April 2020 Book, TV, and Film Roundup

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Staying home, fasting for Ramadan, and moving very little limited by the square inches of my apartment turned me into a lazy person. As a result, I came to consume media at the fastest rate humanly possible while knitting. The roundup this month is an extensive one, and even with saying that I do not think it reflects the real amount of media I consumed; there is more to it than what is written here! The good news is that I kept the roundup short this time, and this has no direct relation to my newly adopted habit of laziness. Cheers!

Other April 2020 Blog Entries

February – March 2020 Book Roundup: The Self-Isolation Edition

Top 10 Podcasts of 2020: The Next Generation Radio to Fix Your Pandemic Blues

The Shelf

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (2007)

The author Díaz begins by taking a well-known storyline, the fat sci-fi obsessed boy who should not have any hope in life, and he makes this boy a hopeless romantic Dominican. There is an explanation for his uncool, no girlfriend type life—he is a victim of the family fukú (which means a curse). While the first few chapters introduce Oscar, the fat kid, Díaz decides the best way to explain his eternal damnation is through observing the family history as well as the political history of the Dominican Republic (DR) which the reader can follow through the footnotes. In fact, the author could have easily added another 150 pages to the book if he expanded on these notes about the Trujillo ruling. (I share similar feelings because I was born in a developing country; I appreciated his laments that may seem out of nowhere to some readers).

While the reader may think going back to Oscar’s mother’s unfortunate fate explains it all, Díaz throws in his grandfather and ties the fukú ties back to going against Trujillo. These chapters form the core concepts of the book, and they are also the most enjoyable ones to read. In fact, it makes the reader question— was it necessary to read about Oscar in the first place? At the very right time, the author reveals how Oscar’s faith follows his sad mother’s but also informs us that he might have solved the mystery of the family fukú. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a compelling page-turner with heartfelt views of the Dominican Republic and the immigrant life.

 

The Small Screen

#BlackAF (2020 –)

Kenya Barris’ new satirical show for Netflix (his first show that I viewed) that received mixed criticism. Barris brings forth the identity questions that are posed to and by the African American community, “Too Black? Black enough?”, and addresses them through the sometimes too self-aware, failed father figure, and successful writer, Kenya (played by Barris himself). And, each identity challenge rightfully finds its roots back to slavery. While the satire nature of the show might be intended to educate the general audience, the jokes take the risk of undermining the race-related social problems. With that in mind, #BlackAF opens the doors to the funny, loving, rich, and cruel household of the Barris’. 

Never Have I Ever (2020 –)

The creator Mindy Kaling brings forward yet another funny story, but it misses one point with Americanizing its Indian mother figure. A very immigrant-conscious tv show that stars the Indian, African, and Chinese American nerd trio who are all dealing with the globally collective theme of high school drama. There is a twist to Never Have I Ever – The show’s protagonist deals with her dead father’s grief through visiting her psychologist frequently; however, she has a way of running away from her problems every time, which generates funny dialogues. Never Have I Ever is a binge-worthy show with new faces of color.

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BoJack is me. (However, the credits still belong to the rightful owners).

BoJack Horseman (S1 – 2014)

A new take on a narcissistic show-biz star—he is a horse. The show takes place in a world where animals and humans (also animals, am I right?) are equal members of society. The first season shows BoJack’s season-long struggle to finish his memoir alongside his ghostwriter. What better way to introduce the protagonist to the viewer than going through his childhood traumas and rise to fame? This fact only deserves a moment of praise! To note, I am a child at heart, so I always feel weird watching adult cartoons, because I think they play off of the sexual topics too much. I felt the same way for Rick and Morty (2013—), as well as when I began watching BoJack Horseman; that is a topic to discuss extensively another time. As you can see, the show quickly grew on me and I am already going through season 2.

 

The Big Screen

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Taxi Driver (1976)

A praised screenplay by Paul Schrader, legendary direction by Martin Scorsese, and exceptional acting by Robert De Niro—Taxi Driver tells the story of an ex-veteran who seems to lack an identity after the Vietnam war, except that he is a good person and he is, now, a taxi driver. The screenplay has zero hints until the last few scenes prior to its climax, which makes it an interesting piece. While the story challenges the viewers with its lack of clarity at first, it still keeps them engaged throughout the film. Taxi Driver tells a man’s search for identity, an old school tale of the super(ior)-man in the making, and the same man’s long for justice.

The Breakfast Club - 1985

The Breakfast Club (1985)

A film that I should not have watched in 2020, but is still relevant across years; because, after all, we all have the same sad issues in high school. The Breakfast Club normalizes the cruel class differences by putting the rebel, the nerd, the sporty, the beautiful and the weirdo (I mean who eats cereal on bread, come on?!). The differences start fading when the folks realize they all have issues with their parents, friends, sexuality, you name it. In conclusion, a day spent in the detention room builds magically builds strong friendships. A timeless story that we all wish were true.

SPF-18 (2017)

Think about a simple Hallmark film but with the protagonist’s cousin falling in love with the same protagonist’s boyfriend in Keanu Reeves’ home—great, you are ready to watch SPF-18. It is a movie where everyone falls is in love with everyone. The bonuses are some acoustic music and cool surfing action. In summary, SPF-18 is a cheesy romantic coming of age movie accompanied by shirtless dudes and disturbing moral choices.

Sex and the City 2 (2010)

Another feel-good, formulaic, female-centric comedy film about the author Carrie Bradshaw; I never understood the craze about the series, so I apologize to the fans. In the sequel to Sex and the City, Carrie is now married to the love of her life, Mr. Big. However, she is self-destructing with the thoughts of maintaining her marriage without a child. To escape her problems, she heads to Abu Dhabi with her girlfriends. I wish I could say the sights in the film were beautiful but most of the movie takes place in a luxury resort. Sex and the City 2 is a disappointing, waste of time; even Sarah Jessica Parker (as Carrie) cannot save this poor movie.


That is all for April. I hope you are staying healthy, friends. Let me know in the comment section below what you have been reading and viewing!

4 thoughts on “April 2020 Book, TV, and Film Roundup

  1. Silver Screenings

    I have been working this whole time, because I work for an essential services company, although I personally am not essential. However, I happened to have a week of vacation time scheduled, so I watched Jean Arthur films from the 1930s & 40s and ate croissants. It was glorious.

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    Reply
    1. hazalse Post author

      Which one of her movies is your favorite? That sounds like a lovely time off! Thank you for the work that you do; I am sure you are valuable to where you work. I am looking forward to outside being a safe place to hang out again.

      Like

      Reply
      1. hazalse Post author

        Thank you for this, I’ll try to give it a watch sometime soon. I am not the one for watching 1930s-40s movies a lot other than a few classics (like Casablanca). It’ll give me a headstart!

        Like

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