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Vol. 19 - Films To See Before You Die

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you’ve all had a great week. By the time this newsletter goes out, I will be hungover in Dorset/waking up feeling refreshed in Dorset (only time will tell) after spending a weekend visiting friends (with Rhubarb in tow, of course). For this week’s issue, I’m taking a mixture of topics that you submitted to me on Instagram, covering everything from planning my 30th and parasocial relationships to my must-see films. With that, let’s begin…



my must see list

When I took to Instagram to ask you what you wanted to see in last week’s ‘Club Corner’ segment, a lot of you asked for a list of ‘must-see films’ (and books, but for the sake of this segment, I’m ignoring that part). The notes app on my phone is endless and includes everything from the mundane to the important. There have been several instances where I have been discussing films with a stranger, and we have both realised we have a notes app filled with our favourites that we end up dutifully exchanging. Sharing notes lists is an underrated love language, in my opinion. Anyway, this begs the question as to why I haven’t shared it with you guys yet. If someone were to ask me what films I think everyone must see, chances are I’d show them this list, so it should be no different for all of you. This list is long and varied (I’ve edited it slightly otherwise, it would be unbearably long), and hopefully, it will have something for everyone. As quite a few are foreign-language films, I will include the language of the film next to the title if it’s not in English. This is also going to be in alphabetical order so that there is no favouritism. I’ve also linked the trailers to each title (not that all of the trailers do these films justice, but, hey ho). If you would like to see my other film playlists, you have the choice between the ‘I watch these so I can finally cry’ playlist and ‘comfort films for when I’m sad and bloated’. Enjoy.


3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - I love Martin Mcdonagh as both a writer and director (if you loved Banshees of Inisherin, In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, you’ll get it), but this has to be my favourite of the four. The performances from Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand are electrifying. The way it blends dark humour with drama and a biting social commentary is brilliant and terrifying.

A Little Princess - I’m sure some of you have a go-to film when you need to A) cry, B) feel something, or C) a combination of the two. This is that film for me. I saw it as a child, and it made me both terrified of boarding school and the thought that my father might be shipped off to war at any given moment. Based on a novel, A Little Princess is simply magical. It captures the essence of childlike wonder and imagination so beautifully. Very healing for your inner child.

American Psycho - I know this evokes mixed feelings, but this film is iconic. Props to Mary Harron for doing everything in her power to have this made, and I am so glad that it was a woman who did direct this. The impact of this film is undeniable.

Angus - I cannot find this film anywhere, and it’s driving me nuts, but this film is the gold standard for 90’s coming-of-age films. It’s simply about an overweight kid called Angus, struggling through high school and learning self-acceptance. This soundtrack introduced me to Greenday, and the opening scene of the high school marching band playing to ‘Am I Wrong'?’ by Love Spit Love is burned in my brain. I watch this video weekly, seeing as the song isn’t available on Spotify.

Arrival - If you want to believe in something bigger and better than yourself and get lost in one of many magical worlds that Denis creates, watch this. Try not to cry as ‘The Nature of Daylight’ plays.

‘Before’ Trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight) - THE ART OF DIALOGUE IS NOT DEAD. For those who don’t know, Richard Linklater is famous for his films about the passing of time, and therefore, his films are all done in real-time. The ‘Before’ series is filmed over decades, following a couple (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) who meet on a train and spend one magical night together, walking and talking around Vienna. If you are a nostalgic person, these films will make you suffer endlessly. Before Sunrise is ‘screaming, crying, throwing up’ personified. There has never been a better on-screen couple than Jesse and Celine.

Call Me By Your Name - I know we have our Armie Hammer issues, but this film is art on screen. This scene between Elio and his father is the whole film (in my opinion).

City Of God (Portuguese) - I watched this for one of my modules at uni and had my eyes opened to a whole new way of filmmaking. It’s a brutal, unflinching look at life in the slums of Rio, and it follows several characters over decades as life takes them on different paths from the slums they grew up in. To top it all off, it’s based on a true story.

Decision To Leave (Korean) - If you don’t believe in love, you will after this. Tender, touching and funny all wrapped up with a murder plot and a tale of stalking/borderline obsession? The cinematography is ethereal, and every shot is set up to add another layer to the story. Have fun crying.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind - Once you get over seeing Jim Carrey in a serious role, strap in for one hell of a journey. If you could erase a memory of someone, would you? Another one for those who like to feel numb from nostalgia, sadness and the occasional existential crisis. Kate Winslet is also spectacular.

Everything Everywhere All At Once - Do I really need to explain this one?? Really??? This film changed my fucking life.

Goodfellas - Aside from this being a classic that everyone should see at least one, Scorsese has a way of making you want to be part of a story that includes some of the worst people you can imagine. In three words? Crazy, Stupid, Mafia.

Good Will Hunting - I saw a Letterboxd review that said ‘will never be able to wrap my head around the fact that matt damon and ben affleck wrote this screenplay they literally look like they have one brain cell between the two of them’ which sums this film up for me. The screenplay is ‘wicked smaht’ and touching, and it shows the importance of having great people in your life that really believe in you (especially when one of them is Robin Williams).

Grand Budapest Hotel - If you still haven’t seen a Wes Anderson film, this would be the one I’d use as an entry bribe. It’s whimsical and magical and beautiful in every damn way. The storytelling? The attention to detail? The design? Magnifique.

In The Mood For Love (Shanghainese/Cantonese) - If I had one wish, it would be for everyone to watch this film. This is a story of a man and a woman who live in the same apartment building in Hong Kong and come to find that their husband and wife have had an affair with each other. It’s a moody, stirring, melancholic take on longing and love lost. Also, one of the most stunning pieces of film you’ll ever watch.

Interstellar - This altered my way of thinking. It’s long, it’s confusing, and it’s classic Christopher Nolan. It is also magical, otherwordly, and makes you (and your worries) feel insignificant and small in a good way. The Hans Zimmer soundtrack also bangs.

La La Land - Every criticism of this film is wrong, and I don’t care if you hate ‘musicals’ because this isn’t really a musical. I love seeing the joy and the drive Mia and Sebastian have, but also the sacrifices they have to make in pursuit of their dreams. It’s impossible to not feel really fucking good after watching this. No one does the end scene stare quite like Damien Chazelle.

Lion - I watch this one when I need to die of dehydration.

Man On Fire - Another one my dad introduced me to when I was a teenager, and as much as I appreciate Tony Scott’s style not being for everyone, at its core, it’s a story about unlikely friendships, purpose and sacrifice. I wasn’t ready to feel so emotionally attached to this story and the characters (aka, I cried loads).

Oldboy (Korean) - This was my introduction to Park Chan-wook (same director as Decision to Leave, mentioned earlier), and fuck me, was I not prepared for this one. A businessman is kidnapped and tortured for 15 years before finally escaping and seeking revenge on his captors. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will prepare you for this one. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Paddington 1 and 2 - THESE ARE NOT CHILDREN'S FILMS. I REPEAT. THESE ARE NOT CHILDREN’S FILMS. Both Paddington’s are wonderfully written, charming and quintessentially British with an emotional core. The second one is better than the first, but they are both bloody good.

Pans Labyrinth (Spanish) - A film of magical realism told from the perspective of a young girl with the after-effects of the Spanish civil war as the backdrop. Guillermo is fantastic at building new and wonderful worlds, and this is a film that teeters between comforting and disturbing. If you are a Guillermo del Toro fan, you’ll know what to expect. If you’re not, it’s a wonderful introduction to his films and storytelling style.

Parasite (Korean) - If you are hesitant to watch foreign language films, this is the perfect one to start with. I don’t even know what genre this fits into, as Bong seems to bend and defy the classic genre tropes. Parasite is one of the few 10/10 films for me and I don’t have the right words to do it justice. It’s truly one of a kind.

The Shawshank Redemption - One of the few films that Rotten Tomatoes is right about.

Soul - This is one of the more underrated Disney films for me, as it feels like a film made for adults rather than children. For me, it’s an important reminder to take time to appreciate how lucky we are to be alive and to find joy in the small, seemingly insignificant things.

Spirited Away (Japanese) - The best Studio Ghibli film/ the best film ever, full stop. This is an animated film (and they aren’t usually my cup of tea), but I have never wanted to climb into my screen so badly. You know what, I think I’m going to put it on as I finish the rest of this newsletter because the thought of it just makes me happy.

Stand By Me - Yet another film that my dad made me watch that I thought would be impossibly boring but was anything but. Based on the Stephen King novel, this 80s film is an exploration of adolescence, childhood friendship and adventure. It’s a very nostalgic watch for me and a very sad one to think about what River Phoenix could have become.

The Big Short - This film shouldn’t work, but for me, it’s nearly perfect. Standout performances from Christian Bale and Steve Carrell, witty dialogue and sharp writing (I typically love anything Adam McKay and if you like Succession, you’ll love this), and it manages to make a topic that should be boring and hard to digest entirely engaging. If you’ve ever wanted to understand a crumb of what happened during the ‘08 crash, this is the best film for it.

The Dark Knight Trilogy - Christian Bale is the only Batman I’m interested in, and Christopher Nolan is the only director I’d watch rehash this story. In my mind, it’s the best superhero movie ever made.

The Green Mile - Ah, yet another depressing, gut-wrenching film based in and around a prison. Please don’t let the 3+ hour runtime deter you because the feelings this film will give you are indescribable.

The Intouchables (French) - This film is an ‘I remember where I was when I watched this, and my life completely changed’ film for me. I was 18, watching this film in the basement of an Embassy as part of a film club. I laughed, I cried in front of strangers, and then I went home and looked up Ludovico Einaudi so that I could binge his music. Another one based on a true story which makes it even more impactful.

The Sea Inside (Spanish) - Another film based on a true story of a man looking for the legal right to end his own life after a diving accident leaves him severely disabled. If you’ve ever dreamed about being destroyed by Javier Bardem (not in a good way), this film is for you. Good luck listening to Nessun Dorma after this one.

The Social Network - Aaron Sorkin is the king of screenwriting. Pair that with David Fincher, and you have god-tier storytelling about the start of Facebook. This is the best villain origin story of all time, and Jesse Eisenberg is a perfectly punchable Zuckerberg.

When Harry Met Sally - This list originally recommended pretty much every Nora Ephron film, but I’m learning to edit, okay? Another film for my ‘the art of dialogue isn’t dead’ obsession. I also have a soft spot for anything that spans decades. This is the ultimate feel-good film (that’s also endlessly quotable).

Whiplash - I love that whiplash was the ‘tester’ film Damien made in order to have La La Land produced because it’s a testament to just how bloody good Damien is. Much like all his films, you can feel the passion and obsession that’s gone into creating it, and the last ten minutes might just be my favourite end to any film ever.



I am currently in the midst of planning my 30th - it’s not until the very end of April, but I am very particular and very busy, and therefore, I wanted to get shit locked down. It can be slightly overwhelming to organise a large life event, and, even though I’m deciding to keep it intimate, it still requires the same amount of work and planning. I thought I would share some of the planning processes with you all in the hopes that it might be useful for anyone out there also looking to plan some sort of major life event.

  • Venue - Originally, I had plans of renting a room in some of my favourite (and very aesthetic) locations, such as the Wallace Collection or the private room at Maison Assouline. I liked the idea of having an intimate dinner surrounded by art and antiques in a place steeped with history. However, the only steeping I received was the gargantuan prices. These places have a fairly extortionate room hire (which I understand), but then you need to pay for catering, staff, flowers, glass and china, drinks, etc., which adds a few extra grand to an already horrendous bill. These places are great if you don’t want to eat, but for me, a long dinner was non-negotiable. I decided to go for a private room in a restaurant which, whilst much easier in some respects, also comes with its own set of complications. Is there a minimum spend for the room, or is it per person? How many can it seat? How long do I have the room for? How flexible is the menu? What does the deposit look like? How’s the atmosphere and lighting? Can I decorate? Can I play my own music? Is it easy for people to get to? I contacted upwards of a dozen restaurants that I thought might fit the criteria until I settled on one.

  • Invites & Guest List - The way I stupidly thought invites would be the cheapest part of this event??? I originally went to Mount Street Stationers, but as I quickly came to learn, it didn’t matter how many invites I was printing; the cost was for the machine itself, so they quoted me upwards of £300 for 20 invites. I then took to Etsy, but the prices were still in the hundreds for what I wanted, so I had to get creative. I wanted them to have a presence without being fussy, and eventually, I found Papier Wedding stationery did the trick. I ordered a main invite with gold foil detail and a smaller info card for all of the relevant details which came to about £80 in total. I then had to narrow down the guest list as the room can’t seat more than 20. Remember to have a reserve list and order extra invites, as undoubtedly; there’ll be a handful of people that can’t make it. Also, handwrite the addresses (in ink, if you can) on your envelopes if you’re going for printed invites. The personal touch makes all the difference. Also proof read them several times because I ended up putting 2022 on my invites instead of 2023 (LOL).

  • Decor - WHY ARE FLOWERS SO EXPENSIVE?? The big issue I have with flowers at a dinner party is that they are either A) too small and sad and don’t do anything for the table or B) they are far too big, which looks tacky and you can barely see the person sitting across from you, let alone have a conversation with them. After going to the Trudon dinner and seeing their ‘flower bumps’ I knew they were the perfect solution. I was told that they used Grandirosa, so I ran to them to have them do the decor for my table. I’m keeping the colour palette light to match the room and the season. Guests will also be welcome to take some flowers home at the end of the night as a party favour. I don’t particularly want decoration around the room itself, so I’m also going to focus on personalised menus, name cards and potentially some sort of gift bag on each chair. I also plan on having a range of cameras on the table (film, polaroid, digital, etc.) so that the whole night can be captured from different perspectives and in different formats.

  • Dress Code - This is the thing that took the longest to decide. I love an excuse to dress up, and I love black tie, but I think there’s a time and a place for that, and for my 30th, I didn’t want it to be stuffy. So, how was I going get people to dress up but still keep it fun and exciting? It finally came to me that I could do it by tying in one of my favourite topics; film. I decided on ‘90s Red Carpet’ to keep it on theme (the decade I was born), dressy (hence the red carpet) and fun. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. There’s also plenty of inspiration out there, and it leaves room for my guests to be creative with their looks.




And that’s all from the nineteenth issue of The Rhubarb Society! If you’re keen to get ahead of next week’s segment of ‘The Club Corner’, or if you have a podcast topic you’d like me to discuss, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below, via email or in my DMs. If there’s anyone you think would be an excellent fit for The Rhubarb Society, please do extend the invitation below.


Tamsin & Rhubarb



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