Valerian Movie Review

FHubs and I got to attend an advance screening of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It’s based off a French comic series originally published in the 1960’s and was titled Valerian and Laureline. The comic series influenced Star Wars so if you see this film and want to call shenanigans, you can’t.

I went into this with middling expectations. It’s a summer sci-fi blockbuster so the writing wasn’t meant to please all the nerds so much as put butts in seats. My expectations were definitely met. It’s a ‘Fate of the Furious in space’ type of deal with lots of action, an interesting premise, but weak writing.

I was not a fan of casting Dane DeHaan as the smooth, arrogant, ladies’ man Valerian. He looks permanently 15 so it was hard to take seriously. Cara Delevingne did a good job with Laureline considering she was very underwritten. I still feel like she was a bit young to take seriously as a federal agent. Was there no actress closer to 30 who could handle the role? I liked Rihanna’s character but holy crap did they not do enough with her either. The villain was obvious to the point where it almost felt lazy.

FHUbs’s summary was Douchebag and the City of a Thousand Special Effects. The city of Alpha was fascinating and incredibly well done. There are so many different civilizations and worlds there that it’s fascinating to think about. The Inter-Dimensional market was such a fun bit to film. The effects were excellent and the 3D was very tastefully done.

Because Valerian and Laureline is a series, trying to squish all of it into 2 hours meant some things weren’t done justice. I think to really flesh out this world, it would need to be a miniseries. Maybe if the film does well enough, that will happen someday. If you like the trailer, it’s worth seeing. Go be entertained and don’t think too hard if you don’t want the plot to fall apart.

Writing – 2/5
Casting – 3/5
Effects – 4/5
Overall – 3/5

Love/Hate Athleta

I’d heard my FSIL laud Athleta’s leggings so I poked my head into their store when I was at a local mall. I left with an insanely comfy cardigan that I later figured out was magnetic. I’ve worn it several times since then and love it. Hell, I’m wearing it as I type this.

If you buy something in store, you get a reusable tote bag instead of a regular shopping bag. Another big plus but it also acts as free advertising for them so take that how you will.

Later, I realized some things about Athleta and their history that made me question how great this brand truly was. I love some of their products but some of their history is genuinely troubling. Here are some of the things that contribute to my love/hate relationship with this brand.

Their Sizing

Athleta actually has a pretty generous sizing. It’s unusual for me to walk into a store and walk out with a size XL dress that looks good on me. While most of their extended sizes aren’t stocked in the stores, their return policy is very generous. It still omits the far end of the fat spectrum but many stores don’t bother to include any of us so it’s a nice change.

Their parent company is reprehensible

In 2014, Gap Inc. received the Public Eye Award which are given out to companies with the worst human rights and environmental records. They have had factories permit abuse of workers, child labor, and ignored basic safety regulations.

How does Old Navy sell shirts for just $5? At the expense of workers and our planet.

They have ethically made and/or sustainable clothing

I’m fat so finding something that’s comfortable, flattering, affordable, and good for my conscience is nigh impossible. The fact that Athleta has sustainable and ethically made options in my size is refreshing. While not cheap, they’re not obscene either.

However, nothing is marked as both sustainable and ethically made. You must pick one or the other. Those options only make up a small percentage of what’s available on the website so what about the rest of their stock? Was it made using the deplorable labor practices from this 2013 article? How bad is it for the environment?

The prices

I can readily accept I’ll have to pay more for clothing that is ethically and/or sustainably made. It’s the nature of the beast. However, since only a portion of Athleta’s offerings fall into this category, why is everything else so expensive?

This dress, which I bought on a whim and love, costs $89. It has the sustainable sticker, it’s comfy AF, and looks great. It’s a minimalist’s dream dress in a lot of ways. This dress is incredibly similar except for the hem, slightly longer sleeves, and pockets. It’s also $89 but does sweet FA for your conscience. Since this dress probably cost them less to make, why is it the same price?

Here’s another example. This dress is purple and has spaghetti straps whereas this dress is gray and has short sleeves. They have the same name and the same price. Why does one get the stamp and the other doesn’t? How much more work would it have been to make sure the other dress from the same product line didn’t hurt the planet?

By charging the same price for garments with one being made kindly and the other not, one of them generates a significant markup. They can pretend to be doing some good and still scam customers

Conclusion

Striving to live more minimally means consuming mindfully and knowing yourself. I know I love some of their products but I also know it’s a problematic brand. If/when I buy from them again, I will only buy their fair trade or sustainable products. By putting my dollars toward their more conscious products, I’m letting my dollars say what I want the company to hear. I can also check Poshmark and do some thrifting. It doesn’t count if I buy the bad brand secondhand, right?

The Playlist Book Tag

I thought it was time for another Tag Tuesday so I bring you my latest installment for the playlist book tag

Where the People Are by Jodi Benson (AKA The Little Mermaid)
Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton TBR

Back to the 80’s by Aqua
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Boy Brand by Jon Cozart and Peter Hollens
Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Modavsky

Born to Be Wild by J2
Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives by Thomas French

John Wayne by Lady Gaga
The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger

How Many F*cks by Erika Jayne
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson TBR

Waste by Smash Mouth
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Holding Out for a Hero by Van Canto
Leaving Megalopolis by Gail Simone

Best Game Ever by Mikey Mason
NPCs by Drew Hayes

If I Had a Heart by Todrick Hall
My Fairy Godmother Is a Drag Queen by David Clawson

Tie It Up by Kelly Clarkson
Altared: Bridezillas, Bewilderment, Big Love, Breakups, and What Women Really Think About Contemporary Weddings edited by Colleen Curran

Rabbit Heart by Florence + the Machine
The Trees by Ali Shaw

Party in the CIA by Weird Al
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

Coming Back from Mars by Aqua
The Martian by Andy Weir

Music Monday Bonus: Connected Songs

There’s a recent theory that swept the internet that two popular songs by Robyn are from the same place at the same time from different perspectives, the ex-girlfriend and the new girlfriend.

I liked these two Rachel Potter songs even more if they’re from the same relationship. When it’s your first big love, you tend to get completely bowled over which means it hurts even more when it ends badly.

I’ll think about doing a full Music Monday about these sometime if I can find enough songs.

Music Monday: State It #3

I wanted to do a Music Monday about feelings but here’s more state stuff in honor of America. No matter what it does to shame me (and it’s working very hard on doing that) it’s still home.

Portland Oregon by Loretta Lynn & Jack White
Fire on the Bayou by The Meters
South Dakota Hairdo by Joe West
Massachusetts by Ra Ra Riot
Roadrunner by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
California Gurls by Katy Perry
Missing Missouri by Sara Evans
Johnsburg Illinois by Tom Waits
Mary Queen of Arkansas by Bruce Springsteen
Carolina Girls by General Johnson and the Chairman of the Board

Book Borrowing Rules

Much like most bookworms, I’m a bit precious about my books. I value my things and take good care of them so they last. I expect others to do the same. I will absolutely lend out my books but I have a handful of ground rules.

-I do not lend out autographed books. You are welcome to read it in my home but it’s not leaving with you.

-If it’s new and I haven’t read it yet, neither are you.

-You break it, you replace it. If it comes back to me in considerably worse condition than when it left, I expect a new copy.

-If you fold the cover all the way around on my book like so, it is the last time you come near by books.

-Don’t dog-ear the pages. Use a receipt, dollar bill, free bookmark but no dog-earing.

I occasionally borrow books from friends but I always treat them as well as I treat my own, maybe slightly better. One thing that I have gotten a lot of value out of is a book sleeve. It’s a fabric pouch you put your book it so it doesn’t get as beat up riding around in your bag. I got mine from this seller

The Wonders of Coconut Oil

You read that right. I am a huge fan of coconut oil. I’ve only used the kind with a texture like petroleum jelly but I know there is an oil-y form as well.

Moisturizer
I had major issues with dry skin in winter. I wound up using petroleum jelly because it was the only thing that worked but it still left me feeling greasy. Coconut oil goes on lighter, does the same work, but doesn’t feel nearly as greasy. I’ve even used it sparingly on my cheeks and it works great.

Shaving Gel
I’ve been using it to dry shave instead of shaving with soap in the shower. I’m never going back. I can jump in the shower when I’m done and I can wear my glasses and see what I’m doing the entire time. It moisturizers while you shave too.

Conditioner
There are two ways to do this, use a little bit applied directly to hair or use it as a setting treatment and washing it out. I tried the first one. It did the job but it made my hair feel a tiny bit greasy. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it. It will do in a pinch but I think I’ll stick with my current product.

Digestive Help
My little tub of organic coconut oil came with nutritional information. Yes, folks it’s entirely edible. It’s supposed to have a variety of other health benefits so I’m going to try to incorporate it into my morning smoothies.

Makeup Remover?
I have no tried this but I use another kind of oil now. When that runs out, I may see how it measures up.

Cooking?
I think this is meant more for the oil consistency but it’s supposed to be great for things like stir fry.

I’m sure there’s a variety of things but these are the things I can either verify or want to verify. I’m told it can also be used as an organic diaper cream or as part of an organic bug repellent. There are so many good things it can do, you should look into what coconut oil can do to improve your life.