The Sapphires

20131122162310the_sapphires_posterDirector:Wayne Blair

Actors: Chris O’Dowd

Deborah Mailman

Jessica Mauboy

Shari Sebbens

Miranda Tapsell

Tory Kittles

Eka Darville

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Synopsis: In 1968, four smart, gutsy young Australian Aboriginal women become unlikely stars by singing for the U.S Troops in Vietnam. With the help of an R&B loving Irish musician, Dave Lovelace, they transform themselves into a sizzling soul act and set out to make a name for themselves hundreds of miles from home. Inspired by a true story, The Sapphires is a celebration of music, family and self-discovery.

Review:

You can’t just ask someone why they’re not black. But you can, however, ask them to sound more black. Which is one of the first problems facing The Sapphires, a 60’s aboriginal girl group born down under.

The Sapphires is the true story of a remarkable group of women who managed to put together a girl group and travel to Vietnam. Co-written by one of the sons of the real-life singers and directed by Wayne Blair, this movie packs a punch and a amazingly good soundtrack.

The movie opens up with two stark facts. 1. Until 1967 Aborigines in Australia were not considered humans by the government and 2. The government had the authority to remove the light-skinned native children from their families to make them a part of white community.

We meet the future Sapphires as children, about to put on a show for their families. Halfway through, however, the light-skinned cousin is taken away to become a part of the stolen generation. It’s a powerful, painful beginning.

A decade later, the three sisters – Gail (Deborah Mailman) Julie (Jessica Mauboy) and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) decide to enter a singing competition. Braving the racism of the croud, they sing an American country western song. The accompanist (Chris O’Dowd) is a washed-up mess who nevertheless recognizes their potential and helps them form The Sapphires. They reconnect with their stolen cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens), switch from country to Motown and pass the audition to go perform for the US troops in Vietnam.

Once there however, it’s not an easy road for any of them. A girl group with four members means a lot of opportunity for romance, drama and power struggles. Luckily, the Sapphires manages to avoid falling into a Behind the Music hole by matching fabulous 60’s soul songs to the real life drama happening off stage and on. It’s a hard journey for them, dealing with the valor of the GI’s, the still present racism, and the death and horrors happening around them.

The Sapphires is a movie with a lot of heart (I was going to say soul, but Ugh). Form the get go it’s packed with tension and hurt and love. The actors do an incredible job of balancing the frustrations felt along with the joys. Its not an easy movie to watch at times (especially as Gail and Kay deal with the fall-out of the stolen generation) and Mailman does such an incredible job with her protective ferocity.  In addition, the soundtrack manages to add even more oomph to an already great movie. Seriously – these ladies can sing. Anyone who enjoys Motown – I Heard it through the Grapevine, Super Pie Honey Bunch, and other hit classics are performed- will love this movie.

I really enjoyed this movie. It was equal parts sad and funny, uplifting and depressing. It’s a new look at race issues that still impact the world today, and manages to neither harp on nor ignore the seriousness of the issues that the girls face. However, the Sapphires is more than that. It’s a celebration – of family, of good music and life. It’s an amazing movie based on amazing people. Fitting, no?

XX

P.S. While the issues of the stolen generation is an important part of this movie, an excellent film that really delves into those issues is Rabbit Proof Fence. I would highly recommend that movie as well.

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson.

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Blurb:

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.

Goodreads Score: 3.92/5

Amyliabedelia score : 4/5

Review:

Okay, Jenny Lawson is one seriously funny lady. If you are looking for a book to escape the stress of college then this is a good one. There were moments reading this book when I was full on ugly laughing – doubled over and snorting and everything. Chronicling the events of her life (beginning with her childhood in Wall, Texas) all through her marriage and children, Lawson manages to treat everything in her life with a degree of irreverent humor and general attitude of ‘Whattaya gonna do?’. Sure, there were moments when I was reading this that I went ‘Okay, that is…messed up, to say the least’ but it didn’t matter, because I was far too busy giggling over the absurdity of what had happened to care. Fun fact: trying to stay quiet because it’s 2 AM and your roommates are sleeping is not as easy as it sounds.

Obviously the book isn’t perfect. There are moments where the stream of consciousness style Lawson invokes gets tiresome and babbly. There’s also a weird chapter where Lawson writes imaginary post it notes to her husband, which I found boring and unnecessary.  Despite this however, Lawson manages to deliver an account of her life that is hilarious. While I wish she had spent more time on her childhood, which was probably the funniest part of the book for me, Lawson also manages to tactfully acknowledge her social anxiety, depression and rheumatoid arthritis in a way that managed to add some punch to the book. I wish that she had taken a step back with the jokes during those moments though. Yes, laughter is a good way to ease the pain – and Lawson is certainly good at invoking the giggles – but there were times when levity wasn’t required.

That being said, this book is a definite read again for me. I spent most of the days after reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened remembering stories from Lawson’s life and attracting weird looks because I was giggling to myself. If you’re looking for a book to cheer you up, then this is definitely a good one to go to. Just make sure that you don’t drink a lot of water beforehand.