Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places Embraces Uncertainty

Hello, everyone! Another day, another book review, another book about people whose last name is Day. That book is Dark Places, Gillian Flynn’s second novel between Sharp Places and Gone Girl. I’m a big of fan of Flynn’s other two novels, but while Dark Places kept me entertained and contains some fantastic, insightful writing, it wasn’t as successful an effort as Flynn’s other works. So, what are the best parts of Dark Places and what are the worst?

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Death and Art Intertwine in Peony in Love

Hello, everyone! Today I want to discuss one of my favorite novels, Lisa See’s Peony in Love. If you read my last review on The Blood of Flowers, you might think that I have a thing for historical fiction about female artists and I can’t say you’re wrong 🙂 I also wrote another review on Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls duology which you can read herePeony in Love was the first Lisa See novel I ever read, and her insightful glimpse into the intersection between femininity and traditional Chinese culture led me to read and love many of her other novels. But while See’s other novels focus more on the realistic trials of women in China, Peony in Love dares to go beyond, diving into 16th century Chinese opera and the Chinese afterlife. She also challenges the traditional role and value of women in traditional China without rendering judgment. With so many ideas to balance, See’s novel might have become unwieldy, but she manages to write a thoughtful novel with delicate prose.

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Emma Cline’s The Girls Is Diverting, But Derivative

Hello, everyone! I recently finished Emma Cline’s debut novel The Girls, a tale of one girl’s summer in a Manson-inspired cult which apparently sold for a cool $2 million advance. I gave up on reading books about bored, apathetic teenage girls around 9th grade, but I was suckered in by the punchy, cool-girl cover design. Readers, don’t be fooled. The Girls is a trashy teen lit book dressed up as a sophisticated thriller, mired with angst, female self-hatred, dangerously sexy older girls, and men so uniformly despicable that they belong in a treatise on misandry. The prose is entertaining, but overworked. Worst of all, the whole thing is tiresome. Everything from the plot to the characters to Evie’s individual thoughts have been done before. But Cline’s fatal flaw is in her protagonist: Evie is a Nick Carraway with no Gatsby to make up for it.

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How can I resist a cover like this?

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Wonder Woman Is The Hero We Need And The One We Deserve

Hello, everyone! In light of the mockery resulting from the leaked Joss Whedon Wonder Woman script, I thought I would focus on the reasons why Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman works as a showcase of  empowered female independence, instead of all the reasons that Whedon’s does not. Let me preface this post by saying that I’ve seen Wonder Woman twice, once to watch it without criticism, and the second time to watch it objectively. And while I agree that the film has a few flaws, I’m hard pressed to call it anything less than a fantastic movie. It’s beautifully, energetically shot, the characterization is compelling, the relationships are realistic and engaging, and the aesthetic details from the set design to the costumes to the hairstyling are a feast for the eyes. These elements, however, are only part of what makes Wonder Woman worth the watch. What separates this film from the rest of the billion dollar superhero movies is that, for perhaps the first time, Wonder Woman portrays a woman as she might see herself. That’s a perspective that’s not only rare to see in superhero movies, but in any Hollywood film.

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Lisa See Explores the Concept of Love in Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy

Hello, everyone! In summer you can usually find me curled up on the weekends, re-reading a book for the fourth or fifth time. This summer is no different and I’ve returned to one of my favorite authors, Lisa See, a Chinese-American author whose novels Peony in Love and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan reveal the lives of Chinese women during the 17th and 19th centuries, when they were cloistered in compounds, isolated and uneducated, and restricted by the morals of a strict, repressive Confucian society. See’s Shanghai Girls series jumps forward into the 20th century, yet still focuses on the lives and relationships of Chinese women as they move from China to the United States and back again. Although the protagonists Pearl, May and Joy may live in a more modern world than their peers in See’s other novels, See’s key theme remains the same: in a culture in which women are restricted in thought, behavior, and expression, the most important link between women can be faith in a shared secret life.

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The Second Guardians of the Galaxy Is A Muddled Sequel

Hello, everyone! I’ve written before in my posts about how I think Marvel movies have all become formulaic, heartless, soul-sucking cash grabs, so I guess it’s no surprise that the Guardians franchise has succumbed to that paint-by-numbers scheme too. The first film was surprisingly witty and heartfelt, and managed to make the origin story of a group of unfamiliar, oddball assholes endearing. Not to mention, the soundtrack was fantastic. Vol.2 also has a killer soundtrack, but the wit and heart are harder to find. There’s a great movie in here somewhere, but it’s lost amidst $200 million worth of special effects and a plot so familiar that even the journey isn’t very fun.

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We Can’t Stop Limiting Female Pop Stars

Hello, everyone! My first year of college is over. I’m so excited to be back in my house where no one can bother me. But enough about my antisocial tendencies. If you’ve been on Youtube lately, you might have noticed that Miley Cyrus’ newest song “Malibu” is among one of the most trending videos. The music video showcases an entirely “new” side to Miley, one that embraces the softness, delicate femininity, and pure wholesomeness that Cyrus, and all women, have been supposedly hiding beneath their overly-sexualized exteriors.

To get a taste of the average person’s opinion of the new Miley, just read the comments on her “Malibu” video or even on older videos like “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball,” which once incited a firestorm of media ire for being too provocative, too sexed-up, too unlike the Miley Cyrus the world had grown accustomed to through Hannah Montana.  One commenter writes that “it looks like Miley has finally found herself” and another who says that she’s “the old Miley again.” Another common comment refers to an alleged personality switch between Miley and Katy Perry, whose new song “Bon Appetit” has gained notice for its controversial, overtly sexual video. These comments beg the question: since when has a pop star only been allowed one “acceptable” public image, and why,  WHY does it have to be a pure one?

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Colossal Is Weird, But Worth The Watch

Hello, everyone! Sorry for the extra long gap between posts. I hate to leave you hanging with a strange ode/critique to Taylor Swift. After writing that article I listened to Swift’s entire discography. Whether you find that to be sweet or alarming is really up to your opinion on the singer, but I gotta say, she  makes sad bus rides go a lot faster.  On a completely unrelated topic, tonight I watched Colossal for the last screening of my film analysis class. It’s such a bizarre, unique film that I’m not sure whether it deserves praise or ridicule. Perhaps that’s why it succeeds. It doesn’t play it safe or even try to be normal. Colossal wears its heart on its sleeve, with endearing and annoying results. In a marketplace filled with lukewarm comedies and robotic  blockbusters, Colossal is more than sincere enough to make up for its flaws.

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Who The Hell Is Taylor Swift?

Hello, everyone! Today’s post is a concept I’ve been pondering for quite some time now, namely, who the fuck is Taylor Swift? She’s an artist whose songs I find so melodically satisfying that I listen to them on repeat, yet whose lyrics I find obnoxiously melodramatic. She’s a public figure who I both admire for her success and detest for its excess. Most importantly, she’s the quintessential American pop star, pure, sweet, and innocent like apple pie, yet also catty, vicious, and vengeful as an evil queen. There are many masks Swift wears as an artist and as a celebrity; I’d like to examine them through the lens of her lyrics, which like her, are a mixture of sincerity and artifice.

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