woof this month. Hated It. I think we need a little reset cos this Black History Month was ROUGH. It’s always rough. You really get reminded that people really wanna care about Black folks when they’re suffering and not much else. Found it really hard to experience any joy this month but found it in small places. I wanted to prioritize and tried engaging with majority Black work this month and I know I fell a little short.
FILM IN ALL SIZES
Lady Snowblood 1973, Toshiya Fujita
You can absolutely see how this inspired Quantum Tostino to make Kill Bill. This movie was wild and amazing, the colours were so vibrant and beautiful and the fake blood was SO GOOD, it just looked like wet acrylic paint. A lot of very beautiful shots and settings, it’s a great visual eye feast, that is almost a soap opera? It had the same kind of energy of a lot of grindhouse/blaxploitation films surprisingly.
I Am Not Your Negro 2016, Raoul Peck
I remember when this came out at TIFF and I did not see it but were given promotional stickers for it. The promoters talked to us because we were black in line waiting for lord knows what movie. I put the sticker on the map of Ryerson which I was attending at the time and it was very promptly removed lmao. I was not Ryerson’s Negro, I think at this time I was trying so hard Not to be a negro. It’s a choice you think you have to make, or think exists, if you’re bi-racial with a white parent. It isn’t. That’s just a memory. I don’t think I even knew of who Baldwin was then, I didn’t really know myself either.
I love James Baldwin, I love the cadence of his voice and the look in his eye. He truly is such an important figure to me. This documentary is a lot. It is so hard to engage with work that shows black history because it is a hard history. It is violent. This shows the riots of Ferguson in 2014 and I think of how now, making a documentary like this, which riot do you pick? Jimmy outlived three black revolutionaries, he was their friend. I cannot imagine the weight of all the calls where he found out these people were assassinated, it is no wonder he could not write this book. It is no wonder he could not remain an optimist about a country changing. It is 2021 and all protest footage blends together and looks the same, only now there are masks I guess.
Affirmations 1990, Marlon Riggs
A very short film about being black and gay. A variety of black gay men share what they want. To not have to divide themselves among homosexuality or blackness, to be accepted, to share love without persecution. Things like this remind me growth exists even in the tiniest of fragments. That somehow I am someone’s wildest dream. I was just a zygote in 1990.
Atlantics (Atlantique) 2019, Matti Diop
This film is a haunting, and a beautiful one. I loved so many parts about this, the music, framing. There is a beautiful way Diop portrays the other world through the ghostly eyes and the mirror framing. It’s a heartbreaking story of love tbh. Idk if I’m allowed to say this is a Gothic Horror but i’m going to because it is in it’s own right.
All These Creatures 2018, Charles Williams
Just weird and sad short film, tries to be profound and poetic but I didn’t really like it, like something was missing. Im curious what made it win the award at cannes. (is it cos the family is black…? i thought i was watching a black filme and was bamboozled)
Pokemon The First Movie 2D vs 3D Pokemon Mewtwo Evolution Something
Brother….my brother…. sob.
Okay the remake is weird and falls into uncanny valley territory. They took out the viking bit which was unacceptable and then didn’t have the bop of a soundtrack so it came off too serious. The sound of Pikachu’s sobs though? Haunting.
Saint Maud 2019, Rose Glass
WOOF. Not a bad movie but one I had to sit with. If you liked Possession or are a lapsed catholic this one’s for you! I think I needed it to be a little bit more stronger in the end, like a couple more scenes or something could have really solidified it…But it is worth a watch.
Framing Britney Spears 2021, Samantha Stark
As a movie and a film this isn’t very good. It kind of plays like it’s a high produced youtube docuseries. No one who is exactly credible is interviewed in this, like they’re all five steps removed from Britney. I think it’s a good primer to how fucked up conservatorship is and it’s very scary to see misogyny and the paparazzi in such rapant and violent displays. It’s interesting because all of this is from when I was probably like 10 to 16 and I really wasn’t aware of how toxic this stuff is until much later. Watching people protest for this makes me lowkey uncomfortable because I would love to see the same energy for BLM or Trans people lmao.
Def by Temptation 1990, James Bond III
This was wild…but kind of a fun time. Is she a vampire? Is she the devil, a succubus? Well, maybe all three.. It had so much of the campy 80s monster effects and a lot of the time was just funny soft core pornography. I am 99 percent sure someone died by pegging. There is a very good bit with a TV that reminded me of Videodrome, but at the end it gets REAL preachy with the lord saving you from evil ect.
Space Sweepers 2021, Jo Sung-hee
This movie was ON 100 percent at all times. I kind of hate space movies unless they’re about space cowboys and found family and deciding to save Earth even though it’s not even in habitable anymore. I loved this it was so much fun and it immediately made me reminisce about Cowboy Bebop and Space Dandy, which I think proceeded to rewatch. I just wish, for the love of everything, Tiger did not have fucking dreads.
I’ve followed their tumblr for a long time but I had never seen any of their animations so of Course I watched them all in one straight sitting. I love love love the style, the humour, the colours. Absolutely my entire aesthetic. My top three are Twins in Paradise, Catscape and Dead End but you should watch them ALL. It really captures this weird and special feeling that I don’t really have words for.
I found this short through tumblr and I really loved the layering of imagery, lighting, and sound design. It was such a beautiful little film and like anything to do with astrology I couldn’t wait til it got to my sign.
Zombi Child 2019, Bertrand Bonello
Why is this on criterion lmao? The absolute disrespect of this film to center white people. The protagonist (?) has no agency, the POV is just some dumb white girl who is mad a boy named Pablo broke up with her over text. I really enjoyed seeing the portrayal of ceremony and Haiti as a setting, but as a film this was so fucking stupid and I’m so mad. It’s directed and written by a white guy so I Get It. The end of the film makes no sense because it does not begin with based on a true story, but ending it that way is Weird and convoluted and trivializes what Vodoo is to Haitians and other caribbean countries. Eugh, pass.
The Howling V REBIRTH 1989, Neil Sundstrom
I love the concept of the who is the werewolf game where slowly people continue to die until you’re left with like who could it be? The setting is a castle in Hungary. It was cheesey fun. I would actually give the subtitle rebirth to the next film because…
The Howling III 1987, Phillipe Mora
In the howling III you are forced to watch a weremarsupial birth. There are weremarsupials that have pouches. They live in Australia. They are related to Tasmanian Wolves. I really don’t know how to not have negative thoughts towards Australia and this also uses a lot of indigenous racism so it’s a HARD pass. It has the same kind of weird effects and vibe as Brain Dead. Amazing poster tho.
Dear Senthuran 2021, Akwaeke Emezi
I am considering eating my copy because it is an ARC and I will be buying it when it comes out in June. I’ve folded so many corners on the damn thing. A memoir through written letters is such a beautiful form. They write about how these letters, although to others, are for themselves. I think so much about writing a letter can be selfish. Not in a bad way, but as this moving way to reach out to someone else and understand something more. Anyways. I don’t…even know where to start. I finished this book and went into a 48 dissociative state where I wasn’t in a good place. There were compounding factors, I think. There is a lot of death talk in this book, written in a way I think is truly beautiful and empowering. I also think I am a little fragile. I’ve said it before and I will say it forever, Akwaeke is one of my favourite authors alive and writing in our time. They make me want to be a better writer and artist, to go for the things I deserve, to make my own center and have people come to me. I think I already try to do this, there are so many things about western institutions I do not respect and refuse to. Maybe this book is permission I never needed. Anyways you should definitely pre-order this. I want to give this book to everyone I love, I don’t even know if they would love it like I do, I just think it’s an important gift I could give.
Zanele Muholi 2021, Sarah Allen & Yasufumi Nakori
I read the back of this book at work and lit up. It reads, “ Zanele Muholi came to prominence in the early 2000s with photographs that sought to re-envision Black Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans queer and intersex lives in South Africa.” I was just being sad about how so much trans content I get to consume is white, even though black trans women are why we can even exist today at all so it felt like the bookstore gods were like shutup, here you go you baby. The portraits in this are BEAUTIFUL. The contrasting tones, so so good. There are a lot of essays in this that I actually didn’t care for. I think talking about photography as a medium bores me personally. The interviews or letters between their friends were much more enjoyable to read, and learning about the work that Muholi does to empower black lesbian photographers. I’d love another comprehensive photo book of their work!!!
Ring Shout 2020, P. Djeli Clark
This is a tasty quick little read of 185 pages. If Lovecraft Country hurt you, this is a good balm. I really loved the mythology it created in such a short narrative, it was funny and action oriented. And Look at that cover! I’m obsessed, it looks like good linocut. It was just such a good time and oh my god the body horror, chef’s kiss.
I am Not Your Negro 2017, Raoul Peck/ James Baldwin
I bought the book because it has the transcripts from the documentary, which are the transcripts of Baldwin’s unfinished and unpublished book Remember This House. So many of the quotes from interviews and the book have just been clambering around my brain and I’ve folded so many corners and underlined so many passages in this. I also think I appreciate what the documentary accomplished a little better having engaged with this written down.
Nubia: Real One 2021, L.L Mckiney & Robyn Smith
I LOVED THIS SO MUCH!!! I can’t believe I enjoyed a DC comic?! It’s only because of the amazing team of L.L Mckiney and Robyn Smith. I could not believe everything this tackled. Racism, Police Brutality and Murder, Black femininity, Protesting, Identity, school shootings? It tackles such heavy issues with a lightness that does not trivialize what is happening. I absolutely adored Nubia, the art was so so good. I can’t recommend this enough tbh.
The Secret Fawn 2021, Kallie George & Elly McKae
This was so cute and had beautiful illustrations and is about a little girl who misses seeing a deer in her backyard and goes on a small adventure to find them.
Milo Imagines The World 2021, Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson
The art in this is so full of movement and I loved this so much. The story challenges the idea of what we imagine about other people through small interactions on the subway that Milo imagines in his sketchbook. He’s on his way to visit his mother in prison. I absolutely needed a book like this growing up and I’m so glad it exists for kids out there.
On Property 2021, Rinaldo Walcott
Walcott is probably one of my favourite Toronto scholars, when there were all those academic sit ins and he spoke about surveillance and it had really stuck with me. I don’t even remember when those took place. The summer, I guess. Anyways, he said the pandemic will continue and continue to have repercussions on black and people of while white people who are unaffected will act as if the problem has been solved. I see this every day working for white people, with white customers. He was right and we aren’t even close to being done with this. Anyways about the book, which I loved and is a quick read. It is a book about property, how black bodies were property and how that has affected our existences, the laws, and the current white supremacist structures we live in. Truly this is an important essay about abolition, what it can mean and what it can be.
100 Boyfriends 2021, Brontez Purnell
Collection of very short vignette stories. The kind of autofiction writing I love to eat up. I think if you’re a fan of Saeed Jones or Danez Smith’s work you will love this book. Everything kind of blurs together in a way where the protagonist feel so similar, it is very funny and also sad and heartbreaking. It just feels like a very human book. I don’t think that black queers are allowed the same kind of messy writing that white queers are, and this doesn’t level the playing field because it is it’s own field entirely. Read it in 2 hours! Also I LOVE this cover.
11:11, Theatre Passe Marsaille, Playwright and Performer: Samson Bonkeabantu Brown & Directed: Tsholo Khalema
Watching digital theatre is such a surreal experience, it really makes you feel I think, what kind of times we are in. I was given tickets to this from a friend and what a treat. Written, Directed, Acted by a Black Trans Masc duo. It just warmed me up. Was such a beautiful experience to see mythologies and history, spirituality, woven into this back and forth story about being trans and south african.
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel 2021
I have such a complicated relationship with true crime and I think this documentary exemplifies why really well. I basically hate watched this so I could get work done, and I did get work done, but I was very mad. Elisa Lam is one of the true crime stories that has severely stuck to me and upset me I think. This series sensationalizes her death but is also more about the hotel than it is her and I think that’s so disrespectful. It also just like puts a band-aid on mental health, the poverty of skid row and so many other facets when the wound is one that needs to be amputated. And it completely trivializes being bipolar. It is really sick to watch these people who obsessed over her death just be like “she had…depression”, yes, and she was bipolar. The inability to name or respect that speaks so much to how people view personality disorders. I need to stop watching netflix true crime shows…
Wonder Egg Priority 2021
This show has every trigger for me of things that are bad for me but I absolutely love it. The animation is so fluid and beautiful. I watched all five episodes in one sitting and absolutely love whatever weird story it’s telling. The friendship and personalities between all the characters are really different and it’s so interesting to see how they will grow and continue to heal from trauma together, or cause it, depending. Extreme Madoka, Battle Royale and Utena vibes to be honest. Even a little bit of Omori. Also it’s extremely gaycoded and Momo is trans, thanks!
Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts, Season Three 2021
This show was perfect. I took a really long time to finish it because I liked to just watch episodes while I ate or something. But I really loved how the characters developed and grew, it was funny and heartfelt. I think it ended the best way it could and I really enjoyed it and it has some of my favourite characters. I wish black people had worked on the team, but I’m still extremely happy with how much of the cast were people of colour and I know that will be important to kids who watch this.
Cowboy Bebop 1998
I just think Cowboy Bebop is one of the greatest works of art ever created. This is maybe my 4th rewatch and I know it won’t be my last. I love all the characters so much, like the care and story given to side characters is some of the best writing I’ve ever witnessed. I remember seeing it on Toonami for the first time on my illegal satellite (lol) and just being amazed by it.
Hope you found something new to vibe with, thanks for reading. I’m halfway through Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi and really enjoying it but I’m not done yet! Some self promo below: My new comic is out with Really Easy Press now and you can purchase it here. Toronto and Ontario folks can just DM me on twitter/insta (@cleopatriia) if you want me to send over a copy.
March 4th I’m going to be on a zine panel with Rio Hondo! It should be streaming through their facebook I think! Congrats on surviving February, it’s been hell. Let me know if you found any good things to rec this month!