Short and Sweet Reviews // Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

I’m new to Virginia Woolf, but I wish that I had begun reading her work years ago. Like Jane Austin I assumed that her writing was shallow, all romance, and marriage, and manners. I mean, all of that was covered in this book, but there was so much more. I was wrong, so very wrong, but I’m growing and learning like everyone else.

In Orlando: A Biography Woolf tells the story of a nobleman born in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He joins the queen’s court, becomes a favorite, falls in love with a princess, get his heartbroken, and all the while works at becoming a poet, but none of that compares to the adventure of his miraculous transformation. Orlando, at the age of 30 turns from Lord Orlando to Lady Orlando and lives for over 300 years more.

“For here again, we come to a dilemma. Different though the sexes are, they intermix. In every human being a vacillation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness, while underneath the sex is the very opposite of what it is above.

― Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography

Obviously one of the major themes covered is gender and the ways gender shapes the way we act and the choices we make and the choices that are available to us. Surprisingly Woolf is critical of both men and women and our assumptions about the ways the other thinks. Men do not understand women, and women do not understand men because both refuse to believe that the other has the very same feelings, qualities, wants, and needs.

Another is time and change. Orlando lives a very long time and sees the world change around him and later her. Her inner world goes through many changes too, and he/she struggles to understand who she is and what she wants to be against the backdrop of “the times” which are always changing and seem always to be at odds with people living in them.

“I’m sick to death of this particular self. I want another.”

― Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography

A lot of time is also spent on literature and the life of a writer. In the moments when mass production and critique was the focus of Orlando’s life, I had the feeling that I was reading an inside joke between Woolf and the writers of her time. I got the jest, but I’m hoping through further reading I can gain a deeper understanding of Woolf views on the subject.

Woolf covers all this as well as wealth and privilege, society, individuality, and, of course, love.

But the real interesting bit about this book is the dedication. Orlando has been called “the longest love letter in literature.” The character of Orlando was inspired by Woolf’s close friend and lover, the writer Vita Sackville-West. At the time of its writing, their affair was waning. Vita, the more adventurous and fickle of the two was moving on to other lovers.

In fact, many of the other characters were also pulled from real life as well, and I imagine I will be reading about Woolf’s personal history for a long while to come.

The style was a shock, at first. From the very beginning, it reads like an old fairytale. The language is flowery, complicated and hard to follow, at first. After a few chapters, it becomes beautiful and poetic, interesting and lively. There is a lot of description and not much dialogue, and sudden jumps through time, which can be hard on the brain too, but I promise it is well worth the effort to stick with it. I have never read anything quite like this.

I am afraid my little review here has done the book very little justice, and you’ll just have to read it for yourself to understand how amazing this story is. As for me, I am firmly a Virginia Woolf fan from here on out and have already picked up a copy of Mrs. Dalloway to read next.

“The flower bloomed and faded. The sun rose and sank. The lover loved and went. And what the poets said in rhyme, the young translated into practice.”

― Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography

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Check out Vita Sackville-West on the necessity of writing and Virginia Woolf on space to spread the mind out in.

Featured image via Book Republic

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Short and Sweet Reviews // The Night Of

The truth doesn’t help you, and if you can’t get that through your head, you can forget about the rest of your life.

— Jack Stone, The Night Of

In The Night Of we meet Nasir Khan, AKA Naz, a good Pakistani-American student who makes a mistake, or five one night on his way to a meet his friends at a party. The biggest of which is meeting a troubled girl who ends up dead with his DNA all over her and he does the worst things person can do, he runs and takes the murder weapon with him.

At first, the HBO drama The Night Of seems like a simple who done it type crime show, but you quickly realize none of this is about whether or not Naz killed the pretty troubled girl and more about our justice system, our prisons, and survival.

 But if I were you, I’d ask myself one question. Did I kill her? If the answer’s yes, take the deal. If the answer’s no, don’t.

— Chandra, The Night Of

After his arrest, Naz has to learn to protect himself in prison. His lawyers have to figure out how to save his life when the truth doesn’t seem to matter. His family has to believe in him when the evidence says otherwise and all of it has to be done against the backdrop of post 9/11 Islamophobia in America.

The show is dark and pretty graphic. It hurts, and it makes you uncomfortable. Every character takes a journey, and we are all along for the sad, scary ride.

Even if you can’t remember anything, you’d know it, you’d feel it. I’m not a murderer.

— Naz, The Night Of

So, do I recommend it? Definitely! The show kept me interested and each week I found myself anxious to find out what happens next. Every actor and actress pulled their weight, and I felt fully immersed in the motivation of each character. The pacing was good too. I don’t feel like there was any filler or unnecessary episodes.

The initial crime will suck you in, you will want to know who killed the girl and why, but if you remember that sometimes in life the journey is the destination you’ll see the show for what it is a statement about what people are capable of, even when they think they aren’t.

You got some secrets in you, don’t you? And some rage. I like it.

— Freddy, The Night Of

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Short and Sweet Reviews // Eastern Promises

My name is Tatiana. My father died in the mines in my village, so he was already buried when he died. We were all buried there. Buried under the soil of Russia. That is why I left, to find a better life.

This film will surprise you and leave you wanting more, more, more! Eastern Promises is about a Russian teenager in London who dies giving birth to the child of the Russian mob boss who raped her. The midwife who delivered her child finds her journal which puts her and her family in danger as the mob seeks to destroy the evidence. It’s about a lot more than that too.

He is no driver, he is the undertaker.

The entire cast does an amazing job but the star by far is Viggo Mortensen who plays anti-hero Nikolai, a serious bad-ass who is trying to do good in a world of violence and death. Mortensen plays this part intensely and to perfection, and he looks pretty good doing it ;)

Eastern Promises is pretty graphic and bloody even from the very first scene. The violence isn’t pointless though. Throughout the film I felt my own body tensing and cringing from what I was seeing. The violence was graphic so that I could feel it.

I also have to mention the incredible fight scene that occurs in a Turkish Bathhouse. No stunt doubles were used and our hero fights in the most vulnerable state a person can, completely naked!

What shocked me more than the gore was the plight of women in this film. There are prostitutes and sex slaves, some as young as 14 we learn, rape, trafficking, and mention a young girl traded for bottles of brandy. It’s brutal.

Easter Promises is a film you’ll want to watch over and over again. Its about good and evil and being a little evil to be good. It’s about people from very different worlds colliding, and how scary that can be. It’s about the horrors that can be happening closer than you think. It’s a brilliant film and you must watch it.

I can’t become king if someone else already sits on the throne.

 

 

 

 

 

Short and Sweet Reviews // Starship Troopers

Ah Starship Troopers, a crazy movie about crazy  kids joining the military, and traveling across the galaxy to war with giant alien bugs. One of my favorite movies of all time!

Not a lot of people I know like the film. They think its mindless, clichéd, and over the top, and they are absolutely right. What they don’t get its supposed to be like that. Starship Troopers is pure and perfect satire and how people can’t see that I’ll never understand.

The only good bug is a dead bug.

The first clue was the fact that there is little mention of an opposing view to the brutality inflicted on this race of being who are obviously just defending their planet. Every member of the human race is happy with killing and torturing these beings. Everybody wants to help in the cause, every one wants to do their part. This my friends is Facism.

The second clue was the cheesy propaganda clips. Nobody could believe those were serious. It was clearly meant to parallel our own tendency to get real xenophobic given half a chance and to justify it under the umbrella of togetherness, duty, and safety.

Young people from all over the globe are joining up to fight for the future.

Add to that the Nazi inspired uniforms and you have yourself not only a lesson on the horrors of war and militarism, but a glimpse of what humans are capable of. Just replace bugs with “people that look different from me”, and the other planets with “countries that are not my own”, and it all starts to look very familiar.

To me Starship Troopers is a misunderstood masterpiece. I think everyone should see it but just remember when you do, it is all one big joke, and like all good jokes, it reveals something very serious about human nature.

They’re doing their part. Are you?

P.S.  I happen to have tickets to see this fine film tonight at The Alamo Drafthouse, lucky me :)