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Recently Watched: documentaries, French flicks, + potential WWIII!

It’s no secret that I’m a Netflix fanatic. I live and breathe my streaming shows and I want to share a few films I’ve been watching lately!

Populaire | 2012
Starring: Romain Duris, Déborah François
Spring, 1958: 21-year-old Rose Pamphyle lives with her grouchy widower father who runs the village store. Engaged to the son of the local mechanic, she seems destined for the quiet, drudgery-filled life of a housewife. But that’s not the life Rose longs for. When she travels to Lisieux in Normandy, where charismatic insurance agency boss Louis Echard is advertising for a secretary, the ensuing interview is a disaster. But Rose reveals a special gift – she can type at extraordinary speed. Unwittingly, the young woman awakens the dormant sports fan in Louis. If she wants the job she’ll have to compete in a speed typing competition. Whatever sacrifices Rose must make to reach the top, Louis declares himself her trainer. He’ll turn her into the fastest girl not only in the country, but in the world! But a love of sport doesn’t always mix well with love itself.
Watch the trailer

Matt and I share a Netflix account, meaning all his boring political documentaries (hi, honey, they’re wonderful I promise!) get mixed in with my cutesy rom-coms and British dramas. MEANING a lot of what I stick in our queue are things to watch on my own. Populaire was a film I came across ages ago and one that always catches my eye whenever I scroll through my options. I finally had the house to myself for the day and decided it was time! It was a yucky grey, overcast day and what better way to pass the time than with an adorable French flick?

Practically raised on subtitled shows, I had no problem whatsoever with the film being (almost) entirely in French. Even if you’re not usually the type of person who watches foreign films, I highly recommend giving this one a try! A young and innocent girl applies for a secretary position and is seconds away from being turned down when she pulls all the stops and reveals her hidden talent: she’s a wizard at typing. Her fingers practically become nothing but a blur as she races over the keys and she’s instantly hired. Naturally her new boss wants to cash in on her talent and enters her into a speed typing contest (there’s a hilariously cute Rocky-esque training montage!).

And OF COURSE since this is a romance, there’s that added bit of tension between them which I adored. Even though he’s a bit older than her they had a ton of chemistry and some seriously wonderful (and wonderfully awkward) moments. Also, because this takes place in the 1950s, the clothing is to die for! I really, really loved this one and once it was over I did a search to see what other movies these actors star in! (also-also, the opening credits are fantastic and reminded me of 101 Dalmatians!)

The Brass Teapot | 2012
Starring: Juno Temple, Michael Angarano, Alexis Bledel
Once voted “Most Likely to Succeed,” Alice struggles to make ends meet while her friends enjoy the good life. Her husband John, neurotic and riddled with phobias, just wants to get the bills paid. But an accident leads them to a roadside antique shop where Alice is spontaneously drawn to a mysterious brass teapot. It isn’t long before they realize that this is no ordinary teapot and that perhaps they have found the answer to all of their financial woes.
Watch the trailer

Another movie that had been in my queue forever (I feel like I’m going to be saying that a lot!). A young couple are madly in love, but aren’t getting anywhere in life: Alice can’t seem to land a job and John was just laid off. The rent is due and they’re at their wit’s end when they literally stumble into a roadside antique shop. There Alice is drawn toward a teapot, completely unaware at how it will change their lives. See, this isn’t just any teapot. No, this teapot dishes out cold hard cash. All you need to do is get roughed up a bit. A burn from a curling iron might be worth a few $20s. A drunken bar brawl? Well that might be worth a little more.

Soon the two are living the high life, the life they always wanted to live, only to discover they aren’t the only ones who know about the teapot – and is all the pain really worth it?

Another super cute, brain fluff of a movie. There’s not a whole lot of substance to this one, but it doesn’t suffer much for it. While it does kind of lose steam toward the end and head off to Crazyville and become completely predictable (you can basically tell the entire story before you even start watching), I still enjoyed this one a lot! Plus Juno’s got some insanely cute clothes.

How I Live Now | 2013
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland, George MacKay
Set in the near-future UK, Ronan plays Daisy, an American teenager sent to stay with relatives in the English countryside. Initially withdrawn and alienated, she begins to warm up to her charming surroundings, and strikes up a romance with the handsome Edmund (George MacKay). But on the fringes of their idyllic summer days are tense news reports of an escalating conflict in Europe. As the UK falls into a violent, chaotic military state, Daisy finds herself hiding and fighting to survive.
Watch the trailer

An angsty American teen heads to England to spend the summer with her relatives in the countryside. Just as she’s beginning to open up to her cousins, the military moves in and the UK finds itself shut down. Saoirse is absolutely fantastic and I was in the mood for more of her work (I had first seen her in The Lovely Bones and adored her!).

How I Live Now is not quite apocalyptic, not exactly dystopian, but definitely on its way there. What was great – and even a bit scary – about this movie was just how easily I could picture this happening. The film takes place in the very near future, extremely close to the present day. Then a virtual lockdown is enforced and the UK is driven into a military state and it was all very thrilling and horrifying.

Underneath the war, this movie is about these kids. Daisy and her cousins and I loved the character exploration. If you’re familiar with the kind of books I enjoy, you know I’m a total sucker for Big Events that take a backseat to the inner workings of the characters’ lives: in The Age of Miracles, the Earth’s rotation begins to slow, but the story details a little girl’s life and how she loses a best friend and buys her first bra. Golden State takes place on the day California makes a vote on whether or not to secede from the Union, but the real story focuses on a broken marriage. So I knew right from the start How I Live Now was going to be a movie for me. Bonus points for Saoirse’s SPECTACULAR wardrobe (seriously, when WWIII hits I hope I look half as fabulous) and the great soundtrack (apparently Amanda Palmer is linked to it, so that comes as no surprise).

Running From Crazy | 2013
Starring: Mariel Hemingway, Margaux Hemingway, Langley Hemingway
‘Running from Crazy’ is a documentary examining the personal journey of model and actress Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, as she strives for a greater understanding of her family history of suicide and mental illness. Through stunning archival footage of the three Hemingway sisters and intimate moments with Mariel herself, the film examines the remarkable though often heartbreaking Hemingway legacy. As Mariel comes to terms with the tragedies of her family’s past that have shaped the course of her life, deeply hidden secrets are revealed and truths emerge. Through it all, Mariel finds a way to overcome a similar fate for herself and her daughters, brings awareness to an issue she’s deeply passionate about, and discovers an inner strength and peace.
Watch the trailer

Have you ever read a book that affected you so deeply it completely dictates your entire mood for the day? I finished Stewart O’Nan’s upcoming West of Sunset yesterday and the entire day I felt so down and depressed. That novel tells the story of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final years, years spent in Hollywood where he struggled to find work. Gone are the days of endless parties and carefree spending. Now he has to borrow cash from what few friends he has left. The whole thing was so heartbreaking, and throughout the novel there were scenes with Ernest Hemingway. I’m a huge fan of Papa and once I finished the novel I was craving his work. Sadly, Netflix doesn’t have much in the way of his novel’s adaptations and it was by sheer chance Running From Crazy popped up.

Mariel Hemingway is Ernest’s granddaughter, though he killed himself before she was born. Through interviews and archival footage, Mariel discusses the Hemingway Legacy – or the Hemingway Curse, if you will – and I found myself sobbing multiple times. Mental illness ran rampant throughout her family (seven family members committed suicide) and she admits she kept a lot of that hidden from her daughters. She also admits just how scared she is for her children.

I knew her sister Margaux was a model and actress, but that’s about it for Ernest’s descendants. Mariel opens up about her childhood – until she and her sisters were adults they had no idea just how famous their grandfather was or that he killed himself (on the occasion their father even discussed it, they were always told Ernest’s death had been an accident). Despite growing up in the public eye, these girls were incredible sheltered and exceptionally (and heartbreakingly) good at hiding what really went on in their home.

These days Mariel is a fierce advocate for suicide awareness and is very active in bringing attention to a sensitive and tough subject. Running From Crazy was powerful and raw and a complete change from the happy-go-lucky films I’ve been watching. If you’re looking for a documentary that’s eye-opening this is the one.

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