Stuntwomen: the untold Hollywood Story

85 min.

Kinda started this out of boredom, decided to stick with it because it told me a lot about Hollywood (history) I didn’t know yet. And showed a lot of cool stunts (which are usually also very dangerous, shouldn’t be reenacted and there should probably be a conversation about how it’s time to CGI stunts before anything else).

It’s the untold story, but at the same time and all too familiar one: women aren’t as appreciated in their job as men (in the same function).
Starting out, it was more women than men doing stunts. Then it turned out that money was to be made, and men came in in droves. Women have to be a carbon copy of the actress they replace: men are done after putting on a wig. Men are hired for every job (background victims, for example) with little experience, women didn’t because they “didn’t fit the bill completely” or “I don’t like to see women shot” – director’s quote.

Yet they – as in any other job – persevere(d). Sometimes by doing the too dangerous job (an interviewed stuntwoman broke her back twice), but they have so much passion for what they do that it’s hard to stay away.

Inspirational and motivational – both about standing your ground in the work place and I really want to pick up all kinds of martial arts, boxing and trampoline jumping right now.

Moxie

111 min.

Netflix doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to original films, and I’m old enough to be disgruntled by plenty of YA tropes.

So, I chose to watch a Netflix original based on a YA novel. I’m a logical thinker.

Of course, yes, there could have been easy adjustments made to improve this story about a female teen recognising the stupid rules and habits of a patriarchal system. For starters, shifting the point of view to the black girl.

But I was surprised by how few adjustments I could come up with. Plot? Not always as subtle as it could be, but perfect for the audience. Scrip and lines? Surprisingly without any attempt to be “down with the youths”. Characterisation and love interest? Nice, cute and wholesome.
Honestly, I think I’m still surprised.

Therefore, I’m going to keep it at that. No deeper digging, not reading the original material.

Oh, but the fun we had.

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race

It wasn’t until my second year of university that I started to think about black British history.

I guess August was for non-fiction, or that This Lovely City just put me in the mindset to learn more about black British history. Because of course, of course – in some way you know that the islands aren’t an utopia for black and brown people, but how much of black history is focused on the USA (effectively making it possible for Europeans to dodge any responsibility?)? Turns out – when it comes to my knowledge – a lot.

Don’t write this title off as a history book now (why would you write off any book because it has history, you don’t love history?), because as anything involving people; history is just one part of it. As Eddo-Lodge explains it probably better than I do: intersectionality is a thing, and you can’t discuss a human issue without looking at the place where it intersects.

So, this book is about history, about feminism, about the media and white privilege. It’s about health and education, and every other part of human life. In clearly cut chapters, in clear language, Eddo-Lodge doesn’t only answer the title’s question, but also explains to you why you should take responsibility regarding it.

And just like that, I’ve got my first book for my students to read (from).

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Bloomsbury 2017

Mermaid

Je bent er nog niet klaar voor, mijn kind.

Ik ben een sucker voor mythologie en zeker hervertellingen er van. Deze keer duldde ik er zelfs een vertaling voor. En het stelde niet eens teleur.

Mermaid (waarom is de titel half in het Nederlands en half in het Engels?) is een variatie op het verhaal van de kleine zeemeermin, en dan dichter bij het origineel (veel pijn, veel verdriet) dan dat van Disney, en dan ook nog met een boel inzichten.

Omdat dit een realistische (ja, ondanks de meerminnen) variatie is, zijn die inzichten niet al te luchtig en fijn. Hoofdpersoon Gaia mag dan pas vijftien zijn, de schellen vallen haar wel heel snel van de ogen, en dan was ze om te beginnen al niet zo naïef.

Hierdoor is Mermaid een sprookje zoals ze vroeger werden gemaakt – om van te leren. In dit geval met zeer pijnlijke voeten en een bittere conclusie, maar desalniettemin een Wijze Les die zeker voor deze doelgroep zeer nuttig kan zijn. En dan was de er omheen-gebouwde wereld nog aantrekkelijk ook.

Mermaid – Dromen van het onmogelijke, Louise O’Neill, Young & Awesome 2018

Coisa Mais Linda

7 x 45 min.

Also known as Most Beautiful Thing, and it definitely is pretty to look at. With it being centered around a musical café it’s not bad to listen to either.

most beautiful thing posterBut what’s going on? A Brazilian housewife in the fifties follows her husband from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro only to discover he disappeared with all her money, leaving her indebted and without direction. Now what? Her image destroyed, her bank account empty, time to find a new husband!

Except she doesn’t want to. They had dreams of starting a restaurant, now she decides on starting a jazz club. As a naive little housewife there are plenty of things she has to learn while working against sexism, the previous mentioned debts and her parents. Good thing there are female friends that suffer (in other ways) along with her.

And all that in beautiful, bright surroundings (are so many shows and films so dark these days or is it just my screen settings?) that add a little bit extra to the trope of ‘woman recognises her worth and comes into her own’. Oh and yes, it’s in Portuguese, so you might have to get used to the idea of reading subtitles.

Coisa Mais Linda, Netflix 2019

The Letdown

13 x 30 minutes

For someone who doesn’t have children, nor wants them, The Letdown has plenty recognisable situations that make you think that mothers aren’t a completely different species (yes, I know!).

The Letdown posterIn this Australian show the viewer follows around different (new) mums from different backgrounds and in different surroundings. But even though they are introduced through a mum-related event, the show doesn’t turn them solely into ‘mothers’. Children have upended the lives of these women (and their partners), and that’s where the relatable part comes in.

Even when these women are in different times in their lives, they all struggle (more or less) with romance, health, personal time, family etc. It’s small things, frustrating things, and sometimes so secondhand embarrassing that it’s hard not to look away. Please, just admit that you were wrong, right or uncomfortable, aren’t you too old for such behaviour come on.

I guess not, and that’s also what elicits chuckles besides rolling eyes. Good thing you can’t blame children or partners on bad decisions, no matter how old you are. There’s plenty of us that do so, and it’s nice to see that.

The Letdown, Netflix 2017

 

Amal Unbound

I watched from the window as the boys tumbled out of the brick schoolhouse across the field from us.

This story sometimes feels a bit too much like those introductions to subjects in school books, but is enticing enough to not be bothered by that.

It’s a short story as well: I checked twice if I didn’t happen to download just the first book, or even an incomplete version (I’m so sorry library, it’s me that has the mistrust, not you that deserve it). In 166 pages Amal’s story is told.

She is a young teenager that lives in a small Pakistani village and dreams of becoming a teacher. Her entire life is turned upside down when she says no to a (blackmailing) landlord, moving her from future potential teacher to indentured servant.

This story is inspired by Malala Yousafzai, and as mentioned before, sometimes it shows. Through hardship this young girl learns things and acquires a new view of the world. For that second part (unless you come from a small Pakistani village as well), you should have a look at the novella.

Amal Unbound, Aisha Saeed, Penguin Books 2018

Harlots

8 x 45 min.

Ik kijk/keek een boel televisieseries met vooral vrouwelijke (hoofd)rollen. Best lekker is dat, en dan valt het ook gelijk op dat je met vrouwen ook gewoon allerlei verschillende verhalen kunt vertellen (choquerend!).

Harlots HuluDeze keer gaat het over een stel hoeren ergens rond Middeleeuwen. Er is concurrentie, religieuze fanaten en familieproblemen als slagroom op het dagelijks leven binnen een bordeel.

Op den duur wordt dat zelfs een beetje herhalend, maar gelukkig zijn er genoeg karakters die de boel opfleuren, letterlijk en figuurlijk want de aankleding is geweldig. En die vijfenveertig minuten zijn net genoeg om het fris te houden. Door het vlotte tempo en hoeveelheid verhaallijntjes, is het wel makkelijk om je niet heel begaan bij ieder te voelen. Ja, zij is de slechterik maar dat komt door een grotere slechterik en hoeren zijn ook mensen met karakters en wensen, maar hoe en wat dan precies?

Er is een tweede seizoen; misschien gaat iedereen daarin iets meer de diepte in. Tot dan is het mooi en vermakelijk. Wat ook mag.

Harlots, Hulu 2017

 

To Wong Foo, thanks for everything! Julie Newmar

109 min.

This had so much more heart than I expected. I was ready to prepare it to Priscilla: Queen of the desert (also drag queens), and had so often seen .gifs of this movie, that I thought it would be a superficial technicolour party. to-wong-foo-thanks-for-everything-julie-newmar poster

All that was present, but then the fish-out-of-water part happens. The three (two queens, once princess, it will be explained to you) get stranded in a very Middle American little town, and here’s where the people come in. Instead of keeping everyone involved an one dimensional cliché, the characters develop into human beings. Drats, even a majority of the bad guys get a clue!

All that while still having fun and not taking itself too seriously. Although it would have been curious to see how Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes would have done that.

To Wong Foo, thanks for everything! Julie Newmar, Universal Pictures 1995

Dear White People

10 x 30 min.

Ik kreeg het niet voor elkaar om de film te kijken, maar gelukkig hielp Netflix (weer eens): nu is er ook een serie.

dear-white-people-netflixMet hetzelfde gegeven: zwarte studenten op overmatig witte campus die in mindere en meerdere mate tegen racisme ingaan. Hoofdpersoon is misschien wel Sam met radioshow Dear White People, maar – heel fijn – anderen krijgen elk ook een aflevering. Iets met ‘verschillende, nodige invalshoeken’ en zo.
Zo leer je waarom sommigen “zo min mogelijk zwart” willen zijn, of hoe het is om waarheid te ontkennen voor je eigen veiligheid.

En door het evenwicht van continu activisme en ‘ik wil gewoon leven, hoe dan ook’ wordt Dear White People geen eenzijdig pamflet. Hoeft ook niet; de ervaring van met de neus op de bittere feiten gedrukt worden gebeurt toch wel.

Dear White People, Netflix 2017