About Jamie

Positivity, writing, roleplaying, film making, craft, art and laughter. Currently blogging the Australian Empire magazine's top 500 films of all time and writing fiction.

Le quai des brumes (1938)

Le quai des brumes
Directed by Marcel Carné
Written by Jacques Prévert based on the novel by Pierre Dumarchais
(number 265)

Here’s another film where I couldn’t tell what it was going to be based on the name. As it happens it’s a pre-World war two noir about an ex soldier, or rather, a deserter, who goes to a port city. He adopts a dog and falls in love with what I have to assume from her beret, perfect make up and fancy rain slicker trenchcoat is the Wrong Sort of Girl.

My copy of the film came with a disclaimer: “When war was declared in September 1939, the film was banned because it was judged ‘immoral, depressing and distressing for the young people.”

Studio Canal’s been around a long time if they made this too.

Jean: I get upset and you think I’ve been drinking. I haven’t. I just haven’t eaten for two days, there’s a sign on my stomach which says ‘cold storage’.

In general this is a melodrama. The story beats and character choices are hard to believe in, but it’s super entertaining all the same. It’s a beautifully shot piece and everyone is so damn handsome and pretty and softly lit. I was involved in the story line and although I generally predicted the twists it was still compelling.

Does it make me love the people? Absolutely, particularly Jean and Nelly.

Bechdel test: The only woman is Nelly so no. Also she’s supposed to be only seventeen which makes all the stuff which happens regarding her love life pretty creepy. The actress looks to be in her thirties to me but that could be me misreading the style and the make up as being for an older woman. Anyway, she’s the prize everyone’s in love with and wants to win. Not exactly a deep character.

Best line:

Quart Vittel: What could be simpler than a tree?
Le peintre: A tree. But when I paint one, it sets everyone on edge. It’s because there’s someone or something hidden behind that tree. I can’t help painting what’s hidden behind things. To me a swimmer is already a drowned man.

(I also like that Jean brings it back later)

State of Mind: Enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Nice tight script and good callbacks to earlier things which are mentioned. Jean is like a thirties Kenneth Branagh and Nelly is a shockingly young character but the actress is wonderful, very compelling. I was just a bit worried about the dog being left on the ship but even that storyline was nicely resolved for me at the end so I was happy.

Watched movie count

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First Blood (1982)

First Blood
Directed by Ted Kotcheff
Written by Michael Kozoll, William Sackheim and Sylvester Stallone based on the novel by David Morrell
(number 261)

Here’s what I thought Rambo was about: hard core action dude killing lots of people and surviving ridiculous odds. Here’s what it’s apparently actually about: a soldier with PTSD is abused by small town police and then hunted through the mountains as they use deadly force to try and subdue him. Hard core.

Here’s a genre of film I wasn’t exactly aware existed before I watched a few from this list: hard man solves random problems with violence. I’m looking at you Taxi Driver, Electra Glide in Blue… I guess Fight Club? In retrospect this isn’t a surprising discovery. I just hadn’t thought of it exactly in terms of it being its own genre. Certainly there’s slippage between this and crime/gangster/war/revenge movies but it clarified in this instance. There really isn’t much story here in First Blood beyond ‘they were awful to him, won’t let him get away, so he solves it with violence.’

It’s a bleak film, and I guess I was supposed to be getting excited and amped from the violence and the tense chase but mostly I found it desolate and depressing. It’s hard to imagine this film being made again now. It’d have to have a psychologist character being like ‘oh no, this will trigger his PTSD from that time in Vietnam where he was crucified’ and looking over the footage from the station and shaking their head. ‘You shouldn’t have come at him with that straight razor because it reminds him of the knife he was scarred with’.

Does it make me love the people? I dunno, I kind of liked the crappy misguided commanding officer Trautman. I mean. Horrible person but played with a certain charisma. I always like watching Brian Dennehy but I don’t think his character added much to the general understanding of the human condition. He was mostly just playing a bad old Brian Dennehy character. The young red haired cop at the start who had some vague moral compass was nice but he didn’t ever manage to change the course of the action so felt a bit pointless.

The level which I empathised with Rambo is probably the key to what the movie is showing us. I understood how he could get to the place where he felt like nothing could go right. Where his only option was to lash out. And I wanted everyone to just back the hell off and let him run away into the mountains. So, there’s that.

Bechdel test: women? I’ve never heard of her.

Best line:

Teasle: Whatever possessed God in heaven to make a man like Rambo?
Trautman: God didn’t make Rambo, I made him!

State of Mind: The mountain landscapes are pretty and the cliffs and the stunts etc are all well done. It’s competently acted and easy to follow. But man, it’s bleak. I don’t think this is one I’d watch again and I have no interest in the following ones which just seem to be ‘let’s put him in more and more stressful situations until he goes bezerk again’. Maybe it’s just me, I’m not into that.

Watched movie count

Guest post: On writing reverse harem, or, so where do all the limbs go? by Steff Green

In March I released my 19th novel – The Castle of Earth and Embers. It’s the first in a new 5-part series following Maeve, an Arizona girl who discovers she’s inherited an honest-to-goodness English castle, complete with turrets and ramparts and four gorgeous male tenants. As this is a paranormal romance, lots of magical shenanigans and a healthy dose of sexy times and metaphysical angst ensue before the whole thing wraps up with a happily-ever-after five books later.

You might think the main emotional story arc of The Castle of Earth and Embers would be some kind of love triangle. Which of the four guys would Maeve end up with? Corbin – the protector wallowing in guilt? Arthur – the warrior tired of fighting? Flynn – the trickster with an artist’s soul – or Rowan – the enigma whose scars run deep? Or what about Blake, the mysterious fifth guy who shows up at the end of the book?

Thanks to a rising sub-niche within romance called “reverse harem” and the hashtag #whychoose, I didn’t have to write a love triangle and force Maeve to choose. There was no need to create a convenient deux-ex-machina (or deux-ex-Maevina, as my editor joked) to conveniently get rid of the other suitors so Maeve only ended up with one.

In my series, Maeve ends up in a happily-ever-after with five guys – her harem. (I’ve written an article on my blog about reverse harem if you want more information.)

How is this possible? How does this not go against everything that romance as a genre is built on – the enduring love of one guy for one girl?

Luckily, romance is a genre that isn’t afraid to move with the times and tackle women’s sexuality in new and challenging ways. Romance writers embrace and challenge stereotypes, they celebrate multicultural and interracial romances, they tackle characters who work at the top of the corporate ladder, are stay-at-home parents, are divorced, are disabled, suffer from mental illness. They embrace LGBT with sub-genres dedicated to gay/lesbian romances. They celebrate female desire and female agency. Why should polyamory not be next on the list?

Polyamory and other non-monogamous relationships between consenting people are becoming more open, more normalised, and more celebrated. That’s awesome. If reverse harem books help women exploring and discovering their own sexuality to see themselves, or experience a common sexual fantasy within the safety of the pages of a book, then I’m proud to be a part of that.

Writing an exciting love story with six separate emotional arcs and at least five happily-ever-afters is quite an undertaking. When I outline a book, I use a very basic, pared-back version of Libble Hawker’s technique (as demonstrated in her book Take Off Your Pants). I started with my concept; American girl discovers she owns British castle. Goes to castle. Discovers at castle that she is actually a witch and she has to fight off the fae alongside her harem of male witches.

Then I thought about Maeve, my FMC. I’ve written a lot of arty characters, so this time I gave her a passion for physics and a desire to become an astronaut. I thought the idea of her empirical, scientific mind grappling with all this magic stuff would be quite fun to explore.

I was right. It is.

Next, I needed a reason for Maeve to inherit this castle and for her to decide to move there. I needed some serious emotional stakes, and I needed her to end up in a state of mind where a polyamorous relationship might occur to her whereas it would never have done so back home in Arizona. Enter a horrific accident that kills off her family and some other circumstances that throw Maeve headlong into her adventure.

Then I needed some guys. I needed five love interests who were each wonderful in their own way and who each carried around their own pain and baggage. I’m really proud of the guys I came up with. I feel like each of them on their own wouldn’t have been right for Maeve, but together, they’re this amazing group that strengthen and heal each other.

As I deepened the male characters emotional arcs, I realised that I didn’t just to tell a heterosexual love story. There should be something going on between some of the guys, as well. M/M relationship show up in some (but not all) reverse harem books and honestly they’re my favourite books in the genre. (F/f is much rarer, because of what the audience is looking for). As well as a fledgling MM relationship, there are the friendships between the guys that get tested and strengthened by the harem.

The whole plot hangs off key emotional moments for each of the characters. Grief, hope, love, secrets, self-discovery, mental illness, guilt, anger, silence, neglect – I’m exploring all of these and how they impact the group dynamic and one-on-one relationships. With so many characters, every scene packs a huge emotional punch.

Then there’s the sex. There’s lots of it – one-on-one, threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes. Big, happy piles of tangled limbs. And all the feelings and confusion and misunderstandings that go along with sex, but amplified five-fold with more partners. I’m lucky in that I know many people in polyamorous relationships, and I can ask questions and learn from their emotional journey to make sure my characters ring true and don’t promote unsafe practices or harmful stereotypes.

I am having SO MUCH FUN. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to go back to plain old monogamous, heterosexual couples after this. Reverse harem has ruined me as a romance writer, and I couldn’t be happier.

For some reverse harem recommendations, check out 10 reverse harem series you should read right now.

___

Steff Green is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of twenty dark fantasy (as S C Green) and paranormal romance books (as Steffanie Holmes). Her books feature clever, witty heroines, wild shifters, cunning witches and alpha males who get what they want. In 2017 Steff was the recipient of the Attitude Award for Artistic Achievement, to honour her accomplishments as a person who lives with a disability.

Before becoming a writer, Steffanie worked as an archaeologist and museum curator. She currently lives in a castle outside Auckland with her cantankerous drummer husband, a horde of cantankerous cats, and their medieval sword collection. Follow Steff’s adventures on her blog or instagram.

Guest post: Gothic architecture, dark pubs, and mushy peas. Setting as a character in your story by Steff Green

Recently, I started reading an urban fantasy book set in London. I admit to being a bit of a Anglophile, and so the London setting attracted me to the book. But after a few chapters, I put it down, and haven’t picked it up again.

It wasn’t the fault of the main character – who was a totally kickass bisexual, down-on-her-luck wizard. The setting – or lack thereof – killed it for me.

If you’ve ever travelled to London, you know that the city has a life, a personality, all of its own. From the red double-decker buses and distinctive cabs to the ancient cobbled alleys and majestic gothic architecture mingled with the modern. From the scent of meat pies wafting out of corner shops to the reek of sweat on the overcrowded tubes. From Camden goths and the footballers’ wives of Chelsea to the myriad immigrant communities who call the city home … London lives and breathes its own distinctive Londonness.

This author captured none of it. The setting was so bland and shapeless it could have been any city in America, or none of them, since they all also have their own distinct characteristics. I don’t need pages of florid descriptions of Big Ben and mushy peas, but walking the character past a Tescos, or having her sit in an English pub with a G&T instead of a “dive bar” isn’t too much to ask.

One city is not like another. If you ever want to learn how a writer can envision a city and make it so utterly visceral that it feels familiar and foreign at the same time, read China Mieville. Read the Bas-Lag books, or The City and the City, and tell me that after a few strokes of his pen you can’t imagine walking the streets of El Qoma or New Crobuzon.

To me, the setting should be another character in the book – someone who allies with the main character, or throws up challenges in their way. Setting can move the plot forward or provide tension and conflict. Setting has its own quirks that must be navigated. It can be friend or enemy.

So how does a setting become another character in a book? Here are my tips:

Characters can be children of their settings.

Where you grew up has a way of shaping your personality, in the same was as who you grew up with. What if you grew up in a commune? Would you be a different person then if you grew up on the Manhattan East Side or Midwest US?

Create favourite “haunts”

It might be a hollowed-out tree where your heroine went to get away from her abusive father, or it could be a favourite pub where your hero shoots the breeze with his mates. These places create intimacy and camaraderie. They can become personifications for a character’s pain or flaws or motivations. They give your character a comfort zone around which you can seriously fuck them up.

And, when you threaten their favourite haunt as part of the story, you can create feelings as raw and visceral as if you threatened a character.

Setting reveals character

Every word in a book must serve one of two purposes: it must either move the story along, or deepen the reader’s understanding of character. Ideally, each word does both those things at the same time.

Descriptions of setting shouldn’t exist in a narrative just to show how beautifully you can evoke a sunset. Instead, they reveal details about the POV character and how they perceive the world. Then, you can shatter those perceptions throughout the novel, and reflect these changes in how they see their surroundings.

A person with a lot of education will describe things and notice things in a different way to someone who left school at fifteen.

At the moment, I’m writing a book about a girl who has grown up in semi-rural Arizona, and has come to live in a beautiful English castle. It’s wonderful because her rich and often humorous descriptions of her surroundings help the reader to understand how she feels about her change of fortune. A chair represents something very real and important in her life. If she’d grown up in the castle, she wouldn’t describe it in the same way because those experiences wouldn’t be new to her. A chair would just be a chair.

Do your research to add authentic touches.

As an ex-archaeologist, incorporating historical or architectural details into my stories makes me very happy. Many of these details can branch off to become new plot devices. A real secret tunnel under a fortress becomes the catalyst of a getaway plot. A ghost story from an historical pub becomes the focal point of a murder mystery. Mythological details about the realm of the fae inform a magical system. A few minutes of googling, or a fascinating book from the library, will give your books a beautiful depth.

Season plays an important role.

This is a mistake I’m often guilty of. I like to believe I write pretty damn evocative settings, but too often I forget to set a story at a particular time of year. It’s pelting down with rain one day, and sunny the next. The days don’t get shorter or longer. The yard might be littered with fall leaves but they’re not selling special fall drinks at the local cafe, etc. Pick a season (or a specific date, if possible) and start your story from there, paying attention to the weather patterns for the area.

Incorporate easter eggs

Easter eggs are fun things the reader can discover in your stories if they’re paying close attention. Clive Cussler always adds himself as a minor character into his books (almost like a Where’s Wally puzzle), and readers love to hunt him out. Stephen King is famous for linking characters and places through his books. Dan Brown hides elaborate ciphers in the covers of his books. And Mark Z Danielewski’s House of Leaves is basically one giant easter egg, as multifaceted as the house at the centre of the story A house that is very much a character – one that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

In my own books, I usually include cameos from other characters in each book, and I also make a lot of jokes about my favourite authors or books. I always love it when readers spot them!

(You can see some more amazing literary easter eggs here).

What can you do to improve the settings in your story? How can you create a place that feels real to your readers?

____

Steff Green is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of twenty dark fantasy (as S C Green) and paranormal romance books (as Steffanie Holmes). Her books feature clever, witty heroines, wild shifters, cunning witches and alpha males who get what they want. In 2017 Steff was the recipient of the Attitude Award for Artistic Achievement, to honour her accomplishments as a person who lives with a disability.

Before becoming a writer, Steffanie worked as an archaeologist and museum curator. She currently lives in a castle outside Auckland with her cantankerous drummer husband, a horde of cantankerous cats, and their medieval sword collection. Follow Steff’s adventures on her blog or instagram.

Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Sophie’s Choice
Directed by Alan Pakula
Written by Alan Pakula based on the novel by William Styron
(number 150)

This movie feels very much like a Woody Allen movie. The setting of fifties Brooklyn, the bright colour palette, the voiceover, the focus on the male character’s experience of women’s lived stories…

This movie is like it’s in two parts. The start of it is sort of fun, sort of the set up to what seems to be a romance between a young Southern writer and an older couple. But then it gets very real with all the memories from the second world war, and the things that Sophie has gone through. Nathan’s intense obsession with the Nazis and the impact Hitler had.

No, it’s three parts with the extensive flashback to Auschwitz that Sophie gets to narrate herself. But then it goes back to Stingo’s pov and the revelations about Nathan and his actual state of mind. It’s a twisty story and one that I didn’t predict except for of course, the choice. I knew it was coming, and I knew she must’ve made it. It didn’t make the scene any easier to watch. It’s brutal, truly brutal with Meryl Streep acting the crap out of the horror and the child screaming and the heartlessness of the Nazi officer. I knew it was coming and I still cried like it was a surprise. Urgh.

Does it make me love the people? I don’t know. They’re all a bit erratic and annoying to be truly loveable but they are realistic. I guess I love Sophie and Nathan. Maybe because I’m pretty convinced Stingo does and the movie’s so close to his point of view.

Bechdel test: There’s Sophie, there’s Yetta, there’s Leslie, but they only speak to men. Although Sophie is the title character, and the glue between Stingo and Nathan, the story isn’t about her. It’s about how Stingo feels about what he learns about her. It’s a subtle difference, and it’s not one I’m sure I’d recognise before watching so many of the movies in this list.

Best line:

Is this queer coding or what? ” How could I have failed to have the most helpless crush on such a generous mind and life-enlarging mentor. Nathan was utterly, fatally glamorous.”

State of Mind: Heartbreaking, and I’m not sure really if it’s a useful, insightful film or just leveraging the holocaust to make a dramatic tear jerker of a movie. It didn’t do what Schindler’s List does and make you see the raw horror of the mistreatment of humans. It didn’t fill you with the determination that this can never happen again, it was just a small story about three people. I don’t know. It’s not one I’ll watch again. It’s brilliantly acted by Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep but… yeah I’m not sure.

Watched movie count

Guest post: Writing Historicals by Anne Barwell

Thanks for hosting me today, Jamie.

I write across a range of genres, but I keep returning to historicals. So what is it about the genre that appeals to me?

I enjoy reading, writing, and exploring time periods that aren’t my own. I particularly like stories set in the first half of the 20th century. Either characters are fighting or have fought in WWI, or know or lost someone who had, and if a story is set during the 1940s or 50s, ditto for WWII. There is not much time between the first and second world wars so many who fought in the second felt the impact of the first.

I also love reading about Scotland in the 18th century. I blame the latter on Doctor Who, as one of his companions came from that era. My current WIP—which I’m co-writing with Lou Sylvre— is called The Harp and the Sea, and in set on Skye in 1745 during the second Jacobite uprising. As with the early to mid 20th century, that time in Scottish history fascinates me because it’s an era greatly impacted by war.

Wars bring out the best and worst in people. People often find themselves in situations for which they are ill equipped. Training only goes so far, and sadly a lot of people who were set into battle in those wars were very young. War is full of horror, and I make sure I never forget that when I’m writing something set in or referring to a battlefield as I want to honour the sacrifices of those brave men and women. So many of them rose to the occasion and risked—and often lost—their lives fighting for what they believed in and to protect those they loved.

Writing stories set in those time periods brings with it a set of challenges. Although it’s not always possible to get all off the little day-to-day details right, I always try to be as historically accurate as I can be. Research can be like a trail of breadcrumbs—I’ll begin by looking for information about one thing and find a whole lot of other really interesting facts along the way.

Getting the feel of a time period right is a bit of a juggling act as it’s not just the events, but also the technology, clothing, and language that need to accurate. For example, the first recorded instance of the word “okay” wasn’t until the 1830s so although one could argue it still might have been in use before then, I wouldn’t write one of our Scots lads in the 18th Century using it.

I also saw a movie a couple of years ago set during WWI which had its hero going off to war in 1914 with a few sniffles so the heroine pulls out a handy box of pills and tells him to take some as the influenza bug is a nasty one. *facepalms* Er, no. That particular strain of The Spanish Flu hit in 1918 toward the end of the war and killed more people than the war had done because antibiotics hadn’t been invented yet!

Researching geography can also be a challenge as all the helpful guidebooks show locations in present day. I had a scene I wanted to write in my first WWII book—Shadowboxing—and needed a park in Berlin as a location. I found one that was in the exact place I needed, but further research showed that in 1943, it was actually a railway station. One of the other challenges in writing something set during wartime is to make sure that the buildings your heroes take shelter in was still standing at the time in which the story is set.

It’s also often more of a challenge to get characters out of trouble as they can’t use modern technology like mobile phones etc.

On the flip side, history can work in a writer’s favour too. I needed to get my characters out of a tight spot and, after researching the location and time frame, shifted my story back a month and let an Allied bombing raid solve the problem for me.

So far I have a three book series set in WWII called Echoes Rising, a novella called On Wings of Song set during WWI, and am co-writing our Scots lads in 1745. I’m also looking forward to exploring the 1920s and 50s with future projects, and learning more about those time periods too.

—-

Shadowboxing
Echoes Rising: Book One

Berlin, 1943. An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr. Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.

For the team sent by the Allies—led by Captain Bryant, Sergeant Lowe, and Dr. Zhou—a simple mission escalates into a deadly game against the Gestapo, with Dr. Lehrer as the ultimate prize. But in enemy territory, surviving and completing their mission will test their strengths and loyalties and prove more complex than they ever imagined.

NB The series continues with Winter Duet, and concludes with Comes a Horseman.

On Wings of Song

Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.

The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.

—-

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

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Ninotchka (1939)


Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder and Walter Reisch based on a story by Melchior Lengyel.
(number 264)

So often with these titles I’m not sure if I’m in for a dreary historical drama, a war film full of atrocities or a light hearted romantic comedy. It’s always a pleasure when it turns out to be the last. Ninotchka is a strange, pre world war 2 set movie where a serious Russian woman finds herself entangled with a passionate and emotional French man. It’s very sweet actually and I’m sure this is one of the roles which made Greta Garbo such a huge star. That iciness, the soft purr of her voice.

She’s an amazing character, analysing and shutting things down. Totally nihilistic, especially when speaking of the Polish Lancer she dispatched on the battlefield. She’s brilliant, worth watching the movie just for her.

Leon: Ninotchka, tell me, you’re so expert on things, can it be that I’m falling in love with you?
Ninotchka: Why must you bring in wrong values? Love is a romantic designation for a most ordinary biological or, shall we say, chemical process. A lot of nonsense is talked and written about it.
Leon: Oh, I see. What do you use instead?
Ninotchka: I acknowledge the existence of a natural impulse – common to all.
Leon: What can I possibly do to encourage such an impulse in you?
Ninotchka: You don’t have to do a thing. Chemically, we’re already quite sympathetic.

The movie is partially about Ninotchka being seduced by the luxuries that Leon represents, and partially about her getting to know herself as a woman with emotions and desires. There’s a standard progression from the buttoned down, fully covered outfits she starts with into the shoulder revealing diaphanous gown and jewels. The ugly duckling makeover, but it’s not actually the point of the film. The divide comes from Ninotchka’s need to serve her country, and how it contrasts with her own personal wants.

It’s absolutely heartbreaking when she recieves a letter from Leon in Moscow, and the entire thing has been censored.

Does it make me love the people? Absolutely, I love all the comrades Ninotchka is sent to bring home, I love her, I love her Russian roommates and of course Leon as well. It’s a charmer of a film, sweet and fun and romantic. It also makes me want to visit Paris some.

Bechdel test: Yes, she has a few conversations with the Grand Duchess Swana about how Ninotchka should leave Paris and various jealousies. Then a long extended scene back in Moscow with her roommate Anna about her fancy French underwear and the stir it caused among the local women and what was Paris like? and the fashion? and actually can Anna have the silky negligee because she’s about to be married? It’s a lovely scene actually.

Best line:

Ninotchka: Must you flirt?
Leon: Well, I don’t have to, but I find it natural.
Ninotchka: Suppress it.

State of Mind: Highly recommend this film, it’s a sweet, charming romance. It’s another in the list of ‘romantic comedies are acceptable if they’re old enough’ archives, but hey. It was an enjoyable, fun watch and I’m likely to watch it again at some stage. Plus, now I understand the appeal of Garbo.

Watched movie count