It seems almost like a cruel joke that, just as the weather turns cold and gray, college professors begin to pile on the midterms, research papers and homework. In my case, this time of year has provoked more than one disheartening existential crisis that left me wondering if I was doomed to be a washed up never-was who failed first on my midterms and then on everything else.
Luckily (and as silly as it may sound) in these moments of panic, movies have helped me remember that success in life is less about passing grades — or big future paychecks — than it is about falling in love, finding happiness and experiencing the wonder of being alive. So if it’s crunch time for you, here are a few films to help keep things in perspective and to remind you to fall in love all over again:
4. Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008): In some ways, this film is director Woody Allen’s indictment of bohemian hipsterism, which is important to see if you’re feeling the need to reconnect with your bohemian hipster side. On the other hand, the film (shot on location in Spain) is nothing if not a sensual feast, and beneath the characters’ deliberate vapidity and Allen’s typical neuroses lies the refreshing argument that beauty is important simply because it’s there.
3. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964): This is possibly the most beautiful film ever crafted. With every line being sung, as opposed to a few big numbers peppered throughout, it’s also not your average musical. In the end it suggests that some of the most poignant and beautiful moments in life are also the most bittersweet.
2. Once (2006): The gritty, home video cinematography of this Irish indie musical might lead you to believe that it’s a documentary, but don’t be fooled. It’s actually a careful meditation on responsibility, aspiration, music and love. Set in a dreary Dublin, it also reminds us that not all of our sweetest moments are summers.
1. Amelie (2001): No matter your religious, political or cultural affiliations, this film will make you want to forsake everything and go be nice to people. Combined with Yann Tiersen’s awesome score, this film argues that the most exuberantly joyful moments in life are those spent selflessly.
Jim Dalrymple is a popular culture correspondent for Rhombus. You can follow him on Twitter @jimmycdii.
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