Feeling Blue

I have finished the Blue is the Warmest Colour graphic novel!

Having not touched it since I wrote my post about the film (here), I opened it earlier on today, and read it from page 38 to 156 – the end.

So, how did I manage to read the last 118 pages so quickly?

Well, I will admit that the desire to get it out the way so that I can start another book that I’ve been looking forward to reading helped my motivation considerably.

However, I have to give credit to writer/artist Julie Maroh. I never did get used to her artwork but despite some narrative choices that I didn’t agree with (the story jumps from teenage Clem to thirties Clem and the breakdown of her relationship with Emma much too quickly), the story was a strong one. It made the graphic novel un-putdownable.

I was particularly touched by the way Maroh focuses on Clem’s struggle to accept her sexuality. It is a great trial for her and threatens to derail her relationship with Emma. Maroh doesn’t try to sugar coat Clem’s emotions or gloss over the consequences of her actions. This made the story feel authentic and relatable.

This focus on Clem’s inner struggle defines the graphic novel and means that it and the film can be seen as complimentary to each other, rather than the latter being a straight adaption of the former. It also means that I would certainly read the graphic novel again.

Front cover of Blue is the Warmest Colour by Julie Maroh. It shows Emma with her distinctive blue hair looking over her shoulder slyly at the viewer.

New Links

This week I have added two new links to the side bar:

A Clerk of Oxford
Lesbians Who Write
Licence to Queer
Mars Hill

A Clerk of Oxford is written by Eleanor Parker who is an Anglo-Saxon and medieval historian. When I went to university I did so with the intention of taking my degree in American Studies. Within a term I had fallen in love with Anglo Saxon and Medieval English and never looked back. After university, I left my lovers behind and in time found a new one in Alexander the Great. I never stopped loving the Anglo Saxon and Medieval periods, though, and blogs and social media (Dr. Parker is also on Twitter @ClerkOfOxford) have allowed me to keep reading about those early days of my country and, for that matter, those days before England was a country at all.
NB: I also follow Eleanor Parker on Patreon. If you are interested in the Anglo Saxon – Medieval period it is well worth a follow.

Lesbians Who Write supports the podcast of the same name, which is hosted by lesbian romance writers Clare Lydon and T. B. Markinson. I discovered LWW after meeting Lydon at a talk she gave to the Transport for London LGBTQ group three or four years ago. Being a keen, but easily distracted writer, I attended the talk for any practical advice in the art of writing that she might give. After the talk, I bought some of her books, enjoyed them, and have continued buying them ever since. The podcast is part informal chat and part discussion on the theme of writing. Whether or not you like lesbian romances, Lesbians Who Write is worth listening to for the writing advice (particularly if you are considering being a self-published author like they are). Lesbians Who Write has a Twitter account @LesWhoWrite)

Licence to Queer. Up until a few months ago, I did not know that a James Bond ‘fandom’ existed, but it does, and some of its members are on Twitter. That’s where I found Licence to Queer’s author (who tweets at @licencetoqueer). Every so often I hear stories of fandoms becoming very toxic because of the bad behaviour of some of their members. To date, I have not heard of – or seen – anything bad come from the fans of James Bond. I have not traditionally got into being part of fandoms but have seen really awful behaviour where it has no place at all (alas, of all places, on ‘Catholic Twitter’) so to find a group of people so at peace with one another is a blessing.

Below is an image that I have stolen from Licence to Queer – I hope he doesn’t mind; it is Léa Seydoux who appeared in the last Bond film, Spectre, and will be in this year’s No Time To Die. I have included it just to sneakily promote my next blog post, which will be a little review of Blue Is The Warmest Colour, which I finished watching yesterday.

Mars Hill is a blog that specialises in politics, from a moderate left perspective, and Christianity. It is run by Paul Burgin who I have had the great honour of knowing since we ‘met’ via a now defunct C. S. Lewis forum called Into The Wardrobe in the ’90s. I don’t share Paul’s politics, or Christian home for that matter (he is a Methodist and I a Catholic), but he is a thoughtful and kind witness to all that he believes. Apart from C. S. Lewis, we have something else in common: a love of all things Bond (Actually, I think it may have been through him that I discovered the above mentioned Bond fandom) and have recorded conversations with one another about several of James Bond’s films. You can find them on Paul’s You Tube page, here. As it happens, we will be discussing The Spy Who Loved Me next Tuesday. Paul is on Twitter @Paul_Burgin)

Time for Tenet

The last post took two months to write; this one has taken just three weeks. I’m getting better…

Tenet
A week last Wednesday I went to see Christopher Nolan’s new film. Like most people, I came out thoroughly bamboozled regarding the plot but still enjoyed the picture. The two leads, John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, were very good in their roles. Washington’s Protagonist is a somewhat distant character; he is all about the plot rather than character so I was grateful for Pattinson’s Neil who is a little more of the reverse, whether it is in his clothing choices or warm smile. Since watching the film, I have learnt that John David Washington is Denzel Washington’s son, which I can hardly believe. And what’s more, JDW is 36, so he has been around for a while. It turns out that that Denzel Washington is 65. How time flies.

What was it like going to the cinema? Tense. Because of the coronavirus risk, I umm’d and ahh’d about going for several days before hand. Had it not been for Christopher Nolan, I probably wouldn’t have. I went to an 11am screening in the hope that it would not be busy. Thankfully, it wan’t – there were just a handful of people in the screen. Why did I feel tense? The cinema was very clean and tidy; if the staff’s PPE was anything to go by, Vue take their health and the cinema-goers very seriously. Of course, the answer is that despite the cinema’s best efforts, the virus may still linger somewhere and I may catch it. This was on my mind beforehand, while watching the film, and afterwards. It won’t start to go away until after next Wednesday – the two week mark when symptoms of the illness usually start to manifest themselves.

While watching the film, I wore my face mask. Doing so will never be enjoyable but at least the temperature in the screen was fairly even. As a result, my glasses only steamed up once or twice.

Why next? I really want to see Bill & Ted 3 (it opens on 16th Sept.) but I have to admit I’m umm’ing and ahh’ing about it even harder than with Tenet. I could easily see myself deciding to wait until it appears on DVD or streaming service. The next film that I will do all I can to go and see in the cinema is No Time To Die. The latest trailer for James Bond 25 looks absolutely stunning. The film is due out on 12th November.

Home Life
Nothing much has changed: in the morning, I work; in the afternoon, I read and write. This week has been different, though. It has gone really well. Every week day for several months now, I have written a list of all the things I would like to do during that day. Rarely have I ever been able to tick everything off before day’s end. This week, I have managed to do so for four days in a row! I can’t tell you how extraordinary that is. As a result, I have managed to :-

read a little more of Rob Johnson’s Lawrence of Arabia on War
develop my plot outline for my as yet unnamed Camino Story
write and schedule tweets for my Hilaire Belloc Twitter account (@SineAuctoritate)

every day. I’m very proud of myself for that. I have no expectation about what I will achieve today, or any day into the future: I don’t want to think about that at all. Every day is a gift so I would prefer to focus on where I am and what I am doing now. If I can tick everything off again, great, if not, not to worry.

Books
A new book about Alexander the Great has been published! It’s called Philip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors and is by Adrian Goldsworthy. He has written several books, mainly about ancient Rome, so is very solid. I can’t wait to get started on it.

Podcasts
I’ve been enjoying listening to Clare Lydon’s and T. B. Markinson’s Lesbians Who Write podcast. On a practical level, it is full of useful writing tips. Its greatest virtue, however, has to be the warmness of the hosts’ friendship. It is very evident in the presentation and makes for nice, homely podcast. If only Christopher Nolan could make a film that was as friendly! I’d like to start listening to at least a couple more podcasts regularly but I don’t know which ones to choose, yet.

Formula 1
The season continues. As I write this, Free Practice 2 is taking place in Tuscany. Tuscany! The F1 circus is using Ferrari’s test track at Mugello. I have visited Tuscany twice in my life and had a wonderful time both times. Well, almost. My first visit (c. 2002) was my first solo trip abroad. I had a two hour panic attack after I arrived. Once I recovered, though, the rest of the trip was fabulous (except for the time an Italian guy swigged my wine outside a trattoria!).

A Post About Lives

Protests Continue
The ‘Black Lives Matters’ protests have well and truly supplanted the coronavirus as the current Big Thing. We can only hope that COVID-19 does not make a comeback over the next few weeks.

In my last post I predicted that the protests would soon die out and that nothing would change. Watching footage of mobs pull down statues does make one think that something more profound and long-lasting is happening but I am not going to abandon my prediction just yet.

This is because I believe that whatever future the protesters want to see, they won’t get it by staying on the street. Not in America, not in Britain. At some point they will have to enter the democratic system either directly or through those already there.

In fairness to the protesters, it is too early for them to have done that, but I think, ultimately, they will need to do so. Their only alternative would be to simply overthrow the current order by force of arms, and I don’t see that happening.

Statues: Stay Up or Come Down?
This question can only be answered one statue at a time. What can be said in general is that mobs should certainly not be involved in the decision making process. Those who pulled down the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol should be ashamed of themselves. Their actions were profoundly anti-democratic and anti-rule of law.

If Colston was that bad an individual then there should be no problem in either persuading the local council to remove it or seeking election with a promise to do so themselves.

I read on Twitter today (so a little pinch of salt, just in case) that Bristol Council has in the past debated removing the statue but been unable to come to a final decision. That’s not an excuse for mob action but an inspiration to get involved in politics in order to get the decision one wants.

The United Kingdom is a democracy. The only way she will remain so is by embracing democracy completely and utterly, not by allowing anyone or group retreat from it whenever they have the chance. A failed state and tyranny lies that way.

J. K. Rowling
The Harry Potter author caused a great deal of controversy with the tweet, below.

The reason why the website referred to people who menstruate is because people who are pro-transgender believe that transwomen can menstruate. But how can they if they were not born female? I found this post on Quora useful in terms of understanding. Perhaps predictably, the answer depends on how one defines the word ‘to menstruate’: does it refer to the discharge of blood or to the symptoms surrounding that discharge?

Depending on which definition one takes, J. K. Rowling is both right and wrong to believe that the website should have said ‘women’ instead of ‘people’.

Either way, Rowling is entitled to her view, as are those who believe the opposite. What is more important here is how the two sides talk to one another. Is it with respect? With a desire to inform or with a desire to put down?

Of course, it ought to be with respect, and with a desire to inform.

Unfortunately, public discourse around trans issues has become corrupted. Why? Perhaps because the two sides have become so utterly entrenched in their opinions/prejudices that they only see the bad in those on the opposite side, and speak accordingly. Why has this happened? Perhaps because supporters of trans people don’t want to be put down like they and/or their brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ movement were for so many years before finally achieving their breakthrough and so have decided to approach the issue aggressively? Perhaps because their opponents spoke aggressively towards them first? I don’t know the answer. I do know, though, that one day, the two sides will need to find peace in their disagreement (because there always will be disagreement). If they don’t, neither side will ever achieve justice for their cause.

Films
The Bookshop (7.9/10)
Emily Mortimer plays Florence Green, a widow, who decides to open a bookshop in a small northern town in England. She does so despite opposition from Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson), a rich local woman, who wants the premises for her own purposes.

Opening it, however, turns out to be only half the battle, and unfortunately for Florence, she loses the second half. Mrs Gamart gets the premises. But then… well, I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice to say, although Mrs Gamart wins the battle, she doesn’t wan the war.

The Booskhop isn’t a bad film but I struggled with it. For a long time it was just so plain; so kitchen-sink. Once again, the ending saved it.

Would I watch it again? Part of me thinks not but I have to remember that when I first saw Lost in Translation I thought it the most boring film ever. Like The Bookshop nothing seemed to happen in it; it was all so dull. Now, however, it is one of my most favourite pictures.

Corpse Bride (8/10)
Animation directed by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp as Victor, a young man who accidentally marries Emily, the corpse bride.

Once again, I struggled with this picture. Again, it wasn’t bad, but I suspect watching it during the coronavirus crisis possible wasn’t the best idea.

In truth, the film is very sweet love story. The puppets were beautifully made and the animation top-notch – I still can’t believe it wasn’t a digital production.