Friday, 27 November 2009

Regina Spektor

Over the past week, it seems the only thing motivating me to work in any way is Regina Spektor's new(ish) album Far. It's possibly the first album ever in which I have thoroughly liked and enjoyed every song. Not all will become my favourite songs, but all are beautiful and some are simply transcendent. Being too broke to go buy the album itself has meant you will often see me in the afternoon absently doing translations and switching songs on YouTube every 3 minutes. This however has finally enabled me to actually see some of her music videos (not that I've been staring at the screen instead of working...) and I have to say - they're just so sweet. That pretty much sums them up - they're beautiful, quirky, original, funny, thoughtful, challenging and just so sweet, just like the songs and her herself. Anyway, I decided it was about time I did one of my famous top 10 lists for my favourite Regina Spektor songs. Because, you know, I do really love her so much :) It was ridiculously difficult to narrow it down to just ten, but I did manage. Just about.

10. Carbon Monoxide (Soviet Kitsch)
09. Oedipus (Songs)
07. Braille (Eleven Eleven)
06. On the Radio (Begin to Hope)
05. Samson (Songs)
04. Eet (Far)
03. Après Moi (Begin to Hope)
02. Hero (500 Days of Summer)
01. Us (Soviet Kitsch)

and, in case you haven't had enough - über cute video (and über awesome song)

Outside the cars are beeping
Out of sun
Just in your honour
And even though they do not know it
All mankind are now your brothers

Monday, 16 November 2009

43. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Somehow, despite the fact that he didn't actually direct this, I consider this to be the quintessential Tim Burton film. Maybe it's the scope of imagination used in the film. Maybe it's the comically beautiful songs. Maybe it's the extraordinary level of detail that went into each shot. Or maybe it's just catching sight of Jack Skellington's grinning face on the tightly curled rock peak and smiling. Whatever it is, The Nightmare Before Christmas remains my favourite Burton/Selick film, and is perfect to watch in that little period between Halloween and Christmas.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Seriously, I'm alive

Unbelievable, right? But yes, I live on, and so does this blog. I have missed it :) But oh my word, university is just so exhausting. Seriously, all you people who go/went to uni, did you realise you'd actually have to work so hard?!? In between two essays, four translations, five lectures, two speaking classes and endless grammar a week, I'm not entirely sure when I've had time to breathe, let alone write this blog. Don't get me wrong, I love it - I am that masochistic - but jeez does killing yourself over Kafka and the subjunctive take time. But anyway. I am back. I know you're all happy :) I can hear the cheering. And I'm happy - I really want to make time to post this blog regularly - it's something from my old life that keeps me anchored. Plus I just love movies, and after showing the Breakfast Club to some friends tonight (I'm spreading the love :D), I realised I needed to return to the mothership.

So, quick post, 'cos it's twenty to one and I have a French speaking class tomorrow with a guy called Guillaume who looks continually bewildered by how bad I am at French...

Trailers that have come out!!

01. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

So this admittedly looks like it could be a case of style over substance - and from the few reviews I've heard, it's not as good as it is meant to be. However, that's OK - I think what is really focal here is the sheer imagination being employed (Oh my god I sound like I'm writing an essay. Stop.) Still, it's Heath Ledger's last film. It's got Johnny Depp. And it looks fecking spectacular.

02. Invictus

Um, because Morgan Freeman + Matt Damon + Clint Eastwood must = brilliance. Plus it's already generating Oscar buzz, and I just love Oscar buzz - gets you so excited :D

03. Uncertainty

Ok. This doesn't look that good. But it could possibly be good. And, erm, Joseph Gordon Levitt is pretty :) This trailer has got me through many an essay crisis.

Am also finally seeing An Education this Wednesday (hopefully) so a review should follow shortly :D

Oooh, and also, something I wanted to discuss with you guys. After having read a lot of amazing fashion blogs recently, namely The Clothes Horse, Maverick Malone and Qin at the Disco amongst others, I'm kind of wanting to do maybe a little fashion thing of my own once a week, a what-I'm-wearing type thing. Now, I don't pretend to be as knowledgeable as you guys about fashion - I don't follow runways, I don't know much about designers and I can't really afford magazines (although I am considering getting French Vogue and putting it under my work budget :D). But I do love day to day style and street fashion, and I love playing around with my clothes and trying to express myself through them in unusual and different ways. (I kind of feel like I'm applying for a job interview here...). So yeah, what do you guys think?? I've been wanting to do it for a while, and yeah. Feedback and all would be love. I probably won't get round to it 'til New Year at least, but it's something to think about xxx

Saturday, 3 October 2009

44. A La Folie...Pas Du Tout (2002)

We watched this fabulously twisted and unsettling film during the French grammar course at Oxford, and absolutely loved it. That night, while sitting in the common room, my friend and I decided it would be a brilliant idea to slip stalker-ish love letters underneath one of the boys doors, much as Audrey Tautou did in the film. As you can imagine, hilarity ensued.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Update time!!

The text conversation between my best friend and I the day I arrived:

Me - I got lost :
Her - Lol are you ok now?
Me - Well I had to drag my sorry ass over to a cab firm/dodgy casino. I'm now in a waiting room while an asian guy plays on a fruit machine. Just hope I'm not late!!
Her - Lol! Good start :P I'm sure you'll get to know the place tho...although you've lived in luton how long and still get lost?? :P Lol na you'll be fine :)
Me - Success! Am now in the taxi! Although I don't think the driver knows the way...

Yeah. And it's pretty much continued like that. Not that I've been lost the whole time, but it has been a bit of a mixed bag. Plus - everyone is nice, I get to meet people, I get to improve my grammar, I'm living the independent life, I'm in Oxford. Negative - everyone has made friends much faster and as usual I'm shyer and quieter than everyone, my grammar is awful and is refusing to get better and I really miss my mum.

Basically, it's going as well as it could for a shy introverted homely-type. I am really homesick, but hopefully once uni starts properly and I get a proper room rather than this temporary ten day one, and I get settled properly, I'll feel better. And everyone is really nice and friendly, so yeah, it's really going rather good! I think I just need to give everything time, but it's just so strange to think that the people here are going to soon become my true friends - it doesn't feel like I'll ever be as close to them as I am to my childhood friends now. Although somehow everyone else have bonded really fast...still, just take it all as it comes :)

oh, and ps, the computer room I'm in now has probably been sent from God :)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

I'm off to the city of dreaming spires :D Yes, Oxford time has finally rolled by, and I'm so excited. I'm going for a French grammar course 'til Thursday after next - in which I'm not sure I'll have access to the internet - and then I come home for a weekend before going off for good!! So yes, there may be a short hiatus on this blog, but never fear (although I doubt anyone is) when university actually starts and I'm settled, this blog will be going strong :D

OK, miss you all, and wish me luck!! xxx

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Just when I thought I couldn't love him anymore...

he is just so cool. Please come and be Prime Minister of England!!

Monday, 14 September 2009

My Favourite Film Tunes

The soundtrack of a film is often for me one of the most striking and important parts. Music has a whole lot of influence on our emotions and perceptions, and film music - whether through its subtlety or it's grandness - can truly make or break a scene. So here
for your reading pleasure is my top 20 pieces of film music.

01. Your Hands Are Cold (Dario Marianelli, Pride and Prejudice)

The most beautiful piece of film music ever composed. It throbs with emotion and beauty, and wonderfully captures the sweet poignant moment as Lizzie and Mr Darcy are finally reunited.

02. The Breaking of the Fellowship (Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings)

The Lord of the Rings (all three of them) have such trandescental music that it was hard to pick just one track. This one narrowly beat out Riders of Rohan, simply because it's one of the only songs that brought tears to my eyes when I first heard it.

03. He's a Pirate (Klaus Badelt, Pirates of the Caribbean)

Because nothing can beat the original Pirates' theme. Everytime I hear it, it brings a smile to my face as I imagine Jack sailing away.

04. Together We Will Live Forever (Clint Mansell, The Fountain)

Clint Mansell's work for Requiem for a Dream is probably his most recognised, but I feel the Fountain has one of the most dramatic, complex, original and stunning soundtracks ever. This track is admittedly the most gentle and least heart pounding in the soundtrack, but there's something about that piano that is just too beautiful.

05. Only the Beginning of the Adventure (Harry Gregson Williams, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe had one of the most underrated soudntracks ever. Seriously - I would have given it the Oscar.

06. The Friends (Nicholas Hooper, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

John William's work on the Harry Potter films is probably the best known (I'm betting all of you could start humming Hedwig's Theme right now), but I prefer Hooper's work. His soundtracks for these films are much closer to the tone of the book - deeper, darker and more melancholy, and just darn lovely.

07. Comptine d'Un Autre Été (Yann Tiersen, Amélie)

Such a beautiful track that Tiersen reused it later on in Good Bye Lenin!

08. Theme from Schindler's List (John Williams, Schindler's List)

Indescribably beautiful. Much like the film, it speaks for itself.

09. Max-A-Million (Marc Streitenfeld, A Good Year)

Bit of an unusual chocie I'll admit, but this was just such an original track that I had to include it. Fits really perfectly with the film, which, by the way, you should all watch.

10. Under the Umbrella (Thomas Newman, Little Women)

Thomas Newman is a genius. Mostly, he's a genius at percussion-y type compositions (plonky music is what I commonly call it), but in this film, he shows his skill at the swoopy orchestral type, and it's just beautiful.

11. Atonement (Dario Marianelli, Atonement)
12. A Window to the Past (John Williams, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
13. Suite (Rachel Portman, Mona Lisa Smile)
14. Girl With a Pearl Earring (Alexandre Desplat, Girl With a Pearl Earring)
15. Credits (Dario Marianelli, Pride and Prejudice)
16. Evacuating London (Harry Gregson Williams, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
17. End Title (Thomas Newman, The Shawshank Redemption)
18. American Beauty (Thomas Newman, American Beauty)
19. The Painted Veil (Alexandre Desplat, The Painted Veil)
20. Summer 78 (Yann Tiersen, Good Bye Lenin!)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

(500) Days of Summer

Terribly sorry for being so absent. Been so busy it's not even funny - plus my computer had a virus and it's been so hectic. I did however manage to squeeze in time to see 500 Days of Summer. It was an incredibly significant cinematic experience for me, because it was the first time I went to see a film on my own. I know, I'm a big loser, right? Still, my best friend had already seen it and my mum distrusts my film-taste (big compliment) and my brother refused to see it and my other friend was in France. And I have a limited social circle. But I was so deperate to see it that eventually I sucked it up and just went. And it was wonderful. I don't have time for a proper review so I'm just gonna do some quick points.

- The entire concept. I'm fed up to death of the rom-coms they churn out these days. They're boring, shallow, unpolished and predictable. But this film portrayed love in an thoughtful meaningful way, while still being funnier, more romantic and just generally fabulous-er than almost any other rom-com ever made.

- The music. Close contender for the best part of the movie. Regina Spektor's two songs were beautiful and completely fitted into the quirky, beautiful and near-melancholic feel of the movie. Mushaboom and Quelq'un Me Dit were also loved, mostly 'cos I actually recognised them - a rare occurence in a film. I'm now fairly into the Smiths too, and Sweet Disposition by the Temper Trap was so lovely I didn't mind that it was used twice. Also, the song played when Tom starts an impromptu dance in a park was gorgeous. Yeah, I loved the music.

- The characters and the actors that played them. I've loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt ever since he was in 10 Things I Hate About You, but he was just amazing in this. His role was a crucial one (duh, he played the lead guy) because, unlike a lot of rom-coms, this film was completely told from the guy's point of view. He managed to capture every single emotion his character Tom went through, from ecstasy through to depression, and he was just so sweet and loveable and oh-my-word-I-loved-him. I actually liked Summer as well - although I think most people hated her. She was a complex character, because in a way, she was both the villian and the love interest, but Zooey Deschanel played her magnificently and caused me to actually feel for her.

- The...look of it. From split screens, sketched backgrounds, an eccentric blue colour scheme - the film was just darn beautiful to look at. And can I just say the clothes were gorgeous too. Summer's elegant yet playful pastel-y wardrobe made me almost (but not quite) want to abandon my multi-coloured tights and short dresses and dress just like her. And can I just say the man of my dreams would dress exactly the way Tom did.

To conclude - I loved it. I loved it so much. Beautiful, bittersweet, quirky - my perfect film.

Thursday, 3 September 2009


OK, so my gran's been making me some tote-type bags out of some old cushion protectors (I know, right? Why do they need protecting exactly?), mainly for these books, that I plan on lugging around uni like Hermione Granger on speed.

Most of the bags she's made have been the plain rectangular variety - which she's painstakingly made and which I plan on abusing with any number of fabric pens, but I'm having a lil' bit of trouble with this here one.

As you can see, it's got a lil' foldy thing (technical I know) which means I can't draw any one big thing (I'm recreating the poster of Volver on one of the normal ones, for example.) I was thinking of drawing lots of lil' small things, but I couldn't think what - I don't want to do anything predictable like flowers. Unless they're interesting flowers. One idea I did have was maybe writing out a passage from a book, using a different colour in the upside-V-bit. I dunno though. Seeing as a lot of you are fashion enthusiasts though, and way more clever and creative than I could ever be (sense the flattery people), I was wondering what you guys would do. So I could maybe then do it :P Seriously, any inspiration would be cool. And I will love you forever and a day :D

Monday, 31 August 2009

Being bad feels pretty good, huh?

The problem with being a movie manic like me is that, after a while, you become desensitized to film on general. A film may be really very good, but you've become so used to cinema in general that it just washes over you. It requires an exceptionally trandescendent film to snap you out of this state, and for me, this film was The Breakfast Club.

Seriously. I've become obsessed. I am in love. I've watched it three times in as many days. When eating dinner, I see Brian, Claire, Bender, Allison and Andy running through the school hallway. When vacuuming the house, I see them all dancing in the library. When about to fall asleep I see Bender's face (not like that. Naughty. Although I must admit, I am fairly in love with him). It's taken over my life. It's been a long time since a film did this.

The premise of The Breakfast Club is pretty simple. Five teenagers - Brian the brain, Andy the athlete, Allison the basket-case, Claire the princess and Bender the criminal are stuck in a day long detention on a Saturday. They're all from pretty different social circles, and have rarely interacted before this day. Each of them has a whole set of preconceptions and prejudices about the others, but as the day unfolds, they slowly come to realise that they are all much more than their respective stereotypes.

There's not much to say about The Breakfast Club that hasn't been said before in a million diferent ways. Suffice it to say, John Hughes, writer, director and genius, truly understood teenagers, perhaps in a way we don't ourselves. He understood the pain of pressure - pressure from parents, pressure from peers - the pain of not belonging and trying to find your place in life, and the vicious world of adolescence and high school. Although I'm way past high school now, and indeed never had it really bad anyway, this film struck a deep chord.

Technically, it's a great film. The script is both natural and nuanced, complex yet never over-complicated. The performances from the young actors are brilliant - all of them play carefully exaggerated, almost comical representations of their stereotypes at the beginning, deepening their performances as the film goes on and their characters develop. Judd Nelson in particular stood out to me as John Bender, the criminal of the group. At first a crude, rebellious, almost threatening bad-boy, his character slowly comes to show a vulnerable side as he becomes closer to members of the group, and Nelson masterfully captures this oh-so-subtle change while still keeping true to the character. 'Twas amazing to watch.

I should have hated this film. I hate teenage films. I don't really like the 80s. But this is completely different from any other high school film. Laughs aren't played at the expense of weaker characters. Clichéd romantic storylines aren't played out. This film actually has some heart and soul to it, and is fully respectful of adolescence and teenage-hood rather than patronizing and subtly mocking it - instead, it chooses to intelligently and honestly explore it. Plus, there's a curious sense of freedom to this film - a definite sense of breaking free (take note, High School Musical). Despite the fact that the kids are basically locked in detention, they still manage to escape - both literally, when they run through the hallways away from the evil Principal, and metaphorically, as they break the social boundaries entrapping them. And the scene when they dance wildly to We Are Not Alone speaks utter un-self-conciousness and freedom. Absolutely awesome.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Art of Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings films are awesome for many reasons - score, direction, script, visual effects...but the one part that has always stood out to me the most is the scope of imagination behind the art, set and costume direction. The films are just wonderful to look - awe-inspiring and heart-breaking-ly beautiful at the same time. Even watching them for the tenth time (and I think I've gone way beyond that by this point) never fails to bring about a feeling of excitement, happiness or fear as the camera tracks the Fellowship, explores Rivendell or pans over Mordor. So, unsurprisingly, a few weeks ago I checked three books out at the library - The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Art of the Two Towers and The Art of Return of the King, and I wholeheartedly recommend them. They show the thoughts and developmental processes behind making these films as magical as they are - be it through rough sketches, animation or mannequins, and they're just so cool. They are a tad expensive, so if you can get them through the library like me, well, you won't regret it. And no, I'm not being paid to advertise. I'm just a big dork :D

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Wednesday, 26 August 2009

45. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Thank you all for all your kind words on the last post!! I am so uber excited I can't even begin to describe.

Anywhoo, a short post today until I start watching some stuff again.

In other news, Taylor Swift is awesome.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

yay, I got in!! I am still in a state of absolute shock, I just can't believe it. But I'm also so so so so so happy and excited.
quick run of the grades -
French - 525/600 A
German - 522/600 A
Maths - 527/600 A
And yes, I have registered the irony that, despite wanting to study languages, my highest grade was in Maths. Hmmmn...
Can't WAIT for Oxford :D :D

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Women (1939)

While I am an enormous fan of classic movies, particularly those from the late 30s and 40s, I've often experienced a lot of discomfort while watching certain ones. It's not because the acting is bad (hello, it's the era of James Stewart...) or because the script is weak. No. It's usually because of the extraordinary amount of sexist views that are, both directly and indirectly, portrayed in certain films from this period.

And so it was with The Women. Perhaps it's not so surprising that a film about infidelity (on the man's side of course) and divorce from this time will not exactly be on the side of Women's Rights, but still. There was just so much stuff that was insulting to women, and degrading to the idea of marriage. The idea that if a man has an extra-marital affair, it's absolutely ok - in fact, it means he's "lost" - and it is a woman's duty to support him through this difficult time. The idea that, if you do wish to divorce your husband for sleeping with someone else, that means you are a "coward" who doesn't have the courage to fight for her man, and it doesn't matter that you're desperately unhappy and can't bear to look at him. And, as the ending of the film neatly shows, to be in with a chance of holding on to your guy, it's not enough to be a good caring wife and a lovely mother. No, you have "grow claws" and go into uber-bitch mode. What is particularly irritating is that, at the start of the film, the main character Mary Haines (played by Norma Shearer) is shocked by her mother's proposal that she sit meekly at home while her husband fools around with someone else, and passionately declares that in these modern times, she doesn't have to put up with it. However, by the end of the film, this has all merely been put down to pride, "a luxury a woman in love can't afford". For goodness sake.

Obviously, it is just a film. Moreover, it is a film that was a complete product of its time. A time before the empowering of women during the war, a time when women had only recently earned the right to vote. Can't we just pass it off as an example of the period it hailed from and watch the comedy? I feel, however, that it's important to note that all films - indeed all art forms - have the power to influence and instruct even seventy years after they were first made. I'm not saying we should do anything ridiculous like ban it, but, my real question is, as modern people and in particular as modern women, should we be enjoying this film?

Because I admit now - I did enjoy it. I thought it was hilarious. A perfectly sharp witty script, an amazing cast of actors - everything that is perfect about films from this time. Except the old fashioned attitudes. Those stung a lot.

So, to end this rambling, my main question - is it a sexist film that is therefore to be hated, or a product of it's time, to therefore be condoned? If the latter, I can't help feeling that we have picked up more from the morals of the film than we intended to - that all manner of sins are to be indulged and condoned. But it was just such a funny and good film that I can't immediately write it off.

For now, I'm on the fence. But I can't help feeling that my strong rooted feminist principles will eventually succumb to my ardent love of cinema. I apologise now to all the feminists and Suffragettes who fought and died on my behalf. But I honestly can't resist a good George Cukor film.

What about all of you?

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Favourite Book Characters of All Time

Remember when I did this post? Well, I've decided to do the book version now, as promised. Rather late I know, but hey, that's how I roll. Again, notice the distinct lack of psychopaths and morons that some people feel will make a good character. Instead, note the inordinate amount of child characters. It really seems I have no faith in adults. All characters are based on their book selves, and not on any film or TV versions. I just sometimes couldn't find pictures of original illustrations.

10. Pauline Fossil, Ballet Shoes

Because of her love for her sisters. Because of her determination to help. Because of her love of the stage.

9. Scheherazade, Arabian Nights

Because, unlike some other fairytale heroines, she actually has some guts. Because she prevents a massacre of innocents. Because she tells some awesome stories.

8. The Little Prince, The Little Prince

Because he's so gentle and charming. Because he represents childhood innocence.

7. Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

Because in a man's world, she's not afraid to fight. Because she always stays true to herself. Because she represents innocence in a thoroughly unjust time.

6. Artemesia Blastside, Piratica

Because she's cool and brave and tough. Because, even when she discovers her life is a dream, she keeps on at it.

5. Hercules Poirot, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (and others)

Because he solves murders. Because he does so in a curly moustache.

4. Lord Arthur Goring, An Ideal Husband

Because he's witty and charming and absolutely hysterical, yet (dare I say it?) earnest and passionate beneath it all.

3. Alice, Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass

Because of her imagination. Because of her curiousity. Because of her thoughtfulness. Because my childhood wouldn't have been the same without her.

2. Bertie Wooster, Thank You, Jeeves (and others)

Because he quotes Shakespeare without knowing the quote. Because he abbreviates eggs and bacon to eggs and b. Because he remains engaged to girls he dislikes to not hurt their feelings. Because he steals policemen's helmets. Because he is the funniest and best comic creation ever.

1. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (and others)

Because of her loyalty. Because of her cleverness. Because of her determination. Because of her untameable hair. Because of her love for Ron. Because of her deep insecurities. Because of her kindness. Because she's been my hero ever since she first appeared on the Hogwarts express.