Love in Casablanca

When it comes to classic Hollywood cinema, Casablanca is like a well made cocktail, made by an informed bartender. A shot of mystery, a generous slosh of self sacrificing love, a wedge of suspense, and the rim of the glass coated in ancient sugar that tastes like it’s been in the cupboard since the 1920s. Many may consider this film dated, but it is the type of charming film you’d watch with your mum in front of the fire on a frosty night when winter knocks at the window, and she’d tell you how she watched it with her mother on nights very similar to this one.

Casablanca conflates two timeless spectacles, the horrors of the holocaust, and the enigma of the ménage à trois. The historical context of the war, even today, creates an emotional involvement amongst audiences. Casablanca shows us the flip side of World War 2, and shows us how in a time of peril many sought comfort in the arms of someone who was close at hand. Human connections which are formed at this time, can cross borders, from Paris to northern Morroco.

However the taboo and sin of adultery is one considered and perhaps even condoned in this film. Ilsa Lund is acted by Ingrid Bergman, plays the femme fatale, with her low seductive voice and eyes which seem to glisten with colour even in black and white. Despite the fact that while her husband suffers in a concentration camp, she seeks solace in another man, she seems to be pardoned for all this, even by her husband, because after all she is beautiful, isn’t she? Regardless of her beauty, I still certainly struggle with this taboo that the film tackles. Ilsa appears to me to be self serving and her husband Victor entirely self sacrificing. Even after 50 years, the ménage à trois is still an issue which confounds and splits the public, from John and Jackie Kennedy, and his infamous mistress Marilyn Monroe, to the Twilight triad, Edward, Bella and Jacob. This contentious issue is well discussed, and one which undoubtedly draws viewers to watch this film (personally I’m Team Victor). I watched a documentary on love recently which dictated that women want men to be strong and then soft, and this is exactly what these protagonists Rick and Victor are. They have demanding and often impatient voices and stern brows, and yet both are entirely smitten with Ilsa, taking care of her wellbeing, and her security, even willing to sacrifice their own love for her if it means her happiness.

This film is uplifting, it shows us how friendship and love prevails even in a time of peril. It made me consider those I love, and how lucky I am to live in a world where humanity does exist, and in the good sense of the word. Casablanca is timeless, and funny too, it is full of one liners which will still make audiences snicker today. When you’re sat wherever you are when you watch it, curled up on the couch with your family, in an auditorium full of students, reflect on the humanity around you, and the connections you’ve made. Awful things happen every day, but people keep finding a way to make you smile at least once, even on the most overcast day.

Check out my other film review!

 

Who run the world?

Is a question which has been asked repeatedly over the past few years, and the answer is of course girls, but in a world plagued by the likes of Little Mix, what can be our salvation? While there certainly is an abundance of auto tuned drivel which seems to assault our ears on a regular basis, there is yet some hope. This week I have compiled a playlist of my favourite tracks made by some absolute gems, that you may not have heard of yet. Check out the playlist on Spotify, and while you’re at it check out my summer playlist if you need a little reminder of what we’re waiting for through these summer months!

1.Flesh Without Blood by Grimes

Grimes has been floating about ethereally in the music industry for about 5 years, and transfixed listeners with her otherworldly voice and innovative alternative music. This
track is my favourite by far. She brought
out this song in the lead up to the release of her most recent album, though she has been criticised for yielding to the mainstream pull, I must say that this is my favourite track of Boucher’s by far. With its uplifting melody this song will make you want to dance down a busy street.

2.Take Control of You by NAO

NAO is currently up and coming in the music industry. Annie Mac has made one of her more recent tracks Zillionare her hottest track of the week, and she also appeared on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury last summer. This track takes us back to 2014 when NAO releasled her stunning EP So Good.  This track is seductive and fast pace, the percussion giving the track a primal quality.

3.Four Pink Walls by Alessia Cara

Alessia Cara has been named by the BBC as a name to watch this year, and her debut track Here, has over 120 million plays on Spotify. She is the voice of an introverted and shy adolescent population, who, like her, dream of a life behind four pink walls. Her voice is soulful and carefree and she boasts impressive and intelligent lyrics, if you like this track, you should definitely listen to Here.

4.Emotional by Snoh Aalegra

Snoh Aalegra, from Sweden, reminds me of an upbeat female version of Maverick Sabre. When I first listened to this track before I knew it my shoulders were waggling and I was lip syncing as if I was a celeb on Lip Sync Battle.

5.Ritual Union by Little Dragon

You won’t be able to stop yourself singing along to this one, even if you’re sat on the train among strangers (maybe refrain yourself a little then, mouth or hum it perhaps?). Be aware though, this track is incredibly catchy, you’ll find it rattling round your brain late into the night.

6.White Tiger by Izzy Bizu

The gorgeous Izzy Bizu has a jazzy and soulful voice which will lighten up even the most overcast day. Her voice is pure and refreshing, she’s a real talent.

7.Experience by Kacy Hill

This track centres around Hill’s silky and entrancing falsetto, which is enhanced by the delicate instrumental structured around it. Kacy Hill’s voice is reminds me of tales when I was younger, of sirens that would lure men out to the icy embrace of the sea. This whole track is evocative of a ship gently rocking, and I’m sure if I had to be at sea to listen to this track, then you could just call me a sailor.

8.Make You Feel by Alina Baraz

This track is total magic for me, I discovered it this summer, and have listened to it hundreds of times, yet it never seems to get old. It makes me think of balmy summer evenings, spent with friends, laughs free and easy, tickling my throat. An otherworldly track which will continue to take you back to that happy place.

9.Lost & Found by Lianne La Havas

This song has some truly heart wrenching lyrics, and you can feel the raw emotion bleeding out from the song. This song is simple and truly beautiful.

10.Hyde by Astrid S

Astrid S is a Norwegian singer/songwriter, you might recognise her most popular song Running Out, which is one of those songs you know, but can’t quite place. Hyde proves to be even better, showing off her incredible voice, and chilling instrumental, which will make your spine tingle.

11. F-Q-C#7 by Willow

You would never have guessed that this song is made by Willow Smith, who sang Whip my hair, this song shows a distinct change of direction. The minimalist percussion which
accompanies this song accentuates her remarkable and distinctive vocals. This sultry song will make you want to get up and sway your hips, and is especially good to wail along to in the shower. This song seems as though it’s over all too soon, so put it on repeat and start wailing in that shower.

Haven’t you taken The Psychopath Test yet?

In this entertaining episode Jon Ronson takes us on an exceedingly amusing peregrination through the madness industry. This book is undoubtedly a page turner as we become just as absorbed as Ronson is in the riddle of a beautiful and mysterious book which arrives at one of his colleagues’ doorsteps. This book creates a tempest of confusion globally amongst some of the best minds in psychiatry as well as other professions. On discovering that the book was in fact written by a ‘crackpot’ Ronson asks himself how a few moments of madness can stirP1120226 such an intellectual community. He sets himself the task of exploring the ins and outs of this fascinating industry. From shit smeared basements in somewhat ethically challenged therapeutic clinics, to capitalist predators in ties who live in high rise offices with work forces of hundreds of thousands of people submitting to their will.

As you read the book and learn the traits exhibited by psychopaths, you find yourself asking how many people you know who might potentially be a knife wielding maniac. Worryingly the statistic is surprisingly high. It is predicted that 1% of society register as a psychopath on Bob Hare’s PCL-R checklist. Don’t bar your doors and lock your windows just yet however, as most psychopaths tend to be harmless. Though they might shag about and attempt to manipulate you, they are not murderous. However we all score somewhere on the checklist, we all have madness somewhere within our being. Madness motivates society, perhaps Al Dunlap is right, there certainly is some evidence of psychopathic traits being useful in the entrepreneurial world. We all know we’ve seen a few on The Apprentice, Selina from this season anyone? This book is gripping, and will make you laugh out loud, and also maybe change your perception on the so called loons that live among us. A book which is easy to delve into, compelling, hilarious and informative. Arm yourself against your potentially lethal neighbours with this book.

Check out my last book review of Chris Kraus’ I Love Dick

Dick is okay

I’m not entirely sure if I like Dick or not. I certainly enjoyed it. It made me laugh and it also made me sad, just like any good book should do. Chris Kraus’ book I Love Dick will undoubtedly attract a few inquisitive stares if you decide to read it on public transport. However there were certainly a few ideas surrounding the premise of Kraus’ book that I am uncomfortable with. Kraus’ provocatively named  book I Love Dick has been labelled a feminist cult classic among other things. When books are labelled feminist, or a modern classic, it is difficult to disagree with them. The initial post I wrote about this book discussed how this book ‘flags up some rather serious feminist issues’, and while it does makes some very important points about the treatment of female desire as an alien premise which should be treated with disgust, you could also certainly argue that it glamorises adultery, stalking and obsessive love. This book was certainly enjoyable, KrDickaus has a refreshingly easy to read writing style, which frequently made me laugh out loud, and you cannot deny that you truly empathise for her, suffering one cruel rejection from Dick after another. It is a bizarre and intriguing case study: a married woman whose crush on another man develops into an obsessive infatuation, which her husband also becomes directly involved with. Dick becomes not just a person later on in the novel but Dick becomes a metaphor for Kraus’ relationship with dick, and through her obsession she analyses her relationships with men. This novel is not empowering to Kraus, it recognises the issues with her own desire, but throughout she is subject to psychological torment, as she desires the man who will only reject her. I disagree entirely that all women oppress themselves by having relationships with men, which is what this novel seems to suggest, as even her relationship with Sylvère, her husband, appeared destructive in this novel.  I view this book as This book makes a fascinating read, and I found myself absorbed between its pages for hours on end. But I was left asking myself if I was a bad feminist for disagreeing with the premise of the book I have come to the conclusion that this is a book in which Kraus comes to terms with her own issues with men, rather than representative of every heterosexual relationship. But one thing is for sure, I’m certainly still thinking about Dick.

 

Turning your emotions Inside Out: A film review

Inside Out is an animation imaginatively created to teach children about the concept emotions. In the film, Riley an 11 year old girl’s emotions are personified into a cast of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. Riley
moves house, and consequently reacts badly to the change. However this change is necessary for her voyage of development. On this journey of development we meet a wide cast of funny, heart warming and
compassionate characters, such as Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong and Jangles the clown from her nightmares. This film is a thoroughly emotive gem for children and adults alike. It cleverly and sensitively handles issues like depression and loneliness. It is also teaches us that persistence and determination can really take you places, especially when you need to get somewhere on an imaginary rocket, and quickly. This film is a lesson on how it is important to feel both happy and sad. It is important to balance both Sadness and Joy, they play the roles of ying and yang, and together create harmony. Sadness teaches us compassion and empathy, but Joy provides us with the determination to keep plodding on through life, even when times get hard. I cannot recommend this film enough, it is an emotive, hilarious and innovative adventure which approaches a difficult concepts for children to grasp. This film is an absolute treasure for all members of the family. Inside Out should be considered Pixar’s crowning jewel.

New Starts

Today I typed ‘hard to’ into google, and though I was indeed amused at the autofill suggestions such as ‘hard to urinate (never have or will I understand why Google is used as our communal doctor these days) I was stunned to find that there was no autofill for ‘hard to start a blog’. This is something which has perturbed me for a few months now. Beginning something is always a daunting task, no matter what it is. You write and rewrite the sentence, shifting things around, questioning yourself, ‘should there be a comma there?’. There’s never an easy way to begin something. Staring at a blindingly blank page in front of you, and the challenging blink of that obstinate horizontal line waiting for you to type your first letters.

I want to write, I’ve always wanted to write, yet when I’m finally here ready to begin, my brain seems to melt into something which I’m sure would resemble a rice pudding, complete with a repellent blob of raspberry jam on top. I don’t think I’m alone in this quandary. I think this might be the case for many others. Putting a part of you, your opinions, your mind out there for criticism is certainly intimidating, but being afraid of negative feedback is no excuse for never beginning or trying. So if you’re considering writing, you should. It comes down to a fear of rejection from a general audience, but silence is not the answer. If you are passionate about writing then you mustn’t spend your whole life drafting an introduction. Blank pages may appear to continue from where you begin to eternity, but instead of seeing them as daunting, I’m going to try seeing them as an opportunity. In the past I have always seen pages as something to fill rather than looking for places in which to put my ideas, and there seems to be a clear difference between the two.

The beginning is the hardest place to start, and this applies to all things. For example, the first time you meet someone, even if you have the easiest friendship in the world after this point, those first few words that your tongue stumbles over when you introduce yourself are the hardest of them all. So here I am,  today is the day I defy my pudding like brain. I’m putting my foot down and I’m going to begin. I’m going to introduce myself to the blank page, which has always been my enemy.