Content note: (critical treatment of) colonialism, mention of rape
Plot: Almayer (Stanislas Merhar) lives in the jungle in Malaysia, hoping to come to riches there, from trading or from finding gold. He is married to a Malaysian woman, Zahira (Sakhna Oum) whom he despises, much like he hates pretty much everything but their daughter Nina (Aurora Marion). When his patron Captain Lingard (Marc Barbé) comes to visit and insists that Nina needs an European education, to learn to be white, Almayer is reluctant to let Nina go, but gives in, even against Zahira’s protestations and attempts to run away with Nina. This decision further cements all of their desperation.
La folie Almayer is an interesting attempt to criticize colonialism that doesn’t always work as well as it should. But it does have many strengths that make it worth thinking about.
“Plot”: Algorithms are practically everywhere now, running evaluation programs, deciding about search results or job applications. But they are far from the objective tool people would like it to be, and often they are harmful instead of helpful. O’Neil examines algorithms in this book and how they go from simple mathematics to Weapons of Math Destruction.
Weapons of Math Destruction is a very readable and very comprehensive look at the effect of algorithms, tracing both the areas in which they are used in a general way, and personalizing the effects with stories of particular people. It’s definitely a good primer on the subject.
“Plot”: Just before Adrian Pirvu was born, his mother traveled from Romania to Ukraine on a business trip. Unfortunately that was just when the nuclear accident in Chernobyl struck, exposing both his mother and Adrian to radiation. As a result, Adrian almost lost his eyesight entirely. Doctors were able to save one eye, though. Now an adult, Adrian starts looking for people who are suffering similarly from long-term effects of the disaster. He finds Ukranian Helena Maksyom whose spine causes her problems and chronic pain. As they work on the documentary together, tracing Chernobyl’s lasting effects, the two fall in love.
Totul nu va fi bine is an usual film, and a surprisingly personal one. While it is a bit of a pity that the actual Chernobyl disaster takes a backseat to the relationship of the two filmmakers, there is something precious about the resulting film.
Forever After is the first book in the Vampire Reality Show series by Ashley R. King. Finished on: 12.12.2021 [I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]
Plot: Autumn has spent her entire life in her hometown where she works as the librarian. She needs a change, so when the bachelor-style reality show Forever After, where the eligible bachelor happens to be a vampire, comes to her town, she applies as a contestant – and makes the cut. The show is about to start shooting when Autumn runs into the bachelor, Oliver. Sparks immediately fly – but they are sparks of dislike. Still, Autumn is determined to stick to her decision and have as much fun as she can. Meanwhile Oliver, who decided to do the show to save his family estate in England, tries his best to get into the spirit of the show at all. When the show starts spinning out of control and people turn up dead, Autumn and Oliver try to figure everything out together.
Forever After is a fun, quick read that didn’t quite blow me away but kept me entertained enough. I’m not sure if I will seek out the rest of the series once it comes out, but I definitely didn’t mind reading this one.
“Plot”: Eva-Maria is spastic and so has been using a wheelchair for pretty much all of her life. Now she is in her 30s, works as an assistant, and she would like to have a child. That she doesn’t have a partner doesn’t keep her from seeking fertility treatment and attempting to have a child on her own. That’s easier said than done, though.
Eva-Maria is a nice documentary that follows its protagonist over quite a long time, making it a very personal portrait that could have touched on systemic issues a little more. But either way, it shows us what it can mean to be a disabled parent, and that is something we need to see more of, I think.
“Plot”: Every year, or rather every day, more refugees attempt to get to Europe for a bit of safety and hope for a future. Among them are a lot of teenage boys, who have crafted a “game” out of their attempts to cross various borders within Europe, hoping to finally get to the countries where they can stay.
Shadow Game follows a handful of teenage boys from the Middle East and Africa who are on their ways into Europe, or stranded along the way, painting a harrowing picture of the inhumane and shameful policies and practices of the European countries. It’s not easy to take, but even more important for it.
“Plot”: Teodora Vásquez had a miscarriage under the most dramatic circumstance, shortly before the baby was due to be born. Since she lives in El Salvador with some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, she faced murder charges next and was sentenced to decades in prison. There she connected with other women imprisoned for the same “crime” of losing a child, and together they started fighting for a change.
Fly So Far is an emphatic call to action and solidarity in the feminist fight. I can very much recommend it.
Plot: Things in the Inkworld are still pretty dire. Politically, Mo’s plan has backfired severely, and Mo himself becomes the Bluejay more and more, much to Resa’s and Meggie’s worry. Farid is still desperately trying to bring Dustfinger back to life, and has pledged himself to Orpheus in the hope that he can achieve it. Fenoglio is still unable to write. And for all the people in the Inkworld, the Adderhead and his people become increasingly more dangerous. Something has got to change and very soon, or it will be too late.
Tintentod is a really great ending for the story, that makes good use of the pieces it put into play and gives satisfaction – despite a couple of issues I had with it.
Plot: Andy (Martin Freeman), his wife Kay (Susie Porter) and their baby Rosie are one of the few unaffected survivors of a pandemic that turned most of humanity into zombies. They survived by staying on their houseboat and far away from others. But then the rest of the world catches up to them and Andy finds himself alone with Rosie – and infected. Now he is on a tight deadline. If he doesn’t find somebody to take care of Rosie within 48 hours, she is doomed. In his search, he crosses path with teenager Thoomi (Simone Landers) who is trying to protect her family in her own way.
Cargo is an entertaining zombie movie that sticks more with the drama than with the horror. It does have a couple of pacing issues, but overall it’s a good watch.
Plot: Alice Júnior (Anna Celestino Mota) was the first trans participant in Brazil’s Teenage Top Model and has built quite a social media following from there. She is well-accepted in her school and she hopes to finally get her first kiss soon. That’s when her father Jean Genet (Emmanuel Rosset) announces that he got a new job and that they’d have to move to the middle of nowhere. Alice Júnior is horrified at the idea of leaving her life behind, but she doesn’t have much of a choice. Settling into a new place is hard enough as is, but harder still when you unwillingly leave a good place and land in a school where transmisia is still alive and well. Fortunately, though, Alice Júnior is not easily discouraged, and there are some nice people in the new place as well.
Alice Júnior is a fun, sweet film with an engaging heroine. It is also a take on being a trans teenager that is different from the (few) stories we usually get to see about this topic. I really enjoyed it.