Although it’s only Tuesday, I’m already looking forward to another weekend of beautiful weather in the city. For the past month, I’ve been spending every weekend on-the-go, which has been a nice change of pace from the lethargic days of May. Judging by my Facebook feed, this summer is the summer of adventure. Everyday, I log on to see friends posting photos from places like Rome, the Grand Canyon, Peru, Thailand, Turkey, Greece, and London. Despite all the excitement, I know that I personally need at least one full day every few weeks to recharge and that typically means spending the entire day watching movies in bed. In honor of this tradition, I’ve created the Saturday Movie Guide which I will post in multiple parts.
Each set of reccommendations is organized beneath a specific mood to help filter out what film is best for your specific attitude on any given day.
“Midnight in Paris” (2011)
Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams
I hope you’ve already seen this one. For me, it ties with one other title (see below) for my all-time favorite Woody Allen film. It’s as if he rounded up all of the things I love (Paris, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, art, history, smart dialogue, writing, and neurotic humor) and put them all into one perfect movie. If you haven’t seen it, see it. If you have, watch it again. And again.
“About Time” (2013)
Directed by Richard Curtis
Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams
I never stop talking about this film. I may have cried through the entire final half hour or so (in my dorm room when my roommate was present, mind you), but I promise it’s a feel-good movie. It’s such a feel-good movie, in fact, that it left me feeling more inspired than just about any other movie I’ve ever seen. Even if the quirky sci-fi dimension or moral elements of the story are not appealing to you, I recommend it for the beautiful scenery and soundtrack. Rachel McAdams was her most charming and Domhnall Gleeson is great. I hope to see him in many more roles (ahem, Star Wars).
“Silver Linings Playbook” (2012)
Directed by David O. Russell
Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence
Sure, it deals with mental illness and widows and shouting obscenities in diners, but overall it’s a pretty happy movie (hence the title). I tried to think of the “funniest” scene in the movie and honestly couldn’t pick just one. I’m thinking of all the jogging scenes, the aforementioned diner outburst, and the football stadium incident. This is a great movie for the kind of person who is feeling happy but doesn’t care for saccharine “feel-goods” or romantic comedies.
(See if you notice another theme…)
“Match Point” (2005)
Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Matthew Goode
I’m completely obsessed with Match Point. It’s rather difficult to call it my “favorite” Woody Allen film but only because it doesn’t even feel like it was made by Woody Allen. The story is about a former tennis pro who becomes entangled in the lives of a wealthy British family and an American “femme fatale”. Aside from the brilliant storyline, this movie is recommended as a sort-of love letter to the city of London. It also doesn’t hurt that my forever crush Matthew Goode is in it.
“Jane Eyre” (2011)
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender
First things first, Jane Eyre is a story I talk/think about often and is one that I hold quite near to my heart. This means that I’m very picky about the available film adaptations and, I must say, this one is my favorite and not just because of Michael Fassbender. I found Mia Wasikowska a compelling Jane and absolutely loved Jamie Bell in the role of St. John Rivers. The cinematography is beautiful with lots of cool colors that complement both the scenery and the tone of the story. BONUS: I recommend John Green’s YouTube videos on Jane Eyre for a basic analysis.
Directed by Park Chan-wook
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman
This comes from the director of the amazing Korean film Oldboy (not to be confused with the recent and tragic Spike Lee remake). It’s about a girl who is introduced to a mysterious uncle shortly after the death of her father. The film follows the mystery surrounding Uncle Charlie as well as the strange dynamic between Mia Wasikowska’s character and her mother (played by Nicole Kidman). I’ve heard the film be referred to as something like a vampire movie but “without the fangs” and I think that’s pretty spot on. There are also clear Nabokovian elements inspired by Lolita. P.S. The score (by Clint Mansell) and soundtrack are stunning.
“Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats)” (2010)
Directed by Xavier Dolan
Starring Xavier Dolan, Niels Schneider, Monia Chokri
I was introduced to Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats a few years ago by my best friend (who, by the way, has the absolute best taste in film). He wrote/directed/produced/edited/designed costumes for/starred in this film when he was only twenty-one years old, which makes the film that much more impressive. Regardless of the filmmaker’s age, Les Amours Imaginaires is a film of unique, complex characters and compelling cinematography. It’s worth a watch if only for the gorgeous party scene in which Niels Schneider resembles a Greek god amid epileptic flashing lights to the sound of “Pass This On” by The Knife.
“Mademoiselle C” (2013)
Directed by Fabien Constant
Starring Carine Roitfeld
With appearances by everyone from Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford to Carine’s children and renowned jeunesse dorée Julia Restoin-Roitfeld and Vladimir Restoin Roitfled (as well as his girlfriend, the always fabulous Giovanna Battaglia), this documentary is great for those who have re-watched The September Issue one too many times but are looking for something similar. I personally prefer Carine Roitfeld (and French Vogue) to Anna Wintour, so I found this documentary interesting despite the not-so-positive reviews it received from critics. The documentary follows the production of Carine’s new endeavor, the CR Fashion Book. It’s setup is quite similar to that of The September Issue, but Carine’s unique personality gives it a certain edge that I found entertaining.
“The Queen” (2006)
Directed by Stephen Frears
Starring Helen Mirren, James Cromwell, Michael Sheen
It’s a well known fact that I am interested in the British monarchy (and all things relating to Prince Philip). Her Majesty is someone that find completely fascinating, particularly the fact that she was a mechanic during World War II. This film takes place during the 1990s, a period of time which was not particularly kind to the monarchy or to the Queen on a personal level. It’s an interesting film, particularly for those who have an interest in international affairs or the British monarchy.
(Movies that induce the utmost relaxation)
“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” (2012)
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom
Starring Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt
My family and I always joke that we are the only ones in the world who thoroughly enjoy this movie. I can’t deny that the concept sounds positively boring. It’s about a socially awkward scientist (McGregor) who is enlisted to help a British businesswoman (Blunt) create an environment condusive to salmon fishing for a Yemeni sheikh who is passionate about the sport. It’s a small film with relatively slow pacing and genuine, believable relationships between rather interesting characters. Just like the sport of fly fishing, this movie is incredibly relaxing to watch.
“From Up on Poppy Hill” (2013)
Directed by Goro Miyazaki
Starring (English) Anton Yelchin, Sarah Bolger
Like every other person I have ever met, I adore Hayao Miyazaki films. Even though I find them highly entertaining, I often end up falling asleep because the soft colors and music are almost like a lullaby. This film, by his son Goro Miyazaki, was no different. Poppy Hill is a story about a group of schoolchildren trying to save their (amazing) clubhouse from destruction, as well as a young girl named Umi who lives in a boarding house and whose father, a naval officer, was killed in the Korean War. It’s a solid movie, whether you actually watch the entire thing or if you doze off halfway.
Directed by Sylvain Chomet
Starring Jean-Claue Donda, Eilidh Rankin
This is a charming movie from the director of another one of my favorites, a little animated film called The Triplets of Belleville. Essentially, it is about a down-and-out French magician who travels to Scotland and meets Alice, a young girl who is captivated by his tricks. A lot of the movie is set in Edinburgh, which is really fun to see animated.
Look out for Part 2 of this list, coming soon.