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July 31st, 2021

the testaments spotlight pageELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Some time ago, I got the chance to finally read Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and ended up really liking it. Not too long after I read it, I discovered there was a sequel, “The Testaments,” that came out in 2019, and I finally got the chance to read it recently after borrowing it from the library. The events of “The Testaments” take place 15 years after the events of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and  is narrated by Aunt Lydia, (a character from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Agnes, a young woman living in Gilead and the daughter of a prominent Commander, and Daisy, a young woman living in Canada who opposes Gilead and all it stands for.

One of the first things I noticed about the book is how modern the writing style is. The dialogue from all of the characters reads like how people actually talk, profanity and all (though there’s not too much of that), and it’s actually somewhat refreshing reading something in that style. Also with the writing style, I liked how each of the three main characters have their own distinctive voices and how the reader gets the chance to really know what they’re thinking. While I definitely enjoyed reading the progression of the bond between Agnes and Daisy, the most interesting parts of the book (for me) were the chapters dedicated to Aunt Lydia and how she’s working behind the scenes of everything and also how she became the frightening figure from “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The only minor quibble I have with this aspect of the book is I wish the transitions between the chapters could have been slightly smoother – for me, each of the chapters ended rather abruptly and there wasn’t really much chance for a smooth transition to the next part of the story. 

naomi osaka miniseries spotlight pageNaomi Osaka prepares to serve in this scene from Garrett Bradley’s new Netflix miniseries “Naomi Osaka.” Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Naomi Osaka has been gaining a name for herself thanks to her strong tennis game and recently, she let fans more inside her life with a short docuseries on Netflix. The 3-episode series follows Osaka throughout the course of two years and starts with her defeat of Serena Williams at the 2018 U.S. Open, when Osaka was only 20 years old. The series also follows some of Osaka’s tennis training, a few of her bigger matches, and briefly mentions how she got interested in tennis. 

The first episode, “Rise,” interweaves clips of Osaka’s matches with excerpts of commentators’ comments on Osaka’s talent while also subtly exploring the relationship between athletes and sports media. The second episode, “Champion Mentality” explores Osaka’s life during the off-season as she finds ways to express herself beyond tennis and her bereavement at the loss of one of her idols, Kobe Bryant. The final episode, “New Blueprint” shows Osaka overcoming other personal obstacles and realizing why current precedent for being a celebrity and athlete won’t work for her anymore, culminating in her finding more of her voice. 

black widow spotlight pageScarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in an early scene from Marvel’s newest, “Black Widow.” Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


I’ve mentioned on here a few times how I’m a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and as part of the MCU fandom, I’m one of the many people who has waited for Scarlett Johansson’s turn for the spotlight in a solo “Black Widow” film. 

After much anticipation (and multiple delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic), I finally got to see that effort this past weekend, and thankfully, I was very much not disappointed. The movie takes place shortly after the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and sees Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff confront some past demons. 

The first thing I noticed about the movie was its tone, it definitely did NOT feel like any of the past MCU movies. I thought the tone felt darker and much grittier than the past MCU movies, and it somewhat threw me for a loop, mostly in a good way. Instead of feeling like a typical superhero movie, “Black Widow” feels more like a spy thriller film, not entirely unlike “Captain America and the Winter Soldier,” and it ultimately ends up paying off for viewers. 

Something else that really impressed me about the movie was the fight choreography. The MCU movies have plenty of memorable fight scenes, but the fight scenes in “Black Widow” really stood out to me. Each move is precise and sharp, and for me, it was almost like watching a dance each time  characters came up against each other. The people in charge of the fight choreography definitely knew what they were doing, and I feel like they did a great job. The only minor qualm I had with that aspect, however, is the movie seems to somewhat depower Natasha. Every other MCU film sees her able to take out pretty much anyone that comes her way, but “Black Widow” has her getting knocked down more than usual, and that somewhat bugged me – Natasha’s definitely one of the strongest Avengers (to me, at least), so why would they write her as weaker for her solo film?

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