God’s Own Country

104 min.

Ik snap wel waarom het gebeurt, maar vind het vaak toch nogal makkelijk: de ene film de [bijvoeglijk naamwoord] [andere film] noemen. Vooral omdat dit schijnbaar vaker gebeurt bij kleinere projecten, want ik heb nog niet gelezen hoe Justice League een zwakkere X-Men is, bijvoorbeeld. God’s Own Country werd verschillende keren de Engelse Brokeback Mountain genoemd, maar mooi niet dus.

Gods Own CountryTen eerste zijn het tenslotte al geen cowboys, Georghe en Johnny. Johnny is de zoon van een chagrijnige boer in een chagrijnig klein dorp, en hij probeert alles buiten zichzelf te houden met heel veel alcohol. Georghe is een seizoensmedewerker uit Roemenië, en godsie wat is ‘ie goed met zijn handen (en lammetjes).

En dan is er het land, wat zo mooi is vastgelegd dat het soms bijna afleidt van deze twee gasten die éindelijk hun eigen ruimte binnen het leven beginnen te bouwen. Het is allemaal zo lief, pijnlijk en diepe-zucht-opwekkend dat je er na met een licht hoofd achterblijft.

God’s Own Country, Met Film Production 2017

Other People

97 min.

Vaagjes kon ik me herinneren dat meerdere mensen op verschillende mensen deze film had aangeraden, alleen niet precies meer waarom. Maar er was een Siberische beer buiten, dit leek op een familie saga (het soort verhaal waar ik altijd een zwak voor heb) en ik had tijd te vullen dus ja hoor – geef maar.

Other People posterBeste mensen, blijkt de moeder van de familie dus dodelijk ziek te zijn. Hoofdpersoon doet zijn best om succesvol te zijn als schrijver, maar komt als lichte faalhaas terug naar huis om voor zijn familie te zorgen. Waar zijn vader nog steeds zijn homoseksualiteit niet heeft geaccepteerd en zijn zusjes niet echt weten hoe contact met hem te leggen. En moeder maar haar best doen om te doen alsof.

Alsnog is het niet alleen maar tranendal, waardoor de kleine pijntjes misschien juist vaker in de roos landen. Want wat doe je als je samen met je moeder begraven versus cremeren moet bespreken terwijl je net chocolade milkshakes hebt besteld bij de man die je op Tinder hebt gespot?

Bitterzoet noemen ze dat, geloof ik, maar ik nam er vooral van mee dat je blij moet zijn met de mensen die je hebt, voor je ze verliest. En verdorie, wat speelt Molly Shannon een vrouw die je niet wilt verliezen.

Other People, Park Pictures 2016

The Devourers

My part in this story began the winter before winters started getting warmer, on a full-moon night so bright you could see your own shadow on an unlit rooftop.

This isn’t an easy one to review. It came with the disappointment that you expected something completely different, and therefore need some time to adjust to what you’re getting, instead of entering the story completely from page one.

And The Devourers needs your attention. It’s a collection of histories and experiences, but unedited, not cleaned up and filtered for the reader. If you want these stories, dig through the dirt through them.

The Devourers are werewolves, shapeshifters, skin walkers, whatever which people or culture call them. They move through history and one of them invites a human to join him – through his stories. There’s no romance or heroic mythology, these are the stories our ancestors might have told each other at the fire, as a warning for the darkness.

Looking back after a week, I’d say I do think I’d recommend this. If you’re open for a different version of fantasy and mythology, with a lot of meat, blood and grit.

The Devourers, Indra Das, Penguin Random House 2015

Hot Milk

Today I dropped my laptop on the concrete floor of a bar built on the beach.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this, and I finished it two days ago. What’s the genre? How do I feel about it? Would I recommend it, and to whom? Well, at least it’s original (urgh, worst argument)!

Hot Milk is the story of Sofia and Rose. Sofia is the daughter taking care of her mother, who has strange symptoms no-one can diagnose in a successful way. Rose is the mother, the ball and chain of her adult daughter, suffering all kind of mental and physical aches. They end up in Spain for a specialist that might be their last chance.

Sounds pretty straight forward, but the story quickly goes of the rails in an almost fevered matter. The relationship between Rose and Sofia is far from healthy, but Sofia’s relationship with the world outside of Rose is unstable and confusing as well. Then there’s the specialist, whom seems to go for something between mad scientist and rich hermit. It feels a bit like an ugly, depraved version of magic realism, with the heat and discomfort sensible.

So …you could read it, if you don’t mind feeling annoyed and uncomfortable from time to time. It gets under the skin, I just can’t say if you’d like it there.

Hot Milk, Deborah Levy, Penguin Books 2016

Caterpillars Can’t Swim

“Go!”

So I discovered something new (NetGalley), and now I’m sure I’ll never want for something to read ever again. If the subscriptions to two international libraries and Overdrive weren’t going to take care of that, of course.

To the book. Young Adult with the main character having cerebral palsy, living in a very small town and saving another male teen that might not want to be saved. But still, pulling someone out of the water creates a connection.

Ryan feels responsible for Jack after that, even though Jack and Ryan’s best friend Cody try to stop making him feel so. Jack’s not the best, most social, fun loving guy around, while Cody is the pretty stereotypical jock.

What Liane Shaw does – and very nicely so – isn’t hurry either of them into a corner. Yes, someone’s disabled, but not his disability. Yes, someone’s gay, but not his sexuality. And yes, the jock can learn. All characters get room for development, and that doesn’t happen often enough.

It makes for a sweet, soft story, and a nice start of my Netgalley experience.

Caterpillars Can’t Swim, Liane Shaw, Second Story Press 2017

Every Heart a Doorway

The girls were never present for the entrance interviews.

I always feel so fancy when I’m offered books, even though it’s through a subscription and it’s me and a gazillion others. Hey, it’s still a free (e)book!

Every Heart a Doorway had been mentioned in the online reader circles I visit, viewing it as the Messiah of LGBQT-friendly YA versus ‘there was an attempt’. So basically, the usual range of opinions online.

All the characters in this tiny novel (little over 100 pages) once visited a fairy-ish world and are now back in the world as we know it. To deal with this, and to temper their hopes on ever return again, they’re at a school. Some come from gruesome worlds involving death and/or vampires, some lived in technicolour happy worlds.

Like being lost in your supposed home world isn’t enough to deal with, murders start to happen.

I’m on the ‘moh’ side of opinions. This novel feels like a set up for something bigger and possibly better. And LGBQT-friendly? One of the characters seems to be trans*, while an other calls herself asexual. It’s mentioned in passing, not as a main, defining point. Which is good, but I wouldn’t use it as its unique selling point. What is? I don’t really think it has one.

Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire,

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