A Film A Week: 01

Ask me about books, and I could go on for hours about which ones I love, which ones I hate, those I could read a thousand times over and those I would happily never see again. Same goes for music. Films, however, are a whole other story- I have no real reason for it but the list of movies I have actually seen is strangely minuscule for a teenager that loves all kind of art forms. After one particularly in-depth conversation with my stepdad, who is one of those people that can name the director, release date and whole cast of practically every film ever made, it was decided that I was in desperate need of a film education. Now it’s not like I have never seen a movie before; I’ve watched my fair share of Mean Girls and Harry Potter’s, but it was those cult classics that everyone and their mother seems to have seen that I’ve somehow managed to avoid seeing for the first eighteen years of my life. So, along with said film buff stepdad, a month ago I spent an arguably productive Sunday afternoon going through the IMDb ‘Top 100 Films’ list and creating a list of 52 films to watch (the idea was one a week for a year, in case you hadn’t guessed).

So without further ado, the next Sunday rolled around and we were ready on the sofa with ‘Pulp Fiction’ in the DVD player and a good old roast on our plates. I know a lot of people are going to be in disbelief that I haven’t seen what has to be one of the most famous and best-loved classics of the nineties, and in all honesty I have no idea how I’ve managed to get this far without watching it. I’m pretty sure this was also the first Tarantino that I’ve ever seen and I can definitely see why both he and this film have been so successful. Pulp Fiction is funny in an ironic way, manages to be violent without being classed as an action of any shape or form, confusing at times thanks to its disjointed storyline, but also clever and definitely worth a watch. Is it worth all the hype that surrounds it? My stepdad would certainly say not; I would be inclined to agree, but it’s definitely one of those films that everyone should see at some point- if only so you finally understand the multitude of references that seem to be made to it in everyday life.

One week on and the setting is pretty much the same, apart from this time on the screen is ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’, one of my stepdads favourite films that I have never really heard a lot about. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t exactly pumped to watch it for reasons that I can no longer remember, but it completely blew my expectations out of the water. Directed by the Coen brother and starring the likes of George Clooney, it’s set up to be a pretty great film and it certainly lives up to that. Witty and funny, it’s set in Great Depression-ridden Mississippi and has everything a good film needs, from a great soundtrack to cop chases. Apparently it’s based on the Odyssey and is full of references but I’ll be completely honest and admit that I didn’t realise this until (no surprise) my stepdad informed me… Nevertheless it’s a really great feel good film and I would heartily recommend if you want a chilled evening watching something that’s not too taxing on the brain!

The third and most recent installment of my movie education came in the shape of ‘Memento’, a film that I knew nothing about besides the title and the intriguing DVD cover. As we sat down to watch, my stepdad warned me that I would have to actually focus on what was happening to understand, which is always something that immediately instills fear in me- although he is plenty justified in warning me as I am horrendous at remembering who is who and what is happening in even the simplest of plotlines. ‘Memento’ is the story of a man whose wife is brutally murdered and decides to dedicate the rest of his life to finding her killer. The only minor problem is that thanks to the killer, he himself suffered an injury that left him with short-term memory loss- he can remember everything up until the accident clear as day, but anything since then only lasts a matter of minutes before disappearing from his brain.. bit of an issue when you’re trying to solve a murder case. I think my favourite thing about watching this was that it is shot completely from the protagonist’s perspective; we follow him, see what he sees, know no more than he knows and are deceived just as successfully as he is himself. If you’re looking for a movie whose concept is something new and refreshing that makes you think a bit more than your average rom-com or feel-good film, then this is your guy.

The plan is to put these mini reviews up about once a month as I slowly make my way through the list, although thanks to the almost-impossible task of finding a single night of the week when none of us are busy, sticking to a film a week might be a tad unrealistic. Either way, I hope you found entertainment in some form or other in this because I’ll be back shortly ready to impart even more of my superior knowledge as I delve deeper into the world of films. Three down, fourty-nine to go.

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Not Ready To Be An Adult

As of last Saturday I am eighteen years old, and therefore an adult.. isn’t that a terrifying thought? With my little brother and sister starting school for the first time the day before my birthday, I was already feeling a little fragile in the age department, but now I just feel goddamn ancient. I know it’s such a cliché thing to say but it feels like only yesterday that I started secondary school and now I’m finally in my final year, a lot taller, a lot happier, and hopefully at least a little bit wiser. Nevertheless- jokes from mum about how I now have to do my own washing aside- I can’t comprehend the fact that I am now a legal adult and can more or less do whatever I want. In a year’s time I will be moving out (fingers crossed) and having to think about feeding myself and cleaning my own place and paying bills and all those other things that come with being a “responsible adult”.. and that scares me to death.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited to finally be eighteen and everything that entails- this birthday has hands down been the best I’ve ever had as I’ve been lucky enough to have spent time with and been spoiled by the people I love the most in the world. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better start to adult life and I am so grateful. Having friends that are moving out for uni this week has made me long for this time next year when I will hopefully be in the same position; I am so ready to get out of this tiny village in the middle of nowhere and I’m excited for whatever the next few years will bring. Oh, and if you’re wondering why I’ve become so somber and reflective all of a sudden, that’s what adulthood does to you kids. Just you wait.

Paper Views: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I know that my blog has kind of been all over the place this summer thanks to a dangerous combination of my various trips and general laziness, but hopefully now that I’m back at sixth form for my last year of school (eek) I can get back in the swing of things, and the holiday has meant that I’ve plenty of books of which to impart my professional opinion on for you. The first of these, and one that I wasn’t exactly eagerly anticipating reading, was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, one of the classics that was suggested reading for my A2 Literature course. Now, I don’t know if I’m the only one that had these preconceptions, but I was expecting this to be one of those novels full of wishy-washy lovey-dovey characters without any real plot line that anyone of our time can relate to (yes, this is exactly what I thought about Pride and Prejudice). I have to say, a few pages in and I was pleasantly surprised- the protagonist and the book’s namesake is a women who is independent-minded right from childhood and finds her way in the world without the help of any man- something that is refreshing to see in a book of that era.

It’s not until at least halfway through the story that you start to see a romance forming, and it is certainly not one of nature typical of romance novels; Rochester is moody and brooding and actually kind of ugly- something which only serves to make the characters more humbling and relatable. Described as something of a gothic novel, Jane Eyre definitely has more depth to it than the perhaps more commonly read Pride and Prejudice, and if you were going to read one of the two I would certainly recommend the former. Whilst I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite book that I’ve ever read, it completely surpassed my expectations and managed to be funny, gripping and profound in ways that I never expected. Definitely one to add to the bookshelf.

Rhythm and Views: Best of Reading 2014

We all know by now how much I love to ramble about bands I love so, as promised, I thought it was time to carry on that tradition in the form of my Reading 2014 highlights. If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know I was lucky enough to go to Reading this year and now, with a couple of weeks of sleep behind me (although still with an annoyingly persistent collection of illnesses and bruises), I feel I can properly look back on the weekend.

First off, it wouldn’t be right to start with any other than my beloved Arctics, who unsurprisingly smashed it. My friends and I were right near the front before they came on but decided to move further back so we could actually breathe- let alone dance- and I am so glad we did, as I think such a large part of enjoying a band is having a good crowd (yes I’m talking to you, crappy Vampire Weekend audience). From the opening riff of ‘Do I Wanna Know’ I just knew it would be a good’un; Alex was on point all the way through with his perfectly calculated obnoxious charm and the crowd were lapping up his every word. In terms of the setlist, they played ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ which I’ve always wanted to see live, but I can’t help feeling they missed some of their best hits- namely 505, Mardy Bum and Pretty Visitors (probably my favourite live track when I saw them on their AM tour). It’s hard to compare their Reading performance to seeing them at their own show; the latter was probably more slick and technically perfect, but you just can’t beat the amazing festival vibe and a fantastic crowd ten times the size.

One band who have definitely thrown themselves into the industry head first thanks to Reading has to be Catfish & The Bottlemen, who’ve managed to sell out their tour even before the release of their debut album (I’m still bitter that I missed out on tickets). I know they’re going to be huge, and I can’t be more happy that I got to see them in the tiny Festival Republic stage with one of the best crowds of the festival- complete with a naked crowdsurfer, egged on by the band themselves to “take it off, take it off!“. On straight after Catfish came King Charles, hands down my favourite act from 2000 Trees last year; nothing makes me want to dance more than his music does. Fab music, fab voice and even fabber hair- what more could you really ask for?

Now I’ve always been a fan of Cage The Elephant from their ‘Aint No Rest For The Wicked’ days, but I can’t say I’ve listened to a lot of their newer releases (my beautiful signed Shake Me Down picture vinyl is still unashamedly one of my favourite possessions). The same cannot be said for one of my friends though, so at her request we elbowed our way to near the front and I ended up counting it  as hands down one of my favourite acts of the festival. Definitely will be seeing them again sometime in the future. The end of Cage’s set meant a quick dash back to the main stage for Foster The People- I’ve been wanting to see them live for four years now and I’m still pretty amazed that I finally have. I know a lot of people aren’t fans but I really don’t get that- Mark Foster’s voice is just to die for and everything about their music is so happy, especially at a festival- nothing beats being in the middle of a crowd belting out some indie-pop lyrics as the sun slowly sets behind the stage.

I could go on for weeks about every band I saw at Reading, but I think (know) I would probably lose every subscriber I have, which is probably best avoided. I  just had to give a particular mention to a few bands that particularly stood out or I was especially impressed by- as I said before, any chance to ramble about music is a chance that I never fail to grasp with both hands. As I’m sure you’ve gathered.