Amongst many things, I am a cinephile; a.k.a a fancy-pants way of saying I bloody love films! If there’s one thing that has had an impact on my life above the rest, it’s arts and culture. Literature, music, movies, theatre, art – I love all of it, and I am always so affected by it. This is the second blog post in my ‘Changed My Life’ series; the first is about books that changed my life! If you haven’t read that, why don’t you go and give it a read here? Without further ado, here are the five films which have changed my life in some big or small way.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Five characters from The Breakfast Club sitting on a desk

One of the warmest memories I have as a child is sitting in my lounge, being wrapped up in blankets, surrounded by sweets, and watching films with my Auntie Julie. It was always a treat when Julie babysat me and my brother, as she’d bring snacks with her from her job at Nestlé, and would always bring a new film for us to watch. Well, not so much ‘new’, as they would always be eighties classics, like Turner & Hooch and Ghostbusters. I remember Julie introduced me to The Breakfast Club in my early teens, which I think is the perfect time to be introduced to John Hughes’ movies. I remember feeling awfully grown up because the movie was a ‘15’, and I was a mere thirteen year old. This was the first film that ever had a personal and noticeable impact on my life. After the first watch, it instantly became a firm favourite. With each watch, I felt I learnt something new, and grew as a person. As a young teenager, you are still growing and shaping yourself around your environment, and this film helped shape who I have become. Now, I’m not into drugs or detention (but I am definitely into Simple Minds). But I have taken the story-lines of ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ and ‘people may surprise you’ to heart, and I hope it has made me an alright person.

 

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

Characters from The Life Aquatic in a submarine

Like every teenager, I went through stages of pop culture obsession. My most notable and long-lasting fan-girl infatuations included the band Gorillaz, the TV show Supernatural, and (most oddly) the 1960s sensations The Monkees.  I also went through one of these stages with actor and director Matthew Grey Gubler. I can already hear many of you reading this going ‘who the heck is that?’. He’s the guy who plays Spencer Reid in Criminal Minds; you know, the one who knows everything and has floppy hair? Yeah, that’s the one. I used to say I admired the way he worked his way up through the creative industry, how he never strayed from his passions, how he took the time to try new projects. To be fair, I did (and still do) admire all that. But I also admired his face and was too stubborn to say it out loud. As a fan-girl must, I made it my job to know everything about this man, and I discovered he had his break into Hollywood through working on a film with some director called Wes Anderson. With no clue what this film was about or who the director was, I gave it a watch. The film in question was The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and it blew my teenage mind. It was everything I had ever wanted a film to be; it was zany but realistic, beautifully shot, featured the most gorgeous colour palettes, and made me both laugh and cry in equal measure. This film opened a pastel pink door into the world of Wes Anderson, a world that I happily and willingly return to time and time again. Yes, his films are aesthetically beautiful to watch, but they also portray the intricacies of human emotion in a way I am yet to see in any other films. I can sit and watch any Wes Anderson movie over and over again, and be in my own little bubble; in my own little vintage inspired, David Bowie soundtracked world.

 

Lost in Translation (2003)

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation

If you have read my ‘Books That Changed My Life’ blog post, you’ll remember that there was a time in my life where I was exploring studying literature, and I wanted to read more female authors (because I was sick of having the same classics thrown at me, most of them written by men). As literature and cinema are so tightly intertwined, the same was to be said about the films I was watching. In the same way that Plath had been thrust upon me by Google as an alternative to Orwell and Kerouac, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation was offered. Spurred on by the family name, the stellar cast, and interesting premise, I bought the DVD and began. I can safely say that Lost in Translation is now one of my favourite films of all time (if not my hands down favourite). Why? Well, I’m a sucker for beautifully shot films (hello Wes Anderson), films with Oscar worthy performances, films with meaning and realism, and films with a killer soundtrack.. After watching this film, I had ‘Too Young’ by Phoenix on repeat for weeks. Lost in Translation also had an impact on the way I viewed my life at the time. As a sixteen year old girl trying to work out what I wanted to do in the future, I was bombarded by education telling me so many different things, threatening me with failure and other negativity. I came away from this film understanding that’s it’s okay to not have your life in order, it’s okay to not know what you want to do in the future; words I think are so important for sixteen year olds to hear and so often ignored. It also gave me advice on how to deal with insomnia, so first year at university Rosie is very grateful!

 

Once (2007)

Markéta Irglová and Glen Hansard in Once

Here’s a sentence you won’t hear often; I am obsessed with my banjo (and my mandolin and my pennywhistle). In fact, here I am at an event with it this month!

Rosie Lewis with her tenor banjo in a garden

Whilst other children were learning the trumpet and piano, I was learning to play folk music, and that still seems like the coolest thing to me. So, as a young adult, I was obviously over the moon to discover the quintessential folk musical Once. I used to play it on repeat when I was studying for my A-Levels; I even bought the CD version of the musical, something I had not done since I had discovered Spotify. Everywhere I went, I trailed a head phone behind, gently playing Falling Slowly. One Christmas, my mum bought me a copy of the film that the musical is based on, and I watched it that same night. It’s a simple love story based in Ireland, and is punctuated by the glorious, original soundtrack. There is nothing remarkable about the story, and that is what makes it so wonderful. It’s a simple story, supported by beautiful and touching folk music. This soundtrack and film came into my life at a time when I didn’t care about playing music anymore. I had been so wrapped up in studying that it fell to the side. Once helped me to pick it back up and remember how therapeutic playing music can be.

 

The Commitments

A group shot of the band The Commitments

Reading back through these write-ups, I’ve realised something; these films all have fantastic soundtracks. I guess that good music in a film is a big pull for me. Speaking of music, that was the reason I watched this next film; The Commitments. Set in Dublin in the eighties, this film is about a group of young people who get together to form a soul band. It’s a story that everyone from a small town will recognise; each town has a group of young people trying to make it big in the world of music. The soundtrack for this is exquisite; soul classics performed in a way you would not have heard before, yet still maintains the deep emotion and grit of soul. This is a film that I can pop on at any time in my life, whether I’m sad, happy, depressed, angry, and it will bring me warmth. It’s a wonderful reminder that you don’t have to play music for any reason other than fun. You can play it to try and get a record deal, you can play it take your mind off of life, and you can play it just because! Plus, as an academic, it’s got my brain whirring for future essays about classism and the arts! (I’m such a thrilling woman, I know).

 

Looking at these films, I’ve noticed they are not very diverse; I guess it’s a reflection of the films available to me at the time. Tell me, what are your life-changing films? What would you recommend to make me think, wonder, and grow?

 

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