Thoughts on…

Thoughts on… Foreign Language Films

I’ve realised that this year I’ve watched way more films that aren’t in English, than I have in previous years. In fact, in the Spring I watched more films in a foreign language than I had in the last couple of years combined.

I’m not sure why I don’t watch more films that are in another language because there’s so many films out there that could be great and to not watch them just because I’ve got to read subtitles is just silly.

I’ve noticed that when I watch films with subtitles, I pay more attention to the film and can therefore get absorbed into the story and characters more. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve found some random film in English on Netflix that I’m not super excited about and it’s just something to watch, I often find myself scrolling through Twitter etc as I can still hear and understand what’s happening even if the film doesn’t have my full attention. When I’m watching a film that’s not in English and has subtitles, I don’t touch my phone for the full runtime of the film and I get so much more out of it because of that.

One of my favourite foreign language films is Banlieue 13. It’s a French action film full of brilliant stunts and it’s a lot of fun. The first time I saw it, I watched it dubbed as it was playing on a coach on a school trip to France. I loved it as soon as I saw it and bought my own copy, including the sequel, as soon as I could. Ever since then I watch it with the subtitles.

I prefer to watch films not in English with the subtitles, as then you get to hear the voice performance of the actors as the filmmakers intended. I get pulled into foreign language films and barely notice the subtitles once I’m 10 minutes into the film.

Some of my favourite films not in English that I’ve watched this year is the South Korean Train to Busan and the Danish The Guilty. Both are fantastic and super tense and, or course, they are both set to get American remakes. It’s a shame that so many people don’t step out of their comfort zone and won’t watch something that’s not in their native language. There’s so much out there and I know there’s more I want to catch up on so give me all your foreign language film recommendations!

Advertisements

Thoughts on… Film Award Season

It’s mid-December and that means only one thing – film award season is heating up.

Award season is interesting to say the least and it can be annoying, overwhelming and relentless. I do have a vague interest in award season and what films get nominated for Golden Globes, SAG awards, Oscars and everything else. Part of it is because I’m a part of #FilmTwitter as there’s no escape from it all. It can be annoying and all the arguments when different films are slated or snubbed or praised can make me dislike a film. Which of course is not a good thing because the film should be judged on your viewing experience of it, not what awards it has or hasn’t been nominated for or what other people think about it.

One year when I was at university, I think it was the 2013 to 2014 awards season, I decided to try and watch all the films that would be nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress at the Oscars. Living in the UK that meant that I would get the “Oscar bait” aka all the films that was likely to be nominated for the big awards a month or two after America. It was an interesting experience but not one that I want to repeat any time soon.

I watched films that I wouldn’t normally watch. For instance, Nebraska which I can’t remember anything about and August: Osage County and the only thing I remember about that film is disliking every single one of the characters. Attempting to see all the films that will get Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress nominations was something I did to be able to say, “I’ve seen that film!” and when the nominations actually came out, I could have an opinion on all the nominees in a category. Now though, I can’t be bothered to be honest. I would rather watch films that I think I’m going to enjoy or are something I want to see no matter what nominations it does or doesn’t get and while there can be some very enjoyable and interesting “Oscar bait” films I don’t want to force myself to watch them if I don’t want to.

I think this time of year with all the awards it is sometimes just a bit much. Everyone has an opinion and there’s so many films out there, so naturally some of the films and the performances that are being talked about I haven’t seen but now I don’t feel that I must catch up. That’s because the films or performances are ones I don’t want to watch or are in horror films or are other genres that I’m not interested in and am 99% sure I won’t enjoy.

I’ll admit I’m a bit surprised that Widows isn’t getting more nominations, as I thought the performances and script were top notch, but I’ve learnt not to get too caught up in awards season. Though, I do readily admit that I love that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is one of three films (the other two being Ben-Hur and Titanic) to have one 11 Oscars and, I believe, is the only film to have one an award in every category it was nominated in. But besides that little titbit, I’m not going to let awards season, and the 2019 Oscars, get me down.

Do you try to have an opinion on every film that gets nominated for the big awards? Or does Oscar-season just pass you by?

Thoughts on… Audiobooks

Before this year I had never listen to an audiobook for before. Well, that’s kind of a lie. I remember listening to cassette tapes of the Animal Ark books by Lucy Daniels when I was a child. I word listen to them on a walkman and I had a cassette player by my bed and I would sometimes listen to them at night before falling asleep instead of reading a book.

Back from the age of say 7 years old to nearly 20 years later I haven’t really listened to audiobook but that was until this year. At the end of 2017 I started a new job where I could walk to work every day, instead of getting the train as I had previously. When I was commuting to work by train I would read on the train, but now I didn’t have that time I wasn’t reading as much. So that’s when I started looking into audiobooks, so I could listen to something as I walked to and from work and also maybe when I was walking around town on my lunch break. Obviously, I’d heard of Audible but when I looked into that it’s kind of expensive and I rarely read physical books more than once so I doubt I’ll ever listen to an audiobook more than once so when I joined local library I discovered they have audiobooks you can borrow from the library.

I downloaded a couple of apps one is called Borrow Box and another is called RBdigital and these are the two I use the most. Obviously different libraries have different catalogues, so some have more choice than others but since January I’ve listened to two audiobooks a month on average depending how long the audiobook is.

I’m finding that audiobooks are a great way for me to read more books during a month or a year. And it’s a way for me to read books that have been on my shelves for a long time that I was perhaps intimidated by. For instance, I listen to the audiobook of The Three Musketeers over the summer, a book that I’ve had on my shelf for at least 15 years and I had yet to read it and I doubt I would have read the physical copy. Last month I listened to the audiobook of Dune by Frank Herbert and that was definitely a book that was so big and such a classic that I really don’t think I would’ve read it if it wasn’t for the audiobook. I listened to Bleak House on audio this year and I think that made it an easier book to understand because listening to the characters talk and the description made it less dense than the few times I’ve tried to read my paperback copy of Bleak House.

I find audiobooks are not only good way of reading intimidating books that I’ve had my possession but also to find new books I hadn’t heard of before. It has been audiobooks that I’ve listen to a lot for my Read the World Project and because I’ve borrowed them through the library, they haven’t cost me any money.

I think once upon a time I believed that audiobooks weren’t “real books” and if you listen to audiobooks you weren’t reading but I stand corrected. Whether you read a book that’s a physical copy or an e-book or you listen to an audiobook, you are still consuming the story and I think that’s the most important thing.

I am now an audiobook convert I think they’re brilliant and so handy and such a great way to get stories to people that might not have the time to sit down and dedicate time to reading a physical copy. I can listen to a least an hour each day of an audiobook on my walk to and from work. If I’m doing the cleaning or cooking, I’m usually listen to my audiobook then as well so I’m still paying attention and I’m still consuming the story, but I don’t have to dedicate all my time to the action of reading when I’m listening to an audiobook.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, where do you get your audiobooks from? I’m always looking for cheap and new ways to listen to audiobooks.

Thoughts on… Living Alone

I’ve been living with a flatmate for a year now and it’s going really well. We have different schedules, I work 9-5 during the week and he works from home and stays up super late, so we don’t really see each other that much but it works for us.

Every now and then my flatmate goes away for anything between a few days to a couple of weeks for either work or a holiday. He’s away at the minute and he’s been gone for almost a week and won’t be back for another week and a bit, and anytime he’s away I find myself acting like how I presume I would if I lived alone.

Let me explain. First of all, my flatmate doesn’t cook. Seriously, all he uses is the microwave and the toaster. I’m not exactly an adventurous cook but I do regularly use the oven and/or the hob so that means I use a lot of kitchenware. We have a dishwasher, but my flatmate is the only one who uses it as I’ve previously never lived anywhere that had a dishwasher, so I don’t know how to use the thing. That means I wash all my dishes and pots and pans in the sink – I’m happy to do that as it’s what I’m used to. When it’s the two of us, I wash and dry and put away all the stuff I’ve used straight away. But, when my flatmate’s away I find myself still washing everything up straightaway, but I leave it on the draining board to dry and then it might take me two days to put things back in the cupboard. To be honest I haven’t put the bowl and spoon I have for my cereal each morning away since he’s been gone – it lives on the draining board now.

I find myself doing other odd little things as well like leaving things in the lounge when I’d normally put them straight in my room or walking around the flat in my pyjamas when I’d at least put a hoody on top first.

None of this stuff is particularly bad, and I’m sure he has habits or forgets about certain things when I’ve been away for work or a holiday, but it makes me think that if or when I ever get a place to call my own (#millenialproblems) will I leave stuff to dry on the draining board, or will I want my home to always be neat and tidy? I don’t know.

I know I’d tidy up and make sure all the dishes were away if I ever invited friends over, so why don’t I do that extra step when I’m on my own? Let’s be real, I know the answer to that – laziness. Still, while I’m sharing this flat with my flatmate, I’ll keep all the shared living space clean and tidy, at least when he’s here! I’ll make sure everything’s back to normal the day before he gets back!

Thoughts on… a Month of Photographing My Life

I meant to write about this months ago but then life got in the way so now it’s the perfect post to take up a day of blogmas!

In September I decided to take a photo every day of the month of things in my life and share it on my Instagram. It was an interesting experience to say the least and I learnt some things about myself and my life.

When I started this self-inflicted challenge, I did think about maybe trying to taking and sharing a photo each day for the whole of 2019. Soon I realised that my life isn’t interesting enough for that and I struggled to take a somewhat interesting photo every day for just 30 days. I work 9-5 every week day so most of my photos during the week were of what I saw on my walk to or from work, or when I wandered around town on my lunch break. Then on the weekends I didn’t always do anything interesting, or even leave my flat sometimes to be honest! I’m a big fan of the lazy weekend.

Having to take and share a photo of something each day did make me a bit more aware of my surroundings. I took a photo of a clock tower I hadn’t noticed before even though I’d walked past it like a hundred times. I also paid more attention to the flowers and wildlife I’d normally walk straight past leading to some cute and pretty pictures if I do say so myself.

I think my photography skills did improve a bit through this experience. I begun to get better at framing things and I did use filters and edit photos on Instagram but I think I started to learn how to bring out the best in a photo through editing instead of turning it into something completely fake.

Maybe next year I’ll do a month of photography again, or maybe just the odd week now and then. It was a fun and interesting experience, but as I say my everyday life isn’t that exciting so it was a bit difficult at times.

    

Thoughts on… Film Festivals

This year I attended the Cambridge Film Festival for the first time. This was mainly because I now live in Cambridge but to be honest previously I didn’t know it existed. I was lucky enough to receive press accreditation, so I got to see a lot of films both as screeners and in the cinema for free as I was reviewing them for JUMPCUT Online. I also went to the London film Festival a couple of times this year. I try to see a couple of films at least at the London Film Festival each year, it’s not that hard for me to get into London and spend a Saturday or Sunday seeing films.

I was pretty exhausted after a week of festival viewing and it took me a while to write up all my reviews. (This is in part because my laptop decided to die – the charger port stopped working so I sent it away to be fixed and it was almost three weeks before I got it back. But that’s another story)

I’ve been thinking about what I want to get out of film festivals. Obviously, it’s a chance to see a film before the general public. Film festivals are especially helpful for that in the UK as, in comparison to America, we sometimes get smaller indie films or films that are likely to get awards buzz anywhere from one month to about three months or even longer after our American friends. For me, the films I make an effort to see at festivals are ones that are unlikely to get a cinema release, or if they do it would be a very small one and hard to find it in the cinema or even online on streaming or rental sites.

For instance, at the London film Festival this year there were films like Widows and Colette and they were all going to get UK releases – Widows was released last month, and Colette is set to be released in January. Take Widows for instance, from its UK premiere at the London Film Festival to when it was released in the UK, it was three weeks which is nothing really and so I would rather see the films that might be a foreign or indie film (or both) which I am unlikely to see in my big local cinema chain.

There’s also the community or networking side of film festivals which I do enjoy. A twitter pal arranged a #FilmTwitter meet up at the London Film festival and is was great to meet new people and to talk to people I’d met online in person. I really enjoyed the couple of hours I spent with all of them before we all went to another film screening or off home. It was a nice bonus for me as generally speaking my film festival experiences on the whole are quite solitary. This is due to what I’m interested in seeing, the cost and just the timings and people’s availability.

Due to the fact I was press at Cambridge Film Festival, and I lived so close to the cinemas so could go after work or walk from my flat, I packed in a lot of films in just over a week. I would see three films in a day, and in amongst the film watching I tried to review as many of them as possible. I was exhausted when I was finally finished and to be honest, I don’t think I paid as much attention to some of the films because my brain was getting over-saturated.

From that experience I definitely learnt that less is more with me and film festivals – I say that as if I won’t apply for press accreditation again next year! It’s cool to see films early before “everyone else” but I would rather spend the money on seeing more obscure films that don’t yet have a UK release date than ones that I know will get a decent to large scale release in a matter of weeks or months.

Have you ever been to a film festival? What was your experience and what do you like to get out of them?

Thoughts on… Halloween

It’s October 31st meaning it’s Halloween! If you’ve been online this past month, you’ve probably seen many a gif and if you’re on Twitter just about everybody has had Halloween-themed user names.

I’ve never been into Halloween and I think that’s because I live in the UK where while it has got bigger and more popular over the years, it was never a thing when I was a child. When I was growing up I lived on a street where there were no other kids and very limited lighting so it wasn’t like I took part in trick or treating or anything – and to be honest I think it was something that just didn’t happen.

When I was a teenager, friends had parties for Halloween but that was more of an excuse to get dressed up and get drunk, it was the same when I was at Uni. Yes I did dress up and have fun (my favourite was when a friend had Halloween/birthday party where the theme was dead-people or characters and I went as an unnamed zombie Red Shirt from Star Trek) but I never got into the real spirit of Halloween – whatever that is.

I don’t enjoy horror films so I don’t make an effort to watch them in October like some people do, and I don’t really read spooky books, so what I read and watch don’t make me feel very Halloween-y.

I don’t begrudge anyone who enjoys Halloween, it’s just not for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a Brit and never did the trick and treating thing or because I don’t like scary things. This year I have no plans for Halloween, instead I’ll be curled up in front of the TV watching Bake Off and eating chocolate. But to all those who celebrate and enjoy Halloween – I hope you have a great time!