Wings, by Larisa Shepitko – Film Review

Wings was Larisa Shepitko’s debut feature after she graduated from the famous All-Russian State Institute for Cinematography.

The film follows forty-one-year-old Nadezhda Petrukhina, a once WWII Soviet pilot, now living a quiet but unsatisfactory and ordinary life as a principal at a trade school. While treasured and respected by the generation that experienced the same War, Nadezhda struggles to connect with the generation that followed hers. She disapproves of her daughter’s (Tanya’s) choices in men and worries that her daughter might discover she is adopted.

The film is filled with a sense of neverending alienation deepened by a rich array of subject matters. These topics create a cracking portrait characterized by remembrance, grief, longing, and the struggles that come with getting older. 

The film is a superb character study that, surprisingly, ends up providing more hope than sorrow. Maya Bulgakova’s portrayal of Nadezhda has incredible nuance. She effortlessly conveyed the profound, wounded warmth of the character underneath the thick exterior of sombre uprightness. That final closeup of her eyes filled with tears while in the cockpit gave me a punch of sudden sadness!

Wings has a strong sense of Russian postwar nationalism, but it is not afraid to explore the morally ambiguous ramifications of that same nationalism on the human mind. Managing to also explore femininity through the lens of feminism while the movement was picking up steam worldwide.

I recommend this film to everyone who enjoys contemplating human existence and is interested in Soviet cinema. Please, let me know what to think about it.

Bye!


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As You Like It by William Shakespeare – Book Review|IcthusBookCorner

“All the world’s a stage”, said Jaques.

This was the first Shakespeare play I read in English, I had only read “Hamlet” in Portuguese before. I honestly enjoyed it a lot, even though I had some difficulties getting into Shakespeare’s language and writing style at first. At the moment, having read “Much Ado About Nothing“, I feel like I’m much more comfortable with his writing. 

“As You Like It”, a five-act comedy by William Shakespeare, was written and performed around 1599 and first published in the First Folio of 1623.

This play has two main locations: the court that Frederick has taken over from his brother (the rightful Duke), and the Forest of Arden (where the Duke and his followers live in exile).

The central theme of “As You Like It” is love, much like other comedies by Shakespeare. It’s a light-hearted and amusing read where there is disguise, family feud and romance. However, while reading it, I kept thinking about how it might also be about the fluidity of gender, how it could be interpreted as an analysis of queer identity both of gender and sexuality. It is light, has loveable characters, happy messages and not to mention amazing quotes! 

Rosalind was my favourite character in this play. She represents an excellent and ahead of its time female character, whom I enjoyed reading as she experimented with her recently discovered liberties as Ganymede. This is, Rosalind disguises herself as a young man (Ganymede), for the majority of the play, to pursue the man she loves and advise him on how to be a better, conscientious companion and lover. 

In contrast to Jaques, who refuses to have an all-in approach to life and always has something to say about the stupidity of those around him, Rosalind gives herself fully to every moment of her existence.

That is pretty much it, I have nothing else to say about this play. Let me know if you have read this before or watched any of the film adaptations.

Bye, keep on reading.


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Mr Palomar by Italo Calvino – Book Review|IcthusBookCorner

Mr Palomar is a 1983 novel by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. Its original Italian title is Palomar.

It is a work of fiction but reads more like a philosophical understanding of the world we live in. There is no plot but rather an organized account of varied observations made by the main character, whose name is Mr Palomar.

In a series of tweety-seven stories or analyses, he takes his everyday experience from the world as a series of problems in looking and interpreting the nature of reality itself. These episodes or essays sometimes have an aura of magic, spiritual introspection, or philosophical experiences.

The author’s words are beautiful and candid, or at least the translation (William Weaver) is. Calvino chooses his words so carefully and wisely that not one sentence seems expendable. This book is nothing like anything I’ve read before.

Mr Palomar views each object of his attention in length, as a whole, in its details and even possible variations. I reckon everyone at some level can relate to him quite a bit, at least everyone whose mind wanders off or who sets themselves to mull over the puzzles of life. My favourite chapter was titled “The Universe Looks at Itself”, I found the way in which the protagonist beholds the universe to be breathtaking and, I believe I feel like that because it’s pretty similar to the way I do it.

I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys flowery prose and likes to contemplate the human experience. Please, let me know what to think about this book.
Bye, keep on reading.


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My Thoughts on “Much Ado About Nothing” (play and film)

I watched and read Much Ado About Nothing, and here is what I think.

First, let’s talk about the 1993 film. It is wonderfully acted, let me tell you. With the magnificent ensemble of Keneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington and Kate Beckinsale, who could expect anything less?

I have to give all due respect to the cinematographer (Roger Lanser) for using the landscape available so beautifully. Not to mention, the soundtrack (Patrick Doyle) goes amazingly well if the overall absurdist feeling of the film. Overall, the directing style (Kenneth Branagh) was suitable for the story being told.

Just like the original play, this film manages to maintain its fun, lively and light feeling, while somehow adding to the play’s Pythonesque tone.

Listening to Emma Thompson reciting Shakespeare is an entire experience in and of itself, which I didn’t know I needed. What’s more, I believe I feel a bit in love with Denzel Washington, but that is neither here nor there.

Now, allow me to explain the plot. Claudio catches a glimpse of Hero and is immediately in love, and by her expression, she lets us know she reciprocates. While this is happening, Benedick and Beatrice are becoming aware they too are attracted to each other. However, unlike the other pair, their passion is expressed through quarrels and insults.

Since this is, what I would call, a Shakespearean romantic comedy, there is quite a bit of mockery, farce, zingers, and there is melodrama beyond contempt, but it all is right in the end.

The original play is known as one of Shakespeare comedies, and it was written around 1598. But let me tell you, it was only one step from falling into tragedy.

The play’s action is remarkably gamelike. There are dances, eavesdropping, disguises and misunderstandings, which gives us a lighthearted and upbeat pattern.

Something I realized after watching the film was that the play was very much dominated by two side characters. I found myself overlooking the main couple and rooting for Beatrice and Benedick. I reckon this is the result of their intellect and strength when compared to that of other characters in the story. However, I also believe they are afraid of rejection and of being the object of ridicule, so they choose to pretend they hate each other’s guts, for that reason too.

Beatrice is, without a doubt, my favourite of all Shakespeare’s characters. She is both sharp and fierce. Beatrice invented feminism, and we are just living but her rules.

I truly enjoyed this play, mainly because it overflows with wit and has a beautifully engaging set of characters. Furthermore, I applaud the play’s exploration of relevant themes such as betrayal, hypocrisy, and gender roles. (I can’t believe Shakespeare really brought light to the problem with gender roles.)

Please, let me know what to think about this film and play if you have watched or read it. And your experience with Shakespeare overall.
Bye, keep on reading.


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My Thoughts on Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – Book Review|IcthusBookCorner

TW: Death, Depression, Sexual harassment, Rape, Suicide

The synopsis of this book goes something like this:
“Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before.”

I’m not quite sure what I think about this book. Let me explain!

I’ve read Murakami before… I read Kafka on the Shore back in January 2020, and it is still one of my favourite books of all time. I’m genuinely in love with Murakami’s writing style, with his eloquence, his world-building, how when he describes food you can actually taste it, and when he describes a place you feel like you are actually there. He has obviously mastered his language, and the translator of his work is a genius.

One of the other reasons, I think, Norwegian Wood strikes a chord with readers is for its themes of mental illness and suicide. Mental health is not the most discussed topic, least of all in the 80s when this book was first published.

There are, however, a lot of problems in his books. I probably didn’t notice these in Kafka on the Shore because of its lack of relevant female characters.

All the female characters in this novel feel cartoonish, one-dimensional and are emotionally dependent on men. Most male characters are self-centred, and our male narrator spends most of his time objectifying the women around him. Not to mention that, for some inexplicable reason, every woman in this book wants to have sex with the main character. This is particularly baffling because the main character has nothing, NOTHING going for him.

Moreover, there is an entire rape scene described in detail in chapter 6, which is not only extremely disturbing but completely irrelevant to the plot.

All in all, I’m unable to rate this book. The immorality present in this story is not something I can compare to Lolita, for example, where it is very much intended given the overall purpose of that specific narrative. I feel like the misogyny present in Norwegian Wood is very likely to be a subproduct of Murakami’s mindset. If that is the case, I need to contemplate how that changes how I approach his writhing.

Please, let me know what to think about this book.
Bye, keep on reading.


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Letters to Jupiter by Lotté Jean – ARC Review | IcthusBookCorner

Letters To Jupiter is Lotté Jeans debut, a collection of poetry that delves into what comes with the fragility of the mind and soul.

This poetry collection is both easy to read and to interpret. With this, I don’t mean it is lesser poetry or that it does not covey any meaning or emotion. There are plenty of zingers throughout the book and hidden connotation and messages too. The prevailing motif through the collection is mostly self-love, while still exploring other related topics such as toxic relationships, family dynamics and quite a bit of introspectiveness.

The poems I enjoyed the most were the ones which explored family dynamics and the effects these have on oneself. I also appreciated the poems that sounded, for me, a bit more intimate, almost like confessions, where the author had a more introspective voice. 

From what I saw, the poetry had no pattern nor fixed metre and was in what I believe in English is called freestyle. I believe this collection is likely to be labelled insta-poetry due to both the theme and how short most of the poems are. I mean no harm when saying this, I think people are starting to lose the stigma around this new style of poetry which can only be a good thing. I was genuinely surprised by the writing and balance of almost every poems. Given the shortness of poems, the reader can tell each word served a purpose which I personally appreciate. Not to mention, the fact that each poem is written by an anonymous narraror somehow helps people reading to put themselves in the situation presented.

All in all, Letter to Jupiter is a light easy to read collection. I recommend it for anyone who loves both this type of poetry and looking into themes of youth, self-discovery, self-love. I’ll be giving this book 4 out of 5 stars because after a while it got a bit repetitive and the themes explored were something I was not in the mood for at the time.

Bye, keep on reading. And don’t forget the book is out today.

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All of the opinions are my own and this did not affect my review in any way.)


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The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House by Audre Lorde – Book Review

This book is a collection of essays on the power of women by the self-described black, lesbian, mother, warrior and poet, Audre Lorde.

The collection has four essays: Poetry is Not A Luxury, Use of Erotic, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House, and Uses of Anger. Every single one of these essays touches on different topics that concern women, and black women in specific; focussing on issues of womanhood, black identity, the LGBTQ community, and the vital roles that art and community must play in overthrowing the patriarchy.

This little book is loaded with heavy, theoretical ideas but Lorde’s writing is amazing enough to draw most of us in, and I found myself nodding along to must of it. These essays remain true to this day and her judgement and criticisms are as sharp and insightful now as they were when she first wrote them.

My favourite essay was, without doubt, the Uses of Anger. I found it to be as important as fitting with the times, while also being unapologetic and brilliant.

Her urge to unity and intersectionality is flawless due to the assurance that these do not mean conformity but accepting everyone’s individual traits.

Overall, I would highly recommend this essay collection about feminism and intersectionality to everyone, but especially if you’re looking for intersectional texts.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading. 

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett – Book Review

First of all, I want to thank my lovely friend Mónica for lending me her copy of this book. Terry Pratchett is her favourite author, so I asked her which of his books I should read from him, this was her recommendation. It’s all on her.

Small Gods is the 13th book in the Discworld series and it was published in 1992. It’s about Brutha, a novice priest of the God Om, who possesses a perfect memory. Brutha can’t read, he’s regarded as a bit dumb and it’s known that he will be a novice priest forever. However, unlike everyone else in the book, he is the only one that believes in Om. Everything in this book happens because of Brutha, who truly believes while still being a good and noble person.

Pratchett is an excellent writer, I found his style to be funny, touching, not to mention how great he was at making references to religions in our world and criticizing them as part of the book’s world.
The only negative aspect for me was the repetitiveness: Om’s lack of power and constant fretting about it, Brutha’s earnest but naive loyalty, and Vorbis’s malevolent determination are repeatedly pointed out and it gets quite annoying after a while.

As you can probably tell, the cons weren’t enough to make me dislike it and I found the book to be really well executed. The author brought light to problems in organized religion that need to be discussed and did so while making me laugh.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Bye, keep on reading.


Links to the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15798103-small-gods
https://www.wook.pt/livro/small-gods-terry-pratchett/1500093

Poems to Night by Rainer Maria Rilke – Book Review

Poems to Night is a poetry collection of twenty-two poems by the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke.

To be honest, I don’t think this was the best to start with Rilke’s work, but since it was sent to by Pushkin Press in exchange for a review, I went with the flow.

I truly loved most the poems however, there were a few which I found difficult to connect with a bit. All things considered, I can’t know if this is because of Rilke’s writing or due to the translation, we all know poetry is something hard to get right when translating. 

Rilke does not bother us with useless long verses which the only use is to fill pages, or with unnecessarily complicated rhymes. He gives the reader an insight into the connection one has with the world around themself and one’s mind. As you can see in the following verse:

“Is pain – as soon as the ploughshare,
labouring, naturally reaches a new layer –
is pain not good? And what can it mean, the last
interrupting us in the depths of such affliction?”

I think that given the year we have had; there are certain feelings brought out in these poems that we can relate to today, those of isolation and loneliness, which we can track to the author’s time during WW2. These are the things many of us have to deal with at night before we drift off to sleep.

All in all, this is a beautifully written book collection with a good translation, as fas as my translation knowledge goes. I recommend it to anyone who likes poetry as well as to anyone in search of a book to get in tune with their feelings and emotions.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.  

Paris, Texas (1984), by Wim Wenders – Film Review

Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders is the story about family and loss. The director uses themes of both brotherly relationships and fatherhood as a metaphor for man’s quest for personal identity, and he does it magically.

The fi out rst time we see Travis he is walking in Terlingua, a barren and dusty region of Texas. He isfilm-paris-texas-263 wearing a filthy suit along with a ragged red baseball cap. A bit into the film Travis reunites with his brother Walt Henderson, we know four years have passed since Walt and his wife Anne took responsibility for raising Travis’s young son Hunter. The story takes on from there.

The cinematography is poetic and there is a visual sense that contextualizes the characters’ feel of looming, present and past loss. Wenders shows us that his storytelling finds truth and poetry in the mundane. The film doesn’t need gimmicks or cliches to escalate emotional reaction from the viewer or create interest. This result is obtained simply by making the characters feel human.

All I can say is after I finished watching this masterpiece I was feeling everything and nothing at the same time. I don’t exactly look for this in a film, but once this feeling comes along, it’s hard to look at the art form in the same way ever again.

It’s a 9 out of 10. Please go and watch it now!