Sweet Sugar Dumplin’

DumplinI finally watched Dumplin’. For some reason, although it was released on Netflix in the States, it hasn’t been available in Malaysia. Instead, fat Malaysian girls get mindfucked with fatphobic trash like Insatiable.

Anyway, Dumplin‘: I liked it mainly because of the Dolly Parton songs and the drag queen bar. It’s a feelgood teen movie in which the teen in question has a predictably ‘difficult’ relationship with her mother. The usual mother-daughter irritation is heightened by the fact that mum (played by Jennifer Aniston) is an ex-beauty queen, who’s still involved in the local pageant, and daughter, Willowdean “Dumplin'” Dickson (Daneille Macdonald), is fat and imagines herself to be a disappointment and an embarrassment.

Macdonald is beautiful and fat. She also seems confident and happy, but has her moments, like when Bo, the boy she likes, kisses her and she freaks out when she feels his hands on her wobbly bits. Haven’t we all been there? I like that this was addressed, but I’d have liked to see more of that blossoming relationship. Of course, it wasn’t the point of the story, but I’m curious as to why a 21st century teenage male isn’t bending to peer pressure and social norms and picking the petite blonde Bekah instead. Also, I want to see how the relationship will deal with the uncharitable reactions its going to provoke. I wonder if there is a book out there that focuses on this issue.

Actually, it bothered me a little that Bo liking Willowdean was a thing in this story. Does there always have to be a romantic element in coming of age stories, especially those based on YA novels?

dumplinbookDumplin’ is based on Julie Murphy’s book by the same name. I haven’t read it, but this is an excerpt of the Wiki entry: ‘Willowdean, nicknamed “Dumplin’” by her mother and called “Will” by her friends, is an overweight teenager who has always felt comfortable with her body and herself. She doesn’t care that her mother was a teen beauty queen or that people have poked fun at her weight. All of that changes when she meets Bo, a handsome boy her age that has expressed interest in dating her. Suddenly Will is full of insecurities and can’t bring herself to date him out of fear of what others would say. In order to prove to her self-worth, Will has decided to enter and win the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant.’

Hmm … I don’t like the sound of that at all, although I suppose it is a realistic premise. I admit that I know what it’s like to be happy about my appearance until I am judged by a man, or think I’m judged by a man (or, actually, even another woman). Our self-confidence is so easily destroyed by others’ opinions. I don’t think this means that we don’t love ourselves enough. It’s a lot to expect a teenager to have that much self-belief anyway, but even as an adult, I think the need for approval is hard to shake off.

What I don’t get is having to enter a beauty contest to prove your self-worth. To me, beauty pageants are like the epitome of bullshit and evil. Anyway, I should read the book as it could be that it’s been misrepresented by its Wiki entry.

In conclusion, I don’t feel like I wasted my time watching this film. And I actually thought Jennifer Aniston was good in it!

 

 

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Wifely Duties

I finished reading The Wife by Meg Wolitzer and also watched the film, starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce.

I didn’t expect to be, but I was disappointed by both.

I loved Glenn Close in the film — she was very good, but then I have not seen her falter in anything. Pryce was good too, his character was both pathetic and odious, and he portrayed him well. (He almost made me gag because he reminded me of a creepy someone in the lit scene here!)

However, I wasn’t convinced by the story. (No spoilers!)

In the film, I felt it was not developed sufficiently and so, I had trouble believing it. In the book, I didn’t think we got to know Joan well enough to understand why she did what she did. Intellectually it made sense, but not viscerally. We know Joan (a little) but we don’t feel her and so we don’t feel for her either.

Wolitzer’s writing style did not appeal to me. I found her voice cold and distant. Perhaps Joan is those things because of what she’s been through, but the author doesn’t allow us to get under her skin. She doesn’t give us a sense that Joan is torn between love and hate; pride and shame; she doesn’t make us feel Joan’s desperation.

Glenn Close, in the film, is successful in bridging that gap between the character and the audience. Her portrayal of Joan allows us to experience (at least to some degree) the conflicting emotions that must engulf the character at every turn. Still, I didn’t feel much more than a fleeting pity for her. Perhaps the problem was ‘resolved’ too conveniently and quickly. Or seemed to be. I suppose Joan is left to live with the truth, and to decide how to deal with it. Perhaps Wolitzer needs to write a sequel!

 

 

Bad Parenting 101, or How to Screw-Up Your Kids with the Help of Ghosts

The-Haunting-of-Hill-House
‘Now, I know I shouldn’t leave you alone with ghosts, but if I were a kind and reasonable mother, we’d hardly have enough for a ten-minute short film let alone ten episodes!’

I finished watching The Haunting of Hill House a few days ago. I enjoyed it tremendously (it has the right balance of creepiness, terrifying jump scares, psychologically traumatic events and emotionally tortured characters), but, as usual when it comes to horror films about families living in large spooky houses in the West, I was outraged by the way the parents treated their children.

If your children are scared witless because they’ve seen a ghost or monster at bedtime, why would you insist they continue to sleep alone? What sort of sadist does this to small children? I don’t care whether or not you believe in ghosts/ that your house is haunted — if your kids wake up night after night screaming, why would you leave them alone in their beds?

In Hill House, the parents say stuff like, ‘If you see [the ghost] come tell us and we’ll deal with it’ or ‘No, you didn’t see a ghost; it was a nightmare/your imagination/a shadow etc.’ How unhelpful! Can you imagine your parents saying that and then leaving you alone in a dark room? No wonder the Hill House kids grow up totally fucked.

I know the heartless parents are necessary to the plot: The Hill House storyline would be a lot different if it were set in, say, KL. There would be major exorcism carried out immediately, and the whole family would camp out in one bedroom until the problem was sorted out. Maybe the children would grow up to be famous mediums with their own temple.

I remember our priest, Father Martin, blessing our house before we moved in. This house was known to be haunted and so Father Martin blessed every room, even the outhouse! But the ghosts hung around anyway. They didn’t do much more than turn doorknobs and cause lights to go on and off though.

 

 

So Insecure

insecure-season-3

Insecure Season 3 has launched and I’m not going to wait to binge the whole season or even two or three episodes. I shall watch the show as the episodes air, which is of course painful, but hell, it’s going to be agony when the season ends anyway, so this is training.

I watched Epi 1 (Better-Like) three days after it dropped and it was mostly satisfying. Looks like there’s a lot to work through, not least (and as usual), Issa and Molly’s complete failure to take control of their love lives. Haha, isn’t that why I love the series so much anyway — because I can relate to the girls’ wrong decisions about men? *mock weeps*

Have to say, Daniel looks fine, but Dro … Dro is so ick. He looks like he’s been assembled out of tofu blocks.

Episode 2 (Familiar-Like) focused on Daniel, and the Issa-Daniel storyline and dynamic. I liked how the epi explored the platonic aspect of the relationship, and also Daniel’s insecurities and the way they’re actually good for one another. It’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen there. Or is it?

Can’t wait for Episode 3!

 

To Have or Have Not

I did not know that Spike Lee had re-fashioned his film She’s Gotta Have It (1986) into a Netflix series!

nola 87
Tracy Camilla Johns as Nola Darling (1986)

Hmm, I had almost forgotten the film, which I watched a few years after it was released. I know I didn’t get it then. I didn’t get any of Spike Lee’s films. Back then there wasn’t much I got if it wasn’t in the great British/American tradition.

However, I remember I was impressed by Nola Darling (’86). I liked her attitude towards life and love, and men. I didn’t understand it, but I liked it and I admired her. I was jealous of her ability to love three men (and a woman) just enough without giving herself to them.

I’ve always known, but never acknowledged that I’m not a one-man woman. However, I’ve been a one-man woman in my relationships because I am not a jerk. I don’t want to hurt people. Also, I know I’m not evolved enough to be happy about my man having sex with other women and have no wish to be a hypocrite.

Sure, I have double standards, and I’ve been trying to figure out why (apart from the fact that I can be a bit of a dick) I do.

I think I am not secure enough to believe a man could sleep with others and still always prefer me. I know there are different things I appreciate in different men. I like them each in different ways because they’re different people. That’s the way I feel about my girlfriends and that’s how they feel about me. Why should it be different when it’s a man? Hmm … see? I hate how romantic relationships turn me into a green-eyed demon.

I admit it — I am possessive as fuck — not to the extent that I won’t let my partners have friends of the opposite sex (although look at how that ended with Martin and Ee Kee — he left her for me), but I don’t like them polyamorous despite being polyamorous myself.

I think polyamory is complicated and hard work and I don’t think I can handle such a lifestyle. I don’t think I can do the ‘committed to each other, but sleeping around’ kind of relationship. I don’t want to battle with my own jealousy and my partner’s. I don’t want to feel hurt and to hurt others.

Nola 2017
DeWanda Wise as Nola Darling (2017)

I figure the only option is to remain single. Like Nola Darling. Ish. Thing is, I don’t know if the current Nola Darling really knows what she’s about. Of course, I would need to re-watch the original to know what I think of Nola (’87) now, but Nola (2017/2018) … she’s too much of a child for me to take seriously. And her refusal to commit seems more about selfishness and self-conscious artistic posturing than a well-considered lifestyle choice. She’s twenty-seven after all. Haha, spoken like an old woman, right? Damn right!