Waitress

108 min. 

A delicious little story about light at the end of the tunnel.

waitress_movie_poster
So many pies

The waitress from the title, Jenna, is stuck in a job and a husband. Her only reliefs are her colleagues/friends and her pies. Her pies may be her way out of this miserable life, but then a pregnancy blows up that option. Luckily there’s a love interest in the shape of her gynecologist, a grumpy old man that wishes her the best and her never stopping, pie creating mind.

The pies are shown beautifully, so better not start this movie hungry. There are definitely some things to frown upon, but as a (short) lesson about never giving up, recognising your self-worth and that friendship trumps romantic relationships, Waitress is tooth-achingly sweet for a lazy film watch.

Waitress, Fox Searchlight Pictures 2007

Beauty Queens

The book begins with a plane crash.

Sometimes it’s very on the nose (for someone who calls herself an intersectional feminist), but I’m very pleased that Libba Bray unapologetically laces this story with lessons about racism, sexism and feminism. I was looking for another book by Bray, but any will do if you want to discover the style of an author.

Beauty Queens on their way to a pageant end up in a plane crash. While they slowly discover that they’re worth more than their looks, the sponsor and producer interject commercials and hostile take overs to make sure the reader still remembers her place.

It’s a parody, a complaint, an educational pamphlet and a book stuffed to the brim with girl power. Just when it gets a bit too much, it adds heart. A smart read for both girls and boys.

Beauty Queens, Libba Bray, Scholastic 2012

Scrotal Recall

24 min. 6 episodes

Isn’t that a fun title to recommend to friends? Originally a Channel 4 show, but now to be found on (Canadian) Netflix as well, Scrotal Recall is a perfect little weekend show with plenty of ‘awwww’ moments.

scrotal-recall-poster-channel-4Well it doesn’t really start out very romantic. Main character discovers he has chlamydia and is told to inform previous sexual contacts. Good luck. At least he has a list of the women he slept with, and per episode we view the meeting, and the confrontation. But in the background there’s best friend Evie and ..well, things keep happening while both of them are off making plans.

It’s how rom-com’s should be, down to the awkward endings and weird side characters. Heck, there’s even more diversity than in most Hollywood rom-com’s combined. So brownie points for these stumbling fools, and a nice night of soft entertainment.

Scrotal Recall, Channel 4 2014

Dope

103 min.

Oh, wow, what an amazing, fun, emotional, realistic movie. I was interested because of the soundtrack (nineties hiphop and rap), and was so glad that everything else delivered as well. An original story with people of color that spun clichés and tropes and isn’t afraid to confront the viewer. Go see it.

Forest Whitaker's Significant Productions 2015
Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions 2015

Malcolm and his friends are geeks obsessed with nineties hiphop. They dress like the artists, make music like them, write essays on them. He’s trying to get out of the criminal suburb he lives, aiming high with Harvard. Of course, life happens. There’s a girl, there’s a drugs dealer. There’s a lot of drugs and a muddy connection to those that could help him get into Harvard. What follows is a whirlwind of action, music, comedy and coming of age with from time to time a bit of fourth wall break throughs. Think about this, think about them, think about the society in which we live and where we are all part of.

That doesn’t mean there is anything preachy about Dope. Those with an open mind will see and understand enough to know things need to change.

DopeForest Whitaker’s Significant Productions 2015

‘… and that’s when it fell off in my hand.’

Grey skies, grey cluds, grey knickers.

Dit is geen hoogstaande literatuur, dit is niet gevuld met diepgaande gedachten en pijnlijk mooie zinnen. De Georgia Nicholson boeken waren chick lit voor de term mainstream was, waren YA voor de term zelfs bestond. Het laat zien dat vrouwelijke tieners ook lelijke, idiote, arrogante, opgewonden gedachten kunnen hebben. En dat allemaal op een hele melige manier.

Tiener Georgia heeft het natuurlijk heel zwaar met alles. Haar idiote gezin, haar lief, haar vriendinnen, school, en de liefde. Dit behandelt ze in dagboekvorm met een hele eigen taal. Sadnosity voor verdriet, nunga-nungas voor borsten, en de echte knappe mannen zijn Sex Gods. Georgia censureert zichzelf geen moment en dat maakt haar stukken realistischer dan elke “held” in hedendaagse tienerverhalen.

Maar dan wel realistisch op de ‘dit is een tiener’ manier, verder gebeuren er zoveel dingen en zijn er zulke vreemde karaketrs dat je je af en toe afvraagt of je niet in één grote satire bent beland. Tot er weer zoiets kroms en meligs gebeurt dat je weet dat je je geen zorgen hoeft te maken: dit is gewoon een geweldig giechelboek.

‘… and that’s when it fell off in my hand.’, Louise Rennison, HarperCollins 2004

Girls For Breakfast

I’m standing on top of the water tower behind my house, thinking about my death and the inevitable bronze statue the graduating class will erect in my memory.

The amount of times I thought “is this really how boys think?” while reading this YA novel was probably staggering.  Of course, this is fiction, from another time zone and – with the Korean background of the main character – laced with race-connected details. And yet. Really?

The reader follows Korean-American Nick Parker from eight to eighteen, more or less. He’s at his graduation day, hiding away and looking back on his desperate need for popularity, girls, friendships and fitting in.

Nick’s discovery at a certain age that he is a banana, that he may think himself as white but definitely isn’t viewed as such, keeps Girls For Breakfast from becoming another navel gazing coming of age story. He doesn’t just has to deal with growing up, he has the whole different race thing going on, without his consent.

Girls For Breakfast, David Yoo, Random House Children’s Books 2005

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In

As the clock struck ten, Smew opened the register.

I didn’t see the ‘Comedy Genre’ sticker. Readers know that I’m always careful when it comes to having someone else decide for me what I’m going to find funny and/or laugh about. On the other hand, maybe comedy is more than that, but that comes to close to the philosophical side of things. I guess I just got distracted by the cover and the title.

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In starts out as funny and pretty absurd. There’s a country with a missing empire, the people of state can’t spend their money and there’s no such thing as efficiency or productivity. The main character and reader are in the same state of bewilderment, and possibly after a few chapters starting off the same way, wondering if any kind of plot is even around.

With a train come changes and the absurd does a 90 to turn into something that could be recognized as satire. Is every kind of process good, does a human being not need anything else but employment and there is definitely no need for a state-figure as long as there is (small/local) authority.

And like that the reader shuffles through this book with a question mark on their forehead and a smile around their lips. Yes, maybe this is comedy.

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In, Magnus Mills, Bloomsbury 2011