Wartime Romance Films: All’s Fair

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Coming out of Dunkirk last week (guys, it’s amazing- go watch it (except for the erasure of everyone who wasn’t a white man from WWII)!) I was inspired to write a list of great war films.
When I got on it the next day I realized belatedly that war film knowledge is really a big gap in my film expertise.  I haven’t watched most of the classics yet (Bridge on the River Kwai, All Quiet on the Western Front, Das Boot, Patton, etc.) and I couldn’t get more than a few minutes into Saving Private Ryan when I tried to watch it a few months ago. (It’s just so overblown and melodramatic).

My list would have been solely Hacksaw Ridge and Dunkirk, and we can’t have that- even if I do write movie pairing posts sometimes.

So I decided to ease into the subject with a genre I know a little (okay, a lot) more about- wartime romances.

My criteria were vaguely as follows: 1) There must be a war that actually took place in reality. 2) The plot must primarily follow some kind of romantic trajectory- the love story can’t be a secondary consideration, which rules out things like Hacksaw Ridge and Watch on the Rhine.

Be warned- it’s a bit of an eclectic list, but all are worthwhile in my book. Continue reading “Wartime Romance Films: All’s Fair”

The Best Romantic Comedies of All Time: Me vs Vogue

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On May 25th, Vogue published a list of the 51 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time. That’s right- all time.
And of course I take exception to it, to put it mildly.  Maybe I’m holding Vogue to unreasonable standards- it’s not AFI or anything- but the fact remains that of their 51 all time best romantic comedies, I agree with exactly eleven.

Why so few? First, tell me if you think The Graduate is a romantic comedy. (Hint: it’s not). How about Bridesmaids? Is Bridesmaids even romantic (No, seriously, asking- I couldn’t get through the first ten minuets it was so crass).  And those are the two problems. The majority of movies are either 1) not romantic comedies or 2) not good, not to mention not the ‘best of all time’.

But of course this is all just opinion.  If I were to make a list of what I think are the best romantic comedies (of all time), it would be the list that follows. The ones in italics are those I share with Vogue. Continue reading “The Best Romantic Comedies of All Time: Me vs Vogue”

The Runt of the Literature

Ayyy, get it? It’s like ‘runt of the litter’, but books and the written word, so literature.
…I’ll see myself out.

Having recently written about my favorite standout works from amazing authors, I decided it was time to do the opposite.  That is, rudely single out my least favorite works by some of my best-beloved authors. Blasphemy.

I think my greatest hope, when I write about books, is that people will be inspired to feel like the classics are less remote.  It’s logical that, looking at the whole of the history of writing and authorship, you can find better pieces than were published in the past five or ten years.  For me personally, writing styles from longer ago are more pleasing than current writing (again, speaking very generally).  But I do think that we have a tendency to venerate classic literature kind of excessively.  Which makes people hesitant to read it and interact with it.  They’re just books like any other, and books are there for people to read and enjoy.  A book should never make you feel bad, and you should never feel ‘unworthy’ of a book or guilty for having a negative opinion about one.  It’s like trying on clothes.  If you try on something that doesn’t fit, it’s the clothing that doesn’t fit you, not you who doesn’t fit the clothing.

Okay, rant over.  Here’s a collection of books from my favorite authors who can by and large do no wrong.  And these are examples of the doing wrong (again, by me).  Books that I am perfectly content to not like.

Continue reading “The Runt of the Literature”

Hell or High Water: Movie and Music

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Vive le Proletariat!

I wasn’t expecting to like Hell or High Water very much.  Just look at the picture- it’s such a very guy movie, with the rugged West, rugged facial hair, guns, and even rugged-er cowboy hats.

But actually I liked it because, despite failing the Bechdel test (and every other female inclusion test) with a resounding plop, it’s super anti-capitalist! Continue reading “Hell or High Water: Movie and Music”

My Favorite Authors: An Addendum

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In the few months since I posted a list of my favorite authors (one of my first lists here, incidentally) I haven’t been able to stop thinking of those poor lost souls I didn’t include who rightfully deserved their place on said list.

So today I’m going to remedy some of that by focusing on the nonfiction authors and playwrights I omitted.

As a refresher, an author or playwright is objectively a favorite if they have multiple works, most of which I love/find amazing/enjoy.

So step right up, nonfictioners and theater people!

  1. E.B. White
    So Charlotte’s Web is brilliant. Stuart Little is brilliant.  The Trumpet of the Swan is even better because Boston and Swan Boats and the Public Garden.  But E.B White wrote some really astonishingly good and beautiful essays and I stayed up reading them all night before Thanksgiving my freshman year of college after being introduced to them through English 115 [we read Death of a Pig in class (And to all those people who thought he was mocking the pig and its pain- He wrote fucking Charlotte’s Web! Context people- you really think E.B. White is a pig-hater?! Idiotic)].  Somehow I didn’t get turned on to this when I was made to read Once More to the Lake my senior year of high school.  (Probably because the class, professor, and short story were all of lesser quality).  So White’s farm tales feed my soul.  The New York ones are also quite good.
  2. Joan Didion
    At the moment I’m reading Play It As It Lays, which is lovely and bleak.  Mom recommended it. She likes lovely and bleak (as do I).  She’s also the reason Carson McCullers will be up on a coming installment of this list.  But Play It As It Lays is fiction, you say.  Shut up.  Because she’s also on here for Slouching Toward Bethlehem and The Year of Magical Thinking.  That last one. Ouch. Ooof.  All of it in the feels.  I read it shortly after Dad’s rock climbing accident.  I sometimes wonder how much loving a book has to do with serendipitous alignment of mood, circumstance, another factors.  I do sometimes just set a book aside because I know I’m not in the right mindset to properly get it.  Which is another of the benefits of having favorite well-trusted authors.  You can just say, “I’m feeling Steinbeck.” or “Wow, that Thomas Hardy just razed my soul, please find me a Jane Austen before I curl into the fetal position.”  But anyway, Didion: points for naming her daughter Quintana. Pretty awesome.
  3. Antoine de St. Exupery
    Okay, forget about The Little Prince for a minute.  I know it’s hard. Because that book is a lot and because it’s the Expert that’s been shoved down everyone’s throats forever.  I know the fox is wonderful.  I know the rose is a callous, disillusioned, shallow bitch (Like all women, am I right?) (The answer is NO, misogynistic pigs).  FORGET ABOUT IT AND GO READ HIS STORIES ABOUT FLYING. PLANES. Both fiction and nonfiction.  Wind, Sand, and Stars.  Night Flight. Flight to Arras.  His journals of the war years.  I want to include a quote to impress upon you that overwhelming beauty of his writing about planes and flight.  But I can’t pick one. And the quotes, beautiful in and of themselves, are actually glorious when they’re all nested and twined together in a complete story.  They’re not long but the amount of human feeling, profundity, and aspiration they encompass is like filling your lungs fully with air for the first time.  And they’re so little talked about it kills me.
  4. Ernest Hemingway
    Haha, yes okay maybe this is cheating a little bit.  My favorite Hemingway is A Moveable Feast. *Swoon*.  But Hemingway is known for his fiction. Which I also quite like (with exceptions).  Like you’d think To Have and Have Not would be perfect given that I love the movie based on it (Bogie and Bacall, MORE SWOON). But it’s not, one of the few times the movie is head and shoulders above the book (don’t kill me).  But hey, he has some good short stories.  The Sun Also Rises is good. Except ew, bullfighting.  The Old Man and the Sea is definitely good.
    Let’s be honest: Hemingway is holding on by the ends of his nails. I’m even taking into account his love of extra-toed cats.  Without that he probably wouldn’t be on here. (Also he was really attractive.)  The thing is A Moveable Feast is one of my favorite favorite books.  And that’s enough to make up for my more tepid admiration of some of his other works.  They’re not as favorite-y as they could be, but A Moveable Feast is here to make up the difference.
  5. Peter Mayle
    I love Peter Mayle. I love reading about Provence and Provençal culture.  It makes me happy.  And his anecdotes are truly amusing.  A Year in Provence, Encore Provence, and Toujours Provence.  But I’m not very fond of Peter Mayle’s fiction.  But the anecdotes about the mistral? Parisian gastronomic delights? Truffle gangsterdom and swindles? His crazy neighbor (like the French version of a hillbilly?). Such excellent summer reading. Or, you know, also good for chasing away winter blues.  Always is good too.  An important point here being that I’m a bit of a francophile (if you haven’t noticed) so if you’re indifferent to the French (or if, like my Pop Pop, you’ve avoided and disliked them ever since you met some rude ones while in the navy) I don’t know that these will be up your alley.

Okay, I lied! This is long enough- I’m saving playwrights for a separate write up. There are four of them.  Debate who they are in your heads until then.

15 Summer Movies

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In honor of the beginning of the summer solstice, I’m going to be doing a bit of a seasonally themed week.

Summer movies are an interesting category. I think most people are familiar with the idea of the ‘summer blockbuster’, but I’m wondering more about what it is that actually makes a film as classically summery in feel as sandy toes and an iced tea on the porch. Continue reading “15 Summer Movies”

Top Movies of the Month

And today it’s been exactly four weeks since I returned to the home.  I’ve spent most of that time lounging and languishing, as one is wont to do after a fairly brutal confrontation with a semester of higher education.
It’s an important defensive measure- for the preservation of sanity- to do your utmost to expel all of that malignant and intrusive learning from your head so it can be once more empty and happy and light as a balloon.

Yep, summer is a time for the easy pleasures.  Easy pleasures like lovely films; some complicated and thought-provoking, others simple enough that you can let them wash right over you like a summer breeze or murmuring ocean tide.  And of course, for the few days that your remote is out of commission, there will always be the guilty recourse of youtube rendezvous with Say Yes to the Dress, Season 14 (Grow a spine and tell your entourage that they and their opinions can go to hell).
Anyway, these were the happy viewing of a few of my quiet evenings… when I wasn’t rooting for lace over tulle or ballgown over mermaid or whatever. Continue reading “Top Movies of the Month”