The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

Review: After the Blues

Hands up if you loved Puberty Blues. Hands up if you loved the film and/or the TV series. Hands up if you felt you were Debbie or Sue, making your way as a teen in a strange new world of sex and rat-faced molls.

Now, hands up if you want to see what Debbie did next.

According to the introduction, Kathy Lette reworked her earlier novel Girls Night Out into After the Blues. I have not read Girls Night Out so I can’t comment on how much of the original novel made it through the rewrite, however I can tell you what bits of Puberty Blues made it: the main character, Debbie Vickers. And mentions of her boyfriends Bruce and Garry. That’s it. Her BFF (did that term even exist in the 1980s?) Sue has mysteriously turned into Sarah, and in the first few pages Debbie and Sarah have a major falling out, leaving Debbie to fend for herself in the big city.

Honestly, I could not care less what happened after that. I found her time in the big city to be revolting, distasteful and downright boring. I didn’t give two hoots about the weirdos she met or why she chose to make the choices she did. She seems to like being a total waste of literary space. The “plot” was pointless, bordering on incoherent babbling, while the narrative lacked depth and feeling, which was the main driving point of Puberty Blues.

Unless you’re a diehard Kathy Lette fan, interested to see how a rewrite works, then give this book a very wide berth.

2 out of 10 bookmarks.

EDIT: Kathy Lette confirmed to me via Twitter that she had to change Sue’s name for legal reasons. Kathy Lette twitter confirming Sue’s name was changed for legal reasons

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March 27, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Annihilation

Annihilation movie

Annihilation is a Netflix film starring Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh. They lead a team of kick-ass females into the Shimmer- a strange and mysterious dome which is threatening to take over everything.

Natalie Portman plays Lena, a biologist and former Army officer whose husband arrives home from a secret mission but he’s not quite himself. Soon afterwards, her hubby suffers multiple organ failure and Lena finds herself in the offices of Dr Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is organising a trip to the Shimmer to find out WTF is going on. Naturally Lena also volunteers and, together with three other women, trek into the unknown.

According to IMDB, the film is based on a book which the screenwriter only loosely remembers, and interprets his script as “a dream of the book”. Certainly the cinematography is dream-like in the same way the Land of Oz was dreamlike to Dorothy, but with fewer Munchkins. What follows is a visual delight with some butt-kicking and a pretty thin plot. However, it’s enough to keep viewers hooked right til the end.

There are very few male characters in the film, and they are all secondary characters. The women don’t sit around talking about their men nor do they belittle their males either. It’s refreshing and awesome to see a film carried solely on the weight of an all-female lead cast; Natalie Portman is a perfect choice for Lena and carries the character beautifully.

The main issue I have with this film is the lack of intense plot: it could have been deeper, more twisted, to keep the viewer guessing. The film’s ending is barely satisfactory and astute viewers probably know what’s going to happen about halfway through the movie. (I didn’t.)

I’d recommend this for a date night or when your brain is too tired to concentrate too hard.

7.5 out of 10 popcorns.

March 26, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince

XMy life with Prince

Mayte Garcia was Prince’s first wife. They were soulmates whose love transcended space and time. She was the inspiration for much of his 90s sound and music.

This memoir is so much more than a voyeuristic journey through a celebrity marriage and death. Mayte was a teenager when she met prince, and over the next decade she influenced his life in ways neither of them could have imagined. It’s not just about a marriage to a rockstar at the peak of his career; this memoir could be about any couple. They had good times and the most tragic of times, ultimately tearing their relationship apart.

Mayte writes with pure honesty, making this memoir more than an attempt to cash in on a celebrity death. Her revealing insight offers a glimpse into the mind of a creative genius and a woman who forged her own career long before she was even on Prince’s radar. She writes with honesty, candid about the most tragic days of her life and the aftermath of losing their son, a pregnancy and her marriage.

There are several quotes that stuck with me whilst reading this book. One in particular was from Prince when his film Graffiti Bridge tanked: “You can’t look at yourself through the eyes of others.” It’s a powerful sentiment.

This is the sort of book which will stick with you long after you’ve finished the last page.

9 out of 10 bookmarks

March 19, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , | Leave a comment

A Woman’s Narrative

The many faces of Renee

Why aren’t you married yet?

When are you having a baby?

When are you having another baby?

You should be at home looking after your children.

You should work to support your family and contribute to society.

You shouldn’t wear that.

You can’t walk outside alone in the dark.

Trophy wife.

It’s your fault he cheated on you.

Act like a lady.

Kiss enough frogs and you’ll find your prince.

You do that pretty well… for a chick.

You’re not strong enough to do that.

You look tired.

Show us your tits.

Sit down, you shouldn’t be standing in your condition.

You can’t wear that.

Here’s a doll to play with.

Can I talk to a man? You can’t possibly know anything about cars.

You’re just cranky cos you’ve got your period.

Don’t sexualise toddlers, but here’s a bikini for tweens.

You shouldn’t play with trucks.

Which designer are you wearing?

Period pain can’t be that bad.

Your place is at home, keeping it clean and cooking meals for your family.

You use sex as a weapon.

Nice girls don’t sleep around.

You should perform your wifely duties.

You’re too fat.

You’re too thin.

You’re too old.

Hide those wrinkles.

Dye your hair.

Shave your legs, armpits and pubes.

Wear makeup to hide blemishes, pores, freckles and imperfections.

No wonder he left you.

Why can’t you keep a man?

Why is your house messy?

Thigh gap.

Bikini bridge.

Your boobs are too small.

You’re not smart enough.

Lay off the chocolates.

You can’t do that.

Speak like a lady.

You have children, your dream job is just a dream.

Maternity leave? Get your CV ready.

You don’t know how to drive.

Why don’t you know how to cook?

You asked for it.

You wanted it.

Keep quiet.

They won’t believe you.

You’ll ruin your career if you speak out.

You’re not worth it.

You’re not pretty enough.

Butterface.

You need to choose between family and career.

You shouldn’t eat that.

You’re butch.

You cant wear blue.

You cant like dinosaurs.

You should like unicorns and sparkles.

Why haven’t you lost your baby weight yet?

Make me a sandwich.

You should put everyone else before yourself.

You don’t matter.

Sex sells.

Unlucky in love. Keep asking about failed relationships, particularly with a famous person. Jennifer Aniston will never get back with Brad Pitt!

Do you wish you were a mother?

You just haven’t found the right man to have babies yet.

Women’s sports aren’t interesting. Unless they take their clothes off.

Are you sure I’m the father?

You’ve let yourself go.

Baby. Darling. Sweetheart. Babe. Tramp. Whore. Slut.

March 16, 2018 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F-k

The subtle art of not giving a fuck

Forget self-help gurus. Forget affirmations. Forget looking in the mirror every day and telling yourself you’re special and one day the world will reward you with fame and riches. Mark Manson is here to tell you: stop giving a fuck.

Mark Manson is a blogger who has turned his attention to authoring books based on his blogs. Although I have not read his blog, this book feels very much like an extended blog post, especially one that sort of drifts off into tangents in order to meet a word limit. It could do with an abridged version, a pocket sized handbook to refer to when you find yourself in a situation you’re not sure whether to give a fuck or not. it does seem a bit ranty and righteous at times, but as Manson himself says, Future You will not hold the same values Present You does, so take it or leave it.

The book itself does have some good advice. Generally speaking, the world is being fed lies in order to feel happy and content. Many people are giving a fuck about things that don’t warrant giving a fuck about. Not that you should be indifferent, because nothing would ever get done and you’d kinda be like a psychopath and no one wants that. There are definitely things you should give a fuck about.

Much of the advice is a regurgitation of other advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff, you’re mediocre (if everyone was extraordinary, we’d all be average), take responsibility for your actions and emotions, and sometimes the worst rejections are the best thing to happen in your life (depending on how you choose to react to them).

There is, predictably, a lot of swearing, so if you’re a bit of a snowflake who offends easily, this is not the book for you. If you’re not ready to own your shit, stop blaming others and give up easily, this isn’t the book for you. If you’re in a cycle of failing and you don’t know why, if you’re worrying or anxious about everything, or you’re just feeling like you’re on a treadmill of life, you should read this book. If you’re ready not to give a fuck about unimportant things and ready to rumble, this is your book.

8 out of 10 fucks. Or should I not give enough fucks to rate it…?

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Downsizing

Film: Downsizing starring Matt Damon

If you’ve seen the trailer for this film, you’ll know it’s about Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig choosing to become smaller for the sake of saving the environment. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know 3/4 of the film is nothing like the trailer at all.

This film could have been so many great things: biting satire, social commentary, political statement, hilarious comedy, bleak drama. Instead, the film is rather like three separate stories smooshed into one very strange film. The premise of becoming small in order to preserve the environment is an intriguing idea, but unfortunately it only lasts for a quarter of the film. The rest of the film could be set in any time, any circumstance and has nothing to do with being small. Or anything else for that matter.

Even if you’re a fan of Matt Damon, as I am, this film offers very little. Give it a very wide berth.

4 out of 10 popcorns (and that’s being generous).

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Coco

Disney’s Coco

Finally got round to seeing this film and it was worth the wait!

Coco centres on a boy named Miguel, who is descended from a line of shoe-makers who really, really hate music. Believing he has found an ancestral link to the greatest musician of all time, Miguel somehow ends up in the Land of the Dead. In order to get back to the Land of the Living, he needs his family’s blessing but they forbid him to play music, leaving Miguel no choice but to track down the musician Ernesto de la Cruz to secure his blessing.

There are passing resemblances to the story of Moana; family denying destiny, a strong-willed child travelling to new worlds, a male role model showing them the road home and realising the person they were looking for isn’t the person they seek.

Astute viewers are going to realise the ending long before it happens, but that does not spoil the magic. Tis film just keeps on giving: even on the second, third and subsequent viewings you’ll find something else, which only adds to the beauty.

This film was nominated for, and won, two Oscars: Best Animated Feature and Best Song for Remember Me. Personally I wasn’t a fan of the song, and without seeing the other nominees for Best Animated Feature, it would be very difficult to imagine a better film to win.

I can’t say enough good things about Coco. Go and watch it for yourself.

9 out of 10 popcorns

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: I, Tonya

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding in I, Tonya

There are two sides to every story.

Everyone knows the scandal: Tonya Harding served a life ban in figure skating for knowledge of an attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan. If, like me, you only know of the scandal and not the nitty gritty, you’ll view most of this film as an eye-rolling attempt at making Tonya look like the victim.

And this film absolutely portrays Tonya Harding as a victim. A rough childhood, raised by a single mother, suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her first husband, unfair scores from skating judges because she’s not “America’s Sweetheart” material… Tonya came through it all.

Then comes The Incident. Tonya’s ex-husband Jeff and self-appointed bodyguard Shawn cook up a plan to send threatening letters to Nancy Kerrigan as psychological warfare in the lead up to the Nationals, on the path to the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. Someone somewhere doesn’t get the memo and Nancy is struck on her knee. Tonya is implicated as knowing about the plot to disable Nancy. Whether or not it really happened this way is anyone’s guess; the director has deliberately left it up to the viewer to judge.

But enough of that. Let’s get to the film. Alison Janney steals her scenes as overbearing mother LoVana. Janney rightfully won the Oscar for Actress in a Supporting Role. Margot Robbie is brilliant as Tonya; nailing that redneck attitude and accent. No one would ever guess she’s an Aussie. Robbie was also nominated for an Oscar. Personally I think Robbie’s wigs deserve nominations of their own. That crunchy perm look is perfect.

The film itself doesn’t follow a traditional narrative. It is based on several interviews with Jeff and Tonya, which often contradict. Characters regularly break the fourth wall to let the viewer know this or that may not have happened.

There are times when the audience does feel for Tonya despite knowing all along that she’s allegedly behind the attack. After a spate of disappointing scores, Tonya confronts a judge as he’s getting into his car. She’s at the peak of her skating career yet still receiving disappointing scores. The judge replies that he will deny this, but Tonya just isn’t the wholesome, family-oriented girly girl they expect. As an aside, I viewed this film on International Womens’ Day. This particular scene really struck a chord with me about how a female’s narrative is supposed to happen and what is expected of us. The second scene is Tonya applying makeup before a competition. As she’s smearing on the stage makeup (which is heavier than regular makeup), she’s trying very hard to smile though she’s obviously crying. Anyone who has ever smiled through tears will feel this scene.

Overall, the film is well-made. It is one-sided: Nancy’s story would be vastly different. However, this is firmly Tonya’s story and should be viewed as such. There’s no denying Tonya has had a rough life, but the film present Tonya as an innocent party to knowledge and execution of the attack.

8 out of 10 popcorns

March 8, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hair Update: New Wash

Tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar

You’ll find the original review here.

All was well for about a week. Then, something went wrong and my hair was always greasy. Where was the thick, luscious, lustrous hair I’d been promised? Instead it looked like I’d dipped my hair in a fryer full of oil. Was I using too much or too little? Was I not rinsing properly? Was I leaving it on too long? Or not long enough? This fancy shampoo replacement was not going to get the better of me… or my hair.

But soon there was an even more annoying problem. After about a month, my scalp was so itchy I couldn’t ignore it any longer. Prior to using the New Wash, I was using Aldi brand anti–dandruff shampoo. So I started using the anti-dandruff shampoo again. I used small amounts frequently but my scalp remained itchy. I also tried Lush’s Soak and Float, but even that couldn’t calm down the burning scalp.

Something in my brain started pinging… try apple cider vinegar. I Googled some handy hints and found the perfect solution (literally).

A tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar mixed with a couple of drops of tea tree oil, dabbed with a cotton ball onto my scalp. Cover with a towel (or hair turban), leave for 40-60 minutes, rinse off with water (no shampoo!) Use New Wash twice after rinsing out the apple cider vinegar and bingo! My hair is finally becoming the luscious mane I’ve been promised. Oh, and the vinegary smell disappears fairly quickly, usually as soon as my hair dries. As an added bonus, the tea tree oil will help keep lice and nits away – anyone with kids in daycare or school will know what fun it is when they come home with those nasty critters!

I’m not sure there is a moral to this story. This is only my experience; my sister hasn’t had any such problems and her hair is amazing. I’m not yet quite convinced I’ll buy another bottle of New Wash (hello, expense!) but at the moment I seem to be winning the battle.

I know it seems like I’m turning into a hippy…

March 2, 2018 Posted by | Reviews, Thoughts & Reflections | , , , , , | Leave a comment