Monthly Recap: January 2021

How is January over already? HOW?! I guess it's easy to lose track of time when every single day looks the same and that's pretty much my life now that I'm unemployed. One dreadfully tedious day after another. 

The good thing is that I've been sticking to some of the habits I set as goals for this year. While I struggled at first, it now comes very naturally to me to not use my phone while I'm eating, whether I'm alone or with my family. I read for at least 30 minutes every single day and I've been doing my best to read before bed or at least not use my phone — which has resulted in me sleeping better and having such imaginative, wild dreams. Every single film and TV show episode I've watched, I did it mindfully, without spending half of the film's run time — not even a minute, actually — on social media when the film is dreadfully boring. And lastly, I'm trying to build the habit of doing yoga first thing in the morning.

I also spent more time studying German, whether it's exercising on Duolingo, studying grammar on my own, or reading things I don't even understand. Mein Deutsch ist noch so schlecht though. 
I don't know how I managed but I read 5 books last month. The first one was B. A. Paris's Behind Closed Doors which I loved — it is a very compelling and tense thriller which is, unfortunately, often hard to read because of its plot. Then, I devoured Albert Camus's The Stranger which is written in a simple way but has so much depth, and I could somewhat relate to the character if that makes even sense. I really struggled to read Marilynne Robinson's Gilead. Needless to say, I hated it. The whole thing is so preachy and tedious, I hated the character and the only interesting bit is toward the ending and it's not even a chapter if I remember correctly. Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is such an ugly and yet beautiful play, one that made me feel so many emotions and made me cry as well. And finally, I read Delia Owens's Where the Crawdads Sing. This one devasted me. I fell in love with the main character and for that reason, it was such a rollercoaster of emotions. That trial kept me on the edge of the seat as if I or someone close to me were the one tried. I also started 3 other books. Edith Hamilton's Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes — I bought the 75th Anniversary illustrated edition and I'm loving it, both in terms of content and illustrations. F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in German — I don't understand the majority of it but it's very helpful to practise reading and also to learn new words as whenever I come across a word multiple times in the same page I pick up the dictionary. And at last, I just started Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac.

Italian Netflix finally added the sixth season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine but I only watched two episodes — married Jake and Amy are adorable — because I've been too busy catching up on The Crown. And by catching up I mean watching the whole thing. My thoughts are a bit mixed. I didn't like it at all at first because of how tedious it was, and couldn't stand Matt Smith and his Prince Philip. Season 2 was a bit more exciting as it involved more of Princess Margaret. Season 3 was okay I'd say but it felt very rushed and I wasn't a fan of the casting. They all do a terrific job but I really hate when a character gets older and the actor playing them has different eye colour and here happened for the majority of the royal family. Season 4, on the other hand, I loved. I found it to be way more interesting, maybe because I was familiar with this part of history already. Anyway, the pace does pick up, Helena Bonham-Carter is thankfully given the chance to shine and gives the show's best performance in The Hereditary Principle, and my heart truly ached for Diana. Speaking of which, I really struggled to watch the episodes about her eating disorder as I've been there, and they made me feel ashamed of what I did to my body. On the bright side, I now have a crush on Josh O'Connor who plays Prince Charles.

Other than reading, and watching The Crown, I also managed to watch 15 movies, but only reviewed two of them because, other than being lazy, I've really been struggling to write reviews as I don't find pleasure in it anymore. I don't know why, but it feels like a burden and there are days when I feel like giving up on the blog entirely. Anyway, here the films I watched.

Tomboy (2010)

Plot: When her family moves to a new neighbourhood, a tomboy 10-year-old, Laure (Zoé Héran), deliberately presents as a boy named Mikhael to the neighbourhood children.

I didn't love Céline Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire and therefore I was expecting to feel the same way about it. Instead, I loved it. It is such a beautiful and tender film, but also very, very heartbreaking, and it explores its LGBTQ+ theme beautifully. I wanted to write a full review of this but I was so heartbroken and then I decided to do something else in the future. Rating: 4,5/5

Soul (2020)

Plot: Right after landing the gig of a lifetime, Joe (Jamie Foxx), a jazz pianist who teaches music to high school kids for a living, finds himself trapped in a strange land between Earth and the afterlife, and does everything in his power to go back to Earth to perform. 
I'm a sucker for Disney-Pixar's films so of course, I loved this one too. Its thematics are a bit similar to those of Inside Out, but the film is very well made. The story is compelling, the characters likeable — I adored 22 (Tina Fey), the little soul who joins Joe in his quest —, and it really got me thinking about life. Rating: 4,5/5

The Midnight Sky (2020)

Plot: This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine (George Clooney), a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully (Felicity Jones) and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.

I don't know exactly why I decided to watch this film despite all the negative reviews I had read and, unsurprisingly, I didn't love it. It is yet another of Netflix's shitty sci-fi originals. It is terribly predictable but the pace is easily the worst part as the film is dreadfully slow and tedious. Rating: 2/5

Wolfwalkers (2020) - Review

Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)

Plot: While an eccentric performance artist, Christine (Mirandy July), and a newly divorced shoe salesman, Richard (John Hawkes), struggle to connect, Richard's six-year-old son is involved in a risqué Internet romance with a stranger, and his fourteen-year-old becomes the sexual guinea pig for neighbourhood girls. 

I loved Miranda July's Kajillionaire and I remember Brittani positively talked about this one in her review so I check it out. And it really deserves to be seen as it is a charming, quirky little gem filled with so much heart and humorous moments. Rating: 3,5/5

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Plot: Cassie (Carey Mulligan) is a young woman who has devoted herself to make would-be rapists pay. Then one day she meets a med school classmate (Bo Burnham) and decides to avenge her best friend who killed herself soon after being raped. 

There were some things that didn't really sit well with me — especially Cassie teaching men a lesson only by words, and that awful romance — but overall I felt like I really liked the film, complicit the mind-blowing ending. But then I read Margaret's review on Letterboxd and I realised the film wasn't as great as I first thought. It's so disappointing that this film was directed by a woman. Rating: 3/5

Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Plot: When her home birth ends in a tragedy, Martha (Vanessa Kirby) begins a yearlong odyssey as she must navigate her grief while working through her fractious relationships with her husband (Shia LaBeouf) and her domineering mother (Ellen Burstyn), and preparing to face the midwife (Molly Parker) in court.

If you have seen the film, you will agree with me that the first 30 minutes are probably the most intense, and hard to watch half-hour in the history of cinema. The home birth scene is so realistic it's almost unbearable. Unfortunately, other than that and Kirby and Burstyn's terrific performances, the film doesn't have much to offer. Rating: 3/5

I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Plot: After having suffered a heart attack, a 59-year-old carpenter, Daniel (Dave Johns), must fight the bureaucratic forces of the system in order to receive Employment and Support Allowance. In the process, he meets and befriends a single mother (Hayley Squires) and her two kids who also are navigating their way through the system. 

I accidentally put this in my "movies directed by women" list and I almost didn't watch it when I saw Ken Loach's name. But it had been on my watchlist for years, literally, so I watched it anyway and I loved it. It was heartbreaking to see such a nice guy like Daniel being treated so wrong by the system, as it was unbearable to watch the food bank scene. This is one of those films that really makes you appreciate what you have in life. Rating: 4/5

I Used to Go Here (2020)

Plot: When her book tour is cancelled, 35-year-old writer Kate Conklin (Gillian Jacobs) accepts to speak at her alma mater upon the invitation of her former professor and mentor (Jemaine Clement). While there, she finds herself spending more and more time with an eccentric group of college students. 

I hated this one. The plot is predictable, the characters unsympathetic, the acting so cringy — Jacobs looks so awkward all the time like she has never interacted with a human being her whole life —, there's a disgusting man named as one of the sweetest humans ever, Bradley Cooper, and frankly I don't know what's more stupid, the fact that I watched the whole film or that Kate didn't realise how shitty her novel was. Rating: 1,5/5

The First Beautiful Thing [La prima cosa bella] (2010)

Plot: Starting in the summer of 1971, the film follows a young, lively and sometimes embarrassing mother (Micaela Ramazzotti), and, in present-day, her grown son Bruno (Valerio Mastandrea). 

I know it's weird but I'd rather watch something in Arabic and read subtitles the whole time than watch something in Italian. That's the reason it /took me years to watch this film. It's not like I missed much though because not only it is tremendously boring, but I found the story to be very disrespectful towards women. Also, I don't like Valerio Mastandrea and the character he plays here made it even easier for me to hate him. Rating: 2/5

Another Round [Druk] (2020)

Plot: Four high school teachers and friends begin a drinking experiment: upholding a constant low level of alcohol in their bloodstream.

I must say, that's quite an experiment and I was really invested as I wanted to see how far they were willing to go in the name of science. I also loved Mads Mikkelsen's performance, and there is a nice chemistry between the cast, but some things just didn't sit right with me. Like students complaining about Mads's character being a dreadful teacher. If he were my teacher, I'm not even sure my brain would function. Rating: 3,5/5

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)

Plot: During a recording session, tensions rise between Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), her ambitious horn player (Chadwick Boseman) and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable "Mother of the Blues".

As expected, this was not easy to watch, and more than once my eyes filled with tears at the sight of Chadwick. That said, I won't remember this as his last film but rather as the film with his greatest performance. He is magnetic whenever he is on screen but there's a scene, his five-minute monologue with very little editing, that will stay with me forever as he carries the intensity of it to perfection while delivering barely contained rage. The rest of the cast is great too, and the film is well made and compelling as it is heartbreaking, but this is Boseman's show. Rating: 3,5/5

The Traitor [Il traditore] (2019)

Plot: The real-life of Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino), the so-called "boss of the two worlds," the first mafia informant in Sicily in the 1980s.

As I said above, I don't particularly enjoy watching Italian films. And I enjoy it even less when I have to read subtitles the whole time because the characters speak a southern dialect. That said, I still wanted to see this one as I had heard great things about and Favino is usually great. Favino was great, the film not so much. It was too long and tedious. The courtroom scenes were compelling though. Rating: 3/5

Honey Boy (2019)

Plot: Based on LaBeouf's life, it follows a young actor's stormy childhood (Noah Jupe) and early adult years (Lucas Hedges) as he struggles to reconcile with his father (Shia LaBeouf) and deal with his mental health.

There are people who refuse to watch this because of LaBeouf but I don't think it'd be fair to the director, Alma Har'el, as it's her art after all. Anyway, I was expecting it to be great because of some reviews I read but it was rather disappointing. The performances are terrific though. Rating: 3/5

Happy as Lazzaro (2018) - Review


  1. Oooh I'm reading Where the Crawdads Sing right now so I'm glad to hear it's good!
    The food bank scene in I, Daniel Blake absolutely killed me. Ever since I've made an effort to donate sanitary products to my local food banks, no one should suffer like that.

  2. You packed a lot into that a month! I've been meaning to go back and learn French. Great you are reading so much. Big fan of The Crown. Have you read The Midnight Library?

    1. I have a lot of free time unfortunately. Never heard of that book. Is it good?

    2. Yeah I really recommend it. Really thought-provoking.