It’s Nephew’s story, on and off the battlefields, before and after. It’s Auntie’s/Niska’s story, a woman alien within her own. Stories are what bind them, stories, beautiful and brutal, are what the reader gets.

The person told me that Boyden’s other work was better, was right. There’s no room for air or boredom in Three Day Road, repetition prevented by devolution and destruction of characters and land.

I’m really going to leave Boyden be for now, but I’m glad that I gave him a second chance.

Three Day Road, Joseph Boyden, Penguin Books 2005

Made in Europe

Denkend aan Europa zie ik de kathedraal van Chartres en de Sixtijnse Kapel.

Lap en een beetje, ik heb mijn eerste non-fictie boek (ook een leesvoornemen, meer non-fictie) uit. Een fijne, niet zo eentje dat aanvoelt als encyclopendie of geschiedenisboek.

Ik vond het in de ebooksectie van mijn bibliotheek en als ik niet reizende was geweest (waar die ebooks dus voor nodig waren), was ik het misschien nooit tegengekomen. Kijk die titel dan toch, moet dat aantrekkelijk zijn?
Gelukkig is auteur Pieter Steinz ook journalist en weet dan ook hoe onderwerpen op de juiste manier aan te bieden. De slordige foutjes komen hopelijk alleen door de ebookversie, al toont dit wel gelijk aan dat zulke boeken dus ook eindredactie nodig hebben.

Maar dat is een klein punt voor een boek vol “Oh ja!” en “Ja, echt?” feitjes. Soms zijn Steinz’ bruggetjes niet zo heel sterk, maar maakt dat echt wat uit als je kunt leren over de invloed die ABBA op Nirvana had?

Kleurrijk en aantrekkelijk dus, zo’n cadeauboekje waar je mensen wél blij mee kunt maken.

Made in Europe: De kunst die ons continent bindt, Pieter Steinz, Nieuw Amsterdam uitgevers 2014

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I was still bleeding… my hands shaking.

I’ve always been interested/amused by vampire stories, probably stemming from a large amount of Buffy episodes as a (pre-)teen. I have vampire standards though. I’m open to variations on their lore but stubborn about some of the “rules“.

I added this book to my To Read list because adding fiction to (past) reality can work out really well, why not learn more about Abraham Lincoln, and vampires. I’m not sure how Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter scored on any of these parts. I would have to do research to check facts versus fiction, and besides one creative turn, the vampires aren’t all that.

That’s the entire book though: not all that. It’s not awful, boring, lame, but it’s not fun, exciting or enticing either. It’s the kind of book you read when you want to read and this is the only one around. At least I can finally cross it off my To Read list.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seth Grahame-Smith, Grand Central Publishing 2010

Obvious Child

85 min. 

Do you miss the (eighties/nineties) romcoms that weren’t plastic, painfully unfunny and kind of offensive? Boy, do I come to save your day.

obvious-child-posterObvious Child is girl gets cheated on, girls meets new boy under weird circumstances, boy turns out to be really just what girl needs.
Yes, the synopsis and reviews may make it out to be the Abortion Movie, the one movie that dares to show women easily deciding on having one and not burning in hell for it, but really, that’s almost a foot note.

This movie is about Donna and her relationships. With friends, with family, with men that are and aren’t bastards (it’s also very satisfying how little screen time the cheater gets).

Squeal your way through absurd adorableness and realise that not the entire roster of 21st century romcoms are horrible.

Obvious Child, Rooks Nest Entertainment 2014