Three Gripping Foreign Films to Watch this Weekend

After a lovely eighty plus degree weekend, the weather has changed dramatically here in Minnesota. The air is crisp and damp from all the rain and the forty degree morning temps have made me pull sweaters and scarves out from storage. I love this chilly, cosy weather, but it also seems to zap my energy.  B has apparently felt the same because three nights this week we’ve simply curled up on the couch and watched movies. In the process, we stumbled upon three incredible foreign films.

I’m very picky when it comes to movies, probably even snobbish. For me, watching a movie is a luxury, so I always try to search out the ones genuinely worthwhile, which often leads me to seek out historical films, like the three included below. These films are so captivating you forget you’re reading subtitles and are fascinating in the way you’ll say “I can’t believe that happened.” The best part? They can all be found on Netflix.

So, whether you’re looking for a good film to watch tonight or over the weekend, I promise you these three hit the mark:

Two Lives (2012) PosterTwo Lives: Inspired by true events, this German thriller will leave you shocked and overwhelmed by the myriad secrets of the Cold War. The story of Katrine is at first confusing, then engrossing, and by the film’s end, deeply satisfying as every question has been answered.  This is a movie that makes you think about the endlessly intriguing world of international espionage as you wonder if certain secrets are best kept hidden.

Barbara: This German drama, though not a true story, offers an absorbing and intimate look into 1980s East Germany through the experience of Barbara, a doctor banished to a small country hospital. Tense, beautiful and unexpected, this film lingers long. I don’t want to say anymore to avoid spoiling it! Barbara (2012) Poster

Flame and Citron: I’m shocked that I hadn’t heard of this film before based on the true story of two Danish resistance movement fighters in WWII, code-named “Flame” and “Citron.” History-buffs or anyone fascinated by gripping true stories will be thrilled by this suspenseful account of these brave and ballsy men. The leads, played by Thure Lindhardt and Mads Mikkelsen, are brilliant and achingly believable.

Flame and Citron (2008) Poster

Have you watched any good movies lately? I’d love to get your recommendations.

On the Shelf: Jo Baker’s Longbourn

   I’ve wanted to read Longbourn, the clever and original new novel from Jo Baker, all year. Last week, I finally got my hands on it and it proved to be one of the first novels I’ve read in awhile that I absolutely devoured.  As in, staying up too late night after night even though I know I’ll wake up bleary-eyed the next morning.

Set in eighteenth-century England, Longbourn follows the ‘downstairs lives’ of the servants scarcely mentioned in Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice.  Austenites will find the novel especially delightful, but even if you’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, readers with a taste for evocative language and a setting which feels real enough to live in, will want to curl up with this cosy read.

Like millions of readers, I was enchanted by Pride and Prejudice; by the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and her Mr. Darcy; appalled at the self-importance of Mr. Collins and humored by the high-strung antics of Mrs. Bennet. Longbourn not only heightened this interest, but offered a deeply satisfying and engrossing perspective on P&P’s other world through the observations and experiences of the servants.

Baker’s careful and considered details brought regency England to life while her realistically-drawn characters offered fascinating insights into what life was like for most people. This is not the England of ball gowns and pump rooms, but one in which day to day living is only wrought by cracked hands, sore backs and hour after hour of exhausting labor.

Above all, you’ll become deeply concerned for Sarah, a young servant discovering what it means to find happiness and fulfillment in a class-constrained world. You’ll cheer on her budding romance with James and effortlessly turn the pages for hints, clues and lush details about the characters’ past and present lives which are anything but simple.

If you enjoyed Crusoe’s Daughter, you’ll definitely enjoy Longbourn.

Feeling Restless

prettyI know I’m not alone in wanting, at times, to live more than one life. Let me clarify. These last couple of years in living in Minneapolis have been, in many ways, wonderfully easy; I get to live life with my best friend; have more or less had a steady job, and have the freedom of visiting my family whenever I feel like it. Yet, a huge part of me has been feeling restless and hungry for adventure. Homesick for places I’ve never been and for people I’ve never met. (This is a quote from somewhere, I’m quite sure). I want to live abroad again. I want to travel. I’m ready for the comforts of home to be new and inspiring rather than familiar and comforting. Please tell me you sometimes feel this way, too?

B and I have talked seriously about trying to work abroad and, if it was up to me, I’d leave tomorrow. Is this normal? Has travel transformed you into a malcontent? This feeling is so difficult to describe because, in countless ways, I’m very happy with my life here. I just know that there’s more out there. And we don’t own or have kids yet, so maybe now’s the time to seek adventure?

How do you make the best of your current life circumstances? I think I need a strong dose of patience!
Em

Image courtsey of la fleur solitaire

Dog Days of Summer

One last weekend at the cabin.

One last weekend at the cabin.

It’s been more than three months since I last wrote and I must apologize for my silence. Finding myself in-between jobs and dealing with a barrage of difficult family matters left me both uninspired and largely too low to write. I’m happy to report that much has changed.

Last work I began a new job with a nonprofit I’m passionate about and, for the first time in months, feel my life is no longer on “pause.” B and I are planning a road trip through New England. We’re getting excited to give canning another crack this fall. More than anything, we’re doing our best to drink up the last drops of summer; i.e, go paddle-boarding one last time, have Izzie’s ice cream for lunch, finish one more good book and wear my favorite summer dresses on repeat.

How will you enjoy these last days of summer? I’d love to know and I’m so glad to be back!

Career Dreams Do Come True

brisAs an undergrad, I never really felt much pride for my school.  With plans to attend college on the east coast, staying in my hometown couldn’t have been more unexpected and while I know now that it was the right decision for me (it enabled me to study abroad in Norway, volunteer in Africa and graduate early), at the time I felt a bit like a misfit.

My experience at the University of Bristol, where I earned my MA in English, couldn’t have been more different. I found a lovely group of friends right away, fell in love with the city of Bristol and loved (almost) every one of my classes. Since graduating in 2012, I’ve enjoyed keeping up to date with Bris and these recent interviews from Bristol alum, who are now world-class journalists, really struck me. I wrote for Epigram, the student newspaper, while at Bris and long considered a career in journalism, and while I’m still sorting out my real interests and skills, writing has remained at the top for me.

Not only is it encouraging to read about people who are fulfilling their career ambitions, which often feels  impossible in today’s market, but their passion for their respective fields is palpable. It made me pause and consider if I’m on the right career-path and what I hope to be doing in five, ten years from now.

Are you happy where you’re at career-wise? Any advice for pursuing job success in today’s tough climate?