The Get Down: A Review

TGD

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you’ve probably heard of, if not watched, Netflix’s new show The Get Down. Set in the late 70’s in the Bronx, Baz Luhrmann’s tale of the emergence and birth of hip-hop, in almost true-to-life form. With hip-hop mogul and creator of one of the best albums in the genre’s history, Nas on hand to give snippets of raps in each episode, it’s hard not to be mesmerized. Hip-hop fans are treated with episodes that culminate in an epic showdown via a DJ v DJ battle.

With the likes of Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc, and of course, Funky 4 +1, hip-hop heads are treated to life as it was in the so called Golden Era of hip-hop. Even if you’re not a fan of the emerging genre at the time, the show is still worth watching. The costume designers have produced quality gear. You almost feel as though you’re living in the 70’s with these characters.

However, I felt that the pilot episode was a little bit on the weak side. The story lines didn’t match and the production seemed to be off key. However, with Mylene Cruz’s (Herizen Guardiola) angelic, soothing, and radiant singing voice kept me from giving up on the show. There’s also a scene with Zeke (Justice Smith) and Ms. Green (Yolonda Ross) that chocked me up. It’s absolutely cut-throat and has the abilty to make even the most hardened of souls emotive. In addition, Jayden Smith  who plays Drizzee often times comes off as being…amateurish. His vocals are good, and so is his flow, but the acting lets him down.

Initially, I thought that the show wouldn’t be anywhere as good as my expectations. I’m a hip-hop head and grew up listening to the likes of Nas, Rakim, Run DMC, Roxanne Shanté, and many others. Sufficed to say that Luhrmann exceeded those expectations. The show explained the rules of the genre (no biting, no stealing [DJ’s beats]) efficiently and I felt that was needed for any outsiders who aren’t as invested in rap.

As my friend posited (above) the show doesn’t fall into the trap of caricaturist portrayal of  People of Colour. It just portrays what was at the time, and how the youth experimented with music to make, what we know as, hip-hop.

All in all, I found this show thoroughly enjoyable and well worthy of a second watch, which is something that I don’t usually do. I liked that the team used Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree¹ and that Nas, DJ Kool Herc, and Kurtis Blow gave help to the young actors learn the culture and backstory of hip-hop.² I think that’s what made the show seem authentic, and not just another money grabbing scheme as we’ve seen many times before. So, my parting words would be that you give this a watch. It’s absolutely worth it. And yes, Season 2 is in the works.

Image source

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Dhoom 2: A Retrospective Review

So I’m usually let down by Bollywood movies. There’s always too many songs,  and complex love stories. And anyone who knows me, knows I really hate those sorts of cliches. However, with that being said, I really enjoyed the film Dhoom 2 (2006). Maybe it was the opening scene that did it for me. We see a shot of the queen and her crown being guarded, juxtaposed with Mr. A (played wonderfully by Hrithik Roshan) parachuting out of the sky, immediately creating the image of an upcoming heist on the crown.

The scene really did juice up my excitement, of this movie being less of the aforementioned cliches and more of the focus dedicated to the intricacies of the plot/characters’ life. I guess this was mirrored in the complex nature of the numerous amount of heists that take place throughout the film.

Aaaand then came the atypical love story that is  so rife throughout Bollywood films. However, rather than focusing on the couple, this romance addition seemed to help the movie in its main story of protagonist – Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) – vs the antoganosit, Mr. A. Moreover, the on screen relationship between Aishwarya Rai (playing the equally mesmerising thief, Sunheri) and Hrithik, seemed to add some warmth to the film as a whole.

Talking about the film as a whole, it was a truly immersive experience; one that made me rethink my outdated stance on the Bollywood genre. The stunts were inundated throughout, while keeping the essence of the film remaining intact. They added to the nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat action on which the film was wrapped around. Some of the other are Dhoom 3 (2013) and Don 2 (2011). Overall, the film was a cinematic brilliance, and more should be produced like it.

Rating: 4.5/5

References:

Don 2. (2011) Akhtar, F. Mumbai, India: Excel Entertainment. [Film].

Dhoom 2. (2006) Gadhvi, S. Mumbai, India: Yash Raj Films. [Film].

Dhoom 3. (2013) Acharya, V.K. Mumbai, India: Yash Raj Films. [Film].

emotional breakdown

Have you ever truly felt like you want to die?

Holding your girl late at night, really tight, wrought with fright

Tears rolling down your face, ‘cuz there ain’t nothing else to do but cry

And through it all, she holds you down

Telling you to never give up hope

But you can’t do it so she keeps telling you not to go

To the other side, telling you that

“Baby there’s so much to see, like hope and glory

Love, lust, life experiences to make us happy”

So you turn on the bedside light

And see that there’s nobody besides

You. You don’t have a girl no more

She died from a drive-by on July 13th

With her last words being

“Please see life through baby,

If not for you, then at least for me.”

You’ve started taking Xanax just to make it through the day

Because dramas and nightmares comprise of her face

Love </3

If I say I love you
Would you say you love me too?
IF I say I miss you
Would you say you miss me too?
If we ever got together
Would it be forever?
I know that you say you love me
But is it really true?
I just want to tell you
That I love you too

But you don’t think that’s true

Got no wishes but one
Out of all the players you’ve loved
And of all the guys you’ve hugged
Name one like me that left you touched.

Looking back at all the Don Juan’s you’ve kissed
From all the blokes who’ve touched your lips
Name one that left you emotionally pleased like this.

Top 10: Greatest TV Shows of All Time

I know this blog is called novelsandMOVIES but TV shows count, because its a massively watched art platform. With the recent ending of Breaking Bad questions have been asked;  Is Breaking Bad the greatest TV show of all time? Well here are my two cents. The list is based on the writing of the show, plot, and performance.

NOTE: This list is in order. 

1) The Sopranos – The Mafia portrayed in a light that you’ve never seen before. You’ll be sympathising with the lives of a Mafia family before the first episode is even finished. The late James Gandolfini portrayal of a mobster and a family man, is beyond epic. 

2) Mad Men – 1960’s Corporate America. Business is booming and it’s the dawn of a new era. Everybody’s fighting for the place at the top. From the set design to the wardrobe and even the mannerism of the characters, this show packs in the nostalgic feel of the 60’s. This show is the reason the 60’s attire has seen a resurgence, in the past few years. [source]. 

3) The Wire – This show packs in so much that it warrants a re-watch. Commenting on the urban sprawl that is Baltimore, the show tackles corruption, the drug trade, bureaucracy, amongst others. This show requires precise watching and learning to uncover the plot, that’s what’s so great about it.

4) Prison Break – Ever thought that the government might set you up for something that you didn’t do, and you start to plan ahead just in case they do? Yeah? Well this show does all of that in just four seasons.

5) Friends – Before teenagers start to fly the nest and leave home to go to university, they must watch this show at least twice. They can learn, how to deal with loss, failure, and relationships. Every twentysomething can relate to each one of the characters, and secretly have a favourite, though they’ll say they love all the characters equally.

6) Boardwalk Empire – Set during the prohibition, this show, displays the criminal empire created by Nucky Thompson (based on the real life criminal, Enoch Johnson) and his attempts to control his empire through any means necessary. Appearances include the infamous criminal kingpin Al Capone.

7) Monk – When his wife Trudy dies in a car explosion, Detective Adrian Monk, is let go of from the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), as he suffers from a nervous breakdown, and develops OCD. However, with the help of a nurse he is able to work as a consultant to the SFPD, due to his excellent observational skills. Often sad, and sometimes hilarious, this show is definitely overlooked.

8) Buffy the Vampire Slayer – This show is one of the few shows out there containing strong female lead characters, something which is still unmatched today. This show set standards in sci-fi, but also gave young girls at the time a sense of power. The fact that this show didn’t win an Emmy is still one of the greatest disrespectful moments ever.

9) Breaking Bad – How does a family man, a father, a husband, a teacher, become a notorious drug dealer and criminal? This becomes the fate of Walter White, after he learns he has inoperable lung cancer. This show is definitely a show that should be watched.

10) My Wife and Kids – We were all given lessons on how to deal with things and behave in the big wide world, but Michael Kyle has his own way of teaching these lessons to his three children. The show is packed full of humour and jokes that it will leave you wanting more. 

My Top Twenty Suggested Books.

Before I start I want to start by saying that writers who are People Of Colour will be marked as [PoC]. Why am I doing this? Because authors who are PoC need to be read more widely (in the West at least.) To break the Western literary canon that is mainly full of white males, we need to start suggesting books written by PoC. Enjoy.

NOTE: This list is NOT in any particular order.

1) Jazz – Toni Morrison [PoC]

2) The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid [PoC]

3) Atonement – Ian McEwan

4) The Quickening Ground – Hayden Gabriel

5) The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

6) Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

7) To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

8) Of Love and Other Demons –  Gabriel García Márquez [PoC]

9) Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

10) The Color Purple – Alice Walker [PoC]

11) Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

12) Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [PoC]

13) The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

14) The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf –  Ambelin Kwaymullina (Part 1 of The Tribe Series) [PoC]

15) White Teeth – Zadie Smith [PoC]

16) Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel (Part 1 of the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy)

17) Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston [PoC]

18) The Outsider – Albert Camus

19) Great Expectation – Charles Dickens

20) The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini [PoC]

Can PoC break into the publishing world?

So our class had to read Jazz. I tell you what, it was nice to finally read something that wasn’t written by some white dude. I feel that most of the literary canon is filled with mostly white, male authors, which means that students in school will never come into with books written by PoC or more female writers. Sure, there are a few female writers (JK Rowling, Harper Lee etc) that they will read, but what about Hilary Mantel, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, or Zadie Smith.

I get the feeling that as a Person of Colour who wishes to be an author, it will be hard for me to break the publishing world. And I’m not exaggerating, because sadly this seems to be the reality. In 2012, in the NY Times Bestseller List, “only three out of the 124 authors who appeared on the list [were] People of Colour.” (Source)

To be fair, I am taking a Post-Colonial module in the next academic year, reading Chinua Achebe and Salman Rushdie. But this is at university level, and in my last year at that. I wish that lower down in the education system, students had the chance to read authors from different ethnicities. No longer should younger students, who identify as a PoC, read novels by authors with whom they cannot relate. I can only hope the literary canon diversifies.