REVIEW: Split 4.5/5

I have wanted to watch this movie since  it came out. I’ve been obsessed with M. Night Shyamalan since Sixth Sense. Thats right: the mastermind behind the iconic “I see dead people” is also behind this other masterpiece. Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion of what I thought about the movie. I’m in no way agreeing or disagreeing with any entity. Some images in the movie are distressing, so viewer discretion is advised.

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Why ‘Stand by Me’ is the best coming-of-age movie

“By the time we get there, the kid won’t even be dead anymore.”

I don’t even know what to say because this coming-of-age movie is like no other. Every coming-of-age that has been created since then has been influenced by it in some way, whether they know it or not. Never has a movie made me feel so nostalgic and the way it was able to bring me back to when I was 12 years old was unbelievable, thanks to director Rob Reiner.

This is not just a movie, but a tribute to every kid who ever had one of those crazy group of friends when they were young that are hard to forget. What “Stand By Me” taught us was that whether those people are still in our lives or if they were just a passing stage in our lives, you will never have friends later on like the ones you had when you were twelve.

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REVIEW: Harry Potter & The Cursed Child 5/5

I engaged in a lot of speculation in the days leading up to attending Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I purposely didn’t read the play (also because I’m still halfway through the third Harry Potter book) or any reviews before I saw the show. We both wanted to be completely immersed in the experience. So, for the months leading up to D-Day (the play was booked A YEAR PRIOR!), I was filled with questions: “Do you think there will be moving paintings?” “Will there be ghosts?” “What about Hagrid? Will he be in it?” My concern was for the details, the stuff that without them, the story will not feel as—dare I say it—magical.

Y’all, the details are present and then some. Since I am bound by #keepthesecrets button confidentiality (everyone was handed this on a button as we left the performance of Par One), I shall not reveal the whats and hows. Instead I will do the most “non-review” review possible and share my four main observations of the play.

The casting was spot-on

I lowkey cried four times during the play. The first was when we initially see Harry, Ron and Hermione together. The actor portraying Ron Weasley was phenomenal—funny, touching and so clearly captures Ron’s loyalty. I found myself enchanted by his interpretation of Weasley life.

Grown-up Harry Potter is a man whose emotions are still as much on the surface as they were when he was a boy, reinforcing that he will always be tortured by his past. The difficulties of growing up were present throughout the story, specifically the idea that being an adult doesn’t mean we are grown.

This was something that was lamented by the portrayal of Draco Malfoy focused on a man who not only had to live with the sins of his family, but who continues to struggle with his father’s doctrine. You could see the actor wrestling with Draco’s Death Eater-based socialization, particularly when it comes to raising his son while still having to interact with the rest of the wizarding world.

Lastly, Hermione Granger, was hands down my favorite. The actress had to balance many incarnations of Hermione: her bravery, brains and calm approach to the chaos of the wizard world. Hermione was played as the badass we all know her to be and did everything in heels for most of the play. Plus, there were many nods to the feminist household Ron and Hermione live in, from the hyphenated last name of their children to hints that Ron is part joke-shop-owner and part stay-at-home-parent.

The trio’s kids are going to be okay

The actress who plays Rose Granger-Weasley was both wonderful and tragic. Her performance was stunning, and Rose was presented as the perfect blend of her parents. Her energy level was through the roof and every time she was on stage you couldn’t take your eyes off her. The tragic part was that she was not given more to do; her character is sparse after the first half of the show, and clearly could have handled more.

One of the recurring themes of the show (and the HP canon in general) was the troubles of being an outcast. Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy are those people. If Rose fits in and excels at everything (like mother like daughter, basically), Albus and Scorpius fail. The portrayal of Albus, however, was what the play promised, a teenage boy whose famous father’s image is so daunting that he must either rebel against or surpass it. The presentation of Scorpius is not at all what one would expect from a Malfoy. He is goofy, book-smart, nerdy, awkward and totally weird (basically a blend of the iconic trio, in my opinion). Like many folks in the theater, I could relate.

How does one overcome stigma?

This theme was clearly one of the cruxes of the play and manifested in Draco. The portrayal of Draco, a man who has had almost every adult figure in his life fail him (and struggles with his place in the wizard world) blew me away. Draco was given a lot more layers in this story, as a parent, a husband and a man trying to exist in a society that does not trust him.

In the books, Draco always felt like a shadow figure, and in the films, I thought he was played up more as a boy whose jealousy and privilege where poisoning him. It was nice to see him as more than this. Layers manifested in the ways Draco was portrayed as a complicated man, someone who wants to help his son become more than a product of Death Eaters.

Boys can cry

All of the characters, and the actors portraying them, presented themselves as multi-dimensional people. Rose was not only smart, but she also a jock. Ginny writes for the sports section of The Daily Prophet and is a loving mother in an egalitarian household. (Harry does the cooking just fyi). Hermione runs the Ministry, Ron works part-time, and their children hold both their last names.

But what was most telling was the friendship between Albus and Scorpius. Both boys are allowed to share their deepest feelings with each other, without ridicule or judgement. They express their fears, hug a lot and demonstrate that boys can cry. We also see this with Harry and Albus. Harry allows his son to see him crying and devastated. Even Draco gets a few moments where we realize how close to the surface his emotions run, yet Draco is more aware of the restrictions masculinity places on expressing feelings.

Conclusion

In short, The Cursed Child lived up to my expectations and beyond. Please accept my apologies for the lack of details in this non-review review, but I do fear the wrath of Professor McGonagall if any secrets are revealed.

#KeeptheSecrets

#ClaireNotes… London Edition! – July 2017

London baby!

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My most anticipated holiday to date has to be this one. It had been planned and booked for over a year! One week in London, jam-packed with fantastic events and banter (knowing me) with my bestfriend of 12 years.

The downside? Being at the airport at 4 in the morning. Yeah, I am not a morning person. But there were some upsides!: seven days with my bestfriend in the whole world. And shopping. And musicals. And souvenirs!

BFF’s Birthday in London

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Why the Cursed Child poster, you may be wondering…? Well, because we booked to see both parts of the play on her birthday!

I cannot share any details on the play itself (#keepthesecrets), but let’s just say it was beautiful and the transitions from one scene to another were out of this world and… dare I say… MAGICAL!

Brighton

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The day before Cursed Child we went to Brighton. We attended an event called Pop Up Pug Café which you can assume what it was all about.

After the Café we caught the bus to the Royal Pavilion…

Me

… and then headed to the amazing Brighton Pier, which was a lifelong dream of mine to visit.

You can tell the weather wasn’t in our favour, but we still had the greatest time!


Would you like a post on my week in London? Let me know in the comments’ section below!

Dim the Spotlight on… Robin Williams [#2]

THIS IS A NEW SERIES WHICH CONSISTS OF ME LOOKING BACK AT ARTISTS I LOVE AND HAVE INFLUENCED ME THAT ARE UNFORTUNATELY NO LONGER ALIVE.


This is quite a difficult post to write; I’ve had to do a lot of research on the matter and I was quite surprised with what I found about the comedian’s untimely death. My earliest memory of his acting was either in Jumanji or Mrs Doubtfire when I was still a child.

The assumption was the Robin Williams ended his life due to struggles with depression, which he was known to have dealt with when he was still alive. And I will repeat again: this was the assumption.

In a recent interview, Susan Williams, Robin’s widow, revealed that he was actually struggling with dementia with Lewy Bodies – also called Lewy Body dementia. While making the loss of such a beloved individual no less tragic, this does throw a different light on matters.

So what is Dementia with Lewy Bodies?

Dementia with Lewy Bodies is not as common or well known as depression, or the more familiar forms of dementia, most obviously Alzheimer’s disease. However, even among the grim spectrum of neurological disorders and mental illnesses, dementia with Lewy Bodies is a particularly nasty condition.

Put simply, Lewy Bodies are lumps, known as aggregates, of misshapen protein (of the type Alpha-synuclein) that occur in nerve cells (neurons) of people with certain conditions, most often Parkinson’s disease, and but also (obviously) dementia with Lewy Bodies. Cells as complex and important as neurons produce a bewildering array of proteins, to aid in the necessary functions and form the delicate cytoskeletal structure in place to maintain everything.

The most likely people to develop dementia with Lewy Bodies are men, aged early 60s to 70s. Sadly, Robin Williams fell right into this category.

So it wasn’t depression after all?

As Susan Williams said, if Robin Williams had depression at the time of his death, it was one of countless other symptoms he was dealing with. A look at the very brief summary shows just how all-consuming dementia with Lewy Bodies can be.

But depression and dementia with Lewy Bodies often occur together, as is the case with most dementias. This is entirely understandable; it would take someone of superhuman mental fortitude to not let such a diagnosis affect them very deeply. It’s like depression with anxiety: they often co-occur together.

We will never know exactly what Robin Williams was thinking when he opted to end his own life, and at this point it seems disrespectful and more than a little sinister to keep asking about this. However, given the number of things dementia with Lewy Bodies can put a person through, accusations of “selfishness” now seem more unwarranted than ever.