Aquaman

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I don’t write a lot of movie reviews, mostly because going to the movies the way I like to go to the movies is a little more expensive than I would like, and so I see less movies than I might otherwise.

The husband is a big DC fan. We’ve seen all the newer Justice League efforts, some of which I have talked about here, and so it was a forgone conclusion that we would venture out from our winter den to see Jason Momoa swim around as Arthur Curry.

I’ll start with the negatives first. The CGI in this movie is aggressive. Everything was coated in a thin film of “this isn’t in any way real” which was understandable, yet distracting. Meera’s hair was comically red, when no one else was even close to that brash.

And could someone explain why Willem Dafoe was cast as Vulko?

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A character almost exclusively drawn and portrayed as a larger, bald, hulking guy was given to a small, timid, thin Willem Dafoe? Who was in charge of this casting, because I have some questions.

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He didn’t even have a beard in the movie, and he had a full head of hair. I am confusion.

There were also several slow motion sequences that really made my eyes roll. Slow motion sequences are for explosions. Period. Nothing else.

Other than that this movie was really fun. Jason Momoa is perfect in this role, and other than Dafoe’s casting, all the other characters were perfectly matched. I loved the backstory of his parents, and his dad was adorable (Jango Fett for all you nerd alerts out there). I wish more time had been spent with Atlantis’ history. I still have questions about how the technology they were exploring turned half their population into nightmares (CRAB PEOPLE) but others stayed looking like human bipeds.

The story takes place after the Justice League movie, so Arthur is already famous for his role in saving the world from the scary destiny boxes and the hair band, Steppenwolf. The plot was both lighthearted and intense – Arthur does not want to be king, but is willing to do it to save both the land and sea from the current king’s warmongering – and so he’s continually pressed along his journey, but along they way he interacts with his environment in a very frat-dude-bro way.

I’m sorry, I meant to put all the stuff I didn’t like back there at the beginning, but I have to talk a little bit about the weird (?)villain(?) that King Orm (Arthur’s little brother and the current king) hires to help him start his war against the land. At the very beginning of the movie Arthur saves a submarine full of sailors from a band of pirates that has attempted to take over the sub by shooting the captain. He gets into a fight with the father and son duo that led the pirates, and in the midst of that fight the dad gets caught under a torpedo. The son tries to free him and asks Arthur to have mercy, to which Arthur responds “you kill innocent people, ask the sea for mercy” and climbs out of the sub, leaving them struggling with the rising waters.

I’m not even going to google what this character’s name is, because he eventually becomes Black Manta and that’s all that really matters. My problem lies with the fact that IDGAF about this villain. He has no redeemable features. I don’t even care that he loses his dad because Arthur is 100% correct – they are asshole murderers who wouldn’t have been in that position if they hadn’t been actively trying to be asshole murderer pirates. He’s mad because he blames Arthur for his dad’s death, but that’s not enough for me to find him a compelling villain.

When I watched Black Panther, Killmonger was a villain that I cared about. He was a child whose father was killed due to a difference of opinion about how/whether Wakanda should help black people around the world. Killmonger was fighting to reclaim his birthright that was taken from him by a shady situation. He represented so much more than just his own circumstances. You could empathize with him.

Black Manta is just some snotty, dick kid wanting murder revenge for the death of his murderer father who died as a result of their decision to kill people and help set up a planetary war. They got what was coming to them. Also, in terms of plot, “HE KILLED MY DADDY, I’M GONNA KILL HIM!” is a motivation that is going to get really boring, really quickly. Not to mention that Arthur didn’t kill his dad, he just didn’t help them escape, which I get makes him a little responsible but *shrug*. I don’t read the comics, so I’m not sure whether he’s this petulant there. The husband had to tell me Dafoe’s casting was weird for me to get that, so maybe I’m missing the mark here too, but I don’t think I am.

And while we’re back on things I didn’t like, I am confused about where the makers of the movie think Maine is. Most of the action here takes place on the coast of Maine and yet Atlantis is…where? In the cold waters of the north Atlantic? Wasn’t Arthur in Alaska in Justice League? What were those accents the sailors on the submarine had? Geographically (and this is a small point, I grant you) this movie was all over the place. I know where Maine is, but I don’t think it was something the writers of this script knew.

One more thing – please stop rushing love stories. I didn’t need Mera and Arthur to be a thing in this movie. They didn’t need to kiss and to be honest there was very little chemistry between the two of them throughout the movie. The kiss at the end felt forced and unearned, and while I know they have to be together, it’s a connection that could have been left for a sequel to give the relationship time to build. I didn’t like that it just felt flung into the action because it had to be, not because it should be there.

I liked Aquaman better than Wonder Woman, Batman vs. Superman, and Justice League. I’m sure part of my enjoyment was that it was new to me and I got to enjoy an origin story I had not seen before. In the cartoons Aquaman always seemed like a wimpy, side character to me, so seeing him as a strong, funny, lead character was a nice change. I get who Aquaman is and what his history is and why he’s so grumpy and dumb. It was a fun movie and I’m looking forward to the Flash movie that I think is next. *grabby hands*

NOW GIVE ME A GOOD GREEN LANTERN MOVIE YOU COWARDS. PUT ON YOUR BIG BOY PANTS AND GET BACK OUT THERE AND MAKE ME A LANTERN MOVIE. I DEMAND IT!!

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Crazy Rich Asians

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I have a terrible confession to make, and that is that I love a good romantic comedy. I haven’t watched one in a long time, but when I saw the clips and reviews coming in from the movie adaptation of the novel Crazy Rich Asians, I knew I had to go see it. I had not read the novel ahead of time, so unfortunately this review won’t have any comparisons to the book.

I didn’t want this movie to end. I needed to see what came next. I wanted to stay in this story with this pair of people who love each other so much that it transcended even cultural and familial obligation. The male lead, Nick, never falters. He never doubts his love. He considers it, he feels the weight of obligation, but every time he is right by Rachel’s side, even in the face of the disappointment of his mother and grandmother, who are expecting him to come home and run the family business.

It was nice when Rachel discovered how rich and connected Nick was that she didn’t stay mad at him long for keeping it from her. She understood that he wanted her to love him for him, without the trappings of wealth and his family name. What I personally fault him for is not telling her before they got on the plane to Singapore, and for being oblivious about her going off to the bachelorette party (Nick’s the best man in his friend’s wedding and has brought Rachel along to meet his family) and not expecting his ex to make trouble.

This movie goes hard with the cultural expectations and honestly I’m glad they didn’t pull any punches. I don’t want to give away the twist(s), but when I say I wanted to cat fight everyone shitting on Rachel I mean it. I would have been there with fucking bells on and no amount of money would have saved those bitches from the beat down this fat American would have brought upon them. If you have seen this movie and you know what happens to her at the wedding they’ve come to attend, you know I mean it when I say that bitches are cold. WOW. W. O. W. BITCHES. I can’t imagine being Rachel in the middle of the wedding craziness, coming to terms with who her boyfriend is, and then having to face THAT. Hold me back, I gotta fight some old Asian women over their disrespect of my girl Rachel Chu.

I did cry, but not for the reasons you might think. I didn’t doubt that Nick was 100% for Rachel, and everything that his family did to her was really shitty. The moments when I cried was when the people that truly cared about her were kind to her. After the wedding she runs to her crazy best friend from college’s house, and she just lies in the guest bedroom for days. One day Ken Jeong (the dad) comes in with the friends younger sister twins and they work together to toddle in to bring her a tray of food because she hasn’t been eating. I lost it. She’s a stranger in a land of her heritage, sad and lost in love, and people are so kind to her. My heart just ached for her and was thankful for the helpers. Even Nick, from the distance he gave her to think, gave her a gift of kindness that made me cry all over again. The most beautiful part of the movie was the thirty minutes in which Rachel regains her confidence and redefines her value with the help of the kindness of others. It was *chef’s kiss.*

I’ll say it again, I didn’t want this movie to end. The cast was flawless, the story was amazing, the acting was so good – it moved me to tears and laughter. It is a movie I will want to be able to watch at home once it leaves theaters. If you haven’t yet, treat yourself to a delightful 2 hours and go see Crazy Rich Asians. You won’t be disappointed. Then come back here and let me know what you thought.

Avengers: Infinity War (SO MANY SPOILERS, SERIOUSLY)

I saw this movie on Saturday, April 28th and have been processing it since. This movie is the culmination of 10 years of interwoven Marvel stories which the husband and I took the trouble to watch in order to prepare.

Some thoughts:

  • Over and over again this movie struggles with whether sacrifice or the individual is the most important. Is one person’s efforts laudable if their sacrifice saves the world? Or are we more about “one person is worth saving every time, don’t sacrifice one person for the whole”? I feel like this movie couldn’t decide. Dr. Strange is like “I’m gonna save the universe over saving you scrubs” but then hands the time stone over anyway. Vision and Scarlet Witch could have destroyed the mind stone like ten different times in the movie but we’re like “this is what we’re fighting for, we don’t want to sacrifice it” but then they do it anyway, and then it doesn’t even matter because Thanos has come too far and has the time stone and OMG.
  • EVERYTHING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A LOVE STORY
  • WHY DOES GAMORA GIVE UP THE LOCATION OF THE SOUL STONE IMMEDIATELY LIKE ONE PERSON BEING TORTURED ISN’T WORTH THE ENTIRE FUCKING UNIVERSE OMG
  • The deaths that happen at the end in Voldemort-flaking-away fashion ruin the effect of the movie. I know what movies are coming out in the next FIVE years, and I’m supposed to believe that Black Panther is gone forever? That the entirety of the Guardians of the Galaxy are gone forever? And if this is ultra random, how are all the OG Avengers still there? I can’t even get one Powerball number but Black Widow gets to live? I feel like that entire experience should have been harrowing, but it wasn’t because we know they’ll be back. *Fart Noise*
  • One exception to my previous thought is that Spiderman’s death WILL RIP YOUR HEART OUT. Hearing a child beg for his life and whimper that he’s not ready to go as he fades away in Iron Man’s arms had me physically sobbing in the theater. If I hadn’t been in public I would have been making much uglier noises. I remember like, pushing myself back into my chair as if it might get me away from the horror.
  • I am disappointed in the Hulk.
  • WHY DID THEY TAKE VISION TO WAKANDA TO DEAL WITH THE STONE AND MAKE THE WAR HAPPEN THERE THIS IS AN OUTRAGE.
  • Why does everyone just hand over stones? Dr. Strange takes all this time to protect the stone, refuses to hand it over, but then hands it over in return for Iron Man’s life. I guess he might have seen a future where Iron Man HAS to live for them to succeed, but still it felt like seeing him suffer for the whole movie was all for nothing.
  • Speaking of which, this entire movie feels like a waste of time, like I went through it for nothing. Because it’s all going to be reversed and the REAL trauma is coming in the next part in 2019.

It was good in parts, predictable in others, confusing in places because you didn’t understand why characters were doing what they were doing. I think I was equal parts in shock and offended by it. Everything that happened was terrible, but did the directors and writers really think I was stupid enough to swallow it all? I mean, seriously.

Let’s All Go to the Movies! (And Get Ourselves a Thwack.)

I have thoughts on Infinity War, but they include spoilers to first I’m going to give you a bonus story about something that happened to me at the theater first to give you a chance to go away before you can blame me for spoiling the movie for you.

We go to the Cinebistro close by because once you experience a movie with seat service, it’s very difficult to go back to sitting with the peasants. We got there just in time to order our food, we started eating when the previews began, and then the lights went all the way down and we began to enjoy the movie.

About 15 minutes in a man came into the theater with his cell phone out and on, and stood near us just chatting away on it, and it even dinged a few times for good measure.

I said: “Can you take that outside please?” (in a slightly aggravated tone, tbh, and for good reason)

He said: “Shut your fucking mouth, I’m just trying to find someone. If you want to get lippy about it I’ll come over there and backhand you.”

My husband said: “EXCUSE ME?”

And then the man walked away, down into the first row of the balcony to sit down.

I immediately stood up, walked out of the theater (again, we were already like 15 minutes into the movie. I am missing the movie at this point) and went to the front desk and asked to speak to a manager. I informed him that I was threatened in my theater by a man who arrived significantly late for the movie and was using his cell phone, and I expected that he be removed so I could feel safe to reenter the theater and enjoy the movie.

The first manager I spoke to said: “We can’t do anything about hearsay. If we didnt see it happen, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

This is when I began to shake and hold back tears. “it’s not hearsay if it happened directly to me. You mean to say that this man, who showed up late, used his cell phone, threatened to hit me, gets to enjoy this movie while I have already been disturbed during it, threatened, and I am now missing a significant chunk of it trying to get help BECAUSE I WAS THREATENED WITH PHYSICAL HARM????”

This manager said: “Hold on one second” and then walked away. I got to stand awkwardly in the lobby, waiting.

Another manager came back around the corner, and asked me what the man looked like and what theater I was in. I walked back with him to the theater, pointed him out, and went back to my seat. The husband asked if I wanted to leave, and in that moment, my answer was yes. This man knew where I was sitting, could confront me at any time, and I did not feel safe to stay there if the theater wasn’t going to do anything about it.

So we made our way out to the front desk to get a refund for the tickets and our food (which we had only partially eaten). The manager came back and said that the guy denied it, but he planned to go back in as the movie was ending to confront him about it. They issued our refund, but then the manager, this second manager who has been so kind and apologizing the entire time, asked if I still wanted to see the movie.

I wasn’t sure. I was pretty shaken up. Not since I was getting batted around in my teens had I been threatened so directly and aggressively and that trauma came to the surface and I couldn’t seem to manage it. The manager, I’ll call him Tom, Tom said there was a showing in just 45 minutes and they have two seats together on an aisle that we were welcome to have for free if we wanted, and would it be okay if he refired our food fresh for us for this new showing?

I took a deep breath, and decided to stay. The husband and I got a drink of water and took a short walk before going into the theater for attempt 2 at Avengers: Infinity War. I’m not sure what happened to that man, but he can rest assured that I have imagined 100 ways I could have handled that differently, so when the next asshole thinks he can test me he won’t catch me unawares. He’ll get a response he wasn’t expecting.

I mean, imagine walking into a movie late, and not just during the previews but like, into the movie, so really you’re like 30-45 minutes late. Imagine not being at all apologetic, and on top of that you walk into the theater where someone was shot in an altercation involving the use of a cell phone, USING YOUR CELL PHONE ON FULL BRIGHTNESS WITH THE SOUND ON. And then, when someone nearby asks you to take your phone outside YOU THREATEN THEM WITH PHYSICAL HARM. I mean, that takes so many levels of entitlement and privilege that it’s almost impossible to wrap my mind around.

Thank goodness for the kindness and caring of Tom, because if that first manager was the only person to interact with me on this issue my next call would have been to a local TV station or to the actual police.

Anyway that’s my story. It was scary but people (eventually) took care of me, and of course the husband was there supporting me too. I got to see the full movie with no interruptions, and that review will be up tomorrow. It will be stuffed with spoilers though, so be warned.

52 in 52: Movie Night at Home

If I am being entirely honest with you all, we’ve been having movie nights rather often the past couple of weeks. The husband and I decided that we would watch all the Marvel movies in release order leading up to seeing Avengers: Infinity War in the theaters the last weekend in April.

This weekend will feature the last two movies that aren’t still in the theater: Spiderman: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok. I’ve already seen Black Panther twice and recently so we plan to count our theater visit as that watch because I don’t think we can get that movie at home just yet.

So far we’ve viewed:

Iron Man (still good, one of my favorites)

The Incredible Hulk (with Edward Norton – not one of my favorites and since they brought Mark Ruffalo in to take over the part, this one seems a bit disconnected)

Iron Man 2 (featuring Whip-It, the lamest villain)

Thor (Cool movie, but weak given the forced love story and the disconnect of human and god).

Captain America: The First Avenger (Oh boy do I hate Captain America but his movies are usually some of the best and most fleshed out of the bunch.)

The Avengers (Always a fave)

Iron Man 3 (One of my favorites – a compelling villain, a hero rediscovering himself, the girl gets a better role than just a damsel in distress)

Thor: The Dark World (*Fart Noise*)

Captain America: Winter Soldier (Again, I hate Captain America, he is the lamest avenger, but this movie is good. It’s good because he learns that it’s not the 1940s anymore and things are more complicated than just to punch Hitler in the jaw.)

Guardians of the Galaxy (Always good for a laugh, one of my favorites in the collection.)

Avengers: Age of Ultron (I liked this move better this time around than I did on previous viewings, but it’s still not great, and it sets up one of my least favorite movies in the group – Captain America: Civil War)

Ant-Man (Good clean fun – a favorite – two tiny thumbs way up)

Captain America: Civil War (I hate this movie because I don’t like agreeing with Captain America. Also it’s built on a flimsy premise and Iron Man’s man-child/daddy/guilt issues. It’s similar to the frustration you might feel when a chick in a horror movie runs up the stairs instead of out of the house – you’re sitting there screaming “none of this makes sense, it’s against the very essence of these characters.” But it happens to you anyway because what choice do you have? The only good in the movie is that we meet Black Panther and Spiderman, both promises for better movies in the future.)

Doctor Strange (yes god more bindersnitch cinderthatch every day of the week)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (I wanted to like this movie but (a) Groot is irritating, (b) the love story is unnecessary, (c) I’m tired of nostalgia porn i.e. the music and video game references, and (d) these movies aren’t connected to the other ones nearly enough for me to buy that they team up against Thanos. The only connection is Gamora and *shrug.* The only thing about this one is that Yondu’s death and subsequent Ravager funeral hits me in the feels every damn time and I don’t know why.)

Which ones have you seen? What are your favorites?

After this weekend we’ll be all caught up and will be attending a matinee at Cinebistro on Saturday, April 28th to see the newest Marvel movie, Avengers: Infinity War. I’m pretty exited but I don’t think I’m ready for what’s going to happen.

Next week I’ll be showing off a new candle that I will have bought to replace all the old and unwanted candles that I threw away for an earlier 52 in 52!

Enjoy your weekend!

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I Feel Pretty

I don’t go to a lot of movies. Ever since discovering the beauty that is Cinebistro, unless I’m excited enough to shell out the $16 for a wide leather seat and dinner brought to me, I just wait for it to come out on Hulu/Netflix/HBO etc. I saw Black Panther twice because it was 100% fresh for me, and I am seriously considering asking for the DVD for Christmas because that’s something I want to physically own.

Because I have to choose my movies carefully, I rely very heavily on trailers and previews. You have to wow me to get me into the theater. I’m not going to read a lot of thinkpieces or reviews ahead of time – if I like the trailer, I’m probably going to come see the movie. The only exception to this is The Quiet Place because I REALLY want to see it but I know I can’t because I can’t do horror, especially “make you jump” scary horror.

When I saw the preview for Trainwreck, I was intrigued enough to go see it on a day that the husband was playing Dungeons and Dragons. These are days I get to myself and I can have some me time. I enjoyed the movie, mostly because I discovered that I liked Bill Hader as a movie actor and was pleasantly surprised by LeBron James as well. I am not an Amy Schumer fangirl at all, but she was okay in this movie.

Amy’s back in a new film “I Feel Pretty” which, if the trailer is to be believed, shows that the only way a fat girl could have “hot” girl levels of confidence is to get a head injury in the midst of her fitness quest to become skinny and pretty.

Two things.

One: Amy Schumer is not fat, even though she would really, really, really like us to believe that she is. In everything she does she wants us to have sympathy for her because she’s a fat girl in a skinny girl world trying to be a successful actress. There are enough thinkpieces on the internet about this so I’ll let you read those for yourself, but ever since I learned how she created this impression and tries to perpetuate it, I have felt a very real disdain for her.

Two: How, in the midst of a body positivity/fat acceptance era/movement was this movie allowed to be born? Every time I see the trailer I get offended that everyone thinks she’s crazy because she’s so fat and ugly (???) but is so confident and bless her heart so they let her do things because it’s like a fat girl pity party. You think you’re going to draw me into the theater at today’s prices to be insulted for two hours? This is so tone deaf it’s unreal.

I’m not usually one to get this angry at a trailer, but I did it for The House with Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell and I’m doing it now, because some ideas are just hurtful and ignorant and shouldn’t be brought to the big screen to continue to perpetuate beliefs and stereotypes that people are working so hard to change for the better. Do me a favor and skip it.

52 in 52: See A Movie

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I don’t have a lot of things that I truly love. The husband will tell you that my response to most experiences is “it was okay.” Hearing me say “it was good” is rare enough, “I loved it” is an anomaly, and “that was amazing!” is almost never uttered.

I was super excited to see Black Panther. Black culture in all its diverse glory is amazing to me and I want to see it flourish and grow and be celebrated. Not even my excitement could have prepared me to the magnificence that was this movie. It was gorgeous from start to finish.  It hit so many raw places for me and I’m so white I could blind someone. I’m just going to cover a few important themes here, but really you should just go see the movie for yourself.

Toward the end of the movie I found myself holding back actual body shaking sobs. On the surface what was happening in the movie was very sad (no spoilers!) but it took me a little bit after I got home to realize why this story affected me so deeply.

What happens in this story is akin to what happened to us in American in 2016. An outsider with links to the system, came in with destruction in mind and used the rules of the system to gain power, and is primed and ready to wreck EVERYTHING. The disbelief and horror on the Wakandan faces when Killmonger seems to win the blood challenge is what we felt when Trump became a reality. This story made me relive all of that without me even realizing it, and it was a subconscious, emotional journey. So when things (of course – not a spoiler) turn out okay as they do in most superhero stories, I think I was crying with relief.

While I was crying with relief I was crying with sympathy. Killmonger is not your usual villain. He’s out for revenge, not just for himself but for his dad too. He wants justice, and that desire is fueled by a child’s anger at the unfairness of a situation that is not related to T’Challa directly but involves Wakanda specifically. The idea that he has trained, focused, and grown up with the one goal of returning to Wakanda to fulfill his father’s dream is equal parts terrifying and inspiring. Both men only wanted to provide the wherewithal to their non-Wakandan black brothers and sisters to fight back against the oppression they experience elsewhere in the world. To have that goal firmly in his grasp, only to fail – something about that just struck me deep in my soul despite the methods he used to achieve his goal.

It was the oddest feeling to rejoice that Wakanda remained safe a location and an idea and mourn the dreams of Killmonger, who was shut out of this dream through no choice or fault of his own. The catastrophe of the African diaspora, the colonization of Africa, the slave trade, and all the other colonizer-related disasters to happen to Africa has prevented many individuals of African descent from connecting with their heritage. WE can only imagine what Arica would be like now had she not been robbed of her people, who may have brought about the Afro-futurism that is featured in this movie if they had been left alone to thrive and grow and love and create.

This movie screams the question “What if?” over and over, and it is the saddest, most terrible thing.

What if Wakanda wasn’t completely locked down and disguised?

What if they were able to share their advances with the world?

What if they allowed refugees and showed them what was possible before their ancestors were stolen from their homeland?

These are all questions that we are all asking right now in real time, but are tackled by T’Challa and the strong women of Wakanda to the point where they can only open themselves to the global society and offer aid. It is a new era in Wakanda, and it is a great thing.

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A short postscript about my favorite character Okoye. She is the leader of the Dora Milaje, a group of the deadliest warriors of Wakanda and personal guards to the king. When Killmonger becomes king and T’Challa is believed dead, she stays because her duty is to the king and Wakanda, but her hesitation begs the question – where should your loyalties lie? To whom to you owe your allegiance? When something like this happens, how do you protect your country from those who would seek to destroy it while still fulfilling your sworn oath? Which comes first: self, friends, family, duty, king, or country? It’s a question she’s never had to answer before, and so she can only do what she knows.

It is a relief to her when T’Challa returns and shows the challenge for the throne to be unfinished, because she can “technically” now fight against Killmonger while still staying true to her beliefs and her country. This makes her so real to me – I would want her character to rebel but the reality is that she needed to see that her country is more important than who sits on the throne, and by learning that lesson she becomes even more dangerous to anyone who might try the same thing again.

Through conflict we are made stronger and smarter.

Wakanda Forever. ❤

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Heading to week 9, and I’m not sure what I’ll do next. I’ve done so much already!

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