What's On (my lips)

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What's On (my lips) With a conference talk in London to prepare for this coming Friday, and with my PowerPoint slides empty in front of me, I did what any self-respecting, prospective academic would do in my position, by going out and buying lipstick. Wait, Gina, I hear you ask – But no. Do not ask for connections. Ask only for the colour. As ...
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Janet Mock: Redefining Realness

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Redefining Realness by Janet Mock Transgender autobiographies are dominated by whiteness. There's no need to set out a list, suffice to say that since the trans memoir began with Lili Elbe's Man Into Woman (1931), publishers have sought out the safest, most marketable kind of representation of trans to a white, heteronormative majority. This makes ...
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Lean On Pete

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Lean On Pete (on at Edinburgh Filmhouse) Patriarchy and capitalism both take a beating in Lean On Pete . It's a film about a youthful 15-year-old boy, Charlie (an award-winning performance by Charley Plummer) who rescues a condemned horse and takes it with him on a personal quest across wastelands and highways to find his surrogate mother, fol...
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Beast

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Beast I spent most of yesterday alone, after an exhausting week of ambivalent conclusions, and this made the dark and brooding Beast weirdly appropriate. The movie focuses on two outsiders, psychologically traumatised Moll and poacher Pascal Renouf, both inhabiting an island world of rugged coastlines, crashing waves, and an anally-retentive middle...
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Trap Door

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Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (MIT, 2017) We are living in a time of trans visibility. Yet we are also living in a time of anti-trans violence . So begins Trap Door , a 400-page anthology of interviews, essays and reviews of the experiences of predominantly African-American and Latino transgender people in the ...
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Learning Curves

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Learning Curves: speaking at my first conference This post could go one of two ways, narcissistic or focused on the bigger picture. I spoke at Edinburgh Mad Con yesterday – the conference of Madness, Mental Illness and Mind Doctors in 20 th and 21 st Century Popular Culture. I spoke about the moral panic caused by the issue of transgender women usi...
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To have or not have cosmetic surgery

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To have or not have cosmetic surgery It started as I was browsing images of Sarah McBride, the trans activist as girl-next-door, so pretty and passable. Then came Janet Mock, her model-good-looks, and I thought, 'fucking hell' and also, 'oh for fuck's sake.' And these are supposed to be my transgender role models? It's the weird dynamics ...
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Avengers: Infinity War

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Avengers: Infinity War It's set in Edinburgh! goes the cry, and I only wish it had been, or at least, much more than the five minutes that we get to see Edinburgh. Like the ten-second use of Northern Ireland in Hell Boy II , I was left wondering, what was the point? Locations-wise, the big winner in Avengers: Infinity War was outer space, with its ...
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A Quiet Place

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A Quiet Place A location of silence, where the slightest sound prompts monsters to leap out at you – and that's just the PhD room where I'm studying (that one's for all you PhDers out there). But seriously, the premise of this suspenseful, affectionate, horror film is one many readers will already be familiar with by now. Directed by and starring t...
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On Sarah McBride and Tomorrow Will Be Different

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On Sarah McBride and Tomorrow Will Be Different Should trans people be visibly trans, or should they pass, and disappear into the gender binary? What about the role models, representing us in the media? Does it matter that they look so perfectly cis-gendered? These are some of my reflections as I read this week Tomorrow Will Be Different (2018), th...
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Howl's Moving Castle

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Howl's Moving Castle Imagine a fairy tale Europe where the world wars never happened, a steampunk Europe of pre-war Dresden, Krakow, Paris, Budapest, et al, merged into one of narrow cobbled streets and wooden-beamed buildings and courtyards of different colours; imagine Hanseatic harbours of tall gables and market stalls with azure seas. Imagine f...
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My love for GLOW

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GLOW (Netflix TV show) I've seldom watched a Netflix show all the way through, season by season. Orange is the New Black , I watched into the third series before the grimness of the prison setting began to wear me down. Brit Marling's intelligent sci-fi, The OA , I did watch, and was sad it covered only one season. Sense8 I could happily watch...
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Ready Player One

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Ready Player One As a strapline summary of this Spielberg-directed film, it's difficult to top the 'coruscating explosion of pop-culture eye candy' as used by Variety magazine. Ready Player One , about people's virtual escape from slum-like conditions into a fantastic online world, is a visual feast and sums up so much of Spielberg's film-making: g...
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The Highs and Lows of an Intersectional Easter

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The Highs and Lows of an Intersectional Easter For Christians there's a sense of re-birth in the air, but Easter brings its own reflections for this non-Christian trans woman. I'll be away this coming Easter holiday, to be with people still trying to come to terms with my identity. I read somewhere that to come out as trans is to take the leap of f...
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Princess Mononoke

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Princess Mononoke They're doing a Hayao Miyazaki season at the Cameo , which means lots of gentle, Japanese animé of otherworlds and ethereal environments. Yesterday I went to watch Princess Mononoke  (1997), which to my mind is the darkest and most brutal of the Miyazaki offerings. Immediate questions occur in reflection, as they did before I...
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Unsane

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Unsane A look of distress crossed a friend's face when I talked about the concept of this movie. I understand why even better now. Unsane 's premise hints at a film that could go badly wrong, if exploited: of a girl locked up in a psychiatric hospital, who believes her former stalker has followed her there, in fact has found work there, to be with ...
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Saturday Night Party at Valentina's

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Saturday Night Party at Valentina's How is it possible to get lost on the way to Valentina's, of which I've been to twice before? Pulling behind me a suitcase filled with gifts and alcohol, I took a long route up my favourite street, then realized it wouldn't take me to the party. A swirling blizzard soon enveloped me, and I found myself at a motor...
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Mary Magdalene

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Mary Magdalene With mainstream films about Jesus, there's usually a fault line to contend with, between faith and secular interpretations: do you treat Jesus as a secular, historical figure, or the Son of God? Do you show the miracles as real? Or go for ambiguity, showing just enough for an open interpretation to satisfy different audiences? These ...
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What's On?

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What's On? They're still showing the Oscar-nominated best films at the Cameo and the Filmhouse . I liked all of them, but not enough to watch any of them again. Meanwhile, Lara Croft 's latest iteration is on at the multiplexes. It's received poor reviews, but it's got Alicia Vikander, and a mysterious jungle. I love Alicia Vikander in spite of The...
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Red Sparrow

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Red Sparrow This was not the film I was expecting, but the one I deserved. I had entered the screening room guessing at a female equivalent of James Bond, with its lead Jennifer Lawrence mixing fantasy and stupid violence. Instead, what I got for my assumptions was the channelling of John le Carre's brutalist Cold War vibe, of torture, double-cross...
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