My week in culture starts with a film that I loved so much that I probably never need to see a film ever again.
What it is: Probably my dream film ever in life
When I was in year eight we had to do an RE project on people who have changed the world. Everyone was doing Gandhi or Martin Luther King. I remember I had to specifically ask if it was okay to do mine on the suffragettes. And that is what I bloody did.
I remember thinking at the time what amazing women they were, but I never really connected with what they were fighting for and everything that they had been excluded from. Because thanks to them, they sorted it for women like me to never shut up.
That is why this film is moving and empowering beyond words and afterwards I had a little cry in the toilet. These are our foremothers and finally their story is being told on the same scale as all the other men who have changed history (because they were allowed to).
Carey Mulligan plays Maud, a timid woman who gradually becomes a militant suffragette, and we see the moment that she switches. She delivers a clear testimony on her life of stoical suffering, and when she is ignored, what she conveys on her face is multitudinous. We then watch as realms of her participation are knocked down like dominoes: first politically, then economically, then socially, then domestically.
The film also taps into the strange history of male shame that is associated with female empowerment. Maud's husband cannot see the human in Maud's politics - he can just see his own humiliation. Think of that moment in Made in Dagenham when one of the striker's husbands commits suicide.
Every human needs to watch this. It's brilliant and vital, but there's also a scene with an iron that will make you want to jump out of your seat and cheer.
Life Moves Pretty Fast by Hadley Freeman
What it is: A highly readable guide to why these films were acceptable in the 80s - but definitely wouldn't be now
I grew up with an entirely different generation of films to Hadley Freeman, so I have spent a lot time as an adult hate-watching the films I used to enjoy like a giant vulnerable passive egg. My thoughts on 90s classic Sliding Doors are on the internet at length, as are my hopes and dreams for the romantic comedies of the future.
But whereas I have re-watched the films from my youth and realised they were generally awful, offensive conservative propaganda, Freeman's book shows that '80s films reveal themselves, with hindsight, to have huge social consciences as well as be amazing fun.
I was aware that Dirty Dancing and When Harry Met Sally made me feel all of the feelings, but it wasn't until I read Freeman's funny and intelligent polemic on the brilliance of 80s movies that I realised how radical they look compared to what we see on our screens today.
I recently watched a film on Netflix called Love Rosie. It was made in 2014, and when the female protagonist got knocked up she literally went 'I can't have an abortion because my parents are Catholic', and subsequently watched her whole life derail whilst the love of her life went to America and slept with loads of interchangeable blonde supermodels. If only I had remembered before I threw my laptop out of the window that I could have cleansed my palate with Dirty Dancing, where women can have abortions and enjoy casual sex without being cast out of society.
What Freeman also brilliantly does is explain all of the reasons why films have changed: the conglomeration of studios, the pressures of the market, the rise of things like internet streaming. It's tough, but we need the new Nora Ephron to get her films made NOW, so Hollywood, this is a watermelon that you are just going to have to try harder to carry.
Plaques and Tangles, Royal Court Upstairs
What it is: A play marking the before and after and in-between of a woman with early-onset Alzheimers
Nicola Wilson's writing is ambitious. It tries to disorientate us and put us in the mind of Megan, who is losing hers far too young. It also helps us understand what it is like to be part of a family caring for someone who can't remember what day it is.
And it's a bit much. There's just a bit too much going on. The production gives us ladies with long white hair emerging from ethereal staircases and glowing globes popping out of mattresses, and we don't need all of that.
Because the scenes that work the best for me are with the younger Megan, meeting her future husband on the hen night for a wedding she will never have, on the day she has found out she has this condition. There's something about watching this unbearably intelligent, charismatic young woman with the world at her feet and knowing that one day, through no fault of her own, she will not be able to formulate sentences, that is poignant and enraging. Because whilst it is moving to see the disintegration that will later befall her, it strikes me as more heartbreaking to see what she will lose, rather than simply to see her lost.
Ai Weiwei, Royal Academy
What it is: A collection of works from Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's career, exploring censorship and human rights
Sometimes I can't tell if I just don't like art, or if I don't like this art.
There is something about personality cult artists that feels very alienating. When people are queuing out of the door to look at things that you don't necessarily connect to, it feels like there's a neon sign on your head that says P H I L I S T I N E.
I wanted Ai Weiwei's exhibition to feel more political than it did. That's me projecting my own expectations. But being at this exhibition felt like there was more spectacle in watching the devoted and frenzied following that has grown around the man himself, rather than the work.
But on the other hand maybe I'm just a P H I L I S T I N E.
Suffragette is in cinemas now
Life Moves Pretty Fast is out now and published by 4th Estate
Plaques and Tangles is at the Royal Court until 21 November
Ai Weiwei is at the Royal Academy until 13 December