Halloween.

Hello everyone and welcome back to #moviemonday. Today is the last Monday in October which means that today’s movie will be the last #spookyseason movie until next year. I’ve really embraced the Halloween spirit this year and I’ve been watching movies that I usually wouldn’t as horror isn’t my favourite genre, but I’ve said many times this month that I have found aspects of horror that I do enjoy, and so I am glad that I challenged myself to watch some different movies. With that being said, after today I will be taking a break from horror as I’ve been talking about it a lot lately and I know that not everyone enjoys it. 

Today, I am ending #spookyseason with a bang. I am talking about the scary movie of all scary movies, today’s #moviemonday is all about Halloween. 

Let’s dive into Movie Monday. 

Halloween was released in 1978. The movie was directed by John Carpenter. The amazing Jamie Lee Curtis made her acting debut in this movie. 

Plot. 

On Halloween night, 1978, teenage Laurie Strode faces the most terrifying night of her life when escaped killer Michael Myers makes his way back to his hometown and begins wreaking havoc on those who live there. Michael Myers is a terrifying killer on a slashing spree, and he’s got his sights set on Laurie. 

Characters. 

Laurie Strode is the movie’s protagonist. She is the typical all American girl. She’s kind, she’s respectful, she’s a good student. She’s a babysitter. She is shy, studious, and she doesn’t date much. 

The movie’s antagonist is Michal Myers. Michael stabbed his sister to death when he was just a child, and after spending years in the sanitarium, he escaped on his way to court. After his escape, he made his way to his hometown in Haddonfield and there he began his killing spree. Michael is a lurking, hulking, terrifying figure. He is the boogeyman. He is ruthless. He is described as being pure evil, and I will talk about Michael’s impact more in the themes section of this discussion. 

There is an ensemble of characters in this movie. Annie and Lynda, Laurie’s more outgoing friends. Dr. Sam Loomis who describes Michal Myers as pure evil. Tommy Doyle and Lindsey Wallace, the children who are being babysat by Laurie, etc.  All of these characters are important because at some point or another in the movie, they are all victims of Michael Myers. Some survive, others don’t but there will be no spoilers here. Watch the movie. 

Themes. 

Halloween is a slasher movie, and some would argue that this movie is the reason that slasher movies became popular in the 80s. I think it is also fair to suggest that Halloween defined, or helped to define, many of the themes and tropes that are now almost automatically associated with horror movies. 

When I think about Halloween, there are a few themes that come to mind. The most prominent one in my opinion is this idea of good vs evil. Haddonfield is an idyllic suburban town. Laurie Strode is a shy, innocent young high school student. Michal Myers is the evil that descends upon this idyllic town. He ruins it. Things so horrific don’t happen in places like Haddonfield. Haddonfield is a safe, suburban, good place but this person, this figure has arrived and he is murdering that image. He has ruined the idyllic bubble of Haddonfield. He has made it a place of fear, a place where bad things happen. Laurie faces Michael Myers, she is the personification of the idyllic place because she is the idyllic, good teenager and Michael shatters her world, the same way he shatters the town of Haddonfield. 

Fear and violence are also very prominent themes in this movie. Halloween is a violent movie. Michal Myers is a violent man. He creates fear wherever he goes. He stalks Laurie, he lurks around corners, he appears, then disappears, then reappears. She sees glimpses of his figure, watching her, staring at her, and she is scared of him. Michael Myers kills violently. He stabs his victims. He seems to be this unbeatable, terrifying figure, and I think that this movie is an excellent one to study if one is analysing violence onscreen. 

There are certain tropes that are depicted in Halloween that have become associated with the horror genre. Some call them the “rules”. The movie Scream touches on this in a really creative way as the characters in that movie are watching Halloween in one particular scene, and they discuss how to survive a horror movie. Scream is another movie that I have watched recently, however it didn’t make it into my final #moviemonday list for October, but I will touch on it again at some point in the future. 

An important trope in this movie is the idea of the “final girl”. 

This is a trope that is common in horror movies, and the idea is that only one female character will survive. That female character is usually a virgin. In Halloween, studious Laurie Strode is the movie’s “final girl”. She is shy, bookish, and claims that her studious nature “scares boys away”. Her lack of dating experience makes her the innocent virgin character. It is important to note that in this movie, Michael’s violent attack scenes are usually juxtaposed with scenes of intimacy. A character’s sexual awakening, or sexual activity signals a loss of innocence and this exposes them to being victims of violence. This is where the “rule” comes from – if you want to survive a horror movie, don’t have sex. 

From an English Literature student’s point of view, I think it is hard to watch a movie like Halloween without thinking about the idea of violence against women. Michal Myers does not only hurt and kill female characters, but he does stalk, terrify, and viciously attack Laurie Strode. He picked her. He saw her, he followed her, he attacked her. Why? Because he could. He zoned in on her. This is important. Laurie Strode is a good kid. She does everything “right”. She’s kind, she’s a good student, she’s a good friend, she’s responsible, and yet a violent man still decided to target her. This is significant. Unfortunately victim blaming is a problem that exists in the world. The victim can be male or female – victim blaming still exists. People are told what they should have done, what they shouldn’t have done, their every action is scrutinised, but the sad fact remains that you can do everything “right” and still face violence, and I think that Laurie Strode’s experience is an example of this. Laurie Strode may be fictional, and her experience may be fictional, but Laurie Strode exists. Michael Myers exists. There are Laurie Strodes in the world. There are violent predators who stalk and attack victims that they know, or victims that they’ve randomly selected. It’s a scary fact, and I think analysing a movie like Halloween from a somewhat feminist view is part of the reason why I think that the scenes where Michael Myers is silently stalking Laurie from an uncomfortably close distance are some of the scariest scenes in the movie. The action scenes, and the violent scenes are tense, and fast paced, but the scenes where he is stalking her are so incredibly unsettling. These scenes build tension and the threat of danger becomes closer, more tangible, and more frightening every time we see a glimpse of that white mask. 

Structure. 

Halloween is just over an hour and forty minutes long. I think that this movie creates tension in a very clear way. The first part of the movie is composed of “the shape” creepily staring at Laurie from close distances. Outside her school window, down the street from her friends, in her neighbour’s clothesline. Laurie begins to get scared, she wonders if she is seeing things, but the creepy appearances of this strange figure are playing on her mind. I said already that I think these scenes are the scariest scenes in the movie, and this is because these scenes are the moments where terror is created within the horror. In my breakdown all about the difference between terror and horror, I shared Ann Radcliffe’s thoughts on horror and terror, stating that horror is in the moment and it is caused by something terrifying. It is fleeting, but terror is a more complex feeling, made up of anxiety and dread. Terror builds over time and it is caused by flashes of strange figures in the distance or ominous noises late at night. Laurie keeps seeing strange glimpses of this terrifying figure, she is getting anxious, dread is setting in, this is where terror is introduced and tension builds because audiences know that Laurie is in danger. It’s not a matter of if Michal will strike but when. 

Something that I really like about this movie’s structure is that the opening scene shows us what we need to know. We see a young Michal Myers commit a vicious crime, then we see him escape the sanitarium all these years later. We see the violence that he is capable of before he returns to his hometown, and then we’re back in Haddonfield and we, the audience, are aware the town is in danger but the residents of the town are unaware. When the camera follows Laurie for the first time, we are suddenly introduced to the fact that Michal Myers has set his sights on her, he’s watching her from a distance, and she has no idea. We are not experiencing this movie from Laurie’s point of view. We are outsiders looking in as this terrible night plays out. 

There is a shift in the movie that occurs when the day turns into night. During the day, Laurie was getting scared but she’s brushed it off and she’s ready to babysit. Michael’s first kill, (no spoilers, watch the movie) signals a shift from stalking to violent action. Once he has killed his first victim, we have moved into the movie’s second act. The action has begun, the slashing has begun, and from this point on the pace picks up because now Laurie is in active danger. The question is no longer when will he strike? He has struck and now it’s time for Laurie to fight him and run. 

Final Thoughts. 

My final thoughts are that when I think of horror movies, the first movie that I think of is Halloween. I’ve said many times in the last few weeks that horror isn’t my favourite genre but there are aspects of it that I enjoy, but with that being said, Halloween is a movie that I am impressed by. I admire this movie for many reasons. I think it is an example of really good storytelling. I think this movie presents one of the most terrifying villains. I think that Michael Myers is one of the most frightening and iconic villains that there is because of the way he has managed to embody and personify evil. He doesn’t even speak, and yet he is a presence that cannot be ignored. I think that this movie has to be talked about when one is talking about horror movies because it has influenced the genre so much. I think that this movie can be studied from many different angles as there are so many interesting and complex themes and ideas that can be explored. I talked about a somewhat feminist approach in my above points because I do think that this movie can be studied when thinking about violence against women, and also the portrayal of violence onscreen. I also think that this movie could be studied if one was going to talk about subversive literature because this movie does subvert the idea of the safe, idyllic, suburban town. This place, this supposedly perfect place is the backdrop to such a horrific night, and the key thing to remember is that Michal Myers is not an outsider, he is not an unknown threat that has come to Haddonfield, he is from Haddonfield. That is his home. He is not just going there, but he is returning there. Such evil emerged from this perfect place, and I think that is a concept that would be really interesting to study and discuss in greater detail. I’m very glad that I watched Halloween and I think it is the perfect t movie to finish out the month of October with. 

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen Halloween? What do you think of it? Let me know. 

This will be the end of #spookyseason movies and as I said, I will be taking a break from horror movies for a little while. Speaking of spooky season, I hope you all have a brilliant Halloween. Have fun and stay safe. 

Kate xo. 

Hocus Pocus.

Hello everyone and welcome back to #moviemonday. Today I am taking a break from horror and instead I am talking about a fun, childhood classic. I simply couldn’t let the month of October pass by without talking about Hocus Pocus. 

Let’s dive into Movie Monday. 

Hocus Pocus was released in 1993, and it was directed by the brilliant Kenny Ortega. 

I think that it is only fair to mention the wickedly wonderful Sanderson sisters played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. These actresses deserve a special mention before we move into the movie discussion because they were an absolutely brilliant trio and I don’t think this movie would be the same without them. 

Plot

Max Dennison is the new kid on the block. His family have just moved to Salem, where Halloween is kind of a big deal. In his new school, his teacher tells the tale of the Sanderson sisters. According to the legend, they were three witches who used to lure children to their cottage so they could steal their souls and stay young forever. One of the children who lost their lives to the witches was poor Emily Binx, her older brother Thackery tried to save her but sadly he arrived too late. The witches punished him for interfering by turning him into a black cat, forcing him to live forever with the knowledge that he could not save his sister. The sisters were later hung for their witchcraft. 

There is a legend that says the witches will someday return, if a virgin lights the black flame candle but many claim that a black cat guards the old Sanderson house in order to ensure that the candle is never lit so that the witches can never return. Max’s entire class is entranced by the story, especially his crush Allison, but he is the sceptic. Max does not believe a word of the tale, that is until he lights the black flame candle. Now the witches are back, hellbent on stealing the souls of all the children in Salem. The movie follows Max as he and Allison must figure out a way to stop them, all while keeping his little sister Dani safe. 

Characters. 

Max Dennison is our protagonist. As I said, he is the new kid on the block. He is struggling to adjust to his new home. He gets picked on in school, and he just doesn’t see why everyone in town is so into Halloween. Max is a loving big brother and when the witches return, he is determined to keep his little sister Dani safe. Max is a smart, quick thinker, and it is often due to his quick thinking that he is able to outsmart the Sanderson sisters. 

Dani is Max’s little sister. She absolutely loves Halloween, and she appears to be finding it easier to settle in than Max. Dani is a sweetheart. She looks up to her big brother and enjoys spending time with him. Throughout the movie, she helps Max and Allison as they try to stop the Sanderson sisters, and Dani, like Max, shows quick thinking and bravery throughout the movie. 

Allison is Max’s crush. She loves Halloween too, and she believes the story of the Sanderson sisters. She doesn’t want Max to light the candle, which shows us that she is clearly superstitious despite being fascinated by the story. When the witches return, she works alongside Max to stop them, and she too is determined to keep Dani safe. 

Binx the black cat is Thackery Binx, and he has been guarding the Sanderson house for 300 years to make sure that no one lights the black flame candle, and he was doing a remarkable job until Max showed up. Binx acts as a guide for Max, Allison, and Dani, because it is Binx who knows about the witches and their history, and so he is able to provide knowledge that will help Max beat them. 

The Sanderson sisters are the movie’s antagonists. Winifred is the leader. Winifred is the oldest, most powerful witch of the trio and it seems that she is the driving force behind the plan to steal the souls of all the children in Salem so that she and her sisters can remain young forever. Winifred appears to be the master of spells, and it is her who makes the potion that drains the life out of the children, and it is her who casts the majority of spells in the movie, with her sisters Mary and Sarah simply assisting her. 

Mary is the middle sister, and she has the sniffing abilities of a bloodhound. Mary sniffs out the children and it is her keen sense of smell that nearly gets the gang caught on a few occasions. Mary acts as Winifred’s maid at times, she is always fussing over her and doing things for her, and pandering to Winifred’s emotional outbursts. 

Sarah is the youngest sister, and she is the prettiest. Sarah is the slightly stereotypical ditz, but it is Sarah who lures the children to their cottage with her siren like singing so her very pretty appearance is what makes her all the more dangerous because at first she doesn’t appear as scary as Winifred or Mary.  Sarah’s bubbly, ditzy personality means that people are more likely to let their guard down around her. 

 Themes. 

Hocus Pocus is a fun, nostalgic, childhood classic. It is funny. I feel like it is a movie that cannot be overlooked in October. Seeing as this is a fun, Halloween classic, the themes are not particularly complex in my opinion. I think that this movie is a very straightforward one, and there is an obvious theme of good vs evil throughout the movie as Max and the gang are the good guys, doing everything in their power to keep the town of Salem safe from the bad guys, the Sanderson sisters. 

Typically in these types of good vs evil stories, audiences are usually supposed to be rooting for the good guys, and while the Sanderson sisters are arguably fabulous, and they have some really funny lines, at the end of the day they are trying to steal the souls of children so I am definitely rooting for Max and the gang. The themes of love and family are definitely prominent in this movie. It was Thackery’s love for his little sister that drove him to intervene with the Sanderson sisters to try to save her. It was his regret about not being able to save her that kept him at the Sanderson house, guarding it for all those years so that no one else would would suffer because of the Sanderson sisters. It is Max’s love for his little sister Dani that drives him throughout the entire movie. He is determined to keep her safe and not allow any harm to come to her, and after nearly losing her, he vows to never take her for granted again, even if little sisters are a little annoying sometimes. 

If I was to analyse this movie in a more complex way, because all movies can be analysed, then I would say that greed is a minor theme in this movie. The Sanderson sisters are greedy. It is their want to stay young forever that drives them throughout the entire movie. The sisters, particularly Winifred, are also rather petty. They don’t want just any soul, they want to start with Dani’s because they are annoyed that she managed to outsmart them, insult them, and get away. I actually think that Winifred, Mary, and Sarah are really fun, interesting characters and I would love it if at some point we were given some backstory on them, or even a story that was focused more on their point of view, because I think that would be really fun, but in terms of talking about Hocus Pocus, they are the bad guys, and so while greed is definitely a minor theme, I would say that love and family, and good overcoming evil are the most prominent themes in this movie. 

Structure. 

Hocus Pocus is just over an hour and a half long. After watching it again, I think that it is a fast paced movie. I actually really love the straightforward but very informative storytelling that occurs in this movie. Straight away we are launched into the legend, and this movie does a lot of showing not telling, which is great. We see Emily being lured away to the Sanderson cottage, we see Thackery trying to save her, we see him being turned into a black cat. We see all of this, and then it is revealed that Max’s teacher is in fact telling this story to her class, 300 years later. Max scoffs at the story and straight away this sets up Max as the sceptical outsider. The movie takes place on Halloween so we know that the narrative is going to be contained within this one night. I actually like time constraints like this in movies when they are done well. The story taking place on Halloween sets the movie up to have a long night ahead, all of the action is going to take place on this one night, and as we get closer to sunrise, the stakes get higher. Max and the gang just have to survive until the sun comes up. The movie moves quickly. Once the sisters are back, the plot races to stop them. It is fun, the stakes are high, and the fast pace leads to the pivotal scene before the ending. The movie isn’t too long, but it isn’t too short either, and at no point does it feel ridiculous. It is a Halloween movie, it is a fantasy movie, so there is an element of suspending one’s disbelief when watching but that’s all part of the fun. After all, “it’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus.” 

Final Thoughts. 

My final thoughts are that this movie is so much fun. It is a Halloween classic, I watch it every October and I never get bored of it. The cast is perfect, the characters are memorable, and the story is fun, heartwarming, and easy to follow. I am really looking forward to the upcoming sequel. 

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen Hocus Pocus? What’s a movie that you consider to be a Halloween classic? 

Kate xo. 

A Quiet Place.

Hello everyone and welcome back to #moviemonday. 

I’m continuing to embrace spooky season so today’s movie discussion is all about A Quiet Place. 

Let’s dive into Movie Monday. 

A Quiet Place was released in 2018 and the movie was directed by John Krasinski. 

Plot

I’m going to start off by saying that I find the premise of this movie really interesting. The movie follows a family who must survive in a world where they cannot make any noise. The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world where monsters lurk. These monsters have an extremely keen sense of hearing so if you make any noise, they will find you. 

Characters. 

The only characters in the movie are Lee and Evelyn Abbott and their children, Reagan, who is deaf, Marcus, and Beau. Evelyn is also pregnant with their fourth child. The family are the movie’s protagonists and the terrifying creatures they must hide from are the movie’s antagonists. 

The creatures react to the slightest noise, and as usual there will be no spoilers here, but even the smallest of noises can have very dangerous, even fatal consequences. 

Evelyn and Lee are concerned parents, preoccupied with keeping their children safe in this dangerous world. Lee and Evelyn are sacrificing parents, they do everything in their power to protect their children. The children must also grow up in a world where they can make no noise, which is a very unnatural thing to do. The movie also gives audiences an insight into what life may be like for someone who is deaf, as the character Reagan is deaf and she was played by a deaf actress. Her character cannot hear anything that is going on and she cannot hear the noises that attract the monsters, so the only indicator of danger Reagan has are the reactions of the people around her. When she sees their terrified expressions, she knows she is in danger. 

Themes

A major theme of this movie is a parent’s love for their child. This unconditional, undying love is what motivates Lee and Evelyn to keep going, to fight, to stay safe. They will do anything for their children. 

This movie has been the topic of many conversations, and many people have expressed different opinions about what they interpret the movie to mean. Director John Krasinski stated that to him, the movie is preoccupied with parenthood. 

I think that the idea of a parent fearing for their child’s safety, and worrying about whether or not they will be able to keep their children safe from danger is a common theme in many movies however since this is a horror movie, the danger comes in the form of literal monsters but I think that the monsters can be argued to be a metaphor for real life dangers that exist in our world. It doesn’t matter how careful we are, unfortunately there will most likely always be some kind of danger lurking, and sometimes parents cannot protect their children from those dangers no matter how hard they try. 

I would argue that another major theme of this movie is the power of fear. Fear is what drives these characters to live their lives the way they do. Fear of harm coming to their children is what keeps Lee going, he is determined to discover the creature’s weakness as knowing this would give him a better chance of beating the creature, which would in turn give his family a better chance of survival. There is a theme of doing what needs to be done that runs through this movie, and so I would say that this is a movie about fear and survival – and these themes of fear and survival are presented through a family unit. 

Structure

This movie operates within a three act structure, and I think it is very impressive how this movie gradually builds tension with very little spoken dialogue. The characters communicate using sign language, and they can only talk very carefully under certain circumstances so the movie is almost a totally silent movie. 

I think that because noise attracts the monsters, one of the scariest parts of this movie is the silent tension. Audiences are hoping that the characters, especially the children, do stay quiet because if they don’t, the monster will appear. 

This is a movie that really focuses on sound, and on a lack of sound. This movie does a lot of showing not telling, and audiences pick up on what is happening based on facial expressions, and character reactions. 

The three act narrative is usually made up of three sections, the beginning which is sometimes called the setup, the middle which is sometimes called the confrontation, and the end which is sometimes called the resolution. 

The second act, so the middle of the movie where the confrontation is occurring, is usually the most action packed part of the movie, it is where most of the plot occurs and since A Quiet Place operates within this three act structure, I would say that the body of this story happens in act two.

I think this is a really simple plot that contains arguably complex themes. The story however is extremely straight forward, the setup is immediate – straight away audiences know the stakes, the family cannot make noise because they’ll be in extreme danger if they do. Audiences know that something bad is going to happen at some point and the tension arises from waiting for that bad thing to occur. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. The pacing is easy to follow, the tension builds gradually, and we get a fast paced, high stakes ending. 

Final Thoughts. 

I mentioned last week that I don’t love horror movies because I’m squeamish, but there are some that I really enjoy despite horror definitely not being my favourite genre. A Quiet Place is one of those movies. I enjoy this movie because I enjoy the premise, and I think the fact that this movie is scary mostly because it makes audiences sit in a tense silence is very impressive. It is a creative story that builds fear in a unique way. I also enjoy the movie because of it’s simplicity. The plot is really straight forward and yet the movie has sparked many conversations and it was massively popular. Overall I’m very glad that I decided to watch this movie, and I would watch it again. 

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen A Quiet Place? 

Kate xo. 

Sleepy Hollow.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Movie Monday. Today is the first #moviemonday of spooky season, and I am so excited about the next few weeks because there is a lot of fun, spooky, and different content to come here on Katelovesliterature.com. 

Today I am talking about another movie that was directed by Tim Burton – Sleepy Hollow.

Let’s dive into #moviemonday. 

This movie was released in 1999. 

I would say that Sleepy Hollow is a gothic horror film, and if you’d like to learn more about what makes a text a gothic text, then be sure to tune into this week’s Theory Thursday, because I am going to be talking about what it means to be a gothic text in more detail. Let’s get into the plot. 

Plot.

Sleepy Hollow is loosely based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. The book was published in 1820. Set in 1799, the plot follows police constable Ichabod Crane as he sets off from New York to Sleepy Hollow to investigate vicious murders that have taken place there. The cause of death? Decapitation. When Ichabod arrives in Sleepy Hollow, he learns that the locals believe that the killer is a menacing, ghostly figure. Locals believe in the supernatural tale of an undead headless horseman, a soldier from the American Revolutionary War. They believe the terrifying figure is riding around Sleepy Hollow on his black steed, searching for his lost head. Ichabod continues to investigate as he is not content to believe this tale. 

Characters. 

Ichabod Crane is the movie’s main protagonist. Crane is a quirky character. He is very clever and very shrewd. He believes in incorporating science into police work. (Today, we would call this forensic evidence), and in most adaptations, he is a tall and lanky man. 

I think that Ichabod is quite a relatable character, and I would argue that audiences view Sleepy Hollow through his eyes. He is intrigued by the supernatural tale that the locals spin, but he continues to investigate, and something that I really appreciate is the fact that Ichabod is a squeamish man. I would also suggest that Ichabod is also a modern thinker, based on the fact that he believes that science will aid investigations. I would also argue that this belief in the need for modern science is what makes Ichabod a very gothic character as science and gothic are often linked – something that I will discuss in more detail on Theory Thursday. 

Katrina is Ichabod’s love interest. Katrina is kind and beautiful, but I would also say that she is not an overly important character. She is involved in the plot but I do not think she is integral to it. Unfortunately she is somewhat one dimensional, as I don’t feel she has much of an arc, however you could also make the point that this is not a romantic story, it is a horror story. 

The ensemble of characters that Ichabod meets in Sleepy Hollow all play different and important roles. There is the magistrate, the pastor, the notary, the midwife, the doctor, and the many locals that Ichabod gets to know during his time in Sleepy Hollow. 

Usually when I am breaking down the characters in a movie, I take some time to identify the movie’s antagonist. I talk about their actions, their reasons etc. Usually when I do this, the movie’s antagonist is introduced very early on in the movie and the plot plays out as follows; protagonist introduced, antagonist introduced, the body of the movie is protagonist vs antagonist. 

I have decided that I will not be discussing the antagonist of Sleepy Hollow because doing so would spoil the movie and as always, there will be no spoilers here. 

While this movie is a horror with supernatural elements, it is also in my opinion, a mystery. Ichabod is investigating the murders of Sleepy Hollow, and it is by doing so that he begins to put the pieces together, so the audience connect the dots along with him, and we begin to see who the antagonist is as he does, so I do not want to spoil the investigation. 

It is an excellent mystery with many twists and turns, and if you want to watch an intriguing, mysterious, and spooky movie in the run up to Halloween then I would highly recommend making some popcorn and watching Sleepy Hollow.

With that being said, let’s move onto themes. I am going to do my best to discuss the movie’s themes without giving away the mystery so wish me luck!

Themes. 

There are quite a few complex themes presented in Sleepy Hollow. I would suggest that the movie’s most prominent themes are the depiction of greed, and the want for revenge. 

I cannot really say who is greedy or who wants revenge, because that would reveal who the murderer is and if you wish to find that out – go watch the movie! I will say that the driving force behind greed, and the revenge, is money. The want for money, power, and status is what drives certain characters to do the horrific things that they do, and I suppose it could be suggested that horror movies like Sleepy Hollow could be suggested to be very intense metaphors that represent what greed can do to people. The lengths that some people will go to for money and power is very frightening, and I think that this movie demonstrates that fact particularly well. 

Another theme that this movie presents is the idea of questioning. Ichabod is not satisfied with the local tale of a ghostly headless horseman who is on a killing spree. He wants to find the truth, and so he investigates, and he continues to investigate despite the dangers that come with doing so. 

I would also argue that this movie presents a theme of religion vs the supernatural, and this is a common theme that does exist in gothic stories. 

As we moved away from the Romantic Age – I will explain the Romantic Age at some point in the future on a Theory Thursday, but for now all you need to know is that the Romantic Age celebrated wonder, emotions, individuality, and all things natural – the sun, the stars, the sky, etc. 

As we moved away from the Romantic Age, scholars began to look at science, at what science could do for society, and there is a particular tension that exists between science and we’ll say tradition, because some people feared that the evolution of science would interfere with what was ‘natural’. There was a tension between science and institutions such as the church, because churches felt that it is not up to any one of us to play God. 

Questions about science, and what it does for society, and how we need it, but also suggestions that at times it goes too far, appear in many gothic novels such as The Castle of Otranto, and the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and of course Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein which is October’s #bookofthemonth. 

The subject of science and what it can do for society is also present in Sleepy Hollow as I’ve already stated, Ichabod Crane is a very inquisitive man who is all for using modern science to aid police procedures – at one point in time exhuming a body to search for evidence would have been viewed as immoral but today, forensic science is a crucial part of an investigation, and often it is the evidence found during a post-mortem exam that leads to an investigation being solved. We would not have things like DNA corroborated evidence if it were not for scientific advancements so we need enquiring minds. 

Structure.  

I love how this movie was shot. We are presented with what I would describe as an almost ‘eerie fairytale’ – which again, is very gothic as a feature of the gothic is inverting the idea of safety – I will elaborate on this on Theory Thursday. 

The movie is mostly set outside, and every shot is dark and misty. It is very picturesque, but in a really unsettling way. The movie is so dark, it almost looks as if it was shot in black and white, and I feel like this really lends itself to the plot. 

Ichabod Crane is out of his element. He is in a strange new place, he is the outsider in a small town – an idea that I love by the way. I will discuss this at some point in the future but I feel as though ‘stranger arrives in a small town where they are the outsider and all the locals are close-knit’ is a concept that always has the potential to be a really good story. 

Ichabod is the outsider. He is the ‘scientific one’. He is questioning everything in a place where the locals, especially the town elders would prefer it if he questioned nothing. He must do his job, he must learn who he can trust, and I feel as though the dark, eerie, monochromatic shots really heighten the outsider effect. The place looks creepy, it looks unsettling, it looks as though something is not right, and well something is not right. People are losing their heads. 

I love Danny Elfman’s score. I think the score is what makes the movie so scary. His score is haunting, and intense, and I think it is a brilliant example of how key a score can be to a movie, particularly to a horror movie, because I think it could be argued that a lot of the horror in horror movies does not come from the dialogue, it comes from the silence within the dialogue, and the spaces between the action. 

I’ll pose this question – which is scarier, the attack scene itself or the scene before the attack scene, where the victim is silent, and terrified, and hoping they will be left alone? 

I’m sure many people will have different answers to this and that is fine, it is a subjective question. I would argue that the scene before the attack is scarier. It is the build-up. It is filled with suspense. It is when we are holding our breath, wondering if the character will be safe. We may think okay danger is about to occur, but when? Pay attention to scenes like this, because I bet you will notice that in those moments, the score becomes very important. It will either get very quiet before a loud, scary, violent crescendo, or it will remain eerily quiet, and shrill to the ear. I could talk about scores in movies all day, and I think that Danny Elfman’s score in Sleepy Hollow is absolutely brilliant. 

I really like this movie’s pacing. It does not feel too long or too short, and I enjoy the flash-back scenes we get from Ichabod’s point-of-view, because they give us another insight into his background, and into his character, which is important because as I said, audiences experience Sleepy Hollow through his eyes. 

Final Thoughts

My overall thoughts are that this is a great movie to kick off the month of October. I would suggest that it is a great movie to watch if you’d like to dabble in the horror genre but you are quite squeamish. There are some bloody, violent moments. I won’t pretend otherwise, but coming from someone who hates gore, and cannot watch blood, I love this movie. 

It is eerie, and intriguing, and I think the investigation/mystery aspect of this movie is why I enjoy it so much, and why I can push myself through the bloodier moments, it is because the mystery is very compelling, and I think the way the dots become connected and clearer as we go on, is done in a very satisfying way. 

I’d also watch this movie to appreciate the score alone. So, if you’re looking for a new movie then I’d say give it a go, and if you do love horror and have not seen Sleepy Hollow yet then I’d say you are missing out. Go watch the movie and judge it for yourself!

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen Sleepy Hollow? Are you a fan of all things horror? Let me know. 

Kate xo. 

Alice in Wonderland.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Movie Monday. Seeing as next Monday will be the start of spooky season, I decided that I would watch another classic Disney movie before moving onto a month of thrillers, horrors, and cult classics – Hocus Pocus I’m looking at you.

I’m really looking forward to the month of October because the spooky nature of the month especially as we get closer to Halloween, really lends itself to so many movies, books, short stories, and more. Today though I’m easing us into spooky season with Tim Burton’s live action, dark fantasy adventure Alice in Wonderland.

This movie was released in 2010, and I still remember the day I saw it in the cinema.

Let’s dive into #moviemonday.

Plot.

This movie follows the now grown up Alice Kingsley as she runs away from the suffocating society she lives in and finds herself back in Wonderland after falling down the rabbit hole. In this version, Alice is nineteen and she thinks that Wonderland is a figment of her imagination. She knows the place because she’s had reoccurring dreams about it, but as she wanders deeper into Wonderland, and faces the dangers that lie there, she learns she is not dreaming after all. Alice must face her fears and find herself if she wishes to survive the dangers of Wonderland and get back to her real life – but there’s dangers waiting for her there too, and in Wonderland, Alice learns that she can face them.

Characters.

Our main protagonist is obviously Alice Kingsley. Alice is a dreamer, she is adventurous, and she struggles with what is expected of her – to be ladylike and to marry well. She greatly misses her father and due to several hints, we learn that Alice is very much like her father as she has the same inquiring mind. Alice is independent and strong-willed. She is kind and she is a quick-thinker. Most importantly, Alice is curious which is why she does so well in Wonderland. She does not dismiss the wonder of the place, she does not scoff at imagination, she is open to exploring and that is why she is the ‘right and real Alice’ – if you know you know, and if you don’t – watch the movie.

In Wonderland, Alice meets an ensemble of characters, the White Rabbit, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledee and Tweedleduum, and most importantly, the Mad Hatter. I would suggest that the Mad Hatter is the most important person Alice meets in Wonderland, followed by Absolem, because the Hatter is the person who believes in Alice the most. He has been waiting for her to return, and it is he who fills Alice in on the dangers that are lurking in Wonderland. It is him who tells her that she must face the Red Queen and defeat the Jabberwocky, and it is his friendship with Alice that helps her remember that she has in fact been in Wonderland before, in fact she is the one who named it Wonderland when she was younger.

Our last protagonist to be introduced before we move on to our antagonist is the White Queen. She is beautiful, and gracious. The White Queen has been robbed of her power, and all of Wonderland is suffering because she is no longer queen. Alice must face the Jabberwocky on her behalf, she must be the White Queen’s champion because the White Queen has sworn to never harm a living creature. She is wise, she is patient, and she knows that she cannot force Alice to be champion, the choice must be hers, and even though her fate, and all of Wonderland depends on it, the White Queen will not force Alice to fight.

Our antagonist is the Red Queen. She is the White Queen’s older, evil sister. She is loud, and obnoxious. She rules with fear. Anyone who displeases her will lose their head, and she keeps the citizens of Wonderland inline by sending out the Knave of Hearts to terrorise them. The Jabberwocky is her champion, and even though it is a vicious creature, she is scared of Alice’s return because Alice has beaten the Jabberwocky before, and the prophecy shows that she will do it again, so the Red Queen is determined to capture Alice in order to ensure that she does not lose her throne.

Themes.

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has always been one of my favourite texts. I love the book, I love the Disney animation, and I love Tim Burton’s live action adaptation, which is of course the version I am discussing today however the themes of this story remain the same no matter which version you are discussing. I think one of the most prominent themes explored in Alice in Wonderland is the idea of growing up, and the loss of childhood.

Something that is important to note is that in the original story, Alice is a child. Alice navigating Wonderland as a child, in my opinion could be said to represent how a child views the adult world. Alice is unprejudiced, and innocent, she is curious, and open – as most children tend to be. She sees the rules of society and what is expected of her, and she asks why? It is a really good and valid question, why do we do the things we do? Why are there so many rules that come with adulthood? In this version, Alice is nineteen but she has not lost her childhood curiosity. She still asks why? She is open to ideas, and to wonder, and she is open to things that other people in her society dismiss as nonsense.

I would say that in the original version, Alice’s journey through Wonderland could be said to represent the journey from childhood to adulthood. It is confusing. When we are young we are filled with questions, and wonder, and we are innocent and unaware of the injustice that exists in the world, and then as we grow up, we have different experiences, we face trials and tribulations, as Alice does, our beliefs, and all we have been taught are questioned, we may change our minds, we may adapt to new things, we accept that certain parts of childhood must be left behind because existing in adult society does come with certain rules and the physical shrinking and growing that Alice experiences due to the ‘eat me’ and ‘drink me’ potions, represent the emotional growth she is experiencing – some parts of her are getting bigger while others get smaller.

In Burton’s live action, I would argue that the message is slightly different. Alice still questions why she must do things a certain way, just because she is a woman. She wishes to think for herself. She is curious, and when she is in Wonderland, she does grow and shrink, and solve riddles, but this time she is not growing from childhood to adulthood, she is learning about who she is as a person and I also would personally argue that this version relays the message that while yes, we must grow up and face our fears, we also must not entirely abandon wonder. We must not entirely abandon our childhood innocence and sense of magic. We must leave room for the impossible, because the impossible or should I say the six impossible things that one can achieve before breakfast – again, no spoilers, watch the movie – that sense of wonder, and Alice’s ability to embrace the impossible is what enables her to survive in Wonderland, and it is also what enables her to change her life for the better when she returns home.

There are other themes that are explored in this movie, to restate what I’ve said above in much more simple terms, I would say that logic vs wonder is a theme. Good vs evil, justice and fairness vs tyranny are themes that are explored through the differences between the White Queen and the Red Queen, and of course, there is the theme of knowing oneself.

Alice cannot survive in Wonderland until she accepts that Wonderland is real, and she remembers who she is. She is Alice, the right Alice, and it is only when she realises who she is, and what she actually wants, that she is able to assert herself, both in Wonderland, and when she returns home.

So there are many nuanced and complex themes that can be explored in Alice in Wonderland, but I would suggest that the key theme is the idea of facing the fact that we must grow up, but we must not abandon our childhood wonderment entirely, because we will always need that, even when we are adults.

Structure.

I would say that the pacing of this movie is steady. It is nearly two hours long but I don’t think it feels too long at any point. There are a lot of moving parts to this story, and I like the fact that the movie gives us time to ensure that we understand what is happening, without spelling things out to us. I really like how different characters, especially the Hatter and Absolem, give Alice, and in turn the audience, information about Wonderland. Doing this adds to the exposition but because they don’t tell Alice everything, the movie is not spelling things out for us, and in my opinion, part of the fun is attempting to solve the riddles with Alice. ‘Why is a raven like a writing desk?’

The movie is a always moving towards the final battle at the end, every riddle, everything Alice learns along the way, everyone she meets and helps, all she does leads up to when she must face the Jabberwocky, and when this battle finally arises, it feels important. I feel that the movie did a really good job of preparing the audience for this moment because it is not overdone, and it does not feel overhyped. This battle is important, and there will be no spoilers here but the fight with the Jabberwocky is one of my favourite scenes as I think visually, it is brilliant to watch.

Final Thoughts.

My final thoughts are that this is a really entertaining movie. It is funny, it is action packed, the stakes feel real despite us being in a place of fantasy. Wonderland is a vivid, and fascinating place and I think that the movie does a fantastic job of suspending disbelief. The score is beautiful, the special effects are well done. The costumes are beautiful and eye catching. Most importantly, the story is compelling, and all of these elements come together for a very entertaining watch. I’d highly recommend it, and even though I do love the animated version and think it is very charming, I would say that I prefer Tim Burton’s live action, and I think this is easily my favourite version of Alice in Wonderland.

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you all enjoyed it. I hope you all have a great week.

Here’s to wonder and curiosity.

Kate xo.

Father of the Bride.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Movie Monday.

I couldn’t be more excited for this week because I am finally moving onwards and upwards after two very long, stressful weeks.

The past two weeks were extremely stressful and every evening, I was watching comfort movies – movies that always make me feel better no matter what.

I also asked on my stories (@katelovesliterature), for people to let me know what movies they consider to be classic movies.

A movie that I consider to be a classic is Father of the Bride.

The movie was released in 1991 and directed by Charles Shyer.

I watched this movie when I was feeling very low and it made me laugh and it actually made me cry – in a good way.

So let’s dive into #moviemonday.

Plot.

The plot of this movie is very simple. An overprotective father, George Banks, played by the incredible Steve Martin, must learn to adjust to the fact that his daughter Annie is no longer a little girl. She is a woman, a woman who is about to get married.

The movie follows the Banks family as they prepare for Annie’s wedding to Bryan. They meet the in-laws, they hire a wedding planner, and everyone is very excited – except George.

It is a very straightforward plot but that does make the movie any less funny or any less touching.

Characters.

Our main character is George Banks.

The movie is narrated by George Banks and in his opening statement, he sums up his character perfectly. George Banks is a concerned parent. He likes seatbelts, curfews, bedtimes, he likes his children to call him when they get somewhere so that he knows they got to their destination safely. He is very loving, but very overprotective.

I am going to talk about this loving, overprotective father character in more detail when I am discussing the movie’s main theme because when it comes to overprotective fathers in movies, I feel that there is a fine line between endearing and controlling and this is a line that George Banks never crosses – this is something that I appreciate, and as I said, I will expand on this in themes.

Nina Banks is George’s wife. She is the mother of the bride and she could not be more excited for her daughter, and she also could not be more exasperated by her husband’s antics. Nina is a lovely character. She is warm, and kind. She is rational. She is the perfect counter-point to George because her calm, collected attitude works perfectly to balance out the uptight, and prone to overreact George. Nina is aware that Annie is no longer a little girl, she is proud of her daughter and excited for her as she enters this new chapter in her life. Diane Keaton plays Nina, and in my humble opinion, I think she plays her wonderfully as Nina Banks has always been one of my favourite movie characters.

Annie Banks is the daughter of George and Nina, and while George is our main character and it is his story we are following, the plot and the plot’s themes could not happen without Annie. Annie returning from studying abroad and announcing that she is engaged is what sets our plot in motion. Annie is by all accounts the perfect daughter. She is kind, she is caring, she is a warm big sister. She dreams of being an architect which tells us that she is artistic and she loves basketball. Annie is not an obnoxiously perfect character and she is not a boring one either but as I said, the story we are watching is George’s, he is the father of the bride so therefore Annie is set up as a girl who has grown up into a lovely adult, and she is not making some rash decision. Is it quick? Yes, but Annie has been set up as an intelligent character with a good head on her shoulders and she is not someone who does reckless things. She is in love and she is getting married and now she must navigate this new chapter of her life with her father, who is desperate to cling on to the last chapter. Annie is also very career driven, and she ensures that Bryan is supportive of her career before she agrees to marry him.

Bryan MacKenzie is Annie’s husband-to-be. He is kind, caring, intelligent, and honest. He loves Annie more than anything. He admires and supports Annie’s passion and talent for architecture. He seems like the perfect son-in-law however unfortunately for him, no one is good enough for George Banks’ little girl.

Frank the wedding coordinator is fabulous. Martin Short provides even more wonderful comic relief to this already funny story. His outlandish (and expensive) wedding design ideas clashing against George’s reluctance to wedding plan at every turn makes for some very entertaining scenes.

So with our main characters set up, let’s dive into themes.

Themes.

I think it goes without saying that the movie’s prominent theme is the father/daughter relationship and that is the theme that I am going to be discussing. This entire movie revolves around the fact that George must accept that Annie has grown up. He has to let go even though he does not want to.

George loves his children more than anything. He is a wholesome, hands on father. Nothing makes him happier than when he is with his family, his wife, his daughter, and his son. He only wants the best for his children, he wants them to be safe and happy.

George believes in spending quality time with his children – we see this as we can see how he has played basketball in the backyard with Annie since she was a toddler.

I mentioned earlier that something that I really appreciate about Father of the Bride is that the movie does not cross the line from endearing to controlling and this is very important.

I sometimes think that movies that depict the father/daughter relationship struggle with this line. Many movies depict controlling fathers that stifle their daughters and disrespect their right to privacy and trust, all in the name of being an ‘overprotective father who simply loves his daughter so much.’

George is not one of those fathers. He is not controlling. He does not disrespect Annie. He does not belittle her. He is proud of her, he is proud of the person she is, he is proud of her academic achievements, he is proud of her dreams, and he roots for her to reach them. He does not disrespect her privacy. At no point is George Banks a controlling father – he is a worried father. He is a father who struggles to accept the fact that his little girl is getting married and moving out. He does not want it to happen – not because he does not want her to live her life, but because he is going to miss her. Annie embarking on this new chapter means that there will be many changes in the Banks house.

George will no longer see her every single day, she will not be at the dinner table for breakfast and dinner every single day. Her room will be emptier as she has taken some of her things to her new place. She will not live there anymore, she will be living somewhere else, with her husband. George knows Bryan is a good man, he knows Annie will be very happy, he wants that for her. He is just simply not ready to lose her. The time went too fast.

Does he overreact at the news? Yes. Does he argue with Frank’s outlandish wedding ideas? Yes. Does he glare at his perfectly nice son-in-law? Yes. He does all of these things, but they are funny, and they are endearing, and as an only child, I can confirm that they are accurate. George Banks is an endearing, doting father and there is no point in the movie where he crosses into controlling territory and this is something that I really appreciate because in my opinion, it allows audiences to relate to, sympathise with, and laugh at George Banks and his antics and at no point are we having to excuse controlling behaviour in order to enjoy the plot.

The key scene in this movie, in my opinion, is the scene where Annie declares that the wedding is off after an argument with Bryan. George should be delighted. We think he should be happy after all he has been hoping that Annie saying she is engaged was just a dream. There will be no spoilers here – go and watch the movie, but I will say that George’s reaction to this fight, and his following scenes with Annie, and Bryan, are perhaps the three most touching scenes in the movie.

Despite all his tie-opening, and eye-rolling at Frank, despite him wishing that his little girl was still ten, in this scene, he does not rejoice, he does not make sarcastic quips, he does not declare that he never liked Bryan anyways. In this scene, he is a caring, comforting father and despite all of his comedic overreactions up until this point – here he is a calm, reassuring, voice of reason and I really love this scene. No matter how old we get, our fathers will always be our fathers. It does not matter that Annie is getting married, she will always adore her father, she will always need him, and I think that it is in this scene that George realises that while yes things will change and he will have to adjust, he will never truly lose Annie.

I have loved Father of the Bride since I was young. My Mam showed it to me for the first time when I was maybe ten. It was always just a funny movie that we watched together because we both love Steve Martin. I watched this movie for the first time in a while recently, and while I still laughed, for the first time I cried. I feel as though I now understand this movie on a much deeper level, and I found the touching moments so much more touching. I said it before and I will say it again, the father/daughter relationship can be a very complex one, which is why I think it is a theme in so many movies and I feel that Father of the Bride presents this relationship and this theme of struggling with letting your child grow up and accepting their new chapters in life very realistically. I feel that this movie presents this theme in a healthy, funny, and very touching way and it was very enjoyable to watch.

Structure.

Father of the Bride is a fast paced movie. It is not a long movie, perfect for when you want something lighthearted and fun, but it still has its touching moments.

As I said, George narrates this movie so there are a few montages that are narrated by George’s voiceover – we watch the events while George complains about them which makes for a very funny contrast.

I have spoken a lot about how I think that a movie’s structure can often match the movie’s plot and I think that this can be said for Father of the Bride. The movie is fast paced because the characters are planning for a wedding that is only a few months away. The characters are busy and excited, so therefore the pacing is busy and excited but it never feels rushed and George’s exasperated, steady narration keeps audiences in the loop. In my opinion, it is very straightforward, but very effective storytelling.

There are a few montages as I said, and they show the passage of time but also George’s thoughts. There is one particularly moving instance where George is reflecting on Annie’s childhood and we see her playing basketball with him through the years – another touch that I enjoyed is the fact that Annie is nearly always in red. As a toddler she has a red bow, as a young child a red hoodie, as a teen in braces a red bobbin, and now as an adult she is wearing a beautiful red jacket. I love little details like that and if you are a movie fan like me then it is things like this that you will appreciate.

Final Thoughts.

My final thoughts are that I am so happy that I watched this movie again. I enjoyed it so much, I laughed, I cried and I feel that now I relate to, and appreciate this movie in a new, and deeper way.

I would highly recommend it.

Have you seen Father of the Bride? What do you think? Let me know.

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you all enjoyed it. Here’s to a new week.

Kate xo.

Dirty Dancing.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Movie Monday. Here’s to a new week.

Today I am talking about Dirty Dancing. Did any of you guess the movie? On my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), I said that I chose the picture of the lake for a reason. Well in Dirty Dancing, Baby and Johnny practice their iconic lift in the water because the best place to practice lifts is in the water. It was a vague enough hint but I didn’t want to make it too obvious.

I also asked people on my Instagram stories to let me know what movies they consider to be classic movies because I love hearing other people’s opinions and funnily enough, someone’s answer was Dirty Dancing and I think it would be fair to say that lots of people consider this to be a classic movie.

Let’s dive into #moviemonday.

Dirty Dancing was released in Ireland in 1987 and the movie was directed by Emile Ardolino.

Plot.

This movie follows Baby (Frances) Houseman as she goes on summer vacation with her parents and her sister. It is the summer of 1963 and Baby and her family are off to Kellerman’s, an upscale resort in the Catskills.

At Kellerman’s Baby meets Johnny Castle the dancer. At first it appears that the two have absolutely nothing in common but when Baby is the only person who can step in and be Johnny’s dance partner at a gig he cannot miss, the two begin spending more and more time together. As rehearsals go on, the two talk and bond and they learn that they may just like each other after all. In fact, it is more than just liking each other and this summer is life-changing for Baby in more ways than one.

Characters.

Baby Houseman is our main protagonist. Baby is young and naive and when the movie begins we learn that she is getting ready to head off to college in the fall so this summer vacation is likely one of the last she will have with her sister and her parents. Baby idolises her father and Doctor Houseman dotes on her in return. He is her hero, she looks up to him, she wants to be like him. Baby is very smart and very kind. She wants to change the world but before this summer at Kellerman’s, it is clear that she lived a sheltered life and it is here where she learns about the problems that people face and the unfairness in the world and most importantly, she learns about who she is as a person and who she wants to be. Her worldview is altered at Kellerman’s but this is something that I will discuss more in the themes section of my discussion.

Johnny Castle is our male lead. He is a dancer. He is part of the working-class staff at Kellerman’s. Johnny is kind and hardworking but he also far more cynical than Baby. He knows how the world works. He has faced unfairness before and he will again as the movie goes on. He is a talented dancer and a fantastic teacher even though in the beginning he was a bit gruff. As the movie goes on, Johnny becomes more and more impressed by Baby and she also changes his worldview – again I will discuss this more when I discuss themes.

Penny is a very important character and while Baby and Johnny are our lead couple, and it is mostly Baby who has a maturity arc, her arc would not be able to happen without Penny as it is Penny who sets the plot in motion. Early on in the movie, it is revealed that Penny is pregnant and she is unable to afford to have the baby. She and Johnny are extremely worried because the only time she can get to a doctor is on the same night as their gig in another hotel, a gig they cannot miss because if they do then they will lose their salary and they will not get booked again for the following summer. There is no one else who can fill in for Penny which is why Baby is the one to do it. Penny is hardworking and like Johnny, she is looked down upon because she is part of the working-class staff. Penny is cynical and like Johnny, she is all too aware of the unfairness in the world. Penny has had an upbringing that was the opposite to Baby’s. Penny has been fending for herself since the age of sixteen and so she cannot lose her job. She is a very talented dancer, she used to be a rockette, and she also helps to get Baby ready for the important performance.

Jake Houseman is Baby’s father and he is also key to the story. Jake is a doctor and he is Baby’s hero. He is a kind father, he seems to be a calm and loving man, and it is clear that he dotes on Baby. He is proud of her and he trusts her. This is made clear when he gives her the money she asks for ($250) even though she cannot tell him what it is for. The father/daughter relationship between Jake and Baby is a key part of this story and again, I will elaborate more on this in themes.

We have a selection of ensemble characters, Baby’s mother, her sister Lisa, Robbie the waiter, Max the owner of Kellerman’s and Neil his grandson. While all of the characters contribute to the story, I would suggest that the most important characters are Baby, Johnny, Doctor Houseman, and Penny because these four are the four corners of the plot and it is these four characters that allow the movie’s themes to play out. So let’s discuss themes because Dirty Dancing touches on some very important ones.

Themes.

I love it when someone who has never seen Dirty Dancing says what they think the movie is about. Many people say it is a chick-flick or a rom-com and I suppose in some ways it is however, I would argue Dirty Dancing is actually a coming of age story because one of the movie’s key themes is the idea of becoming your own person with your own ideas and beliefs.

This movie touches on many important things, abortion, classism, sexism, hypocrisy, and individuality.

At Kellerman’s there is a class divide. There are the guests and the staff, of course this will happen at any resort but among the staff, there is another divide – the waiters and the dancers.

The waiters at Kellerman’s are students from Ivy League universities. Robbie is one of them. Max, the owner, tells these waiters that they are the best, they are good, intelligent, respectable young men and they are given orders to romance the daughters who come to stay.

The dancers on the other hand are told not to even look at the guests unless it is to provide dancing lessons. Johnny is not an Ivy League student who is choosing to do some summer work to earn a few extra dollars, he is depending on this income as it is the only one he has.

Robbie is considered to be a ‘better’ man than Johnny simply because of his college status however it is Robbie who is an arrogant, rude man. He tells Baby that ‘some people count and some people don’t’ and he is of the opinion that people like Johnny and Penny don’t count.

Robbie is the father of Penny’s baby but he claims that it could be anyone and you ‘never know with a girl like that.’ Robbie used Penny and he did not care what happened to her, he also knew that he would be able to walk away because people would most likely believe him over her.

Baby’s father even likes Robbie, he thinks he is an upstanding young man and before he learns the truth about him, he even gives him money towards college. Robbie appears to be the type of young man that Doctor Houseman would like his daughters to date, he is handsome and well-groomed. He knows how to charm parents and of course, he goes to an Ivy League college. He is like Doctor Houseman, or so we are lead to believe.

Johnny is always facing preconceived opinions and if we are being honest, his attitude likely does not help but the issue is that people already assume the worst of him and so therefore, he is always on the defensive but this only fuels people’s negative opinions of him. It is a classic case of people judging a book by its cover or in this case, by its status and background.

Baby spends a lot of time with Johnny, and as she gets to know him as a person, she learns that he is not like how others perceive him to be. He is used by the rich, older woman at Kellerman’s. They pay him to sleep with them and they treat him as nothing more than a shiny toy but Johnny needs the money so he puts up with it. He is not a perfect character, I don’t think anyone in this movie is but there are many instances where it is clear that Johnny knows about the real world and he knows what he can and cannot do – a great example is when Neil, who knows nothing about dancing, wants to dictate the last dance of the season. Baby is disappointed when Johnny allows Neil to be rude to him instead of telling Neil his ideas but Johnny knows that in order to keep the job that he needs, he has to do things Neil’s way.

Another important instance is when Baby’s father assumes that Johnny is responsible for Penny. He assumes that Johnny is the father of Penny’s baby and he is disgusted that Johnny would leave her to a false doctor. Johnny is not surprised by Doctor Houseman’s assumptions and he is so used to people thinking the worst of him that he does not bother to correct him – In that moment, Penny is more important and that brings us to a key point in the movie – Penny’s abortion.

Something that I love about Dirty Dancing is the way the movie handles Penny’s abortion. It is not debated. There is no big scene in which Penny has to defend or justify her choice. At no point does Baby, Johnny, or Doctor Houseman look down on or treat Penny badly because of her decision. It is Penny’s choice and Penny’s choice alone. The doctor she goes to see turns out to not be a real doctor and Penny is left gravely injured which causes Baby to rush and get her father to assist her. This movie came out in 1987 and yet I cannot think of a more relevant time to discuss this scene because of certain things that are happening in certain parts of the world. I’ll say this – banning abortion does not stop abortion. Banning abortion only stops safe abortions. If someone is desperate, they will find a way and back-alley abortions will rise and they can have extremely dangerous results – as shown in this scene.

Baby’s exposure to classism and unfairness causes her to reevaluate her upbringing and her opinion of her father and this theme of maturity and individuality is key to the movie.

The father/daughter relationship is very complex and Baby goes through a very difficult journey in this movie because the view she has of her father changes. He was once her hero and she viewed him through rose-tinted glasses and as this movie plays out, Baby sees that her father is not perfect and in fact, she does not like everything he does. She does not agree with everything he does and as she changes and develops her own opinions and begins to break away from the mould, he becomes colder with her. He does not like the changes, he struggles with them, he wants her to stay away from Johnny, he feels that the girl he trusted, the girl who was just like him is changing.

Baby is changing but it is not a bad thing. One of the key scenes in this movie is when Baby confronts her father. He tells her that she is not the person he thought she was and she responds by saying that he isn’t either. She tells him that he taught her to be good and kind to everyone and he always said that everyone deserves a fair shake but Baby tells him that she has learned he did not mean everyone, he meant people who are just like him.

This conversation cause Doctor Houseman to cry. He is forced to look into the mirror. He must accept that in some ways, he has been a hypocrite, and he must also accept that his daughter, his baby, is no longer a little girl. She is a young woman and she will speak her mind and she will have her own opinions and sometimes they will be different from his and that has to be okay.

It is a new chapter when a father must accept that his little girl has become a woman. The dynamic changes. It is also very hard when a daughter learns that her hero is not perfect. It is a difficult time but I believe that it is a time that everyone goes through and Baby goes through it in this movie, she has that experience where the rose-tinted view gets muddied and she matures because of it. This is why I would say this is a coming of age movie because Baby’s mindset changes from daddy’s girl to independent young woman who can accept her father is not perfect but loves him anyway.

Structure.

Dirty Dancing is a fast-paced movie. The Houseman family arrive at Kellerman’s and immediately Max the owner begins to breakdown the rules to the staff – this sets up our internal class divide and Baby seeing Johnny dance and clearly being attracted to him lets the audience know that Baby and Johnny are going to be love interests.

There is a lot of exposition done in the first half an hour. We are aware of the issues among staff, we see that Baby looks up to her father, we learn that Penny is pregnant and needs someone to fill in. This issue is what sets our plot into motion and we move from set-up to action.

Baby learning to dance is when the action begins. There are a few montages in this movie which function as a way to move time along, we see her improving, and we see that her and Johnny are getting along better. There are a few moments when the pace slows down and this allows Baby and Johnny to bond – for example the scene in the water where they practice the lift, and it is quite realistic I think because Baby does not magically become this amazing dancer, the goal is simply to get her decent enough to pull off one dance reasonably well and this is achieved.

I also really like that the performance at the hotel is just that – it is decent. It is not amazing, and there are some bumps but they get through it and they save Penny and Johnny’s employment. I feel this was a smart move because the goal – getting through that gig- has been achieved but also there is something left for the finale, the iconic lift.

I would say that this movie is top heavy because a lot happens in the introduction and then the action is filled with dancing, learning, and bonding but then we get a quick and busy climax. There are a lot of moving pieces in this movie and we know at some point that everything will come to a boil eventually and of course it does.

Everything spills over, a rich lady sees Johnny and Baby together, Johnny gets accused of stealing and of course everyone just assumes he is guilty but Baby knows he is innocent. She has to decide whether or not to speak up because doing so reveals their relationship and then her putting herself out there and arguing with her father seems pointless because Johnny is proved to be innocent but he still has to leave because of his relationship with Baby and for the first time, she learns how unfair life can be even though she did the right thing. It is a hard lesson and she learns it quite close to the end of the movie but Johnny has learned too. He becomes less cynical because no one has ever put themselves out like that for him before. So while Baby’s world-view changes, so does Johnny’s and the final scene is the final dance and it is filled with revelations because everyone’s growth can be clearly seen in this final scene which makes for a very, very satisfying finale. ‘No one puts Baby in a corner!’. No spoilers though – go watch the movie.

Final Thoughts.

Dirty Dancing is a great movie. The story is compelling, moving, funny, and heartfelt. I feel that this movie, while it touches on some very important themes and issues, is also relatable because I think everyone can relate to the idea of coming of age and realising that things are not always as they seem. The characters are engaging, the cast is fantastic, and of course, this movie is set to a classic score. Who could forget the song ‘Time Of My Life?’ – I’m still humming it.

So this has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen Dirty Dancing? What do you think? Would you consider it a classic movie? Let me know.

Kate xo.

Drug Runner.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Movie Monday.

Last week I talked about 10 Things I Hate About You which you should check out if you haven’t already.

This week’s #moviemonday is a little bit different because I am going to be discussing a short film.

At some point in the future on Katelovesliterature.com, I am going to discuss why I love different mediums for different reasons. For example, I will explain why I love short stories and why I think they serve a different purpose when compared to full-length novels etc.

I will also talk in more detail about why I love short films as well as feature-length movies but the short version, pardon the pun, is that I enjoy short films because the narrative is captured in a shorter space of time and I believe this is a really interesting challenge for filmmakers and directors because you do not have two hours to play with. You may only have five minutes and what you do with those five minutes can be amazing.

Drug Runner is a 2018 documentary film, directed by Charlotte Regan and the story that is told in only seven minutes is incredibly moving.

So let’s dive into Movie Monday.

Plot.

This short film is narrated by a voiceover. The voice speaking is a grown man – he remains unnamed – and he talks the audience through his experience of becoming a drug runner at the age of fifteen. As we hear the voiceover, we are watching the events of his youth play out.

He is a boy from a poor area and he wants to help out his mother by bringing in some money and I believe this short film highlights just how easy it is to fall in with the wrong crowd and how one naive decision can lead to dangerous consequences.

Characters.

There is the narrator who we do not see at any point. He has grown up, matured, turned away from the life of drug running, and he is now talking about his experiences.

There is the young boy that we see onscreen. He is innocent. He is just a kid. He is in school, working hard, worried about his Mam, and then one encounter with the wrong crowd, and one drug run led to constant phone calls, no sleep, school being interrupted, and the terrifying, claustrophobic feeling that he cannot escape this life.

We have the clients. There are many different people who buy and use drugs and some of them are grown men in very affluent areas. I thought it was really interesting how this movie highlighted the class divide in only seven minutes because it showed how poorer people taking drugs in poorer areas are often looked down at but wealthy people in posh, affluent areas can take drugs at a party on the weekends and it is viewed as them just having some fun – and it is the rich people who looked down at the young boy who was delivering the drugs. It was a classic example of hypocritical people demanding a service and then looking down at those who provide it.

Themes.

Something to note about this short film is that while it features drugs and drug use, it is not about drugs. The movie is not making the statement that drugs are bad. It is not a documentary about addiction or about how dangerous drugs can be. The boy is not cast in a bad light or a tragic one. He is not a villain or a hero. He is simply a boy who due to circumstances beyond his control – poverty – fell in with a drug running crowd and started earning money by being a drug runner.

The boy remains unnamed and I believe this was intentional because the point is that it could happen to anyone. The narrator states that while he did step away from that world, he does not regret what happened because the money he brought in really helped his family, and if it was not him then it would have been another fifteen year old and he is sure that currently there is another naive fifteen year old running drugs because it does not stop. As long as there is a demand for drugs, there will be people who will run them.

I think the theme and message is a very educational one. This short shows in only seven minutes how we should not judge anyone who falls into these situations because it is so easily done. It is not a judgemental film, it is simply a factual one. This happens and it will continue to happen.

Structure.

You may be thinking can a film that is only seven minutes long have a structure?

Yes. Yes it can.

I would say this short film has three sections, The setup, The Trap, and The Downfall.

This film also uses colours and sounds in a really interesting way.

So at the beginning, the voiceover is explaining how everything began and audiences see the boy in his flat, and at school, and there are many panning shots to show the area where he lives.

Every shot is gloomy with smog, and grey skies. The boy is in his school uniform, which is white, in his school, the shots are light and airy and mostly white – white uniforms, white desks, white walls etc.

When the voiceover starts describing how drug running became consuming, his voiceover is intruded by the constant buzzing of a phone, and we see the boy in his room, late at night, getting constant messages. His phone is buzzing constantly and obnoxiously, it is red, his entire room is lit up in red lights and red is a very intense, heavy colour and the audience can see how this young boy is becoming trapped in this world.

Then there is the downfall. The voiceover is interrupted by sirens. The screen is taken up by flashing blue lights. The young boy is arrested. This downfall is the turning point because this is the moment where he learns he has to get out. He can’t do this anymore. He can’t take the fall for the older boys. This can’t be his life.

All throughout the short, there is uneventful music playing in the background but after his arrest, it stops. The film is silent aside from the sound of the rain pelting down on the sidewalk and I believe this rain symbolises the fresh start that is to come.

Final Thoughts.

My final thoughts are that this is a really powerful short film and I would recommend it to anyone.

I am so impressed by the story that was told in only seven minutes and I think this short is a great example of why I enjoy short films.

It is educational and it is moving and I think that if you like short films then this is one you don’t want to miss.

So this has been Movie Monday. It was a little different than usual but I hope you all enjoyed it.

Next Monday I will be back with a feature-length film.

Do you like short films? Let me know in the comments below.

I hope you all have a great week.

Kate xo.

10 Things I Hate About You.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Movie Monday. So if you follow my Instagram (@katelovesliterature) then you will know from my stories that I asked a few questions this week about what people prefer, action vs thrillers etc, etc. Thank you so much to everyone who voted. As I have already said, the polls on my stories will not impact the content that I choose to write about and there will always be a broad range of topics and genres covered on Katelovesliteraure.com because I want the website to be a place where there is something for everyone and I also love a very broad range of things myself but the polls were simply about my own curiosity.

I choose what to write about based on what I am enjoying so while there are so many brilliant movies coming out at the moment and I do plan on writing about current releases too, the movie that I watched over the weekend was 10 Things I Hate About You so let’s dive into #moviemonday.

10 Things I Hate About You staring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles was released in 1999 and directed by Gil Junger. The movie is a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew.

Plot.

The plot follows Cameron James as he starts a new school and immediately develops a crush on the beautiful but somewhat vain and selfish Bianca Stratford. Bianca wishes to date the equally vain and very selfish Joey Donner but her very overprotective father will not allow her or her older sister Kat date anyone until after they graduate from high school. Kat and Bianca could not be any more different. Bianca is popular and she cares about what everyone thinks of her. She wishes to take part in the social life at school. She wants to date, go to parties and most importantly, she wants to go to prom. Kat does not care about what anyone thinks of her. She does not care that she is unpopular. She does not care about social events. She is confident and not afraid to speak her mind.

Bianca pleads with her father to allow her to date, she argues that he is being entirely unfair (which he is but Larry Miller plays the character in such a funny way that you can’t help but like him despite his ridiculous overprotective rules). Walter Stratford finally gives in (somewhat). He relents and tells Bianca that she may do whatever she wants but only if Kat does it too. This ‘compromise’ does not make Bianca happy because Kat never dates or goes anywhere, a fact her father is well aware of.

This rule is the basis of the entire story. Cameron asks Bianca out on a date but she tells him about her father’s new rule. So Cameron sets out to find someone to date Kat, thinking that he will then finally get his chance to date Bianca however she is hoping to date Joey as soon as Kat has a date.

The question is who will date Kat? Cameron’s hopes turn to Patrick Verona. He’s a ‘bad boy’ shrouded in rumours and mystery. He’s actually just a good guy who like Kat, does what he wants without feeling the need to fit into the popular high school crowds.

A plan is cooked up and Patrick is bribed to ask Kat out on a date. At first it seems the pair will never get along and then sparks begin to fly.

Characters.

Kat Stratford is our main protagonist despite the entire scheme occurring because of Cameron’s crush. Kat is made out to be ‘other’ at school. She is mocked and somewhat feared because of her loud, straightforward, and at times, slightly abrasive personality. She is not afraid to express her opinions and it does not matter whether she is speaking to her sister, her father, a teacher, or a boy. Kat Stratford will say what is on her mind. Kat loves music, she dreams of starting a band but she knows her father won’t approve. She has been accepted to Sarah Lawrence College in New York and this causes some tension between her and her father as he does not want her to go. She despises the popular crowd, Joey Donner in particular, and she does not want him anywhere near her sister Bianca. There is tension between the sisters because Kat does not understand Bianca’s desire to be popular, and she is also sick and tired of people comparing her to her perkier younger sister. As the movie goes on, we learn more about Kat. As her and Patrick grow closer, she explains some of her reasoning behind her actions, and she explains why she despises Joey so much. I really enjoy Kat’s character arc but I will talk about this more when I am discussing themes.

Bianca Stratford is not a one dimensional character and this is something that I love because she so easily could have been. Bianca is young and naive and she is simply trying to survive high school. She does care about her social life and about her popularity. She does want to fit in at school. She does care about how she looks and about what people think of her however none of these are bad things. She is frustrated because she feels as though Kat can never see her point of view and she feels frustrated by her father’s stifling nature. She feels like Kat is being hypocritical because at one point in time she was very popular and then one day she decided she no longer wanted to be, but this revelation gives us more insight into Kat’s character. She did care about popularity at some point which is why Bianca is so frustrated with her now. She feels her father and her sister are stopping her from living her life, having experiences, making mistakes, and learning for herself and while yes, she starts off a little vapid and selfish when the movie begins, her frustrations and feelings are very valid. I really like her growth as a character in this movie which I will also talk about in themes.

Patrick Verona is a great guy. He’s cool. He’s his own person. He does not care what people think. People judge him because of how he dresses (combat boots are very edgy of course) and really as the movie plays out, we see that he is a very thoughtful guy. He really cares about Kat and by the end of the movie he has fallen hard for her. His one bad judgement call in this movie is the fact that he allows himself to get swept into Cameron and Joey’s plan and he accepts the bribes to ask Kat on a date. It is the typical plot where at first it is just about the money but then feelings become involved. Kat and Patrick make a really lovely couple and they bond and connect as the movie plays out but of course, we all know that at some point Kat will find out that he was paid to ask her out and she will be devastated and furious when she finds out and rightly so. I like Patrick. I don’t like the date scheme and it is disappointing that he went along with it but Ledger was brilliant in this movie. He was charming and funny and even though it does take a while to get there, his integrity does win in the end.

Cameron and Joey are Bianca’s two suitors and I am talking about them together because they are the absolute opposite of each other. I think that Bianca’s interest in Joey and then finally Cameron really represents her personal growth in the movie. In the beginning, she is interested in the wealthy and handsome Joey. Joey is overly confident, in fact he is cocky. He wants to act and he is always talking about himself and his good looks. He is self-absorbed and he only wants to date Bianca because it will stroke his own ego. Cameron is sweet, and shy and he is willing to do a lot for Bianca. He cares about her as a person. He learns french so he can tutor her. He thinks she is smarter than she gives herself credit for and even after he learns of her plan to ditch him for Joey, he makes sure she gets home safely when Joey leaves her with no ride home. He is not a doormat either though and I respect the fact that he confronts her about her behaviour. He tells her to her face how much he likes her, he lists out all he has done for her but he does not demand that she should automatically like him back. He tells her that if she was not interested then she should have told him instead of stringing him along and he tells her that she just cannot be so selfish. It is a really great scene and it is a turning point for them both. Bianca has to go through the naive infatuation with Joey before she can learn what an awful guy he really is, before she can see what is right in front of her. When she and Cameron do finally connect, it is clear that they are actually a very sweet couple.

Walter Stratford is an overbearing father. I think if Larry Miller wasn’t so funny I would really dislike this character. He loves his daughters and he does just want what is best for them and he means well but he is stifling and he does need to understand that he cannot bubble wrap his girls forever. His rules are unfair and over the top. They do need to live their own lives and make mistakes so that they can learn and grow and mature as human beings. He does have some really witty lines though and he does redeem himself with some very tender moments. The father/daughter relationship can be complex, especially when fathers must accept the fact that their little girls are growing up and becoming young women.

Themes.

There are a few themes presented in this movie. Individuality vs society, love, familial relationships, personal growth and the idea of public perception vs personal reality. I think I would argue that the idea of public perception vs personal reality and personal growth are the two most important themes in this movie because every character is perceived a certain way when the movie begins and as it goes on, we learn what they are really like.

When the movie begins, Kat and Bianca are stereotypical opposites. One popular, one not. One cares about popularity, one doesn’t. One wants to date, one doesn’t. Perky vs blunt, etc. It would have been very easy to allow these two girls to remain stereotypical and one dimensional but instead the movie explores their personalities. Both sisters struggle to understand each other because of their differences but as time passes and the audience learns more about who they actually are as people, the sisters begin to connect because they understand each other more.

Kat finally opens up to her sister and explains why she dislikes Joey so much and why she does not want him anywhere near her younger sister. (No spoilers – go watch the movie!), and Bianca explains to Kat that she feels so frustrated because she feels like Kat and their father never let her experience anything for herself. There is a lovely moment towards the end of the movie where Bianca thanks Kat for everything that she has done for her. It is a lovely moment for two reasons. It shows Bianca’s growth – this once selfish girl is acknowledging that her sister has done a lot for her and she is saying thank you. It is also nice to see these two characters who began as such opposites find some common ground and move closer together. Their relationship will definitely improve now that they can both see where the other is coming from.

Something that I really like about this movie is that while the characters get fleshed out as the movie plays out, they don’t necessarily change. Kat realises that she can let people into her life and not always look for the worst in people however she does not at any point lose her fiery, blunt personality. She doesn’t change her look and she doesn’t stop expressing her opinions. At no point does Patrick tell her that she is too much, or too loud, or too anything. He falls for her as she is. The biggest change is that she finally accepts that she has to let her sister live and learn for herself.

At the end of the movie, she is still confident, she is still happy to express her thoughts, her opinions, and her feelings – As she does in the arguably most well-known scene from this movie where she stands up in English class and reads her poem expressing how hurt she is by Patricks’s actions. Kat becomes a more well-rounded person yes, but she never changes. Her straightforward personality is never a bad thing and I really like that she did not lose her spirit at the end of this movie and become a ‘nicer’ person – nicer in the sense that she would stop being blunt, loud, and confident enough to speak her mind just because the popular guys in high school find her intimidating. She’s true to herself and she learns about herself along the way and I really love her arc.

I feel the same way about Bianca. Bianca is never called selfish for caring about popularity, she is called selfish because of how she treats people. I really appreciate that her arc was about her understanding her sister more. I love how she took the time to be able to vocalise her frustrations. I really love that by the end of the movie, she has learned who she really likes and she learns that she can’t just think about herself but she does not suddenly not care about all the things she cared about at the beginning. She still cares about her friends, but she has learned who her true friends are. She still cares about being able to live her life and figure things out for herself, and she has maturely explained her point of view to her sister. She still cares about how she looks and what people think of her and that is fine because these are not bad things. It is okay to care about how you look. It is okay to want to fit in at high school – what is not okay is treating people badly and this is a lesson that Bianca learns.

I love that both sisters matured and developed while retaining their personalities. They grew as people but they did not become completely different people and that is one of the reasons I love this movie.

Structure.

This plot moves fairly quickly and while there are a lot of moving parts, it does not feel overwhelming.

This movie is an adaptation of a Shakespeare play and something that Shakespeare does in so many of his plays, The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, etc., is weave his plot and sub-plot together seamlessly. This movie does this too.

If you study one of Shakespeare’s plays, you will see how his sub-plots mirror his main plot. A really good example of this can be found in King Lear – which I will most likely discuss in more detail in a future blog post.

Kat’s story is the main plot while Bianca’s is the sub-plot yet both are given the same amount of attention and both girls can grow and their stories are not separate. They are weaved together.

In my opinion there are three key scenes in this movie – The party, The bleachers, and The prom.

Let me explain.

I have spoken before about how I believe that a movie’s structure can match it’s plot and how the pace may seem slow if the character is struggling and then when our character gains confidence, the movie’s pace picks up.

In 10 Things I Hate About You, I feel that these three key scenes are where we see the story get developed the most.

Kat and Patrick bond at the party. She gets drunk and hits her head. He looks after her and brings her home. Despite his genuine feelings for her that have developed, he won’t kiss her while she is drunk. This upsets Kat and her being upset by this shows the audience that she wanted him to kiss her, meaning that she has grown to like him too.

It is at this party that Joey leaves Bianca to get home all by herself and she has to turn to Cameron even after she ignored him all night. He does give her a lift home and it is in the car that he gives her a piece of his mind. So this party is a turning point for all of our characters.

The scene where Patrick sings I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You on the bleachers is one of my favourite scenes in any movie. It is cliché. It is a huge public gesture and I think if it was any other actor I would cringe but Heath Ledger manages to make it charming. It is a very endearing moment because the cool and mysterious Patrick makes a fool of himself for Kat, who is clearly smitten by the gesture as it gets them back on speaking terms. This moment is a turning point for them as a couple and it also sets up the big downfall when Kat inevitably learns about the bribes.

The prom is where all our storylines collide. Kat decides to go to the prom with Patrick. By doing so, she is opening up and allowing herself to be vulnerable. She is having a great time with him and the night starts off so nicely that we as the audience, know it is too good to be true. Bianca finally gets to go to prom, the event she has been dreaming of the entire movie – Would you like to guess who she goes with?

It is at prom that the painful truth finally comes out and Kat is rightfully devastated when she finds out that Patrick had been paid to ask her on dates. He tries to explain himself. He tries to tell her that he has genuinely fallen for her but she won’t hear of it. It is a hard scene to watch, especially since we know how big of a deal it was that Kat decided to open up and attend prom with Patrick because up until a certain point she was adamant that she was not going. She feels stupid and used and Julia Stiles plays her so well because every time I watch this movie I am always devastated for her when this happens.

Bianca has an amazing moment at prom. If you know then you know and if you don’t – watch the movie! In my opinion, Bianca’s amazing moment at prom shows how much she has grown as a character and she completely redeems herself for her behaviour in the beginning.

The prom is a really satisfying scene to watch and something that I really like about it is that it has a stage-like quality to it. If you are familiar with Shakespeare plays then you will know that there are often scenes near the end where all of the characters are onstage and all of the confusion gets cleared up when the truth finally spills out and gets revealed to all. It is a very theatrical moment and as I said, every time I watch it, I feel sorry for Kat.

Final Thoughts.

10 Things I Hate About You is a movie that I have seen many times and it is one that I know I will watch many times again. I love the cast and the soundtrack is great too. I really like the story and of course, being an English Literature student I do enjoy modern adaptations of classic plays – not always, but I enjoy them when they are done well and I do believe that this adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew is done very well. I would recommend watching this movie on a rainy day or on a day when you need a laugh. It is funny, it is touching, it is a little cheesy at times, but overall it is a very enjoyable movie to watch.

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen 10 Things I Hate About You? Let me know what you think in the comments below. I hope you all have a great week.

Make sure to check out tomorrow’s Book of The Month discussion all about Michael Connelly’s City Of Bones and follow me on Instagram if you don’t already (@katelovesliterature) because I will be announcing September’s #bookofthemonth very soon.

Kate xo.

My Cousin Vinny.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another #moviemonday. Over the weekend I sat down to watch My Cousin Vinny. This is a movie that I’ve really enjoyed since I was young as it is one of the few movies that my father enjoys. Over the weekend I introduced it to a friend who loves Joe Pesci but hadn’t seen this particular movie. It was the first time that I had watched it in a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it again. So let’s dive into Movie Monday. 

This movie came out in 1992 and it was directed by Jonathan Lynn. 

Plot

Joe Pesci stars as Vinny, the charming, funny, quick-thinking lawyer who arrives in Alabama to help his cousin Billy and his friend Stan after the two young men find themselves arrested and charged with the murder of a store clerk. The only problem is that Vinny isn’t exactly experienced, in fact this is his first trial. 

Audiences get to watch this New Yorker navigate his way through this small town. Vinny doesn’t just have a trial to get through, he must try to do his job while under the scrutiny of everyone in town because in small towns everyone knows everyone and Vinny Gambini stands out like a sore thumb in his black leather jacket. 

It seems that everyone and everything is against Billy and Stan. Witnesses are testifying against them, the judge hates them and the jury likely thinks they’re guilty before the trial has even begun and now their fate lies in the hands of Vinny, who finds himself in contempt more than once. The stakes are high but Vinny Gambini is not a man who gives up easily. 

Characters

I would say this movie has five main characters. Vinny, Billy, Stan, Lisa, and Judge Haller. 

The movie’s main protagonists are Billy, Stan, and Vinny. 

Billy and Stan are two innocent young men who were unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time. Driving through Alabama, they made a stop at a convenience store. We watch them go in, buy their groceries, and leave again. A few minutes later blue lights are behind them and the boys get pulled over by the police. In the police station, the boys think that they’ve been arrested over a misunderstanding about an unpaid for item however the police have arrested them for the murder of the store clerk who has been shot. The boys confess to their crime, well they confess to what they think is their crime – accidentally stealing a can of tuna, but the police are astounded that they got a murder confession so easily and quickly. It is only when the boys are being booked that they realise the stark reality of their situation and they try to explain themselves, pleading to anyone who will listen that it is a misunderstanding but their pleading is in vain. Unable to afford anyone else, Billy calls the only person he thinks might be able to help, his cousin Vinny. 

Billy is the calmer of the two boys. He knows they did nothing wrong and it is him who grasps the reality of the situation faster than Stan. Stan is a nervous wreck and you can’t blame him. He cannot sleep. He is afraid of what will happen to them if they end up in prison, and his fears are completely justified because as the movie goes on, it becomes clear that if the two boys are found guilty, they will likely receive the death penalty. So while this is a comedy, the stakes are high. Billy has faith in his cousin Vinny, he believes in him and it is this faith that gets them through the trial. 

Vinny is a confident, (some would say cocky) man from New York. He’s a fast talker and a quick thinker. He and his girlfriend Lisa find out very quickly that they are out of their depth as they are introduced to grits, early morning train whistles, and locals who don’t exactly welcome newcomers. Vinny is not what one would expect when they picture a lawyer. He waltzes into court in his leather jacket and his steel toe boots and he very quickly makes an enemy of the judge. He knows he can win this case, he believes he can but he has no time for procedure and as the movie plays out, it becomes clear that he isn’t exactly qualified for this trial but nevertheless, he is determined to do a good job, he is determined to win. 

Lisa is my favourite character in this movie. I would argue that Lisa is iconic. She is fashionable and sarcastic. Every line out of her mouth is quick witted. She is incredibly supportive of Vinny, she believes in him, she wants to help in any way she can but she is not a doe eyed love interest. She is an independent woman who speaks her mind at all times. She is not afraid to tell Vinny when he is messing up and doing poorly and she makes no secret of the fact that he needs to get it together for the sake of those two boys who are counting on him. Lisa is an expert about cars and this is a fact that become the key to the whole movie. I would even say that Lisa is the hero of this movie because her skills, passion, and her little pink Polaroid camera end up being more helpful than Vinny could have ever imagined. 

Judge Chamberlain Haller is a no nonsense, strict, respectable man. He has no time for Vinny’s antics, he has no patience for Vinny’s lack of proper courtroom etiquette or respect for the dress code. He is a man who expects to be treated with respect and it seems that this stuck in his ways judge has also decided that the boys are guilty before the trial has even begun. 

Vinny, Lisa, Billy and Stan are facing an uphill battle but they are not backing down. 

Themes

The movie’s key theme is the desire for justice. Vinny is fighting to get to the truth, to prove that Billy and Stan are innocent. A key detail is that as the audience, we know they are innocent. We saw them go into the store and leave the store and the clerk was very much alive when they left so the mounting evidence against them is as much of a shock to the audience as it is to them and it seems incredibly frustrating and unfair because we know they didn’t do it. 

Vinny is the underdog. He is fighting against a judge who hates him and picks him apart for every little thing, his clothes, his accent, the fact that he’s from out of town. It’s a frustrating battle because at times it just seems that Vinny can’t do anything right. 

There are two senses of injustice in this movie, the first instance being the most important, two innocent young men are on trial for a murder they didn’t commit, and the second instance being the fact that it shouldn’t matter whether or not Vinny wears a suit to court, or if he isn’t as polished as Judge Haller demands, the only thing that should matter is how well Vinny does his job and despite having a shaky start, it soon becomes clear that Vinny isn’t one to dismiss based on how he looks. That old saying,  “you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.”, springs to mind. 

Structure

This is a movie that gains momentum as it goes on. At first it seems rather slow. I’ve talked a lot about how I think the structure of a movie often matches the plot and this happens again in My Cousin Vinny. 

The town that the movie is set in is a slow moving town. The facts of the case seem to take forever to present themselves. The interrogation scenes are frustrating because the longer they go on, the clearer it becomes to the audience that these boys are being charged with murder but the boys don’t realise it yet. It takes a while for Vinny to get the hang of things. He is out of his depth after all and it does become frustrating watching him be held in contempt time and time again. Judge Haller is relentless and you find yourself wishing that he would lighten up and you also find yourself wishing that Vinny would start improving at some point. 

I found myself agreeing with Lisa every time she told him that he needed to clean up his act and get it together. He needed to learn the facts. He needed to get people on the stand and start cross-examining witnesses. He needed to step up and once he does, the movie’s pace begins to pick up. The turning point is when Vinny starts to interview the witnesses himself and he begins to realise that the facts aren’t adding up and more specifically, the timeline of the murder doesn’t make sense. His first win in court changes the tone of the movie and for the first time things start looking up for Billy and Stan. 

The key to the breakthrough in the case is Lisa. Her moment on the witness stand is the movie’s climax in my opinion. This breakthrough moment is so satisfying to watch. I won’t spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it but Lisa’s knowledge and expertise all about cars and her little pink camera turn out to be extremely important and she deserves a round of applause. Marisa Tomei won an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category for her portrayal of Lisa and it is extremely deserved. I cannot imagine anyone else playing this part. If you know you know and as I said, I won’t spoil the movie but I would recommend watching My Cousin Vinny  for Lisa’s testimony alone. It is an incredible scene, in fact I would argue it is the best scene in the movie and to quote the movie, Lisa is a “lovely, lovely, witness.” 

Despite the pace being slow at the beginning, the comedy in this movie makes up for that. Joe Pesci is very funny as Vinny and his increasing frustration plays out hilariously onscreen and the combination of Pesci and Tomei as Vinny and Lisa is in my opinion, the best part of the movie. The duo are great together. They are a sarcastic, sharp, funny couple and they are endearing. They bicker, they argue, they support each other and they clearly love each other and the humour in this movie, especially in their scenes, makes up for the initially slow pace. 

I would say it is a three-part structure. When I talked about The Devil Wears Prada, I talked about how we watched Andy struggle, then adapt, then thrive and I would say the same about the structure of My Cousin Vinny. In this movie we watch Vinny struggle and all seems hopeless for Billy and Stan but then there’s a shift. Vinny starts to get into a rhythm and he gains confidence and the tone changes, suddenly things seem hopeful. The pace picks up, the testimonies are changing and Vinny’s case is gaining momentum. It’s a great movie because the stakes are high and you can feel the tension in the courtroom. The frustration you feel towards Vinny soon becomes support and as soon as he starts making breakthroughs, you find yourself rooting for him. It’s exciting when the wind is changing and it’s especially brilliant at the end, when the case is so close to breaking and it’s even more exciting for the audience watching things change because again, we know the boys are innocent. This would be an entirely different movie if we didn’t see that scene in the beginning when the boys went in, shopped, and left because then we as an audience would be wondering what happened too. We would be wondering did they or didn’t they do it and I believe if this was the case it would be a crime drama movie rather than a comedy. It is interesting how one or two scenes can change an entire movie. There are some brief political elements in this movie, particularly in the scene when the boys are first brought to jail. There are protesters outside who are protesting against the death penalty and I believe if this wasn’t a comedy that this plot point would have been focused on a lot more, bringing a much more serious and political tone to the movie. 

Final Thoughts. 

My final thoughts are that I really enjoyed this movie. It was really fun watching it with someone who has never seen it before and I was so glad that they enjoyed it. Watching this movie again has renewed my love for the character Lisa. I would say that she is definitely on my list of favourite female characters – which is in fact a topic that I will discuss in more detail at another time. 

I would highly recommend this movie because it’s clever, it’s funny, and as I said already, Lisa’s testimony alone is a great reason to watch My Cousin Vinny. It’s a great story, the stakes are high, the characters are funny and endearing and easy to root for. It’s my favourite Joe Pesci movie without a doubt. 

So this has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen My Cousin Vinny? If so, what did you think? Let me know because I love hearing your thoughts. 

I hope everyone has a lovely week. 

Kate xo.