Not having seen too many notable things is something I am teased about relentlessly from my friends and family. The last time I visited my boyfriend’s family, his mom was literally shocked that I’d never seen Pretty Women or The Town, so those were the movies we watched during my stay. In my defense, I had a pretty sheltered upbringing and I wasn’t allowed to watch ANY R-rated movies as a tween or teenager, and then by the time I grew up, I just…never got around to it?

So I’ve seen the essentials, like The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars, but that’s really all I can vouch for. Read on to learn what famous films I still haven’t seen as a 21 year-old and the excuses I have for them. You also have to remember that I grew up in the early 2000s- if you didn’t own the movie on DVD, there was a good chance you probably didn’t watch it. 


  1. The Godfather 

This movie is a classic example of “nobody else in my family really watched the movie, we didn’t own it, and even if we did own it, I would have been too young for it. I also don’t know if it’s something I would have even liked as a kid, because I was pretty picky with movies (still am) and I didn’t like sitting still for things that weren’t appealing for me. Nowadays, I would probably give The Godfather ago. I think Italian Mafia plots are interesting (I actually wrote a 300 page book about it in high school,) and if it’s topping the ‘Best Movie’ charts on every website, well, I’m convinced. 

The True Stories Behind 'The Godfather' - Biography


  1. Citizen Kane

Unlike several of these other films, I actually know virtually nothing about Citizen Kane. I couldn’t tell you the genre, plot, cast, or even when this movie came out. Nathaniel says it’s the story of “one man’s life, basically.” I suppose I could probably give this movie a go, but I’d probably have to do a bit more research on it. As you’ve probably caught onto by now, I’m a bit picky in the film department.


  1. The Shawshank Redemption 

My knowledge of The Shawshank Redemption is extremely limited, so for fun, why don’t I try to explain what I think the plot is with this very limited knowledge? I think it has Brad Pitt and Samuel L. Jackson. I think it takes place in the 1940s and Brad Pitt and Samuel Jackson become friends in prison. I’m sure one of them dies at the end. That’s really all I’ve got, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to whip over to Wikipedia and see how much of this I got wrong.

(Update: I’m ashamed)


  1. The Lion King

When people find out I haven’t seen The Lion King, they’re usually personally offended and I completely understand why. However, before I get verbally attacked, let me just say I DO know the plot, and I DO get the jokes and the references, and I HAVE seen the very famous live musical. “The Circle of Life”? A bop and a half. I feel like at this point, I don’t even have to see the movie because I already have a pretty good handle on the key notes. 

Ranking The Classic Lion King Characters - CINEMABLEND


  1. Casablanca 

I confuse Casablanca with Gone With the Wind quite a bit, but I feel like those two movies are probably similar in some regards. I know they’re both old movies, and they both have a lot of smarmy romance going on in them, so just from that alone, I’m not sure if this movie would be my cup of tea. That being said, I’m not totally opposed to watching it if the opportunity presents itself. 


  1. Schindler’s List

If there’s anything you need to know about me and movies, it’s this: I do NOT do sad. Hell, I cry at movies that aren’t even marketed as being ‘sad’ movies, like The Iron Giant, and The Princess Bride. Nathaniel made me watch an animated movie called My Life as a Zucchini a couple of months ago, and I literally sobbed through the entire thing.

So you get the point: emotional plots and I don’t mesh well. And I like to think I already have a fairly good handle on The Holocaust, because I had to study it for an entire unit in the 8th grade and I’ve read The Diary of Anne Frank a few times now. But Schindler’s List? Yeah, I don’t think I could handle it. 


  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey 

I’m not going to lie, until my best friend Eli told me about the movie, I actually thought it was a David Bowie song or album. However, before you’re too ashamed of me, I promise I know who Stanley Kubrick is. Actually, it’s a little known fact that The Shining is one of my all-time favorite films. I’ve heard that Space Odyssey is a little weird and nonsensical, so I’m not really sure if I would enjoy it or not. Nonetheless, I’m willing to give it a try. Clearly, my knowledge of the film is limited. 


  1. Forrest Gump

I don’t really have an excuse for why I haven’t seen Forrest Gump. because I’d honestly probably like it. I’ve always sort of gotten the impression that it may give off similar vibes to The Truman Show, but that could obviously be totally off. And I can’t use the “I wasn’t old enough” excuse, because even my MOM was shocked to learn I’ve never seen Forrest Gump. I’ll definitely have to give it a go, because I think Tom Hanks is a wonderful actor, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing him in some other beloved films. 

I've never seen ... Forrest Gump | Film | The Guardian


  1. Gone With the Wind

I’m really embarrassed to say that I don’t know anything about the plot of this movie. I think there might be a really beautiful, bratty lady named Scarlet O’hara, but I’m also not sure if that’s Casablanca or Singin’ in the Rain. See? I’m absolutely useless.

I feel like Gone With the Wind is one of those movies you have to have grown up with to really develop an appreciation for. Unfortunately, I didn’t ever watch this film when I was a child, and now I don’t know what people are talking about when they make famous references to this movie. Honestly, this one is all my fault. 


  1. Goodfellas 

I already kinda explained how I didn’t really grow up watching a lot of mob movies and television, so this one probably doesn’t need much explanation. For all I know, this movie could be exactly like The Godfather. You could probably put on one of those two movies, not tell me what it is, and I don’t think I would be able to tell you the difference between them. The chances are, if a movie had violence, sex, bad language, and drugs, I wasn’t allowed to watch it when I was growing up. From what I can take away from Goodfellas, it sounds like this movie probably had a mix of all four. 

Anywho, those are the top famous films I’ve never seen? Have you seen most of these movies? And which ones do you think I would enjoy? Let me know in the comments below.

Slowly but surely, we are making our way through all of Regina Spektor’s fantastic studio albums (I believe there’s only two to go after this!) Today, of course, we are tearing apart her most recent album, the 2017 goodie Remember Us to Life. Regina, if you’re reading this, we need a new album pronto!

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Per usual, I’m going to go through the album song-by-song and give you all of my unfiltered thoughts on the melody, lyrics, and themes of the pieces. I genuinely love every song Regina has ever put out into the universe, and I’m fascinated by her unique writing style. 

One of my favorite things about Remember Us to Life is the political undertones Regina incorporated into most of the songs. Although she’s done several political pieces in the past, this album in particular really struck a powerful note in me between her analogies to power and the broken corporate beast that is America. She also discusses themes of motherhood, aging, and the general concept of time passing, which I will get into more specifically later in the analysis. 


Track 1: “Bleeding Heart”

“Bleeding Heart” is the leading single of Remember Us to Life, and it’s also one of the only songs which is also accompanied by a music video on the album. It’s a bit more fast-paced than some of her usual pieces, and subsequently, I often find the melody is stuck in my head. My interpretation of the lyrics is that Regina is reflecting on her childhood and adolescence, and the feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem that come with that period. She discusses feeling like an outcast, her outfits being a “crime,” and begins every chorus with “Nevermind your bleeding heart,” perhaps as a way of self-soothing. My favorite part of the song is the bridge, in which Regina recites the following:

How long must I wait till you learn that it’s not too late?

How long must I cry till you know that you really tried?

How long must I try till you learn that dreaming’s hard?

How long must I dream till you heal your bleeding heart?

Never mind your bleeding heart

To me, this is about Regina talking to her ‘younger self,’ and wishing she had the opportunity to go back and share some of her future wisdom. The themes do resonate with me enormously, especially since my own emergence into adolescence was vulnerable and painful. Additionally, the music video is filled with photographs and video clips of Regina when she was a young girl, and ends with an old clip of Regina playing her piano at a talent show/recital. It’s a bittersweet song, and a beautiful introduction into the rest of the album. 


Track 2: “Older and Taller” 

“Older and Taller” is another faster-paced, cheerful melody, but this song unfortunately does not have a music video like “Bleeding Heart.” The first couple times I listened to the album, I specifically remember this track being my absolute favorite. There’s something about the strings and the guitar that sounds reminiscent of her older work, and in that sense, the song struck me as so sweet and nostalgic. Similarly to “Bleeding Heart,” I believe that this song is an ode to youth and the yearning one feels for it as they grow up. In particular, there is one satirical part of the song that really speaks to me: 

‘Enjoy your youth’ sounds like a threat

But I will anyway

In a deeper sense, I believe that the song is also exploring the phenomenon that we think aging will be so glamorous and satisfying, but the reality is, it rarely pans out the way we imagine it will. It’s a beautiful song about finding peace in growing old, and even though I myself am small and youthful, the song means quite a lot to me. 

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Track 3: “Grand Hotel” 

“Grand Hotel” is one of those classic storytelling pieces by Regina Spektor, and upon each listen, you discover a deeper meaning or a metaphor you hadn’t realized before. As with several of the other pieces, it has tones of nostalgia and reflects on older times using several dark, beautiful metaphors. One of my favorite things about Regina’s lyrics is how they read like poetry, and “Grand Hotel” is a beautiful example of this:

Under the floorboards there’s a deep well

That leads to a spring that sprung up in hell

That’s where old devils danced and kissed

And made their blood pacts in the ancient myths

And running through forest they screamed in chorus

While piercing fair maidens’ chests with their horns

And then they lay in the grass ’til the dawn came

Sleeping away ’til the dawn came

Lay in the grass where now stands the Grand Hotel

I chose this stanza to transfix on because I love the juxtaposition of the polished hotel description and the words she uses to describe the people of the past- “old devils.” It’s a mischievous exploration of the evil that may lay below the floorboards of the Grand Hotel, haunting the modern world with memories.


Track 4: “Small Bill$” 

“Small Bill$” is another track accompanied by a music video, and to date, it’s probably one of my all-time favorite Regina Spektor videos (behind “Ne Me Quitte Pas” and “Fidelity”.) It’s a bit more fast-paced and upbeat than some of the other tracks on the album, and the piano is not as prevalent as it is in her other songs. I consider Remember Us To Life to be a relatively politically charged album, and this song in particular really criticizes advertising and capitalism. She warns that our current economic climate could lead to fates such as poverty, hunger, and class consciousness, such as with the Russian Revolution. It’s always a learning lesson for us listeners when Regina spits out her Soviet-remnisent tracks, and the visuals of the music video really add to the entire aesthetic.

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Track 5: “Black and White”

“Black and White” is a beautiful, ballad-y track which once again uses juxtaposition to tell a story within the lyrics. Usually, when we hear someone say that something is “black and white,” it translates into something being crystal clear and easy to understand. However, Regina’s lyrics seem to suggest that things are left unfinished or complicated. The song discusses themes such as love and heartbreak, and how, just like a black and white photograph, love can feel antique and ‘out of time.’ Alternatively, her lyrics can be interpreted as a reflection on how little photographs are able to actually capture the full spectrum of emotion that is attached to memory. It’s slow and beautiful, and certainly sad, but I truly think it’s one of the most underrated songs on the album. 


Track 6: “The Light”

This particular track holds a very special place in my heart, as it is nothing short as a tender, loving ode to her husband and her newborn baby. Throughout the song, which primarily relies on the piano, Regina sings about her memories of the past and the curiosities she has for the future, and particularly, how her past decisions have shaped her into the woman she is today. The song does feel a bit melancholy at times, particularly when she’s singing about the unfamiliar grounds of motherhood and the depression which comes with it, but there are also uplifting lines. In particular, this one is my favorite:

So many stories, I want to tell you

I wish that I could show you the many things I’ve seen

You and your daddy, you both look like poets

Your eyes are open wide while you are in a dream

For me, this stanza represents how motherhood has affected her view of herself, and even her view of her own music. It’s truly a gift to watch your little baby grow and develop into his or her own independent person, and begin to see the world through their own little eyes. And yes, Regina’s husband, Jack Dishel of Only Son, really does have that poet look to him.


Track 7: “The Trapper and The Furrier”

Now that we’ve had that brief sentimental interlude, it’s time to jump back into something politically motivated. After listening to the song a few times, I came to the conclusion that it is about the unfair social structures and injustices throughout the world, but particularly in the United States. Throughout the song, she tells three stories: the tale of the trapper and the furrier, the owner and the manager, and lastly, the lawyer and the pharmacist. Unlike the softer songs on the album, this track is accompanied by howling strings and intense vocals, which really add to the menacing overtones of the lyrics:

The lawyer and the pharmacist went walking through paradise

And all the sick were around them with fevers unbreaking

Crying and bleeding and coughing and shaking

And arms outstretched, prescription-collecting

The lawyer and the pharmacist went walking through paradise

Pressed suits in a courtroom, aroma of chloroform

And they smiled at the judge, disposition so sunny

Cause they didn’t have the cure but sure needed the money

I don’t think it’s a secret at all that this song is about the greediness of corporations and the lack of care which goes into patients who actually need support. I would have loved to have seen a music video for this track; I think intense visuals would have really complemented the hard-hitting nature of the song, similarly to how “Small Bill$” tells such a vibrant story of capitalism. 


Track 8: “Tornadoland”

I love so many of Regina’s instrumentals, but the instrumental for “Tornadoland” might be my favorite off the entire album. Actually, that’s a lie. “Obsolete” is my favorite instrumental, but “Tornadoland” is a close second. Unlike many of Regina’s metaphorical, abstract songs, I think Tornadoland is pretty straightforward and literal. To me, it sounds like she is singing from the perspective of being inside of a tornado, or even being a tornado, and the song comes and goes without even so much as an intro. She sings about wanting to be heard and wanting to be “louder than the storm,” and the tornado is a reminder that we, as individuals, are insignificant. My favorite thing about the song, however, is the melodic interlude of swirling sounds and flutes, as if a tornado is actually spiralling through the middle of the piece.


Track 9: “Obsolete” 

This is my absolute favorite song on the album, and maybe my favorite Spektor song of all time. If it’s not my #1 favorite, it’s at least in the top three. The song is quite long and slow in tempo, and she drags out the words in a way that sounds both hopeful and dismal. I believe the song, similarly to Tornadoland, is about feeling insignificant and perhaps even left behind by life as time passes you by. I think the other reason I love this song so much is because it analyzes the feeling of not being understood, which is a sensation I have grown up with and hold close to me:

Minds grow dark, so suddenly

I was lost on your street

Hey I’m talking to myself

I can hear you listening in

To my thoughts, to my dreams

What I want, can’t compete

Obsolete

The most beautiful portion of the song comes towards the end, when her voice unexpectedly rises like a wave and the ethereal backing vocals increase as well, adding to the overall feeling of desperation and pain. It gives me goosebumps every time, and I could probably listen to this song on repeat forever. As quoted by Regina, there can sometimes be beauty found within sadness:

“Sometimes when I feel happy, for whatever reason, it just feels very good to listen to sad songs. I feel very comforted by beauty, especially when it overwhelms you with all its colours and sounds.”

Regina Spektor tickles the ivories and tugs at the heartstrings ...


Track 10: “Sellers of Flowers” 

Every single Regina song contains beautiful imagery, but this piece in particular reads like sweet poetry for the ears and the mind. In short, however, I think this song is just about death. Winter represents the oncoming and inevitable ending of everything, here to claim the roses that die before the morning. The changing phases of the sun represent how even the happiest, brightest lives will come to the same tragic demise:

Cause winter is coming

Soon after summer

It runs faster, faster

Chasing off Autumn

We go from a warm sun to only a white sun

We go from a large sun to only a small one

It’s really a substantial, meaning-packed song, so I recommend giving it a few listens to really get a handle on the full scope of the song. That is, if you’re into exploring the beautiful but twisted mystery that is life and death. 


Track 11: “The Visit” 

The last official track on Remember Us To Life is “The Visit,” as the next three songs are actually bonus tracks from the deluxe version of the album. “The Visit” is an absolutely lovely and sweetly penned reflection on the dynamic of friendship, and how the passing of time can often weaken our relationships with others. The lyrics are upbeat but melancholy, and discuss Regina’s happiness upon reuniting with someone from her past. It reminds me a bit of one of the bonus tracks, “The One Who Stayed and the One Who Left,” and in fact, I actually mix them up sometimes. I appreciate the hopeful overtone of the song, and as usual, I enjoy following along with the story when I listen to this piece. 


Bonus Track: “New Year” 

For late 2016, I think this track was a pretty timely addition. Not only because the subject is reflecting on her life experiences and the years ahead, but because it comes at a time of turbulence and unrest in the United States after the presidential election of Donald Trump. Even though 2016 was a pretty terrible year for most of us, the song is a reminder to focus on the good this year brought, and that we should (and must) be hopeful for what the next years will bring us:

She sets her alarm five minutes to midnight

And wakes just in time to say her goodbyes

Thanking the old year for all it has brought her

No mention of the things it took away

It’s really a beautiful song and an ode to hope, and even though I’m sure Regina is playing a character in the piece, as usual, it does feel like she herself is wishing the audience a very happy new year. So thank you, Regina! 


Bonus Track: “The One Who Stayed and the One Who Left” 

As I said earlier, I sometimes get this track mixed up with “The Visit,” or, at the very least, I think of it as a continuation or alternative perspective. This song discusses the story of two old friends who meet again after being detached for a long while, and how, even though they did end up going in separate directions, they are satisfied with their decisions to do so. I think detaching and moving in new directions is sometimes coupled with a negative connotation, so I actually appreciate that this song offers a more positive, healthy perspective on the notion of moving on in life, even if it means leaving people behind along the way.


Bonus Track: “End of Thought” 

Last but certainly not least, the fourteen track on Remember Us To Life is a chillingly deep, yet comforting piece about the vastness of our existence and how our problems are essentially meaningless. Upon first listen, the melody is simplistic and maybe not even memorable to most listeners, but once you really notice the words, the song becomes quite powerful. Here’s a particularly beautiful stanza:

You cannot make a mistake

The universe is too big

This song has been particularly comforting to me lately, as I’ve been thinking quite a lot about the vastness and mystery of the universe, and how terrifying that is. However, it’s also such a beautiful thing, knowing that our actions are essentially meaningless in the long run, and we can’t really hurt people as badly as we think we do. If that makes sense.


Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed reading my analysis. I know it was an absolute monster of a post, but I’m really trying to pour all of my true thoughts and feelings into these album reviews. Remember Us To Life is utterly gorgeous and powerful, and the work Regina put into this album truly shines through to me as a listener. Let me know what you guys thought of the album in the comments!

*Spoilers*

If you’ve been keeping up with my previous Movie Meaning Mondays, you may have noticed that the topics I’m writing about are pretty random. There’s a reason for that. For the most part, all of the articles I write that answer some sort of big question are topics I’ve googled in the past, but couldn’t find any answers to. In the past I’ve written about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang being an allusion to Nazi Germany, and why The Sims is such an addicting game. Today, the topic I’d like to see explored is themes in Coraline. I’ve always viewed this movie as being a warning for domestic abuse, or at least an allusion to it. Like I said, I haven’t been able to find any other articles about this opinion, so I’m going to pioneer it right here and now.

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Per usual, I’m going to re-watch the movie, sum up the plot, and then plug in all of my personal opinions and thoughts. I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve seen Coraline so many times, I can literally quote it word for word. It’s genuinely an incredible movie, and one that I’m excited to spill the piping tea on. If it was even remotely possible for me to get in touch with Neil Gaiman, or even Henry Selick, I would totally include an interview with them. Alas, they’re probably busy doing famous people things, and the chances of them ever acknowledging my writing are slim to none.

If you haven’t seen Coraline by now, you’re probably either a thirty year-old man, a ten year-old girl, or simply just living under a rock. For my age demographic, we millennials were essentially hit over the head with the release of Coraline. It was beautifully innovative, it was released to theaters in 3D, and in a nutshell, it was nothing that any of us had seen before. Coraline has grossed $192 million dollars worldwide since its release in 2009, and since then, has become a familiar piece of nostalgia for other 18-22 year-olds. Animated horror fantasy films almost always seem to do well (Corpse Bride, The Nightmare Before Christmas, etc), and Coraline is no exception.

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In the first scene of the movie, we see some creepy needle hands taking apart a rag doll with button eyes, remodeling it, and then sending it back out into the world. It seems like a random scene for a while, but around the halfway point of the movie, the story starts to make sense.

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So after that weird interlude, where does this story actually start? At the Pink Palace Apartments, where the Jones family is moving into their new apartment unit. Coraline is a spunky, rain boot-wearing, blue-haired explorer, who ignored and (in Coraline’s opinion) emotionally neglected by her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Jones are overworked writers for a gardening magazine, and as the stereotype goes, are much too involved in their work to pay any attention to Coraline. To cope with her frustration and loneliness, Coraline sets out on an adventure around the apartment complex. While exploring her gloomy, desolate surroundings, she comes across Wybie Lovat and his sassy black cat sidekick, who remains nameless throughout the film.

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Like many other oddball characters throughout the film, Wybie mispronounces Coraline’s name, and then teases her for her strange mannerisms and broad imagination. Needless to say, Coraline and Wybie don’t get off on the right foot, with Coraline left feeling stubbornly offended. In between their back-and-forthing, Wybie reveals his his grandmother is the owner of the Pink Palace apartments, and that she usually doesn’t rent to people with kids. When Coraline asks why, he replies reluctantly that he’s really not supposed to talk about it. Spoooooky. Wybie rides off on his bicycle, leaving Coraline with more questions than answers, and the “dowsing rod” she’s holding in her hands leaves her with a nasty case of poison oak.

The next day, Coraline receives a strange, wrapped-up item from Wybie, with a note that reads, “Hey, Jonesy, look what I found in Grandma’s trunk. Look familiar? Wybie.”

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Ah, yes, remember the doll from the beginning?

Rightfully, Coraline is pretty confused to receive a ragdoll doppelganger, but she surprisingly doesn’t seem too creeped out. Still feeling ignored by her parents, Coraline takes the doll with her on an excursion around the apartment, exploring every nook and cranny. Eventually, Coraline comes across a small, suspicious looking door, covered up by wallpaper. Coraline somehow manages to get her mom’s attention for a few minutes, who uncovers the door and opens it, revealing bricks on the other side. Coraline is disappointed, and unassumingly goes to bed that night, making nothing of the events of the day. UnTIL…

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In the middle of the night, Coraline finds herself awaken by the sound of a mouse. She follows the mouse down the stairs and into the parlor, and watches in amazement as the mouse goes behind the tiny door. When Coraline opens the door herself, there are no longer bricks- it’s a beautiful, ethereal-like tunnel, leading into the darkness.

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Coraline crawls through the tunnel, and pushes through another tiny door, and finds herself in an exact replica of the room she was just in- the only difference is, it’s a lot nicer. The paint is fresh and new, the house is now decorated, and a delicious smell is wafting from the kitchen. As Coraline quietly ambles into the kitchen, she is met by another surprise- her “Other Mother.”

Nightmare Fuel: 2.0.

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Essentially, The Other Mother is an exact copy of Coraline’s mother back home, except nicer, prettier, and equipped with button eyes. Coraline’s Other Father is also just as charming and personable, and throughout the night, the Other parents entertain Coraline and shower her with attention. After feeding Coraline a delicious meal and giving her some magic mud to make her poison oak clear up, the Other parents send Coraline off to bed in her Other bedroom, which is also beautifully decorated.

Coraline falls asleep, but wakes up to find herself back in her regular room. She might have just brushed it off as a dream, but notices that her poison oak is indeed completely gone. Escastically, she gushes about her experience to her parents, who more or less pass it off as a dream. Determined to find someone who will listen, Coraline sets off on an excursion to meet the other tenants of the Pink Palace. She first comes across Sergei Alexander Bobinsky, weird-ass blue guy who claims to have a jumping mice circus living in his house. Upon further research (Wikipedia), Mr. B was apparently a “former Chernobyl liquidator.” Maybe that’s why he’s blue? And also batshit crazy?

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Anywho, after that odd encounter, Coraline meanders onward to chat with her other neighbors, two retired burlesque actresses named Miss Spink and Miss Forcible. The nature of these two old gals’ relationship isn’t really mentioned, but I like to believe they’re two aging lesbians, spending the rest of their life together. Once again, Coraline is warned of foreshadowing danger, which she more or less snubs off.

And, as if we couldn’t hit Coraline in the head enough with the notion that the Other apartment is dangerous, Wybie comes into play. He may not be aware of the door’s existence, but he explains to Coraline that his grandmother’s sister was “stolen.” And no, it’s not spoiling the plot for me to tell you grandma’s missing sister has something to do with the Other apartment. If you hadn’t inferred that by now, well, I’m not sure where you thought this movie was going.

Despite these overwhelming warnings, Coraline indeed embarks to the Other apartment the next night. This time, she’s introduced to Other Wybie, equipped with button-eyes and also a lack of speech, much to Coraline’s delight. Coraline’s adventures continue in the Other apartment, where she explores the beautiful garden with her Other father, and witnesses Other Mr. B’s jumping mice circus with Other Wybie. It’s fantastic and thrilling, but much to Coraline’s dismay, she once again wakes up in her regular room the next morning.

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Now back in the real world, Coraline spends some “quality time” shopping for school clothes with her mother. Her parents are still constantly busy, but it’s at this point in the movie you realize their business doesn’t come from ignorance. They just moved into a new apartment, Coraline’s mother is dealing with the stress of a neck injury, and their biggest concern at the moment is just to work hard and give Coraline a better life. And, admittedly, Coraline is kind of an obnoxious kid. Coraline’s mother obviously feels guilty about overlooking her daughter, but Coraline continues to be ungratefully pissed. After Coraline’s mother leaves to go grocery shopping, Coraline once again visits the Other world. And today, Coraline’s adventure in the Other world includes…scary animated boobs!

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Seriously?! Isn’t this supposed to be a kid’s movie?

Context: Coraline gets to see a burlesque performance of Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, who then, uh…strip out of their skin?

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It’s a very, very weird movie. But I love every minute of it. It kind of feels like a weird, nightmarish dream you’d have when you’re seven years old, but never forget about.

Later, the Other mother tells Coraline that she can stay in the Other world forever if she wants, eternally showered with entertainment and lavish gifts. There’s only one tiny condition- Coraline has to have buttons sewn into her eyes, to which Coraline essentially replies HELL NO.

Finally! Coraline makes a morally agreeable decision in this movie.

Officially creeped out of her mind, Coraline decides it’s time to hit the road and peace out, but the Other mother has trapped her. The tiny door is blocked, and Coraline, who now realizes that the Other mother is evil, gets thrown into a dark, dingy cell, behind a mirror. It’s here she meets the souls of three dead children, who reveal themselves to be the past victims of the Other mother -or the “Beldam”, as they call her. In a nutshell, they all suffered similar situations to Coraline- the Beldam spied on their lives through the doll, lured them into the Other world, and then…ate their souls?

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That’s f*cking dark for a kid’s movie, man.

To save Coraline from meeting a similar fate, the dead children urge Coraline to win her escape and free their souls while she’s at it. That’s not a lot to ask, right?

As Coraline agrees, probably scared out of her shit, the Other Wybie rescues her from the other side of the mirror, and helps her to escape back through the door and into her regular apartment. But don’t worry, the story is nowhere near over.

Basically, Coraline figures the Beldam kidnapped Coraline’s parents in order to lure her back into the Other world. It’s not ever really revealed how she kidnapped them; my assumption is that her parents didn’t go through the tiny door, but that leaves a whole lot of nothing for alternate explanations. Did the Beldam just magically teleport them into the Other world?

Furthermore, Coraline comes to this conclusion when she and the sassy black cat discover another one of the creepy dolls, except this one is for her mother and father. She tries to explain the situation to Wybie, who calls her crazy (understandably). I mean, he hasn’t first-hand witnessed any of this. Why would Coraline expect him to believe her?

Ultimately, Coraline decides she must go back to the Other world to save her parents, on top of unearth the souls of the dead children. The cat also comes along, for no apparent reason other than moral support. Which I can understand, because can you imagine the PTSD Coraline must have been developing?

Before she embarks back to the Other apartment, Miss Spink gives Coraline a small stone with a hole in the middle of it, with the reasoning that it’s good for “bad” things, or something along those lines. I know that seems like a tiny detail, but bear with me, because it’s important to the story.

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Coraline crosses back to the Other apartment, and bravely strikes a deal with the evil Beldam. The game goes as so: if Coraline is able to locate her parents and the souls of the ghost children, the Beldam will let her go. But if she fails, Coraline will have to stay in the Other world forever, and have buttons sewn into her eyes. It seems like an unfair deal to me, considering the Beldam is definitely not going to let Coraline go even if she wins, but we’ll get to that eventually. Coraline plays the game cunningly, using her hollowed-out stone as a tool to help her find the eyes of the ghost children. While having a heated argument with the Beldam, who’s now pissed at Coraline for finding the eyes of the ghost children, Coraline discreetly notices that her parents are hidden inside a snow globe. She throws off the Beldam by throwing the cat at her, then grabs the snow globe, and narrowly escapes from the Other apartment. And don’t worry, the cat escapes too, albeit really pissed that he was used as a diversion.

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Coraline safely makes it back to her apartment, where her parents are safe and apparently don’t remember anything that just happened. You might think that the movie ends here…but once again, you’re wrong.

So, while Coraline was escaping from the Beldam, she somehow managed to sever off her weird needle hand in the process. The lone hand is now after the key to unlock the door, which Coraline is now conveniently wearing around her neck.  

While Coraline is asleep that night, she comes into contact with the ghost children in her dream. They thank Coraline for freeing their souls, but warn her that the Beldam is still out there, on a hunt to get that darned key.

So Coraline wakes up, and in the middle of the night, decides she needs to go drop the key in an old well a ways away from the house. The severed needle hand catches up to her and almost gets the key, which is a terrifying sequence, but out of nowhere, Wybie comes flying in on his bike to save the day. He smashes the Beldam’s hand with a rock, and they throw the whole mess, key and all, down the well. The well, I think, intentionally mirrors the tunnel to the Other world, which is an interesting touch in the movie.

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Finally, the movie ends on a happy note. The next day, Coraline and her parents throw a garden party, where all the neighbors meet to plant the garden. Wybie also shows up with his grandmother, to whom Coraline plans to tell her experiences. The movie ends with the black cat sneakily walking past the Pink Palace apartments sign, and then disappearing into nothingness. The end.

Hopefully, you saw the movie before you read this review. If not, I’m sure that sounded like a whole bunch of unsettling madness.

Coraline is described on Wikipedia as a “3D stop-motion animated dark fantasy horror film.” It’s a fitting enough description; I wouldn’t say Coraline is an primarily “kid’s movie,” but the fantastic animation and spine-chilling creativity makes it fascinating for youngins. And, although many of us millennials did see the movie when we were in elementary/middle school, Coraline has managed to age with us. I love this movie just as much as I did when I was ten, if not more. The story is told in a mystical fantasy realm, but the themes of the movie are powerful and hard-hitting.

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A notable chunk of Coraline is the symbolism of bugs and insects. As the Other mother progresses and becomes more and more distorted, she takes on a bug-like, creepy-crawly form. In literature, spiders often represent power, mystery, and sometimes, manipulation. The spider lurks on her victims and traps them in her web, just as the Beldam attempts to feed on Coraline. Noteworthy, Coraline wears a firefly clip in her hair, perhaps representing the vulnerable pray. Although the spider represents powerful female energy, she is merciless and hungry for game.

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There are quite a few deeper interpretations of Coraline, but one that I’ve formulated myself is the metaphor for domestic abuse. Similarly to how the Beldam showers Coraline with “love” and attention, an abusive partner/friend will manipulate their victim with similar tactics. In order to gain the trust of their target, abusers will often overshadow their intentions with gifts, compliments, and entertainment. The ghost children, unfortunately, have taken on the role of victims in this movie. They agree to let the Beldam sew on button eyes, so that they can continue to receive “love” and attention. It’s an extremely dark subject, especially since those being preyed upon are children.

That being said, I don’t think this movie is fundamentally supposed to be a warning against domestic abuse to children. That’s certainly a valid takeaway, but the general theme of the movie is much more broad than that. In a nutshell, the movie is reminding us not to trust everything that seems good and positive. It’s difficult to know somebody’s intentions, especially when you’re young, and it’s easy to be manipulated by someone who presents themselves as being wonderful. Eventually, however, the true colors and intentions of the abuser will shine through, past all the glitz and gaudiness.

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I recently re-watched the movie with a friend of mine, who suggested that the movie could also be a metaphor for drug use. I think this metaphor applies in a shortened sense, particularly for the kaleidoscopic garden scene, but is maybe not applicable for the entire movie. That being said, Coraline’s “escape from reality” is definitely comparable to the thrill one experiences when using drugs, probably psychedelics. As someone who’s never used drugs, I’m not the best person to ask about this, but maybe someone reading this can clarify those experiences for me. Do you see a metaphor for drug use in the movie Coraline?

As I said before, Coraline is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time, and I always enjoy taking the time to analyze it and break it apart. I feel like every time I watch it, I notice something new, make a new connection to real-life situations, or simply just understand the film on a deeper level. Now I’m interested to hear your interpretations of the movie, and how it has impacted your life. Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

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Coraline movie trivia: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0327597/trivia?ref_=tt_ql_2

Some more interesting Coraline interpretations: https://vampiresquid.co.uk/heres-undeniable-proof-that-the-other-mother-from-coraline-is-actually-satan/

https://www.shmoop.com/coraline-book/literary-devices.html

https://janimationsblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/coraline-movie-analysis/

Coming up next: Self-Care Collab with Brad Krause

Once again, I present you with a tag that literally nobody asked for!

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Actually, this one is a little bit justified. I’m going to be starting another mini series for the month of February, now that Fashion History Friday has ended. This time, it’s Movie Meaning Monday, and you guessed it…I’m going to be discussing movies! This particular movie tag is from a blog called Young OFW, so I give all credit for the questions to them. Without further adieu, let’s jump in.

(Disclaimer: I hardly ever see new movies, so most of these will probably be pretty old.)

How often do you watch a movie?

I’m not really a big movie person, because most of the time, I just feel like watching the office. So I probably watch a movie about twice a month.

What movie genre are you particularly fond of?  

Generally, I like to stick to comedies and horror/thrillers. I find action and romance movies to be extremely unappealing.

What was the last movie that you’ve watched and liked?  

My mom made me watch Scrooged with her over winter break, and now I have the world’s biggest crush on Bill Murray. Not ashamed to admit it, either.

What was the last movie that you’ve watched and hated?  

You know, I’m really not sure off the top of my head. Like I said, I don’t watch a ton of new movies, so I’ll have to think about that one.

What is your most favorite movie of all time?  Your most favorite guilty pleasure movie?

It changes every couple years or so, but right now, my favorite movie is Monsters Inc. It’s such a pure, sweet, nostalgic film. On the other end of the spectrum, I also really enjoy The Shining, and re-watch it every couple months or so.

What movie/movies you have watched a million times already?  

The Princess Bride, Labyrinth, Edward Scissorhands, and Ever After. My parents gave me those four movies together as a Christmas gift, and to this day, they’re still my favorites.

Are you the type who watch movie on its first day of showing?  

Oh, hell no. I haven’t visited a movie theater in years.

Do you use fandango or do you pre-booked movie tickets?

I probably have in the past, but I like I said, I don’t really like to go out to movie theaters anymore. I find going to the movies to be really boring.

Movie house, blu-ray, or download?  

Uhhh, I guess none. I really just watch Netflix and Hulu.

How often do you go to a movie house to watch a movie?  

Eh, I aim for never.

What are the movies that made you cry?  

The Iron Giant makes me bawl like a baby. Without fail. Every time.

Do you watch foreign films?

Generally not; the only non-English-speaking films I’ve seen are Pan’s Labyrinth and Verónica. The latter, by the way, did not really scare me at all. Then again, I watched it while I was on a Tinder date with a guy I was really not into, so I spent most of my focus and energy that night hoping he wouldn’t try to put his hand on my knee (and he did try a few times).

What’s your favorite foreign films?

Pan’s Labyrinth. See story above for reference.

Who are favorite directors?  

Brad Bird, Rob Reiner, and Tim Burton are some of my favorites. And I know John Lasseter is kind of sketchy, but I do like his work a lot.

Are you particular with movie scores, soundtracks, and musics?  

Am I particular with them? What does that even mean? I guess I generally enjoy them, as long as they make sense for the movie.

What movie soundtrack can be found in your ipod?  

The Village, The Truman Show, Man on Wire, and Inception are a few of my favorites.

Have you ever watch a movie alone on a movie house?

I definitely have, but I don’t remember off the top of my head what movie it could have been.

What is the best chick-flick for you?

Mean Girls is a CLASSIC that will never get old!

Is there any movie that has changed your perspective in life?

Man on Wire is a documentary about Philippe Petit’s wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974, and that movie means a lot to me. The story is a combination of adventure, mischief, self-discovery, and edge-of-your-seat excitement. I actually wrote a letter to Philippe Petit about how much I loved his story, and he wrote a letter back to me!

Your favorite comic book movie?  

I’ve never been into comic books, so I wouldn’t be able to pick one.

DC or Marvel movies?

See answer above.

What are the movies in the top 10 in IMDB that you have watched?

Uhh, let’s see. Probably not a lot. I’ve seen Inception and Fight Club, but that’s all I’ve seen on the list.

Do you read movie critic reviews before watching a film?  

Occasionally I will, but mostly, I try to go into watching films unbiased.

What is the best movie adapted from a book?

Coraline is one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen. Henry Selick did a stellar job preserving the tone of the story and transferring it to the screen.

Watch the movie before reading the book or vice versa?  

It depends on how long ago the book came out in relation to the movie. I’m already a pretty dedicated book worm, so the chances are, I’ve almost always read the book before I’ve seen the movie.

What is your most favorite comedy movie?

There are so many comedies I love, but off the top of my head, my favorites are Mean Girls, The Internship, Monty Python, and The Princess Bride.

Drama movie?  

My favorite drama film to date is The Truman Show. It really strikes a chord in me that I can’t really explain, but it makes me emotional. I also really enjoy the movie October Sky, because the relationship between Homer and his father reminds me a lot of me and my own dad.

Western movie?  

Western films aren’t really my cup of tea, but when I was little, my favorite western film was The Apple Dumpling Game.

Romantic comedy film?

One of my favorite movies growing up was My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I still watch it occasionally to recreate that feeling of nostalgia, and have a good laugh.

Horror film?  

Like I said, The Shining is one of my favorite films of all time. I love the unique and off-putting aesthetic of the entire movie, and the voyeuristic role we take on as viewers.

Sports movies?  

I don’t really watch very many sports movies, but I loved Cool Runnings and its laugh-out-loud humor.

Sci-fi?  

I really enjoy alien movies, so my favorite sci-fi films are Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact, and E.T.

Action movies?  

Action movies are not really interesting to me, and neither are war movies. I’ll edit something in here if a movie comes to mind, though.

War movies?  

See answer above.

Who is your most favorite movie couple?

Mike Wazowski and Celia for the win.   

Any movie character you can relate to?  

I relate to a lot of INFJ characters, such as Amélie, Jay Gatsby, and Nitta Sayuri.

If you are to only watch five movies for the rest of your life, what would the movies be?  

That’s nearly impossible to pick, but I would have to say The Shining, The Iron Giant, Coraline, E.L.F, and The Ring.

Your least favorite movie all time?  

There aren’t a lot of movies that I “hate”, but I really didn’t enjoy the Harry Potter franchise. I think I got about halfway through the first movie, got bored, and never went back to it.

Have you ever watched a movie based on the lead actor/actress only?

Probably not. I could care less which actor or actress is in a movie, because the plot is most important to me. That being said, I am interested in watching Lost in Translation mostly because I have an enormous crush on Bill Murray.

What movie you expected and wanted to be good but failed you?

You know, I really, really wanted to like the first Amityville Horror film, but it just…wasn’t scary? And the plot was going nowhere? And the ending was extremely anticlimactic?

Favorite movie character of all time?  

Could never pick a favorite. I love Truman Burbank, Danielle de Barbarac, Fezzik, and Ivy Walker.

Favorite movie villain?  

Preminger from The Princess and the Pauper, but that’s mostly because his song is catchy.

Any movie sequel you are still waiting.

Can we PLEASE get another WALL-E? I need to see what happens after the fat people return to Earth!

Ever made a movie review?  

Not yet… 😉

Star Wars or Star Trek?  

Star Wars ALL THE WAY. Those movies were my childhood.

Right now, think of any movie, what comes first? “I would if I could…bitch.” –Whore

Favorite movie lines?  “Mike Wazowski!” -Boo, Monsters Inc.

TV series, books, computer games, or movies in order of interest? TV series, then books, then computer games, then movies. I actually just posted an article yesterday about the psychology of The Sims, so go check that out!

Lastly, if your life story is to be made into a movie, who would you like to portray you?

I would enjoy seeing a movie about my entire high school career, so preferably, the actress would have to be close in age to me. Maybe Chloë Grace Moretz?

Who should be directing it and what would be the title?

I’m writing an autobiographical novel right now, titled The Girl in the Dust, so I’d probably name it that. As for the director, I would love for Bo Burnham to direct a movie about me.

Wow, congrats to anyone who got through that entire list. It was super fun to do, and hopefully, you had a fun time reading it and getting to know me better.

Coming up next: Movie Meaning Monday: Was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang an Allusion to Nazi Germany?

 

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*SPOILERS.* Read at your own risk.

Last week, I produced a four-page psychological analysis of “Dinner Party” from The Office. Today we’re going in a completely different direction and exploring a Netflix mini docu-series titled The Keepers, which came on the scene in mid 2017. I started and finished the entire series in one weekend, clutching my pillow to my chest with the shades drawn tight in broad daylight. I was astonished. I couldn’t stop watching it. And now, more than a year later, I’m still astonished. How is this show not being talked about more? What’s going to happen next? And WHO KILLED SISTER CATHY CESNIK?

Let me backtrack.

The Keepers is a seven-episode American documentary series released onto Netflix, which, as I said, was released about a year and a half ago. It explores the unsolved murder of Baltimore nun Sister Cathy Cesnik in 1969, the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death, the corruption of the Catholic church in America, and oh, just some horrific sex trafficking masterminded by a priest at an all-girls school in 1969. Just, you know, your everyday stuff.

Since then, there have been countless forums, articles, and videos designated to discussing the series. The goal of this article isn’t to spill the entire plot to you and provide an episode-by-episode analysis of everything that happens, but instead just express my own thoughts and feelings about the show. And I can tell you straight away that my feelings are overwhelmingly positive about the entire series.

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One of the biggest components that makes this show so heartbreaking is the fact that Cathy Cesnik was clearly such a wonderful, generous, incredible human being. Every account told of her on the show is overwhelmingly positive and filled with love- especially from her former students at the Catholic all-girl school Archbishop Keough High School. As a beloved English teacher for countless young women, the news of Cathy’s disappearance and subsequent death is a tragedy that has remained with them for more than forty years.

In the years after Cathy’s death, over a hundred women came forward to testify that they had been raped, sexually abused, and molested by Father A. Joseph Maskell- the head priest of Keough at the time of Cathy’s death and disappearance. One woman in particular, known at the time simply as Jane Doe, claimed that Maskell had not only been the mastermind of the sexual abuse ring, but also the organizer of Cathy’s murder. She claims that after disclosing to Cathy the abuse occuring at the school, Maskell silenced her to avoid the story getting out to law enforcement and school officials. Which, apparently it did, because the case wasn’t really thoroughly examined until THIRTY FREAKING YEARS LATER.

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I know that was a lot to take in, but trust me, that’s literally only the tip of the iceberg. Just wait until you get to crazy Billy, the bombastic man who allegedly kept a nun’s uniform in his attic and brooded around his house, madly obsessing over the “woman in the attic”.

Yeah.

The key term here is “alleged.” None of the evidence explained on the show has actually been physically proven, but by the time you hit episode three, you almost don’t even care. I know I sure didn’t- I was just waiting for this pervert Maskell to be thrown in the clink. The entire story is so twisted and yet so, so believable, you’ll be ready to smack the Archdiocese of Baltimore upside the head by the time you finish the show. It really is a prime example of victim-shaming in an age where the church rules the state, men have the ultimate authority over what is right and what is wrong, and the only goal of the court is to silence the victims as quickly and effectively as possible. It’s all very unnerving to watch unfold.

Infuriatingly, Maskell actually died at the age of sixty-two in 2001, which means there isn’t much we can do now to prove his guilt in this case. Despite the lack of physical evidence, however, the amount of letters and and testimonies brought to court against him made me practically burst out in tears for these poor women. It’s hard enough to imagine going through what they suffered in the late sixties and early seventies, but to be discredited by an entire jury and church just because the statute of limitations had passed? That’s, like, a whole new level of madness.

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I believe Jane Doe. I believe every victim who has ever come forward with the accusation that Father Maskell was an evil, disturbing, sinister excuse for a human being. I believe he did have something to do with the unsolved murder of Cathy Cesnik. And I deeply believe you will too, once you tune into the show.

Watch it for yourself on Netflix and be sure to tell me what you think in the comments below!

And watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/Khr7dbuBjuE

Coming up next: First Impressions: Reviewing Cheap Makeup From Hush.com