I’ve had a busy March, read five books, promoted Not So Stories out in April, shouted at the Oscar picks and had a blast at Follycon 2018.
The Oscars held no real surprises with The Shape of Water as best picture and Three Billboards sweeping the acting roles. Darkest Hour also won best actor for Gary Oldman. Sadly, the film I was most rooting for, Get Out, missed on everything but original screenplay. As one of the most unique films I’ve seen, it was disappointing that the Academy let itself down once again.
“I had multiple conversations with longtime Academy members who were like, ‘That was not an Oscar film,’” said one new voter. “And I’m like, ‘That’s bullshit. Watch it.’ Honestly, a few of them had not even seen it and they were saying it, so dispelling that kind of thing has been super important.”
I found Three Billboards overhyped with weak themes and horrible flaws despite the good acting, the Darkest Hour managed to skip Churchill’s least finest hour too so another film I have zero interest in and while The Shape of Water had its strengths, I’ll let this post highlight some weaknesses.
Well into editing THE CURSED HEIR I decided it needed a heist. This meant reading about heists and watching heist films – it’s all research so it counts! So I didn’t complete quite as much editing as hoped, but I did add in a whole new chapter that ties the section together better. Plus heists are always fun! I also did a little more on my previously unmentioned sci-fi project. More on that another month.
Once more I didn’t read any desi rep, which is totally my fault. I have a huge to read pile I’m getting through, plus picking up deals, the odd ARC on Netgalley and it’s not conducive to reading the rep I want. Still, I did read two and a half (one’s almost finished) own voices, so it’s not all bad.
Territory of Light is a series of vignettes of a single mother struggling with friends, family and a society that disapproves of her status. The vignettes follow her path from initial separation through a year covering joy, despair, depression, anger and desire. The book was originally published as monthly stories, which does mean small amounts of repetition and large time jumps, but I felt it worked. The early, softer sections deepen into poetic descriptions of light and beauty as the protagonist descends into darkness herself.
Revenant Gun was a superb ending to The Machineries of Empire trilogy. I loved the plot and worldbuilding and the return of my favourite Jedao. I wrote more about it here.
And I’m almost done on Children of Blood and Bone. It’s an interesting YA made all the better after hearing Nnedi Okorafor gushing about it at FollyCon. It’s always good to hear someone talking about #OwnVoices and good representation.
I didn’t engage with Europe in Autumn or Unclean Spirits quite as well. The first was a spy novel that part way through shifts into a speculative portal fantasy-ish. It’s weird, I’m not sure how else to describe it. I think I preferred the spy part of the novel. Unclean Spirits was a good romp, fast-paced violence, like a Michael Bay movie. I can see the appeal but I wanted more depth. And lastly Venetia was a great, light read when travelling and in Harrogate for FollyCon.
I did well with films this March. Three desi films, all made with very different styles.
The Big Sick is probably the one everyone knows. A rom-com written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon and nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. (It didn’t win, of course, but since Get Out did, I’m still happy.) It’s so nice to see a desi romantic lead (and also so incredibly rare). It’s a lovely story, you can really feel the heart of it plus it has one of my favourite jokes of the year.
My Brother the Devil is a 2012 British film about life for a Hackney gang member and his nosy younger brother. It’s great for the desi casting and for the strong LGBT storyline, which is still rare for men of colour. Gritty and dark, it was the polar opposite to The Big Sick.
We watched The Hungry as fans of Arjun Gupta from The Magicians, but we ended up really enjoying it. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, it’s a dark tale of revenge within an extended, messy family.
Both My Brother the Devil and The Hungry are by women of colour directors, which is also really incredible.
Finally, we watched Annihilation on Netflix. The film took a clever, but very loose, novel and made a smart but beautiful film. It follows an all women expedition and many women of colour, too after Natalie Portman goes to investigate the mystery of her husband, Oscar Isaac. It’s lovely to see so many women leads in a film, especially with women of colour. It was sad they didn’t last long though. One day the final girl will be of colour.
March had ongoing iZombie and The Magicians, with a new season of Shadowhunters and trying Schitts Creek for more desi rep. More on The Magicians next month for the season finale!
Shadowhunters was a light show, similar to iZombie in terms of writing, but while they tried to show good rep they consistently used their one desi character as the butt of jokes. I noticed this when I tried another Freeform show, Stitchers. It was very off putting and only highlighted the weakness in the writing. iZombie had been consistently more fun, I could watch Rahul Kohli and Malcolm Goodwin all day.
Schitts Creek, on the other hand, was a ridiculous comedy which is a good fun fish out of water sitcom, with the wonderful Rizwan Manji (also Tick Pickwick in The Magicians), in a small role.
I introduced my partner to Derren Brown with his special The Push on Netflix. I still need to find more of his work to share because this one went down well. Especially the message that is incredibly relevant today – anyone can be pushed into doing despicable things. Stand strong and don’t be afraid to push back.
Season one of Electric Dreams felt like a weaker Black Mirror. Some worked better than others but overall I enjoyed them and will watch season two.
After watching everyone else playing the fab four they finally released Final Fantasy XV onto PC. I played all FF games up to XIII which I just couldn’t get into – the tutorial went on forever. But I’ve really enjoyed XV so far, even the mindless driving around the open world.
Okay, maybe that gives me time to check on Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp…
Surviving Mars is a fun sci-fi builder that has good basic gameplay but really needs more content. I think it’ll be fun if they put in a few good patches, but Paradox can be a little flakey with updates, so I’m not holding my breath.