T is for Take a Hint from Victorious

Victorious was one of those shows I’d end up watching on Nickleodeon when I was home from Uni for the holidays and my mum was at work. I was so lazy when I returned home for the holidays.

I remember watching this episode and being like “Wow!” I’d not seen anything like it in a kids/teen show before. A couple of girls getting fed up with boys who won’t leave them alone, who kept flirting with them and not taking no for an answer, and then these girls called them out on it and showed everyone, the boys, other characters and the viewers that these boys were harassing them, and it was not ok.

Take a Hint is such a catchy, yet powerful song and I love how Victoria Justice’s and Elizabeth Giles’ voices work together. This is another song that features on my Kick-Ass Inspirational Songs playlist and it well deserves a place there as it’s a song that unconsciously gets me to stand taller and be more confident in myself. As I’ve mentioned this playlist so much during this challenge, it’s here on Spotify if you’re interested.

“You asked me what my sign is, and I told you it was stop!” is a fantastic line and it’s my favourite from a song with so many great moments.

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REVIEW: Talvar (2015)

When a teenage girl and her family’s servant are found dead, the police investigation is incompetent from the outset, contaminating evidence and accusing a controversial suspect. When experienced investigator Ashwin Kumar (Irrfan Khan) joins the case, he must make sense of the little evidence available and several conflicting theories about what really happened.

Talvar is a fictionalised and dramatized version of the 2008 Noida double murder case, a case I personally hadn’t heard of before but one that got the media into a frenzy and all people connected to the case were put on trial by the media before the police or courts could do much else.

You see the night of the murders retold multiple times from different perspectives. Each one using various witness testimonies but also disregarding some other piece of evidence that doesn’t fit the prevailing theory. As the scenes are so different each time, it never feels like you’re retracing old ground, and each flashback serves a purpose.

There’s no getting around the fact that the police originally at the crime scene, did a terrible job, not calling in forensic teams and letting family member, neighbours and journalists walk into the crime scenes with no bother. It’s quite incredible how bad these men were at their jobs. From then on, the film does a good job at presenting all the evidence and suspects in a largely unbiased way, leaving you to decide who you believe.

With so many members of the police force being either unlikable on incompetent (or both) Ashwin is a beacon of sanity in this circus that is an investigation. He’s smart and sympathetic and you can feel his exasperation with this almost impossible case and the bureaucracy surrounding it.

Talvar is a gripping mystery albeit it a frustrating one due to the inept police work that could lead to such a heart-breaking and horrible situation for this family who has lost their daughter. 4/5.

S is for See You Again by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth

This song gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. It’s an emotional song that combines a ballad with rap and it’s incredible.

I cried in the cinema when I first heard See You Again as it played at the end of Fast & Furious 7, giving Paul Walker (and his character Brian O’Connor) an unexpectedly wonderful send off. I adore the Fast and Furious films (they have my favourite trope, family of choice) and Paul Walker’s death hit me hard so to have this song that’s so heartfelt and well suited to the franchise, but is also universal, is just perfect.

I’m not someone who gets too into the Oscars but if there’s one song that should’ve at least been nominated, it’s See You Again. Basically I just wanted to get all the accolades it deserved, and for everyone else to love it as much as I did.

I love See You Again but it’s a song I can’t listen to repeatedly. I love it but the emotion in it gets to me and if I listen to it too many times in a short space of time I know I’ll end up crying.

REVIEW: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

My original review of Spider-Man: Homecoming from July 2017 is here.

After battling with (and against) the Avengers in Berlin, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) struggles to return to his everyday high school life as he continues to be a superhero. When Peter stumbles across a group of thieves with high-tech weaponry, he finds himself on the trail of the Vulture (Michael Keaton).

Spider-Man: Homecoming is an origin story without rehashing old ground we’ve seen before in the previous Spider-Man films featuring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. We know about Uncle Ben and the radioactive spider and don’t need to see that again, so instead this is an origin story in terms of Peter growing, learning and becoming the hero he can be.

Tom Holland is a great Peter Parker and a great Spider-Man. He’s nerdy and funny while still being somewhat naïve when it comes to how unfair the world can be. Peter’s still learning how to be a hero, and he makes some pretty big mistakes along the way, but he’s so earnest in wanting to help people and do the right thing.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) does make a couple of appearances in Spider-Man: Homecoming but it’s in a mentor-role to Peter. Peter desperately wants to impress Tony and to be a part of the Avengers, while Tony wants Peter to be a better person than he is and not get caught up in anything too dangerous.

Michael Keaton’s the Vulture is a compelling and imitating villain. From his first scene, you get where this guy is coming from. He’s a working-class guy who wants to take care of his family but is knocked down by bureaucracy and people like Tony Stark. Michael Keaton is brilliant as Vulture, I’m pretty sure he never shouts, but that makes him all the more intimidating. Vulture’s goal isn’t to end or take over the world, it’s a much more personal goal which makes the conflict between him and Spider-Man compelling.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a coming of age story, with high school comedy moments, while still being a superhero movie. It blends these elements together really well and it’s a fun film with great characters. The relationship between Peter and his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) is the best and all the kids and teachers in Peter’s high school feel like the sort of people you’d meet in high school without being cliché.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is as charming and fun as it’s titular character and that makes it a great film, with a lot of heart. 4/5.

R is for Revolution by The Veronicas

I first heard this song when watching Sydney White (a great Snow White retelling set in college with Amanda Bynes, definitely check it out) and immediately had to get it on my iPod.

Revolution is the only song by The Veronicas I own, and I couldn’t name any of their other songs if I tried. I’m so bad at keeping up with music and learning more about artists, even when I discover one song of theirs I love. It’s a problem.

Revolution is on my Kick-Ass Inspirational playlist because it gets me pumped up and it’s like a confidence boost every time I hear it. I love the message behind Revolution, that someone is who they are and won’t be stopped. Plus, the guitars and pop-rocky-ness of it is just my sort of thing.

Q is for Qué Caro Es el Tiempo by El Canto del Loco

Now while I have a basic understanding of Spanish, so I can pick up the odd word when I listen to pop rock band El Canto del Loco, what I really love about their music is the sound.

I took part in a foreign exchange when I was in high school, and the Spanish girl I was partnered with gave me a CD with some of her favourite music on it, one of the artists on there was El Canto del Loco. While I couldn’t really understand the songs, it was definitely my kind of music. I love this sort of pop, punk, indie rock music.

Qué Caro Es el Tiempo is one of my favourite songs on the CD I was given. It’s a bit slower than El Canto del Loco’s other stuff, but it’s heartfelt and I love how it builds, bringing the piano, drums and more guitars as the song progresses.

I often find myself listening to El Canto del Loco’s music when I’m writing as I don’t understand the words I don’t get distracted from writing. Instead, I get lost in the music which is a lovely feeling. I’d definitely recommend listening to songs that aren’t in your own language.

REVIEW: The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

Grace is the preacher’s daughter and the new girl in school. Rosina is bold and outspoken and dreams of music rather than working at her family’s restaurant. Erin is often misunderstood but her love of science and order doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel. The three of them are brought together by the idea of changing things, of justice for Lucy Moynihan – a girl who was run out of town for accusing the popular guys at school of gang rape. Together, Grace, Rosina and Erin form the Nowhere Girls, an outlet for their rage and a place of strength and decide to avenge the rape of a girl none of them knew.

The Nowhere Girls is a phenomenal book. It’s like Asking For It meets Moxie but it’s its own thing and what a powerful, heartfelt thing it is.

The Nowhere Girls is told in alternating perspectives, so you get to be inside Grace, Rosina and Erin’s heads, as well as see glimpses of what other girls at their high school think and feel. Having these moments from other characters points of view, some of which are unnamed characters, shows the wide scope of feminism as one black girl muses the movement must’ve been started by white girls because if a black girl did it they’d be seen as disruptive, while a trans girl wonders whether or not she’d be included in the group or would be seen as a spy.

All three main protagonists are well-rounded characters with their own problems at home, whether that’s an over-bearing parent or a family member with dementia, but they form a unique bond over their passion to change things. They are also a diverse group of characters. Rosina is Mexican-American and a lesbian, she’s comfortable with her identity but she’s not sure if she’ll ever tell her mum about her sexuality, Grace is fat and has a lot of faith in God but not necessarily in people and Erin has Asperger’s and is reserved but smart and is trying to live her own life.

What Grace, Rosina and Erin do together is start a movement in their school for the girls. It crosses the boundaries of normal high school cliques, as girls come together to talk openly about sex and boys and how both make them feel – the good and the bad. It’s a very open and honest take of girls’ sexuality and it’s refreshing to see girls talk to one another about it and share their experiences. Through this movement, the girls at the high school become empowered and have a sense of unity that crosses social circles like they never had before – it’s wonderful to see.

The ending of The Nowhere Girls made me cry because it was so hopeful, emotional and inspiring. Grace, Erin and Rosina start something amazing but it’s every other girl in the school, and some boys too, who stand up and stop letting the boys who say sexist or racist or homophobic things getting away with it.

The Nowhere Girls is so great I read it in three days. I couldn’t put it down as I longed to give these girls a hug and to tell them how amazing they are, seeing the strength of the solidarity between young girls was just brilliant. It is one of those books that everyone, especially young people, should read. The Nowhere Girls does deal with a tough topic, but it’s handled well and sensitively, and shows there is hope that justice can prevail. 5/5.