Hello, everyone! With the frenzy surrounding the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, I’d like to add my contribution to the discussion of under-appreciated female powerhouses by reviewing Anita Amirrezvani’s Equal of the Sun, a historical novel about Pari Khan Khanoom, a Safavid princess in 1500s Iran. In her debut novel The Blood of Flowers (my review here), Amirrezvani brought the world of 17th century Iran to life through her story of an anonymous female carpet maker who is forced to enter into a shameful temporary marriage. She explored the everyday powerlessness faced by Persian women, but also highlighted the craftsmanship of female artisans who to this day remain anonymous. In her second novel Equal of the Sun, Amirrezvani goes back in time to the rule of Shah Tahmasp I and the cut-throat power struggle that ensued after his death. Her novel takes the themes of her first book and probes them further, showing us the rise and fall of a princess who is destined to be a ruler, but prohibited by her sex. Exhilarating and penned with exquisite prose, Amirrezvani paints a novel of a royal court and a nation in turmoil, which upon further examination, isn’t so different from the political struggles Americans and other countries around the globe face today.
Hello, everyone! Praise be, I’m getting back into the swing of things with semi-weekly blog posts. That means I have my shit together, guys. What a day to be me. Anyway, today I’m reviewing the new Netflix original horror movie Before I Wake, directed by Mike Flanagan (Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil) and starring Jacob Tremblay (child star and precocious devil) and Kate Bosworth (moonlights as a mannequin). The film started off semi-promisingly, then slowly unravelled into a sappy, gooey mess with a stack of unanswered questions. From the director of Hush, my favorite home invasion movie, and Ouija, which had a gruesome, unsettling ending, I expected a lot more than Before I Wake‘s tepid scares and cheesy resolution.
Hello, everyone! I write this book review from the safety of my bunker in the icy Siberia that was once the United States. Florida, rest in peace. Today, I’m reviewing another Tana French novel, The Secret Place. If you read my review of her other book, The Trespasser, you might think I’m just gonna bash this book. But never fear, a rare event occurred when I read this book: my opinion on an author actually changed. When it comes to directors, I am lenient, but with authors I tend to judge harshly. The Secret Place is not a murder mystery of unparalleled quality, but it’s a capital G good book. And that’s enough to change my mind. So what’s the difference between French’s work with The Trespasser and The Secret Place? The latter isn’t trash.
Hello, everyone! A new movie review, just in time for a new year! Today I watched Julia Ducournau’s horror Raw, a 100 minute gut-punch of blood, guts, and sisterhood. One of those things is not like the others, but Raw never lets its twisted premise come unravelled. Did I enjoy Raw? Yes. Did I also find it disgusting? Yes, yes, and yes. But who says those qualities are mutually exclusive? Sometimes the best films are the ones that are so hard to watch, you can’t turn away.
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?
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 here. Peony 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.
Hello, everyone! I’m back at home for Thanksgiving break, which means I’ve had lots of time to sleep all day and write all night, and of course, catch up on my movie viewing. Last night I watched The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film and also his most self-indulgent. Now I love Inglourious Basterds and Django and the Kill Bills because they have a slick, stylized violence to them, as well as clever dialogue and dynamic characters you can’t help but root for, even in their debauchery. But Hateful Eight is like a recipe gone wrong. On the surface you have all of the Tarantino trademarks, the blood, the punchy dialogue, the memorable protagonists, but the end of the film leaves you feeling empty and a tad robbed. Why, you may ask, does Tarantino’s latest film fail to satisfy? I say it’s because of bad editing, both of the actual footage and of the concept. Tarantino is certainly an auteur, and usually his quirky touch is heavy in all the right ways, but in this film I finally felt the weight of his ideas crashing down. So let’s dive into some of the reasons that Hateful Eight succeeds, and some of the reasons it really, really fails.
Hello, everyone! Sorry it’s been such a long time since I last posted on this blog. My sophomore year of college has been sucking up all my energy and I’m directing my first real film! You can check out the film at my Indiegogo page here and even donate if you want! But enough of all that shameless plugging! I’ve been re-reading a lot of my favorite books lately and I’ve just finished Anita Amirrezvani’s The Blood of Flowers (for like the 6th time). This book is phenomenal, written in gorgeous prose, featuring a truly dynamic protagonist, and set in a fascinating historical period. But what I love most about this book is how it grows with the reader and their experiences. When I first read TBOF, I was probably about eleven or twelve, and I didn’t understand the character’s often frustrating life choices. Now, as an adult (or as much of an adult as a 19 year old can be) I find myself sympathizing with the main character a lot more. With that in mind, let’s get started!
Hello, everyone! More than a year ago, I wrote a review of Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle, which I praised for being a straight-forward recollection of Walls’ neglectful and border-line abusive childhood. While the film adaptation, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton of Short Term 12, is a lovingly made, often touching film, it doesn’t carry the same boldness of its source material. Neither work points fingers, but Cretton’s adaptation tries to find forgiveness in a story that doesn’t deserve it. In trying to force a sappy happy ending, Cretton turns a blunt, complex memoir into a boilerplate Hollywood sob story.
Hello, everyone! The price of perfection is not a novel theme in literature, but through the lenses of innocence, sex, and parenthood, Megan Abbott’s newest novel You Will Know Me spins a tired premise into a tense, grim look at the world of competitive gymnastics. Though I took issue with the Abbott’s writing style, the book won me over in the end due to its frank take on the often exploitative relationship between parents and their champion children. In a youth-driven sport like gymnastics, kids become legends in their teens and fade only a few years later. Abbott’s novel pokes at this phenomenon by questioning the ethics of a sport that pushes kids to their physical limits in an often futile quest for stardom.