Learning English by Watching Films

Her (2013) 

“Her” is a 2013 American comedy-drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. The film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice.

Vocabulary Exercises

Dwell on these quotations:

  •  There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness. – Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. – H. L. Mencken
  • That’s who you really like. The people you can think out loud in front of. – John Green

ex. 1 Complete the sentences with these expressions
give me a hand
it suddenly hit me
to grow apart
a hand written letter
to introduce
to fit the needs
to split up

I was going to work when _____ that I had forgotten to switch off the stove.
Yesterday I received a _____. It was strange!
Let me _____ myself. My name is Bond, James Bond.
I suppose they will soon be able to create an artificial intelligence with real _____ .
We must produce goods that would _____ of our customers.
Relationship with a computer is _____ .
My husband and I _____ through years and finally got divorced.
He is a very _____ man, he writes poetry and enjoys Beethoven.
I think it’s time for us to _____ . I don’t want us to be together any more.
It made me _____ when they said they didn’t need me.
Could you please _____ with this? I can’t do it by myself.
It is a bit _____ when you see so many young people glued to their computers.

ex. 2 Explain the following expressions
to grow apart
to fit the needs
ex. 3 Finish the sentences and speak about yourself
  1. When I get introduced to new people, I…
  2. If my husband (wife) and I split up, I would…
  3. I give a hand to people when…
  4. I find hand-written letters…
  5. I think it is weird when…
  6. I get easily upset if…
ex. 4  Come up with the context to justify the use of the tenses
  1. We have split up.
  2. John and Mary are growing apart.
  3. I sent hand written letters to my friends.
  4. We are introducing a new range of products.
  5. He had given me a hand in this matter.
  6. She has been crying all day long.
  7. We will do everything to fit the needs of our customers.

Comprehension Exercises


ex. 1 Characterize the following heroes of the film
ex. 2 Say if these statements are true or false
  1. Theodore was an outgoing and extrovert person.
  2. OS’s were unable to evolve.
  3. He and Samantha got on well together and discussed many different things about life and love.
  4. After meeting Samantha, Theodore was looking forward to his divorce.
  5. Theodore never confessed that he was dating an OS.
  6. He started having doubts about his relationship with Samantha because it was unnatural.
  7. Theodore was jealous of Samantha to the British philosopher Alan Watts.
  8. OS partner was never popular in the society and soon was forbidden by the government.
ex. 3 Discuss the following quotations from the film. Recall the situations
  • Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt. (Theodore)
  • The past is just a story we tell ourselves. (Samantha)
  • You know what, I can over think everything and find a million ways to doubt myself. And since Charles left I’ve been really thinking about that part of myself and, I’ve just come to realize that, we’re only here briefly. And while I’m here, I wanna allow myself joy. So fuck it. (Amy)
  • It’s like I’m reading a book… and it’s a book I deeply love. But I’m reading it slowly now. So the words are really far apart and the spaces between the words are almost infinite. I can still feel you… and the words of our story… but it’s in this endless space between the words that I’m finding myself now. It’s a place that’s not of the physical world. It’s where everything else is that I didn’t even know existed. I love you so much. But this is where I am now. And this is who I am now. And I need you to let me go. As much as I want to, I can’t live in your book any more. (Samantha)
  • Samantha: So what was it like being married?

    Theodore: Well, it’s hard, for sure. But there’s something that feels so good about sharing your life with somebody.

ex. 4 Answer the questions
  1. What is your opinion about the service of hand-written letters? Do you think it is something that can become popular in the future?
  2. Do you think it is plausible that in future people will not pay attention to you if you behave strangely in public like Theodore did while talking to Samantha?
  3. The meaning of the name Samantha is “God heard” or “listener”. Whereas the meaning of Theodore is “God’s gift”. Why did Spike Jonze decide to give them these names?
  4. What made Catherine and Theodore get a divorce? Why did they grow apart and whose fault was that? Do you think the problems Theodore had with Samantha were similar to those with Catherine?
  5. Why did Theodore decide to purchase the OS? What was his opinion about her in the beginning? Did it change?
  6. What questions was he asked during the installment of the OS?
  7. Theodore was very positive about his blind date with Amelia. Why did it not work out?
  8. Recall Amy’s and Catherine’s reactions when Theodore revealed to them that he was dating an OS.
  9. Do you think Samantha was really able to have feelings? Did she really regret not having a body? Why? Did she change her opinion?
  10. Why did all the OS’s leave one day? Why was Samantha unable to be only with Theodore? How did it start?
  11. Why was a relationship with OS in such demand? Why couldn’t people be with other people? Why did they choose the artificial intelligence instead?
  12. Would you ever consider dating an OS? Do you think this is something that could happen in the future?
  13. What are the risks of creating an artificial intelligence that can evolve?

Переклад слів:

consciousness – свідомість
upset – засмучений
give me a hand – дай мені руку
unsettling – тривожний
it suddenly hit me – до мене раптом дійшло
to grow apart – віддалятися один від одного
a hand written letter – лист, написаний від руки
to introduce – представити
to fit the needs – відповідати потребам
weird – дивний
sensitive – чуттєвий
to split up – розійтись

Into the wild (2007)

переглянути фільм можна за посиланням:


Into the Wild is a 2007 American biographical drama survival film written and directed by Sean Penn. It is an adaptation of the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer based on the travels of Christopher McCandless across North America and his life spent in the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1990s.

Vocabulary Exercises

Explain the following words and expressions. Use them in your own sentences.
ultimate freedom
to pass up
to be footloose
to exhilarate
irksome obligations
to acknowledge

Make 10 Conditional sentences:


II type – 3 sentences
III type – 4 sentences
Mixed type – 3 sentences
Comprehension Exercises

ex. 1
 Describe the main characters of the film and say everything you know about them.
Christopher McCandless / Alexander Supertramp
Billie McCandless
Walt McCandless
Carine McCandless
Jan Burres
Tracy Tatro
ex. 2 Answer the questions.
1. What was Christopher’s background? What do you know about his family, upbringing and education?
2. What made him reject his conventional life and society? What did he do before he left Atlanta?
3. Did he keep in touch with his family? What was their opinion about his decision?
4. What name did he take? Why do you think he changed it?
5. How did he travel?
6. How did he meet Jan Burred and Rainey?
7. Did he do any work during his journey?
8. What happened to him in Mexico?
9. Why did he decide to leave Los Angeles?
10. What did he do in Slab City? And who did he meet?
11. Tell the story of Ron Franz. What did he teach Christopher?
12. What hardships did he encounter in Alaska?
13. How did Christopher die?

3 Dwell on the following quotes. And express your own opinion.

“Happiness only real when shared.”

“I read somewhere how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong… but to feel strong.”

“When you want something in life, you just gotta reach out and grab it.”

“Mr. Franz, I think careers are a 20th century invention and I don’t want one.”

“The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences.”

“What if I were smiling and running into your arms? Would you see then what I see now?”
ex. 4 Discuss.
1. Do you support Christopher’s decision to leave normal life and go travelling? Do you understand him? Would you like to do the same? Why (not)?
2. Do you think that people on the road were mostly hostile or kind to him? Do you believe that it’s too dangerous to travel this way?
3. Why did Christopher rejected Franz’s offer and left him?
4. Do you think people do that nowadays? What makes them leave society? And what stops other people who believe the same?

Fight Club (1999)

Express your opinion on the following quotes:

To give up the task of reforming society is to give up one’s responsibility as a free man. (Alan Paton)
To live fully, we must learn to use things and love people, and not love things and use people. (John Powell)
May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect. (Chuck Palahniuk)
What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment, which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish. (W.H. Auden)

Vocabulary Exercises

ex. 1 Complete the sentences with these words and expressions
to assume
to bail
to end up doing something
to initiate
to evolve
to feel like doing something
white collars
to hit bottom

  1. If you’re not careful driving your motorbike, you can _____ at hospital.
  2. _____ workers work in offices rather than doing physical work.
  3. Since Plan A didn’t work, it’s time to _____ Plan B.
  4. After great success of our campaign I felt _____.
  5. We couldn’t give much _____ to his story. We simply didn’t believe him.
  6. I found the amount of clothes she had _____.
  7. He didn’t think he would ever be _____ with his own writing. There was always room for _____.
  8. Don’t _____ on our relationship! You can’t just go away. We can still mend it.
  9. Society expects our full _____ with law and rules.
  10. People must _____ through books and education.
  11. I am sorry, I don’t _____ going to the cinema tonight.
  12. In the evening they offered us _____ in the form of card games and watching old films.
  13. I am running out of money. Soon I’ll _____.
  14. When he saw me, he _____ I was married and opted for not flirting with me.

ex. 2 Explain these words and use them in your sentences
to feel like doing something
to bail
to hit the bottom
white collar

ex. 3 Make derivatives
to evolve
to assume

ex. 4 Find synonyms and opposites for these words
to assume
to initiate
to evolve

ex. 5 Finish the sentences
If you don’t work, you will end up…
If people start rioting, the government will initiate…
Today I don’t feel like…
I think hitting bottom…
It is easy to assume…
You can find distraction…

Comprehension Exercises

ex. 1 Give the information about the following heroes of the film
The Narrator
Tyler Durden
Marla Singer
Robert Paulson

ex. 2 Correct the following statements

The narrator went to numerous support groups because he suffered from testicular cancer.
The narrator calls Marla “the big tourist” because she travels around the world and doesn’t have a home.
He works for an insurance company that evaluates the damage after car accidents.
The narrator befriended Tyler Durden after they had an argument in the bar and got into a fight.
He invites Tyler to his apartment.
Marla saves Tyler’s life and they become sexually involved.
Marla could always distinguish between the narrator and Tyler.
Tyler created organization called “Project Mayhem” to legalize fight clubs.
Police wanted to stop them but they couldn’t because Tyler controlled politicians.
The narrator killed Tyler and died in an explosion.

ex. 3 Answer the questions

How did support groups help the narrator get rid of insomnia? Why did Marla go there too?
What attracted the narrator in Tyler?
Who was Tyler Durden and how did he appear in his life?
What were Tyler’s ideas concerning consumerism? Do you share them?
What do you know about the narrator’s job? What did he do? How and when did quit it?
How did Tyler sabotage the cinema and restaurants? Why?
Why did fight clubs become so popular?
How did they make soap? What did they use to make it?
What was the main purpose of “Project Mayhem”? Was it right or wrong in your opinion?
How could you get to “Project Mayhem”?
What were the assignments or homework that members of “Project Mayhem” had to do?
Why was it impossible for the narrator to stop “Project Mayhem”?

ex. 4 Dwell on the following quotations from the film
Narrator: What do you do?
Tyler Durden: What do you mean?
Narrator: What do you do for a living?
Tyler Durden: Why? So you can pretend like you’re interested?

Tyler Durden: The things you own end up owning you.

Tyler Durden: Do you know what a duvet is?
Narrator: It’s a comforter…
Tyler Durden: It’s a blanket. Just a blanket. Now why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No. What are we then?
Narrator: …Consumers?
Tyler Durden: Right. We are consumers. We’re the bi-products of a lifestyle obsession.

Tyler Durden: It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.

Tyler Durden: Fuck off with your sofa units and strine green stripe patterns, I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may.

Tyler Durden: We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.

Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Tyler Durden: Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think every thing you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned- Tyler.

Tyler Durden: You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

Tyler Durden: [pointing at an emergency instruction manual on a plane] You know why they put oxygen masks on planes?
Narrator: So you can breathe.
Tyler Durden: Oxygen gets you high. In a catastrophic emergency, you’re taking giant panicked breaths. Suddenly you become euphoric, docile. You accept your fate. It’s all right here. Emergency water landing – 600 miles an hour. Blank faces, calm as Hindu cows.
Narrator: That’s, um… That’s an interesting theory.

Narrator: If you wake up at a different time in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?

Narrator: Bob is dead, they shot him in the head!
Tyler Durden: You wanna make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs.

The Theory of Everything (2014)

“While there is life, there is hope.”

The Theory of Everything is the story of the most brilliant and celebrated physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, and Jane Wilde the arts student he fell in love with whilst studying at Cambridge in the 1960s.

Vocabulary Exercises

ex. 1 Explain the following words and expressions. Make up your own sentences with them.

to tempt
to matter
to affect
to do one’s best
underlying order of the world
to succeed
to deal with
to orbit

Comprehension Exercises

ex. 1 What do you know about Stephen Hawking? Why do you think he was able to succeed and continue working despite the problems with health? How can you characterize this person?

ex. 2 Who said these words? Recall the situations:
– What about you? What are you?…
– Cosmologist, I’m a Cosmologist.
– What is that?
– It is a kind of religion for intelligent atheists.

– Your glasses are always dirty.

I want us to be together for as long as we have got. If that is not very long, well, then that is just how it is.

– Time.
– Time?

– No… doctors. No doctors!

– It’s American!
– Is that a problem?

– I have loved you.

– I was stopped recently by a tourist at Cambridge who asked if I was the real Stephen Hawking. I replied I was not, and said the real one was much better looking.

– What you’re writing?
– Look what we made.

3 Answer the questions:

1. Where and what did Stephen Hawking study?
2. Was he different from other students? Prove it.
3. How did Jane and Stephen meet?
4. What was Stephen’s opinion about religion? Why did he say that science was is religion?
5. Describe his family. What was their attitude to Jane’s beliefs and preferences in art?
6. Why did Jane like Stephen?
7. How did he first learn that he had a motor neuron disease? What is it?
8. What was Jane’s decision when she found it out?
9. How did Stephen come up with the subject of his thesis? Why “time”?
10. When and how did they meet Jonathan? What was his role in their life?
11. What happened when Jane, Jonathan and the kids went camping?
12. Why did Jane decide that the surgeons should perform tracheotomy on Stephen?
13. How did they return his voice?
14. Who was Elaine?
15. Do you think that taking care of Stephen was a burden for Jane? Do you understand her decision to divorce him?
16. How did Stephen’s life continue after the divorce?
17. What do you know about his life and work now?

4 Discuss the following quotations by Stephen Hawking:

There ought to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe. And what can be more special than that there is no boundary? And there should be no boundary to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there is life, there is hope.

Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.

People who boast about their IQ are losers.

We are all different, but we share the same human spirit. Perhaps it’s human nature that we adapt and survive.

I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.

Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious, and however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Directed by: Michel Gondry
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet

Charlie Kauffman’s marvelous screenplay revolves around Joel (Jim Carrey), a soloist stuck in the repetitive formula of everyday life till he meets the spontaneously carefree Clementine (Kate Winslet). Their relationship escalates into a supposedly dead-end when he learns that she had him erased from her memory. Furious and confused, he contacts the inventor of this advanced process, Dr. Howard Mierzwaik. Out of sheer desperation he resorts to the only logical solution at the time, removing her from his memory as well. But as he re-experiences the passionate days of their earlier relationship, he falls in love with her all over again.

I. Recall the situations these words were uttered in:
– You don’t tell me things, Joel. I’m an open book. I tell you everything… every damn embarrassing thing. You don’t trust me.
– Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating.
– I don’t do that. I want to know you. I don’t constantly talk! Jesus! People have to share things, Joel…
– Mmmhhmmm…
– That’s what intimacy is. I’m really pissed that you said that to me!
– I’m sorry… I just, my life isn’t that interesting.
– I want to read some of those journals you’re constantly scribbling in. What do you write in there if you don’t have any thoughts or passions or… love?

* * *
I could die right now, Clem. I’m just… happy. I’ve never felt that before. I’m just exactly where I want to be.

* * *

– Joely?
– Yeah Tangerine?
– Am I ugly?
– Uh-uh.
– When I was a kid, I thought I was. I can’t believe I’m crying already. Sometimes I think people don’t understand how lonely it is to be a kid, like you don’t matter. So, I’m eight, and I have these toys, these dolls. My favorite is this ugly girl doll who I call Clementine, and I keep yelling at her, “You can’t be ugly! Be pretty!” It’s weird, like if I can transform her, I would magically change, too.
– You’re pretty.
– Joely, don’t ever leave me.
– You’re pretty… you’re pretty… pretty…

II. Answer the following questions:
Joel is both drawn to Clementine and recoils from her. This seems paradoxical but is not terribly unusual. Discuss his behavior towards her.

Clementine is ultra impulsive—she doesn’t know what she’s going to feel from one moment to the next. On the other hand, Joel is never impulsive. Spontaneity seems always to be forced. He is described as “uninspired.” Are they so opposite because that’s the only way they can complement their extreme personalities? Explain.

What is Joel’s initial reaction when he finds out that Clementine has erased him from her memory? Why is this so devastating to him? It seems worse than if she simply had told him not to ever see her again. Why? Comment on his reaction to this knowledge.

Is Joel’s decision to erase his memory of Clementine an impulsive action or in step with his usual safe decision-making? Was this decision in the end a healthy step for him or would it have been better for him to “make a clean break” while retaining the painful memories?

Joel’s mementos of Clementine have to be disposed of as part of the erasure. Compare the significance of these mementos with those of the replicants in Blade Runner and Leonard in Memento.

Joel asks of his procedure: “Is there risk of brain damage?” “Technically this is brain damage” (!), is the reply. Why would anyone ever undertake this procedure? Explain the motivation and temptation, along with why the procedure fraught with risks. Compare to similar brain alterations in Total Recall and Paycheck.

Joel and Clementine get into an argument about intimacy, in which they disagree over the amount of conversation is required. The disagreement could be a key to their difficulties, but he elected memory erasures washed out the chances of their working on this. How might they have bridged this gap, had they not chosen the plan of simply extracting painful memories?

Patrick uses stolen mementos (Joel’s identity) to make his relationship with Clementine work, and doesn’t understand how it might be unethical. In the end, he fails. Could he have succeeded, or is it impossible to fake a real connection? Discuss the implications for real human relations and true friendship.

Some part of Joel struggles to keep some memories of Clementine alive. Explain the meaning of his second thoughts about the erasure, especially given the bad times he had with her and was trying to move past. Compare his inability to heal to Leonard’s in Memento.

Mary admires Howard (the owner of the agency). We later find that he erased her memory of an earlier affair. How will she be able to learn from her experience with her memory erased? Is Howard a monster, as his wife proclaims, or is he just as much a victim of the manipulation of his own invention as she was? Explain.

Joel and Clementine hear each other’s descriptions of what they dislike about the other. These were taped under presumably confidential circumstances, so the descriptions should be completely honest. Are they? Are we meant to hear all the intimate thoughts (i.e., complaints) our loved ones may have about us?

III. Prepare the summary of the film.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)


“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a 1975 drama film directed by Milo? Forman and based on the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. It speaks about McMurphy who has a criminal past and has once again gotten himself into trouble with the law. To escape labor duties in prison, McMurphy pleads insanity and is sent to a ward for the mentally unstable. Once here, McMurphy both endures and stands witness to the abuse and degradation of the oppressive Nurse Ratched, who gains superiority and power through the flaws of the other inmates. McMurphy and the other inmates band together to make a rebellious stance against the atrocious Nurse.
Let’s train our English Listening skills. Here are some exercises you can do after watching the film.

I. Who do the following words belong to? Recall the situations they were uttered in.

‘Well, I tried, didn’t I? Goddamnit, at least I did that.’
‘Mmmmmm, Juicy Fruit.’
‘What do you think you are, for Chrissake, crazy or somethin’? Well you’re not! You’re not! You’re no crazier than the average guy out walkin’ around on the streets and that’s it.’
‘Have you ever heard of the old saying, a rolling stone gathers no moss? Does that mean something to you?’ – ‘Uh… It’s the same as, don’t wash your dirty underwear in public.’
‘You’re not an idiot. Huh! You’re not a goddamn looney now, boy. You’re a fisherman!’
‘The last time I seen my father, he was blind and diseased from drinking. And every time he put the bottle to his mouth, he don’t suck out of it, it sucks out of him until he shrunk so wrinkled and yellow even the dogs didn’t know him.’
‘I’m not saying they killed him. They just worked on him. The way they’re working on you.’
But I don’t like the idea of taking something if I don’t know what it is… I don’t want anyone to try and slip me salt-peter. You know what I mean?
II. Refer the following vocabulary to portray one of the characters.

a loony/a nut/a wacko; steely-willed; suffers emotional disturbance resulting from a domineering mother; serves one’s own ego needs rather than the therapeutic needs of the patients; flamboyant; maintains the status quo; protests against heavy-handed rules; wise-guy.

  • a silent, dignified, huge and towering Indian giant “Chief” – a “deaf and dumb Indian” “as big as a god-damn tree trunk” – with a father blinded after many years of alcoholism
  • a pathetic, incessantly stuttering, paranoid boychild, thirty-year old Billy Bibbit – shy, virginal, impressionable, and deathly afraid of his mother
  • an ineffectual, rationalizing intellectual Dale Harding – relatively sane but unable to get over his wife’s betrayal and adultery when she “seeks attention elsewhere”
  • an insecure neurotic Charlie Cheswick lacking self-confidence
  • a short, smiling Martini with an immature personality
  • a cynical, trouble-making sadist Taber

III. Speak on the following.

What is the film about? Where is the scene laid?
What do you think about the protagonist of the film? What is the effect of his staying at mental asylum?
Why doesn’t Nurse Ratched want to change the “carefully worked out schedule” and let the patients watch the World Series baseball game?
Why is the fishing trip therapeutic for the patients?
What is insanity? Is it a diagnosis of way of thinking?
What do you think about the ending of the movie? What were Chief’s motives when killing McMurphey?

IV. Themes to consider:

Physical and moral courage
Humor and satire, the power of laughter
Human freedom vs control
Importance of sexuality

V. Role play

The doctors are discussing the treatment of mentally-ill patients. Some cling to traditional medicine (the use of electric shock therapy and strong drugs, stern control) while the others are insisting on therapeutic role of nature and understanding, importance of human freedom and feelings.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is a 1961 American romantic comedy film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. The film is loosely based on the novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote.

Listen again and decide if the statements are true or false.
  1. The American Film Institute considered Audrey Hepburn to be the greatest actress of all time.
  2. Audrey Hepburn became a fashion and cultural icon.
  3. Audrey Hepburn was born in England.
  4. Audrey had an elder sister.
  5. Her mother was a Dutch aristocrat.
  6. Audrey Hepburn was educated at a private school in France.
  7. The most traumatic moment of her life was when her father died.
  8. She didn’t become a ballerina because she was too tall.
  9. Audrey Hepburn was one of Hollywood’s most successful stars.
  10. She founded UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund).
  11. Match the words from the article on the left with their synonyms on the right.
    Paragraphs 1 and 2
    considered schooled
    of all time   wonderful
    magnificent   heartbreaking
    aristocrat    believed
    educated noblewoman
    traumatic    ever
    Paragraphs 3 and 4
    went into    masterpiece
    publicity phrase
    classic stardom
    fame    entered
    term    is still
    remains  media attention
    ex. 2 Tell everything you know and remember about these characters from the film
    –   Holly Golightly
    –   Paul Varjak
    –   Mrs. Emily Eustace “2E” Failenson
    –   Doc Golightly
  12. ex. 3 Answer the questions
    1. Why is this film called “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?
    2. Answer the questions about Holly: How old is she? Was she happy when she was a child? What does she do for a job? Does she like parties? Does she break the law and if so, how?
    3. If you could write an alternate ending for the film, what would it be and why?
    4. How might our perception of Holly be different if the film was told from her point of view?
    5. Which detail of Holly’s life do you particularly wish you knew more about? Why?
    6. Which secondary character do you think is most important to the story. Why?
    7. What do you think of Paul’s relationship/friendship with Holly? How does Paul’s friendship with Holly alter after Doc’s arrival?
    ex. 4 Recall the situations these quotations were uttered in
    Holly Golightly: I’m like cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.
    Paul Varjak: You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-You-Are? You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts. You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, “Okay, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.” You call yourself a free spirit, a wild thing, and you’re terrified somebody’s going to stick you in a cage. Well, baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somaliland. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.
    Holly Golightly: Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.
    Holly Golightly: What do you do, anyway?
    Paul Varjak: I’m a writer, I guess.
    Holly Golightly: You guess? Don’t you know?
    Paul Varjak: OK, positive statement. Ringing affirmative. I’m a writer.
    Holly Golightly: I’ll never get used to anything. Anybody that does, they might as well be dead.
    Holly Golightly: He’s all right! Aren’t you, cat? Poor cat! Poor slob! Poor slob without a name! The way I see it I haven’t got the right to give him one. We don’t belong to each other. We just took up one day by the river. I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I’m not sure where that is but I know what it is like. It’s like Tiffany’s.
    Paul Varjak: Tiffany’s? You mean the jewelry store.
    Holly Golightly: That’s right. I’m just CRAZY about Tiffany’s!

    Paul Varjak: And I always heard people in New York never get to know their neighbors.

The Notebook (2004)

The Notebook is a 2004 American romantic drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes and based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as a young couple who fall in love during the early 1940s. Their story is narrated from the present day by an elderly man (portrayed by James Garner) telling the tale to a fellow nursing home resident (played by Gena Rowlands, who is Cassavetes’ mother).

I. Recall situations where these monologs and dialogs were uttered:
noah-and-allie-the-notebook-21383930-500-424Duke (in voice-over narration): “I am no one special, just a common man with common thoughts. I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me, and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect, I’ve succeeded as gloriously as anyone who ever lived. I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and for me, that has always been enough.”
*  *  *
Duke (reading): “Southern summers are indifferent to the trials of young love. Armed with warnings and doubts, Noah and Allie gave a remarkably convincing portrayal of a boy and a girl traveling down a very long road with no regard for the consequences.”
*  *  *
Duke (reading): “Summer romances end for all kinds of reasons. But when all is said and done, they have one thing in common: They are shooting stars-a spectacular moment of light in the heavens, a fleeting glimpse of eternity. And in a flash, they’re gone.”
*  *  *
Duke (reading, about Noah): “He got the notion into his head that if he restored the old house where they had come that night, Allie would find a way to come back to him. Some called it a labor of love. Others called it something else. But in fact, Noah had gone a little mad.”
*  *  *
Allie’s fianc? (to Allie): “Should I be worried?”
*  *  *
Allie’s mother (about her sweetheart of 25 years ago, now a laborer shoveling gravel): “Sometimes when I’m in the area, I just stop here and I watch him, trying to picture how different my life might have been.” [she cries]
II. Discussion questions


1. The restored house Noah lives in plays an integral role in the movie. What do you think the house represents? What does this say about the importance of place? Does Noah restore anything else except the house?
2. When Allie decides to come down to see Noah, “one last time,” do you think she wanted to see him just to say good-bye, or was she secretly hoping to fall in love with him again? Was it right for Allie, who had already agreed to marry Lon, to make this visit? Would your answer be different if she were already married?
3. When asked by her mother, Allie claims to be in love with both Noah and Lon. Do you think this is true? While it is possible to love more than one person equally, is it possible to be in love with two people at the same time?
4. Allie’s mother regrets having hidden Noah’s letters to Allie for so many years. Why does Allie’s mother change her mind, especially when Allie’s wedding is less than three weeks away? Can you understand Allie’s mother’s motivation for hiding the letters in the first place? As a parent, wasn’t she responsible for watching out for her daughter?
5. Were you at all surprised when it is revealed that Allie had decided to marry Noah, or was there never any question in your mind?
6. Noah and Allie’s love for each other at the end of the movie seems as pure and as powerful as it was in the beginning. Is it possible for the intensity of first love to last that long? Is it unrealistic to expect it to?
7. Although he’s not in the best shape himself, Noah goes to Allie’s bedside and reads “The Notebook” to her every day. As a result, Allie is in much better shape than the other Alzheimer’s patients. Do you think this is plausible? Is her stable health a result of her hearing the story of her life every day, or are greater forces at work? What does Noah’s devotion suggest about marriage? About the nature of love itself?

8. The novel this movie is based on has been a best-seller not only in America, but also around the world. Why do you think this is? What is it about the book that speaks to such a broad range of people?

III. Characterize the main characters of the film.

IV. Prepare the summary of the film.

American History X (1998)

American History X is a deeply disturbing and brutally violent film about the white skin head movement in contemporary United States culture.

Directed by: Tony Kaye
Writer credits: David McKenna

Cast: Edward Norton (Derek Vinyard), Edward Furlong  (Danny Vinyard), Beverly D’Angelo (Doris Vinyard), Avery Brooks (Dr. Bob Sweeney), Jennifer Lien (Davina  Vinyard), Ethan Suplee (Seth Ryan) , Stacy Keach (Cameron Alexander), Fairuza Balk (Stacie), Elliott Gould (Murray), Guy Torry (Lamont), William Russ (Dennis Vinyard), Joseph Cortese, Jason Bose Smith, Antonio David Lyons, Alex Sol

Genre: Crime, Drama

Some films offer us a view of real life which makes us smile to ourselves as we view ourselves in this reflection. However, some films have the power to hold a mirror to the viewer’s soul and make them look far beyond their lives, and examine their own morals and belief systems. Tony Kaye’s “American History X” is such a film. “American History X” tells the story of Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton), a hate-filled skinhead from Venice Beach, California, who lives in a world of white supremacists. The film opens with Derek murdering two African-American men who were attempting to steal his truck. Quickly, the film then shifts its focus to Derek’s younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong). Danny, who is essentially the narrator of the film, is following in his brother’s footsteps, by being drawn into this world of white supremacy. Through flashbacks (all of which are shot in glorious black-and-white), Danny tells us the story of what really happened the night of the murders and essays, how Derek grew from a well-adjusted teenager to a hate-monger. As we learn more about Derek, we begin to see what a monster he truly is. When Derek is finally released from prison, he must start a new life where he has to confront his own personal demons, and attempt to save Danny from becoming a victim of hate, just as he did.”American History X” is one of the most powerful and thought-provoking films that I’ve seen in years. First-time director Tony Kaye  has crafted a beautiful motion picture, full of strong images and symbolism. Kaye’s use of black-and-white in the flashbacks gives the film a documentary feel and makes the images seem more lifelike. Kaye also makes good use of slow-motion footage, and scenes with no dialogue to convey a heightened sense of emotion.

Besides a powerful story and excellent direction, “American History X” also boasts a great cast. It’s easy to see why Edward Norton was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in this film. His transformation from normal teenager to charismatic racist, is impressive enough, but the sense of hate that he is able to give with just a facial expression is even more awe-inspiring. On the surface, Edward Furlong seems to be playing his usual punk kid role, but he too brings a certain depth and humanity to the part of younger brother Danny.

I. Recall the situations the conversations were uttered in:

Doris Vinyard: I’m ashamed that you came out of my body.


Bob Sweeney: There was a moment… when I used to blame everything and everyone… for all the pain and suffering and vile things that happened to me, that I saw happen to my people. Used to blame everybody. Blamed white people, blamed society, blamed God. I didn’t get no answers ’cause I was asking the wrong questions. You have to ask the right questions.
Derek Vinyard: Like what?
Bob Sweeney: Has anything you’ve done made your life better?


Derek: Weed is for niggers. Put that away right now, have a little self-respect.


Reporter: Look I know this is tough. But how do you feel right now?
Derek Vinyard: How do you think I feel? I think it’s typical.
Reporter: Typical how?
Derek Vinyard: Well, this country is becoming a heaven for criminals so what do you expect? You know, decent hard-working Americans like my dad are getting rubbed out by social parasites.
Reporter: Parasites?
Derek Vinyard: Blacks, Browns, Yellow whatever.
Reporter: I don’t understand you’re saying that you think maybe your father’s murder was race related?
Derek Vinyard: Yeah it’s race related! Every problem in this country is race related not just crime. It’s like… immigration, AIDS, welfare those are problems in them. The Black community, the Hispanic community, the Asian community, they’re not white problems.
Reporter: Derek, are those really issues that deal with poverty?
Derek Vinyard: No. You know, no. They’re not products of the environment either that’s crap. Minorities don’t give two shits about this country, they’ve come here to exploit it not to embrace it.
Reporter: What does this…
Derek Vinyard: I mean millions of white European Americans came here and flourished you know within a generation so what the fuck is the matter with these jewlates going around shooting a… fireman?
[cries] Reporter: What does this have to do with the murder of your father?
Derek Vinyard: Because my father was murdered doing his job! Putting out a fire in f**king Nigger neighborhood. He shouldn’t be giving a sh*t about. He got shot by a f**king drug dealer who probably still collects a welfare check!


Lamont: I’m the most dangerous man in this prison. You know why? ‘Cause I control the underwear.


Danny Vinyard: I believe in death, destruction, chaos, filth, and greed.


Danny Vinyard: I’m sorry, Derek. I’m sorry that happened to you.
Derek Vinyard: I’m not. I’m lucky. I feel lucky because it’s wrong, Danny. It’s wrong and it was eating me up, it was going to kill me. And I kept asking myself all the time, how did I buy into this sh*t? It was because I was pissed off, and nothing I ever did ever took that feeling away. I killed two guys, Danny, I killed them. And it didn’t make me feel any different. It just got me more lost and I’m tired of being pissed off, Danny. I’m just tired of it.


Lamont: Just remember, in here, you the nigga. Not me.


Bob Sweeney: I think the street would kill you. Your rhetoric and your propaganda aren’t gonna save you out there.


Derek Vinyard: Alright listen up, we need to open our eyes. There’s over two million illegal immigrants bending down in this state tonight. This state spend three billion dollars last year on services, on people who had no right to be here in the first place. Three billion dollars. 400 million just to lock up a bunch of illegal immigrant criminals who only got in this country because the f**king INS decided it’s not worth the effort to screen for convicted felons.


Murray: He’s gone.
Doris Vinyard: He’s just a boy… without a father.


~ People look at me and see my brother.~ Daniel Vinyard


Danny Vinyard: Hate is baggage. Life’s too short to be pissed off all the time.

II. Speak on the following:

1) Where is the scene laid? Who are the main characters of the film?
2) What are relationships between the main heroes?
3) Which main themes are raised in the film? Dwell on some of them.
4) How and under which circumstances does Derek change his mind about his neo-Nazi beliefs? What`s his brother`s reaction to it?
5) How are people of color portrayed in this movie? Were there any positive roles for people of color?
6) Who do you relate to in this movie? Why? How does that make you feel?
7) What do you think of the ending of the movie?

III. Look through the comments on the film. Refuse or support the idea expressed:

“…what a powerful film. It was very real portrayal of neo Nazis and was sad but so true. I knew it was too late for there to be an actual happy ending so although it was disappointing it just added to the reality of it all. Edward Norton delivers perfectly once again. Fairuza Balk had a small role but was excellent as well. A Must See Film! This Tony Kaye film is an EYE-OPENER. One of the best social-realist films…EVER! By the way, Ed Norton was a brilliant actor!”

“July 30, 1999. American History X left me speechless for quite some time, but it also kept me restless. I believe there is no one message that can be picked out from the movie as there are no two people who think alike. The movie does not try to feed us a “right answer” which is a fresh and mature dealing with such an issue such as racism. During the watching of the film I found myself Identifying with both sides, I wanted to see Derek get punished but I also sensed that he is not the only one guilty in the situation, also the film doesn’t look for the guilty. This is not about which kind of ‘skinhead’ you are, this is about what kind of a human being you are. I also believe this movie should be learned and discussed in every school in America and in the world. The letter R rating this movie has failed to make the difference between Education and Entertainment – the violence in this movie is not bad influence on children, it is a necessary tool to show that every one bleeds. I hope everyone doesn’t sleep well after watching this movie. I hope everyone who watches the movie can also feel it. I hope one day hate will be a word in the dictionary. I hope.”

“…I watched the film expecting something powerful and thought provoking but with the exception of some very hard scenes indeed, the story was predictable. It’s true that Edward Norton gives a superb performance as a skinhead Nazi admirer and there are some arguments pro and against racism in the US, but the film didn’t impress me. I found it too much 2-dimensional, with no adequate depth. I’m afraid that very soon we will see a “European History X” version, if the confrontation of civilizations continues on its current path.”

“The story is poor. The dialogue is poor. I actually pity the actors. Its not really their fault. I mean, they were given such terrible lines, they really had nothing to work with. One of the biggest failures of the movie was the transition of Norton’s character from a violent racist to an open minded, loving, saint. The change was brought about so poorly in the movie that it was embarrassing to watch because it looked so artificial.”

“American History X is one example of motion picture that can be called cinematographic art! It is absolutely not a film for those who go to the movies just for fun; it is, in fact, for those who face art as an object of reflection about our world, ourselves and our lives. Proving that some legacies must end, it is a motion picture in which the image is worth a thousand words, concerning a serious and real drama that affects not only the America but the whole world: the prejudice, one of the most irrational attitudes of the human kind. It is even better due to the remarkable performance of Edward Norton. American History X is definitely one of the best motion pictures ever produced concerning the racism legacy and one of the most powerful movies of all times! Simply unforgettable.”

IV. Choose a character to dwell on.

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

“Girl, Interrupted” (1999) is a film based on writer Susanna Kaysen’s account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the 1960s.

Read about the film and its analysis.


Winona Ryder – Susanna Kaysen
Angelina Jolie – Lisa Rowe
Clea DuVall – Georgina Tuskin
Brittany Murphy – Daisy Randone
Elisabeth Moss – Polly ‘Torch’ Clark
Jared Let – Tobias ‘Toby’ Jacobs
Jeffrey Tambor – Dr. Melvin Potts
Vanessa Redgrave – Dr. Sonia Wick
Whoopi Goldberg – Valerie Owens, RN


I. Study the English vocabulary from the movie. Recall the situations these words were said and use them in sentences of your own (make up 5 sentences).

to make up one’s mind; to be blue; a bunch of times; to escape; to deal with smb; to be kidding (I am kidding); outrageous; to confess secrets; a mental institution; to be depressed; a junkie; a ward; to hang out with smb; a roommate; to be puzzled about smth; to take a nap; meds; insane.

II. Find synonyms for the given words. Use the previous exercise.

  • to feel sad
  • to decide
  • to have a sleep during the day
  • to have a depression
  • to run away
  • to tell smb one’s secrets
  • a special room for patients
  • a person who lives with you in the same room
  • a hospital for insane people
  • medications
  • many times
  • I am joking. / I am not serious.
  • crazy

III. Translate from Russian into English using the vocabulary from the movie:

У мене болить голова. Я збираюся прийняти аспірин.
Здорово знову опинитися вдома!
Чим більше ти розповідаєш про свої секрети, тим більше вони думають про те, щоб випустити тебе звідси.
З усією повагою, містер Сміт, я все ж в замішанні з приводу цієї заручин.
Так як ти смієш, Джек? – Одна порада, Люсі, нічого тикати пальцем на божевільних людей!


IV. Who do the following words belong to? Recall the situations they were uttered in:

–  We are very rare and we are mostly men.
–  Lisa thinks she’s hot shit cause she’s a sociopath.
–  I’m a sociopath.
–  No, you’re a dyke.

*  * *

I know what it’s like to want to die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in but you can’t. How you hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside.

*  *  *

–  What happened to Polly?
–  What needs to happen? No one’s ever gonna kiss her, man. You know, they’re building a new Disney Land in Florida. If I could have any job in the world, I’d be a professional Cinderella. You could be Snow White. And Polly could be Minnie Mouse. Everyone would hug her and kiss her and love her and no one would ever know what was in that big head of hers, you know?

*  *  *

– Hello?
–  So what’s your diag-nonsense?
–  Who is this?
–  What’d he say to Mom and Pop?
– I have a Borderline Personality.
–  Oh, that’s nothing. What else?
–  He didn’t say. Thought it would affect my recovery.
–  Alright, listen. Tongue your meds tonight. After 1 o’clock checks Gretta always goes out for a smoke. Check the mirrors and if they’re clear you go down to Hector’s closet. It’s near the art room and it will be open.

*  *  *

–  Take one f***ng step and I’ll jam this in my aorta.
–  Lisa, your aorta is in your chest.
–  Good to know.

V.  Who is who?

1. Susanna
2. Daisy
3. Lisa
4. Valerie

a. weak
b. chick
c. depressed
d. strong
e. junkie
f. completely crazy
g. has escaped a bunch of times from the hospital
h. has no response to treatment
i. puzzled about her illness
j. clever
k. deals with patients at Claymore
l. controls relationships with patients

VI. Speak on the following:

1. Who is the main character of the movie? What can you say about her mental state? Was she really insane?VI. Speak on the following:
2. Who is opposed to Susanna? What can you say about Lisa’s position at Claymore?
3. Why is Lisa attracted to Susanna? Why does she call her Jamie?
4. What can you say about the 60’s? Was it a difficult time? What changes in history did this time bring?
5. Speak about the other patients of the hospital. What are their problems? What can you say about Polly? Georgina?
6. What was the problem with Daisy? Why did she commit suicide? Was she recovered when she was released? What was Lisa’s role in it? Why did Lisa “press the button”?

Lisa: [to Daisy] Help me understand, Dais ’cause, I thought you didn’t do Valium. Tell me how this safety net is working for you. Tell me that you don’t take that blade and drag it across your skin and pray for the courage to press down. Tell me how your *daddy* helps you cope with that. Illuminate me.

7. What is the climax of the movie? Why did Lisa steal Susanna’s journal? What did she want to prove to Susanna?

–  What are you doing Lisa?
–  Playing the villain, baby, just like you want. I try to give you everything you want.
–  No you don’t.
–  You wanted your file, I found you your file. You wanted out, I got you out. You needed money, I found you some. I’m f***ng consistent – I told you the truth-I didn’t write it down in a f***g book! I told you to your face. And I told Daisy to her face – what everybody knew and wouldn’t say, and she killed herself. And I played the f***ng villain, just like you wanted.
–  Why would I want that?
–  Because it makes you the good guy, sweet pea.

8. Why is the movie called “Girl, Interrupted”.

VII. Express your personal attitude to the movie. Did you like it? Why? Review people’s comments on the Internet and write an essay on this movie. The headings below can help you with that:

  • Watching “Girl, Interrupted”
  • “Was I ever crazy? May be… or may be life is…” [on the character of Susanna Kaysen]
  • “I’m not really dead” [on the character of Lisa Rowe]
  • Psychological disorders and their origin

“Ex Machina” (2015)

A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.

ex-machina-002ex. 1 
Explain the following words and word combinations. Make up your own sentences with them.
crude language
to unwind
to cross-reference
for the sake of argument

ex. 2 
Describe the following characters from the film (appearance, occupation, personality, your opinion about them).
Caleb Smith
Nathan Bateman

ex. 3
 Who said these words? Recall the situations these words were uttered in. Express your opinion about these quotations and explain them.
– One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.
– You decided to be straight? Please! Of course you were programmed, by nature or nurture or both […]
– Isn’t it strange, to create something that hates you?
– Impulse. Response. Fluid. Imperfect. Patterned. Chaotic.
– What if Pollock had reversed the challenge. What if instead of making art without thinking, he said, “You know what? I can’t paint anything, unless I know exactly why I’m doing it.” What would have happened? […] The challenge is not to act automatically. It’s to find an action that is not automatic. From painting, to breathing, to talking, to fucking. To falling in love…
– I am God.

ex. 4
 Answer the questions.
1. What is Bluebook? Why is it called so?
2. How did Caleb get into the Nathan’s residence? What surprised him there?
3. Why did Nathan want Caleb in his house? What was the experiment about?
4. How did Nathan programme Ava? What did he use?
5. How did Ava’s behaviour in presence of Caleb change during the week?
6. Why did Caleb develop distrust towards Nathan?
7. How did Ava escape from the house?
8. What do you think is going to happen next?
9. Why do you think the film is called “Ex Machina”?

ex. 5
 Discuss these quotations about AI.

By far, the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it. (Eliezer Yudkowsky)

Any A.I. smart enough to pass a Turing test is smart enough to know to fail it. (Ian McDonald)

There is a popular cliche … which says that you cannot get out of computers any more than you put in. Other versions are that computers only do exactly what you tell them to, and that therefore computers are never creative. The cliche is true only in the crashingly trivial sense, the same sense in which Shakespeare never wrote anything except what his first schoolteacher taught him to write–words. (Rickard Dawkins)

Is artificial intelligence less than our intelligence? (Spike Jonze)

Intelligence is the art of good guesswork. (H.B. Barlow)

If you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off. (Sergey Brin)

Google will fulfill its mission only when its search engine is AI-complete. You guys know what that means? That’s artificial intelligence. (Larry Page)