Netflix and Crime: Killer Ratings

Netflix has been so good to me lately; by good I mean Netflix UK has offloaded a bunch of crime content not just from the USA as usual but around the world, particularly Brazil; by lately I mean in the past month which is when I started writing this post.

The first of this new batch of content that I watched is Killer Ratings. The tagline/synopsis whatever was all it took to draw me in and I was hooked from start to finish. “The true-life story of Brazilian TV host Wallace Souza, who was accused of literally killing for ratings, and using his crime TV show to cover up the grizzly truth.” How could I not watch it?

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Something restful.

“Home is something very peculiar.
There is a yearning in it, you know.
Something special, mystical, hopeful, restful.”

-Toni Morrison (via Beyonce’s Homecoming)

This quote is from Home, a book by Toni Morrison and it was recited by Maya Angelou in Beyonce’s Homecoming documentary. I have written about my constant longing for home so of course this resonated deeply with me and I was instantly hooked. I searched the whole internet for the quote and could not find it. I had to go back to the documentary and copy it down word for word.

The quote encapsulates how I feel in a nutshell; a constant yearning for something restful. A need to fall into a large cosy couch and relax, lay down all my burdens and stresses and just relax.

“There’s a yearning in it, you know” 

All about CATS…Meow! Miaow!

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”

Much has been said about cats in recent times, starting with the critically insulted movie- CATS which is based on a long running theatre play of the same name. I first heard of CATS-The Musical from an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (amazing show!) where Titus Andromedon (amazing character!) manages to bamboozle his way into the cast. The running gag was that nobody knew what was going on, not even the cast, they just did random shit and apparently this is how it is in the real musical.

Knowing this, it is a mystery why anyone thought that CATS- the movie with cat like humans or human like cats would be the blockbuster of the year. It may not even be that terrible of a film, but you know how the children are. The very second the trailer dropped on the internet (maybe even before it dropped), it was savaged and ravaged and torn apart that I am impressed that makers had the courage to release the full movie at all. I thought they would just go hahaha psych! Just kidding. But nope, they went ahead to release the film which bombed on arrival. I still have not seen the trailer or really read anything about it; everything I know about this film I have learnt by accident- this is a testament to how passive I am about pop culture (even though my eyes are literally glued to my phone). Apparently there were so many celebrities in it-Taylor Swift, Judi Dench- today I saw a news article refer to Idris Elba as the “CATS actor” which is how I knew he was in the movie.

Believe it or not, the purpose of this post is not to talk about Cats the movie, thus making this the longest intro yet. Anyway ever since CATS was unleashed upon us I have been seeing cats everywhere.

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Who killed Malcolm X?

I am not sure when I first heard of Malcolm X, but it seems like I have always known about him the same way I have known of Martin Luther King Jr. He was  the more militant firebrand activist compared to peace touting MLK; the fire to MLK’s ice; the separatist to MLK’s integrationist (is this a word?). They both fought for the rights of Black Americans, and they both got assassinated. But aside from that I did not really know much about him, or MLK for that matter.

Superficially, I thought Malcolm X made more sense; why fight for integration with those who oppress you when you can create your own space? Why preach togetherness with people who are trying to kill you? Why force a brotherhood with people who do not want to be your brother? If people hit you then you protect yourself and/or hit them back rather than trying to sing hymns with them.

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PARIS IS BURNING!

What do I love more than learning about a time that existed before I did, the olden golden days if you please? What do I love more than entering people’s lives for an hour or so, absorbing all the details; the culture, the atmosphere, the vibe, the passion, the fear?

Cinnamon buns that’s what.

Oh but I love documentaries, books, films, letters; really anything that allows me a glimpse into another life. I particularly like how they expose me to other things. Whenever I watch or read something I jot down interesting names and details that I would like to read up on later. So often I find myself in a twenty tab rabbit hole wondering how I got there.

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Frida!

Frida Kahlo.

The owner of the most recognisable unibrow in history. Everyone knows Frida Kahlo; at least they know her aesthetic, but few of us knew anything about the woman.

It is a strange thing to get to know someone on a more intimate level, even if it is through a documentary. To go beyond the pretty art and get to know their thoughts and lives. I cannot listen to Nina Simone the same way I did before watching What Happened, Miss Simone? 

The documentary I watched is called The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo. Before watching it, I knew little about Frida Kahlo. I barely knew that she was a painter. I could not recognise her art. I did not know that she was/is famed for her self portraits. I did not know of her tempestuous relationship with the great love of her life: Diego Rivera. I did not know of how painful her life was.

Frida was born to a German father and a Mexican mother. She grew up in the age of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and was shaped by the horrors and struggles of the time. At times, she and her sister had to be hidden in a walnut chest while her mother cooked for the bandits. When she was young, she contracted polio and was bedridden for a while. In 1925, at 18 years old, she was in a terrible accident. She was in a wooden bus with her husband at the time, Alejandro, when a trolley car collided with it. To paraphrase Alejandro, the trolley kept pushing the bus, running over a lot of people, until the bus burst into many pieces. Frida, impaled by an iron handrail, lay in the street. The handrail had entered her on one side and come out on the other. Her clothes were removed by the collision, and a packet of gold powder had been spilled across her bleeding body. Her entire body was fractured: her spine and pelvis in three places, her leg in eleven. This accident would go on to plague her life causing her untold pain, until her body finally gave up in 1954. Possibly the worst consequence of the accident was that it affected her reproductive capability and left her unable to bear children.

Frida started to paint seriously during her recovery, and she painted herself and her thoughts. Her paintings were so poignant, and this one painted after a miscarriage is my favourite one. It needs no explanation.

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It is easy to idolise a person without giving much thought to the agony the person faced in life. I am awed by the fact that she managed to achieve so much while under such physical discomfort.

My second favourite painting.

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Frida with Diego Rivera. He was almost 20 years older than her, and was notoriously unfaithful. He even had an affair with her sister. Still they loved each other deeply, divorcing briefly and remarrying.

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When her body started to fail, and she couldn’t walk anymore.

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At her funeral.

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I am beginning to think that art is synonymous with pain. A lot of the greatest creative minds have endured great sorrow in their lives. I guess all that genius has to be sourced from somewhere, and pain is a more effective driver than happiness.

One thing I wonder is if the subjects of these documentaries would have consented to their diaries being read out to the public. It is quite powerful getting into their heads, and I do appreciate that. Still, I wonder if they would be okay with it.It is such a violation of privacy.

I tried my hardest to find a video of her talking but I couldn’t. I so badly want to hear her voice. The voice of the woman who spoke as Frida in the documentary bothered me at first, but then I grew to love it, and now associate that voice with Frida. Although I couldn’t find a video of her speaking, this one here shows her moving around and interacting with Diego. It is obvious that she adored him.

 

I have never wanted to paint as much as I did/do after watching the documentary. Alas, I have no painting talent.

Shortly before her death, she wrote the following in her diary:

“I hope the exit is joyful 

and I hope never to return 

— Frida”.

What happened, Miss Simone?

I adore Nina Simone, I have done so since I heard I Put a Spell on You. I remember going on the first of my Nina binges, soothing my soul with her sound, her voice, and her words.

When Netflix released What Happened, Miss Simone? , I of course had to see it. I finally watched it and it tugged at every one of my heartstrings, nearly tore me to pieces. I was aware that Ms. Simone had some problems, I knew she was bipolar. But I had no idea of just how unhappy and miserable her life was.

The documentary starts out with a clip of Nina at a concert. Though the audience is pleased to see her, clapping and whooping, Nina seems to be out of it. She pauses dramatically and stares into nothingness. The audience cautiously applauds once more, unsure of what is going on. I could feel the audience’s nervousness and I watched nervously as well, wondering what was going to happen. Eventually her voice comes through the mic: “Hello”, to which an audience member replies “Hi, we are ready!” She laughs and I laugh too.

We are then taken back to the beginning, to Tyron North Carolina, where little Eunice Waymon dreamt of becoming America’s first black classical pianist. Nina herself tells her story; through interviews and excerpts from her diary. Her daughter Lisa, ex husband Andy, and friends also shed light on her life.

Nina tells us how she had little intention of becoming a jazz or blues singer or of being in showbiz at all; all she wanted was to become America’s first black classical pianist. After getting rejected from a music school because of her colour, she had to start playing in bars, and Eunice became Nina.

Nina found unexpected success with her song I love you Porgy and that set off her career. She met her husband, had a daughter and life was great, until it wasn’t. Her husband who retired from the police force to manage her worked her too hard, and she began to resent him for that. He was also a bully and an abuser.

The documentary details Nina’s participation in the Civil rights movement, and in doing so shows us a bit of that era. I cannot explain how it felt to be taken back to that era, to see the suffering and the battle for respect. It was surreal to see such talented intellectual Black people together in one place; Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr, Malcolm X, and of course Martin Luther King. Dr. King’s death is covered as well, and it was just heartbreaking. Believe me when I say I was in all my feelings throughout this documentary.

Her downward spiral, and her mental health issues are touched upon in this documentary. Her journal entries were so heart-wrenching. It was sad to see just how depressed Nina was, and how little happiness she got from life. But by God, Nina was a powerful woman. There is a scene in which she talks about her joy in living in Liberia and her voice got louder and louder and it was amazing.

The last bit of this interview was included in the documentary and it got me choked up.

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Liz Garbus did a great job with this documentary, and I am happy it was made.

I’ll tell you what freedom is to me; no fear. I mean, really no fear

Rest in Peace Nina Simone.

 

Hot Girls Wanted

I am fascinated by the porn industry; not the videos per se, more with the people who have chosen to tow that career path. I like to watch interviews of porn actors, to get into their heads. I would much rather watch them being human than watch them having sex. A lot of people are intrigued by the porn stars, even though they would never admit it. They hide behind insults and bible verses but they are really curious about these people. The fascination stems from its taboo, the fact that it contravenes what society deems to be normal and acceptable, the fact that most people would never do it (or at least think they wouldn’t).

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