This past Tuesday, Zoe, Georgia, and I all went to a movie together for the first time ever. And let me tell you, it was a doozy of a film.

The only thing I had heard about this movie before seeing it was that it depicted “every bodily fluid”, which was not an over-exaggeration (I know you’re thinking it–and yes, including that one). But to be honest, that is not even the most graphic part of this movie.

The epic film follows five extremely different Hollywood dreamers through the rise and fall of their careers: Nillie LaRoy, the “Wild Child”; Manuel “Manny” Torres; hot-shot actor Jack Conrad; sultry performer and intertitle writer May Wong; and trumpeter Sidney Palmer.

The plot mainly follows the careers of Nellie and Manny, who we see go from nothing to everything, backed by the genius soundtrack from Justin Hurwitz. We watch Nellie battle her addictions to cocaine and gambling, while becoming the biggest star in Hollywood, using her crassness and lack of shame to get her where she wants to be. On the other hand, Manny uses his connections to work his way up to become an executive of MGM, and we watch as the five characters’ (who originally met at a wild, orgy-like party) lives interact and cross over and over again.

The entire film is about movies, as well as the people making them. We watch certain people (Nellie, Manny, Sidney) adapt and grow and even create new kinds of films, while others (May, Jack) fall behind and get buried in the past.

In this film, Chazelle does not want the audience to be comfortable. There is an innumerable amount of sex and nudity, that after the first few shots the viewer becomes almost immune to it. There is nothing sensual about the way these scenes are presented, yet at the same time everything about them is lust-filled–even the way the trumpets are played. There is a dirtiness to it, but a lack of shame as well. We are being shown that these Hollywood people are all so over-indulgent that they are completely immune to the acts going on around them. In fact, they are so immune that certain characters (Tobey Maguire’s James Mackay) goes so far as to seek out the insane and disgusting. I won’t get to graphic, but parts of it involve the ingestion of a rat. This film for sure is not for the weak-stomached.

The film desensitizes its viewer so much that we begin to feel nothing, or even laugh at, death and drug use. We sit in scenes for what feels like a little bit too long, beginning to feel unnerved for a reason we cannot place. Why is it that we feel an unexplainable dread when watching Nellie walk away into the darkness of the streets of LA? Why do we not feel that same thing when watching Jack go upstairs to shoot himself? How does Chazelle get us to feel exactly how he wants us to about these characters? And how is it that they are all bad people, yet we inevitably feel a deep connection with them by the end of the film?

Oh, and the end of the film. In true Damien Chazelle fashion, we are taken through a glorious montage of film through the ages, beginning with Nellie and Jack’s silent films, ending with modern films like Avatar, began and ended with a tearful Manny. As we sit there and watch movies evolve before our eyes, then slowly break down into film chemicals, then simply colors, we cannot help but understand the importance of film, as it was for the characters of the movie.

The film Babylon is not just a movie, but an epic depicting the cyclical rise and fall of Hollywood actors, the importance of film, and the almost-commonplace epidemic of over-consumption and insensitivity. And the most interesting part?

It’s based off of true events.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

(I don’t think I would ever watch this movie again)

Bella 🙂

A Little Life

Warning: this post contains spoilers!!

TW: This post mentions depression, anxiety, and suicide. Please read carefully!! 🙂

So, welcome back to the blog! I know it’s been a while since we’ve posted, but I’ve been reading a lot lately (I’m two books ahead on my 2022 reading challenge !!) and I’m hopefully going to start posting more often. Okay, now here we go.

This is definitely the heaviest book I have ever read. It started bad, and it ended bad, and everything in between was bad. It was almost like, how much more suffering can these characters endure? Turns out, it was a lot.

The premise of the book follows four college friends through their twenties until their fifties. It generally revolves around Jude, who has a mysterious past and an issue with his nerves in his back that make him unable to walk properly. A lot of the book is set up around each of the friends–Willem, Malcolm, and JB–trying to help Jude and trying to understand him better.

Unfortunately for the reader, Jude’s life is one big ball of misery. The only times we see this man remotely happy are when he is *spoiler* adopted by his former law professor, Harold, and when he and Willem finally realize they are in love with each other. Even then, he is constantly depressed and self-loathing.

The part of the book that was the hardest to read was anything about Jude’s childhood. It felt as if she wrote anything and everything that could ever happen to a person, pulling out some of the worst situations I had ever read in my life. From birth to his almost inevitable suicide, Jude experienced more misery than humanly possible, and it often times made me feel sick to my stomach.

Despite it being the most depressing piece of literature I have ever read, this book was beautifully written. Right from the get-go, I was enrapt in the lives of these men, even the most mundane things. I fully cared about Jude, and felt genuinely ill when learning about his past and his hurt and his hardship. Everything felt so real and raw to me, and that was all because of the gorgeous writing of the author.

Now, while the author did write a beautiful book, I cannot write a raving review without addressing some things about her. I did some research on her, mostly because I was wondering who in their right mind could ever write something so horribly sad, and I found some interviews that sort of rubbed me the wrong way.

I won’t get into a lot of the things she has said, but I do want to say that while I enjoyed the book (though I will never put myself through that ever again), I do not agree with the things that the author has said about therapy and mental illness, and I firmly believe that everybody, no matter what their past or mental state is, is deserving of love and help and support. Nobody is beyond help, and nobody is better off dead.

I only recommend this book if you can mentally handle it. I do not recommend reading this book if you are prone to depression or anxiety or are sensitive to heavy subjects. I found myself entering a depressive slump if I read for too long, and had to pay more attention to my mental health than normal while reading.

Still, the book was very gorgeous, heartbreaking, and will stick with me for the rest of my life.

I will never read it again, though.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Normal People by Sally Rooney

Wow we have not written a blog post in a HOT minute!! But we are back and better than ever and I have a LOT of books to talk about!

I just finished reading Normal People, and my first impression of the book was that it was definitely not what I thought it was going to be. I thought this was going to be an easy-to-read, Taylor Jenkins Reid-esque book; a light romance with some shocking but eventually easy-to-digest twists. That is not what I got.

Rooney’s writing style is definitely easy-to-read, in the sense that I read it in less than two days. But the story itself was heavy, thoughtful, and just straight up depressing. As I read, I just became more and more lonely, as if I was living inside of the heads of Connell and Marianne, experiencing their melancholy versions of love, never truly understanding the meaning of happiness.

Despite its gradual downward spiral into a deep depression, it is a very good book. The subtleties of the way Marianne and Connell show their love to each other is so intriguing, and the paralleled between their relationship and their other relationships is so deep and important.

This is a book that makes you feel things, and most of them are not good things. Still, it is a work of art in the sense that it evokes a strong emotional response in the reader. These strong emotions make it so that when there is a good moment, or a line (i.e. “I’m not a religious person but I do sometimes think God made you for me”) it tugs on your heart even harder.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was definitely pretty heavy and mature, but it was a fast read and it really made me think.


Folklore/Evermore Songs as Little Women Characters

This Is Me Trying: Amy March

Amy March is seen as a simple, shallow, and annoying little girl, when in reality she is complex and important and interesting. People love to quickly call feminine girls annoying or weak, and they tend to overlook Amy’s dreams and aspirations. They praise Jo’s temper and complex emotions, but when Amy acts the same way, she is chastised. In reality, Amy is just trying.

I’ve been having a hard time adjusting/I had the shiniest wheels, now they’re rusting

Amy was once a very childish and immature girl, and all at once she must adjust to high society and the reality of her dreams. When she was young and naive, she thought she would be great—her wheels were shiny. Now, she realizes she cannot possibly be great, and she has to face that—she’s rusting.

I didn’t know if you’d care if I came back/I have a lot of regrets about that

Amy has a lot of fear about how Jo feels about her after she’s taken her place to go to Europe. She feels as maybe she has left for good, and that it might not matter to her family if she comes back, so she doesn’t. In the end, she misses Beth’s last days and comes back to a virtually empty house.

I just wanted you to know that this is me trying

She’s trying to be an adult and to make smart decisions, but she’s never known how and she doesn’t know how to be herself and still make others happy.

They told me all of my cages were mental/So I got wasted like all my potential

Amy’s dreams were always overlooked as childish or not important—at least not as important or successful as Jo’s. As a result, she resolved to waste her talents and her potential to be great because of the discouragement she always received—except from Laurie.

And my words shoot to kill when I’m mad/I have a lot of regrets about that

As Amy grows older she becomes less impulsive in her anger and more precise with it—like an assassin. She knows exactly what to say to hurt someone in such a calm way, even if she ends up regretting it later.

Fell behind all my classmates then I ended up here

Amy never fell behind academically, because Amy was always smart and had Jo’s help. But, she fell behind financially. She was never on the same level as them with trends or style, yet somehow she landed in a social position above any of them.

I just wanted you to know, that this is me trying/at least I’m trying

Amy is just trying to grow up and into her skin, and she feels as though others (Laurie, Jo) are not trying as hard as she is and that she’s suffering for them and they are not returning the effort.

And it’s hard to be at a party when I feel like an open wound/It’s hard to be anywhere these days when all I want is you

At the New Year’s party, Amy feels forgotten by Laurie, and it’s hard for her because she is so confused about what she wants for her future and she doesn’t want those feelings for Laurie, despite them being strong. She finds it hard to live the life she expects when she just wants to be with him.

You’re a flashback and a film reel on the one screen in my town

Laurie is a reminder of Amy’s past, and him arriving randomly in Europe is a giant surprise to her. He is the one thing from her childhood that has come back, and he is the one thing in her childhood that she is willing to fight to keep.

At least I’m trying…



Set in a dystopian society run by a single emperor, this movie follows the young Paul, the heir of the House Atreides. Paul is the son of Leto Atreides and lady Jessica, and is the result of a concubine relationship.

Paul has inherited powers from his mother, a member of the Bene Gesserit, and begins seeing visions of the planet Arakis. His father has just been given control of the planet, which is the home to a valuable spice called Melange. This takeover causes conflicts both political and spiritual, and Paul must find himself while fighting for his life in the unfamiliar desert.

There have been a lot of mixed reviews for this movie. I have seen a lot of people saying it was slow or boring or confusing, and to that I would just like to say: it’s not confusing if you’re paying attention.

I can see why some people may think it’s boring. I myself started to get a little drowsy at times, but not because I was bored—it was just so dark at times. Some of the scenes also felt a little dragged on, but I think that so much needed to be included in the story that it was necessary.

Another complaint I noticed was that Zendaya was used as a marketing tool and was ”barely” in the movie. I would like to disagree with this and say that she was in as much of the movie that made sense for her to be in, and she will obviously be a big part of the sequel.

Personally, I think that the movie was great. The story was captivating and the script was amazingly written. Also, the casting choices were perfect. Of course, Timothee stood out to me, because he plays the main character, but also because his range and ability is so far beyond his age it’s amazing. I think that all of the actors were outstanding, and I have no complaints about that. To top it all off, the movie was genuinely just so visually pleasing. The cinematography was out of this world (literally!). Here are a few of my favorite shots (spoiler free!):

Overall, I loved this movie and I will be watching it again, as well as seeing every sequel that comes out. I 100% would recommend.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Folklore/Evermore Songs as Little Women Characters

My Tears Ricochet—Laurie (and Jo)

I know it seems like all of these are about Jo and Laurie—I promise the next one is not, it’s just how the first few songs on the albums fit the characters.

This song connects to the part of the story after Beth dies, when Jo is home alone with her mother. Meg is with John, Amy is in Paris, and Laurie has run away to Europe. I kind of think about it in the point of view of Laurie, because of what he comes home to. Jo is so far in her grief that she resolves to settle for marriage with Laurie, while Laurie has moved on from the hurt that she has caused him—hence the sadistic line, ”my tears ricochet”.

“We get back here, we line up, weeping in a sunlit room”

For a while, everyone had been away from the March house. Laurie and Amy in Europe, Jo in New York, Meg with her family. But, after Beth’s death, they all come back to the house for the funeral—“weeping in a sunlit room”.

“If I’m on fire, you’ll be made of ashes too”

I interpret this line to be describing the fact that two people are so close that they are almost connected emotionally, like if one is upset, the other is too. This is how close Laurie and Jo were, before they both left. They’re still very close now, but there’s a small rift between them. They are also both very all-or-nothing people—if one burns the other one burns too.

“Even on my worst day, did I deserve, babe, all the hell you gave me?”

Jo broke Laurie’s heart, plain and simple. He was definitely angry about it when he went to Europe, as well as just hurt. He was definitely running away when he left, and that’s why he seemed like such a mess.

“Cause I loved you, I swear I loved you, ‘till my dying day”

When Laurie proposed to Jo, he swore she was the only person he’d ever loved. In that moment, he was very all-or-nothing, naive, and immature. He was young and truly believed he would love only her forever. Of course, he does still love her when they reunite, but he acknowledges it’s a different love.

“I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace”

Laurie left and made a mess. He went to Europe and acted a fool. Even Amy pointed out that he needed to mature and stop moping, and when Amy tells you to stop moping you know you’ve done something wrong.

“And if I’m dead to you why are you at the wake?”

This line fits in with the theme of death and funerals, since when Laurie and Amy come home it is for Beth’s funeral. But, it is also when Jo is grieving, which makes her dig up feelings for Laurie in order to cope. Laurie doesn’t know this of course, but if he did he would be appalled.

“Cursing my name, wishing I’d stayed, look at how my tears ricochet”

At first, both Jo and Laurie thought they’d lost each other. Laurie figured Jo hated him—that’s why she left. For those fleeting days, she’s ready to take him back. He would never agree to it, not after Paris.

We gather stones, never knowing what they’ll mean, some to throw, some to make a diamond ring.”

This line shows how the two characters have grown apart from each other, and how Laurie found love with another.

“You know I didn’t want to have to haunt you, but what a ghostly scene.”

Neither of them wanted what happened between them to end the way it did. But, because both of them left the way they did, there was never any closure. Now, they haunt each others’ memories, and they long for the friendship they once had.

“You wear the same jewels that I gave you as you bury me.”

Here we see the ring again. For some reason, Laurie still wears the ring that Jo gave him, despite her breaking his heart and leaving him in the dust. He seems to have set her behind him (“buried” her), yet he still wears that ring.

“And I can go anywhere I want, anywhere I want, just not home.”

Both Jo and Laurie ran away. Jo felt as if she was losing everyone—Meg to marriage, Laurie to love—and she left home because she felt it was her only option. Laurie went to Europe and went everywhere but back home to see the March family. As we see when he reunites with Amy, none of them had seen much, if any, of him since Jo broke his heart.

“And you can aim for my heart, go for blood, but you would still miss me in your bones.”

No matter how badly Jo hurt Laurie, she always missed him and wanted him back. In the end, she even tried to save that relationship, willing to settle for a marriage she didn’t want because she didn’t want to lose everyone from her childhood.

And I still talk to you, when I’m screaming at the sky. And when you can’t sleep at night, you hear my stolen lullaby.”

Laurie and Jo will always love each other, but they were not meant to end up together. Their love is deep but it’s immature and romantically one-sided. It hurt both of them to leave, and they will always remember that hurt.

“I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace, and so the battleships will sink beneath the waves.”

Back in strictly Laurie’s POV, we are referencing his running away to Europe again. He left the fight, or whatever we want to call it, up in the air, and now all of the hurt and damage is buried instead of dealt with.

“You had to kill me but it killed you just the same. Cursing my name, wishing I stayed, you turned into your worst fears.”

Jo broke Laurie’s heart, making it clear she never wanted to get married, and would never love him that way. Now, she’s regretting it. She wishes he stayed and she claims that she will marry him, because she’s lonely and she craves being loved. She’s become the very thing she swore she would never be.

“Drunk on this pain, crossing out the good years.”

Jo is grieving, and everyone sees it. Her pain is so bad that she’s making claims she never would have before, making rash decisions about love, and trying to grasp the tiny fragments of her past that she has left. By doing this, she’s simultaneously destroying the person she was during her ”good years”.

“Cursing my name, wishing I’d stay, look at how my tears ricochet”


Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Spoiler Alert-

Malibu Rising illustrates an unforgettable story that takes place in Malibu throughout many decades. The book follows the Riva family – most famous for the sensational singer Mick Riva being the father to this family. The Riva children, who have also gained popularity due to their dad, plan on throwing their iconic annual end-of-summer party. But, within 24-hours, the Rivas will have faced their biggest challenge and enter a new life. 

TJR does a fabulous job creating exciting characters who have a lot of personality and stories. My favorite character from the book is Nina, primarily the main character known for surfing and modeling. Her story is so heart-breaking yet motivating, and I feel that she really deserved better. Nina was forced to throw away her childhood and grow up in order for her and her family to survive. I relate to her struggle of trying to please people, and I’m glad that she was willing to let go and stop letting herself fall victim to everyone by the end of the story.

On the other hand, a character who I very much disliked was Mick Riva, but that is just how TJR intentionally wrote him. He was a horrible father, and I hate how he used his power and success to convince June and the kids to forgive him after he cheated. However, no matter how sorry he seemed, he never really was, and he would always find any other way out of commitments. The lowest that he ever was was when he never acknowledged his children after June died, leaving them to survive by themselves. 

To continue, a controversial topic in Malibu Rising is TJR’s use of too many characters. New characters were being thrown into the book within the last couple of chapters without too much purpose. I understand why some people might not like this choice, but I find it to make the story more realistic. I took from this concept is how many people show up in your life, only to be a part of that point; I don’t think every character needs to be remarkable. 

Also, I enjoyed the shifting of perspective across all characters. I think I would have gotten bored if the story was only told through Nina or June; instead, I was captivated and anticipating each chapter as I learned more about every single person – minor or majorly significant. 

The world within Malibu Rising seemed very realistic since it was based in Malibu. I like how each place had meaning to the characters, such as the Riva restaurant, Nina’s house, or the ocean. The book’s aesthetic was so summery, and I think it is perfect for reading on the beach! This book gives off a rich, sunny, surfing 80s vibe that I fell in love with. 

I enjoyed the medium-paced speed of the book. I think the right amount of time was spent on specific plots or topics. This helped me stay engaged and wanting to read more. 

My friend (and sister of fellow Sunday Morning Review writer Zoe) highly recommended Malibu Rising, saying it was one of her favorite books. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would like it because the book was recently released, and there were few reviews about it. However, I soon went to Barnes & Noble and bought a copy, not knowing that this would quickly become my favorite book! 

Taylor Jenkins Reid confirmed that this book is currently being adapted to be a series on Hulu. I am ecstatic to watch it. I think Malibu Rising was DESTINED to be a tv show!




I’m sorry, but Orwell’s 1984 is arguably the worst book I’ve ever read in my entire life. The writing is bad, the plot is bad, and the characters are flat and predictable. I cannot understand why English teachers are obsessed with this book, and I cannot understand what exactly I was supposed to learn from reading it.

The setup of a dystopian society could be a good thing, and it’s been successfully done many times (The Hunger Games, Handmaid’s Tale), but this was not one of those times. The world felt unfinished and almost lazy when reading, as if Orwell was making it up as he wrote and not really paying attention to consistency.

I really cannot recommend this book to anyone. Not only is it objectively bad, it borderlines on misogynistic at many points and writes women as stupid objects in a supposedly “future” society.

If you want to read a really good dystopian novel from the same time frame, I recommend The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It does everything 1984 tried to do world building-wise; but did everything right. (Don’t worry—there is a review on that book coming soon).

All in all, I absolutely despised this book and would recommend that you keep at least 10 feet away at all times.


Sense and Sensibility (1995)

* Spoilers *

Guys…it’s time. Our first Jane Austen post. This is a very special occasion.

Today I’ll be reviewing the 1995 movie Sense and Sensibility, based on Jane Austen’s book of the same name. The story features two sisters Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet). Elinor is the oldest of three girls and the most responsible sister; she doesn’t give into her emotions (sense). Marianne, on the other hand, wears her heart on her sleeve (sensibility) and can’t understand her sister’s “coldness”.

I just live for movies that take place during this time period! I personally think we should go back to holding balls and riding horse-drawn carriages. Beyond the beautiful setting and overall aesthetic, I was really impressed by the actors’ performances. I thought Emma Thompson, especially, was a standout. She actually wrote the screenplay, as well. Her ability to capture Elinor’s controlled emotions was incredible; you could feel how agonizing it was for her character to hide her love for Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant). And that scene when he proposes, and she finally releases all that pent-up emotion!! I actually burst into tears with her – it really came out of nowhere and I’m still not sure what happened to me. Then, I cried all the way through to the happy ending : )

(P.S. Those scenes made it to my favorite movie scenes playlist on YouTube!! I update it all the time, so please boost my ego and check it out every once in a while 🥲)

Finally, I just want to comment on how well the movie stays true to Austen’s book. I read Sense and Sensibility last year and, thought it took me a while to finish, I loved it for its subtle humor and excellent characterization. Every aspect that makes the book so great is present in the movie. Plus, it’s easier to understand the language with visual cues (an added bonus)!

Highly recommend to fans of Austen’s books, bonnets, and happy endings.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

– Zoe

Fear Street Trilogy


      When I first heard about these movies, I was pretty excited to see Maya Hawke and Sadie Sink. Unfortunately, after five minutes into the first movie, I realized that Maya’s screen time was over, and I was contemplating whether I should finish the film or not. Despite the struggle I pursued, and I am delighted that I did. 

      Part One was very engaging. I liked how the movies regressed in time, keeping the audience waiting for more. The first film was an excellent introduction to the recurring characters. I loved Deena and Sam, but I thought Josh was so innocent, and I’m thrilled that he was not killed off! Although R.I.P Kate and Simon… yikes. I thought the writing was very clever because almost every character is meaningful. For example, Kate’s neighbor that watches the kids explains that she was a nurse, aka Nurse Lane from the second movie. Part One was entertaining, this one is my least favorite out of the three, but I’ve still seen it about six times.

      My favorite from the trilogy is Part Two. I think Sadie Sink killed her role… pun intended. It was exciting to see her apart from Stranger Things, but Ziggy and Max are similar, so her acting was not too different. This movie is my favorite because I liked the summer camp vibes. It was interesting to see a whole new set of actors, but I think they were all perfectly cast. When watching the second movie, the director Leigh Janiak did a great job of still making the movie suspenseful when the audience already knew a lot of information about the curse of Sarah Fier. I thought that Cindy was C Berman, but I was surprised to learn that C Berman is Ziggy. The ending to this part was crazy, and I had to rewatch it so many times while I waited for the last movie to come out the following week. 

      Part Three can be my favorite depending on the day; it changes all the time. It made me happy to see the previous actors incorporated into this movie. Although I could not stand to look at the men in this part, THEY WERE ALL SO ANNOYING!!! Anyways, throughout the film, I was waiting to see Sarah’s bad upbringing or whatever made her evil, and I was utterly shocked when everything unraveled, and we learned that Sarah was a good person this whole time. But it was pretty cliche that Sheriff Goode was evil. I should have seen it coming. In 1994: Part Two, I loved Marvin, and I was glad to see that everything else came full circle. The ending was phenomenal. Part Three answered all my questions, and nothing was left unsolved. We finally got to see the QueenOfAirAndDarkness, and Sam and Deena got to go on their date! The ending credits were terrific and everything I needed. I need to know who took the book. I have some suspects. I think it could be the QueenOfAirAndDarkness because she was thrown into the end of the movie, but that could be for closure. It almost looks like a man’s hands when playing the ending slowly, so maybe Goode’s brother knows about the tradition. I wondered if Goode has a son, or perhaps a pregnant wife, and Leigh Janiak could bring that up in more Fear Street movies???

      I thought the music selection throughout the trilogy was a 10/10. I even made a playlist; it’s so good. My favorite songs from the movies are “Hey” and “Mr. Grieves” by the Pixies! Overall, I think this trilogy of films that were released weekly was a great idea, and I hope to see more people do this. Also, I am excited to see what else Leigh Janiak has in mind with more Fear Street movies!