The True Sea

Slow Living, Inner Peace and Self Love


Film musings: Feel-good edition

French-Belgian comedy (2010)

Catherine Deneuve plays a trophy wife who steps in to manage her tyrannical husband’s umbrella factory (a nod to Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) when he is taken hostage by his striking employees. She proves to be very competent indeed but her ex-lover and local politician played by Gérard Depardieu causes a bit of trouble. It’s set in 1977 and the art direction has been done beautifully. A witty comedy about a dysfunctional family, business, politics and gender.

associes-contre-le-crimeAssociés contre le crime (Partners in Crime)
French crime comedy (2012)

Prudence and Bélisaire Beresford have decided to retire from crime solving. Bélisaire writes an autobiography but Prudence gets bored and sets up her own detective agency. They take on the case of a missing Russian heiress who was last seen at a Swiss spa. This is Pascal Thomas’ latest adaption of Agatha Christie’s short story collection. I’m yet to see the other ones. A very funny film that occasionally reminds me of Inspector Clouseau. Catherine Frot is an absolute joy to watch.

what a way to goWhat a Way to Go!
American black comedy (1964)

Widow Louisa, played by Shirley McLaine, ends up on a psychiatrist’s sofa after trying to donate a multi million check to the IRS. She believes that her fortune is cursed and she tells us about her four marriages that all ended in her husbands dying in bizarre ways. The amazing Edith Head designed seventy-two costumes for Shirley. This film is a feast for the eye. And watching Gene Kelly sing, dance and smile never fails to cheer me up.

good vibrationsGood Vibrations
Irish music biopic (2012)

This is the true story of Terri Hooley, the record shop and music label owner who turned into Belfast’s godfather of punk. Richard Dormer is very likeable as Terri and you easily get carried away by his enthusiasm. I saw this at the pictures about a month ago with a dear friend and I left with a huge smile on my face. The gig scenes and the music took me back to attending punk gigs as a teenager. I haven’t enjoyed a music biopic this much since 24 Hour Party People. The 1970s colour scheme is perfect! Oh, and my favourite living person is in it, Dylan Moran.

le demoiselles de rochefortLes Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort)
French musical (1967)

Catherine Deneuve and her real life sister Françoise Dorléac play twin sisters Delphine and Solange who long to find love and move away from Rochefort. They teach ballet and music for a living. The film is set during a weekend when a fair comes to the small seaside town. There’s singing and dancing, and most importantly there’s Gene Kelly. The pastel colour scheme is marvellous. This is a film you feel and the feeling is pure joie de vivre.

the trouble with harryThe Trouble with Harry
American black comedy (1955)

The trouble with Harry is that he’s dead. His corpse is found on a hill in a small town in New England. The residents can’t decide how or why he was killed, or what to do with the corpse. They have different reasons to believe that they’re responsible for Harry’s death. Shirley McLaine is fun to watch in her first film role. This is Alfred Hitchcock’s most experimental film and it’s a strange one. No one reacts like you would expect and there isn’t really any suspense. It’s brilliant. I love his dark, twisted sense of humour.


Film musings

arsenic and old laceArsenic and Old Lace
American black comedy (1944)

Cary Grant plays a drama critic and writer, well known for his criticism of marriage, who marries the girl next door. Before they’re off for their honeymoon they pop by his two aunts’ house, and there he finds out that they murder elderly men and bury them in the cellar. You know, just as a nice little pastime. I read somewhere that Cary Grant hated his performance in this film because he’s overacting, but in my opinion he’s brilliant for that very reason. It should be obvious from the name of my blog that I adore this film.
American psychological thriller (1964)

Tippi Hedren plays a compulsive liar and thief. She works as a secretary for a few months at different big companies before stealing a large amount of money, running off, and creating a new identity only to do it all again. That is, until a slightly sadistic employer played by Sean Connery realises what she’s up to and gives her the option to turn herself in or to marry him. A twisted Freudian little Hitchcock film.
les diaboliquesLes Diaboliques
French psychological thriller (1955)

The wife and the mistress of a sadistic headmaster conspire to kill him. They dump the body in the school’s swimming pool figuring that the students will find it. But of course the body disappears and strange things start to happen. This was one of my favourite films as a child. It’s dark high-quality suspense bliss.
the innocentsThe Innocents
British supernatural gothic horror (1961)

Based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. In Victorian times, a newly employed young governess of two peculiar orphaned children becomes convinced that the mansion and grounds are haunted. This is not only a brilliant ghost story but also an excellent psychological study of repressed fears and sexuality.
peeping tomPeeping Tom
British thriller (1960)

A lonely young photographer murders women with his tripod while filming their dying expressions of fear. This obsession with studying the effects of fear stems from his abusive psychologist father who tormented him throughout his childhood while filming the results. The colour palette in this film is beautiful. Lots of cold blue and deep red. This is one of my all-time favourite films.
American thriller (1961)

The story of a psychotic killer. The blonde bombshell Joan Marshall is an absolute delight to watch. The opening of this film is amazing, as is the whole film despite the fact that you can see the twist ending coming from miles away. I love William Castle and his silly gimmicks.
les parapluies de cherbourgLes Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg)
French musical (1964)

A teenager gets herself pregnant right before her boyfriend is shipped off to do military service in Algeria for 2 years. Her mother who doesn’t approve of the relationship sets the girl up to marry an older man. This film is gorgeous. The colours, the costumes, the entirely sung dialogue, the songs, Catherine Deneuve, everything.


Film musings

bunny lake is missingBunny Lake is Missing
British psychological thriller (1965)

An American single mum has just moved to London, where her brother lives. She arrives at her daughter’s new school to pick her up after her first day, but no one seems to have any recollection of ever having seen her 4-year-old daughter. Is Bunny real or a figment of the mum’s imagination? Keir Dullea is amazing as her supportive brother. This film is completely compelling throughout.8 femmes8 Femmes (8 Women)
French-Italian dark comedy musical murder mystery (2002)

This all-female cast gem is set in the 50s and the plot is simple. Eight women gather for Christmas in their secluded family mansion, but when the master of the house turns up dead they realise that the killer must be one of them. They also realise that they have been snowed in and soon secrets start getting exposed. Catherine Deneuve is fabulous as always. Vibrant, gorgeous and darkly funny, yet light-hearted.the bed sitting roomThe Bed Sitting Room
British comedy (1969)

Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Marty Feldman and Spike Milligan star in this post-apocalyptic satire. Set in London on the third or fourth anniversary of a nuclear war which lasted exactly 2 minutes and 28 seconds (including signing the peace treaty). The survivors live in the debris and suffer strange mutations such as being turned into furniture. Absurd and hilarious.harveyHarvey
American comedy drama (1950)

Elwood P. Dowd is a middle-aged, pleasant man who happens to have a 6′ 3.5″ tall bunny as his invisible best friend. Elwood’s sister, whom he lives with, finally decides to commit him to a mental institution and from there a comedy of errors ensues. James Stewart is very funny and so believable that the viewer forgets that his best friend is invisible. This is a heart-warming, happy film.the collectorThe Collector
British-American psychological thriller (1965)

A butterfly collector kidnaps a woman and keeps her in the cellar of his newly acquired country estate. He doesn’t want to hurt her but hopes that she will with time fall in love with him. Those are the two characters in this film and the chemistry between them feels very real. A spellbinding masterpiece that will haunt you long after watching it. I urge you to read the book first though.

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Cake, literature, and films

The other week I made one of my favourite summer cakes, a blueberry and raspberry soured cream cake with cheesecake frosting. The first time I made it I used strawberries and the second time blueberries. It’s gorgeous with all types of berries but I think I prefer it with strawberries.

The other week I also finished reading The How of Happiness: The New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky. I didn’t expect it to be a massive revelation but it’s definitely worth reading. It has a nice little collection of happiness increasing activities in it. I also finished The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, the first Sherlock Holmes novel to be officially approved by the Conan Doyle Estate. I really enjoyed it and I hope Horowitz will write another one.

At the moment I’m reading An Autobiography by Agatha Christie, A Season in Hell by Arthur Rimbaud, Molecules of Murder: Criminal Molecules and Classic Murders by John Emsley, and The Career Guide For Creative and Unconventional People by Carol Eikleberry. I’m also about to start Necropolis: London And Its Dead by Catharine Arnold and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. So many lovelies to read and not enough time in the day!I’ve watched quite a few films lately. Nothing out of the ordinary there. I highly recommend Pedro Almodóvar’s melodrama Broken Embraces. Almodóvar never fails to entertain. The Baby’s Room is another Spanish film. A not brilliant horror but it did make me jump which is very rare. Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures is based on a true story about two girls, their obsessive friendship, and how they conspire to kill the mother of one of the girls. It’s an intense watch.

I was in the mood for something silly the other night so I watched the laugh-out-loud funny Machete. I was expecting to love the French Romantics Anonymous but I ended up getting slightly frustrated with it. It was aesthetically pleasing though. I did love the thriller Tell No One, also French, and I don’t really know why I haven’t bothered to watch it before. Old classics always make me feel all warm inside. I watched Roman Holiday from 1953 starring Audrey Hepburn and All About Eve from 1950 starring Bette Davis. I’ve got a thing for her.

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Film musings

Hausu (House) is a Japanese horror from 1977. Described as a psychedelic ghost story, an unforgettable mixture of bubblegum teen melodrama and grisly phantasmagoria, a deranged fairy tale, a stream-of-consciousness bedtime story, a satirical murder mystery or an episode of Scooby Doo as directed by Dario Argento. I’m certainly struggling for words trying to describe this silly and absolutely gorgeous film.Hausu is definitely up there with Harold and Maude, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Cabaret, A Clockwork Orange and The Rocky Horror Picture Show on my list of favourite 70s films.

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Film musings: Harold and Maude

harold and maudeHarold and Maude
American black comedy (1971)

Harold is young, wealthy and bored. He has an obsession with death as a result of feeling suffocated by his life. He spends his time staging faux suicides at the annoyance of his superficial mother, watching the demolition of buildings, visiting junkyards and talking to his psychiatrist. Another of his pastimes is attending the funerals of strangers where he meets the 79-year-old Maude, also a habitual funeral attender, who ends up teaching him to live life to its fullest. I don’t want to spoil it by saying too much about the story line but this truly is a gorgeous and quirky cult film. It’s clever, sarcastic and sentimental. And it has a lot to say about hardships, attitudes and life.harold and maude2 harold and maude3


Film musings

the womanThe Woman
American horror (2011)

Lucky McKee, you mad genius. I’ve been looking forward to his next picture and this did not let me down. A country lawyer and family man finds a feral woman in the woods and decides to bring her home, chain her up, and try to civilise her. Things sort of escalate from there. This is brutal, perverse, and occasionally so cringy that you want to look away. This film will make you question humanity. Oh, and Angela Bettis from May (2002) delivers a brilliant performance as the wife.
departuresOkuribito (Departures)
Japanese drama (2008)

I’m very pleased that I stumbled upon this one. It’s a touching and elegant film about life and death. A cellist loses his job and moves back to his hometown with his wife. He replies to a job ad entitled ‘Departures’ thinking it’s a travel agency. Turns out it’s actually a job as an encoffineer. This is absolutely gorgeous.
el habitante inciertoEl Habitante Incierto (The Uninvited Guest)
Spanish mystery drama (2004)

Félix has recently split up with his sweetheart and is now living alone in the labyrinthine house that he built for them. One night he lets a stranger in to borrow the phone. When Félix turns his back the stranger vanishes seemingly into thin air. Now, is it possible to live in someone’s house undetected? The story unfolds in strange and unexpected ways and even though the plot has its flaws, this it still one of the most intriguing Spanish films I’ve ever seen.insideÀ l’intérieur (Inside)
French new extremity (2007)

This film is not brilliant but it’s definitely worth a watch because Béatrice Dalle does creepy so well. I’m already looking forward to the follow-up, Livide. A woman who is preparing to deliver the baby of her husband who died in a car accident four months earlier gets trapped in her house by a strange woman who’s trying to take her unborn baby. Expect gore.
shock treatmentShock Treatment
American black comedy musical (1981)

Not a prequel, not a sequel, but an equal. A very nice follow-up to my beloved The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). It features Richard O’Brien, Nell Campbell and Patricia Quinn from RHPS. And it’s about Brad and Janet. Unfortunately they’re not played by Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon. I was really happy to see Rik Mayall in it though. An appropriately quirky and surreal film with very catchy songs by Richard O’Brien.taxidermiaTaxidermia
Hungarian-Austrian-French drama (2006)

A grotesque tale about three generations of men who stuff things into various things. Yeah, you heard me. It’s dark, twisted and ugly. This film is disturbing in so many ways. I actually closed my eyes during a few scenes. Watch it, it’s my skinDans ma Peau (In My Skin)
French new extremity (2002)

This film strikes a chord with me. A woman has an accident during a party and becomes obsessed with mutilating herself. It’s a graphic exploration of addiction but also in a way oddly beautiful. Being a recovered self-mutilator myself I don’t find it disturbing, though I do understand why most people probably do. In fact, most people would never even consider watching a film like this.the piano teacherLa Pianiste (The Piano Teacher)
French-German drama (2001)

A masochistic piano teacher who lives with her controlling mother gets sexually involved with one of her students. There are a few quite odd scenes which is something I always appreciate. This is so fascinating and the film manages to draw you in but it doesn’t deliver properly. I’m tempted to read the book.innocenceInnocence
French mystery drama (2004)

A surreal fairy tale about a dance school for girls. The girls arrive to the isolated school in coffins. This film is a metaphorical study of the loss of innocence in young girls. Stunning photography and an odd fascination with legs. This is not a film to understand, it’s a film to immerse yourself in.the skin i live inLa piel que habito (The Skin I Live in)
Spanish drama (2011)

“A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.” Pedro Almodóvar never disappoints, does he? Just watch it.the heart is deceitful above all thingsThe Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
American drama (2004)

Yes, another disturbing film. Sarah uses social services to retrieve her son Jeremiah from his foster home and takes him on a journey through mental, physical and sexual abuse hell. Starring the always wonderful Asia Argento. Need I say more?5150 rue des ormes5150 Rue des ormes (5150 Elm’s Way)
Canadian psychological thriller (2009)

Yannick moves to a new town and gets locked up in a house after knocking on a door to get some help after an accident. The man of the house is a religious psychopath who wants to rid the world of its evil. He’s also a fanatic chess player. A strangely compelling study in human behaviour.