Library Haul

I meant to write this post up yesterday, but I was in a bad, not very companionable mood.  I’m feeling better today, having, among other things, cooked some beautiful dal and finished watching Mother!, which was much better than last autumn’s reviews had led me to believe it would be.

Other news? I’m looking forward to seeing Deadpool 2, probably this weekend, hoping to go out for  meal or ice cream (or both), my chocolate quinoa pancakes continue to be excellent, and Solo is getting some pretty mediocre reviews. Oh, and I’m falling behind on reading Travels with Charley.

Here’s what else I have checked out:

Books:

  • Travels with Charley
  • How to Break Up with Your Phone
  • The Little Book of Lykke: The followup to the widely acclaimed Little Book of Hygge. I’ve actually already finished it, just not ready to return it yet.
  • Lolly Willowes
  • Ripley’s Game: Wondering if this third installment will be the one that puts me off the Ripley series
  • The Wings of the Dove: I really fear the day when I have no more big Henry James. This and The Golden Bowl. That’s all I’ve got left, I think.
  • The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

Movies:

  • Gran Torino: Clint Eastwood is bae.
  • Lady Snowblood: Miss Havisham goes violent samurai.
  • Mother!
  • Enter the Dragon: Triggered by a youtube video pointing out a very extra extra.
  • The Furies: Barbara Stanwyck is also bae.
  • My Name is Nobody
  • The Old Gun: Yay westerns!
  • Prisoners
  • Frenzy: One of the chronologically last Hitchcock films and one of the last ones I haven’t seen yet.
  • Amarcord: The first movie of Fellini’s that I’ve liked.
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Some Good French Films

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It’s been a weird weekend. And it’s only Saturday. Hopefully grocery shopping is uneventful tomorrow.  One minute you’re sitting on the train and the next you’re disembarking and for some reason your right hip isn’t letting you walk?
Weird stuff.
Pretty sure I’m too young for hip replacement.

SO I was talking to some friends yesterday and said I would send along a list of recommended French films. And SO I figured I would post it since it’s a list.

That said, full disclosure: I haven’t seen every French film ever so this is a superbly and spectacularly incomplete list.

Let’s Start with animated:

  • Ernest and Celestine: Bears and mice and based on a lovely children’s book series that I want to buy for my potential offspring.
  • Nocturna: Amazing world building. So much imagination. Cats.
  • The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart: I walked in on dad playing music from this. He’s never seen it.
  • A Monster in Paris: There’s a giant bug and it’s a beautiful heartwarming story. Also beautiful music.

Also kid-focused but not animated:

  • Le Petit Nicolas: This is what being a child is like. But kind of more so.

I’ struggling with categorizing all the rest so I’m just going to throw them at you in one big lump:

  • Belle de Jour: Catherine Deneuve is bored and fantasizes about BDSM so she decides to be a prostitute. Also her name is Severine, which is an excellent name.
  • La Vie en Rose: Marion Cotillard is Edith Piaf and it’s as amazing as it sounds.
  • Les Trois Couleurs: Three movies which you can kind of trace from the Nouvelle Vague style. Loosely connected, all individually perfect as stand-alones. I think Blue was my favorite.
  • La Double Vie de Veronique: For some reason this hangs out with Les Trois Couleurs in my mind. Some lovely music.
  • Huit Femmes: A Christmas musical murder mystery with a who’s who cast of great French actresses.
  • Les Choristes: A teacher positively affects students lives through music. But it’s actually a good film.
  • Bonjour, Tristesse: The book is better but this is nice and light and summery. Still not a huge Jean Seberg fan.
  • The Intouchables: I always confuse this with The Untouchables, a film about taking down Al Capone. This is great too.
  • Elle: Isabelle Huppert is bae and this Oscar nominee (did it win? I don’t remember) from last year is fantastic.
  • Tous Les Matins du Monde: Music again. But also period drama stuff and sex.
  • La Pianiste: Isabelle Huppert being sexy again. But this time even more mentally off-kilter.
  • La Piscine: Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin and Alain Delon are all fabulously attractive people.  And the film is suitably sexy.
  • Les Enfants du Paradis: A long film that flew by. It’s actually a work of art and quite possibly one of the best films I watched last year. It is inspiring me to fall in love with a mime.
  • Eyes Without a Face: French New Wave does Hitchcock. I am obviously a fan.
  • Diabolique: More Hitchcockian stuff. A wife and mistress conspire to kill the guy. Then come strange events.

Weird stuff that I’m not sure I can recommend:

  • Last Year at Marienbad: I will never forget the word ‘couloir’.
  • Triplets of Belleville: What…?

Friday Links: 1/26

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I turned 22.5 yesterday and today I have an exam that threatens to destroy all that I hold most dear. I’ve been studying since I woke up at 5:30 am. (Approximately five hours ago). There are about three hours left. It’s panic time.

Here’s what’s happening online:

Old-Style Scares: Halloween Films in B&W

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I’ve already mentioned that Halloween isn’t a big thing here in France, but it continues to be a big thing in my America mind- which explains why I’ve let go of the crutch that is mindlessly watching television shows for the first time (Game of Thrones and Sherlock) and turned to some more spooky stuff.
Not that GoT and Sherlock don’t get kind of… odd.

So creepy black and white films, what have I got? Quite a bit actually.
I’m trying to capitalize on the creepy and supernatural over suspense, because then (knowing me) we would wind up with just a list entirely of Hitchcock films.

But there’s still some Hitchcock:

  • Psycho, 1960: Psycho is fair game because it’s one of the most famous, most impactful horror films of all time. Also, you knew it was on the list because of the header image, so no surprises here.
  • The Birds, 1963: Another granddaddy horror film, but this time with some definite shades of the supernatural. Truly I don’t find this very scary, but it is a magnificent film.

What did I watch yesterday?

  • Death Takes a Holiday, 1934: Spoiler alert, he falls in love. I actually had a very good time with this film- and Henry Travers is in it. ❤

Hey, that was a good book:

  • The Innocents, 1961: The Innocents is based on Henry James’ Turn of the Screw and it definitely captures the novella’s encroaching claustrophobia and uncertainty. Is there evil afoot or is the governess batshit crazy?
  • The Haunting, 1963: Based on Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hillhouse, the film isn’t quite true to the book, but it’s fantastic in it’s own unique way. Very atmospheric and spine-tingling. I recommend both.
  • Nosferatu, 1922: The original vampire movie, based on Dracula, the original vampire book.  Even more chilling than the titular villain? A wife calling her husband by his last name.
  • The Uninvited, 1944: Based on a little known book by the same title, this is a beautiful and suspenseful family mystery/ghost story/romance.
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, 1947: So this is neither creepy nor scary so much as good wholesome odd couple romance. With Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. So yeah, pretty good.
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1939: Not supernatural but almost so, and the desolate moors and howling lend a fair bit of creepiness. It stays.

I love Bette Davis:

  • Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, 1962: Not supernatural but definitely one of the more disturbing and creepy films on this list (possibly ever). Child stars, faded glory, and a permeating air of decay.

Dream within a dream:

  • Dead of Night, 1945: Supernatural tale-telling between guests at a country house starts takes an odd turn as one begins to experience some pretty spectacular deja vu.

The artsy French are so weird:

  • Eyes Without a Face, 1960: I find this to be a completely amazing movie, both in terms of its haunting beauty and the simple but strange plot. Face stealing.

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Books Via Movies

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There’s a popular bit of wisdom that holds “the book is always better than the movie”- with which I must respectfully differ.  Many landmark films come from meh reading material (The Godfather, Jaws, Rear Window, Rosemary’s Baby, etc.)
Granted, if you are eagerly awaiting a movie franchise of a book series already beloved, you’re doomed to be disappointed.  It’s hard- if not impossible- to fall in love with someone else’s vision of something when you already have your own.

Many of the books I’ve sought out on the strength of a film have been disappointing.  Frankly, some stories are better suited to print and others seem made to be made into films.

But then there have also been times that I have felt very much rewarded in seeking out a movie’s source material. These books are generally a little different than my usual reading material (well-known and older novels)- in a way that makes them particularly suited to summer.  They’re generally shorter and quicker, a bit less thoughtful, a bit more action-driven.
My favorite books found via their movies are below, and arranged by genre: Continue reading “Books Via Movies”

Regretted Classes and Fate

I’ve been thinking a lot about going with the flow recently.  One of my downfalls is that I have a tendency to become too obsessed with what I envision, which can make me inflexible and anxious when things don’t go as planned.  This applies to major life changes, like college admissions, and very trivial things, like planning a sandwich day and then discovering the dining hall has absolutely no bread.

A lot of different things have been said about accepting fate.  Go with the flow. Leave it to God.  And also admitting that sometimes it’s just not a sandwich day, and that that’s fine.

I’ve also seen one of those pseudo-inspirational quotes (if you love it I apologize in advance) saying “Only dead fish go with the flow.”  I have a few problems with this- the fist being that it’s patently false.  Fish frequently go with the flow.  That’s what makes it so remarkable when salmon swim upriver to spawn.  The second is that I think the quote’s moral is very ill-advised.  “Fight fate or you might as well be dead.”  “Make your life one of never-ending struggle and pain just because.”
There’s nothing inherently wrong with ‘the easy way’, and what’s more, life is rarely divided so simplistically into an easy way and hard way.  The ways are all just… different. Continue reading “Regretted Classes and Fate”