Suits obsessed, the fanvid edition…

I am still Suits obsessed and this obsession means that I haven’t watched any of the new Richard Armitage projects yet! Sleepwalker (I’m not sure I’m in the right mindset for weird right now) and Berlin Station (love Richard, but the show less so, I’m therefore a little hesitant to start) are on my waiting list, just like the new A Place to Call Home series that has just started airing. So, when I have some free time, I am all caught up in reading Suits fan fics and watching Suits fan videos. I’ve been debating making a proper fan video of my own (that would mean I need to start sourcing clips) but I don’t think I can add that much to the ones that are already out there. There are so many good ones! So, instead of sourcing clips, I just waste my free time watching these. Although, I guess if I love doing this so much, it’s not a waste, right? Anyway, here are some of my faves…

The last episode to date left us with a Donna & Harvey kiss cliffhanger and my fave post-cliffhanger Darvey video so far is this one, set to that new Pink song that I like so much…

There are lots of really good Darvey videos out there, many of them quite dramatic, but here’s one that’s just kinda fun: tips for a future husband (although Donna and Harvey are nowhere near being that on the show)…

The beginning of season 5 has Harvey falling apart and having panic attacks after Donna quits working for him. It’s good to see that even the mighty Harvey can feel vulnerable…

But it’s not only Harvey and Donna that make this show great, the whole Suits team is awesome…

A huge part of the charm of the show is the Harvey and Mike bromance…

…and the Mike and Rachel romance as well…

But with all the drama, there is also a lot of fun, as illustrated in this video (alas parts 1 and 2 have been blocked, I’m sure they’d be great to watch as well if I could see them)…

And here’s some behind the scenes fun set to music…

Yep, I can’t get enough of this. The Suits video playlist I have on YouTube already has 52 videos in it (and still growing)… I could go on and on. I’ve gotta say, hats off the to actors, writers and producers of this show for making it so addictive and inspiring so much great fan art!

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The Conspiracy of Silence #MeToo

This whole Harvey Weinstein scandal makes me sick, just like the Bill Cosby one has made me sick and Donald Trump’s way with women makes me sick. Why do Cosby’s and Weinstein’s careers go down the drain over this but is Trump still president? Anyway, I don’t want to write about them specifically but I do want to do my part in addressing this so that it can be stopped.

I saw the interview Emma Thompson gave, addressing how normal sexual harassment really is for all women from a young age onwards (she mentions this at around 3:10 into the video) and she calls this Weinstein scandal a ‘conspiracy of silence’ for not being exposed sooner (around 5:20)…

I found that an interesting phrase, ‘the conspiracy of silence’, and find myself trying to come to terms with the fact why we don’t speak up about this more when we encounter it. I find it’s not a malicious conspiracy, it’s more a conspiracy of shame and fear, but the fact is that it’s not normal to speak up about this. I, too, am not one to call out others when for example a comment with sexual innuendo is made that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. I will speak up against gross misconduct but there are so many comments that are just borderline where I wonder ‘should I say something or am I just being overly sensitive?’ and then I shut up. I was in such a borderline situation not too long ago when I thought ‘ah, but it’s just a joke, I’ll let it go and change the subject quickly.’ I struggle with that and it’s something that this scandal has brought more to the foreground for me.

Yesterday the hashtag #MeToo started trending and I added my name to that…

me too tweet

… and today, on my way to work, I read Guylty’s blog post about the issue and that really struck me too. I am not pretty or an actor either and yet I too have experienced instances of sexual harassment. What I have experienced is by far not as bad as many other women’s experiences but it’s symptomatic nonetheless! I wasn’t planning on going into detail about what has happened to me, but Guylty’s post and that “conspiracy of silence” phrase made me think that maybe I should just come out and speak of my experiences.

The funny thing is that when I thought about this, one incident that really shook me came to mind and I thought, ‘well, it’s not been bad for me, I only experienced that one thing’. But then, once that memory was unlocked, other memories started coming in and I realized that apparently I had pushed them away before. I also realized that, from an early age on, I had always been warned by my mother that most men basically only want one thing so that I always had to be careful with how I act and what I wear so as not to attract any unwanted attention. I hate that. I hate that women are told to be careful and that for men it’s a “ah, boys will be boys” attitude.

The incident that really shook me most of all  happened when I was 19. My dad was general secretary of an international organization and organized a big 4 day conference every summer, with people coming in from countries all over the world. To make a little money, we brothers and sisters often helped with organizing. That summer the conference was in Southampton and one evening I went out with a group of other conference participants to a local pub. Incidentally, it’s also the first time I ever tried Guinness beer (and hated it). Anyway, I was with a group of 9 or 10 people and at one point I said I’d pick up some drinks at the bar. There was a man sitting on a bar stool next to where I stood to order my drinks. While I was waiting for my turn to order he tried to chat me up. I was 19 and really not so used to flirting, so I tried to stay friendly and smile, but said no to whatever he suggested (he wanted me to come sit with him, he wanted to buy me a drink and he said some other things I can’t recall). Then, out of the blue, he grabbed me, pulled me towards him and what I remember most were his very wet lips, smelling of beer, planted on my lips, kissing me! I struggled to get away, luckily the bartender caught this happening as well. He cried out “oy!” and a hullabaloo started where others came to my rescue, literally prying the man off me because he really was holding on fast and didn’t want to let go!  People from my group came as well to help me. Local people from the pub grabbed the man, I think one guy punched him, and literally threw him out of the pub onto the street. I was very shaken up, everyone was very concerned for me, we were offered free drinks. The bartender said the man was a known drunk and wouldn’t be allowed in the pub anymore. I quickly went back to my accommodation after that, accompanied by my older brother who had been part of the group I had been with.

Remembering that, and my brother being there, reminded me of an incident a year later when my whole family and I were in Cairo, visiting the Pyramids. Esther 20We were allowed into one of the pyramids. There was a narrow hallway leading upwards with a rope you could use to hold on to. You couldn’t stand up straight in some sections and there were these guides along the way to help anyone with trouble getting on. One of these guides actually followed behind me for a while and literally felt me up, touching my hips and my bottom to ‘help me along’. I shrugged him off, said I didn’t need help. My brother saw and took the man’s place behind me so he would leave me alone. The rest of that holiday (we were there for 3 or 4 days), I felt unsafe and tended to keep close to one of my older brothers, just so I wouldn’t get into a situation like that again.

I then for some reason also remembered an incident from when I was 15 or 16. I was already in love with old movies at that time and at some point I had gotten this hand-me-dpencil dressown 1960s turquoise pencil dress, which looked something like this picture on the right. It was a little looser than this dress but it really fit me very well. I was not one to wear dresses at all at that time but when I put that dress on, I thought I looked really good in it. I felt like Doris Day! I was wearing it one hot day and was asked to do a small errand in town for my mother, which I went to do on my bike. I figured it looked nice enough and for the first time I dared wear it out in public. And boy, did I regret that! I felt uncomfortable with the attention I got walking down the street and when at one point some workers started calling out to me, asking me to come over to them, laughing at me when I said no, and continuing their whistling after that, I felt so very unsafe! I went home and never wore that dress again.

In my early twenties I also once encountered a flasher in a trench coat while I was walking through a park close by our house. He walked by, called out to me and when I looked over at him, he opened his coat and was stark naked underneath. He didn’t linger, though, and walked on, I think he even ran away. For some reason, I never felt threatened by that, though.

So, that’s it, my #MeToo experiences. When I look back I feel that I have always been conscious of never wanting to be ‘too sexy’, due to warnings to be careful because I’m a girl and I think especially after that blue dress incident, which I had really buried away deep somewhere. It’s sad that just because ‘boys will be boys’ many women feel unsafe or feel like they have to suppress themselves. Women speaking up about how threatened they feel is just the beginning, we also need to look at this ‘boys will be boys’ culture and teach our sons to treat women with respect! I feel my brothers are respectful of women, just like my husband is and I hope my son is too (he does seem like it from what I can see). I have luckily never felt threatened by men I work with or by male aquaintances/friends I have. So, I do realize that many men are respectful! But there are also many who aren’t and it’s not only up to the women to raise boys who are respectful; men are important role models and need to take responsibility too, maybe even more so than women!

Gabriel Macht – I am my beloved’s…

In my previous post I wrote about finally watching Suits and falling in love with it! I haven’t been able to get enough, re-watching bits and pieces, but mostly catching up on the actors in it and I have especially zoomed in on Gabriel Macht who plays the role of Harvey Specter. I really like the development his character has been going through during the 7 seasons of Suits so far and I admit to finding him quite sexy!

So, as I knew nothing about him, I’ve been delving into him and I find that he is happily married with 2 children. When I saw a picture of his wife, I thought she looked extremely familiar. Turns out she’s an actress as well, called Jacinda Barrett, and she was in the second Bridget Jones movie as the colleague of Mark Darcy who Bridget is jealous of!

She also had a small role as a brief love interest for Harvey on Suits, where I bet he got a great kick out of being able to flirt with her and kiss her (I only found out that she’s his wife after I had binge-watched the whole show).

Delving into him I find that Gabriel is besotted with his wife Jacinda and she with him. It makes me think of this line, which was also the theme my father had used for my wonderful wedding to Mr Esther 18 years ago…

They’ve been married since 2004 and, as I have commented before here and here as well about Colin Firth and Simon Baker, I just love love love seeing a man happy in love with his wife like that! He is in love with his kids too. Gabriel’s instagram account is filled with pictures such as these:

In an interview I saw with him on YouTube he answers a question about the relationship between Harvey and Donna on the show. In real life Gabriel Macht is very good friends with Sarah Rafferty who plays Donna, they have been close friends for 20 years or so.  The interviewer references this friendship (at 23 minutes in to the video) and says “the Donna from the show who’s his best friend in real life.” Gabriel corrects her and says “My best friend in real life is my wife.” This is greeted by awwws in the audience and I admit to feeling that ‘aw’ as well! That, and other things I’ve been hearing him say and reading about him, make me really like Gabriel Macht!

Now, maybe more than ever, I hope things can work out for Harvey and Donna on the show. Someone made an awesome fan video about Donna and Harvey and the cliffhanger we are left will till the beginning of 2018…

… and it would be cool that when Suits ends at some point, Donna and Harvey can have what Gabriel and Jacinda seem to have (and what Mr Esther and I have 🙂 ). Should that be where the story arc ends for Harvey, his character will have made a huge development from the beginning of the show. I for one would love this.

My latest binge-watch frenzy: Suits!

I see that it’s been nearly two weeks since my last post! Yikes! When that happens, either ‘real life’ becomes overwhelmingly busy or I shut myself off to indulge in my latest passion. My sabbatical these past two weeks is due to the latter: I have become completely engrossed in the tv-series Suits!

I have been aware of Suits for quite a few years but it’s about corporate law and I thought that wouldn’t interest me, so I let it go. To be clear, corporate law will never be a passion, but this series has something special! The story is centered around hot-shot, cocky, know-it-all, ambitious corporate lawyer Harvey Specter (played by Gabriel Macht). He needs an associate and decides to hire a very talented, very smart college dropout called Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams) as his law associate, despite Mike never actually having attended law school. The show focuses on Harvey and Mike as they solve cases and make deals while maintaining and containing Mike’s secret.

Surrounding Mike and Harvey is a strong cast of characters!

Suits cast

Lawyer Louis Litt (played by Rick Hoffman, on the left in this picture) is eccentric, quick-tempered, very flawed but also somehow endearing. He is a tough lawyer and vengeful, not easy to get along with (he and Harvey have a very contentious relationship) but underneath he is a softie. He adores ‘mudding’ (i.e. mud baths) and cats.

Jessica Pearson (played by Gina Torres, on the right in the picture above) is the head of the New York City law firm. She is cool and calculated, has made every sacrifice possible to make it to the top, but always has the firm’s and her people’s backs in times of crises. You do not want to mess with her, though. She’s a real kick-ass boss!

Then we have Donna Paulsen (played by Sarah Rafferty, 2nd from left). She’s Harvey’s power personal assistant / secretary. Very quick-witted, knows everything that’s going on anywhere and has been with Harvey for many years (he took her with him when he transferred from the DA’s office to the law firm). Theirs is a very close-knit relationship. When in a flashback scene he becomes partner, he tells Donna that “we” have become partner. He depends on her completely and while their friendship is very close in a brother/sister kind of way, there is also the necessary tension and a big ‘will they, won’t they’ quality. When at some point, after a crisis, she leaves his desk to work for Louis, Harvey is totally unhinged for a while.

Harvey is a man who loves life in the fast lane. He is intent on keeping emotion out of business as emotion makes you ‘weak’. He is slick, easy on the eyes, popular with women, loves a nice car, his basketball trophies in his office from clients he has and his record collection. He is also called ‘the closer’ as he is so good at closing deals, he is tough and almost unapproachable on the outside but, if you look more closely, there is a heart hidden inside him which becomes more and more apparent as the series progresses.

Mike is the fake-lawyer. Young, extremely smart, a bit of a happy-go-lucky kinda guy, who is very good-hearted but skirts around legal edges all the time. He has a real desire to do good in the world. Through bad luck and some bad choices he has never been able to go to law school, even though he knows every law textbook by heart (he has a photographic memory). He almost instantly falls in love with Rachel Zane (played by Meghan Markle. Yes, her of Prince-Harry’s-girlfriend fame). Rachel has trouble passing the entrance exam for law school (the LSAT test), not for lack of smarts but because of nerves. She is stuck as a paralegal at the firm. She eventually passes the exam, with mentoring from Mike, and can finally start law school, her paralegal experience coming in handy. It takes two seasons for Mike and Rachel to get together, their relationship really is a lovely one. They are true partners for each other, they live together and are engaged but not married yet.

Mike and Rachel

The world of corporate law is a total alien one to me.  This series is basically about rich people and their firms wanting to be richer. It’s a fast-paced, back-stabbing world, where the right deal with the right amount of compensation is the most important thing. I can imagine Donald Trump being client number one at this law firm. It’s not a world I particularly like, especially in this day and age when you see that millionaires can buy anything, even a presidency, with the right money and people/deals backing them up.

And yet… Suits is addictive and I am not sure why! Maybe it’s because I want to understand that world better? Maybe because it shows that even in that world, so far away from mine, the people are given a human face. If I met Harvey Specter in real life, I think I’d recoil from him and even find him a little scary. Yet, there is a man with a heart in the right place underneath it all that makes me actually really like him! With him, it’s all in the eyes and I admit, I find that very sexy. Jessica, the boss at the law firm, would make me feel intimidated as well, she is not a woman to be messed with. Even Donna could intimidate me, although her heart is more readily shown and she is a lot of fun. Mike and Rachel are the most easily accessible characters in this, they are people I could imagine being friends with in real life.

What also really attracts me is that the women here are strong and the cast is diverse (even the guest cast is diverse). It’s not just white rich men in corporate New York City. Louis is Jewish and in a hilarious scene when you see him meeting his Austrian therapist, he goes all anti-Nazi on him without knowing anything about who this man with the German accent even is. Rachel (just like Meghan Markle in real life) has a black and a white parent. Her black father heads a rival law firm and her white mom is shown on occasion as well (in real life, Markle has a black mom and a white dad). The head of the firm, Jessica, is black and a woman (sadly, she is leaving the show!) and even the latest addition to the core team, secretary Gretchen Bodinski (played by Aloma Wright) who is hired on the spot by Harvey, is absolutely awesome! I love her character, she started in season 5, and I hope they’ll use her even more in the future.

I had been meaning to try an episode of Suits for a very long time as I heard good things about it. I even remember considering buying the first season DVD a long time ago when I saw it in a shop. But… it was about the corporate law world which could never quite pull me over the edge, so I let it be. Then, a few weeks ago, I was reading some blurb about Meghan Markle which mentioned Suits and when I logged onto Netflix that same day, I saw that the first 5 seasons were on there (the first series has 12 episodes, the rest have 16 episodes each), so I gave it a shot! And I haven’t regretted a single moment…

I couldn’t stop watching after 5 seasons, I HAD to know how it continued, so I found ways to watch season 6 and season 7 so far as well! It is still unsure whether there will be a season 8 and whether Meghan Markle will even be a part of that if there were to be an 8th season. I can’t imagine Suits without her… So, if she does happen to end up marrying Prince Harry, I really think she should be allowed to continue acting as well. After all, she’ll never be queen anyhow, she can live a more free life, I hope? Time will tell.

In any case, the series is on a hiatus right now. There was a mid-season finale a few weeks ago which ended on a huge cliffhanger for Donna & Harvey (will they??? won’t they???) and already I’m finding it almost unbearable to wait for the last 6 episodes of season 7 to air at the beginning of next year. Apparently, those last 6 episodes are being filmed now as we speak.

When I get obsessed, like right now with Donna & Harvey (called Darvey to shippers), it gets my creative juices flowing. I’m thinking of a fanfic right now and of course, I needed to make a video as well… But, I just don’t have the time to source video clips. Binge-watching in itself is already so time-consuming and it’s time to enter the ‘real world’ again, I can’t stay hidden away forever. I have been saving a lot of Darvey gifs to my laptop of late and suddenly had the brain-wave to make a video using those gifs! So, that’s what I’ve been working on recently. The quality of the images is not great (they are gifs, after all, and not real video clips), but it gets the message across. So, here is the end result…

So, now that I have all of this out of my system, maybe I can make room for other things again?… Yeah… right… nope, not quite ready yet to move on… I do think I need to maybe read just a few more fanfics and watch a few more videos… Ugh, bingeing is exhausting (I stay up too late!) yet so much fun!

Depressing & loveless film festival

Once every 6 months the Pathé cinema chain here in The Netherlands organizes a one-day film festival where 5 new movies are shown back to back, simultaneously in several cinemas throughout the country. It’s always on a Sunday, starting at 10.30 am and ending around 11 pm. I’ve written about previous PAC festivals here and here and have also been to one or two more before I started blogging. I can safely say that the one I went to yesterday was the most depressing of all! My friend and I had gotten tickets before we knew the complete line-up and yeah, we may not do that ever again. Next time, we wait for the line-up first. The line-up this time was this:

pacfest17

I ended up going to this thing alone without my friend as she called the night before to tell me she was really sick (a suspected kidney infection) and really couldn’t go. She urged me to go on my own, as the tickets were already paid for, and after a little hesitation I did.

The morning started at 10.30 am with a Russian movie called Loveless. In hindsight, I found this to be the best movie of the day. It’s about a married couple (actors Maryana Spivak and Alexei Rozin) who are about to divorce. They are so caught up in their own lives (with new lovers each) and hating each other, they ignore their 12-year-old son (Matvey Novikov). The effect that this planned divorce has on him is heartbreaking to see and is so well acted by the young boy! Then one day the boy is gone and the couple must team up to search for him…

This movie is bleak! And Loveless is a very fitting title. There is no love lost between the divorcing couple, no love for their son, a loveless relationship is hinted at between the mother and her mother and also briefly shown. Basically the main players are incapable of love and the little boy is the victim in all of this. The movie has a matter-of-fact calmness to it, with some very nice cinematography and very good acting by all, but so bleak and cold, it left me depressed at the end. Even so, it was a good movie! I read that it’s being submitted to the Oscars as a Best Foreign Language film, and rightly so, I believe.

If I had hoped for something a little lighter for the second movie, which was shown after lunch, then those hopes were quickly dashed by You Never Really Were Here with Joaquin Phoenix. It’s about a man named Joe who used to be in the army but is now a tormented and brutal enforcer and lives a lonely life. He goes on a mission to rescue a missing young teenage girl, leaving a lot of bodies in his wake. The rescue mission then takes an unexpected turn…

I read that in Cannes the movie got a 7 minute standing ovation, it’s also getting very good reviews. While I thought the movie was quite good, I wouldn’t go so far as giving it a standing ovation (not even for one minute). Maybe it was just too dark and violent for me, I don’t know. What I can say, however, is that Joaquin Phoenix really is very good as Joe. He won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for this and I can see why. He is a very good portrayer of a tormented soul. And I guess, you could see this movie as a continuation of the loveless theme of the first movie – Joe does live with his old mother and there is some love there, but his life is mostly loveless and lonely. I could sort of deal with the bleakness, the violence less so.

After these two movies I was more depressed than ever. Then came a 15 minute break after which the movie The Glass Castle was shown, with Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts. The Glass Castle is based on a true story, to quote from IMDB: “A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.”

It’s a childhood spent running away from debts, living in utter poverty and squatting in homes. While there is a lot of love there, it also shows that only love really isn’t enough. Jeannette, the second daughter, after many disappointments, decides to get away and make a better life for herself. Again, I liked the movie alright but couldn’t love it. It was really mostly a portrait of a daughter and her father. I could relate to that and because of that, at the end I did wipe away a tear, but I was left with mixed feelings. In the end, it felt like that which wasn’t right was brushed under the carpet. We see the parents neglecting the kids, almost starving them at times, they gave them no ounce of security, they for a long time refused to send them to school ‘because real life is the real school’, they once left them with an abusive grandmother for a week and the kids literally had to escape to get away and make their own way in the world. But hey, the parents really loved them, so in the end it was no big deal and all OK, right? Nah, that really didn’t do it for me! It was a typical American feel-good ending and glossing over all that had gone before. Again, the acting was very good but the movie itself was not so great.

While I was a little less depressed after this movie, I was left with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. Luckily it was time for dinner. There was 90 minutes for that, so I took a walk to clear my head before I got myself a quick bite to eat. The cinema is right near a river and it felt good to be in the air and moving around a bit. The boat in the picture on the right is called ‘Grace Kelly’, by the way. Very fitting name to come across on a one-day film festival.

The first evening film was Stronger with Jake Gyllenhall about the aftermath of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing. It’s a true story about Jeff Bauman who loses both his legs (below the knee) in the blast and has to deal with building a new life with his disability amidst all the media attention that comes with role of survivor and ‘hero’.

Again, great acting by Gyllenhall, Tatiana Maslany as his girlfriend Erin who forces him to grow up and Miranda Richardson as his mother. I liked the way it was filmed, it had a real look and feel and it was different from other ‘inspirational’ true stories. Jeff’s struggles looked real and especially the scene where his bandages come off really stuck with me in its no-fuss portrayal. The thing I didn’t that much like was the end when he basically succumbed to American heroism after finally finding peace in his situation. There is a bit of an American patriotic streak in all of this (as in very many movies coming from the US) and I have always had iffy feelings about that. Because of that, I think this movie may be more powerful for US audiences than it is for European ones.

After another 15 minute break, the final film was Good Time with Robert Pattinson. It’s a heist movie about two brothers. They rob a bank, which goes awry and the mentally challenged brother, Nick (Ben Safdie), gets arrested. Connie (Pattinson) in the night that follows tries everything he can to free his brother

While Pattinson really was excellent, this movie did absolutely nothing for me! The gritty feel was alright, what I really didn’t like was the close up, jerky filming style. It was so tiring to look at that I found myself closing my eyes occasionally. I didn’t quite nod off to sleep but I could have. While commendable that Connie tries everything for his brother, he just sinks deeper and deeper into shit. How these brothers came onto this track is never explained, why Connie thinks therapy is bad for Nick, I don’t know. I really did not like this movie and almost regretted having stayed for it. I had stayed for Pattinson, I generally find him to be quite a good actor and he really was good here, but he couldn’t save the movie for me. That whole world was just too gritty and ugly and, except for the brothers caring for each other, it felt very loveless and grim as well. Why it’s called Good Time is a little beyond me, Pointless might have been a better name. Maybe I would have liked it more if it hadn’t been the last in a line of loveless and depressing movies…

My ranking for the movies I saw at the 17th PAC Festival would be:

  1. Loveless
  2. Stronger
  3. You Never Really Were Here
  4. The Glass Castle
  5. Good Time

I had to take public transport (tram and train) followed by a 10 minute bike ride home and as it was night, there was less public transport available. What normally would have taken a maximum of an hour, took me an hour and a half. It meant I had time to catch up on news on my phone, with the whole #TakeTheKnee Trump versus NFL confrontation in the US (seriously, how can this man STILL be president??) and the devastating news that Nazis have made it into German parliament for the first time since WWII. I do realize 87% did not vote for them, but still they got enough votes to get into parliament! Seriously, after those 5 movies and the news, I felt like the world was coming to an end… When I finally fell into bed at 12.45 am my brain was so fried, I thankfully quickly fell into a deep sleep.

This sickly feeling, though a little lighter now than last night, has prevailed throughout the day today and I hope that writing all this up helps lighten the load. And a word of the wise: don’t ever watch all these films in one day!