Year of Yes

When it was first suggested to me that I write about this year, my first instinct was to say no.

Hmmmm…

I kind of feel like I have to approve of this book solely because of the achievements of the person that wrote it. And Shonda Rhimes achieved a lot, and well done to her and I hope she keeps on carrying on.

And maybe I should have been less surprised about the tone of the story with such a title. I mean, this is the second time this year I’ve been cuckolded by a book title. This isn’t completely a memoir, but it comes close it. Combine that with the subject (saying yes to more things, daring to live (a little)), and honestly – I could have seen this coming.

Of course, it’s interesting to learn about how much work Rhimes puts into everything, how determined she is and how she recognises what has to be done to get where she wants to go.

It’s kind of a chicken-or-the-egg thing: is she ‘American Dream rah-rah’ because of what she accomplished or did she accomplish what she did because she’s ‘American Dream rah-rah’?

In the end, have I decided to be infected by her yes-saying? Maybe. Temporarily. Mostly I’m still stuck on all the ways in which she describes herself, her thoughts and her actions.

Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes, Simon & Schuster 2015

Shéhérazade

111 min.

Straks word ik nog een Fransefilmkijker. Of het nu comedy, drama of actie is, ik weet ze wel te waarderen. Deze valt in de tweede categorie, maar weer wel op zo’n manier dat het niet drámá is. Niks tranentrekkerigs met wollige soundtracks, maar het drama van een grote hoeveelheid slechte omstandigheden en beslissingen.

film poster sheherazadeWant nee, de pooier van je vriendin worden is geen goed idee, ook al is ze prostitueren al gewend. En met een pistool zwaaien is nooit een goed idee, net zoals weglopen bij een opvanghuis. Zach krijgt het desalniettemin allemaal voor elkaar.

Zach zit dan ook tussen het wal en het schip. Vader afwezig, moeder boeit het allemaal niet, stoere vrienden die het allemaal niet zo legaal doen en natuurlijk die eeuwige drang om maar de grootste, beste, gevaarlijkste te zijn. En dat kan best redelijk door middel van pooier zijn, geld rondstrooien en een grote bek hebben op de verkeerde momenten.

Tussendoor is zijn vriendinnetje Shéhérazade ook veel verder van huis dan gewenst. Deze twee klauwen wel aan elkaar vast, maar wat heb je daaraan als beiden aan het verdrinken zijn? Hierdoor is het verleidelijk om ze toe te roepen los te laten en het heel ergens anders opnieuw te proberen maar ja – het is maar een film.

Dus is dit een film met bitterzoete randjes en frustraties, in een licht en vorm waardoor al dat lelijks bijna mooi is.

Shéhérazade, Netflix 2018

How to Hack a Heartbreak

Never trust anything you read on the internet.

First romantic comedy of the year! Although both genres are just slightly represented; How to Hack a Heartbreak is mostly about being a woman in the tech world, and about dating online. The comedy is a tad sharper than you might expect, but both these subjects deserve some attention that isn’t just tongue-in-cheek.

That doesn’t mean that How to is a severe novel about the endless sexism both these worlds entail and a detailed deconstruction of it – it’s still a romantic novel after all. Still, the more realistic angle on the subject and of the protagonist’s thinking is pretty refreshing.

It makes the story of Melanie learning something about herself, her abilities and her (lack of) self-confidence easier to swallow. There might have been just one or two situations through which I rolled my eyes, and I’m pretty sure that was an expected reaction. All this, and a well-balanced happy ending, makes this a romance for the ’20s.

How to Hack a Heartbreak, Kirstin Rockaway, Harlequin 2019

Colossal

110 min.

The feeling when a film is part of several genres and therefore part of none at all, or maybe something new. Colossal largely went under (my) radar, except for maybe a wayward comparison to Pacific Rim: both have huge monsters in Asian surroundings. Colossal is no Pacific Rim.

film poster ColossalThis huge monster is connected to Gloria and starts showing up when she returns to the place she grew up in. Life isn’t great, the place she grew up in isn’t great, and the few people surrounding her aren’t either. Or are they? And how is the monster created, and how is it connected to her? Is it even part of this reality?

This summary might make it sound weirder than it seems, but what makes all this eerie is that it isn’t weird. Or well — it is, of course, but nothing in the cinematography or dialogue shows you that the film and the characters are in on the joke. This is a story about a barely functioning woman, and Anne Hathaway does it well without barely ever going overboard.

You can find Colossal on Netflix.

Colossal, Neon 2017