February Recap: Mini movie(?!) reviews and commemorating Black History Month

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As per tradition, I have to begin this monthly recap with the age-old question: how the heck is it already February?

This month was Black History Month, which is not a part of my country’s history, but to a lot of my friends and followers, it is a part of yours. All my book reviews this month, my Book Recs post, and a Diversity Thursday Spotlight was dedicated to Black History Month, wherein I highlighted and shared books by black authors.

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Books read this month (and my thoughts in three words)

1. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor – imaginative, exciting Afrofuturism

2. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – masterfully told poems

3. Kindred by Octavia Butler – powerful, complex, iconic

4. Ms Marvel Vol 1: No Normal by G Willow Wilson – gave me hope

5. Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland – action-packed & fun

6. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo – emotional, important, heart-breaking

7. Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier – nuanced but long

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Reviews and posts in February

1. MINI-REVIEWS: Short Stories, Vanquishers of Book Slumps! My remedy to a book slump is a good short story! Consider picking up a diverse one – I recommend three in this post!

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2. REVIEW: Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh – I adored this anthology; it had so much talent and contained some powerful narrative voices. All of you need to read this.

3. FEATURE: Diversity Thursday Spotlight #7 – To celebrate Chinese New Year, I highlight three books, all by Asian authors. 💝

4. BOOK RECS: Books by Black Authors – To commemorate Black History Month, I share four fantastic books written by black authors. One of the books that I recommended was my favourite book of February!

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5. REVIEW: Kindred by Octavia Butler – I loved this book so much – it was so raw, powerful, and illuminated on a dark time of America’s past. An absolute must-read.

7. FOR FUN: The Great Re-Rate – So, I decided to go through Goodreads and re-rate a handful of books. Read this to see my changes and my justifications. My GR average is not pretty. 

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Blog Update

Reminder: I’ll be kinda MIA, maybe, most likely

I know I talk about this all the time because – let’s face it, I feel like a 5 year old about to go to her first day of school – but I won’t be as active and responsive when the semester starts (6th March)!

I don’t know whether I’ll continue posting, don’t know how busy I’ll be, but I’ll be making university my absolute priority. Let’s see how it goes first, but if I’m not active, you know why.

Commemorating Black History Month

Black History Month isn’t part of my country’s history, but it is a part of many of yours — and that is enough for me.

If you didn’t read any books by black authors in February, remember that you do not need to read something only when an event or commemoration calls for it! I identified that there was a gap in my reading when it came to books by black authors, so I endeavored to rectify that in February and will continue to read more in the future. If you are interested in reading books by black authors, the below might help!

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Movies I’ve watched and my Thoughts™

For some reason, I watched a lot of movies this month. The movies below are movies I watched for the first time (except for one). Here are my thoughts. Recommended movies have been bolded.

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1. La La Land
Watched it to see what the fuss was about. I went in expecting not to liking it, but I… actually liked it. I really connected with Emma Stone’s character and her struggle to pursue her dream in the arts. The ending was predictable (but sad) and the music was mostly lacklustre too. Do I think it was a good movie? Yeah. Do I think it deserves all those nominations and awards? Not at all. La La Land is a prime example of Oscar bait – a self-gratuitous movie about Hollywood, for Hollywood. It won’t stand the test of time and will be forgotten in due time like The Artist.

2. A Monster Calls
I read the book, loved it, so was curious about the adaptation. While it was a faithful adaptation and the movie did a good job at capturing the feel and imagery of the book, some parts didn’t need to be spelled out to the audience (which the book did not); it took away all subtlety and that ‘rewatch’ factor. The animation for the stories were wonderful though, and I loved how it captured that fairytale feel. All in all, a decent movie but only good once.

3. 12 Angry Men
Oh boy, this movie was so, so good. I didn’t think a courtroom drama – classic or no – could be so compelling, but holy hell, 12 Angry Men was compelling. The characters’ backstories and character developments were so well done. I loved the ethical, logical, moral, and emotional ideas and themes this movie explored, and I was surprised – and a little heartbroken – following the ending. A fantastic film and a classic for a reason.

4. The Grey
I watched this because my partner liked this movie, and I really enjoyed it. Well, maybe ‘enjoy’ isn’t a good word, but I really connected with it and found myself really invested in the narrative. At face-value, this book can be taken as a survival film, but underneath, I think it’s a poignant narrative about mortality, the inevitability of death, and what people do in the face of it. Though I didn’t love it as much as my boyfriend did, it was a somber, provocative, and sobering movie.

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5. Forrest Gump
I read a lot about this movie after watching it, and acknowledge that Forrest’s portrayal as a person with an intellectual disability is overly simplistic and problematic. Because this movie is beloved by many (and don’t get me wrong, I can see why), it is very difficult to criticize this movie because people absolutely resist any criticisms of this movie. I enjoyed the film though.

6. Dr Strangelove: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love the Bomb
Uh… meh? I feel like I didn’t really enjoy this because the context of the film isn’t really relevant to my history. There were some funny lines but overall… meh? Don’t @ me.

7. Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
I really enjoyed this, and enjoyed seeing where all these popular tropes came from. There were definitely some problems with the film, and I side-eyed its portrayal of women and indigenous peoples, but it was a compelling action film.

8. The Edge of Seventeen
I… really, really, really enjoyed this. Maybe because I really sympathized with Nadine’s awkwardness and feeling lost and confused and hurt and how messy she was. (Weren’t we all messy as teenagers?) I didn’t like how depression was portrayed in the film, and wish it was handled better. Aside from that, I adored Erwin – every moment he was on screen, my sister and I squealed. (He’s Korean in the film but he’s actually Chinese? Not 100% ok with that, but I was just happy with the Asian rep.)

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9. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Mindnumbing, terrible – don’t even ask me about it. But, in a few words: contains the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, racism (re: Asian characters), sexism (re: female characters), and homophobia. Give this a miss.

10. Gravity
I don’t think the movie is anything remarkable, but the drama was good and I enjoyed it. In a few words, it’s Sandra Bullock going through shit over and over again for 90 minutes. I loved how Cuarón captured space – something so incomprehensibly vast, dangerous, and consuming. The movie is very, very scientifically inaccurate though.

11. Ruby Sparks
I had wanted to watch this movie for a long, long time but never got the chance to. I watched it on the plane and was really disappointed. The premise was interesting, but jeez, I hated the ending so much. It could’ve been such a good film, but the ending and its treatment of the characters and story was terrible. I actually found some parts (particularly the climax of the film) absolutely horrifying to watch. So frustrating.

12. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
I watched this on the plane as well, and I thought it was… okay. I enjoyed Newt’s character and the expanded universe and mythology, but thought the story and other characters was lacking. This is definitely a movie for fans of Harry Potter (new and old) and still crave something more from the franchise.

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And that’s it for today! I’m still feeling a jetlagged and feeling a little disorientated after coming back, but hopefully things will return to normal soon. I may take a brief hiatus while I give myself time to relax and time to get back into it. As university begins very soon, I’ve managed to prepare two months worth of content, which I hope will help ease the pressure. Phew!

  • How was your February? Did anything new or exciting happen in your life?
  • Did you discover a new favourite book in February?
  • If you have posted a recap post, send me a link! I’d love to check it out, read it, and drop a comment. 😊
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26 thoughts on “February Recap: Mini movie(?!) reviews and commemorating Black History Month

  1. So many movies! I loved 12 Angry Men as well (definitely not Dr Strangelove, although possibly because we studied it to death). And I did like LaLa Land as well, but the music was so unmemorable. Honestly I think it would have been more powerful to have an unknown cast, but there you go.

    (And Hidden Figures was amazingggg).

    Speaking of Black History Month, I absolutely cannot WAIT to read The Hate U Give, which – hopefully – will arrive any day now!

    Hope you have a great March and return to uni xx

    • Hi Emily!

      Haha fair enough! I studied Little Miss Sunshine when I was in high school and ended up hating it after watching it 23802 times. It’s still (objectively?) a good movie though.
      But I just did not understand Dr Strangelove, and that’s no fault of the movie. I think it’s just not my sort of thing and WWII is usually kinda lost on me.

      I agree! The music was very very unmemorable, and I don’t think City of Stars was anything remarkable. I was more interested in the storyline, haha.

      I have to watch Hidden Figures! I wanted to watch it in the cinemas to support it, but idk if it’s still available. *fingers crossed* Otherwise I’ll watch it on DVD!

      Thanks so much Emily! I hope you have a great March too. <3

  2. You watched so many movies this month, ahah, it’s so great :) I haven’t seen La la land, but I might soon because I’m really curious to see what all the fuss is about. I want to watch A Monster Calls just as well, but I haven’t read the book yet, I’m hoping to soon, and before I watch the movie :)
    I hope you’ll have a lovely month, and best of luck for university and this semester! :)

    • Hi Marie!

      I know right?! I don’t know what came over me – usually I only watch 1 or 2 a month.

      I liked La La Land, but I don’t think it’s worth all the awards. Dx But, it’s still an okay movie!

      Oooh definitely read the book beforehand. The movie loses a lot of nuance and complexity, but it’s still a decent movie nonetheless. The book is definitely more powerful though.

      Thank you so much! I hope you have a lovely March too, and all the best for whatever you do this month. <3

  3. Haha I feel you, I go back to uni on the same day and have a lot to do now too! 😩😂
    Ooh that’s interesting about A Monster Calls. Yeah the story seems like one that’s better told through prose – with the illustrations – good to hear the animation was nice though. And I agree about Fantastic Beasts, whilst some of the effects were nice the story really needed work; I watched it in December and have forgotten so much of it now haha.

    I did discover a new favourite in February – Does My Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdel-Fattah was amaaaazing!

    • Hi Wendy!

      Ahhhhh oh dear! BUT, we’ll both do great and we can support each other, right? <3

      Definitely – I was sad that the movie lost nuance, but I guess that's the limitation with its media.

      Tbh I'm probably going to forget the whole story of Fantastic Beasts, which makes me kinda sad?! I felt like so many things were shoehorned in, so it was just kinda… meh.

      OH I've heard about this! I'm looking forward to reading it sometime. I'm glad you enjoyed it! <3

  4. Hope you’re well, CW! I just watched Forrest Gump in the last month, too. And for a psychology class. But… I found problematic as well. If you ever want to talk more about 12 Angry Men, I am here! Love that movie to bits but I never found anyone to discuss it with. Also, same feels for Fantastic Beasts. I felt meh for some parts but I guess it’s an okay movie. Break leg with the new semester at uni. <3

    • Hi Bianca, and thank you!
      Yes, I have very mixed feelings about it. I loved the movie and enjoyed it very much, but there were glaring problems with it. :c
      Hahah, I’ll keep that in mind, thank you! I didn’t think I’d like it because I thought I’d forget who’s who, but it was just splendid.

      I agree – Fantastic Beasts is just ‘ok’ for me. I don’t think I’d watch it again though, even though I really loved seeing all the magical creatures.

      Thank you!! I’ll do my best!

  5. Oh god, 12 Angry Men was one of my fave when I was younger – really a great movie imo! Fantastic wrap-up, I can’t wait to try your recommendations!

  6. 12 Angry Men is on of my all time favorite movie. Blah,Blah Land is still a no for me. Maybe I’ll watch in the future but ugh. Also while I liked Gravity, I have to agree with you that it’s basically shit happening to Sandra Bullock for 90 minutes straight. Didn’t she get nominated for this?

    But the way some great movies on this list. I would recommend Ghostworld if you haven’t seen it. Such a cult classic.

    • Hi Sanovia!
      Right?! I think it’s definitely up there for me. And Henry Fonda. <3
      HAHAH Blah Blah Land!! That's hilarious – I love it. Tbh, I don't think you should bother watching it – it's only relevant because it's winning awards, but give it a few years and it'll be completely forgotten.

      I think Gravity did win awards! Imo, not really worthy (I liked Interstellar a lot better, and it's more scientifically accurate too), but yeah, I thought it was a decent movie.

      Ooh I haven't seen Ghostworld nor have I heard of it! I'll check it out – thank you!

    • Hello!
      Hahaha me too. I was a big fan in my youth, but I think my love for it has definitely mellowed out.
      And yeah, me too! Tbh I was a little disappointed – I feel like they were making a movie for the sake of making a movie within the HP franchise, rather than telling a story worth telling? Ah, I don’t know. :| It wasn’t for me, I guess!

  7. Pingback: Links I Loved This Week – 03/05/2017 – Novels And Nonfiction

    • Hi Lauren, and thank you so much!
      Flying Lessons is amazing and I cannot recommend it enough. I’d really love to hear your thoughts on it, so if you ever get around to reading it, let me know?? <3

  8. I’m loving those mini movie reviews!! I’d love to see some more expanded ones if you ever feel like it in the future. I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to movies, but I love seeing how people react to them and knowing what kinds of hidden messages they found

  9. Oh hey, I’ve yet to watch Edge of Seventeen but I has to. Soon. Maybe. I just have this undying enjoyment for contemporary rom-coms LOLOL. WHO IS THIS JOEY FELLA?

    In any case, I think what I appreciated in Newt’s character in Fantastic Beasts is that he’s actually someone I could root for (meanwhile, for HP, I was like, nah bro you can go away now).

    Also: A Monster Calls water-colour/pastel-y story designs were perfect.

  10. After reading your thoughts on La La Land, I think it’s best that I lower my expectations before I watch that one. I do tend to like films that incorporate music, but from the snippets I’ve heard from the OST I’m not sure if this one’ll be for me. I guess, we’ll see

    YAY! You would have already started the semester by now, but good luck, Chooi! It’s reasonable to be nervous, and I’m sure the nerves has to be from excitement as well. You’ll fit right in; I know it. :)

    Anyway, I hope that you have a lovely March! <3

    Summer

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