I don’t know about anyone else, but the last couple of weeks have felt seriously long! Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the feuding coworkers adding their drama to the office din, or maybe it’s that I’m a restless type, but all I want to do is pack up a bag, go to a new city and take in as much of its history, culture, and vibrancy as possible!
Alas, I’m currently on a rather restricted budget (having not long started at my current job and living at home with parents while trying to save money) so my weekend plans tend to lean towards me simply chilling in my bedroom, shutting the door on the past week and allowing myself to unwind while I absorb inspiration from a few faithful films!
Weekend film binges help me to regain the creative perspective that sometimes ebbs away during the slog of the week, and it keeps that fire of inspiration going even when I’m exhausted or overwhelmed. I have a busy but not-so-fulfilling, clerical job and, though it’s a necessity (for the time being), it leaves me drained.
I have a busy but not-so-fulfilling, clerical job and, though it’s a necessity (for the time being), it leaves me drained. Despite my moaning though, it’s it nowhere near being a “bad job”. For the most part, I work with kind-hearted and funny people, it’s decent money, it’s security for as long as I need it and it’s an opportunity for me to invest in my alternative ideas. It’s nothing that I can’t handle – and there’s plenty of positives to take away from it!
But I still need a little help over the weekends to get that zest back and persist with necessary pragmatism. And so, with my introduction finally coming to an end, here are some of the classic movies that I turn to on my lazy weekends to help remind me of some of the ideas and messages that I value, the type of person I want to be and the resolve I need to not give up on my goals.
1. Midnight in Paris (2011)
This film is pure magic! I went to see Midnight in Paris alone in the cinema in Swansea when no one else wanted to go with me, and it was the first time I thought “fuck it, I’ll go by myself then”. Now, I much prefer going to the cinema alone! Everything about his film feels familiar but sparkling. I am absolutely one of the many Gils of the world: an idealistic but insecure creative who seems to need to find permission to pursue a literary and artistic existence without entirely forsaking reality. As a previous student of both history and literature, I too have a tendency to live in and idealise the past.
The past may be alluring but the present is all that we have and, as a highly sensitive person, I need to remember that I need to find the magic and power of NOW! Our lives can’t always be spectacular – but we can alter our circumstances to bring more sparkle into our lives and push away the misery and hate. There’s always room to dream and be inspired by the past, but there’s no point in hating the world as it is right now. Happiness and inspiration come from looking forward and having hope in what’s ahead – not staring wistfully back at the unattainable.
“That’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life is unsatisfying.” – Gil, Midnight in Paris.
2. Amelie (2001)
The second film on this list, and the second Paris-based film… I think you can guess that I’m ever so slightly inspired by Parisian creative culture! Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain is whimsical, passionate and enchanting! Before seeing this film for the first time, I don’t think I’d ever seen such a strong but painfully quiet heroine before. Most heroines seem to need to be “ballsy” or loud and proud etc. to be considered strong and willful – which meant that women like myself (quiet and reserved, though still principled) get largely left behind by mainstream storytelling.
I adore Amelie’s personal style of justice! Every time I watch her getting her own back on the injustices around her I chuckle with glee at the creativity behind it! Creativity isn’t always about creating a “personal brand” or going down in the history books for innovation – it can be simply putting wrongs to rights in new and exciting ways!
As an introvert, I always find it hard to let my thoughts and feelings be known to the world, even though I know that my own perspective is as valid as anyone else’s. Relating to people, and taking chances on them, often feels like the biggest hurdle in my life but, just as The Glass Man reminds little Amelie:
“You don’t have bones of glass. You can take life’s knocks. If you let this chance pass, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton.”
3. Little Women (1994)
A classic story of making your own light in dark times, Little Women is the one film that leaves me in tears every time I see it! I have both an older sister and a younger brother and I can’t imagine the world without them for one second! We’ve had immeasurably fun times together, creating our own stories and games, like the March sisters, and we’ve had unbearably difficult times together. We’ve cried on each other’s shoulders when sad and hit each other when mad! The March sisters, in all their likeness and diversity, remind me so much of my family of Pages.
Jo March feels like a literary “soul sister” – a young woman determined to reach out of her own humdrum to carve a writing career for herself, who wishes to lead an independent life alongside those who share in her passions and philosophies as equals, who never turns her back on her loved ones and is able to set her own ego aside when it is needed the most.
And, it must be said… Gabriel Byrne as Friedrich Bhaer? Swoooon!
“Jo, there is more to you than this. If you have the courage to write it… You must write from life, from the depths of your soul!”
4. The Young Victoria (2009)
If my big sister is coming to stay for the weekend, we always end up watching an Emily Blunt movie! I don’t know what it is about Emily Blunt, but we always seem to gravitate towards her, and The Young Victoria is without a doubt my favourite film of hers! In an odd way, Blunt as the young Queen Victoria reminds me of the women in my family: quiet, but with a formidable willpower, as well as intelligent and forthright!
The message of this story, in my view, is to be careful as to who you listen to – and to trust your own judgment first and foremost while still taking in the perspectives of others. The lovely Prince Albert’s many words of wisdom in this film have stayed with me, but the following always comes to mind first:
“Open your mind, examine your choices, and your honesty will take you through the storm. I promise that you can do this work and do it well. You have courage and heart and, you said yourself, you’re stronger than you look.”
5. The Help (2011)
The Help always reminds me of what courage really means, the sacrifices that need to be made for the greater good, the risks that need to be taken to see something accomplished – and, ultimately, it’s a gentle reminder that my perceived “roadblocks” are nothing in comparison to the reality of adversity facing others out there. The Help may be based on a novel, but the fight for the right to be treated equally was and still is, brutally real.
The power of well-written words, combined with the courage to tell your own story whatever the cost, is always one of the greatest forces in the world to be reckoned with. Care more about what is right and less of what people think, and you can sleep better at night:
“Every day you’re not dead in the ground, when you wake up in the morning, you’re gonna have to make some decisions. Got to ask yourself this question: “Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today?” You hear me? “Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today? You hear me today?” All right?” – Constantine Jefferson, The Help.
What are your favourite pick-me-up movies for keeping your inspiration going? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to say hi on my social media! I’m on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Search @OntoTheNextPage
Chat soon! xxx
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