La La Land, a movie discussion

…and yet another thing to welcome to the blog… movie discussions. This long-term blog series will share my thoughts on some of the movies I come by, starting with La La Land, which I have recently watched a lot and wanted to share my opinion on with you. Please note that from a certain point on, this blog will contain spoilers (which I will surely point out again when I get there) and you should not continue reading if you haven’t yet watched the film.

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La La Land is a movie with a very new and special concept, in my opinion and can therefore not really be compared to other films hitting the theaters these days. Looking at it from a greater distance though, you are likely to enjoy this if you grew up watching Mamma Mia (like me) or, looking from an even greater distance, High School Musical, though as I said already, it’s not really comparable, but it is definitely much more like a musical, rather than a movie. So the first thing you should pull into consideration is if you think or know that this could be your cup of tea. If you can answer that with a yes, you are a step closer to a new favorite film of yours.

That brings us right to the music, the soundtrack of the film, which is one of the best I have listened to in a long time. As one of the topics that is dealt with is Jazz the score has some quite jazzy tunes, which I found myself falling in love with very quickly, as I enjoy almost anything vintage and find myself often dancing to older music, rather than what is in the charts these days. Beneath the incredible songs the sounds are very well made as well. Watching the film you will be able to realize that right in the beginning, as the camera is rolling by some cars waiting in line and the people in them listening to different kinds of music, so that it grows louder approaching them and quiter while rolling away.

Which brings us right to the camera work. The camera work is very stage like, if I can put it like that. We have spot ons and offs, just like on stage. But since the film is very much like a musical, this is more than just fitting. In case, I even think, that this was supposed to underline Mia’s role in the film. Since she is an (aspiring) actress, the movie, which she is a big part of, adopts that from her, just like it does with the Jazz music, which is Seb’s speciality as a(n) (aspiring) musician.

To get right to the actors and their acting. I found myself drawn to Ryan Gosling playing Sebastian a lot faster than Emma Stone as Mia. Mostly I think that this is, because it felt like Emma was putting a little too much effort in being Mia. To me it seemed like she was acting a little too much, being a bit too loud or quite, a little too embarrassed, a little too-much-everything. On another side I think, that this is less Emma’s doing and more the directors and I partly do understand, that this might just be part of Mia’s special character. Anyways, I enjoyed Ryan’s acting just a little bit more, but that is probably just because I could slightly relate to Seb more than I could to Mia.

I know that all this does not seem to have a proper concept to you, but it is now time to get to the story of the film. Seeing the trailer a couple of times before I watched the film, I expected a lot more story to this than there was at first sight. When I first watched it, I actually found myself almost unable to find a real one, with a beginning and an end and that whole part in the middle, but with each time I rewatch it, there seems to be more to the story it tells. It is obvious that this is a story about a young woman and a young man, with a dream, which they are struggling to reach. The movie starts with their ways crossing accidentally several times until they begin to actually sense the others presence and things go differently than expected…

(attention. please do not keep reading if you do not want to be spoilt, because in the following I will discuss further events and the ending of the film. thank you.)

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Mia and Seb spend some very happy months together, pushing each other to conquer their dreams, until Seb accepts a job offer he thinks Mia wants him to take seriously and things go down. While Seb is starting to adjust to his new job, that is in case not his dream, Mia works to live hers. Both fail and leave each other broken and done with what they once wanted. Until one day Seb again pushed Mia to go on, to live her dream, and has success. It is only then that their ways truly part. What I feel is kind of an epilogue picks up quite a few years later, with Mia having a husband that is not Seb and a child and being a successful actress and Seb finally having made his dream of an own Jazz Club come true, which Mia discovers accidentally with her husband one night. When Sebastian spots her in the crowd, he starts playing their tune and Mia finds her self thinking of an alternate ending for both of them together, imagining what it would have been like if everything would have turned out perfectly for them.

Watching the ending for the first time I was very confused and really disappointed, to be honest. I never imagined them both not ending up with one another, but having watched it a few more times, I think this ending is so much more meaningful than the other one would have been. It shows, that unlike in some other movies, life is not perfect and does not always turn out as wanted and that sometimes, no most times actually, you have to give up things, let go of things you love to reach what you dream of. It also shows, that you cannot reach your dreams all alone. That all on your own, you often loose faith. You often give up, without properly trying. La La Land shows that it is important to keep dreaming and to support other people and their dreams, just like your own. It highlights that it takes a lot f courage to believe and to finally achieve the things you dream of, but that with a little help, it is possible.

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

{Before getting into this review too deeply and forgetting about it eventually, I want to thank Robin Roe for her book with it’s message about friendship and the power of kindness. Thank you, Robin.}

What it is about- Adam and Julian, Julian and Adam. A fifth-grader and a second-grade-kindergartener as reading partners. When Adam hears about it, he still isn’t sure if it’s going to be fun or not really so, but then he get’s to know Julian.

“The boy assigned to me – Julian – looked like and anime character, with too much shiny black hair that fell just short of his enormous round eyes.”

Julian, the second-grader that has to take reading practice along with the kindergarteners,

“‘If you are a second grader, then why are you here?’ I asked. ‘I have dyslexia,’ he said. ‘I’m in Reading Improvement.'”

and Julian the most talented singer, the one that draws the best pictures. Julian, the happy kid.

“I can’t remember what Julian sang, but he was good. Not just little-kid-good, but really good.”

The two drift apart and find back together at a time in which too much has changed. There is no Julian, the happy kid.

“When he looked up, his enormous eyes were like glass, something reflective instead of animated. ‘Julian?’ I said.”

And they drift apart again only to find back to each other another time. That’s where the story begins.

“‘Julian?’ I spin around. And the moment seems to slow. […] He breaks into a grin. I glance around to find who he’s smiling at, but no-one is there. ‘It’ me,’ he says. ‘Adam.’

Adam’s and Julian’s, Julian’s and Adam’s. A friendship that is meant to be, but hard to accomplish. When Adam wants to help, Julian pushes him away as far as he can, refusing help that is desperately needed.

“I panic. ‘W-who are you calling?’ ‘The police.’ ‘No, don’t!’ I plead. […] ‘Please.’ He takes a deep breath. ‘Okay. Okay.'”

But their story grows and shows the power of kindness, of friendship, even in moments where there should not be hope or the slightest possibility of healing. While talking of loss and immense pain, Adam and Julian show, that there is always a way to work life out, taking it however it may come.

Why I picked this book up- I received this book as my February book of the month in my Bookish Box. Actually I didn’t plan on picking it up so soon, but after I had read Adam’s short review on it, I couldn’t help myself. I started reading it an hour later. About forty eight hours later I sat in my room crying, the book opened on it’s last page. And people, I want you to know that I have been in a reading slump since finishing the hours by Michael Cunningham a whole month ago. Yes, the book was that good. Buuuut, it’s time for my opinion only now.

How I liked it- This book and it’s message mean far too much to me. Kindness is a value I respect more than almost any other. Kindness has power just like hate does.

“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.”

It did so much to me. I will never, never be able to feel how Julian felt, because little have I lost compared to what he has suffered through, but I can understand now. I understand as much as a person who did not live through it can and the loss of a person is something we all have experienced.

“It’s strange how many ways there are to miss someone. You miss the things they did and who they were, but you also miss who you were to them. The way everything you said and did was beautiful or entertaining or important. How much you mattered.”

Especially this quote makes me remember a special member of my family that has passed away when I was only five. Five, an age that you can already, but far from enough, remember. I am said to look like him, be like him. I am said to have his eyes and hair and humor and music talent. It is more than just sad knowing that you shared so much with someone you barely had the chance to get to know. But I know, he would be so proud of me and that is everything one needs. 

Even under the message this book can put in an appearance. And a good one it is. With a simple and easy-to-get-into writing style Robin Roe tells the story that is other than the writing a lot more difficult on every level. The characters, to get to them are all their own individuals and there are a lot of them. A lot. There is none of them taken less care of than another one. They have their very own opinions, strong opinions and that’s a good thing. Another thing about this book is that it is so fast paced you probably have to calm yourself down. Fast readers will most likely read it in one sitting, but let me tell you, A List of Cages deserves more than a few hours of your time. It deserves all your time and after and even while reading you should set it down for a moment now and then to think, just do it and thank me afterwards.

To come to and end, this book is a book for everyone. Adults just as teens, as it’s a young adult novel, but it’s far more than that, so don’t let that make you shy away from picking it up. But above all it is a book to talk about. A book to one’s characters should look up. And I wish it all the luck on the big bad book market. It deserves to be admired, read, hugged and loved. Just as it deserves to be presented from one person to another, not obligatory for a birthday or another yearly festive, but just like that. Out of kindness, because this is what it is supposed to teach. The Power of Kindness.

the hours by Michael Cunningham

{after i have successfully missed the one-year-anniversary of my blog, i am finally back with a review of a rather unknown book back from the year i was born in, 1999, which had a great impact on me, will forever be remembered and re-read a over and over again. this book is named the hours and was written by Michael Cunningham}

what it is about- the book follows three women through a day in each of their ordinary, plain lives. It is 1920, London, and there is someone or something who or that links these three, completely different women together. Virginia Woolf and her still unfinished book “Mrs Dalloway”. the hours follows Virginia herself in the process of writing it,

“She may pick up her pen and follow it with her hand as it moves across; she may pick up her pen and find that she’s merely herself, a women in a housecoat holding a pen, afraid and uncertain, only mildly competent, with no idea where to begin or what to write. She picks up her pen. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

then Clarissa Vaughan, Mrs Dalloway, in New York, who is preparing to surprise a recovering friend

“‘Who is it?’

‘Just me.’

‘Who?’

‘Clarissa.’

‘Oh, Mrs. D. Oh, come in.’

Isn’t it time, she thinks, to dispense with the old nickname? If he’s having a good enough day, she’ll bring it up: Richard, don’t you think it’s time to just call me Clarissa?”

and finally Laura Brown,a young women from Los Angeles, yearns to get away from her responsibilities and mother and wife to read Virginia Woolf’s book Mrs Dalloway.

“She lays the book face down on her chest. Already her bedroom (no, their bedroom) feels more densely inhabited, more actual, because a character named Mrs. Dalloway is on her way to buy flowers.”

Why I picked this book up- I randomly found this book at my local library and since I was going to lend another book anyways all I thought was, well why not take a second one and if you don’t end up reading it, what bad did it do? Also, it’s pretty and you like pretty books. I ended up taking and reading it as you might have noticed. On another note, I have not yet read anything by or about Virginia Woolf so that wasn’t a reason either. It was just plain interest, a good cover and well written synopsis. Thank you to my local library for having it on their shelfs and thank you to myself for not dumping it, because it is one of the best books I have yet read.

How I liked it- Before I get all caught up talking about how much I loved this book, here are some things you should know about it: It would be good if you read Virginia’s Mrs Dalloway before reading this, at least I have heard it would, because it refers to it in a way, but if you just want to enjoy good writing, then you totally don’t have to do this. I didn’t do it because I picked it up without knowing anything, but I bet you’d get into this book faster if you would have read it. I recommend not to pick up this book if you want a fast paced, plot packed novel, because this is something totally different. This book is poetic and about life and the characters way more than about an actual story. It is a novel you take yourself some time for, in which you appreciate the writing, all it’s words and maxims. It takes some time getting into it or better to be said, getting the hang of how it works, but as soon as you have read the first three chapters (a chapter from each of the characters) you will be just fine. It’s time to get on to my encomium now. Michael Cunningham is a true artist of words. His writing style is almost poetic and I would love to quote every single line of him from this book for the rest of my life. If I was to read only one book for the rest of my life, I would be close to pick this one. I have never before read a story that was written this way, meaning the close connection of the three women, which are so much unlike each other at the same time and then again so similar. How they are all three linked by that book Mrs Dalloway is remarkably made. It is easy to follow the plot, once into it and it is the usualness that actually makes it special. The way each character sees the world, the people around them and life in general. I recommend it to all of those, who are open for three stories about life written in a very poetic way. If you are into poetry and quotes, you can’t quite end up not liking this book {just like me}.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

a spoiler-free review of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller follows…

What it is about- Everyone knows him, the hero of the greek, the fallen one. And with his Name they know his tale, the one of Young Achilles, half-god and half-human, Born to be a hero, died as one. But there is another Boy, one only few know, one just as much of a hero as his companion. A Young Boy who bad things have happened to, banned from home by his father, sad and rather lonely.

I would have no parents, no family name, no inheritance. […] This was how I came to be ten, and an orphan. This is how I came to Phthia.

Until the lifes of both collide and for them both nothing will ever be what is was again.

He yawned, his eyes heavy-lidded. “What’s your name?” […] “Patroclus.” It was the name my father had given me, hopefully but injudiciously, at my birth, and it tasted of bitterness on my tongue. “Honor of the father,” it meant. […] He rolled onto his side to face me. A stray lock of Gold fell half into his eyes; he blew it away. “My name is Achilles.” I jerked my chin up, an inch, in bare acknowledgement. We regarded each other for a moment. Then he blinked and yawned again, his mouth cracked wide as a cat’s. “Welcome to Phthia.”

The Song of Achilles is a Tale of Gods and Godesses, Kings and  Queens, Immortal fame…


“Name one hero who was happy.” I considered. Heracles went mad and killed his family; Theseus lost his bride and father; Jason’s children and new wife were murdered by his old; Bellerophon killed the Chimera but was crippled by the fall from Pegasus’ back. “You can’t.” He was sitting up now, leaning forward. “I can’t.” “I know. They never let you be famous AND happy.” He lifted an eyebrow. “I’ll tell you a secret.” “Tell me.” I loved it when he was like this. “I’m going to be the first.” He took my palm and held it to his. “Swear it.”
“Why me?” “Because you’re the reason. Swear it.” “I swear it,” I said, lost in the high color of his cheeks, the flame in his eyes. “I swear it,” he echoed. We sat like that a moment, hands touching. He grinned.

…and the human heart…

“He is mortal,” she says. “And mortals die.” “I am mortal!” he screams. “What good is godhead, if it cannot do this? What good are YOU?” “I know you are mortal,” she says. She places each cold word as a tile in a mosaic. “I know it better than anyone. I left you too Long on Pelion. It has ruined you.” She gestures, a flick, at his torn clothing, his tear-stained face. “This is not my son.” His chest heaves. “Then who is it mother? Am I not famous enough? […] And who else? Send them before me. I will kill them all!”.

It tells the story of the rise and fall of two heros, one known for it, famous, the  other one not. But above all it tells the tale of two lovers, who fought to be together until their last breath and after. After all it is a tale of love and what we are willing to sacrifice for it.

Why I picked up this book- The Song of Achilles was recommended to me by two of my dear book-companions Tringa and Morgaine. And then, because I fully trust them and because it was said to be an emotional Story, I ordered it this summer, took it to London with me and read it.

How I liked it- This will be the messed up part. I finished this book over a week ago but it’s still hurting me and when I see it lying around in my room, I pick it up and hug it to my chest. I like to Keep it Close These days though I have finished it, i always have it around. I would have never picked up this book myself. I don’d usually read a lot of historical fiction and I’m not a huge fan of it but.. this BOOK! Everything about it is just precious: 1) It actually makes you learn something. 2) Every Character is absolutely amazing. 3) The writing style. The writing is one of the most beautiful things in this book. It is so poetic. I just died every second sentence.Okay, so yes, I liked this book. I liked it so so much I’ll never let it leave my heart and my copy of it is already so worn out. I underlined in it and it had a dog-eared page and honestly, I just don’t care. For me it gets even more beautiful with every single crack in the spine, every dog-eared page. So, whoever you are and whatever book-genre you like, read this one because it’ll make you grow mentally, it’ll do something to you and that’s why it’s so prechious and everyone should read it. Okay, so my Job is done now, I’ll go hug my book again now. Writing this review made me cry and while I’m being emotional you go run and to the next bookstore and get this book. We’ll talk again when you’ve finished reading it and are emotional unstable, just like me. GO GET IT!