August has been another hot, busy month. It might have taken a while, but I’m finally prepared for climate change UK heat. I have a cooling scarf, some clever socks made for hot weather and a special bed for Piglet. She loves it.

Piglet’s Cooling Bed

I spent most weekends out, across to Derbyshire once and Manchester a couple of times. We had planned an escape room with Evo but didn’t manage to book it on time. Instead we went to the cinema. More on that when I talk film.

Most of it was driving, but one Manchester trip was via the train. The prevalence of little Englander Ukippers made the journey so horrific it reminded me why I should know better than to trust public transport during Brexit.

Terminator – Natalia Reyes, Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton.

As someone who always enjoyed Sarah Connors’ arc as fresh and exciting – from the happy-go-lucky waitress to the paranoid, gun-toting terrorist – I’m intrigued as to where this film might go.

Linda Hamilton is 61 and it’s so rare to see older women on screen and even more so for them to be more than a doting mother or grandmother. Sure, Sarah is a mother, but she’s pretty different from the traditional Hollywood mother. She’s everything male action heroes are allowed to be, abrasive, emotionally distant, choosing survival over compassion, and yet we rarely see it for women.

But as I talked about it more with other friends, more women of colour, we all quietly agreed that while it’s great Sarah can return as an older action hero, we’re still really lacking people of colour anywhere in any type of film. White women have had prominent leads in franchises for decades such as Aliens, Terminator, Star Wars and more, but we’re only just seeing roles appearing such as Finn in The Force Awakens or the cast of Rogue One. Black Panther was a tremendous success, but it would be good to see more characters across the board. DC has the new Aquaman film, but in general, many PoC are hidden under makeup/CGI (and then killed off in the Snap anyway.)

“I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white.” Loan Tran. 

That said, once cast life isn’t easy, especially for women. Loan Tran, known professionally as Kelly Marie Tran, was a rare and exciting addition to the Star Wars universe. Of course, that meant she was subjected to a torrent of vile abuse, similar to John Boyega when he was cast. Much of the abuse was clearly because of who she is as a person, not whether they had enjoyed the film or not. Faux ignorant think pieces blamed it on her being a new addition to the cast, while ignoring that some people hated Laura Dern’s Holdo just as much, yet she was not subjected to the same levels of hate. The cast of the new Ghostbusters found exactly the same, with Leslie Jone’s troll actually profiting from his abuse

Writing

Since The Cursed Heir was with beta readers for most of August, I’ve worked on Phoenix Reborn. My collaborator is busy on their own novel so I worked through the current draft, making changes, highlighting needed discussion and generally fixing some lazy handwavy science details. I’ve just finished my draft at the end of this month and I’m happy to pass it back over. It’s really solid, apart from the FIX THIS PLS notes, so it’s at a good place for me to leave it.

I’ve also participated in the #authorconfession hashtag on twitter – I skipped the odd day when it didn’t quite suit my novel – but here it is!

Books

I’ve spent most of this month reading non-trackable books, beta reading, some sensitivity reading, so I don’t have much to say! I have continued to buy all the nice looking books so my TBR pile is growing strong and I’ll hopefully have more to say next month.

Films

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a sweet Netflix teenage RomCom. I’ve not read Jenny Han’s book, but I kept an eye out for it because the lead is shy but romantic Lara Jean played by Vietnamese actress Lana Condor. She does a great job at giving her a wonderful range of emotions with both her suitors and her friends and family. The bonds of family are just as important as her romantic success which grounds the sweetness in reality.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

I loved the quippy teens and how the story comes together. The production values are incredible and you could write articles about the use of colour for emotions, especially in Lara Jean’s outfits. A wonderful film for #AsianAugust. It’s nice to see how mainstream this film has gone, with people going wild for male lead Noah Centineo. I hope Lana snags a little of that love. 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

The second #AsianAugust film I caught was The Meg. Not really by choice, but when Nige & Evo wanted to go it was the best choice on. It’s a ridiculous film about the Stath using his real-life diving skills to take on a Megalodon, a long-extinct prehistoric shark.

With some not very Attenborough handwavy science, a Megalodon is still alive and apparently very interested in chomping on the people in our film. Especially the eccentric Elon Musk billionaire guy.

The Meg

The film knew that it would be compared to the daddy of all shark films, Jaws, and so riffed on it from similar settings and shots to a dog named Pippin (Pippet) who was under severe threat. My only problem was a lack of unique, spectacular death scenes. The Meg just chomped everything in a bite.

The film is a solid B movie, entertaining action with lots of nice shark moments and some good suspense. It has a really nice diverse cast which the director was adamant about. His quote rings incredibly true.

“Ethnic groups are stuck because they shouldn’t have to like a movie because their ethnicity is in it, they should like them because it’s good. But, if they don’t go, they are going to stop making them also. Everybody is stuck in this dilemma and we’re all trying to figure it out.”

If only Crazy Rich Asians and Searching were out in the UK to finish off #AsianAugust properly…

We missed Justice Smith so we thought we’d finally try Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom because he was in the trailers. Big mistake, he was barely in it. The film was an actiony mess with little to no real depth. I like the idea of cascading catastrophes, but it felt like a sloppy way to avoid dialogue or character development. The mysterious girl? Moves speedy like a raptor, hiding in the ferns before they cut to an actual raptor? Was that subtle foreshadowing? Humans with dino DNA? Nope, it wasn’t. She’s just a clone which is old technology from the original film. 

The good guys all Love Animals, the bad guys all want to Exploit Animals. It’s that simplistic. The end solution though – release the dinosaurs into the wilds – is incredibly stupid. Have these supposed scientists that little understanding of what one new species might do to an environment, never mind a vast number of them who are already genetically engineered and performing differently than expected? The good parts? Daniella Pineda gets to be the brave defiant one while Justice Smith is the scared whiner. Plus mocking unscrupulous capitalists is always good. Dinosaurs. That’s it.  

TV

We caught up with the mid-series finale for Into the Badlands. While I still miss Veil, the world is growing well. The addition of Pilgrim into the mix has changed the world dynamics. The fighting between Baron Chau and The Widow seems almost inconsequential compared to the mysteries being dug up.

We also binged Preacher season 3. It started off fast and didn’t really let up. Tulip was dead, Jesse seemed deranged and Cassidy, well, he was Cassidy. Saving Tulip involves dipping deep into Jesse’s creepy past and the weird and wonderful Louisiana swamps while Cassidy learns more about how to be a vampire all while falling in love. The fact the vampire probably wants to kill him? Not the best.

My partner has been talking about reimagining Jane Austen’s Emma, so we watched the 2009 adaptation. It’s a lovely version with Romola Garai as Emma, Michael Gambon as Mr. Woodhouse and Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley. I remember seeing him in Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein where he played the monster, so this was quite a different performance. Plus after a very long, tough day, we binged the 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series. 

Games

I’ve not really dug into a game this month, skipping in between old games while waiting for the release of Two Point Hospital. It’s been good, I have a huge backlog of games I’ve never finished so I’ve been enjoying going through them.

Two Point Hospital was released in the last days of August and I am happy to report that so far it’s as fun as the Bullfrog original. Lots of silly diseases, lots of amusing doctors. I was horrified to find how hard it was to run an NHS style hospital. Bring back the excessive fees!

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