Movie

“La La Land”

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Source: Imdb

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is one of the most discussed movies since it came out with people talking about it almost everywhere. As part of my Oscars’ challenge I had to go watch it myself even though I have to admit that I am not generally a fan of musicals. This is actually what kept me away from watching it earlier as I thought it would just be a typical Hollywood-musical film, a genre that never really appealed to me, with a few exceptions of course.

 

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I am happy to say that La La Land was beyond my expectations in a good way obviously. It was not the best movie of all times, nor can I consider it one of my favorite movies but still it had some magic in it and this magic stayed with me even after leaving the cinema. Upon reading what the movie is about, I don’t think that the plot is grabbing someone’s attention as it seems like one more love story. Well, it is a love story but the way it is presented, through difficulties that go along with following your dreams and succeeding, made me think about it in a different way.

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When it comes to the actors, both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were amazing at their roles. Especially Stone, seemed as if she was not playing at all. She was very good at what she did and it felt as if the character matched her real-life one. Ryan Gosling was good too but to my opinion most of his roles look-alike so I was not extremely impressed by his acting but  I was by his voice. He is a really good singer and he even has a band and he can actually play the piano. I was extremely impressed by his singing abilities, Stone’s too but I was expecting her to be good at singing.

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The movie is essentially about the dreams someone has concerning him/her becoming famous or at least making people know him/her for doing what s/he likes. Love plays a apart in that, as a partner can be a motivator or a burden. When it comes to following your heart or your dream what do you do? Well, I guess you have to watch it for yourselves. The end is unexpected and it is a noble effort to show that this story could be real (or not it still seems too much of a fairytale).

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Out of all the Oscar Nominations the movie has received, the thing that is for sure is that it deserves the ones concerning directing, as it constantly plays with colours and bright lights, which means it also deserves the cinematography nomination as well. I also think it is pretty obvious that sound mixing, sound editing and music also will be won by La La Land. I definitely recommend watching it, especially in a cinema, but be ready for a jazz night out after the movie ends (I know I was).

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Movie

Disney’s “Moana”

Yesterday the Oscar nominations were announced and as a result, my Oscar’s challenge started. This is something I do every year, I try to watch every film that is nominated for Best Picture and then I move on to the rest of the categories. As this blog is about both book and movie reviews, I decided to “share” my challenge with you. One other thing is, that I love watching Disney movies and I usually get obsessed with them. I have been wanting to see Moana for some time but as it is also nominated for Best Animated Feature Film, I decided that it is the perfect start for this year’s challenge.

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source: IMDb

When I think about this film, the words that come immediately in mind are; colours, songs, warmth. This film really made me feel warm inside even if winter is all around me. Disney managed to create a non-conventional female character for one more time and definitely succeeded in doing so. Moana has independence and dynamism. There is no love story in this film and before asking yourselves if this is good or not, let me just say that she doesn’t need a love story.

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“Sometimes the world seems against you…”

Moana is a character who tries to discover one of the most important aspects in the life of a person; who s/he is. She revolts when it comes to her parents but she does it because she feels the need to do so, because she needs to go on an adventure alone. An adventure that represents the passage from childhood to maturity.

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“That come what may, I know the way…”

I believe it is essential for children to discover new unconventional characters and escape the princess who needs saving prototype. Girls can save themselves, their families and their people as other movies have also shown. Apart from that, everyone in whatever age, should really look inside themselves and think of who they are and what their values are, as what our families or society have in mind concerning what one should do with their life may not be what they actually want to do.

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“But this does not define you…”

Last but not least, the songs included are amazing. I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack since yesterday that I watched the movie. The songs (one of them is actually also nominated for Best Original Song), are written in order to make you feel better, get up and dance, smile and escape to the warmth of an island. I definitely recommend it, for all ages and especially for rainy or days that everything seems wrong.

Literature

André Breton’s “Nadja”

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“She calls herself Nadja, she says, ‘because in Russian it’s the beginning of the word hope, and because it’s only the beginning.”

Breton André, Nadja, p.66

Nadja is a book I wanted to read since this summer after reading a critique Simone De Beauvoir wrote concerning the ways in which women are portrayed in literature. Well this was actually the second reason why I was so eager to read it as the first was that the title of the book -and the main character of the book- is Nadja which actually reminds me of my own name, so I guess while reading I was also looking for similarities between her and me. I know it sounds silly but I believe that having this in mind, my attitude towards the book was different.

“Life is other than what one writes.”

Breton André, Nadja, p.71

Essentially, this book is a “love story” between the writer and a young woman who, as the title suggests, is called Nadja. As Breton is one of the most characteristic surrealist writers, the book has surrealistic elements and is created by blending autobiographical facts with memories and imagination. For those who are not used to reading these kind of texts it can be a little hard to follow the writer’s stream of thought as it continuously progresses. I found it quite tiring myself as I have to admit that concentration was necessary in order to keep pace with the names, the streets and the events occurring . As a result it took me a lot longer to read the book than expected due to lack of time and concentration.

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“André? André? … You will write a novel about me. I’m sure you will. Don’t say you won’t. Be careful; everything fades, everything vanishes. Something must remain of us…” Breton André, Nadja, p.100

 The book is divided in two parts, the first one is before the writer’s encounter with Nadja but it offers a mental tour in the streets of Paris during the 1920s. My edition of the book, which I strongly recommend, had pictures of several places the author describes, portraits of people he talks about and posters, giving a glimpse of what it would feel like living as Breton did. In my opinion, the second part of the book, where Nadja is actually introduced is a lot more interesting. Breton has a unique way of presenting her both through his eyes and her words that enchants the reader. In that case De Beauvoir was right, as Breton describes the female character as something unreachable that belongs to the fantasy word and exists in order to validate his existence.

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“A kiss is so quickly forgotten.” Breton André, Nadja, p.80

Generally I liked the book because it was a different love story, it was an unconventional one and as a result it was more interesting despite the “difficulties” of reading it. I believe that people who like modernism and surrealism will find it a lot easier to read. In addition the photos provided along with their explanations made me feel like I was part of Breton’s word and I must admit that I found his way of writing very interesting and intriguing at the same time. It is as if you are constantly in someone’s thoughts and by doing so you feel closer to the writer, especially in this case where there are autobiographical elements. Of course the original language is french but I read it in English so I must admit that probably the book is better in its original writting but I could definitely not handle surrealism and french. But for those who can and want to read something rather different from the “ordinary classics” Nadja is the ideal book.

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“Since you exist, as you alone know how to exist, it was perhaps not so necessary that this book should exist.” Breton André, Nadja, p.158
Literature

Arthur Schnitzler’s “Dream Story”

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“And no dream, he sighed quietly, is altogether a dream”

Schnitzler Arthur, Dream Story,p.87

Arthur Schnitzler’s Dream Story is a book I recently read, given to me by one of my friends. First of all I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of the book before, but I have seen Kubrick’s adaptation of the book, the film Eyes Wide Shut. Because of this film and my love for Kubrick in general, my friend told me about the book. I didn’t like the film very much, in comparison to other films by the same director. As for the book, I found it very different in comparison to the film but I was not crazy about it either.

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“For however much they might belong to one another heart and soul, they knew last night was not the first time they had  been stirred by a whiff of freedom, danger and adventure.”  Schnitzler Arthur,Dream Story p.3

The story is set in the early 20th century Vienna where we meet a couple, Fridolin and Albertine who appear to live a very satisfying life, almost dream-like until Albertine confesses to Fridolin that women, as well as men, have sexual fantasies. Fridolin even though being a doctor and having knowledge concerning psychology, is shocked because of his wife’s confession and throughout the book the reader experiences the character’s psychological transformations as well as his thoughts that appear to be as far as possible from logical thinking. His wife’s obviously true confession about women having sexual fantasies just as men, makes him feel the need to prove to her that other women are sexually attracted to him.

“He felt helpless and inept, and everything seemed to be slipping from his grasp; everything was becoming increasingly unreal, even his home, his wife, his child, his profession,his very identity, as he trudged on mechanically through the evening streets, turning things over in his mind”

Schnitzler Arthur,Dream Story, p.72

Being in a state where he can’t realise if he is dreaming or being actually awake he feels the need to hurt his wife by taking part in a weird masquerade based on sexual fantasies. At this point I must confess that, in relation to the film, the sexual tension is limited in the book as the emphasis is not put there but in the feelings and thoughts of the protagonist. When it comes to the film, Kubrick used the book only as a basis while trying to create a movie about sexual relations.

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“What about when one awoke from dreams,for example?Of course, there one could remember…But there were also surly dreams which one forgot completely, of which nothing remained but some mysterious aura; some obscure bemusement” Schnitzler Arthur, Dream Story,p.73

“Curious how, seduced by words, again and again one labels and condemns people, destinies and streets through sheer idle force of habit”

Schnitzler Arthur, Dream Story,p.73

It is not one of the books I would read again but it was easy to read and quite simple really, so it didn’t bore or tire me.It did put me into thinking concerning relationships, as it depicts how easily a marriage can be ruined even by suspicion or if you chose to see it otherwise, how people keep their relationships just because they don’t want to admit that they are unhappy or unsatisfied, or even worse they choose not to see what is right in front of them just because they fear being alone.

“I think we should be grateful to fate that we’ve emerged safely from these adventures-both from the real ones and from those we dreamed about”

Schnitzler Arthur, Dream Story,p.87

 The edition of the book I read is: Schnitzler, Arthur. Dream Story. Trans. J.M. Q, Davies. Great Britain: Penguin Classics, 2016. Print. Pocket Penguin.

Movie

“Le gamin au vélo” or how sensitive childhood can be.

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Le gamin au vélo (2011)

Le gamin au vélo or as the title is translated in English, The Kid with a Bike, is a dramatic, Belgian film written and directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne in 2011. The story focuses on a young boy, who after being abandoned in a state-run youth farm by his father tries to readjust his place in the world. The only thing connecting him with his estranged father is his bike which is also his means towards maturity. The actor, Thomas Doret, is very convincing in his role, making the viewer sympathise and empathise with his struggles. After all, he is just a boy on the edge of teenage years who has lost his only parent and at the same time, the male-model that would help him through the difficult passing from childhood to teenage years.

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“Don’t get dissapointed if it doesn’t happen as you dream it”

The directors have beautifully captured this transition by showing how easily innocence can be lost when one is looking for a role-model. The focus is especially drawn upon the sensitivity that comes with childhood and the need for love and attention. Grown-ups may think sometimes that the child will forget something they did or said. The child desperate for love pretends not to understand what is going on, just to get the affection s/he needs. In their search for love children can easily become victims of some sort of love that actually depends not on sincere feelings but manipulation.

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“I don’t dream”

Generally, I have seen better movies concerning this theme but I need to say that the feelings I had after watching the film were optimistic ones.I do recommend watching it, especially if you want to improve your French listening skills, as the dialogues are pretty clear. Another element I particularly enjoyed was photography, with beautiful shots combining the red piece of clothing the child wears in almost every scene (probably a sign of “rebellion”, as teenage years are usually associated with this notion, especially when it comes to young boys) with the surroundings.

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It is actually one of the films that makes  you think of how lucky you are if you have a family that loves and supports you or what your role as a parent is/will be. But in the end, I think that the true essence is that everyone has opportunities and everyone can get out of tough situations, all s/he needs is some love and support.

Series

Series: Black Mirror

 

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Black Mirror is a Netflix series that I recently discovered and watched to the point where I got completely addicted to it. For those who have not seen it, I strongly recommend it, for those who have I hope you share my point of view.

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Source:Pinterest

So this series was something completely different and original for me. First of all I have to make clear that I usually find series without continuous plot boring, in order to actually become addicted to  series I have to feel  intrigued, but here we have the exception to my rule. Every episode of Black Mirror is a different story, set in the not-so-far future with completely different characters. The cast changes in every episode as well as the technology presented. It is essentially a series pinning the bad influence technology and new inventions can cause our lives if (and is a big IF) we are not careful.

What needs to be clear is that the series doesn’t portray technology as something necessarily wr

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Reference to the third episode of the first season. Source:Pinterest

ong but it mostly, to my opinion, aims on showing how brainwashed/swallowed by technology people can be (or already are). If you look around you, everyone is staring into a screen and new developments in the field of technology come every day. It is a way of living and no one can deny that but still there are dangers and a lot of them actually.

I have realized that, upon taking a literature class concerning science fiction, the fear of the machine becoming more human and the human becoming more of a machine is real. Things writers used to imagine a few decades ago are our realities today and situations portrayed in the series can possibly be our reality tomorrow. The point might be to scare, I know for a fact that after almost every episode I would sit and think about how I would have reacted. It is a series working as food for thought on our overexposure to the digital world.

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Stills from various episodes.

There are only three seasons and the first one only has three episodes so I strongly recommend it and I promise you that after watching this you will probably get addicted to similar series and start thinking about how close the “distant” future is and what will our role be.

Poetry

Little Dose of Poetry:May Theilgaard Watts’ “Vision”

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Barber,Laura,ed.Penguin’s Poems For Love,p.20. London:Penguin,2010.Print.Penguin Classics.

While I was having breakfast today (actually it was just coffee and bread with jam) I thought about having read a poem which made me feel exactly as I did at that moment. It might seem weird but I think poetry lives inside us in the small everyday experiences.As a result I begun thinking which poem was that,that while reading it made me imagine eating strawberry marmalade and feeling happy,just enjoying a sunny morning within the glorious mess my kitchen is in.It was not hard to find that the poem I was thinking about is May Theilgaard Watts’ Vision and after reading it again I was able to see once more everything that the poem refers to,happening all around me and feel as if..

“My love kissed my eyes last night.”

May Theilgaard Watts

Enjoy your day 🙂

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To-day there have been lovely things I never saw before; Sunlight through a jar of marmalade…