Personal Top 3 LGBT Movies

Personal Top 3 LGBT Movies

Today is the first day of spring, and while I am very relieved to see March is finally here, it does mean that LGBT History Month is officially over. However, the feeling of acceptance, love, community and pride doesn’t have to end just because there is no label to put on it. Therefore, I have decided to compile a list of my personal three favourite LGBT movies, to keep the spirit of LGBT History Month going even after it has finished. They are listed in no particular order, since I love them all equally.

1. Carol (2015)

If there’s one movie that I hope you go and watch after reading this post, it is this one. Carol has been the one LGBT movie that I haven’t been able to shut up about since watching it. The fact that it has an equally amazing book at the core of it, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (which I also recommend you go and read), makes it even better – it’s an amazing adaptation.

In a nutshell, Carol tells the story of the love and affair between a young photographer, Therese Belivet (played by Rooney Mara), and an older woman, Carol Aird (played by Cate Blanchett), who is going through a rocky divorce. The story is set in 1950s New York.

My favourite thing about this movie is the way it manages to capture that breathtaking yet mundane moment when one realises they have truly fallen in love. I have seen no other movie portray it as well as Carol does. It also presents the best LGBT friendship I have seen in a movie that is supposed to focus on same-sex love, that between Carol and Abby. They’re open to each other, their devotion and loyalty and understanding of each other is breathtaking, and the familiarity between the two really tugs at your heartstrings. If you don’t want to watch it for the glamour of 1950’s America, or the cinematography, or the amazing acting, watch it for the relationships it portrays.

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Picture curtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

2. Blue is the Warmest Colour/ La Vie d’Adèle (2013)

This movie holds a special place in my heart, since it was the movie that helped me deal with my own confused mind regarding my sexuality. It was a crucial for me, and has therefore had a big impact.

The movie focuses on a French teenager who deals with a newfound desire for a mysterious woman with blue hair that she encounters by chance on the street, and later at a gay bar. Adèle’s (played by Adèle Exarchopoulos) coming-of-age story about her passionate relationship with her first love, Emma (played by Léa Seydoux) is a very relatable one. Her experience of dealing with the uncertainty of her sexuality is sure to echo that of many people in the LGBT community. She is a character that, despite being irritating to some at varying points throughout the movie, is very easy to identify with.

The movie’s raw and uncensored depiction of sexuality has been heavily criticised, yet I believe it is one of the things that make Blue is the Warmest Colour so amazing (and so do people such as Steven Spielberg). The explicit sex scenes are not there just for the sake of it, they make the relationship three dimensional.*

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Image curtesy of IMDb

3. The Way He Looks/ Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho  (2014)

If I were to describe my love for this movie, I would say it was accidental and unexpected. And if I were to be clichéic, I would use the now-famous phrase: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep, slowly, and then all at once.” I might have raised a few eyebrows at first, but the movie soon took hold of my heart and it has been in my list of all time favourite movies ever since.

The Way He Looks is a captivating coming-of-age love story between Leonardo ( played by Ghilherme Lobo), a blind boy who is struggling to be independent, and Gabriel (played by Fabio Audi), Leo’s new classmate. Based off the short film I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone, The Way He Looks expands on the themes that the film touches upon, as well as explores the relationship between the boys in more depth.

The way the movie handles homosexuality and disability, two topics that can either make or break such a story, is exceptional. Moreover, Leo is a very lovable character. He feels overprotected by those around him, the best example being his friend Giovana, who walks home with him every day even though she lives in the opposite direction to his house. He has to deal with an overbearing mother and plenty of bullying at school, experiences with which anyone watching the movie can at least sympathise, if not identify, with, regardless of being disabled or not. Leo is a character that does not tick all the boxes that society exoects him to, which is what makes the movie so unique and lovable – its message of embracing who you are and realising that your differences are what make you great comes across loud and clear.

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Image courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

These movies mean a lot to me, but remember, they are only my personal preference. I would love to hear what your top LGBT movie recommendations are!

*Disclaimer: I am aware of the numerous statements made by the two actresses regaring the harrowing experienence of filming the movie, especially the sex scenes. My appreciation of those scenes does not mean I am dismissing their statements; my focus in this article is on the movie itself, not the process of filming and production.

Valentine’s Day gift ideas

Valentine’s Day gift ideas

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and all around me people are getting more and more worked up regarding gifts and dinner plans. While I cannot help you get a dinner reservation at that amazing, romantic restaurant everyone is raving about, I have decided to lend a hand to all the confused magical souls out there who are in need of a bit of inspiration when it comes to giving their heart to their Valentine (without actually giving it away).

1) Let someone else express the love you feel – books, music, movies.

A classic when it comes to gift-giving, yet always efficient. You could opt to go for something you know they already like – a specific genre, author/artist/director/actor – or, based on the things you know they already like, get them something you know they will enjoy but haven’t taken into consideration so far.

Seeing as it is Valentine’s, you could try gifting a collection of poems instead of the typical Penguin Classics, or a CD that you could use as the backdrop to your romantic home-cooked dinner for that night, or (why not?) be more practical than usual and grab a movie that you will both enjoy at the end of the evening.

Some recommendations:

BooksPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Lullabies by Lang Leav – One Day by David Nichols – Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowel

MusicThe BeatlesLP,  John Legend, Fifty Shades of Gray soundtrack, concert tickets to Ed Sheeran, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The XX, U2.

MoviesMoulin Rouge, The Way He Looks, Dirty Dancing, Juno, Beauty and the Beast (or any Disney movie)

2) Let art express the love you feel

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for this Valentine’s, all you need it to express are three, so why not let a cute print do the talking? The options are endless – you could go for a sweet and loving pun, or chose a more cheeky approach. Or maybe try to be more personal about your artsy gift, and have it personalised – a photo of you and your Valentine, or one depicting a fond memory the two of you have. One of my favourite ideas when it comes to gifting art is a city map. Although it might sound boring, it is a sweet customisable idea – the map could be of the city where the two of you met, where you currently live or where you were born.

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Image courtesy of Anna Saccone

3) Let their interests help you express the love you feel

If you want to play it very safe and make sure you impress your Valentine, a good idea is to turn to their interests and surprise them with gifts that will take pride of place in their heart and home – merchandise from their favourite TV shows, video games or favourite bands. If they have a hobby that they are passionate about, besides trying to take part in it, you could help them expand and improve by buying supplies or “How To” books.

4) Let clothes express the love you feel

No, I do not mean the “I am with sexy” T-shirts, nor do I mean sexy lingerie – unless you are into that, in which case, by all means, do go ahead. What I do mean is, show them you pay attention to the little things in your conversations, like when they want an article of clothing but cannot find it in stores. Make the effort to find it for them, or why not go all the way and custom make it?

One of my favourite gifts that I received was a hand painted T-shirt with a pattern that I could not find in any store, no matter how much I looked for it. I appreciated the effort and the realisation that my useless whining was not being completely drowned out in conversation. And Valentine’s Day is all about little things like that, is it not?

5) Express your love through food

If you feel like straying away from the traditional presents, food related gifts are a good way to go, especially if you get creative with them. Why give your Valentine a bouquet of roses when you could give them a bouquet of treats? If you are a lover of puns like myself, you could incorporate them in your gift – one idea is to get some simple jars, write a food related pun on the label, such as “I am nuts for you”, and fill the jar with the corresponding food (in this case, nuts).

 

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Image courtesy of The Domestic Curator

I hope these ideas are useful, and that you all have a magical day.

Remember that Valentine’s Day is a day to show your love and compassion for those around you, regardless of your relationship status – an should be something that you try to do every day.

 

January Favourites – the Unicorn edition

January Favourites – the Unicorn edition

As the first month of the year drew to a close, I kept seeing numerous Youtubers and bloggers post about their monthly favourites, and I decided to take inspiration from them and write a January favourites post as well, with a personal twist to it. As I do not have many other talents besides binge watching a show in a day or finishing a book in a similar amount of time, my list will consist of my favourite Tv shows, movies and music, watched or listened to this (past) month.

Favourite Tv Shows

  • Sherlock – January marked the airing of the much anticipated fourth season of BBC’s Sherlock. This show, despite the small number of seasons, never fails to amaze. All three episodes were gripping, exciting and intriguing, and for three beautiful weeks, my Sunday nights took me on a rollercoaster of emotions that inevitably ended on a cliffhanger.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events – Yet another captivating series beautifully delivered by Netflix. Watching this is definitely one of the best things I have done this month. The acting is amazing, the characters are captivating, and the filming is very well done. On top of all this, the show has one of the best intros I have ever seen.
  • Yuri on Ice!  – This is the first yaoi that I have seen (there might be more like this, I just haven’t stumbled across them yet) that is not centered around a gay relationship. The anime focuses instead on hard work, determination and figure ice skating. The romance is never forced on us, it is simply presented as a result of two guys working together towards a common goal, falling in love after getting to know each other this way. It’s sweet and beautiful – the ice skating is mesmerising and the characters are adorable. It also gets extra points for a very catchy intro song – it’s become one of my favourites.

Favourite Movies

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – What a comeback for the Harry Potter fandom! I have to admit, I walked into the cinema rather sceptical about it, and did not expectation much from it. By the end, however, I was in love. The movie offers new insight into the magical world we all love, showing us the American magical community of the 1920s, and giving us a closer look at the numerous magical creatures that we have only managed to glimpse before. And all this is narrated by the sweetest Hufflepuff – it was about time that they got more recognition, and a chance to show everyone how badass and amazing they are.
  • Assassin’s Creed – Another movie that I was sceptical about before actually seeing. I am a big fan of the video games, and I was worried about the way the production team was going to approach adapting it into a movie due to fans’ supposed  expectations. I was very impressed with it, however. The game series focuses mostly on Desmond Miles’ experience in the Animus. The movie focuses more on the Abstergo Industires, and expands the mythology of the game by featuring a new story (a great way not to get the fans upset, in my opinion). It’s a great action movie, and I was very impressed with the way it was filmed.
  • Sing – By far the most hilarious movie I have seen this year (even though it has just started). It’s incredibly adorable (who doesn’t love animated, singing animals?) and genuinely feel-good, with a huge number of recognisable songs that you will definitely sing along to (I know I did, and everyone in the row behind me hated me for it).

Favourite Music

  • LP – I will forever be thankful to Orange is the New Black for introducing me to the amazing voice of LP. I have become a super obsessed fan – I know all her songs off by heart. Which is why I was so happy when I saw that she released two new music videos last week. Although these are for pre-existing songs, it gave me an excuse to spend the whole evening listening to her albums.
  • Nothing but Thieves – This weekend, Summer Well (a music festival that takes place every August in Romania) released the names of the first four artists that will perform at the festival, and I was thrilled to see that Nothing but Thieves was among them. Although I don’t listen to their songs as often as I did when I first stumbled upon them, I am always left in awe whenever I do. They are a one-of-a-kind band with a very unique style. I cannot wait to see them live this summer!
  • 50 Shades Darker soundtrack –  Where the movies lack, the soundtracks make up for it. Two years ago, the 50 Shades of Gray soundtrack went beyond my expectations (yes, I didn’t expect much from the movie. Can you blame me though?) Therefore, I was buzzing with anticipation for the music they were going to use in the second movie of the series. You just have to look at the artists that feature on it to know this is a soundtrack that you will be listening to on repeat – Halsey, John Legend, Sia, Kygo, Tove Lo and Taylor Swift are but a few of the talented voices that make this sountrack amazing.

Letter to my 18 year old self

Letter to my 18 year old self

With my birthday having just passed, I have been spending time reflecting on the 18th year of my life. I have decided that before I start looking towards the possibilities that lie ahead of me this year, I will cast one final glance behind, to acknowledge the experiences that have helped in my continuous development. During this process of reminiscing on the past year, I have realised there are a few important things that I wish I could tell my just-turned-18 self.

1) Stop comparing yourself to others. You are doing just fine.

I have struggled with lack of self-confidence for as long as I can remember. I feel compelled to blame the educational system in my home country for this, because it encourages students of all ages to constantly rank themselves against their classmates by placing utmost importance on grades. Interestingly enough, however, ever since I started University, this problem has become more acute, despite being in a much less competitive environment than the one I grew up in. Or maybe, because of such an environment. It could also be the fact that everything is so different at University to how it was in high school, and it has thrown me off-balance. Whatever the reason, my constant need to compare myself to those around me is a big strain on my happiness, and I have slowly realised over the past year that such a thing is not helpful in any way – at least, not when done in excess, which is what I have been doing. I am aware that comparing yourself to others can be motivational for some people, but as it has never been the case for me, this bad habit is something that I have decided to leave in the past. I am now more aware than ever that everyone goes through life at their own pace, and just because you feel like you are going slower than other people does not mean you are not going to get there in the end.

2) Cut yourself some slack.

Over the years, I have slowly become my biggest critic. Self-criticism is good, in small, regulated doses, but what I have been doing to myself lately has gone beyond that.Nothing that I do is ever good enough, I constantly feel like I could do better and that I fail to reach expectations. But whose expectations? Sure, there is a certain standard that I have to maintain in aspects such as Uni work, but that is nothing compared to the impossible standards that I set myself. I always seek out my shortcomings, always acknowledge my failures, always dismiss praise. Such a negative way of looking at things is going to get me nowhere. It’s a recipe for disaster – it will certainly hinder my personal growth and keep me back from improvement. Perfection is not achievable, and that’s ok. I have to realise that as long as I give it my best, there is no reason to feel disappointed. It will take work to silence the harsh voice in my head, but it’s something that is worth the effort.

3) Embrace homesickness.

Ever since I got to move to London as a child, I have found it difficult to define “home”.  As my English teacher eloquently put it, I am stuck between two countries, two nationalities, and two identities. I am both and none at the same time. It used to cause me a lot of worry and uneasiness. When I lived in London, I missed Bucharest. When I moved back to Bucharest, I missed London. It’s an unsettling feeling, to not know where your roots are. And yes, I don’t believe that our roots are necessarily in the place where we are born, I believe they are planted in whatever place we call home. Going to University, away from both “homes”, allowed me to gain a new perspective on the matter. For the first time, I started believing in the words “home is not a place”. Home is where you feel loved, comfortable, yourself, at ease. My home, as I have finally realised, is each and every person that I cherish in my life, friends and family. They are all my anchors, my roots. In their own special ways, they keep me grounded and create a sense of belonging. Therefore, being homesick is not as confusing anymore. And I am going to embrace the feeling differently than I did before, now that I finally know what “home” is to me.

4) Don’t fight a losing battle.

People leave. It is something that will inevitably happen. I have learned that better than ever once I left high school. As you evolve and grow, so do the people around you. Values change, perspectives shift, ideas get renewed it’s normal that, as a consequence of this, people end up growing apart. And I have come to understand that it can be more damaging to hold on to those who want to leave than to simply take the time to miss them once you shut the door behind them. It doesn’t do you any good to put in effort when the other person does not do the same. Therefore, let people be. Let them leave, let them stay, but never force them. It’s the least you can do, out of respect both for yourself and for them.What I feel like I have overlooked in this situation in the past year is the fact that you should also apply it to yourself. If you aren’t putting enough love into a relationship, it’s better to step away, and let the other person focus on people who invest as much love as they do. As a result of this, it is important to surround yourself with people who help you grow. The size of your circle of friends is not as important as the people who are part of it, and they should  not make you question your importance in their life, nor their love for you.

5) Embrace your natural beauty.

It has officially taken me 7 years to look past my acne. It’s been a struggle that I feel I have carried out for longer than that, however. Having acne has been the cause of numerous low points in my adolescence, when my self-esteem would be almost non-existent, and everything would come crashing down as a result. I have never been a naturally confident person – rather, I constantly feel like one of the most awkward human beings to grace the Earth. As a result, I don’t like drawing attention to myself. And having a face covered in acne always felt like it created the most unnecessary attention. People stare. It’s the truth. They might also stare if you have amazing skin, because who is not in awe at such a thing, but people will surely notice if your face isn’t flawless. For the past 5 years I have been constantly working on averting those looks from my face, but at the same time, allowing me the confidence to look at myself in the mirror and like what I see. And finally, I have achieved that goal. And I now move on to the next struggle – making sure I don’t fall back into my old habits. I have to allow myself the odd acne breakout without letting it diminish my self-worth and beauty.

Being 18 was an interesting chapter in my life, but it is now time to enjoy the next one.