Stuff that makes me happy… (can you guess?)

If you’re guessing this is going to be a post about the wonders of family or learning outside of school, you are so wrong.

Yes, those things are great.  Yes, they make me happy.

But I’m here to talk movies and books.  Movies!  Books!

How do people live without going to the movies?  Without having a shelf full of books just waiting to be read?

I don’t know.  Honestly.

Ok.  Movies.  Let’s start with “Argo”, which Joshua and I saw last weekend.  It was dramatic, tense, funny and just great story-telling.  Kudos to Ben Affleck – otherwise known as Best Director 2012- for giving us this film.

Second?  This one might be tough for those of you not situated in a large city on one of the coasts, but if you can find it, you must see “The Intouchables”.  It’s a French film with subtitles.   Not usually my thing, but this one is brilliant.   Rather than attempt to describe it, here is the trailer:

Right?  See what I mean?  Find it somewhere and go see it.  FLY somewhere if you have to (because although it is showing here in NY, I watched it on the flight back from Germany…).

Ok, and now for a movie that is not new, so none of you have any excuse not to see it.  ”Jane Eyre” starring Mia Wasikowska, Judi Dench and Michael Fassbender.

If you’ve been paying any attention to movies over the last couple of years, I really shouldn’t have to say anything but “Michael Fassbender” to get you to immediately buy the DVD or download the movie on Amazon or Netflix or whatever your movie-viewing mode of choice may be.   The film is stunning on all levels; acting, cinematography, direction.

And oh, Michael Fassbender.

(Just a side note, speaking of cinematography, the movie “Morning Glory” starring Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford is the most beautifully shot film I’ve seen in a while.  Sadly that’s the only thing about it that is above mediocre.  But if you love great lighting and stunning camera angles, it’s worth it.  All praise to cinematographer Alwin Küchler.)

Last but not least in movies – or rather, in this case, documentary series – you’ve simply got to watch “Long Way Round”.  It’s about 8 years old and definitely available on DVD and Amazon.  I’m sure I’ve written about it before, but I’m too lazy to search my archives, so I’ll just say it again.   This documentary of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman riding their motorcycles from London to New York heading east is one of my favorite things, ever.   It is funny, uplifting, and always makes me want to buy a motorcycle and travel the world.   Which reminds me;  a friend of mine actually did that.  So while you’re watching “Long Way Round” you might also check out her website & photos at

Did I say we were finished with movies?  Ha!  So funny that you fell for that.  Because of course I have to give advance “oh god I must see that” shout outs to “Skyfall”, “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables”.   Just for fun, here are the trailers for all of them!

Anne Hathaway’s singing makes me cry every time I see that trailer.   Yes, I am something of a freak.

Ok, wipe your eyes and let’s move on to books!

This is the list of books I have in my possession, all purchased within the last week or so, waiting to be read.  (I’m currently in the middle of “Die Henkers Tochter” [The Hangman's Daughter] by Oliver Pötsch and since it’s in German and loooong – but good – it’s taking me some time to finish.)

1.  A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.   Mixed reviews in the press but I have no overblown expectations.  How could she ever top Harry Potter?  Just looking forward to seeing how she handles standard fiction.

2.  Accelerated by Bronwen Hruska.  Set in a posh Upper East Side prep school, revealing an epidemic of over-medicated children..   My brother told me about it and then gave it only mediocre reviews.   I’ll weigh in after reading it.

3.  Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl.  First of all, kudos to these two women for writing this series as a tandem.  I don’t think I could ever do that.   This is the fourth book in the series, and I have a love/hate relationship with them.  I was pretty lukewarm about the first one (Beautiful Creatures) but then it kind of hooked me at the end, so I had to find out what happened in the second book.  And so it has gone.   As an aside, they’ve made Beautiful Creatures into a film and I saw the trailer and couldn’t get past the casting choice for the lead male.   NOTHING like I pictured him in my head.  Too greasy.   Sorry, but that’s the first word that springs to mind when I see him.

4.  Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor.  This is the sequel to Daughter of Smoke & Bone, about which I was also lukewarm until maybe 1/3 of the way through the book, and then I couldn’t put it down.  I was sick to my stomach when the end came along and I realized I was going to have to wait almost a year to find out what happens!   Boy I hope the second book makes it worthwhile.

5.  Louder than Words by Benjamin Bergen.   In a major departure from the rest of the list, this book focuses on “the science of how the brain makes meaning”.   I read the first two pages and had to have it.  If you love linguistics and thinking about how the brain thinks, you’ll probably enjoy this.

6.  Angelology by Danielle Trussoni.  Purchased after reading a post on The Page Turner.   I’ll let her tell you about it.  (Also, her blog is generally very good.)

Whew.  That’s it.  I can’t believe I’m still sitting here writing this when there are so many books to be read!

Good night.

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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2 Responses to Stuff that makes me happy… (can you guess?)

  1. Cynthia says:

    The Intouchables is probably one of my top three favorite movies of ALL time. It was perfect … funny, touching, the music was amazing.

  2. M says:

    Who could possibly dislike 007??? Love those movies. Lincoln looks to be very informative and maybe apropos to today?? And Les Miserables; I don’t know the story at all, but the song is beautiful and makes me want to weep. As an aside though, I think Susan Boyle’s version is my top favorite.