directed by Garth Jennings

5 Stars

Sing is not the first movie to incorporate the talent-show concept into its story, but it is unquestionably the most successful. While not especially unique, this zany escapade centered on a theatre-owning koala with great ambitions has enough charm and enough variety in the song choices to avoid alienating older audience members. Buster Moon, our protagonist, is barely hanging on to his business; the bank is ready to seize control of the theatre. Before tragedy hits, his plan of hosting a talent show draws the public interest. Throughout the movie, each of the main candidates is shown overcoming their own obstacles, whether it’s debilitating stage fright, the invisibility of being a stay-at-home mom, or a bank-robber dad with a job opening in the family firm. I didn’t have high hopes for this film at first.

This film was equally entertaining for both adults and children, and I honestly couldn’t tell you who had a larger crowd. I could tell from the teaser that this was going to be engaging because it wasn’t only animals singing, but also familiar voices! During the audition, they sang current songs as well as some older songs, but that was a good way to truly cater to their audience. Each actor/actress gave their all to their roles, and I was surprised to see that a few of them could sing! The start was interesting. It drew my interest, but I was hooked until the main character started talking about his current situation. The most intriguing aspect of the film was the lessons it taught, which were that people would do what they want when they want to do it and that you should never be scared to do what you are best at and go for your dreams! The great ensemble, which includes many well-known figures in the entertainment world, makes the film more appealing to parents as well. Overall, this film was enjoyable to see!

Manaal I.

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by Vivek Shraya

5 Stars

I’m absolutely not someone who generally reads non-fiction and enjoys it — and honestly, who can blame me when fiction is so much more entertaining than reality? — but if you do not read (or place a hold on) this amazing non-fiction book you are transphobic, misogynistic and racist. I don’t make the rules *sniffs nose and looks haughtily down on you*. OK, fine. Maybe you’re not those things but seriously: GET. THIS. BOOK.

It’s a 96-page book mainly about misogyny affecting Vivek Shraya, the author, and her struggle with inner (and outer) misogyny as a trans woman who was raised and perceived as a gay man. The story follows Vivek throughout different stages of her life and shares short stories of transphobia, over-sexualization and misogyny she’s faced. I’m not going to lie… this book had me on the verge of tears multiple times, which doesn’t happen often. This was an own-voices book (literally a mini life story of the author) so rating it seems somewhat trivial and disrespectful (I can’t exactly say their life was 1 star respectfully) but if I had to give it a rating it would be 5/5, 10/10, 100/100. The writing was beautiful- lyrical — and interacted wonderfully with the reader by asking probing questions that left you dumbfounded and deep in thought. It was a phenomenal queer-feminist read and gave the perspective of someone who was ‘not raised a woman’ (Vivek experienced the oppressor side and does not share the same experiences AFAB women are more prone to) but has experienced both sides of misogyny. Again, 5/5 stars.

Age rating: Mature people
 Trigger warnings: Transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, over-sexualization, mentions of biphobia/bi-erasure, cheating, mentions of sex, body dysmorphia, self-loathing, mentions of (sexual) assault and more. Check for more if you’re sensitive!

Jazleen H.

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by Karen McManus

4 Stars

One of Us is Next is the sequel to One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus. I was doubtful that the sequel would be as good as the first book, as generally speaking sequels are often a little disappointing. I’m happy to report that it is definitely not the case here! This novel is fresh, not predictable and in my opinion even better than the first book! 

One of us is next follows the story of 3 young teens, Maeve, Phoebe and Knox and is still situated at Bayview High. Ever since the whole “Simon Says” situation, there have been many copycats at the high school, but no one has been able to fill the gossip void quite like Simon did. Until now.

Now, there is someone playing an anonymous game of Truth or Dare. If one chooses not to play, a dark truth is revealed about them…

Phoebe is the first target, then Maeve. But when it comes to Knox’s turn, things are becoming more dangerous. The dares are becoming deadlier, and the truths are getting darker. Although Simon is gone, someone is trying to keep his legacy alive. Will there be a new mystery to uncover, or is this a simple game of truth or dare?

With this sequel, McManus chose to dive more into Maeve’s character (the sister of one of the main characters from One of Us is Lying), which I really enjoyed. I appreciated how she kept the characters from the first book as “extras”, as we get to know about them from this sequel’s characters’ perspectives. Although not mandatory, I would recommend reading One of Us is Lying first as this will provide the full background on the original main characters, as well as the vibe at Bayview High. I recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a good YA and young teen mystery novel. 

Emma O.

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directed by Michael Gracey

The Greatest Showman is a biographical musical about the journey of young Phineas Barnum as a kid, entrepreneur, museum owner, circus producer, and entertainment producer. Phineas, son of a tailor, meets Charity, the daughter of one of his father’s affluent clients. He makes her laugh and gets slapped for it by her dad, but the spark from their first encounter lasts throughout their youth, even when she’s away at boarding school, and he’s an orphan on the streets. Despite all odds, Finn and Charity marry and have two daughters years later. In the midst of raising his family, he secures a loan to build a museum of curiosities, eventually fails. He is inspired by an encounter to ask unusual-looking people to participate in a performance centered on them.

With help from costumes and makeup, he launches what will become the first circus. Barnum’s show is critically criticized, but the general public enjoys it. Barnum makes a fortune, but he can’t seem to stop looking for approval from higher classes. We all need some positivity and light in our lives. The world is filled with so much hate and unkindness toward anybody who is different. This film teaches us that everyone is valuable, that everyone’s existence has significance and purpose, and that we should work hard to help everyone, rich or poor. The message of this movie reminds us of how we should treat those around us and gives those of us who are different the courage and power to be who we are. Not to mention the amazing songs people of all ages can enjoy! This is the type of movie which you can’t help but come back to just because of its timeless nature. Human nature craves the light and goodness movies such as The Greatest Showman give to us in this world.

Manaal I.

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