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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Wakanda Forever!

Despite the hype (or rather because of the hype), I was not gung ho about Black Panther. For one thing I am not a fan of the action genre. Every time I go see an action film, I sit there wondering what on earth led me there yet again, before falling into a deep slumber. So when everyone was planning their outfits and dance routines I was just meh about the whole thing and had no plans to go see it.

Then at the very last minute I decided what the hell? I had nothing else planned for the evening, might as well go see it. I figured the film is set in Africa, how boring could it really be?

The verdict: Black Panther did not disappoint. It did not change my life and I probably will not see it again but I watched all two hours 14 minutes without dozing off or regretting my decision to watch it. The film was aesthetically pleasing; every shot from the opening scene to the end was a delight. The costumes, the set, the culture, the colours were all so beautiful.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle on social media when a man gave Black Panther its first bad review on Rotten Tomatoes, consequently demoting it from its 100% status. The man’s complaint was that the superhero did not kill many bad guys, and this earned him the wrath of people who tagged him a racist.  After watching the film I see that he was right, however this is one of the reasons the film did not feel like a drag to me. Typical action films involve so much killing and violence; the superhero is always flitting around saving the world and killing thousands in the process. Black panther has only a few fight scenes, in fact there were long stretches in the film that felt like a nice South-African drama. There was no strange alien robot out to destroy the world; the Russians were not in possession of a USB stick that held the world’s secrets. This may be a con for some but it made it more enjoyable for me.

Let’s talk about accents: they were a bit uncomfortable to listen to, especially at the beginning. I understand they were playing Africans but at times I wished they would just speak in their regular accents. It was a breath of fresh air when Michael B Jordan appeared speaking his normal twang. Then again I guess if British actors can do American accents then American actors should be able to do other accents. Maybe it sounded odd to me because I am not too familiar with the South African accents used by majority of the characters in the film. The character M’baku’s accent was different from the rest and it felt a whole lot more natural. I would have bet my entire annual salary that the actor was Nigerian, Igbo to be specific. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the actor Winston Duke is actually from Trinidad and Tobago! Fantastic actor, he had me thinking his name was Uchenna Chukwugoziegi. Definitely looking forward to seeing him in other roles.

One thing to note from Winston’s Vanity Fair interview is that he and Lupita were friends at Yale drama school and they both belonged to an acting club for people of colour which was co-founded by Angela Basset. Amazing!

Letitia Wright is such a cutie pie and I have been in like with her face since I saw her in an episode of Black Mirror.

I don’t really have any negatives about the movie ***Spoiler begins*** I did find it weird that Killmonger did not just kill Klaue from the beginning if that was his intention all along. Why did he go through all of that? Maybe he was trying to win his trust. Why did Killmonger destroy all the herbs? I get that he did not want anyone else to become king but surely a person like himself must have thought of his progeny. ****Spoiler Ends****

One thing I found interesting is that Black Panther and Wakanda represent hope for Black people everywhere, particularly Black Americans. People were (facetiously) talking of moving to Wakanda, and how Wakanda is what Africa would have achieved without colonisation. Yet Wakanda in the film was not trying to empower Black Americans but instead keep its wealth to itself.  Everyone was screaming Wakanda Forever but you can’t even get into Wakanda. Of course I know that the excitement was really about people finally seeing themselves celebrated on the big screen, but I must have gotten caught up in the hype because I was a bit surprised that Wakanda was not actually Black utopia.

Highest of praises to the Almighty that no one showed up at the viewing with drums or masquerades and we were able to watch it in peace. It was nice though to see pictures of people dressed up and having a great time. I hope for more films like this for African Americans and I especially hope that African cinema steps its game up.

Confessions of a Shopaholic

There are two book series that I can read over and over again: Harry Potter and Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. Every time I re read one of these books, I enjoy it just as I did the first time.

Rebecca “Becky” Brandon nee Bloomwood is the heroine of the Shopaholic books. I have seen her go from a spendthrift singleton to a spendthrift woman in a relationship to a spendthrift woman with a fiance to a spendthrift wife to a spendthrift woman with a sister to a spendthrift mother. Becky is my friend in my head. I laugh at the crazy things she gets up to and I want to smack when she starts daydreaming about clementine sandals she does not need and definitely cannot afford. Despite her childish impulsiveness and financial irresponsibility, Becky is a star and a great character.

As an ardent Shopaholic fan, I was expectedly very excited when in 2009, a Confessions of a Shopaholic movie was announced. Woohoo I thought. I could not wait to see the film, to see Becky and all the characters come alive on the big screen. It was going to be a fabulous movie of course.

Then it wasn’t.

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Rebecca

“Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly again.”

It’s Hitchcock Time!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am (was) on a mission to watch everything Senor Hitchcock has ever made. When I first set out on my mission, I had not heard of Rebecca. I knew about the greats: Psycho, Dial M for Murder, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Vertigo e.tc. I randomly came across Rebecca on Youtube and I thought what the hell, I’ll just give it a go.

I did not even realise how much I liked it until later on.

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The Master of Suspense.

I am on a mission to watch everything Alfred Hitchcock ever made.

The last Hitchcock film I saw was Spellbound (1945) starring Ingrid Bergman and the wonderful Gregory Peck. Aside being a Hitchcock picture, I was drawn to the film because of Salvador Dali’s participation. I think Dali is a genius.

The film is about a man (Gregory Peck) who has lost his memory due to some traumatic event and has now assumed the identity of of a certain Doctor. This doctor has been selected to run the clinic where Ingrid Bergman works as a psychoanalyst, as the clinic’s current head has been asked to retire due to problems of his own. Gregory shows up at the hospital and has everyone fooled for a while, until his own demons reveal that he is an imposter. He flees. By this time Ingrid has fallen in love with him (of course), and she goes after him, determined to help me recover his memory and deal with his troubles. The film sees them trying to dodge the police, as they try to uncover the mystery of what happened to the real doctor.

Now to the famed dream sequence.

In an attempt to retrieve his memories, Ingrid makes Gregory repeat his dreams to her. This is where the magnificent Dali comes in. He creates wonderful surrealist images, in the way that only Dali could. I only wish I could have seen the dream sequence in colour. The dream, while interesting, made little sense to me, until the end when Gregory gets his memory back.

Spellbound is a decent film. I imagine some people may not appreciate Spellbound as much as some of Hitchcock’s other works, possibly because of its strong psychoanalytic theme. I personally liked it, and I was fascinated by the workings of the mind. I did find it a bit silly, in the way that films from that era are silly; characters falling in intense love after knowing each other for a mere twinkling. I guess I need to fully suspend my belief and allow myself to be swept up in the romance.

If you have seen Spellbound, let me know what you thought of it.

P.S: I recently found out that Hitchcock often made cameo appearances in his films. How did I never notice him? Now I feel I have to rewatch the films I have seen and look carefully.

Let’s talk about books baby! (and films and all that nice stuff)

One of my favourite hobbies is reading a nice book. I don’t do it as often as I used to, but it is still one of the things that make me happy. I cannot walk past a bookstore without popping in for a few minutes, or at least stopping to inhale deeply.

I also love films. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I really like old movies. A recent movie to me is one that was released in the 90s or early 2000s. I especially love the films of the golden age of cinema and the movies of the 80s (rat pack anyone?) I love new movies of course but the older ones are dear to me. Maybe it is because they reveal to me a bit of the way life was in a different time era. I am fascinated by the past; the way things and people were way back when. Old films are a good way of getting information on life in a particular decade.

I have decided to create a literary club of sorts. This will be an umbrella term for the book club and film club. Here I will talk about books and films that I like and even those I hate. Anyone is welcome to participate in whatever way. You can send a book or film review to unchastemannequin@gmail.com.

I tried to list my favourite books but I found that impossible to do. I will just list a few interesting book facts about me.

  • I LOVE the Harry Potter series, I can read them over and over again from beginning to end and not get bored. J.K Rowling is a god.
  • I like books set in the middle east and I am especially fond of books set in Afghanistan. It is so interesting to learn about a different culture while sympathising with them (the women especially) for the struggles and hardships they have to face. That being said, it shouldn’t be a surprise that A Thousand Splendid Suns is one of my best books.
  • I used to be obsessed with Sidney Sheldon! I am not sure why I said “used to” because I am pretty sure I still adore his books. Rage of Angels is my favourite book of his followed by The other Side of Midnight.
  • I used to love Jackie Collins: “Used to” is used correctly here. I remember one particular Monday assembly, my classmates and I huddled around a girl who had one of the Lucky Santangelo books. We were all so excited to read the vivid sex scenes. I used to think she was pretty darn awesome and i would buy her books wherever I could get my hands on them. Then I grew up.
  • I have read all of the Shopaholic books: Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) is my patronus. I love her and I can’t stand her. Sometimes I want to scream at the book: “what is wrong with you Rebeca? Do you really need a gladiator suit in three different colours?” Based on how much I liked the shopaholic books, I decided to read some of Sophie Kinsella’s other works. Big mistake.

There is still a lot to write about where books are concerned but I’ll leave that for another post. Over to the films. To start off with, I want to list my favourite films. I won’t go into details about each film because quite frankly it is almost midnight and I’m tired. In no particular order:

 The Goodfellas (1990). It is not the best film I have ever seen but it is my all time favourite.  Every scene was a delight to watch and every time I watch it again I love it a little bit more.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967): This was the first movie I watched of Warren Beaty and Faye Dunaway. I immediately developed a crush on Faye- the way she spoke in the film, the way she did her hair, the way she drank her coke.

Penelope (1966): This film is a delight to watch, thanks to Natalie Wood’s performance as a bored, kleptomaniac wife of a busy bank manager. I cannot find the adjectives with which to explain Ms. Wood’s character, but I love it. It is very Marilyn Monroe-esque.

Charades(1963): It is important to specify the Charades I am referring to, as I have watched two movies with this title. There is one with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, and one with James Mason. Both of them were good, but the one with Hepburn is my favourite.

The Notebook (2004): duh.

Down with love (2003): What can i say about this film? I like the clothes, the storyline, the somewhat exaggerated and unrealistic acting, the sixties setting.

Chicago(2002): I don’t know if the movie was great or if I am just biased because I love the musical numbers (cell block tango!). Apart from High School Musical (forgive me for I was young), this is the only musical I can tolerate.

Inglourious Basterds (2009): I have been obsessed with Christoph Waltz ever since. I especially love that the Germans spoke German and the French spoke French. Favourite Tarantino film (sorry Django).

Breakfast at Tiffany’s(1961): Timber!!! The party scene alone is enough to put this on my list of favourites, although to be honest Charades is probably a better film (or not).

The Breakfast Club (1985): My favourite rat pack film, but it is so much more than that. One of my all time favourite movie scenes is the dance scene towards the end. I will watch it over and over again just for that scene.

Gentlemen prefer blondes(1953): I never really cared for Marilyn Monroe. To me she was a famous sex vixen and that was about it. I don’t think she’s a fantastic actress, but I love the way she acts and the roles she acts. The cute sexy clueless damsel.

Vertigo(1958): James Stewart. Alfred Hitchcock. Love.

Raging Bull(1980): There are a number of memorable scenes in this film which is why it is on this list. Plus it’s de Niro and Pesci.

Xmen first class(2011): This was the first Xmen movie I ever watched and I loved it so much I watched it twice in one sitting.

My Cousin Vinny(1992): Yes you read that right.

I cannot think of anymore films which is strange because I have made this list before and I had little problem then. Maybe it’s because I’m tired, or maybe It is because i have decided to leave out some films. There are some films I like but I don’t know if they can be classified as my favourites.

Mildred Pierce(1945): My first introduction to Joan Crawford. I wasn’t blown away but I remember really liking this film.

Casablanca(1940): We’ll always have Paris. I could not get over how deep Humphrey Bogart’s voice was in this film. Oh sweet vocal chocolate.

Psycho(1960): Forget the shower scene, the scene in the basement where the chair spins around to reveal Norma Bates’ mother is the best scene in the film.

Some like it hot(1959): I came across this film during a Marilyn Monroe binge. She was alright, but the real stars of the show were Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.

My brain really is fried guys. Let me know what your favourite films and books are.

Welcome to the Literary Club!