MOVIE REVIEW: Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Welcome to my FIRST EVER MOVIE REVIEW ON HOLLIEBLOG.COM!

*double checks*

Ok, I’ve reviewed some TV shows but they don’t count.

A loooong time ago, I used to run a Tumblr called ‘Hollie Reviews’ (which is still there), where I posted a review of every film that I watched. Whether that was in the cinema or even just at home on Netflix. Nobody read them, and I left it like an abandoned theme park to work on my booklr and, eventually, this blog right here.

But today, while not making a habit of reviewing movies, I wanted to talk about a recent book to movie adaptation that has left me feeling a little…strange.

Strange because I never prefer a film to the book.

call-me-by-your-name

I read Call Me By Your Name back in February, falling in and out of love with passages that were either beautiful, intimate and making me yearn for the summer, or so purple that I lost track of what was happening (a thing that happens to me a lot when reading text that’s too flowery). You can read the whole review on Goodreads, where I compete with the two sides of my brain; one side that wanted more of the book, and one side that thought the whole thing laughable.

But the film was different.

Firstly, this year I’ve started going to the cinema alone. At first it was to combat my monstrous anxiety that I was battling at the beginning of the year, where the thought of going outside was horrifying. I thought to myself if I can go to the cinema and then eat lunch, alone, with no one to distract me, I can do anything. I usually pick films that I want to go see that I don’t think anyone else would want to see with me; films that maybe only get a few showings and are screened in the smallest room in the multiplex. Call Me By Your Name wasn’t even in the multiplex, and I had to go to the local indie/arthouse theatre which I knew wouldn’t accept my 3 years out of date student card and would also be a lot more intimate.

But hey, intimacy is what Call Me By Your Name is all about, so the atmosphere was spot on.

So I sat there, in a plush red chair with only a smattering of people, most of them on their own too (this always helps). Turns out Friday at 1pm is not prime time indie film watching. I’d decided that I was going to be really excited for this film because, let’s be honest, a film adaptation of a queer book deserves money thrown at it. It needs success because through success brings more LGBT focused films. Plus I’d seen the trailer and it looked precious af. So, despite having mixed feelings about the book, I was sat there in a small cinema on a Friday afternoon with a bag of 80 calorie popcorn, and I was READY.

[MINOR SPOILER AHEAD]

I was actually surprised about how much I remembered the book, and was super disappointed about the scenes set in Rome not in the final cut of the film. Those were my favourite scenes from the book, but it felt like the adaptation was a lot more focused on the build up to their relationship, rather than the part where they were free from hiding from Elio’s parents and their friends and could just be themselves.

But, I liked how their dynamic was a little different from the book.

As I stated in my book review, Elio meets Oliver and that’s it, he straight up worships him, and while it’s harder to express so much thought in a film without having a voice-over (which honestly, can be awful), I definitely found that Elio was a lot more pissed off by Oliver. He was here, taking over his space, winning over his friends,  and talking over his parents like some ‘loud American’. I loved it a lot; they talked quickly, moved around each other but never collided until they did and WOW. WOW. I forgot I was alone in a cinema full of strangers because beauty? What is it? It’s this film.

So, better dynamic? CHECK!

Beautiful music (Sufjan Stevens baby!) CHECK!

Cinematography which makes me nostalgic for Italy and the 80s despite being born in 1993? CHECK!

There were definitely scenes that were a bit strange and made me cringe a little. And no, not the peach scene, but just some hammy scenes that I don’t know if they were improvisations from Timothée Chalamet (who plays Elio) or directions from the director but hey, it’s an arthouse/indie film, a little weirdness is expected.

If this film is showing near you, go see it! Have a little day to yourself, grab some food! Read a book, then go watch this!

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Queerbaiting: It’s Time To Stop

I’ve never started a blog post angry.

And maybe, some would say that I should come back to it later, collect my thoughts so that I can write this piece with…I don’t know, a more level head, instead of a hot one?

Well, no, I’m not going to do that, because I’m tired™. I’m so tired of the entertainment industry and the lengths it goes to hurt others and in doing so, form the very dangerous opinions of others.

Continue reading “Queerbaiting: It’s Time To Stop”

La La Land & The Way I’m Consuming Entertainment

There is really something about going to the cinema on your own.

There is no quarrel with what you’re going to see, nor what food you’re going to eat. You can choose exactly where you’re going to sit, and you are most definitely going to be on time. Everything works in your favor when going to see a film alone, with the only problem being that you can’t actually discuss the film with anyone afterwards. You’re left there, with your thoughts, until you go home and find someone to talk about it with, and this is probably someone who hasn’t seen the film anyway.

Seeing La La Land was my first experience seeing a film alone, and it wasn’t until half way through that I realised something was wrong.

I suffer from depression, and one of the main symptoms is lack of focus/interest. Sometimes I do struggle to watch a whole film or I take a long time to read a whole book, but in this scenario I was entirely focused; I had no other stimuli to distract me from what was on screen, and I nearly teared up right there in the cinema because I thought my mental health was destroying this lovely experience I was supposed to be having.

But, this is ridiculous! I’ve been to the cinema before, watched a film before, and been disappointed with the film. It wasn’t my lack of interest to blame, it was the film in those instances. So why was it different now?

I realised I knew exactly what it was, and I was a mixture of both grateful and sad.

La La Land should be a film that I fall in love with. Not only is it about artists who struggle to do what they love while understanding that ‘doing what you love’ doesn’t always pay the bills, it’s musical, colourful, and has stunning cinematography. I’m known to be a fan of this kind of film-making. Films like Moulin Rouge! Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and Her. Shows like Pushing Daisies, The Get Down, and Sherlock. Visually stunning media is my jam, and La La Land should have been a perfect addition.

It had a love story, music, dancing, heart-breaking moments. But this thing that I’d realised about the way I was now consuming media had upset me so much because I had thought it had ruined my enjoyment of the things I love. But it hadn’t. What it had actually done is brought me more awareness about the issues regarding who wins and who doesn’t when it comes to the film industry.

(La La Land spoilers ahead)

La La Land does not actually have a plot. Like many films that are just made to win awards, the film has a basic premise with the distractions of fun musical numbers and pretty colours. But, because of what I’d learned through listening to people discuss the racism in certain books, I could only see Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) obsess over Jazz and how it should be played/listened to while everyone else around him (the people in the band, in the jazz clubs) was black. Jazz is a genre of music derived from the black communities of New Orleans. It was played in speak-easies and in clubs and at parties and has grown into a whole genre that can be enjoyed and played by everyone. But it irked me so much that, this large part of black culture was so prevalent in this movie…and we still focused on the one white guy in the room. The only speaking role a black character had was John Legend’s character, and he was painted as a little bit like an antagonist who wanted to ‘ruin the jazz sound’. It was Sebastian who we were supposed to be rooting for; that one white guy who we’re supposed to consider a visionary when actually he’s just doing what all the black extras are doing, but also throwing hissy fits because things aren’t going his way.

I’ll watch things and the first thing I’ll notice is ‘everyone is white’, and you don’t realise how prevalent it is when you can do it with almost all films and shows. Sherlock is set in London, where 40% of the British Muslim population lives, but according to Sherlock’s London, they just do not exist. HBO’s Girls is set in Brooklyn, where half the population is POC, and all the main girls are white.

Race is not just the issue, but sexuality too. I can watch a show, a film, or read a book and the first thing I will notice is ‘everyone is straight’. Everyone. No matter how many couples you throw in there (I’m looking at you, Sarah J. Maas and Stephenie Meyer), every single one of those couples is straight, and it’s so frustrating because I’m disappointed. How can you thoughtfully write a book, a show, a film, and just completely disregard a whole group of people so easily?

I think, when you grow, and your tastes change, and what you look for in entertainment changes, you always get a little bit annoyed. If you re-read a book that you loved in the past but then realise it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, or watch a film that looks right up your street but it’s just not the same, I think you do feel a sense of loss. But, to think that this awareness has ruined my taste is a very ignorant way to think. In fact, I want to see it positively, because it’s enlightening. I feel like the blinkers have finally come off, and I’m now seeing the screen in wider definition.

I am tired of seeing/reading the stories that are constantly being told about the same groups of people, written and created by the same groups of people. And this is from me, a cis, able-bodied white person where most of western entertainment is about me.  I cannot even imagine being a young child and consuming so much media and never seeing yourself represented, never seeing the black actress in the main role, never reading about a girl in a Hijab saving the world, or never watching a boy fall in love with another boy. Entertainment plays a large part in forming opinions and views of the outside world, and while the film industry is changing and progressing into something more inclusive, it baffles me that films with the same plots still take all the awards for being revolutionary.

La La Land has won a lot of awards, and I can definitely see why. While the storytelling is a little different and is definitely a homage to the golden age of cinema, it is still the same story being told. It is still two white, straight people falling in love. It is still a story of struggle where there is no struggle, just handouts and connections.

Go see La La Land. Go and enjoy yourself. Laugh and cry and sing a long with it; I am not saying it cannot be enjoyed (clearly, it can be), but for me, this film has definitely been a turning point in the way I am going to enjoy books and films and shows from now on.

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The Book Theme Meme | The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

So last week, I came across this fantastic meme over at Lila’s beautiful blog, The Book Keeper’s Secrets, and honestly, I got a little bit excited. You’re gonna see this meme a lot on my blog. A LOT.

Anyway.

The Book Theme Meme’s aim is to pair a book with a song or piece of music. How do they relate to each other in your opinion? It can be in any way, shape or form. It might not relate at all, but when you hear a particular song, you think of a particular book or series.

nightcircus

This week, I’ve chosen one of my all time favourite books, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, a beautiful, magical tale set in Victorian England, where two magicians battle for the top spot in a competition that spans years.

The song I’m pairing it with is a song (covered) by Rufus Wainwright, called ‘Complaint De La Butte’. A song that appeared on the Moulin Rouge OST, which also happens to link to the book in my eyes.

While the song is very, very French, it still fits perfectly with the time frame and setting of The Night Circus. It’s melodic, gentle, and magical. To me, it truly resembles everything about Celia and Marco’s story. And I hope, should it every become a film/show, the song appears on the soundtrack. Moulin Rouge! is also one my favourite films, coincidentally set in the same time as The Night Circus, with magical realism rather than magic. But to me, it all wraps up together in this little magical trilogy of book-film-song. I adore all three, but every time I hear ‘Complaint De La Butte’, I think of The Night Circus.

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