Edith Piaf, Long Lost Professors and Living the French Life

It has occurred to me that I should probably update all of you on what I’ve been up to the past few days – and it’s been a lot. First, let’s start off with the most recent French film I went to (alone again, because that’s my new favorite thing) – “La Tête Haute/Standing Tall.” Centering around a troubled young boy just trying to find his way in the world. He’s abusive and temperamental and a disaster to be around but by the end he’s grown into himself. Full of anger, hatred, compassion, love and a happy ending, it was as uplifting as it was upsetting. Oh, how I love these French cinema experiences that I keep all to myself. Next, I spent my Saturday afternoon exploring the Edith Piaf exhibition. I’ve loved her for years; that dark, smoky voice and soothing lyrics – I’m a sucker for French classics. Immediately upon entrance I was handed an audio guide full of about 50 Edith songs to listen to while walking through the exhibit. With movie clips, vintage mementos and even a live karaoke box inside, I became lost within history. The exhibit even had one of her little black dresses (her signature look) hanging from above in one of the sections. I learned so much about her and her tragic life and I have a newfound respect for the glorious French singer. For those of you not familiar, here is one of her most famous songs, La Vie En Rose:

         Then, I spent all day Sunday running around in a real princess dress at another castle – Vaux-le-Vicomte – but that’s going into a separate post because it was so special to me and deserves more attention than a mention. Then, yesterday two things happened. One, I received my new custom made leather journal cover for my personal journal I’ve been keeping throughout my time here in Paris! I was so delighted when I saw the package sitting in my family’s flat that I literally squealed! It’s so beautiful and personal and everything I wanted. Thank you so much, Megan’s Mark for this wonderful work of art!     And then two, I met up with one of my French professors from university! She and her hilarious other half are in Paris for the week for the beginning of her last study abroad that she’s leading. This wonderful lady is one of the three main reasons I was able to go to France the first time two (!!) years ago and then decided to come back long term. She led my study abroad group back then and it’s only fitting that we met back up at a cafe for drinks while I’m living here.    Finally, last night I spent the evening with some of my favorite people in Paris just lounging along the Canal Saint-Martin having a picnic.       Honestly I couldn’t ask for a more perfect life to live, I thank God every day for my abundant blessings. I’m in awe at every moment of every day of this beautiful life I get to live because of Him.

Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse/My Golden Years

Today I did something I’ve never done before: I saw a film at the theater all by myself.

For weeks now ever since I saw the trailer for Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse/My Golden Years, I’ve been dying to see it. But to my dismay, every time I wanted to go, everyone was busy. So, I was left with a choice: don’t go OR go alone. I chose go alone. And maaaaan, am I glad I did.

This film was the first French film I’ve seen since living in Paris, which is very disappointing, I know. But it is.

I caught an early showing and walked into the cinema. It was so early that sadly the concession stand wasn’t even open; I was soooo looking forward to some salty popcorn and a refreshing Orangina but never mind. These things happen; you move on.. Without your pop and popcorn.. Humph..

Anyway, I purchased my ticket at the deserted kiosk and walked my lone self up to the ticket tearer guy and then headed to my film. Already proud of my decision, I pushed through the big doors with a grand smile expecting to enter an empty room.. But to my delight, there were at least five other Parisians there to view the film with me! All on their own, I might add.. Not a single person was accompanied by another. Maybe there’s something to be said for people who go to movies super early in the morning by themselves.. But never mind that!

So, the movie started and already I was overjoyed. As I sat in the theater, happily engaged in the film, I realized that this is definitely going to be an insanely French film – asides, melancholy music and lot of “openness” (if you get what I mean).

Anyway, this film (which I researched beforehand so as to be especially prepared for my first French film viewing in Paris) is the prequel to Arnaud Desplechin’s 1996 “Comment Je Me Suis Disputé (Ma Vie Sexuelle)/My Sex Life…Or How I Got Into An Argument.” Now I’ve never seen the former but that didn’t detract from my experience with the latter in any sense. It tells the tale of a boy’s childhood through three memories and delves into how those experiences affected who he is as an adult.

He gets into trouble and falls in love.

He explores the world and breaks his own heart.

Full of raw emotion and organic love, the story is brought to life through talented newcomers Quentin Dolmaire and Lou Roy-Lecollinet. Seriously these two are wonderful. I truly felt the love of Paul and Esther, yet understood their betrayal and yearned for them to be together throughout the whole thing.

It doesn’t hurt that Quentin is pretty easy on the eyes..

But seriously, they had me watching their every move for the full two hours.

Throughout the whole of the film, I found myself growing more and more attached to Paul and then it hit me why – he’s me. Well, in one sense; he’s a wanderer. He aches to know the world and just wants to see the sun rise over a new horizon. I was proud and altogether distraught every time Paul left Esther and his familiarity, even when she begged him to stay – because I feel his yearning to go. I grew closer and closer to him.. Until the end.

I won’t spoil it for anyone, but the ending was so entirely saddening that I was left in disarray. In the end I realized I’m not Paul, that the only love that dictates my life is that of my family. I will never be Paul, can never be Paul.

I left the theater in a different kind of happiness than when I went in.. Filled with happiness of a story I was able to witness, whether it be finished or not.

This tragic French love story was definitely the best pick I could have made for my first solo theater experience.

Now, everyone go see it.

‘The Five-Year Engagement’: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Posted to Arts & Entertainment by Megan Suddarth at 10:00 p.m., May 22, 2012

Classic Jason Segel jokes fill the screen for this romantic comedy. Whether he has his pants on or off, you’ll be sure to be laughing every time he’s in a scene. Emily Blunt gives a very convincing performance as the selfish fiancé trying to live out her dreams. However, the plot in this movie that lasts over two hours gets a bit tiring.

Starting out, you instantly love Tom, played by Segel, and Violet, played by Blunt, together; they seem like the perfect couple. You all probably know how it goes from seeing the previews; Violet gets a job offer in Michigan, so Tom graciously changes his entire life to accommodate his lovely fiancé’s dreams. After the move and some personal struggles that Tom goes through, he goes into major depression mode, sporting a lumberjack beard and just being pathetic all around, which I believe was a bit way too much, like they were trying too hard to get a few laughs out of people.

Anyway, after all of this, things get hard for the couple and well, that’s all I’ll say. The film provides laughs, yes, but after a while, you get tired of seeing this relationship routine play out, and you just want them to get married already.

For me, Suzie, Violet’s little sister, stole the show. Suzie, played by Alison Brie, is the cutest little thing in the movie. You see her whole life transform, but she still keeps her innocent-yet-not-so-innocent persona that you can’t help but laugh hysterically. Her character completes the movie with her upbeat and bubbly personality. She’s raunchy, yet innocent in a way, and she stole the movie with her entire attitude. Alex Eilhauer, played by Chris Pratt, was the best compliment to her character the casting director could have made. His performance provided just the right amount of a disgusting male to Brie’s character’s innocence, which works out to be the perfect formula for these background characters to steal the show.

Don’t get me wrong; Segel and Blunt are funny, too. The beginning was pretty funny when Segel tries to propose, and I loved the flashback scenes when the two met. But the plot of the movie is pretty long, and it just feels like it takes forever for it to get to the point. The ups and downs they go through are a little extreme, and you find yourself asking, “Will they just hurry up?!”

Overall, the movie was funny, just way too long and slow. A nice romantic comedy, but not enough spark for my taste.

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‘The Raven’: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Posted to Arts & Entertainment by Megan Suddarth at 10:00 p.m., May 22, 2012

Being a lover of all things Edgar Allan Poe, I adored this movie. Each of his short stories that were used throughout the movie as murder scenes were incredibly accurate and eerily real. Seeing his writings come to life in such gory and horrific ways were just as Poe, if he were somehow able to see this movie, probably would have wanted them to be portrayed on the big screen.

Right from the beginning, you know how gory and intense this movie will be. Starting with “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” the movie brings to life the terrible crime committed in Poe’s short story. Police rush to the scene and Detective Fields, played by Luke Evans, is impressive with his knowledge of Poe’s works, which leads him to figure out this killer is working hard at making Poe’s stories come to life.

Edgar Allan Poe, played by John Cusack, is bewildered by the thought of someone bringing his horror to life and immediately goes to work with the police in trying to find the culprit. It isn’t long, however, before the killer kidnaps his love, Emily Hamilton, played by Alice Eve, and forces Poe to find her through clues left behind in other murders from Poe’s stories.

The whodunit plot has a few twists and turns and will have you holding your stomach in disgust at every murder scene. Trying to figure out who the killer is might take some time and still might be confusing when it is all explained. This is why it didn’t get a perfect review; the audience has a little too much to think about that even at the end, you’re a little confused.

Cusack plays a very good Poe, with his imagined awkwardness and clear stubbornness well played out. He’s a very depressed individual, yet Cusack provides a few little laughs at the character, which adds some good comic relief to the deep, dark film. Evans also compliments the film with his brash, yet lovable detective. Together, the two make the film, and they bounce off of one another quite well.

In the end, I loved the movie. All of Poe’s short stories came to life in such horrific, yet incredibly living ways that I can’t help but be impressed. The acting was pretty great and a few laughs were provided, which always makes a horror film seem a little light. The end was a bit hard to follow but all in all, I’m quite impressed.

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‘The Cabin in the Woods’: 4 out of 5 stars

By Megan Suddarth

Published April 17, 2012

Attention horror movie buffs: Looking for originality? I know it’s hard to find this day in age, but behold! “The Cabin in the Woods” has it all: zombies, redneck torture-loving zombie families, ghosts, dragons, masked murderers, clowns, demon ballerina girls, Japanese spirits, werewolves, unicorns, mermen, snakes, spiders, vampire bats, yeah, you heard me … ALL OF THAT.

This movie seems like your regular-dumb-teenagers-in-an-abandoned-cabin-looking-for-some-fun-type horror flick. But, that’s not the case at all. No, even from the get-go this movie has you wondering, “What the crap is going on?” From super secret agent guys to underground laboratories, you’ll be confused out of your mind at the start. Never fear! You catch on throughout and realize this movie is unlike any before its time.

Five young college friends seek a good time at a cabin in the woods (clever, huh?) and soon find out they’re in for a ride. After about 10 minutes, it’s pretty obvious that everything that the kids are going through is being controlled; but, the question is: Why? Puppets in a game, they seek to find the answer to all the pain they’ve been experiencing.

Dana, the innocent, Jules, the promiscuous, Curt, the jock, Holden, the intellect and Marty, the stoner. The group is brought in and made to participate in an evil act. The plot unfolds and the group slowly decreases its number until you think it’s all over for everyone. But, this horror takes a turn that most won’t see coming. Don’t count them out yet, not until you’ve seen guts spewing or heads ripped off (yeah, it gets pretty gory).

Now, like I said, this movie is pretty original. You don’t usually see every monster that you’ve imagined hiding under your bed combine forces to kill you, but “The Cabin in the Woods” does just that. That being said, the originality is the most enticing part of the movie. If you’re a horror buff like myself, you won’t be very impressed by the “scary parts.” I mean, yeah, it’s scary, but for those immune to the horror genre such as myself, there isn’t much that will make you go home afraid to turn the lights off.

The entire film is made up of an idea that hasn’t been done in Hollywood before and it’s pretty exciting to watch what unfolds in front of your eyes. Just don’t get your hopes up too much if you want to be scared out of your wits.

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Caves Infected With White Nose Syndrome and Killer Human-bat Creatures

This week for class, we did a mobile assignment. For mine, I picked reporting on the local cave here in Columbia, MO and how it’s closed due to white nose syndrome in bats. The disease speeds up their metabolism while they’re hibernating and then they wake up hungry and search for food and die from the environment and such.

Anyway, going to the cave is one of my favorite things to do. I love it so much. The trails around it and throughout Rock Bridge Memorial State Park are absolutely breathtaking. However, there’s a downside; ever since I watched The Descent I always get the feeling that there are humanoid bat creatures in the cave that are just waiting to eat me. Dumb right? I know, but it’s a thought I get sometimes. If you haven’t watched it, then you definitely should. I’m not much for blood and gore, but this movie doesn’t abuse the privileges of guts spewing and people being eaten to death. No, instead you’re consumed in yelling at the characters to turn around and then screaming again when they’re too stupid to. Yeah, the gore is present, but it’s quick, therefore it doesn’t distract from the main purpose.. Which is to scare you out of going into caves.

You scared?

Luckily for me, it didn’t work. I have fears of creepy blind albino human-sized bats in caves, but nothing can stop me from exploring and venturing throughout the wilderness that God created in our world. Well, except for white nose syndrome, apparently.

’21 Jump Street’: 5 out of 5 stars

By Megan Suddarth

Published March 20, 2012

The movie “21 Jump Street” is based upon the ’80s TV series of the same name that shot Johnny Depp to instant fame. The opening scene, set in 2005, sees Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) in their real-life high school scenarios: Schmidt a “not-so-slim-shady” nerd and Jenko the classic airhead jock. The two are polar opposites. Jump forward to present day and they are now undercover officers in the Jump Street program because they’re viewed as unprofessional due to botching up their first bust by failing to read the perp his rights.

While undercover, the duo finds itself caught up too much with the everyday high school activities, living out their past dreams as adolescent teens and almost completely messing up their entire assignment.

Eric Molson (Dave Franco), Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) and Mr. Walters (Rob Riggles) also add a lot to the screen. Molson is an eco-friendly, tree-hugging pretty boy that spends his time writing nature songs and selling drugs to seemingly everyone at high school. Capt. Dickson is a hard ass who can’t seem to talk at a normal voice level, and Walters is the classic teacher who never left high school behind, loathed by the entire school. All three of these characters add their own spice to Tatum and Hill’s already spectacularly concocted performances.

With their undercover roles the opposite of how high school really was seven years ago, Jenko finds himself a nerd and is bewildered by (and also totally jealous of) Schmidt’s instant popularity. His stupidity and Schmidt’s un-athleticism make for a wonderful combination, which are shown throughout the movie.

With references to multiple episodes from the show, the comedy lives up to the potential of the series for those with knowledge of the original. However, one doesn’t need to know anything prior to the movie; it’s hilarious either way. Sex jokes, chase scenes and awkward Jonah Hill moments fill the screen with nonstop laughs for the crowd. Not gonna lie, seeing Tatum run in skinny jeans and Hill run in Peter Pan tights is quite a riot.

Definitely mind-blowing, this movie takes hilarity to the next level. Never has a movie combined so much vulgarity and profanity to pull off such a comedic success. It’s not often that such dirty jokes don’t detract from the awesomeness of the film, and in fact, these profane and sexual jokes actually add to it. Laughs galore in every scene, “21 Jump Street” will leave the viewer with sore abs in the end.

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“The Lone Ranger” (2013)

I honestly cannot wait for this movie to come out.. For multiple reasons.

1) JOHNNY DEPP – Need I say more? Well, no, of course not. Johnny is pure genius, personified. He brings humor and genuine talent to every movie he’s in. Literally, no movie that he’s been in would be complete without him. Even going back to his early days, his talent shone through in every role he took on. From Edward Scissorhands to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and even his first film, A Nightmare on Elm Street, those characters completed the films (at least in my opinion). I can’t say enough about how I adore his skill to transform a regular role into something wonderful and spectacular. The point? The guy is mind-blowing. End of story.

2) Helena Bonham Carter. Say what?! I had no idea she was going to be in this film, and now that I know, I couldn’t be happier. This woman has a spell on me. Seriously, she’s phenomenal. She’s beautiful and talented in a very unconventional way. She’s not the typical blonde hair-blue eyed-fake beauty that our society has made the standard. No, she’s amazing in a real and original way that accentuates her acting abilities. She can pull off creepy in an I-wanna-kill-you-and-bake-you-into-a-pie-type way (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), while also being a total sweetheart in an Oh-crap-my-fiance-married-a-dead-girl-but-I’ll-forgive-him-type way (Corpse Bride). Yeah, she’s pretty fantastic, too.

3) Gore Verbinski is directing. This is the guy that directed the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, so you know there will be many action sequences packed with explosions and combat. So, that’s a pretty awesome reason to see this movie as well. ‘Cause I meant, come on, who doesn’t love the occasional cinema violence?

Everyone already knows that Johnny and Helena combined makes for a spectacular combination of awesomeness – so that awesomeness should only be enhanced with Gore thrown into the mix.

Scream 4 Review

Well, I know it’s been out for quite a long time but this review is long overdue. Scream 4. That’s right, I said it. I absolutely love this movie. I’ve seen it about 30 times give or take a couple. Horror is my obsession and right now, Scre4m is the best in my opinion.

Ten years later. New decade, new rules.
Let’s start with the characters.

First, the obvious ones – Sidney Prescott, Officer Dewey (now the sheriff) and of course Gale Weathers (now Weathers-Riley). These three have been faithful throughout the entire franchise, encountering numerous near-death experiences. Sidney, the main character, is returning to Woodsboro for the “last stop on her book tour and first stop on her road to a new life.” Gale and Dewey have been married for the past ten years and are still living in Woodsboro, which as you can guess takes a toll on Gale and her ego. A small town life and small town husband gets to be rough for the former reporter that’s now focusing on fiction writing.

Now, the newbies – Jill Prescott, – Sid’s cousin – Kirby Reed, Olivia Morris (all three best friends), Charlie Walker, Robbie Mercer and Trevor Sheldon. These high school kids are basically replicas of the former main characters from the first Scream. Some might think that makes for a boring set of newbies, but each bring their own twist to this installment. Besides the high school kids, there’s also Deputy Judy Hicks, Deputy Hoss and Deputy Perkins. Now that Dewey has been promoted to sheriff, he has a small team behind him. Hicks is the typical girl-cop in love with her superior (Dewey), while Hoss and Perkins are the typical sidekicks that play an off-beat comedic routine throughout the movie.

And, for the plot.

As I already said, Sidney has come home to Woodsboro for the last stop on her book tour. The day she comes home, murders start to happen yet again. This time,  Sid’s cousin Jill is targeted and Sidney has to find a way to save her before Ghostface gets to her first. As everybody around both of them start to die, Sidney questions everything. The plot is the same as the first three before it, with all the blood spewing and guts ripping, but now that Sidney’s cousin is thrown into the mix we get a whole new perspective and get to see the impact that Sid’s past has had on not only her, but her family as well. Keeping with the theme of the previous Scream movies, rules are required. Now that it’s been ten years, obviously the rules for horror movies have changed. The standards are reversed because “modern audiences get savvy to the rules of the originals.”

Everything about this movie is amazing and even after seeing it about 30 times, I still can’t seem to take it out of the DVD player.

‘Paranormal Activity 3’ – 4 out of 5 stars

Posted to Arts & Entertainment by Megan Suddarth at 10:04 p.m., Oct. 24, 2011

Covenants, cults and curses: the third addition to the “Paranormal” series adds more background to the story of Katie and Kristi than you could have imagined, while also confusing the crap out of you.

This pre-prequel is definitely the most whack out of the three. It catches a glimpse into the lives of the two young girls with their first encounters with the demon, now named Toby by little Kristi, who thinks she’s befriended it. The entire storyline is pretty terrifying, just like the first two. Except this time instead of repeating the same effects for a third time, there’s a new twist to everything. From hair-pulling to a floating kitchen, you’ll be scared out of your wits for these little girls.

“Paranormal 3” also portrays “Toby” as a more real entity. We see little Kristi talking with it, playing tea party with it and laughing with it. Therefore, we realize this entity has already been around for a while and, as you all know, will continue to be around. I will say, though, that I was disappointed that the creepy footsteps were basically nonexistent in this installment. Those footsteps are what I thought made the first two especially terrifying. Don’t get me wrong; this one makes up for it with many new horrific tricks that will still make you jump clear out of your seat.

Then, you get to the end. This is where the movie lost the final star with me. A cult has been thrown into the mix, adding to what we learned in the second movie. However, the end is pretty much thrown at you and you’re left sitting in the theater afterwards running over what just happened and trying to figure out why. With that being said, though confusing, the end is the part that will make you cover your eyes, if you haven’t already.

Though the end takes a second to gather and make sense of, the whole movie will have you sitting with your legs up in the chair, fingers half-covering your eyes with your shoulders leaning on the person sitting next to you. “Paranormal 3” is great for a scream-inducing, stay-up-till-3-a.m., scared-out-of-your-wits kind of night.