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January and February 2018 in Review Part 2: Podcasts, Languages and Visual Entertainment

Apart from my rather disappointing (with the exception of a couple of gems) reading wrap-up of the first two months of 2018, some other things I really enjoyed in January and February were language learning (as I’m trying to improve my Japanese and reconnect with my French), some podcasts, a blog and a YouTube channel, a theatre performance, a film and two TV series.

I really like podcasts and I have found so many interesting (and uninteresting) ones over the years, but I never seem to have any appropriate time to devote to them since I don’t currently commute or travel as often as I used to and I always find myself doing other things while I try to listen to them at home and thus not concentrating enough on what is being said. However, I made some new discoveries lately which I would like to share with you. small_1473319899-artwork

I first discovered the Books and Boba podcast back in October, but I started listening to it properly only this January. It focuses mostly on Asian-American literature and the hosts, Reera and Marvin, are truly great to listen to, even more so since one of their missions for this podcast is to promote and enjoy works by marginalised authors and give priority to stories told from an Own Voices perspective. They have a Goodreads group, where they pick a book to read and discuss each month and they also talk about recent and future releases, they invite guests and authors over and they also discuss other important current events. Their January read was Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko (which I lauded in my previous post) and I was so excited to hear my name mentioned in that episode‘s discussion! The books they choose cover a wide array of genres, so I would highly recommend you give their podcast a try.

170x170bbThe next podcast I started listening to in February is Journey to the West, a podcast by Asian women discussing Asian issues, as the podcast’s own description reads (plus, the name of the podcast is an homage to the great Chinese epic of the same name). The four lady hosts are all very eloquent and they tackle a wide variety of topics such as racism, body image, the Olympics, feminism as well as culture appropriation (starting with the shameful Logan Paul incident in Japan recently). Their podcast is fairly new, it began approximately two months ago, but I really enjoyed listening to the discussions they brought up as well as listening to a slightly different perspective (that of Asian women) which we don’t usually get to hear very often.

Next, I have a blog and a YouTube channel I immensely enjoyed spending time on lately, both related to language study. Inside that Japanese Book is a blog focusing on Japanese and general language learning, providing motivation, study tips, book reviews and so many wonderful things. The girl behind it, Inhae, is French and is currently learning Japanese (with very impressive results) while also trying to improve her English writing skills. Her posts are always incredibly motivational and she has definitely been one of my main sources of inspiration for my own Japanese study lately. Plus, she always includes such cute drawings of herself and her cat in her posts.

Lindie Botes is another incredibly inspirational language learner, as she can speak ten (!) different languages. Of course, I mostly enjoy her Japanese/Korean/Chinese language learning videos, but she also makes videos about other languages such as French and Hungarian. No matter what language you’re learning, Lindie’s videos will definitely be an inspiration for you – I especially enjoy her ‘Study [insert language] with Me’ videos as well as the discussion videos she makes on various linguistic topics.

Having spent most of my February in Athens, I grabbed the opportunity to go to the theatre after a very long time. The performance I watched is called Το Ψέμα (To Psema/The Lie), a comedy about relationships, faithfulness and how even the most trusting couples actually have their own deeply buried secrets. Although it’s not the type of theatre performance I usually go for, I really enjoyed this one, mainly because of the excellent performances of the main actors. the_post_28film29

My favourite film was The Post, with incredible performances by Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, and two of my favourite TV series were Mindhunter and Dark. Mindhunter is an American TV series set in 1970s in which Holden, the protagonist, embarks on the groundbreaking endeavour of analysing criminals’ psychology and past experiences in order to start building patterns in which to categorise their crimes – thus marking the creation of the term ‘serial killer’ for the first time. I love crime/mystery stories and Mindhunter was nearly excellent, providing both crime cases the protagonists are called to solve as well as their struggles with academia and the police force in getting their research accepted and funded.

dark-posterDark is a German series (the very first one I watch) and a very impressive one. The story is very reminiscent of Stranger Things, initially, as it involves a child’s disappearance under mysterious circumstances and the uproar that is created in the small town due to this event. Although there is something supernatural involved, Dark‘s story soon diverges from that followed by Stranger Things and it manages to create a very unique, intriguing and incredibly visually beautiful outcome. It will definitely keep you glued to your screens until the very last minute.

 

Have you seen or listened to any of those? Which were your favourite non-bookish things so far in 2018?

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Monday Movie: ‘Brooklyn’ (2015) (Ireland Month)

Mondays are usually gloomy days, so I decided to brighten up mine by watching and writing about a movie I’ve been meaning to watch for a while now. That movie is none other than “Brooklyn”, based on the book of the same name by the Irish author Colm Tóibín.

The film follows a young girl, Eilis, who has been given the opportunity to move from Ireland to Brooklyn, America, in order to work and have a better life. She takes this offer with no hesitation, since as she says herself at some point in the movie, there’s nothing for her in Ireland. Her first days in Brooklyn are very hard, as she not only suffers from severe homesickness, but she’s also having a hard time adapting to her new way of life.

Her life is bound to change, though, when she meets an Italian guy and starts going out with him. He seems to be exactly what Eilis needed in order to get back to her feet, and her life becomes happier than ever. However, some news from her home town arrive to disrupt this happiness, and Eilis needs to make a very important choice. Where does her true home lie?

I completely adored the cinematography and everything about the era this film was set in. The shots of Ireland and later of Brooklyn in 1950s were really well made and the costumes and overall atmosphere transported me back to that period for the 2 hours this film lasted for. The music was also very nice and soothing, implementing those Irish elements when needed.

What confused me a little, though, and made me not fully enjoy the film, was Eilis as a character. She started out as the timid girl many of us can identify with and her character truly developed and grew throughout the movie. Her confidence after the first half was overflowing and she did become a woman able to stand for herself and go after what she wanted. No matter how confident she became, though, she was still unable to speak and say the things she had to in order for her to avoid some uncomfortable situations and I admit I felt frustrated with her choices and attitude in the last half of the film. I did feel that she made the right choice in the end, after all.

Some people have characterised “Brooklyn” as a “chick-flick set in the 50s”, and while I can see why, I believe it is much more than just a love story. It tackles themes such as home, growing up, family and, of course, love, but everything is put under a veil of nostalgia, in which the music plays a very important part. It’s not a superficial story and I felt that the final choice was more a personal choice of where one feels at home rather than a simple choice of love interests and partners.

I always enjoy seeing how Irish culture handles the theme of identity and home and this movie certainly had an input I hadn’t encountered before. It wasn’t an excellent movie, but it was definitely worth watching. However, I don’t think I will be reading the book any time soon.

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Project: A Film A Day

One thing which I do not do enough is to watch films, and so I have come up with a little project for the month of August to help me along.  I am aiming to watch one film each day, and then record them on a list here on the blog.  Evidently watching a film every single day is an unrealistic goal, as some days I won’t be able to.  However, I am allowing myself to catch up; ergo, if I watch two films in one day and none the next, I am allowed to carry one of those over.  It’s more of an average thing than an actual daily challenge, I suppose, but I am very excited about the prospect of the project, and eager to get stuck in.

I do not have the time to review any of the films, sadly, but I will be using my general star rating on the main list, and will gladly answer any questions which you may have about what I’ve watched.

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Du Maurier December: Daphne at the Movies

I very much doubt that the rush and bustle of Christmas Eve affords any of us the time to read long book reviews, so for today, I thought I would compile a list of Daphne du Maurier’s film adaptations.  Any of these films would be perfect to curl up with over this festive season.  I have chosen to order them chronologically.

Jamaica Inn (1939; directed by Alfred Hitchcock; based upon the novel of the same name)
–  Rebecca (1940; directed by Alfred Hitchcock; based upon the novel of the same name)
Frenchman’s Creek (1944; directed by Mitchell Leisen; based upon the novel of the same name)
The Years Between (1946; directed by Compton Bennett; based upon du Maurier’s play of the same name)
Hungry Hill (1947; directed by Brian Desmond Hurst; based upon the novel of the same name)
My Cousin Rachel (1952; directed by Henry Koster; based upon the novel of the same name)
The Scapegoat (1959; directed by Robert Hamer; based upon the novel of the same name)
The Birds (1963; directed by Alfred Hitchcock; based loosely upon du Maurier’s short story ‘The Birds’)
Don’t Look Now (1973; directed by Nicolas Roeg; British-Italian film based upon du Maurier’s short story ‘Don’t Look Now’)

Adaptations from around the world:
Kohraa (1964; directed by Biren Nag; an Indian thriller horror film based upon Rebecca)
Anamika (2008; directed by Anant Mahadevan; a Bollywood film based upon Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of Rebecca)

Which of these have you watched?