Film Reviews

Bohemian Rhapsody – Film Review

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Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t just the story of Queen, and their incredible front-man Freddie Mercury. This movie is about a queer, talented misfit from Zanzibar. Before this movie, I didn’t know a single thing about Queen outside from knowing all of the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody thanks to my love for karaoke. I didn’t know a single thing about Freddie Mercury. I went to see the movie simply out of a whim on a night out with my friends.

While I was watching the movie, I was completely surprised to find that Freddie Mercury was, in fact, not straight. It wasn’t at all what I had been expecting, but I loved the portrayal. On screen, Freddie was an effeminate man with beautiful moves and a voice like no other. The story is a classic “rags to riches” story, and that was what I had been expecting. But I didn’t know there would be so many layers to it. I loved seeing Freddie’s family, his dynamic with the rest of the band, his days touring, and the way he felt so strongly for Mary.

I am aware now that many details in the movie are not true. Many things were changed, probably to add tension and build up to the famous Live Aid concert scene, which is a big moment in the movie. I think the film had a great balance of everything. But I don’t think I would have enjoyed the movie as much as I did had it not been for Rami Malek’s amazing performance. The man has talent. Actually, now that I’ve delved into the world of Queen, I think Rami Malek is a bit similar to Freddie Mercury. I think they’re both incredibly blunt and honest in everything they do. I also believe the rest of the cast fit the band members very well.

The most meaningful thing to me was seeing Freddie Mercury being idolized and loved, to this day, while knowing all of those details about his life. I couldn’t believe that there was this outstanding queer icon in the world that I was not aware of. Being pansexual, I live for any queer representation in the media. Seeing people worship this man for being who he was made me so happy. I think this is an important movie for the LGBT+ community, even though they mostly labeled Freddie as gay, despite him identifying as bisexual. But that is not surprising, considering the constant erasure of bisexuality. However, I still think this movie is excellent and deserves a lot of love.

My rating: 9/10

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Book Reviews

Binge by Tyler Oakley – Book Review

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“No person, no matter how important society deems their relationship to you, has the right to denounce you for who you are.”

I went into this book a little biased. I’ve been watching Tyler Oakley’s videos for years. I absolutely love his podcast Psychobabble that he does with his best friend Korey Kuhl. I listened to the audiobook for this book, which was narrated by Tyler. Truthfully, it just felt like a really long episode of his podcast, minus Korey (who was deeply missed). So, it’s really no surprise that I ended up loving this book.

I’ve read very few Youtuber books. Actually, I’ve only read two, and those were by Shane Dawson and Hannah Hart. I’m not big on Youtubers making books, but I’ll read them if I really like the person. I gotta say, Tyler Oakley is a great writer. I enjoyed his writing style because it was SO him. His entire essence was in this book, and I thought that was awesome. On top of that, Tyler talks about a bunch of really deep, personal things. Many of which I was really surprised by.

My favorite thing about nonfiction, especially memoirs, is that they’re personal. Often, very personal. I cannot express how much I respect and admire people who can get that personal. It takes a lot of courage to open up that much about your life. I should add trigger warnings for eating disorders and homophobia. I had no idea how much Tyler had gone through. It’s important to tell these stories though. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be battling an eating disorder, but Tyler was able to survive that and share his story. He also talks about his journey coming out, and his shaky relationship with his father who wasn’t as understanding as everyone else.

The story that touched me the most had to do with Adam. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it, or heard about it, but there was such a vulnerability to the entire thing. I was rooting for Tyler and Adam, until I wasn’t. Overall, Tyler Oakley was just himself. Honest, fun, quirky. What can I say? I love the guy.

I haven’t read that many memoirs, though I deeply enjoy them. And I have to say, this one is a great one to pick up.

4 stars

Book Reviews

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld – Book Review

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If you know me, then you know I’m probably the biggest Pride and Prejudice fan. I’ve seen a variety of adaptations and read a ton of retellings. This story has a huge space in my heart, especially because it was something my mom and I bonded over before she passed away. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are two of my most beloved fictional characters. But I have very mixed feelings about this particular retelling.

Eligible is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic, and it does have a lot of similarities with the original Pride and Prejudice, but it’s also super problematic. I hate to start with the negatives, but I need to talk about them. There is a lot of blatant racism, homophobia, and transphobia in this book. It was incredibly offensive, and I immediately hoped no trans or other people of color read this book. The Bennet family is a rich, snobby Republican version that I completely despised. While the original version of the Bennets could be overwhelming, I never hated any of them. But Mrs. Bennet was just awful. So awful.

I also found myself disliking Liz Bennet. This had never happened to me before. In all of the retellings I’ve seen/read of this story, Lizzie is always my favorite character. But in this book, I wasn’t sure why Mr. Darcy fought for her. She just wasn’t worth it to me. I don’t want to get into too many details about why, because the list is lengthy. If you’d like a clearer review explaining the racism and transphobia better, read this one.

Despite my complaints, and all of these terrible issues I found, I did enjoy most of the book. I loved Mr. Darcy. I’ve loved Darcy since Colin Firth brought him to life in that incredible BBC mini series. I mean, there is no better Mr. Darcy than Colin Firth. There just wasn’t enough Mr. Darcy in this book. He was the most decent character in the story, though. Aside from Darcy, I also liked Charlotte. I thought she was great. And Kathy de Bourg was a great feminist character. I was surprised by this because her original character is nothing like this. But these few characters were really the only likeable ones, aside from Jane, though she wasn’t my favorite.

I was mostly confused because I thought that the author might have had good intentions, but she wasn’t careful enough to realize how offensive her story was in the end. I wanted to love it. I was ready to be obsessed over this retelling. But it just rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t say I hated it, though. I finished it in two days. It kept me entertained, for sure. But I wouldn’t really recommend it to others.

3,5 stars

Personal

Pansexual and Bipolar

I’ve recently realized that there are two very big things about me that I can choose to share with the people around me. This occurred to me because I recently got a second job, which means I have many more coworkers than I had before. I’m a very open person. I like to share, sometimes overshare. At my first job, my full-time job, I have one close friend. She knows everything about my life — including the fact that I am pansexual and bipolar. I’ve shared these things with her because she makes me feel safe and she has never judged me. But it also dawned on me that she is my only coworker who knows these facts about me.

Maybe it’s normal not to share such personal things with coworkers. But should these things be shared with all my friends? The thing about me is, I’ve always labeled everyone I share more than one conversation with, a friend. My therapist recently made me see that many of these people are mere acquaintances, and not friends. I still haven’t fallen out of the habit of calling these people friends, but I’m trying.

But I’m also not sure when it’s safe to share these things about my sexuality and mental health. They’re huge things. To me, at least. And they aren’t things I’m ashamed of. I know who I am, and I’ve accepted it. I’m an honest person. I hate lying. And not sharing who I am with people often makes me feel like a liar. But I would hate to go up to a person and tell them I’m pansexual and bipolar, and have them see me differently.

You might ask, why do these things matter? Nobody should care.

Well, I care. I care because I want to talk about my sexuality. I want to talk about my past crushes on guys and girls. I want to say when I like a girl, as much as when I like a guy, or anyone else. And my mental health matters to me. I want others to be aware of it because it affects the way I act sometimes. I have bad days and good days, and I’m still learning how to be okay. I want people to understand why certain things take more time for me to adjust to.

I wish it were easier to share these things with people. I wish I didn’t have to “come out” all the time. I wish I could just be myself all the time.

But for now, I’ll just keep these things to myself. And you guys.

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Book Reviews

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram – Book Review

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“I was one tiny pulsar in a swirling, luminous galaxy of Iranians, held together by the gravity of thousands of years of culture and heritage.”

What a lovely book.

I read this book in one day, and I enjoyed every second. This book has stayed with me for days. Even now, a week later, I find myself thinking about these characters and everything they’ve left with me.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay follows Darius, a Persian boy who finds out his grandfather has a brain tumor, which leads to his entire family traveling to Iran to spend some time with him. Darius was an excellent narrator. Since his father is Caucasian, he spends a lot of time exploring his Persian culture through his mother’s side of the family. I liked that I got to see things through his perspective because I came to understand his culture with the same amount of curiosity he did. I loved learning about how important tea was for his culture. I love tea, but I clearly don’t love it as much.

Darius’s culture was so prominent in the story because he spent a lot of time with his family. I absolutely loved that. His grandparents were really great people. His grandmother was sweet and kind, and she reminded me so much of mine. His grandfather was a bit more complicated, but I liked that. Sometimes, you can’t really connect instantly with members of your family. I liked the way he talked about knowing his family in Iran through nothing more than video calls. That’s true for me as well, and for many other immigrants in America. I also loved the food he got to eat, and the way everything was described.

The complicated relationship Darius had with his father was so realistic. I liked the way he wanted to connect with him, spend quality time with him, but still disliked many things about him. I liked that his father wasn’t painted as a bad guy, but he wasn’t great either. These gray areas are so important, because that’s the reality of the world. Parents are human, and they make so many mistakes. It’s important to see them portrayed like this. My favorite thing was that both Darius and his father suffered from depression, and they were actually treating it with medication. How great is that? This is something I don’t think I’ve ever read about in a YA book. Mental illness can definitely be inherited through your parents (I speak from personal experience) and it’s good to see that they both took the time and care to find the right medication. The conversations this brought up were important as well, especially considering the stigma against mental illness in Iran, as well as many other countries. I know in Mexico, my family shies away from any conversation about mental illness. The portrayal of depression was necessary and well executed.

I left my precious Sohrab for the end because he is very special to me, and I still haven’t fully processed my thoughts on him. Sohrab is a young boy Darius befriends in Iran. A very sweet, charming boy that helps out Darius’s grandparents as much as possible, who’s basically another member of the family. They play a few games of soccer, which is my favorite sport, so I was ecstatic about this. I loved that Darius could confide in Sohrab about everything, and Sohrab genuinely cared for him. I loved their friendship so much. It was so sweet and so natural and so freeing. It broke my heart any time they had any argument because them not being friends just felt wrong to me. I loved everything about Darius and Sohrab. Their scenes were some of my favorites.

The only reason I’m not one-hundred percent in love with this book (more like ninety-five percent, which is still pretty high) is because I knew there was potential to explore Darius’s sexuality. It was there all along. It was right on the surface, ready to be seen, but it never was. Darius’s sexuality was never explored. It was maybe hinted at, but that’s it. I’m not entirely sure why they author decided not to go there, when all the signs were there, but alas, that’s not something we got to see. Even without the exploration of sexuality, I thought the book was incredible. I loved it all so much. I would read a sequel. So many sequels. I loved Darius, his family, and my dear Sohrab.

4,5 stars

Book Reviews

The Time of the Singing by Louise Blaydon – Book Review

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There are two things to note about this book before I start my review. 1. This was originally Supernatural fanfiction. 2. Many of the details from the fanfiction remain in this version. The reason these things are important is because, had I read this as a fanfiction, I might have forgiven more things from it. However, this is supposed to be an original work of fiction, so I’m going to review it as such.

The story follow Israfel, a twenty-nine year old priest who fancies Nate, a seventeen year old boy from his church. The age gap is very clear in the text. I may have gone into this book a bit biased having seen the movie Spotlight all about the awful things priests have done to underage boys that have been covered up by the Catholic church. But I’ve been reading a lot of books with taboo subjects, so I decided to give this a try.

I have to say, I had my issues with the relationship between Israfel and Nate. It’s stated that the age of consent in the state it’s set is seventeen, but it never failed to be weird. Nate acted confidently, and everything that happened between them was consensual, but Israfel’s behavior often rubbed me the wrong way. Israfel was quick to blame Nate for everything they did, telling him he’d corrupted him. Israfel tried to argue that even if he’d wanted to, he couldn’t have stopped Nate from doing what he did with him. This bothered me so much because this is clear behavior you’d find in cases of molestation. I’m not saying that’s what was happening here, but that’s why it made me uncomfortable.

Putting that aside, I was really moved by Israfel’s revelation. Israfel started off hating himself for being gay, wanting nothing but to remove that part of him. Israfel gave himself over to the priesthood to rid himself of all temptation, until he realized he couldn’t stop being gay–obviously. I liked seeing his growth throughout as his thoughts changed on the matter. I was rooting for his growth, but I was still iffy about the relationship.

In the end, I was entertained with this book. I’m not sure I got anything out of it, though. I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for years and I never felt brave enough to read it, so I’m glad I finally did. I would like to mention trigger warnings for severe homophobia. It was giving me a headache. There were so many bigoted characters. It’s definitely not a perfect book. It actually could do with some editing. But I didn’t hate it, so there’s that.

3 stars

Book Reviews

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – Book Review

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I have a lot of love for this book.

“True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice on the matter.”

It’s been years since I’ve read a John Green book. Back in the day, I used to love his books. I read all of them one after the other, and An Abundance of Katherines became my favorite. But I think this is my second favorite.

Turtles All the Way Down follows Aza, a girl on her senior year of high school suffering from OCD and anxiety. Aza and her best friend, Daisy, gain interest in the sudden disappearance of a billionaire because there’s a hundred-thousand dollar reward for any tips leading to him. Aza knows Davis, the billionaire’s son, so they investigate starting with him.

This book gutted me for many different reasons. There were so many things going on, but it all made sense somehow. I want to start by talking about Aza’s OCD. She constantly went on spirals, moments where she obsessively worried about getting a disease that would kill her. I was hesitant about reading the book at first because of this, but now that I’m taking my own medication, I feel a little better about it. However, reading about Aza’s tremendous struggle was conflicting. Part of me, the weaker part, went on those spirals with her and wanted her to go to extreme lengths to feel better. But the saner part of me worried about her well-being, and wished that she could get the help that she needed. Either way, I liked the representation very much.

I know a lot of people didn’t like Daisy, but she was my absolute favorite. Daisy spent so much time writing Star Wars fanfiction, talking way too much, and dragging her best friend into all sorts of things. I saw myself in her. I really loved her. I wanted to know so many things about her. We only got glimpses through Aza, which was one of the problems in their friendship. I understand that Daisy made some mistakes, and she wasn’t always a great friend, but I think she truly loved Aza. Their friendship gave me life. It was so sweet at times. I believed it. It was so real and so true.

I thought Davis was awesome. I felt for him throughout the book. The guy didn’t deserve all the weight of the world on his shoulders at such a young age. He worried so much for his younger brother, Noah, and he just wanted to have some peace. I wanted him to be happy. I never really rooted for him and Aza to get together, but I wanted his happiness so badly. I was glad that Aza was there for him and supported him as much as she could. Davis was so soft. I loved that he cried anytime he felt like it. I loved that he wasn’t bothered by his emotions. My sweet boy.

The plot was good! I don’t usually like the plot in books, but I loved it in this one. It was subtle but totally engaging. It’s seriously such a great book.

4,5 stars