favorite films and other pretentious opinions

Hello, gang.

It’s me! I’m back! I’m not dead! Hurrah!

I’ve been away for quite a while, so I thought it was high time for me to dust off this old blog and make it a lovely place for discussion once more. Things are moving. Styles are changing. Posts are happening. It’s gonna be great.

While this is primarily a book blog, I wanted to ease into it with a little something different. Because, you know, I can do what I want.

ron

Real talk time. I am Obsessed™ with films. I love ’em. I love the format and the artistry and the fact that they can tell a good story within a two-hour time frame. I was talking with my parents the other day about our favorite films (because films are a family hobby in the Hopkins household, along with alliteration). And it got me wanting to give IN DEPTH explanations and analyses about my favorite movies because I am, by nature, an English major, and graduating has not changed that.

So here are my TOP FIVE FAVORITE FILMS*

*at the moment**

**and in no particular order

1. amélie (2001)

amelie

This! movie! is! my! life!

I first watched it when I was a senior in high school, taking a college-level Intro to Lit class. I mostly hated that class because the teacher was horrid and literally made me cry one time (a story for another day), but I do have to give her thanks for introducing me to this movie.

Amélie changed my life. Which is funny, because the tagline of the film is she’ll change your life. But Amélie did. For the first time I could remember, I experienced a character who I connected to and related to on a deep personal level. I was AmélieI still am Amélie, in many ways, but to seventeen-year-old, cripplingly shy, uncomfortably introverted Natalie—seeing a character like Amélie navigate life successfully, albeit in her own odd way, made me hopeful that I could, too.

I love her for that.

Aside from that, Amélie is just a lovely film. The style and music are wonderfully Parisian. (I listened to the soundtrack on REPEAT my freshman year of university.) The characters delightful. The romance charming. One of the most beautiful things about the film (and the titular character) is its attention to small details. Nothing in life is too small or insignificant for notice. I think it’s a nice thing to remember.

If you haven’t ever seen Amélie, um, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE? Kidding. But really, you should watch it.

Note: it is in French, so if subtitles irk you, maybe don’t watch it? but you still should??

So, my little Amélie, you don’t have bones of glass. You can take life’s knocks. If you let this chance pass, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So, go get him, for Pete’s sake!

2. dead poets society (1989)

robin

This is a fairly new love of mine, but a good one.

Like with Amélie, watching Dead Poets Society was kind of a Life Moment™ for me. I felt so much its passion for literature, its yearning to exist fully, its need to love with a love that’s more than love. This movie just felt so BIG in my heart that I wasn’t surprised when I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks after.

And there’s a lot to love in this movie. Lovely, inspirational Robin Williams?  New England Prep School aesthetics? Autumn coziness? Soft boys just doing their best?

I can’t take it. I can’t. It’s too much for one heart.

Basically, the movie follows a group of boys who reinstate the Dead Poets Society, a society of literature lovers who say things like carpe diem and definitely do things for the #aesthetic. They’re a little pretentious, but, boy, do I love them. Especially Todd Anderson, shy boy and quiet poet (beginning to see a pattern?). The mighty yawp scene never fails to make me cry. Actually, this whole movie makes me cry. I’m crying right now just thinking about it.

It’s lovely. It’s so unbearably lovely. I want my life to feel like Dead Poets Society. I’d at least settle for a John Keating to guide me through these times of trouble and discuss poetry with me.

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

3. good will hunting (1997)

will

I must really love Robin Williams, because he’s in two of my top five movies. And what’s not to love? Nothing, I tell you, nothing.

Good Will Hunting is also a new favorite, though I wonder at how I’ve lived most of my twenty-two years without the movie. It’s similar in a lot of ways to Dead Poets Society, in how it makes you feel and how it makes you cry. I was sobbing buckets the first time I watched this, but thankfully I was alone. (I’m what you call an Ugly Crier.)

The film follows Will Hunting, a young genius working as a janitor at MIT. Unsurprisingly, his genius is discovered, along with a plethora of emotional baggage from his childhood. Enter Sean Maguire, psychologist, and MY FEELINGS.

It can be a hard movie to stomach at times, but I think it makes it all the dearer. It’s such a delightful juxtaposition of really lighthearted moments, like the scene about Sean’s late wife’s farting habit (classic), and much darker themes of abuse and loss. I just love that this movie isn’t afraid to make you hurt. Because hurting is a part of life, and sometimes we need to hurt before we can fully heal.

Watch Good Will Hunting. Love it. Cry about it. (Especially during that scene.)

You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.

4. austenland (2013)

jane

Okay, bit of a change of pace to the previous films. I may be a pretentious person, but I also know how to appreciate a good cheesy, goofy romp. I delight in the absurd and ridiculous and overly romantic. Sue me.

Austenland holds a really dear place in my heart. I watched it in theaters my freshman year of college with my then-roommate who was quickly becoming my best friend. This movie was kind of a monumental moment in our friendship. We laughed at it and loved it and quoted it to each other in daily conversation. It was—is—our best and most hilarious inside joke.

Since then, Austenland has kind of become a hallmark of my best friendships. You don’t like Austenland? With its hilarious characters? Its most quotable quotes? Its flawless satire of regency society and romance? Its perfect casting of JJ Field as Mr Nobley? Sorry, we can’t be friends.

If you like anything to do with Jane Austen, romance, or happiness, please watch this movie. It even makes a Hobbit joke. I know because I can quote tHE ENTIRE MOVIE.

Mr Darcy said to Jane, “Jane, listen! Listen right now! If you were to sleep with me tonight, I would actually speak to you the next day, unlike any man that you would meet a hundred years from now.”

5. pride and prejudice (2005)

lizzie

This film is the epitome of aesthetic. I watch it and my skin is clear, my crops are flourishing, my grades are up. Everything is beautiful while watching Pride and Prejudice. Of all these films, this is the one I’ve loved the longest, from the moment I first watched the opening title sequence as a young girl, Dario Marianelli’s lovely score in the background. It’s a nostalgic film to me, one that reminds me of home and sister love and cozy afternoons with my mom.

And for those concerned, YES this is my favorite adaption of P & P. Obviously. Don’t get me wrong—I like the Jennifer Ehle / Colin Firth version. But this film is an emotional experience. It captures so well the heart of the novel and these characters. Although it’s hard to translate Austen’s satirical and all-seeing voice from the novel, this film, I think, does a wonderful job giving us a bird’s eye view of this community of people, with all its glances around corners and peeks through windows. If I haven’t said it enough, I’ll say it again—it’s a beautiful, beautiful film.

Also, Keira Knightley? Amazing. And Matthew MacFadyen. And everyone else.

I just love this movie. It makes me very happy, and everyone needs a good, lovely, happy movie as a favorite film.

If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.

And there you have it. My favorite movies. Do you have similar ones? Or different one entirely? I’d love to know (especially if any of you have good recommendations).

Till then.

xx, natalie

 

in which i read some books

Hello, world.

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post, so I thought I’d update you on some of my latest reads. And, boy, have there been some good ones.

NATALIE’S READS OF AUGUST 2K16 (THUS FAR)

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD by J.K. Rowling

Goodreads summary:

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Rating: 2.5/5

*spoiler-free review*

To be honest, I wasn’t at all excited to read the play, which, if you knew me, would be a shock because I am such a devoted lover of Harry Potter. (Like, riddikulusly so.) But I’d heard some of the spoilers beforehand, and they really, really disappointed me. I thought J.K. Rowling (forgive my blaspheme) was off her rocker and that the whole story seemed like a joke. (I still kind of think that.)

I still read it, though, and I will admit–it was better than I thought it would be. I really loved Scorpius (what a little nerd), and I enjoyed the moments between my old favorites, like Ron and Hermione. However, the things that had bothered me before I read it bother me still; even more so, really. I have a lot of issues with the character portrayals, the plot holes, and the overall feeling of the story–it didn’t feel like Harry Potter to me, which was so, so disheartening.

I won’t say too much, for those of you who haven’t read or have read it and enjoyed it. To me, though, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was nothing more than a disappointment. I try not to think about it too much.

*

AS YOU WISH: INCONCEIVABLE TALES FROM THE MAKING OF THE PRINCESS BRIDE by Cary Elwes

Goodreads summary:

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

Rating: 5/5

I adore the Princess Bride. Who doesn’t, really? It’s one of those films that literally anyone can enjoy, and is beloved by all who’ve seen it. It’s 100% quotable, delightful, hilarious, and charming–probably one of the most perfect movies out there.

Here is a thing to know about me: I love trivia, especially movie trivia. There’s an unspoken competition, I think, among my family members to see who can know the most things about movies, pop culture, and pretty much everything else. (I do not win this competition, but I do know a lot of interesting, useless things.)

The point is this: Cary Elwes’s memoir was a joyous, hilarious book filled with funny stories and intriguing facts about the making of the Princess Bride. In other words, it was the perfect book for my family and me. We listened to the audio book as we drove through eastern Canada on vacation, and it was so very delightful. Cary narrated most of it, but pretty much all the other actors and crew members (save those who have passed on) read their quotes and interviews. We all loved it dearly. When the book was over, I almost wanted to cry, as I felt I myself had been a part of the movie, and that a wonderful dream had ended.

I highly encourage those who a) love the Princess Bride, b) enjoy movie trivia, and c) like being happy to read this book–but more specifically to listen to the audio book. It adds that much more joy to the experience.

*

NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro

Goodreads summary:

As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

Rating: 5/5

I have wanted to read this book for a long time. I heard about it, really, because I love Carey Mulligan. (She is the ultimate #goals.) When I was perusing her IMDB page one time, I noticed she starred in the movie based on this book. It looked lovely and heartbreaking and important–everything I love in a book.

Still, it took me a long to finally get around to reading this book. But I finally just buckled down and checked it out from the library.

It was everything I’d hoped it would be.

Never Let Me Go is often classified as science fiction, as it is, essentially, about clones. However, it’s not really science fiction–not in the traditional sense. Really, it’s about people and what makes people people. Ishiguro has a lovely, minimalistic, and personal voice, which lent itself well to the narration. By the end of the book, I felt really close to Kathy H., and realized that I related a lot to her.

Mostly, I loved its discussion about humanity and time and unfairness and love and heartbreak. (I loved that it takes place in the English countryside.) It’s a melancholy book and left me with a melancholy heart, which I adore.

(Excuse me while I finally go watch the movie and cry over how beautiful it is.)

*

So there are my recent reads! Have you read any of them? I’d love to discuss!

Also, if any of you have ideas about what sort of content you’d like to see from me in the future, I’d love to hear! (aka I need ideas haha)

yours, Natalie

 

in which stars shine

Hello, world.

(Another late post, I know. Life gets kind of busy sometimes and takes away the time I’d like to spend here.)

So, we live in a world where there are a lot of book-to-movie adaptations. More specifically, we live in a world there are a lot of terrible book-to-movie adaptations. However, in the universe of horrid films, there are a few shining stars that burst through the hazy darkness.

And speaking of stars …

DAY 19: MY FAVORITE BOOK TURNED INTO A MOVIE

Goodreads summary (for the book):

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman comes a remarkable quest into the dark and miraculous—in pursuit of love and the utterly impossible.

While there are other beautiful and classic book adaptations I could have chosen (To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Rings, for example), I really, really adore this movie. In some ways, I enjoy more than the book itself–which is a rare and almost alarming thing. More than anything, though, I just love the fairy tale, the otherworldly feeling that surrounds it.

Here is a nicely compiled list of reasons why I love the movie:

1. The casting is A+: you’ve got Robert de Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and a baby Charlie Cox. What more do you need?

2. Speaking of which, Charlie Cox (Trist[r]an Thorn) is the original cinnamon roll. He’s awkward and bumbling and charming and lovely–everything Trist(r)an needs to be.

Stardust - Actually, Tristan, it's called a Babylon Candle.

3. The cinematography is so lovely and it’s just a really pretty film to watch. (Matthew Vaughn did such a nice job with it.)

4. I love what the movie did with all the characters. I love the dynamic between Tristan and Yvaine, the dead princes of Stormhold, even little Bernard the sometimes goat. With any movie, there are many aspects that can be lost from the characters, but overall, I feel the movie does them good justice.

5. The humor is 10/10 would laugh again.

6. The faerie world setting is so perfect. I wish that a faerieland lay over the wall in my hometown, but, alas, I think all you’d find here was orange peels and graffiti.

(6.5. It also takes place during Victorian England, also known as my favorite historical and geographical era of all time, so there’s that.)

7. The ending makes me very happy. The end varies quite a bit from the book, but I actually rather prefer the movie version. What can I say? I’m a sucker for sappy love stories.

If you haven’t read or watched Stardust, I highly encourage you do to both. It’s a really the loveliest little fae story you’ll ever find. And though I might like the movie a little bit more, the novel is still a gem. (It’s written by Neil Gaiman, so how could it not be?)

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!