Bucket List

2016 Reading List

 

Below is my complete reading list for 2016. Titles in bold are those I particularly enjoyed.

  1. 01/03: Brooklyn, Colm Toíbín
  2. 01/05: The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare
  3. 01/06: Attachments, Rainbow Rowell
  4. 01/10: Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare
  5. 01/11: The Man Who Had All the Luck, Arthur Miller
  6. 01/12: All My Sons, Arthur Miller
  7. 01/13: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
  8. 01/13: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller
  9. 01/17: The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
  10. 01/31: The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole
  11. 02/09: Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith
  12. 02/16: After You, Jojo Moyes
  13. 02/17: The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde
  14. 02/18: Collected Sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay
  15. 02/20: Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare
  16. 02/24: The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams
  17. 02/27: A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far, Adrienne Rich
  18. 03/02: Biloxi Blues, Neil Simon
  19. 03/08: ‘Night, Mother, Marsha Norman
  20. 03/09: The Lonesome West, Martin McDonagh
  21. 03/11: Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  22. 04/10: Cannery Row, John Steinbeck
  23. 05/01: Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  24. 05/22: Voyager, Diana Gabaldon
  25. 05/24: Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  26. 05/27: Finding Fraser, KC Dyer
  27. 06/01: The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov
  28. 06/07: The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  29. 06/13: Definitely Dead, Charlaine Harris
  30. 06/15: An Enemy of the People, Arthur Miller
  31. 06/17: The Crucible, Arthur Miller
  32. 06/18: A View From the Bridge, Arthur Miller
  33. 06/24: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, James Runcie
  34. 06/26: Luckiest Girl Alive, Jessica Knoll
  35. 07/03: Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  36. 07/03: In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda
  37. 07/04: The Seagull, Anton Chekhov
  38. 07/06: Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
  39. 07/12: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, Ayana Mathis
  40. 07/12: The Elephant Man, Bernard Pomerance
  41. 07/24: Light in August, William Faulkner
  42. 07/28: After the Fall, Arthur Miller
  43. 07/30: Incident at Vichy, Arthur Miller
  44. 07/31: The Price, Arthur Miller
  45. 08/01: The Creation of the World and Other Business, Arthur Miller
  46. 08/01: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
  47. 08/04: Green Hills of Africa, Ernest Hemingway
  48. 08/07: At Fault, Kate Chopin
  49. 08/22: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer
  50. 08/23: Sidney Chambers and the Perils of Night, James Runcie
  51. 08/28: Bayou Folk, Kate Chopin
  52. 08/31: Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay
  53. 09/03: You’ll Grow Out of It, Jessi Klein
  54. 09/04: The Archbishop’s Ceiling, Arthur Miller
  55. 09/06: The American Clock, Arthur Miller
  56. 09/14: Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
  57. 10/03: Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
  58. 10/03: Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, J.K. Rowling
  59. 10/05: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies, J.K. Rowling
  60. 10/06: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists, J.K. Rowling
  61. 10/21: The Girls, Emma Cline
  62. 10/22: The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
  63. 10/22: The Book of Other People, edited by Zadie Smith
  64. 10/25: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae
  65. 10/27: A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
  66. 10/30: The Widow, Fiona Barton
  67. 10/31: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
  68. 11/05: Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
  69. 11/06: Playing for Time, Arthur Miller
  70. 11/09: The World’s Wife, Carol Ann Duffy
  71. 11/19: Dark Sparkler, Amber Tamblyn
  72. 11/23: State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
  73. 11/25: The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, Arthur Miller
  74. 11/26: A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  75. 11/26: The Last Yankee, Arthur Miller
  76. 11/27: Broken Glass, Arthur Miller
  77. 11/28: Carry This Book, Abbi Jacobson
  78. 11/29: Mr Peters’ Connections, Arthur Miller
  79. 11/30: Resurrection Blues, Arthur Miller
  80. 12/03: Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler
  81. 12/06: Paris for One and Other Stories, Jojo Moyes
  82. 12/09: Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling
  83. 12/12: The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  84. 12/14: Three Tall Women, Edward Albee
  85. 12/15: Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, August Wilson
  86. 12/18: Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen
  87. 12/21: Camino Real, Tennessee Williams
  88. 12/26: The Autumn Garden, Lillian Hellman
  89. 12/27: Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson
  90. 12/27: A Hatful of Rain, Michael Gazzo
  91. 12/28: Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham
  92. 12/29: Cravings, Chrissy Teigen
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Managing entertainment with a full-time job

Hello, long lost blogging world. Apologies for my absence (not that I assume anyone noticed).

Life has been odd lately, mostly because I’m a person who goes to work every day and teaches people and isn’t a student anymore. These are new things and they’re nice things, but they’re also still a little strange.

One thing that definitely hasn’t changed in my life, though, is my constant pursuit to watch and read as much as I possibly can in a day. So, to catch you up on my latest reading and viewing ventures, here’s a quick recap of my life lately.

Books — A few weeks ago, I reached my 2016 goal of reading 52 books, so now, I’m free to enjoy my reading just a bit more. I still have three other reading goals to accomplish: read Arthur Miller’s collected plays, read something by Jane Austen, and read something by Charles Dickens. Thankfully, I’m 5 plays away (out of 18) from checking Miller off the list, and I’m about 1/3 of the way through Sense and Sensibility. Progress! Otherwise, my roommate and I have been enjoying more read-aloud projects (we’ve done a 700+ page collection of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry and Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto so far), and I’ve read both Amy Schumer’s and Jessi Klein’s comedy memoirs in recent weeks.

Movies — I’ve been in a bit of a movie slump lately, mostly because my attentions have been taken up by watching all kinds of TV. Recent viewing experiences have included The Light Between Oceans and Fruitvale Station, both of which were tear-inducing in very different ways. I’m also planning to watch Straight Outta Compton today. Otherwise, I’m doing my best to keep up with all the film festival coverage and anxiously awaiting the release of La La Land and Manchester by the Sea.

TV — This is the area where I’ve been shining my brightest lately. After finishing Felicity a week or two ago, I’ve wandered through lots of viewing. I finally finished rewatching Game of Thrones, including the most recent season, I rewatched most of Rome with my mom, I sped through Netflix’s The Get Down and Amazon’s One Mississippi, and my roommate and I have just started Stranger Things. My current solo TV project is Sex and the City, which I’m slightly embarrassed to say I started watching last Tuesday, and I’m already halfway through season 4. Turns out not having homework means I have a slight struggle making myself turn the TV off.

And in exciting TV news, the Emmy awards are tonight! Here’s hoping for lots of Game of Thrones victories and unexpected wins.

What are you watching and reading these days? I’m always open to suggestions. 🙂

Life post-Master’s degree

I graduated with my Master’s two-and-a-half weeks ago, but saying I have a Master’s degree sounds fake. I imagine it will for a while, especially since my future career prospects are still a giant question mark.

Since graduation, I’ve done a lot of applying for jobs, but I’m also basking in the very strange freedom of no impending responsibilities apart from maintaining my own existence. To celebrate graduation, my mom took us to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which was both rewarding and exhausting. We’re happy to have had the experience and to hopefully never need to do it again.

Luckily, this freedom means I have lots of time for my Very Favorite Activities: reading all the books and watching all the TV/movies I can think about. So, to celebrate my first time away from school in 19 years, a mostly successful and rewarding first semester of teaching, and writing a 114-page thesis, here’s how I’ve been spending my hours of entertainment.

Books—I feel like my reading progress should be more substantial since finishing school, but I did finish Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager, an 870-page tome that I expect will be my longest read of 2016, so that makes up for the short reading list. I’ve also knocked out Ta-Nehisi Coates’s though-provoking and beautifully written Between the World and Me, which is essentially 150 pages of reminding white people to check their privilege. We all need more of that in our lives.

As a fairly transitional reading project, I also powered through K.C. Dyer’s Finding Fraser, a light read for fans of the Outlander series. It wasn’t anything terribly enlightening or profound, but it kept me feeling occupied and pleasant for a day or two. I’m also feeling mentally cleansed to delve back into heavier hitting literature, so I’m working through two projects right now: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard. It’s my first time with both of these authors, and I think my first attempt at anything Russian, so I’m hoping for rewarding experiences. Once these are done, I plan to resume my work through Arthur Miller’s collected works since I haven’t revisited those since January and Ernest Hemingway’s collected short stories. It’s such a pleasure to know I will never have a shortage of great things to read.

Movies—My movie-watching habits have been surprisingly lame these days, partially because the movies I have watched have been rewatches rather than anything new. I do intend to see Me Before You when it’s released this week, but there hasn’t been much in theaters to draw my attention—partially because the things I am interested in are only available in limited release. I recently built up my Amazon watchlist, so I’ll hopefully start making a dent in some of those films soon.

TV—It’s probably fair to say that I haven’t watched many movies lately because I’ve been busy with TV. Though most shows I watch have stopped airing for the summer, Game of Thrones, Veep, Outlander, and Inside Amy Schumer all keep me busy enough, but I’m also doing plenty of other TV viewing. I finally got to the War & Peace miniseries adaptation that aired in January and February, and I really loved it (this is a big reason why I decided to tackle Chekov). The more I see of Lily James, the more convinced I become that she’s actually made of sunshine.

I also finished the two seasons of Starz’s cult hit Party Down yesterday, though my journey through the show has been a bit strange. I watched the first 3 episodes on my Bluray player, and when I picked up on my iPad, unknowingly began with episode 4 of season 2. I got all the way through the end of season two and backtracked to the 3 episodes of season 2 I hadn’t seen before I realized the problem. I’d been wondering if I’d been paying bad attention (Where did Jane Lynch go? When did Megan Mullally get here? When did Adam Scott start dating Kristen Bell?) or if they just didn’t explain everything very overtly, so I was glad to realize it was my organizational mistake that created the confusion rather than bad viewing habits. I may have to watch it again from start to finish sometime to make up for my stupidity.

I’ve also watched half of Amazon’s Doctor Thorne, which is charming and lovely. I expect to finish it today. And I’ve started season two of Netflix’s Bloodline, but that’s a show that’s too depressing to really binge, so I expect we’ll take some time with it. I’m also expecting that Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Grantchester will be the next two projects on my list. Nothing like a period piece to momentarily take you out of a humid Kentucky summer.

What are you reading and watching these days? I’m always looking for suggestions!

Book #83: Atonement, by Ian McEwan

You may have noticed that my book number has jumped a bit since my last post — I decided not to write on a few of my readings (mostly because they were school assignments), but if you interested in seeing what I’ve read, take a look at my 2014 reading list.

Atonement was one of the original sixteen novels on my reading list at the beginning of 2014, so I’m happy I was able to cross it off. I watched the movie in the summer of 2013 and I loved it, so it was only a matter of time before delving into the novel.

The story is told from multiple perspectives and across a wide range of time, but it primarily deals with the time surrounding World War II in England, focusing on the lives of the Tallis family. The first section of the novel follows the course of a single summer day that irrevocably changed the lives of the Tallises and those around them (I realize this is vague, but I don’t want to ruin the story for those who don’t know it).

Generally, I found this to be a delightful (if not upsetting) read, and it’s been a great distraction from the many things I have due before the end of the semester. I particularly appreciate McEwan’s ability to write from inside the mind of a thirteen-year-old girl; Briony’s voice rings very true to a reader who remembers the strangeness of adolescence.

Like I said, I’m busy with finishing up my schoolwork, but I’m looking forward to more free time I can inevitably fill with leisurely reading and shameless TV marathons. Enjoy the last moments of this Thanksgiving holiday; Christmas — and vacation — are just weeks away!

Sundance 2014: The Most Magical Time of My Life

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This is me, standing in front of the Egyptian Theater at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

You know how there are those milestone events that every person needs to experience in life? Like graduating from college, getting married, having kids, or even just reading a really great book? Well, the Sundance Film Festival was one of my milestones. I’m only 22-years-old, so I haven’t really had the chance to experience many of those other things (though I have lived a pretty amazingly privileged life), but Sundance was the kind of thing I never thought I’d have done by this age. However, I attended a presentation in February of 2013 on my college campus about the Oscars, and when the presenter (one of my former professors) mentioned after the presentation that he was working on organization a Study Away course to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, I made the decision to do everything possible to make myself a part of that program.

Flash forward eleven months to January 14, 2014, when I boarded an airplane headed to Salt Lake City, en route to Park City, Utah, the location of the annual Sundance Film Festival. From that moment through the following ten days, my life was nothing short of extraordinary. If you know anything about me, you probably know that I like celebrities and all things pop culture (it is my major, after all), so Sundance was a mecca of sorts for me. My ten days in Park City resulted in me seeing 14 feature-length films, 2 short films, and nearly 60 celebrities. These statistics, in my mind, represent ten days very well spent. So here is my little way of trying to cram all the gloriousness that was Sundance into a few words in one small blog post. In the following paragraphs, you’ll find my reviews of the films I saw, lists of the celebrities I met, and any small tidbits I can try to fit in, though there’s no way I can do the reality justice. If you’d like to know more, trust me, you’d only be indulging me by asking, so feel free.

Celebrities I Saw at Sundance:

  • Mark Ruffalo, Christina Hendricks, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, Luke Wilson, Elizabeth Olsen, Mark Duplass, Bob Odenkirk, Bill Hader, Mandy Patinkin, Donald Faison, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Schwartz, Karen Gillan, Emily Browning, Hannah Murray, Pierre Boulanger, Stuart Murdoch, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Jason Momoa, Christopher Meloni, Gabourey Sidibe, Anne Hathaway, Mary Steenburgen, Shiloh Fernandez, Billy Crudup, Lilly Collins, Mark Indelicato, Joe Swanberg, Steve Coogan, Matt Walsh, Ted Danson, Michael C. Hall, William H. Macy

Celebrities I Interacted With at Sundance:

  • Joe Manganiello, Aaron and Lauren Paul. John Slattery (who spent a few minutes with my friends and me discussing our lives), Richard Ayoade, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell (with whom I discussed my fear of him since seeing him in The Green Mile), Dan Stevens, Jorge Garcia, Elijah Wood, Richard Schiff, Miles Teller, John Carroll Lynch, Mark Webber, Cameron Monaghan, Jason Ritter (who wished me a happy 13th birthday), Melanie Lynskey, Olly Alexander, Jim O’Heir, Shailene Woodley, Josh Wiggins, Deke Gardner, and Amy Poehler (the queen of my life)

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Aaron Paul entering the world premiere of his film, Hellion.

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My friend Kaitlynn and me with Jason Ritter.

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My friend Kaitlynn and me with Jim O’Heir, star of Parks and Recreation.

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Jorge Garcia, star of Lost, and me at the world premiere of The Guest.

Movies I Saw at Sundance:

  • The Double — This was definitely a successful way to start of my Sundance viewings. The Double had its premiere last fall at the Toronto International Film Festival, but it was still exciting to see it much earlier than the general public. The plot can be a bit confusing, and there’s no real sense of setting (a conscious choice on the director’s part), but the story is compelling and weird enough to keep you hooked. Jesse Eisenberg stars, playing two different characters who are essentially people with opposite personalities but identical appearances. If you’re into cerebral dramas (with a strong infusion of comedy), this is a movie for you.
  • The Guest — Putting my feelings about this movie into words has been a serious struggle. The Guest stars Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame as “David,” a man who’s just returned from a military tour in the Middle East and heads straight to the family of a fallen comrade. From the opening scenes, The Guest is clearly a spoof of sorts, making fun of the conventions of horror and thriller films. The movie is never exactly scary, but it does follow the same formula of many horror films. It’s very fun to watch, especially if you pick up on the multitude of references to Stanley Kubrick, John Carpenter, and Quentin Tarantino that the film makes. My only warning to my fellow Downton fanatics: Dan Stevens is playing someone completely, 100% different from Matthew Crawley. Be warned. You’re bound to have some serious emotions about this.

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Dan Stevens, star of The Guest and Downton Abbey, with me at the world premiere of The Guest.

 

  • Laggies — Laggies is the kind of movie that is almost certain to find success with “indie” summer audiences. This is the story of Megan (Keira Knightley), a twenty-eight-year-old experiencing a quarter-life crisis, who befriends Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz), a sixteen-year-old high school rebel. The movie is cute, funny, and sweet, but never really challenges the audience in any way. I would’ve preferred if it had been a bit edgier, but it was enjoyable as is, and I’m sure it will delight mass audiences upon its theatrical release.
  • God’s Pocket — God’s Pocket, John Slattery’s feature film directorial debut, is the story of several seedy characters in the late 1970s in New York. Despite its star-studded cast (which includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, and Richard Jenkins), I didn’t really feel like this one hit the mark. I wasn’t entirely interested in the story, and it felt like the film was trying to cover too many plot lines in 90 minutes. The story was adapted from a novel, so I would like to think the the stories might be more flushed out on the page than they were on screen. Unfortunately, this ranked among my least favorite films I saw.

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My friends Kaitlynn and Lendee and me with John Slattery, director of the Sundance film God’s Pocket and star of Mad Men.

  • God Help the Girl — We now move to one of my very favorite films I saw at Sundance, a musical written by Stuart Murdoch of the band Belle and Sebastian. God Help the Girl is 111 minutes of pure, unadulterated joy, enhanced by a talented young cast who exemplify the therapeutic abilities of music. I cannot wait for this film to be released in some capacity where I can see it again and listen to the soundtrack over and over and over. I’m obsessed, which you might be able to tell from the glee on my face in the following picture.

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Olly Alexander, star of God Help the Girl and the cutest person ever, with me after the world premiere of his film.

  • Somewhere in the Valley… — This was the first short film I saw, and one I’m more than happy to forget. The plot line and jokes felt very forced, and the story was entirely unbelievable (though, according to the director, the story was based on something that really happened in Europe. Go figure.). I was very unimpressed by this film, but, thankfully, it was no indication of the quality of the film it preceded: La Bare.
  • La Bare — A documentary about male strippers directed by an actor from Magic Mike? What more can you want? (Okay, just kidding. Kind of.) La Bare is indeed a documentary about male strippers in Texas directed by Joe Manganiello of Magic Mike and True Blood fame, but it isn’t really the movie it sounds like. Just like Magic Mike, La Bare is about much more than male strippers, and I think Manganiello did a fantastic job in his directorial debut of capturing the nuances of the men he profiled, making them something much more than just caricatures of themselves. This shows that Manganiello might have a more promising future in entertainment that you’d expect, so watch out for him.

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Joe Manganiello, director of La Bare and star of Magic Mike and True Blood, with me after the world premiere of his film.

  • Hellion — Hellion is the kind of movie that sticks with you. This film tells the story of a young family in Texas, broken by the loss of the two young sons’ mother. Josh Wiggins and Deke Gardner play these boys and deliver standout performances as kids caught between wrong and right, and they are certainly young actors you should look out for. Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis also give great performances as the only, semi-present adults in these kids’ lives. The final scenes in the film are both heartbreaking and frightening, and will certainly leave audiences with much to ponder for a long time after it ends.

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Aaron Paul, Josh Wiggins, and Deke Gardner during the Q&A after a screening of their film, Hellion.

  • Song One — Song One is the kind of movie that I can’t stop thinking about, but not in a good way. One of the first things I said after seeing it (the same point that was made by a critic from Variety) was that if the setting of this movie was moved south a few states to North Carolina, it’d be the story straight from the pages of Nicholas Sparks. Anne Hathaway stars as Franny, a doctoral student who returns home upon hearing that her (somewhat estranged) brother is in a coma after being hit by a car. The brother, Henry, is an aspiring musician, which leads Franny to contact his favorite singer, with whom she starts a romantic relationship. See the Nicholas Sparks happening? Overall, the movie was fine, nothing more, nothing less. Mary Steenburgen was the film’s highlight as Franny and Henry’s scene-stealing mother. Kind of a forgettable movie, though, and one I’m not likely to recommend.

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The cast (featuring Mary Steenburgen and Anne Hathaway) and director of Song One.

  • White Bird in a Blizzard — I didn’t really know what to expect from this film, but I’m very glad I saw it. Shailene Woodley stars as Kat, a girl trying to move on after her mother disappears. Though the movie sounds like a drama, it’s much funnier than you’d expect, and the comedy paired with the stylized cinematography make for a very entertaining movie experience. Also, watch out for a twist ending. It’s totally worth it.

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The director and cast (including Gabourey Sidibe, Shailene Woodley, and Christopher Meloni) of White Bird in a Blizzard.

  • Funnel — This was the second short film I saw, presented before our screening of Happy Christmas. Based on our first short film experience, I was a little wary of this one, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Funnel was hilariously funny and entertaining, with a deceptively simple plot focused on a man walking back to his car from a gas station after his car has stopped working. If you have a chance to see this, you should.
  • Happy Christmas — After recently watching Drinking Buddies, Joe Swanberg’s last film, I was very excited to see Happy Christmas, a movie starring Anna Kendrick as a somewhat lost twentysomething. The entire cast is great, and features a breakout performance by Swanberg’s two-year-old son, Jude (seriously, this baby is talented). The most surprising and impressive aspect of the film came in the Q&A following the screening, when Swanberg revealed to the audience that his cast improvised the entire movie from a twelve-page outline he’d written. This knowledge will give viewers a whole new perspective on this smart and entertaining film. I look forward to more work from Swanberg in the near future.

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Joe Swanberg, director and star of Happy Christmas, during a Q&A after a screening of his film.

  • The Skeleton Twins — This has been one of the most talked about films of Sundance this year, noted for Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig’s unexpectedly great performances in dramatic roles. In that regard, it’s satisfying to see that Hader and Wiig won’t be disappearing from fame after their respective departures from Saturday Night Live. This is a smart, well-acted, relatable family drama that’s sure to attract audiences, and one that will hopefully solidify Hader’s and Wiig’s roles as respected Hollywood actors.
  • Listen Up Philip — Listen Up Philip was the only Sundance film that I actively disliked. Despite the cast that I was very excited about (Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Krysten Ritter), I found this film exhausting, sexist, and annoying. Philip, played by Schwartzman, is completely unlikeable as a floundering writer; I never felt an ounce of sympathy toward him. The women in the film were the only slightly likelable characters, but their portrayal as victims of the men in their lives made them all seem dependent and pathetic, and I couldn’t really identify with them either. It should also be noted that I found the film’s director Alex Ross Perry to be kind of repulsive in the Q&A following the screening. He clearly put the worst of himself onscreen in the characters of Philip and Ike (Jonathan Price), and I didn’t find it at all enjoyable.
  • Whiplash — Thankfully, in light of the experience of Listen Up Philip, my next film was the most (deservedly) buzzed about film of Sundance: the opening night film, Whiplash. Whiplash is a movie about an aspiring jazz drummer (played by the fantastic Miles Teller) and his formidable teacher Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). The plot line is simple, but the movie is executed brilliantly, including sharp editing that only serves to enhance the strong musical elements of the film. If the final sequence of the film doesn’t leave you feeling surprised, breathless, and inspired, you’ve done something wrong. I really hope this film’s longevity plays out to keep in on the awards circuit radar for 2015, because it’s definitely deserving.

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My friend Kaitlynn and me with Miles Teller, star of Whiplash, on Main Street in Park City.

  • Freedom Summer — My final film at Sundance was a documentary about the summer of 1964 in Mississippi and the movement known as Freedom Summer in which primarily white college students traveled south to attempt to shed light on the racial injustices in the state. Though the subject matter was great, I didn’t feel like the film was executed as perfectly as it could have been, but it was still an interesting experience. The film was made in collaboration with PBS, and I think that’s quite clear in the way it’s put together; it felt much more like a TV documentary than one made for theaters. Despite these small qualms, I think this is an important film for Americans to see, especially since this is a relatively unknown movement in our not-so-distant past that should be a source of inspiration for the continuing social injustices in America today.

So, in a nutshell, these were the highlights of my Sundance experience. I’ve now returned to the real world, where I’m two days into my final semester as an undergraduate student (whaaat?). Here’s hoping that the buzz of Sundance doesn’t wear off until graduation! Sundance, I’ll see you in 2015.

 

2013 Movies in Review

  1. Beasts of the Southern Wild: B
  2. Looper: C+
  3. What’s Your Number?: C+
  4. New Year’s Eve: C-
  5. Zero Dark Thirty: A-
  6. Django Unchained: A
  7. The Impossible: B+
  8. The Lucky One: C
  9. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: B+
  10. Now is Good: C
  11. Pitch Perfect: B+
  12. To Rome With Love: B
  13. Monsieur Lazhar: B+
  14. Louis CK: Chewed Up: B
  15. Tiny Furniture: B-
  16. C’est pas moi, je le jure!: B
  17. Side Effects: B
  18. Rue Cases Negres: B
  19. Shame: C
  20. Little Women: B
  21. Celeste and Jesse Forever: B+
  22. Comme une image: B
  23. Je vous trouve très beau: C-
  24. 21 and Over: C
  25. Smashed: A
  26. The Sessions: A
  27. Bernie: B
  28. The Queen of Versailles: B
  29. Mansome: B-
  30. West Side Story: B
  31. My Left Foot: A
  32. How to Survive a Plague: B
  33. Les femmes du 6ème étage: B-
  34. Amour: A-
  35. Carrie: B
  36. Père et fils: B-
  37. Bachelorette: B
  38. Mères et filles: B-
  39. Safety Not Guaranteed: B
  40. Howl: C
  41. Bel Ami: C-
  42. The Vicious Kind: C-
  43. Broken English: C
  44. Mélodie en sous-sol: B+
  45. The Taste of Others: C-
  46. Un transport en commun: B-
  47. Compliance: B+
  48. Wish Upon a Star: B-
  49. Fish Tank: C
  50. The Romantics: C
  51. Raising Arizona: B
  52. The Great Gatsby: A
  53. This is 40: B
  54. Beautiful Creatures: B+
  55. Hit & Run: C
  56. Life of Pi: A
  57. Struck by Lightning: C
  58. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work: A-
  59. Tales from the Script: C
  60. America in Prime Time: A
  61. That Guy…Who Was in That Thing: B
  62. Love Story: B+
  63. Psycho: A
  64. The General: B
  65. Word Wars: B
  66. Aziz Ansari: Intimate Moments: B
  67. The House at the End of the Street: C
  68. Atonement: A
  69. This is The End: B+
  70. The Bling Ring: B
  71. Quartet: A
  72. Rosemary’s Baby: B
  73. Fatal Attraction: B+
  74. World War Z: B
  75. Despicable Me 2: A
  76. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: B
  77. Spring Breakers: C-
  78. Rear Window: B+
  79. The Dark Knight Rises: B+
  80. Straight A’s: C-
  81. Everything Must Go: C+
  82. The Cabin in the Woods: C
  83. All Good Things: B+
  84. First Position: A-
  85. Closer: B-
  86. The Paperboy: B
  87. There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane: B-
  88. The Out List: B
  89. Plastic Disasters: C
  90. Miss You Can Do It: A-
  91. Ghost: B-
  92. Trainspotting: B
  93. The Conjuring: B+
  94. Ginger & Rosa: C
  95. Flight: B-
  96. The Host: B-
  97. Identity Thief: B
  98. Ruby Sparks: B
  99. The Way, Way Back: A
  100. Side by Side: C+
  101. Last Night: B
  102. Nobody Walks: C+
  103. The Giant Mechanical Man: B+
  104. The Human Centipede: D
  105. Indecent Proposal: B
  106. Not Suitable For Children: B
  107. Glee: The 3D Movie: B
  108. Ira & Abby: B
  109. Kissing Jessica Stein: C
  110. Manhattan: B-
  111. Some Like It Hot: A
  112. Magic Magic: F
  113. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: B+
  114. Zack and Miri Make a Porno: C
  115. Wet Hot American Summer: C
  116. Fast Times At Ridgemont High: C+
  117. Blue Jasmine: A-
  118. Movie 43: D
  119. Admission: D
  120. The Spectacular Now: B+
  121. Barefoot in the Park: B
  122. Lost in Translation: B+
  123. Haywire: C
  124. Casting By: A
  125. Americans in Bed: B
  126. Gideon’s Army: B
  127. Anna Karenina: B+
  128. Clear History: C
  129. Incendiary: C
  130. Nine: B-
  131. Kinky Boots: C
  132. Enough Said: A
  133. Room 237: C+
  134. Gravity: A
  135. Hannah and Her Sisters: B
  136. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?: B
  137. An Officer and a Gentleman: B+
  138. Match Point: B+
  139. Top Gun: C
  140. Extract: B
  141. Take This Waltz: B+
  142. Emma: A
  143. 12 Years a Slave: A
  144. Varsity Blues: D
  145. About Time: B
  146. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: A-
  147. What Maisie Knew: B
  148. Six By Sondheim: B+
  149. Out of the Furnace: A-
  150. Nebraska: A
  151. sex, lies, and videotape: B
  152. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: B
  153. American Hustle: A
  154. Daughters of the Dust: C
  155. Blackfish: A-
  156. Wendy and Lucy: B+
  157. Behind the Candelabra: A
  158. The House I Live In: B-

2013 Books in Review

  1. Paper Towns, John Green
  2. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  3. The Shining, Stephen King
  4. An Abundance of Katherines, John Green
  5. Hog’s Head Conversations, Travis Prinzi
  6. Top of the Rock, Warren Littlefield
  7. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
  8. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
  9. How Harry Cast His Spell, John Granger
  10. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
  11. The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket
  12. We Killed, Yael Kohen
  13. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  14. The Reptile Room, Lemony Snicket
  15. The Wide Window, Lemony Snicket
  16. Beautiful Darkness, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
  17. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  18. The Miserable Mill, Lemony Snicket
  19. The Austere Academy, Lemony Snicket
  20. The Ersatz Elevator, Lemony Snicket
  21. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
  22. The Vile Village, Lemony Snicket
  23. The Hostile Hospital, Lemony Snicket
  24. The Awakening, Kate Chopin
  25. The Carnivorous Carnival, Lemony Snicket
  26. Beautiful Chaos, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
  27. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  28. The Slippery Slope, Lemony Snicket
  29. Divergent, Veronica Roth
  30. The Grim Grotto, Lemony Snicket
  31. Insurgent, Veronica Roth
  32. The Penultimate Peril, Lemony Snicket
  33. Fifty Shades of Grey, E. L. James
  34. Fifty Shades Freed, E. L. James
  35. The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith
  36. The End, Lemony Snicket
  37. Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple
  38. My Ántonia, Willa Cather
  39. Carrie, Stephen King
  40. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
  41. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
  42. Repotting Harry Potter, James W. Thomas
  43. A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams
  44. ‘salem’s Lot, Stephen King
  45. Allegiant, Veronica Roth
  46. Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris
  47. Beautiful Redemption, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
  48. August: Osage County, Tracy Letts
  49. The Giver, Lois Lowry
  50. The Future of Us, Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
  51. Live From New York, Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller

Though I’m disappointed I won’t be finishing Jane Eyre before the year ends, which would have officially put me at reading one book per week, I’m proud of all that I read in 2013. Overall, I read 51 books, including 12 rereads and 39 new reads. And, according to Goodreads, I read over 16,000 pages this year. That’s fairly overwhelming. Anyway, I can’t wait to move on to new reading in 2014!