my thoughts on Burning | thoughts on TV

burningBurning (2018)
Director: Lee Chang-dong
Country: South Korea
Rating: ★★★★.₅ – loved it

Deliveryman Jongsu is out on a job when he runs into Haemi, a girl who once lived in his neighborhood. She asks if he’d mind looking after her cat while she’s away on a trip to Africa. On her return she introduces to Jongsu an enigmatic young man named Ben, who she met during her trip. And one day Ben tells Jongsu about his most unusual hobby…

 

my thoughts on - review black (1)

I had never heard of Burning before watching a few ‘most underrated movies of 2018’ or ‘best movies of 2018’ videos. After seeing all these people talk about this movie in such an enthusiastic manner, I know I had to watch it as well. A little bit of research taught me that Burning would play twice in a cinema in Brussels, so I went with one of my wonderful friends.

I honestly don’t know how to describe my feelings on this movie. I definitely loved it, and spent ages after watching it thinking about the story and characters. However, I was left with so many questions too! Usually that would leave me pretty annoyed, as I’m not a huge fan of open endings. With Burning, I didn’t mind not having all the answers – or any, to be honest. It had me and my cousin spouting theories at each other for hours afterwards.

If it wasn’t obvious already, I highly recommend watching this movie. Let’s talk about the reasons why.

⭐️ the cinematography is absolutely mind-blowing. This movie is nothing short of stunning, and that alone makes it worth watching. The way they play with colors just leaves me speechless.

⭐️ a character-driven story that will slowly draw you in. Lately, a lot of the movies I’ve been watching have either been action movies or straight-up romances. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with those, but it does make Burning stand out more. This is a movie that develops slowly, and captivates the viewer in an entirely different manner.

⭐️ incredibly atmospheric. I feel like the atmosphere of this movie helps you become more attached to the characters, as well as get drawn into the story itself. I’m not sure how else to describe the atmosphere this movie created. It’s been months since I watched this, and I can still remember how I felt sitting in that movie theater seat.

⭐️ manages to make the viewer feel certain emotions by manipulating them subtly. The director (as well as the actors) truly mastered the art of manipulating the viewers feelings without it being too obvious. There are no jump scares or typically scary things in Burning, but the majority of the time you will feel unsettled and off. It prods at your intuitive sense of knowing when a situation is dangerous.

⭐️ the fantastic performance of the actors. As this is a character-fueled story – which I have mentioned at least 3 times now – it is very dependent on the quality of acting. I’m happy to say that their performance was stellar here. Steven Yeun especially stood out to me, but maybe that’s because I was already familiar with him. Nonetheless, this might be my favorite performance of his I’ve seen so far.


I don’t want to give anything else away, because this is a story you truly have to go in knowing as little as possible. All I can do is to urge you to watch this movie, even if it doesn’t sound like one you’d like. I promise you the experience will be worth it.

My Thoughts on Pride and Prejudice | A Book, a Movie, and a Mini Series

pride-and-prejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Published: 1813 (Vintage Classics edition by Penguin Random House)
Genre: Classics, Romance
Rating: 4.5/5 stars – ★★★★.5
Goodreads

Synopsis: When Elizabeth Bennet meets Mr. Darcy she is repelled by his overbearing pride, and prejudice towards her family. But the Bennet girls are in need of financial security in the shape of husbands, so when Darcy’s friend, the affable Mr. Bingley, forms an attachment to Jane, Darcy becomes increasingly hard to avoid. Polite society will be turned upside down in this witty drama of friendship, rivalry, and love—Jane Austen’s classic romance novel.

review

If you know me, you might know that I have a terrible track record with classics. I haven’t read many American/British ones, because I never had to. Yet the world seems to love them, and I want to know why. So I tried to read The Great Gatsby, which I loathe. I tried reading, The Picture of Dorian Gray which I found okay. And I tried to read Frankenstein, which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. But Pride and Prejudice is the first classic to truly engage me

This was the first time I actually cared about the main character, and wanted her life to be okay. Wanted her family to be okay (fine, I just wanted Jane to be okay…). I was eager to pick it back up every time I had to put it down, which has never happened before with a classic. And lastly, it was much easier to read than I thought it would be

I also really enjoyed the characters, and how invested I got in their lives. I adore Jane, and want a friend like her. I adore Lizzie, because she’s kind yet honest -and sees her own mistakes. I adore Mr. Bingley, although I wish he wouldn’t be so naive. I even liked Mr. Darcy. I wanted to bitch slap Miss Bingley, and kick Mr. Collins in the nuts. I also wanted Mrs. Bennett to stop talking forever. 

I thought Lizzie was an amazing main character! She cared so much about her family. She was honest, and kind, and firm in her beliefs. I also think she was quite the feminist for her time. I highlighted several quotes that were demeaning towards women -which of course would have been nothing special in that time. 

Overall, I loved it. And I immediately watched 2 adaptations: the 2005 movie, and the 1995 mini series. No, I hadn’t seen either before… 

‘That is very true,’ replied Elizabeth, ‘and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.’

‘There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.’


pride-and-prejudice

Pride and Prejudice (2005) 

Like I said, after finishing the book I decided to watch this movie. I had never seen it before -maybe I was one of the only people on this planet who hadn’t. I just never wanted to watch it before reading the book, and I kept putting off the book because I am afraid of reading classics.

Because this was only 2 hours, a lot of the character development had to be cut. That’s understandable, of course. Yet I thought the main events were portrayed quite faithfully, even using the original quotes and sentences most of the time.

I loved Keira Knightley as Elizabeth. I usually love Keira anyway, but I think she does really well in these historical type of movies. I loved her performance in Atonement too. Somehow, she just feels right in these historical settings? I have no idea why. Buy I think she did a great job.

I actually really enjoyed this movie. Was the turn of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth rather abrupt at the end? Yes. That’s what happens when you cut out a lot of the development. But it was still great, in my opinion.


pride-and-prejudice-1995Pride and Prejudice (1995): 6 episodes

Liam at Hey Ashers! said that I should really watch this adaptation too. As it has 6 episodes of 1 hour each, it’s a much more faithful adaptation. I followed said advice happily -thanks Liam!

This is the best adaptation of a book that’s ever been made, I think. Because it’s basically 6 hours long, it includes EVERYTHING. From sentences to scenes. It’s quite literally the book on screen. I know that’s what every adaptation is supposed to be, but I think we can all agree that that almost never happens. 

I loved this adaptation too. I enjoyed the story, even though it was so fresh in my mind still. I liked the actors. The scenery was beautiful. It was just incredible, to be honest. I think if I could have had Keira Knightley in this, I would have been overjoyed. Not that Jennifer Ehle doesn’t do a wonderful job! She’s an amazing Elizabeth too. But like I said, something about Knightley just feels right in these historical settings. 

I only wonder, does Mrs. Bennett always have to have such a horrifying voice?? Honestly, I think it may have given me a head ache at one point… 

Overall, I adore this adaptation too. I actually enjoyed a story in all three formats: book, movie and TV show. I don’t think that has ever happened before. If you haven’t read P&P, do so. If you haven’t watched the movie, do so. If you haven’t watched this mini series, do so. Just read, and watch it all. You won’t regret it, I promise.

This was my first Jane Austen novel, but I’ll definitely continue and read more of her works. I have a copy of Northanger Abbey, so I figure that’ll be next for me. 

Movie Review: The Big Short

the big short poster

The Big Short (2015)
Directed by Adam McKay
Genre: Biography, Drama
Time: 2h 10min
Rating: ★★★★★

IMDb | Letterboxd 

review

This is only the second movie I’ve ever reviewed on my blog. But as soon as I finished watching it, I knew I had to. I have to talk about this. Here’s what this movie, this true story made into film, is about: 

THIS IS A TRUE STORY.

The men who made millions from a global economic meltdown.

I know that to many (well, most) people, this sounds like an incredibly boring topic. In my opinion, that truly depends on the medium. This movie was brilliant. I love the way this was told. Basically, the story is told to you by Jared Vennett, played by Ryan Gosling. He provides commentary throughout the film. At times, he even appears in a scene, turns to look at you and says: “I wasn’t actually here. I would never talk to people like this. But this is what happened”. And I loved it. It sometimes undercuts this serious topic with humor, which is great. Otherwise this movie would’ve become too heavy. 

Before I start on the actual story, I want to say that I have the utmost respect for the makers of this movie. The editing must have been insane. At times, when Jared (Gosling) is explaining a concept or event to you, scenes flash across the screen. It’s gorgeous. It wasn’t too much so it didn’t bother me, but it was intriguing. 

If you’re afraid you won’t understand many of the terms used when talking about the crisis or financial investments, don’t worry. The movie is really honest. At one point it states that Wall Street uses these fancy terms to make you feel stupid, like they are all-knowing and obviously know best. The movie makes use of celebrities and other people to explain certain terms or jargon. For example: “here’s Selena Gomez at a blackjack table to explain to you what a synthetic CDO is”. I get that for some people, this could feel condescending. I didn’t take it as such though. 

So this is the story of the few people who saw the warning signs of the mortgage investments and packages. The few people who saw that the banks were packaging really bad mortgages with loans people could never pay off as securities, selling them at such high rates. The banks didn’t care, because they were making money. At first, they grouped together only the best rated mortgages. Those securities were of little risk, because people were very likely to pay them off. So you could make money with very little risk. Sounds good, right? Of course. Until they started running out of highly rated mortgages. So they started throwing in a lot riskier ones -and telling no one. There are like thousands of mortgages in one of those securities/bonds, so no one is checking them. Everyone just trusts their banker to be honest. It came to a point where anyone could get a mortgage on a house, even when they didn’t have a job or income. These people would never be able to pay them off! But the banks were still making immense amounts of money off of it, so why care? That’s the start of it all. 

I loved this movie. Partly because it affected my faith in humanity immensely. Now, as a student of my university’s Economy and Business faculty, I’ve been taught many aspects of the start of the crisis. I don’t think there is a single person in my year who hasn’t heard of The Lehman Brothers, or their part in the economic meltdown. Yet this movie still confronted me with the facts. I already knew quite a bit of them, yet I’d never felt as angry or disgusted by them. Knowing the facts, and seeing them play out in front of you are two entirely different things. 

This entire crash of the economy makes me SO MAD. Why? Because once again, humanity has shown itself from its worst side. The greed and arrogance of a few (relatively few I mean) nearly brought down the entire world. We’re all still recovering from it. And whether you think this is a boring topic, or you know nothing about finance, that doesn’t matter. It will still affect you. 

In my opinion, it is necessary to educate yourself on this topic. Last time, no one really knew anything about investing, finance or banking. So we put all our trust in the bank or in investors and hedge funds. And look where that got us. The only way we can learn from it and prevent it from happening again is to educate ourselves.

What disgusted me the most, is the ending of this movie. And the brutal honesty of it. This movie made me feel so sick, not because it was bad, but because it was actually being honest. It was shoving our faces into the truth and screaming: LOOK! The ending of this movie is insane because it’s the truth: how we dealt with the crisis was awful. We didn’t punish the banks or the bankers. We didn’t govern them. We didn’t send those responsible to jail. No, we let the average people take the fall. We let them lose their jobs and their homes. It’s disgusting. 

I realize that this makes me sound like a capitalism-hater. I am definitely not. I am all for capitalism. And international trade. And a free market (obviously regulated at some points). I truly am. I’m an economy student after all. 


Even if you don’t care about economy, or don’t know anything about it: please give this movie a try. It’s really well written, and the performances were great. It combined honesty with humor in the best possible way. It’s not a boring movie at all. I found it to be brilliant. 

P.S. Was anyone else thinking “What the hell is on Steve Carell’s head?” the entire time?

Movie Review: Wild

wildWild (2014)
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Main role played by
Reese Witherspoon
Written by
Cheryl Strayed and Nick Hornby
Genre:
Drama
Length:
115 minutes
Watched on: January 6th 2016
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Letterboxd

Synopsis: A woman with a tragic past decides to start her new life by hiking for one thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail.

review

I have been wanting to watch Wild ever since it was released. It seemed like such an inspirational movie. When I found out it was based on a novel, a memoir, I was even more thrilled. Obviously, being a book lover, I went ahead and bought the book. I was determined to read it before I watched the movie. Until it dawned on me that it is already 2016, and I haven’t gotten around to reading the book yet. So I decided to just go ahead and watch the movie. I could always read the book later, no? 

I have to start by saying that I love Reese Witherspoon. I think she’s an incredible actress, and am always happy to see her act. That got me even more excited to watch this. Without bias, I do believe that she did an incredible job. The way she portrayed Cheryl Strayed was fascinating, and felt very real. Because this is a non-fiction story, I was afraid it would seem to unrealistic when filmed. But it wasn’t. The emotions were raw, the decisions not always sound. Yet I understood, in a way.

This movie, and of course the book, is honest. That’s the first word that comes to mind: honest. The worst of Cheryl’s decisions and situations aren’t hidden, nor are they sugarcoated. When she starts hiking the trail, her life is a mess. Because I’m a very privileged person, I can’t fully comprehend how a person can let their life become such a horrifying mess. She has become a drug addict, a cheater and many more things I can’t state without spoiling the story. I know what preceded all of those bad decisions. But still… Anyway, when she starts hiking her life is at an all-time low. It can’t really get any worse. So why not hike 1000 miles, right? 

Like I said, I do believe that this is a good movie. Whether or not it is a good adaptation, I can’t say as I haven’t read the book. But it is a well done movie. I felt compassion, I was sad, I was scared for Cheryl’s life at certain points and I was proud. During this whole movie, I was on a roller coaster of emotions, as I am sure Cheryl must have been in reality. 

At first, I was unsure how this adaptation would work. The whole story is a woman hiking on her own. Wouldn’t that become boring? How would they weave in her backstory? While I was a bit bored at a certain point in the middle, I found this movie to be interesting and gripping overall. I’m not even sure I was bored in the middle… It could’ve been exhaustion, as I watched this quite late in the evening. But they weaved in Cheryl’s backstory through memories while she hikes, and my favorite part: through sounds. When she is hiking, you could start to hear a person talking, or singing. That would then slowly fade into a memory. It was really well done. Almost a month later, and the one thing I remember most clearly about this movie is the interweaving of sound.

After I have said all these good things about Wild, you might start wondering: Jolien, why did you only give it 3.5 stars if you liked it so much? While I love the overall story and how it was portrayed, I did have some issues with it. 

Firstly, I was left a bit disappointed at the end. I don’t know why, but I expected just a bit more from this movie. Maybe because it was so hyped up in my mind? I’m not sure why. Secondly, I was left with quite a few questions at the end. I know that this is only a memoir of part of Cheryl’s life, and that she is still living out the rest. Yet I would have at least liked SOME answers on what happened after she hiked the PCT. And lastly, like I said, I was a bit bored around the middle part. 


Overall, this is definitely a movie I’d recommend. It made me sit through this roller coaster of Cheryl’s life and emotions, and I’m appreciative of it. It gives a new perspective on how anyone can change their lives. No matter how bad it has become for you. No matter what has happened. You have the power to change it. We just need to be brave and persistent. As for the portrayal of the story, I loved it. The scenery was beautiful, and the way her memories were woven into the story was fascinating. I just wish I could’ve gotten some answers at the end. 

When the movie is better than the book | A Book Blogger Admits

There are some things in life us book bloggers or book lovers try to turn a blind eye to. We try to ignore these things happen. Why? Because this basically breaks our fragile hearts. Being able to say “the book was so much better” is one of the great things of being a book lover. But what do you do when you’re sitting there, watching the movie, and thinking: “damn, this is actually better than the book.” 

Do we admit it? Do we try to make excuses? Here are some book-to movie adaptations that I think are actually better than their books. 

maze runner lord of the rings

There are quite some adaptations that I like about as much as the book. The adaptations that weren’t bad. But that’s not what this post is about (I have done two posts on good adaptations: Movies and TV). This post is about the movies that were better. The movies that I would take over the book any day, which is saying something. 

First of all, The Maze Runner. It’s not a secret that I didn’t like the trilogy in book format. I did read all of them, but I had to truly push myself to finish them. But then one of my friends asked me to go to the Maze Runner movie with him last year. And I figured, why not? I didn’t like the book, but the trailer looked promising. Plus, I’d see about anything that has Dylan O’Brien in it. I was so pleasantly surprised! I actually really loved the movie. I still have to go watch The Scorch Trials, but I will definitely do so. So yes, if you (like me) didn’t like the books, go ahead and give the movie a try! 

Secondly, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Don’t get me wrong here: I absolutely love the books. It’s one of my favorite fantasy series, even though they aren’t easy to read at all. But the movies, they hold just such a special place in my heart. I think it’s really the first big fantasy series I watched on TV (because when the first one was released, I was only 7 years old. Oh god, it’s been 14 YEARS since movie #1 was released??). I think I started watching them when The Return on the King was released, which would’ve been when I was 9? I think that’s around the time I started watching them. And I fell in love. Together with Harry Potter, they inspired my love for fantasy. And while I think the books are great, the movies are just out of this world. I love every aspect of them: the scenery, the casting, the adaptation itself, the music. Everything. 

But here is the tough bit. Am I the only one who feels like it’s sort of blasphemy to admit you liked the movie/TV adaptation better? Is is shameful for book lovers to admit that the story could have a better medium? We often say that the book was better, because let’s be real, in most cases it is. Looking at you, Percy Jackson (although I do love Logan Lerman).

Maybe it’s because I don’t know many people in my daily life who love to read. So when an adaptation is made, saying “the book is better” could be a way to get people to read. Like we’re protecting this amazing medium so many people forget about. Like we’re holding our precious books to our chest, claiming that nothing is better (hello, most of the time that’s true). So do we feel defeated when we like the movie better? Do we feel like we’ve let our books down? Or the community? It seems weird to me, even though I also feel that way,  because shouldn’t we be happy that the film crew did such an amazing job on adapting it? 


Why do you think it’s so hard for a book lover to admit when a movie adaptation is better? Is there anyone else out there who feels a bit “bad” admitting they liked the movie/TV show better? I’d love to hear your opinions!

P.S. Please don’t feel offended by me saying I liked the movies of these two better than the books. If you loved the books, that’s amazing! I don’t mean to offend you, this is just my personal opinion.