More Book & Movie Challenges

January has been a busy month, so let’s get to it, shall we?

Movie Challenge #4: A Movie by a Female Director:

SELMA-movie-posterSelma, directed by Ava DuVernay

A glimpse into just a few months of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life during the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in support of lessening the restrictions and difficulties of the African-American vote. It’s incredibly difficult to believe that these events happened just 50 years ago. My parents and a lot of other people I know were alive then. And while African-Americans legally had the right to vote, it was almost impossible due to voting taxes imposed for all the years in which they weren’t registered or the voucher system in which they had to have the recommendation of another voter to be allowed to register. This movie did an excellent job, I think, of portraying what those difficulties were like. It’s never enough just to say that something is allowed or that a particular group of people has a kind of freedom that they didn’t have before. Systemic racism is still an issue, and I appreciated the portrayal of this hugely important event. I think David Oyelowo was remarkable as MLK, and seeing other Civil Rights leaders, like a very young, college-aged John Lewis was awesome as well. I’m glad this movie was nominated for Best Picture; it’s definitely deserving, but I’m sad that Ava DuVernay missed out on the nomination for Best Director. She would have been the first African-American female to receive that nomination.

Movie Challenge #7: A Wes Anderson Film: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Since I saw (and LOVED) The Grand Budapest Hotel, I’ve been meaning to watch everything else Wes Anderson has ever made. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long. This is the first movie I’ve watched of his since it seemed to be the easiest to track down from the public library, and it is so delightful. A stop-motion animated version of a Roald Dahl book, this story is about a fox couple voiced by George Clooney and Meryl Streep. It’s cute and funny and quirky and lovely.

Book Challenge #4: A book Written by Someone under the Age of 30

theduff__140528194115The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), Kody Keplinger

This book is being made into a movie, which is the challenge that I had originally planned it for. I was also really intrigued by the concept/title. But once I started reading, I wondered about the age of the author because, honestly, the writing felt similar to the stuff I had written in high school. And, sure enough, Kody Keplinger wrote this novel as a senior in high school. This was published in 2010, and she’s published several more books since then, so it would be interesting to see how her craft has improved. Knowing her age, I was a bit more forgiving of this book, but some aspects were still problematic.

Bianca, the main character, has an encounter at a teen club with the hottest guy in her grade, Wesley. He hits on her because he tells her she’s the DUFF, and her hot friends will appreciate that he’s paying attention to their Designated Ugly Fat Friend. She dumps her Coke on him, but somehow also kisses him, and so begins their “friends with benefits” relationship. She falls in love with him, even knowing that she’s just a hookup, but of course, because this is a high school romance, he falls in love with her, too. Everything ends nice and neat, including Bianca’s relationship with the guy she’d been crushing on for three years because, surprise, he’s also in love with someone else.

Ugh, why did I read this? I should have paid more attention to the reviews on GoodReads, but I was willing to give it a shot (especially as someone who has potentially been the DUFF before–I’m rather glad that term didn’t exist when I was in high schoool!).

Book Challenge #19: A Book Older than 100 Years

kilmenyKilmeny of the Orchard, L.M. Montgomery

Okay, so the physical book wasn’t 100 years old (in fact, I read the Kindle edition), but this book was published in 1910, which was my intention when I took on this challenge. This was a suggestion for book club although we ultimately read something else, but it’s been on my radar for awhile. This is one of Montgomery’s stand-alone novels for adults, and since I love Anne of Green Gables so, so much, I gave this one a shot. It’s really a novella about a recent college graduate who moves to a small town to substitute teach for a friend who has fallen ill. Eric, the teacher, is taking a walk one night and finds an orchard, where a beautiful woman is playing a violin. She gets frightened and runs, and he discovers that she’s a local woman who has been mute her whole life. He continues to visit the orchard, they fall in love, and he has to overcome the conflict of her unwillingness to marry him (because she fears she will be an embarrassment), and a few other issues. I liked this all right, but I didn’t love it like I love other Montgomery works. Maybe because it’s so short and there’s not much character development? At any rate, it’s a Montgomery book, and I’ll never regret reading anything of hers.

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