Girl One

April 24, 1972

Girl One, Sarah Flannery Murphy, Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2021

Standard detective with an element that’s supposed to make it cool and original but really doesn’t – instead turning the whole thing into a slog to get through.

Girl One is one of the girls that have been created without any male influence – aka no sperm. This tidbit is mostly mentioned through how society looked at them, not adding any cool scifi-ish bits until the last part of the book. Before that, Girl One (Josephine) is looking for her mum. They don’t have a great relationship, but there’s a deserted looking home and she ~feels~ like she has to.

With the meeting of the other girls created the same way her mother’s disappearance seems to turn into something bigger, but details are fed so slowly and unclear that it’s just.. why should I bother?

The story ends with a Life-Changing disappointment for the protagonist. I mentally signed out long before that.

Sorry We Missed You

100 min.

Dat noem ik nog eens horror. De regisseur van deze film staat wel bekend om zijn “activistische” verhalen (je zou het ook gewoon realistisch kunnen noemen), maar met deze is het wel allemaal heel naar. Lichtpuntjes few and far between.

Terwijl je aan het begin nog wel even denkt dat deze man problemen maakt die er niet zijn. Ga nu maar eerst onder een baas werken, er zijn wel meerdere mensen die niet genieten van hun baan. En dan blijken er ook nog een grote hoeveelheid schulden te zijn? Oof.

Maar de protagonist loopt in de val van onderaannemer en is zijn leven vervolgens kwijt aan altijd meer pakketten bezorgen. Als daar het horror-kwartje niet bij valt, heb je oogkleppen op of vergeet je dat bezorgers ook gewoon mensen zijn.

En zo is het bijna honderd minuten lijden omdat als je eenmaal in een gat zit, je er niet meer zelf uit kunt klimmen.

Be Dazzled

The Boston Convention Center has good security, but it doesn’t have missile launchers, which means it would have a pretty tough time defending itself against Evie Odom.

Be Dazzled, Ryan la Sala, Source Books 2021

I know a story – and definitely a YA one – needs a clear villain, but Be Dazzled picking the protagonist’s mother without ever even mentioning his father somehow didn’t sat right with me.

It’s the one bother in this cute story about a neurotic, talented cosplayer that has to take his ex on in a cosplaying con competition. Of course the adorable, in the closet cool guy ended things terribly and our protagonist will never love (him) again. It’s YA, after all.

With such a title anything but an overload of glitter and loving descriptions of outfits and designs would fall short, but La Sala delivers. It outbalances the negative and circling thoughts of Raffy about himself and everything he does.

If I enjoyed it, the target audience might really run with this. I hope they do.

Kramer VS Kramer

105 min.

I didn’t know this was based on a novel. Anyway, I feel like this is viewed as a bit of a Classic and I finally watched it for the first time. Everyone is still such a baby, which is always fun to experience — although Dustin Hoffman looks quite a bit older than Meryl Streep, but maybe that’s part of the story.

Yes, it’s not very neatly done – how Streep’s character disappears and leaves behind husband and son because she can’t handle it anymore. But I’m sure that it was received with a much better shock because of a woman leaving WHAT SHE WAS PUT ON EARTH FOR than because of a woman leaving because she had to pick herself to survive.

But – to me – it’s mostly about how every relationship falls apart in different ways. These two aren’t a good fit; not anymore. How to keep things together for their child, though?

In Hope Gap it’s the child that doesn’t necessary needs his parents to stay together; he just wants the break to be clean. He’s a grown up with his own life but is used as a communicator and manipulator between his leaving father and stunned mother. The three actors clearly have room to act their pants off, but that’s all this film is: a demonstration of acting (and Acting, sometimes). Of course, with every film you can wonder if it was necessary to be made, but with Hope Gap it’s a loud wondering. With it being based on a play, that somehow makes it feel even less essential.

Strangers with the Same Dream

When Ida arrived in the new place and saw the hot sun broken over the mountain’s crust and the sky above it an impossible ravaged blue, she felt that she had been dead up until that moment.

Strangers with the Same Dream, Alison Pick, Alfred A. Knopf 2017

I guess I needed some more naive world-improvers in my life. This time it’s Jews (secular and otherwise) that are sure that they will create a safe, wonderful, prolific place for them. Somewhere already some people live, but hey – they were promised and it’s just shacks, anyway.

Yep. We know what’s going on here.

Alison Pick gives us the point of view from three people involved: Ida, David and Hannah. The first is a stranger, the second two a couple, but ‘strangers’ definitely fits all of them. Unfitting ideas about each other and the good of the community, terrible communication and all the time that build up to something bad happening.

The one downside to this book is that the POV overlap A LOT. Just a small shift in time would have shown us more about everyone’s history and the development of the land of community. Now parts turn into a he-said/she-said what sabotages that delightful build up.

Let’s try some lighter reading next.

Best of 2021

Of books

The Trickster trilogy // The City We Became // Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life // Mijn konijn van vaderskant // Hench // Interior Chinatown // 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World // Greenwood // The Patriots

It’s not necessarily that I read so much crap, just that I wouldn’t recommend a lot of them.

Of films

Pieces of a Woman // Cosmos Laundromat // Shoplifters // The Hater // Bulado

Resort to Love

101 min.

And the winner of overacting this Film-a-Month-Project goes to… this Netflix gem! I know, I know, easy pickings to go for the Netflix romcom, like I should expect award-worthy material but dear reader: the overacting was A Lot. For a majority of the time. I don’t give out these prizes easily.

Anyway, all this acting excellence happens because the main character – played by Christina Milian – becomes a resort singer and discovers that her next assignment at the resort is to sing at the wedding of the ex that ghosted her. While being engaged. You’d throw around your arms and your volume for lesser things.

And it’s not just her that’s doing it. Honestly, except for the love-interest, everyone seems to be in on the fun and good for them. I would rather have more of that than another excuse to get Milian to sing another song to show she can.

The Patriots

On a Sunday in August, a boy and a one-armed man appeared on the platform of the Saratov train station.

The Patriots, Sana Krasikov, Penguin Random Books 2017

Russia and the Soviet continue to endlessly fascinate me. With almost 600 pages and jumping through time to get different angles, The Patriots provides.

That also means that sometimes you have to invest a little bit to follow along. A lot of names and not always a clear sign of which era you’re in keeps you on your toes, I guess.

An American woman moves to the Soviet because the revolution doesn’t happen quickly enough in the USA, in her opinion. We probably all know enough history to know that from a welcome foreigner, she turns into a unwelcome visitor and suffers along with the rest of locals just as easily. Even if you know, reading about it once more just shows that there’s no limit to (unpleasant) surprise.

Generations follow, the Soviet stays the same. It continues to baffle me how recently this all played out, but I will gladly take more stories about it.

Night Teeth

108 min.

Talking about lost potential.. here’s a prime example. We have snappy, chrome/neon looks, youths that can be considered attractive and vampires – a genre that never needs much to still deliver.

So to not do that could be called impressive. Almost everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. Bad acting? Could be saved with okay plot. Corny, cringe-worthy dialogue? Could be accepted with some smooth (action) scenes. But in the story of a cab-driver driving around vampires on a rampage it’s error on error. Bad decisions are made without any back up to make it slightly believable. Plot motivations are thin. Acting is bored or over-done. It’s vampires! Any kind of nonsense lore would have sold this film!

But no. It seems like they went for a music video with a bit of blood and fangs and forgot about the rest – ending with a whole lot of nothing.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

108 min.

Another retro-rewatch review. Okay, it’s impressively white, but whew it also might even hit harder when you have experienced the urge to erase people/things from your life. While knowing that it won’t work, anyway.

Also, who still uses that kind of colouring/lighting in films these days? I felt the room around me turn more sepia by the minute. Did this film always have that home-recording quality? And I really thought that the viewer gets a moment to take it all in, but we’re just running along as stumbling as Joe does. Will he make it, will that creep keep his girlfriend, is it really better to suffer than forget?

I love it, I’m keeping it on my Netflix list.