2019, happy new year

Welcome MMXIX

It’s that favourite time of year again where I set my intentions for the new year. This one started out on a better note than the previous years as I didn’t have to spend it alone. I’m not sure what awaits me in 2019, but I will be treading new territories and learning some life lessons for sure. There are so many goals that I want to take on for the year, but I have narrowed them down to my “doable 3”; the 3 major ones I need to focus on.

#1 Follow Dr. Gregor’s Daily Dozen List

I want to be a healthier vegan, and I want to make healthy vegan choices! I want to limit processed foods and learn how to centre the majority of my meals around whole plant foods, and Dr. Gregor’s Daily Dozen is an excellent tool to keep me on track. I have been following Dr. Gregor for quite some time now and love the way he presents his information especially by using citations from journal articles. I listened to his interview for the food revolution summit and was amazed at his knowledge of food and nutrition. I have the Daily Dozen app (completely free) to help check my progress and serve as a reminder to eat a variety of health food every day.

#2 Exercise

Technically Dr. Gregor’s list encompasses exercise, but I still need this to be its own goal. I’ve become TERRIBLY complacent about exercise, and I just don’t do it enough. I benefit so heavily from being active every day, and I experienced this last year when I went for daily runs – My back pain had suddenly disappeared! Then I stopped, and the pain returned…. Exercise can help with everything from mental health and improved sleep quality to cancer prevention, immune function and even lifespan extension! I will try to aim for 40 minutes of vigorous exercise most days (jogging, cycling.. maybe)and 90 minutes of moderate exercise on my rest days days (brisk walking, yoga).

#3 Paint

I don’t know the first thing about painting, but I want to learn how to do it. Ultimately I want to paint in my free time as a way to keep myself calm and relaxed, and enjoy my time alone. Recently, I learned that painting (along with other activities such as gardening and writing) creates a certain quality of being called “flow.” Flow is the state of being completely engaged in something to the point of being in a near-meditative state. It’s kind of like meditation in a sense, and leaves you feeling less stressed. I start by using skillshare and watching Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting to learn the basics and practice different techniques.

Love and light to everyone this new year 😊.

2018, reflecting

A Look at 2018

Cheers to one of the most eventful years of my life! It brought about so many changes that I felt like I was constantly transitioning through various phases at once. 2018 came in the form of a whirlwind and has been so exhausting yet rewarding. A lot has truly happened, but my 3 goals kept me focused and grounded. The intentions I had set for this year were to become vegan, be more confident, and to get a job. It’s been a hell of a ride but I’m proud to say that I’ve done fairly well in completing them! Here are my past resolutions.


WhatsApp Image 2018-12-31 at 23.17.35

Tomorrow I will be celebrating my one year veganniversary :D! It was such a remarkable experience overall, and I fully intend on continuing this journey. For the past 12 months, I have heard it all – from “What do you do for protein?” to “So, you won’t really help animals… you just won’t eat them.” I must say that veganism sparks a lot of unwanted conversation (and criticism) that I don’t really like bringing it up unless I have to. I’m still learning how to manoeuvre social settings which were already awkward enough before going vegetarian. On the plus side, being vegan has made it easier to eat healthier meals and I’ve even inspired others to eat less meat. It also inspired me to be creative with my meals and try new foods that I probably wouldn’t have tried as an omnivore. Healthwise, I’m doing great and I feel great! To quickly address my last vegan update, I actually didn’t have mild hypertension and apparently my seborrheic dermatitis was mostly due to being exposed to the sun after moving back home + oily skin. Anyway, veganism has uplifted me in many ways and I’m hoping to make better choices in the new year.’


Soon after writing my goal to ‘be more confident,’ I found that it was a bit vague; an idea with no blueprint on how to execute it. However, one thing I’ve realised this year is that self confidence is fluid. It is constantly changing and influenced by a number of things, but it mostly comes from self-love. Some days I might not feel as confident or strong which makes it so easy to question my worth as a person. I had to learn not to be so hard on myself during those times and recognise that my lowness was only temporary. With that knowledge, I learned to be at peace with myself. Likewise, when I was at my most confident; when I was at my peak – it was transient, and that transience was humbling. This year, I learned to reinforce my confident moments by focusing my energy on the positivity that came with it. I guess you can say I’m “growing” to be a more confident person, but also submitting to its ebbs and flows.


It seems like just yesterday that I was stressing over studying, exams and finding a job after graduation. Summer was particularly hard as I was beginning to think I made a mistake returning home, especially with all the paper work and red tape involved. Nevertheless, I landed two jobs and went with the better option. I’m a full-time MLT and particularly working in core lab. Things have been good so far and I happen to like it, but I don’t see myself growing here. I mean – You never know I guess. But, while I’m working, I would like to find ways to expand my knowledge on my profession and research new avenues that I can take within it. I have an interest in quality management and infection control, and I would like to eventually try to utilise my technical skills as a technologist in a research setting e.g. infectious disease. We’ll just have to see where the wind takes me 😊.


Question 13

Would you break the law to save a loved one?

This question is so strange to me because there are too many variables to consider in order to give a coherent answer. Context definitely matters here, and my actions would largely depend on the situation at hand and the law in question. Generally speaking, my answer would be yes especially if the life of my loved one was in danger. Circumstances of that nature can override the law. But breaking the law to save a loved one from facing the consequences of their actions (e.g. save them from debt)? I wouldn’t exactly go robbing a bank in order to save them.

However, I’m reminded of a scenario that was used to assess Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. In the scenario, a woman was near death and dying from a particular disease. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her, which was recently discovered by a druggist in the same town. But, the druggist charged ten times more than it had initially costed him to make the drug. The sick woman’s husband could not afford the drug and went to everyone he knew to borrow money, but could only gather half of what the druggist was asking for it. He then tried to explain his dilemma to the druggist and asked him if he could pay the rest of it later, but the druggist declined. Out of desperation, the man broke into the druggist’s store to steal the drug for his wife.

I like this scenario, because there is a clear conflict between the moral and legal positions. Is it wrong to steal it because you are breaking the law and can go to prison, or wrong not to steal it because you are placing property rights over the life of another person, especially someone that is important to you? If I was in this man’s shoes, I would probably do the same; I would try to do everything I could to abide by the law but at the end of the day, life is more important regardless of the outcome.


Shameless pic of the day:

WhatsApp Image 2018-12-06 at 17.59.48

hair, hair product review, review

Product Review: Obia Naturals’ Style and Maintain Box


As mentioned before, I’ve been experimenting with products for the past year or so. Basically, I’ve been hopping from one brand to the next, just seeing what my hair responds to the best. A brand that I had come across within the last 10 months is Obia Naturals, and it’s by far one of the brands my hair likes the most. I’ve been using their products quite frequently since last year, October, and have tried most of their haircare products. But today, I will only be sharing my experience with their products from the Style & Maintain Box: The Curl Hydration Spray, Curl Moisture Cream, and Curl Enhancing Custard.


The Promise: This product promises to moisturize, hydrate and refresh your hair and scalp with its natural ingredients. It also states that it will condition, add shine and detangle hair without leaving build-up or residue.

How it worked: Generally, I’m not really into Curl Refreshers, but I thought I would give this product a fair try. I mostly used it as a primer for my wash & go’s to prep my hair for styling. I typically give my hair a couple sprays and then brush it through with my detangling brush to evenly distribute the product. I find this to be a better alternative to just using water because it gives my hair the extra nutrients it needs, and it helps to seal the hair cuticle which adds shine. In between my washes, I would use the Curl Hydration Spray as a refresher (and detangler), and I actually liked being able to hydrate my hair in this way between washes as opposed to doing/using nothing. I felt that this was a healthier practice for my hair.

My freshly washed hair with only the Curl Hydration Spray brushed through

What To expect: The Curl Hydration Spray is a lightweight formula that nourishes hair. It has a similar consistency to water although slightly more emollient. To me, the scent is a bit fragrant like rosewater but not overpowering at all. This product will leave your curls and coils shiny and soft without weighing it down.

Ingredient list: Purified Water (Aqua), Vegetable Glycerin, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate, Phthalate-Free Fragrance (Parfum).

Other details: I bought the Curl Hydration Spray about three times so far on Amazon for 9.99 USD. This formulation is vegan, pH balanced and natural. This product does not contain: sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, petroleum, phthalates, DEA, synthetic colors, and drying alcohols.


The promise: Obia Naturals’ Curl Moisture Cream promises to seal in moisture and minimise frizz by smoothing/closing the hair cuticle. It also promises to strengthen and add shine without weighing hair down.

How it worked: My hair just eats this stuff up! With this leave-in, I am able to detangle and hydrate my hair as well as reduce frizz which leaves it soft and shiny. It does not really work as a conditioner, but it is a wonderfully moisturising styling cream which is what it was intended to be.  I usually use this product right after spraying my hair with the Curl Hydration Spray, and I use my fingers to smooth it through my hair. Honestly, it ticks all the boxes for everything that you would want in a leave-in. I’ve even used the Curl Moisture Cream on its own without a gel/custard, and I loved how it made my curls so touchably soft. Granted, the style didn’t last as long as it would with gel, but it was very moisturised nonetheless.

My hair with the Curl Moisture Cream layered over the Hydration Spray


What to expect: The Curl Moisture Cream has a whipped consistency and is rather lightweight. However, a little goes a long way; only a small amount is needed to feel the moisturising effects of this cream. When I first smelled this product, I was unsure of how to describe it. To me it smells like babies… or more specifically baby wipes. Definitely a clean smell which I happen to like. The Curl Moisture Cream doesn’t flake or leave residue and has slip for detangling.

Ingredient list: Purified Water (Aqua), Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol, Vitis vinfera (Grape seed ) Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil, Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate, Arctium Lappa (Burdock Root), Lavandula Officinalis (Lavender) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Oil, Phthalate-Free Fragrance (Parfum).

*Note: Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol is a plant based emulsifying conditioner.

Other details: The Curl Moisture Cream generally seems to go for around 17.99 USD on Amazon as well as the official Obia Naturals website. To be honest, that’s a bit pricy for only 8 ounces of product, but it works so well that I continue to purchase it. The formulation is vegan, pH balanced and natural ingredients are used. This product does not contain: sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, petroleum, phthalates, DEA, synthetic colors, and drying alcohols. It’s also worth mentioning that this cream was voted the Best Moisturizer for Type 4 hair in both 2015 and 2016 by the Naturally Curly Editor’s Choice Awards.


20171219_223745The Promise: This oil-enriched, alcohol-free and lightweight custard promises to leave hair soft, shiny and deeply moisturized, and is perfect for wash n’ go’s, up-do’s, finger coils and smoothing edges.

How it worked: **Waves goodbye to Eco Styler Gel** My search for the PERFECT replacement gel is over!!! This is it. This is one of the only gels (or custards) I’ve ever tried that can actually hold my hair just as well as the eco gel can. I typically apply this product on top of the Curl Moisture Cream. I like being able to wash my hair on a weekly basis (although I’m trying to make it biweekly) and I’m happy that I can do that with this custard.

wet vs. dry

 My hair is definitely shinier and more moisturised after applying this product, and when it dries, my curls are soft and defined with a nice hold. I love it – can’t stress that enough. Holy Grail. And also, can I just bless these ingredients for being awesome😊?

Day 2 and Day 3 curls

What to expect: This is a thick custard (not as heavy as Eco Styler Gel but thick nonetheless), and it has the same “clean” smell that the moisture cream has. The more product you use, the more hold you will experience, so I recommend finer hair textures to use it sparingly. Overall, I think this is a great custard for thick and coarse curls/coils like mine. It will leave your hair practically frizz free. Who can argue with results like that? This product is also said to be colour-safe, but my hair is colour-free so I can’t shed any light on that.

Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Vitis vinfera (Grape Seed) Oil, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil, Carbomer, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Vegetable Glycerin, Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate, Xantham Gum, Phthalate-Free Fragrance (Parfum).

Other details: The Curl Enhancing Custard is somehow cheaper than the Curl Moisture Cream retailing for ~14.99 USD on Amazon. I can’t be mad at that. It’s worth it to me, and it’s also 12 fl oz of product. I like this product – it likes me, I mean…. It’s a match made in hair heaven. As you saw in the ingredients list, this custard is alcohol free, and like the products above, it’s also vegan, pH balanced and natural. It doesn’t contain any of the baddies (sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, petroleum, phthalates, DEA, and synthetic colours). Lastly, the Curl Enhancing Custard was voted the Best Styling Cream for Type 3 hair in 2015 by the Naturally Curly Editor’s Choice Awards.

Would I buy these products again? Been there, done that…

Website: https://www.obianaturals.com/

FR, MMM, review

2018MMM Review #4: Black Panther

I really didn’t want to review Marvel’s Black Panther (2018) this time around. When I saw this movie in February, I left the theatre with thoughts racing through my mind; trying to wrap my head around everything that I had just seen. I will preface this post by saying that I’m not really into superhero films/comics, so I can’t exactly compare this to any of Marvel’s past movies (from the Marvel Cinematic Universe) because I’ve either not seen it or completely forgotten about it. However, after I saw the trailer for Black Panther and got a taste of the brilliant cinematography and costume designs, I had to make an exception. I am also a supporter of inclusivity and diversity in Hollywood, which obviously made me want to watch it even more! What I love about Black Panther is that it has sparked a lot of conversation amongst its viewers, especially about villains vs. anti-heroes, and the relationship between continental Africans and persons from the African diaspora (particularly African/Black Americans). Despite its flaws, Black Panther completely won me over and, in my opinion, was worth the hype it received.

Theatrical Release Poster for Black Panther (2018)

It’s hard to expand on the premise of this film without spoiling it but, in short, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to serve as the new leader of the isolated yet futuristic African nation of Wakanda after his father (the king of Wakanda) had died. His new title as king also includes him gaining the ancestral powers of the nation’s panther god and taking on the role of becoming the Black Panther. However, he immediately faces a challenge for the throne, not only from a tribe in Wakanda but from Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), the main antagonist of the film. Killmonger’s ideologies and tactics threaten the fate of Wakanda and ultimately puts the world in danger. Therefore, T’Challa, with the help of his allies, must defeat him and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.

For me, good cinematography advances the story with the use of visuals, and can captivate its audience, keeping them engaged in the film. To achieve this, director, Ryan Coogler, united with cinematographer, Rachel Morrison, to bring Wakanda and the Black Panther to the screen. There were two scenes in particular where Morrison’s skills really shine through: The Busan car chase scene and the coronation ceremony. The Busan high-speed car chase scene was easily one of the most memorable and elaborate action scenes of Black Panther. As I was watching it for the first time, I was taken aback by how complex it was and couldn’t begin to understand how it was filmed. Later on, I realised the secret was a ‘camera array’ car which played a major part in allowing viewers to feel the stretch and curves of the roads, as if they themselves were speeding through the streets of Busan at over 100 miles per hour. As with most films of this genre, there is a significant amount of digital work involved in making its action scenes dynamic. One such shot that I found the most dynamic was when Black Panther leaps onto a 4Runner and causes the vehicle to flip over due to the stored kinetic energy of his suit. I also felt that the ceremonial scenes were especially great, being rich in both colour and detail. I love how the camera slowly panned upwards to show what looked like hundreds of people from different Wakandan tribes at the ceremony. I found this scene to be both breath-taking and full of energy as we see the tribes blending together, wearing their distinct yet beautiful colours and prints, and swaying happily in celebration of their future king. Of course, the power behind this scene was aided by the vibrant costume designs inspired by various African tribes and the upbeat “tribal” music as well.

BP2I’m a firm believer that representation matters, and I think it’s important for persons of minority groups (especially young adults and children) to be able to see someone much like themselves in TV shows and movies. Positive representation not only has the ability to empower minorities but teach society to be aware of and appreciate diversity. In 2012, there was a study that reported self-esteem boosting effects of television for white boys due to them regularly seeing white boys/men in powerful and central roles in the shows that they watch. It was brought to my attention that Black Panther is the first entry in the MCU with a black superhero as the lead, which is obviously huge because now black boys are better able to envision themselves as intelligent and confident heroes. Black Panther is also amazing because it’s a female focused film: Most of T’Challa’s trusted allies, advisors and body guards are black women, and the Wakandan women display a diverse range of attributes and are powerful in their own ways. For example, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) is a highly skilled spy, Okoye (Danai Gurira) is the fearsome leader of the Dora Milaje (an all-female warrior group), and the driving force behind Wakanda’s advancements in technology is Shuri, T’Challa’s sister. Shuri’s character resonated with me the most because I believe it’s important for young girls to be interested in science and technology. The first step is being able to see female role models in the field and it was refreshing to see Shuri’s character holding the potential of sparking an interest within young girls – especially black girls – to become scientists. It was also refreshing to see beauty that did not conform to Eurocentric standards on the screen, particularly when it came to the hairstyles. Not only were we able to see women with shaved heads as seen with the Dora Milaje, but we also see the versatility of natural hair.


Although Black Panther features a predominantly black cast, some viewers from the African diaspora do not feel that this film was meant for them and thus could not feel the pride that many continental Africans were able to feel. Some African Americans found that they identified and sympathised more with Killmonger and even refer to him as the true hero of the film. This viewpoint is mainly in support of Killmonger’s core mission which is to liberate oppressed and impoverished black people around the world with the advanced technology developed in Wakanda. I personally did not see Killmonger as a villain either as Coogler did a great job at humanising him. To me, he is more of an anti-hero because he was operating for the greater good, but his methodologies were equally as oppressive and destructive. I’ve also seen a few articles about Killmonger representing the disconnect between continental Africans and African-Americans; his ties to Wakanda being stripped from him the moment his father was killed, and despite being of Wakandan heritage on his father’s side, he was still seen as an outsider. Again, I really can’t expand upon this point without completely spoiling the movie, but I just wanted to point out a scene where the kid version of Killmonger speaks with his father on the ancestral plane. His father tells him that he fears that his son may not be welcomed in Wakanda, and instead they would see him as lost. To some persons on the African continent, the time and distance away from one’s homeland brings forth the idea of a homeless identity. Killmonger as a child does not understand this concept. Later, Killmonger replies to his father as a grown man saying “Maybe your home’s the one that’s lost. That’s why they can’t find us.” To him, Wakanda is lost for hiding itself from and turning its back on black people throughout the world.

And now you can see why I didn’t want to write this review. I haven’t even begun to put a dent in all of the thoughts that had hijacked my mind after I saw Black Panther. This film is just so incredibly multi-layered which is a part of the reason why it has inspired so many beautiful and passionate discussions. My main issue with Black Panther is that the pacing was a bit off, but overall, I enjoyed it, as did most of the people I know who has seen it. Here’s to hoping that Black Panther’s impact leads to new creative possibilities for minorities in film industry.

Image Credits: Images are credited to the film Black Panther (2018)

FR, MMM, review

2018MMM Review #3: What Happened, Miss Simone?

One night, I randomly found myself listening to Lupe Fiasco discussing the relationship between art and politics. At one point, he brought up Nina Simone and how she became more of a political activist which ultimately pigeonholed her artistry and slowly stifled her career. He recommended the Netflix biographical documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015) for those of us wanting to know more about her life and career. I thought to myself, why not keep the trend going and review another artist? Although it is a documentary and not a narrative where the story and script are crafted, I figured I would review it anyway especially because it seemed so authentic. Also, I was kind of interested in reviewing a documentary for the first time lol (I must warn you though, this review is loaded with spoilers).

Film Poster for What Happened, Miss Simone?

Directed by Liz Garbus, What Happened, Miss Simone? relies on rare archival footage, diary excerpts and interviews with her close friends and family, including her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, and her ex-husband and manager, Andrew Stroud. As our guide throughout this documentary, Nina Simone begins her story in North Carolina where she grew up as Eunice Waymon. She had exceptional talent at such a young age and was regularly playing gospel hymns on the piano for her local church. At the age of seven, she had come to study classical music with her teacher, Mrs. Mazzanovich, who felt that she would become the world’s greatest concert pianist. Although I was familiar with Nina Simone’s music, I had no idea that she was a classically trained pianist or that she furthered her education at Julliard. It was only after that realisation that I started to notice the infusion of classical music into her songs. After her application for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music had been rejected due to racism, Waymon had to find work and began performing at bars and jazz clubs to support her family. Out of fear of her mother finding out about her career choice, she changed her name to Nina Simone which marks her entry into showbusiness.

One cannot talk about Nina Simone’s music career without mentioning her involvement in the American Civil Rights movement. This is especially apparent in powerful songs such as “Mississippi Goddam”, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” and “Strange Fruit.” Nina Simone was willing to sacrifice her career for her activism, and unapologetically used her platform to amplify the voices of African American men and women. As a result, the industry had boycotted her records and venues were reluctant to book her out of fear of her speaking her mind on stage. Not only did she take a political stance through her music, but in the documentary, we see that she also surrounded herself with black intellectuals such as Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, and James Baldwin (she was even neighbours with Malcolm X and his family!). Lorraine Hansberry, in particular, was her best friend and taught her about Marx, Lenin and philosophy. Later on in her life, we hear Nina Simone reflecting on her music career in an interview where she states that she wouldn’t change being apart of the civil right movement but some of the songs she sang had hurt her career and were no longer relevant to the times. In my opinion, her music captures the essence of the political climate during that era and reflects the injustice and discrimination that many black people faced. Much of this injustice/discrimination, unfortunately, still exists today making her songs still as relevant as the day she released them. She was so different from the other entertainers of her time, and I have to give respect where it’s due.

what _pds_005_h
Backstage at first live performance at Carnegie Hall, 1963. Credit: Alfred Wertheimer

The title of the documentary is a quote from Maya Angelou as she reflected on Nina Simone’s career: “Miss Simone, you are idolized, even loved, by millions now. But what happened, Miss Simone?” This is a rather eerie yet stimulating question about such a complex woman. Despite her strong and fiery persona, Nina Simone was not only subjected to social abuse because of her career but she also suffered from domestic abuse at the hands of her husband/manager. It really perplexed me that someone who severely abused and exploited Nina Simone, was chosen to speak about her character and add to her story, especially after we hear Nina Simone say “He put a gun to my head, then he tied me up and raped me.” I guess I found myself trying to justify his presence in this documentary, although I never really felt comfortable with it myself. I was also shocked at some of Simone’s diary entries pertaining to the abuse where it appears that she was inviting physical violence. However, through her diary, we also see that she was battling depression and suicidal thoughts. After her split with Stroud, her relationship with her daughter also became difficult and abusive. Kelly stated that her mother went from being her comfort to the monster in her life, and that Simone was now the person doing the beating, but instead, beating her. At the end of the documentary, it was revealed that Nina Simone was diagnosed with bipolar disorder which she had been suffering from for years – another fact that I had never known about her. The film does not expand very much on her mental illness, but it’s safe to say that it might have amplified her indignation and rage. It’s saddening that she didn’t have a better support system around her throughout her life. From day one, she had sacrificed everything for the sake of music, even as a child where she was often quite lonely. Her tough exterior might make it easier for the public to dismiss the idea of her suffering, but Nina Simone truly experienced more than her share of pain in her lifetime. In spite of it all, she was a survivor.

I enjoyed learning more about Nina Simone’s legacy, and Garbus did a great job weaving several of the songs that highlight her as a jazz/blues vocalist and a pianist into the film. Documentaries and biopics always manage to tug on my heartstrings, and What Happened, Miss Simone? was no different. Nina Simone described that if her life had taken a different path, she would have been happier had she become the first Black classical pianist that she had once aspired to be. In the film, we also hear her often say how much she wanted to be free, and in many ways, we found her chasing that freedom – chasing happiness. Freedom to her means to have “no fear,” and her music reflected this fearlessness that she was so desperate to acquire. Her story as presented in this documentary is quite compelling yet tragic, and all in all, the film does not bury her truth. I was able to leave this documentary with a better picture of who Nina Simone was and the struggles she went through, and appreciate her even more for her contribution to music as an artist and as a political activist.

**Film poster is credited to the movie What Happened, Miss Simone? (Distributed by Netflix)**

FR, MMM, review, Uncategorized

2018MMM Review #2: Frida

After I was done writing my review of Loving Vincent, I came across the film Frida (2002) whilst I was browsing through Netflix (yes, I have Netflix now). Since I had already watched a biopic of one famous artist, I thought, “why not do another?” Frida Kahlo was an interesting choice as I’ve seen very few of her paintings and only read about a small snippet of her life… I mean, I could have sworn she was a Cuban artist, so clearly I knew next to nothing about her. That said, the American biopic drama, Frida, was a perfect introduction to the life and art of MEXICAN artist, Frida Kahlo.

Theatrical Release Poster for Frida

One thing that this film makes apparent is that Frida Kahlo’s life was full of pain and heartbreak. Even though her time on Earth was brief, she endured more tragedy than I could ever fathom any individual going through. The film opens with a playful and idealistic Frida (Salma Hayek) in her teens, unaware of the horrific bus accident that awaited her. This accident completely changed the trajectory of her life (and ignited her artistic career) as she suffered from severe, near-fatal injuries that would lead to her undergoing countless operations during her lifetime. My favourite quote from the film was one she told her husband rather matter-of-factly: “There have been two big accidents in my life, Diego: The trolley and you. You are by for the worst.”The bus accident, of course, left her physically disabled and Diego left her disabled emotionally. Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) undoubtedly fuelled Frida’s passion for painting, being an artist himself, but their relationship was volatile, largely due to their mutual infidelities. And yet the bond they shared was one of limitless passion and love.


Although Kahlo’s success as an artist was highlighted for only a few brief moments, director Julie Taymor does a wonderful job weaving Kahlo’s artwork into the story. Not only do we get to see Kahlo dealing with her pain by pouring it into her artwork, but we truly get the sense that she needed to paint to stay alive; it wasn’t just a form of expression. What captivated me the most was seeing Kahlo’s art mingling with reality. One such moment is a distraught Kahlo putting on a suit and cutting her hair after her breakup with Rivera – the scene then transitions into Kahlo’s 1940 Self-Portrait With Cropped Hair (or I guess a reference of that painting). With this tactic, we are able to see the profundity of her work and the emotion behind it.

I try to judge films for what they are instead of what I wish they were, but in the case with Frida, it left so much to be desired. So, I’ve decided to just cram my overly critical thoughts into this lengthy paragraph :). Firstly, it struck me as odd that the film’s dialogue was completely in English but with “Mexican” accents. Most of the main cast can speak Spanish, the film’s score is in Spanish, and the film is set in Mexico (aside from when Kahlo and Rivera go to USA) so why not have the official language of this film be Spanish with English subtitles? I suppose this is probably due to Julie Taymor not being able to speak the language but imagine how this would have enhanced the audience’s viewing experience! Secondly, I thought Salma Hayek was great as Frida. She was able to capture that adventurous spirit that Frida Kahlo had and bring it to the screen. The fiery chemistry between Rivera and Kahlo is believable, but her disability not so much. We hear Kahlo often referring to herself as crippled but Hayek does not really convey that pain. Maybe this is because Taymor wanted her audience to focus on more than her disability… But focus on what exactly? Her miserable love/hate relationship with Rivera and inability to live without him? Her bisexuality? This leads me to my final thought: the film focuses too heavily on the affairs. At the end of the day, we don’t get a clear picture of who Frida Kahlo was or why she was considered revolutionary; we only get key events in her life and how they might have affected her. It would have been great to hear more about her political ideologies/philosophies (apart from her simply calling herself a communist), her painting process, why painting became a passion, what her influences were, etc. Even a more meaningful look on her extramarital affairs would be welcome – was it just revenge sex or did she actually care for her lovers? Was polyamory something that she wanted for herself or did she adopt this practice just because of Diego’s unfaithfulness? I guess I could read about this stuff in my own time, but it would have been nice to see Kahlo with a little more depth in this film. Semi-rant over.

In this day and age, Frida Kahlo represents a lot of things for a lot of different people: She is an icon for people of colour, feminists/women, the LGBTQ community, Latinxs, and persons with disabilities. Despite whatever gripes I had with this film, I still think Frida was a beautiful tribute to the Mexican artist and worth the watch. I don’t exactly relate to Frida Kahlo, but I definitely respect and admire her resiliency and boldness. I feel sorrowful that she had to experience so much pain during her short time on earth. Just thinking about it makes me want to shed tears for her. There is a quote by Frida at the end of the movie where she states, “I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.” This is so powerful and stayed with me long after the film’s credits. I hope that she was able to find peace in death, and of course, her art will live on in the hearts of many.

Image Credits: Images are credited to the film FRIDA