What’s Your Favorite Movie? (Writing 101, Day 8)

A while back, my friend Holly from In Spec made a post about the movie Lost in Translation. When you’re done reading this post, please check her site out because she is a smashing good writer. At the end of the post, she posed a question: What is your favorite movie?

(I love it when bloggers ask questions at the end of their posts because I’m the type of person who usually doesn’t comment on things. If I don’t have anything to say, I usually keep silent. That’s why I love the “like” button so much. It allows me to appreciate without articulation. But I digress.)

Holly is an old friend (we went to high school AND college together), so of course I answered her question. I told her that my favorite movie is Midnight in Paris.

If you’ve never seen it, let me give you a synopsis. Normally, I’d post the trailer, but it is one of the few that reveals little to nothing about the movie. Midnight in Paris is about a man who goes to Paris with his fiancé and future in-laws. This man is an idealistic dreamer. Although he made his millions writing Hollywood screenplays, he has always dreamed of writing novels. When we meet him, he has just finished a major draft. During the day, our characters, joined by some friends they unexpectedly meet, soak in Parisian culture by visiting museums, palaces, and wine tastings. Frustrated his companion’s shallow pseudo intellectualism, our hero takes a midnight stroll to clear his mind and finds himself… well… I don’t want to spoil things.

I adore this film. The first time I saw it, I was practically rolling around on the ground salivating. (Yes, I was geeking out that much. My mother can verify this.) Midnight in Paris feels literary—with themes, motifs, cultural statements… all the things that gets a former English major excited.

Midnight in Paris is all about nostalgia. It’s about the longing that dreamers have for times-gone-by. The film deconstructs the idea of the “Golden Age”. It explores the way we idealize the past and beautifully points out that the people in our Golden Ages were doing the exact same thing. Ultimately, the film celebrates times gone by, but encourages viewers to appreciate and delight in the present.

I’m a naturally nostalgic person, so this film tugs at all my heartstrings. It’s got a star-studded cast, filled with all kinds of fun surprises. The film is poignant, frustrating, and very, very beautiful.

Since Holly has given me such a great model, I’m going to end this post in the same way she ended hers:

What is your favorite movie? What do you like about it?

The benefits of dating yourself

Weird title, I know.

By two o’clock today, I had gone to church, worked out, and finished all my weekend homework.  All my friends were busy, and I was left with an entire afternoon with nothing to do.  I’m an introvert, but too much time alone in my room makes me lonely.  It’s like my heart feels heavy and empty and no amount of Netflix can make it better.  Knowing I had hours ahead of me in my own company, I didn’t want to waste the day moping around.

So I took action by taking myself on a date.

It was a wonderful afternoon.  I sang to the radio during the hour drive to and from Alexandria.  I talked to my mom on the phone.  I went to see Cinderella a second time and loved it just as much as the first.  (Be sure to check out my post about it!)  I went out to eat and spent dinner with my favorite John Green novel.  (Which, in case you were wondering, is Paper Towns.)   I meandered through Target, sighing over pretty clothes and household decorations.  I purchased a new purse and the final Hobbit movie.  (Be sure to check out my post about that one too!).

On the drive home, I spent a great deal of time meditating on the nostalgia that comes with the end of a season in life.  With only a handful of weeks left of college, there are so many aspects of life here that I’ve taken for granted.  As I approached Morris, instead of heading to campus, I drove to the overlook just outside of town.  Perched on a rock, I watched the sun set over the tiny town I’ve called home these past few years.  It was such a beautiful, peaceful moment– one that I know I’ll hold in my heart for a long time.

Afternoons like this one remind me that incredible joy can be found in little things.  It felt so good to forget the stresses of college, to drive away, and do things just for the sake of doing them.  I think that it’s important to learn to date yourself.  You can have a lot of fun and learn a great deal in your own company.

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Driving home to Morris in the sunset.

 

Cinderella

I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings.  My favorite being Cinderella.

What fascinates me about fairytales is that, even though the stories are hundreds of years old, they are still being told.  They hold a valuable place as cultural markers.  The stories a culture tells speak volumes about the culture’s values, customs, and fears.  All fairytales have their core elements.  Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger, Snow White eats the apple, Rapunzel is saved from her tower by a handsome prince.

The thing about adaptations is that they tweak the core elements of a fairy tale.  Changes are significant because they reveal the values, customs, and fears of culture today.  It’s amazing how we can tell a story can be told for hundreds of years and continue to find new ways to tell it.  What if Snow White didn’t eat the apple?  What if Sleeping Beauty never pricked her finger?  What would happen if Rapunzel wasn’t saved, but left of her own volition with not a prince, but an outlaw?

As you may know, I’ve been looking forward to Disney’s new Cinderella for a long time.  (See posts here and here for my anticipation).  I caught wind of the film three years ago and have been following its production ever since.

With adaptations like the book Ella Enchanted or the movie Ever After out there, what’s so special about this movie?  Well, it’s a remake of the animated movie.  And I HATE the animated movie.  I think it’s one of the worst adaptations out there.  So I was excited for Disney to have a chance to redeem itself.

I saw the movie yesterday and, for the most part, I agree with many of the critics.  Disney played it pretty safe.  It’s your traditional Cinderella tale with all the elements: dead parents, evil stepmother, stupid stepsisters, forced servitude, fairy godmother, a pumpkin coach, leave before midnight, forget the slipper, etc. etc. etc.  They fleshed out the characters a bit, but it’s nowhere near as convincing as the development in Ever After.

Did Disney redeem itself, though?  Absolutely.  What the movie lacks in innovation is more than made up for in how stunningly beautiful it is.  Everything about the film is gorgeous–from the costumes to the sets to the dashing Richard Madden as the prince.

My favorite part of the entire movie was probably Cate Blanchett’s performance as Lady Tremaine.  Her costumes were stunning and every line was delivered with the perfect level of poison.  I’d pay to see it again just to soak in her villainy.

To be honest, if I think too hard about this movie, I’m pretty sure I’ll make myself dislike it.  (My inner feminist can’t deny that the heroine of this adaptation is ridiculously passive.)  So, for once in my life, I’m not going to let myself think.  It’s the kind of movie that is made to be enjoyed.  You watch it, feel warm fuzzies, and then go on with life.  I’m determined to sit back, soak in the prettiness, and daydream about Richard Madden’s smile.

To my Cinderella fans out there–what did you think of the movie?  Let me know in the comments!

The Battle of Five Armies

This weekend, I visited Middle Earth via the silver screen for the last time.  To say I’m a Tolkien fan is an obvious fact.  I mean, I DID name my blog from one of his lines.

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS

I remember my first exposure to The Hobbit.  I was six or seven years old and we rented the old 1970’s cartoon.  It was creepy, kind of terrifying, but my brothers and I enjoyed it enough to delve further into Tolkien’s world.

In fifth grade, I read the Lord of the Rings for the first time.  The movies were coming out around this time and I followed them religiously.  Despite differences from the books, I adore the film versions.  I have them memorized.  I listen to the original trilogy on audiobook every summer.

The main difference between the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fanchises is that the original trilogy came out when I was still in my formative years.  I was an excited child, ready to eat up anything Peter Jackson dished out.  As I grew older and learned to see the books and movies as different entities, I continued to love them out of childhood nostalgia.  The Hobbit, however, is different.

The first time I ever read The Hobbit was at the age of ten.  I was in fourth grade.  Mr. Achartz, my teacher, read it aloud to us.  I had a copy and followed along.  I fell absolutely in love.  Ever since, I’ve been reading and rereading the children’s story to the point where I don’t even need the words for the story to appear in my mind.

My main issue with The Hobbit movies is that I’m WAY too intimate with the source material.  Not only did I grow up on the story, but it’s something I’ve put a great deal of academic thought into.  Last fall during my term abroad, I wrote a ten page final essay on the uncanniness of Mirkwood that not only scored the best grade possible, but took first prize in the annual essay contest in my university at home.  The novel’s themes, centering around the idea of home, fascinate me and hold my heart.

It’s been incredibly painful, to be honest, watching the world eat up the film versions.  I enjoyed the first one well enough, but was absolutely devastated by the second.  Peter Jackson mutilated my beloved story.  The characters come and go to and from all the right places, but the events that transpire are totally different.  I was heartbroken by this.

Going into the final version, to say I had expectations would be a lie.  I didn’t even watch any of the trailers, to be honest.  I knew that the film would never match my idealistic childhood imaginings.  So I didn’t expect it to.  I went into The Battle of Five Armies with a mindset of detachment–these weren’t my beloved characters.  This isn’t my beloved story.  It’s an adaptation, a version that is not my own.

Having this mindset helped a LOT.  I actually really enjoyed the movie.  The pacing, of course, was really weird.  One of the finest moments of the novel is when Bard slays Smaug, which happens in the first ten minutes.  Most of the movie is focused on the battle and resolving Thorin’s issues with pride and, as the movie calls it, “dragon-sickness”.

There were things I really enjoyed.

Smaug, for one, is absolute and total perfection. It’s a shame his role is cut so short. Benedict Cumberbatch is incredible.

Once I pushed aside the weirdness of the Tauriel/Kili thing, I was able to actually cheer for the cross-species couple.  (Although I’m still miffed that they actually created a freaking awesome female elf and the stupid studio only allowed her existence if she was part of a love triangle.  WOMEN DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE IN LOVE IN MOVIES.  Rant over.)

I also really enjoy Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Bilbo, especially his weird little twitches.  It’s been fun seeing Bilbo grow and evolve as a character, finding his courage and facing down deadly foes.  But, through those little movements, Freeman conveys that deep down, Bilbo is not at home.  He isn’t comfortable.  He belongs in the Shire, in his armchair with a cozy breakfast and a large stock of pipeweed.

I also am head-over-heels in love with Lee Pace’s Thranduil.  He’s one of the most arrogant, (insert many profanities here) characters I’ve ever encountered.  And I love it.  Oh my goodness.  The internet has done some beautiful things with this character.

Because GingerHaze’s Party King Thranduil comics are the best.

I also pretty much adored Legolas throughout the entire film.  But that’s mainly because I don’t take Orlando Bloom seriously.  Every time he does something, I turned and obnoxiously whispered to my older brother, “Legolas does what he wants!”  He never listens to his father, never follows orders.  Out of nowhere, he opens up to Tauriel about not knowing his mother.  And at the end, he dramatically announces to his father that he isn’t returning to Mirkwood.  To which Thranduil goes, “Okay cool, just so you know, your mother did love you.”  At this point, I whispered to Joe (my brother), “So all this time, Legolas just had serious mommy issues.”  And he goes, “And now he’s going on the Middle Earth equivalent of a three-month backpacking trip in Europe to find himself.”  It’s fun not taking Legolas seriously.  (Because even in the original movie trilogy, all he does is point out the obvious.)

There is certainly a great deal more to say and there are a lot of things I could complain about, but I’m trying to be better at not being a total elitist English major snob.  So as far as movies go, it is an entertaining and enjoyable one. I will leave it at that and go read the book.

What are your thoughts/opinions on the movies? Love them? Hate them? Tell me about it in the comments!

Tis the Season Day 2: Untraditional Christmas Movies

Welcome to Day 2 of Tis the Season!

Today we’ll be talking movies.  There are countless fantastic Christmas movies, from It’s a Wonderful Life to White Christmas to A Christmas Story to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, etc. etc.  We make a point of watching all of these movies every year, but my all time favorite tradition is a bit unconventional.

Every year in the week leading up to Christmas, my mom and I watch the 1957 film An Affair to Remember back to back with the 1993 “Sleepless in Seattle”.  I don’t know how the tradition began, or why THESE particular movies, but it’s something I always look forward to.

Made in 1957, An Affair to Remember stars Carey Grant and Deborah Kerr.  Grant’s character, a playboy who dabbles in the arts, meets Kerr’s on a cruise liner from Europe to New York City.  Although involved with other people, the two fall in love.  When they get to New York, they promise to break of their relationships and meet on the top of the Empire State Building to run away and get married.  But not everything goes as planned.  On the way to the meeting, something happens to Kerr that prevents her from attending.  I don’t want to say too much to spoil the ending, which is the best part.  I will say that the movie ends on Christmas Day.

Sleepless in Seattle is from 1993, the year after I was born.  The trailer below pretty much sums it all up, but it stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The movie opens on Christmas Eve with Hanks’ character’s son, still grieving from the death of his mother, calls a late-night radio talk show asking for help.  Hanks ends up spilling his heart out to the show’s hostess, resulting in his nickname “Sleepless in Seattle”.  All the way across the country in Baltimore lives Ryan’s character, who hears the broadcast and is captivated by the story.  She then sends a letter to Hanks that gets picked up by the son, sparking a series of events that leads to a meeting atop the Empire State Building.

An Affair to Remember is a love story that ends on Christmas.  Sleepless in Seattle is a love story that begins on Christmas.  Both couples have or fail to meet at the top of the Empire State Building.  One takes place in the 1950’s, the other in the 1990’s, but somehow, they work so well together.

Because I’m recovering from getting my wisdom teeth removed, I’ve been a bit under the weather.  I’ve been spending most of yesterday and today laying on the couch in my pajamas.  Since I’m not allowed out of the house, Mom and I are planning on watching these movies back-to-back tonight!  I’m looking forward to it.

What Christmas movies do you watch every year?  What are your favorites?

Giddiness and gorgeous Cinderella posters!

As many of you may know, to say I’m excited for the upcoming Cinderella adaptation is a bit of an understatement.  With the recently released trailer and photos, I’ve been dancing around like a little girl before Christmas with glee.

This promo poster came up in my Facebook feed the other day and I was absolutely blown away.

There’s even more gorgeous photos and posters floating around online.  Be sure to check them out!

Can it be March yet?

 

Things to be excited about on a Wednesday

Wednesday is always the worst day of my week.  I’m busy from morning to night with class, work, homework, and clubs.  It’s easy to get pessimistic when they come around.  I’ve been pondering more meaningful posts, but it looks like seriousness is going to have to wait for another day.  Here are some things I’ve been getting excited about lately.

1. The trailer for the new live-action Cinderella

Cinderella has always been one of my favorite fairytales.  From Ever After to Rogers & Hammerstein to the novel Ella Enchanted, I adore a well done adaptation.  I’ve been tracking Disney’s latest live-action fairytale for the past few years and am delighted by the trailer.  I think the casting is absolutely wonderful and cannot wait for March to come along.

2. Thanksgiving is next week

Which means I get to escape small-town Morris for a few days at home with family before the end of semester hell sets in.

3. Mockingjay Part 1 comes out tomorrow

I’m attending the midnight release with some friends tomorrow night and it’s going to be great.

4. My least favorite class is cancelled

Well, technically we still have it, but it’s the kind of class where you’re given a big project and have all of class to work on it.  My professor is gone at a conference, so we are allowed to do our work at home without going in.

5. Shakespeare

In my Grammar & Language class, we have been studying the different stages of the English language.  We’re on the cusp of the Early Modern period and, as I did this week’s reading, I was delighted to find several pages devoted to the beloved playwright.  Like the stereotypical English major that I am, I LOVE Shakespeare.  Whenever he comes up, I automatically become giddy.

6. Scotland

Although I’d REALLY love to, I’m not going any time soon.  But I’ve spent the hour before going to bed curled up with a book that takes place in Scotland, so it’s been fresh on my mind.  It’s a beautiful country, and I’m already looking forward to tonight when I have time to delve back into it through reading.

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Me in the Highlands of Scotland last November.

 

What kind of things are you excited about, readers?

Sublimity, films, and Friday nights

Most college students spend their Friday nights relieving the week’s stress by piling into strangers’ crowded houses and drinking themselves silly.

Me?  After a surprise birthday party for my roommate at a local restaurant, I’m spending my Friday night unwinding in the apartment.  The cold wind is howling outside, but I’m stretched out on the couch with a cup of cocoa and  my sketchbook.  My roommates are all out, our Christmas lights are on, and I’ve popped in one of my all time favorite films.

The first time I saw Midnight in Paris, I nearly died of English major perfection.  It’s a film about nostalgia and literature, one that you cannot watch without aching for times gone by and longing to wander the streets of Paris.  The movie takes the deep musings of my soul and puts them into tangible words and images.  It’s absolutely sublime.

What’s your favorite way to spend a Friday night?