Movies + TV

Period Pieces

Movies and TV shows about history, youth, and coming of age.

507873ef2c93fThe Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Like so many other teens, I lived and died for Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 book The Perks of Being a Wallflower. When I heard they were making a movie based on it, I was a little worried. But this adaptation is absolutely amazing. The story follows 15-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), a socially anxious boy with a talent for writing who has trouble starting high school after his best friend commits suicide. He befriends Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), a badass brother-and-sister duo. They’re into The Rocky Horror Picture Show, swapping mixtapes, and doing choreographed dance moves to “Come On Eileen” at high school dances. But even though Charlie, Sam, and Patrick have tons of fun, they all have dark secrets. This is a movie about diving headfirst into the trials and tribulations of the dark and scary “real world” when you’re young. You’ll laugh for sure, but you’ll also probably cry a lot too. With stellar performances from the entire cast (Mae Whitman and Paul Rudd also star in it!) and an awesome soundtrack (Charlie has a bit of an obsession with the Smiths’ “Asleep“), Perks is just an all-around perfect movie. —Hazel

moone-boy-site-power-1Moone Boy
2012–present, Sky1

On the surface, this is a sitcom about a little boy growing up in Ireland in the late 1980s, but it goes off the rails and way deeper than that. Martin Moone is a weird little kid with three aggressively scornful older sisters, caring but flighty parents, and a grown-ass man for an imaginary friend. He gets bullied, has issues with his friends, and deals with family stuff like communions, his sisters staging rebellions, and strange neighbors. His sisters are my FAVORITE part of the show, especially Sinéad, who delivers the most amazingly sinister and hilarious lines and who, like a lot of big sisters, simultaneously hates and protects Martin. The secondary characters are a big part of the show, which makes this feel less like a sitcom and more like a story. I LOVE the quick animations that show us Martin’s inner thoughts about stuff like school crushes and dreaming of shorter route to school, and the stories are super funny and relatable. There’s also a sick ’80s soundtrack! The imaginary friend is Chris O’Dowd, whom you’ll recognize from The IT Crowd and Girls, and the show is loosely based on his own life. —Danielle

Michel Gondry DVD coverThe Work of Director Michel Gondry (2003)
The Work of Director Michel Gondry came out before Gondry was a well-known filmmaker, and I probably wouldn’t have even heard about it if I hadn’t had a bunch of friends who were film students and already hardcore Gondry fans. The DVD is a compilation of some of the exquisitely twee, staggeringly innovative, and altogether crazy-good music videos that Gondry has directed for artists like the White Stripes and Kylie Minogue. It also features a few short films and commercials that he’s worked on—so the thing is just jam-packed with amazing stuff. The thing that really made me such a huge fan of the guy’s oeuvre/made me want to build a blanket fort with him, though, is a two-part documentary called “I’ve Been Twelve Forever.” It’s a look inside Gondry’s big ol’ super-creative brain; he talks about the process of making some of his music videos and short films and how his work is heavily influenced by a lot of his childhood obsessions and anxieties. Even when the tone is dark, most of what he creates is very playful (the man made a Lego music video!). You can see his inner 12-year-old—that youthful vulnerability and sense of awe—in pretty much everything that he’s done, and I think that’s part of what makes him and his work so special. —Amber

turn_me_on_dammit_ver2_xlgTurn Me On, Dammit! (2011)
Turn Me On, Dammit! is the feminist alternative to all those American movies about outcast boys trying to lose their virginity. This hilarious Norwegian movie is about a 15-year-old-girl named Alma who just wants to have sex with someone! She drifts into sexual fantasies at work, reads porn mags and even pays for phone sex, but it’s still not as exciting as the idea of having sex with her crush, Artur. It’s refreshing to see a movie where a teen girl is driven to action by sheer horniness, and Alma’s intense sexual frustration is so funny. It’s a gem of movie; definitely rent this one! —Hazel

MPW-31615The Age of Innocence (1993)
Not to be gross or TMI but this Martin Scorsese adaptation of an Edith Wharton novel contains the sexiest scene I have ever seen in a movie: Daniel Day-Lewis is Newland Archer, a lawyer engaged to marry a girl named May, played by Winona Ryder, who proves her acting chops by actually managing to seem boring and unappealing. Newland finds himself in the back of a carriage with May’s scandalous cousin Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), who’s just arrived in New York after fleeing a disastrous marriage in Europe. Ellen and Newland are secretly in love, but it’s 1870-something and everyone in high society is obsessed with etiquette and propriety, so theirs is a FORBIDDEN LOVE. So they’re in the back of this carriage and they can’t be together but you can feel their yearning like a fever needing to break, and then she reaches for his gloved hand with hers and he takes off his glove and then slowly and achingly unbuttons and removes her glove to uncover her wrist, its two inches of skin the only nudity in the whole scene, and kisses it. And, like, whoa. It’s way hotter than any scene of naked people actually doing it. The rest of the movie is just as great, all epic passions boiling under the thin veneer of Reconstruction Era manners and gentility. It looks beautiful and the music is perfect and Ellen is a proto-feminist hero who smokes in front of men, refuses to be slut-shamed, speaks her mind in the face of social persecution, and basically doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of her. —Anaheed

princessbThe Princess Bride (1987)
This is one of my favorite sick-day movies—it’s basically the visual equivalent of comfort food. Because it’s framed as a story that is being told by a grandfather to his sick grandson (played by a pretty adorable young Fred Savage), who interrupts occasionally, it really has the vibe of someone telling a story to you. The story’s about a girl named Buttercup who is told that her true love, Westley, was killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Her chances of finding love, she believes, died along with Westley, so she agrees to marry the scheming Prince Humperdinck (whose name alone tells you he’s going to be a tool). Right before their wedding, Buttercup is kidnapped by three outlaws, one of whom is my favorite character: a fencer called Inigo Montoya who is on the lookout for the six-fingered man who killed his father. The moment he finds this man, Montoya vows, he will greet him with the line “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” I could probably write an essay about all the amazing scenes and quotable lines in The Princess Bride, but I’ll just say if you haven’t seen it, let Grandpa Peter Falk tell you this fabulous story about swordfights, battles of wits, Rodents of Unusual Size, and, above all, true love. —Stephanie

MPW-33692Stealing Beauty (1996)
I’ve always liked Liv Tyler (Empire Records and That Thing You Do! are two movies that I hold very dear) but it wasn’t until I saw her interviewed on a morning talk show back in the early ’90s that I became obsessed with her. She was wearing pink Converse and speaking Elvish and she just seemed like the coolest lady ever. After that, I bought a pair of pink Converse and started making my way through all of her work. That’s how I discovered Stealing Beauty—a gorgeous coming-of-age drama directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. In the movie, Liv (she and I are on a first-name basis IN MY MIND!) plays a 19-year-old virgin named Lucy who goes to Tuscany for the summer and stays with her deceased mother’s artist friends. Her goals: to rekindle the romance she’d begun with an Italian boy years earlier and to uncover the identity of her biological father. Throughout the movie, all of the older characters observe her and playfully gossip about her—they’re fascinated by Lucy, I think, because she represents a type of potential, energy, and sexual innocence they don’t feel they have access to anymore. Some of these people are little too invested in Lucy’s sex life: there’s a scene where Jeremy Irons’s character tells her that she’s “in need of a ravisher” (which totes seems like something Jeremy Irons would say in real life). So why did I absolutely have to rush out and buy this movie after I rented it? Well, there’s the story’s stunning Tuscan backdrop, the perfect soundtrack (Stevie Wonder, Billie Holiday, Portishead), and of course Liv, who was playing a character that I—a sexually inexperienced young woman—could sort of relate to at the time. But mostly I love it because it’s just really enchanting—lovely and ethereal. —Amber

Stoker-2013-Movie-Poster2Stoker (2013)
This film is not for anyone who feels squeamish at the first sight of blood. Mia Wasikowska plays India, a morbid 18-year-old girl whose father has just died. In the days after her father’s passing, a mysterious uncle (Matthew Goode) that India never knew about shows up at the house. Though India’s mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) welcomes him with open arms, India can tell there’s something not quite right about this intrusive family member. What follows is a trippy and thrilling coming-of-age story that feels like a fairy tale—but one that includes more blood than most horror movies! —Hazel

ridingincarswithboys_1Riding in Cars With Boys (2001)
I was drawn to this movie for a three reasons: (1) The cast. Drew Barrymore is one of my favorite actresses and I also love Brittany Murphy and Sara Gilbert and basically everyone else in this movie. (2) I love true stories, especially those about writers. This movie is based on the writer Beverly Donofrio’s autobiography of the same name. (3) I love stories set in ’60s, especially the ones that examine the conflict that arose as society changed and rebellious teenagers showed their parents that the forced wholesomeness of the previous decade just wasn’t working. In Riding in Cars with Boys, Beverly (played by Drew) deals with the consequences of that rebellion. Both she and her best friend, Fay (Brittany), have an adventurous streak, and after they do a little bit more than ride in cars with boys, they both get pregnant and are forced to get married and miss out on teenager stuff like prom and college. The movie has a little bit of a Lifetime movie vibe, but that adds to the charm for me. —Stephanie ♦


  • jenaimarley April 11th, 2013 11:32 PM

    I literally watched the Princess Bride every week of my childhood. There are so many gems in that movie.

    Also I didn’t know they adapted Edith Wharton’s book into a movie! But I read her other work Ethan Frome in my lit class and I remember spending the whole class one day talking about the eroticism of Ethan touching his wife’s cousin’s “stuff” aka her knitting, and that there was just so much about desire, gender, and crossed boundaries rolled up into a single sentence there. I was surprised to like it so much when the entire plot of the book itself could be summed up in a few sentences.

  • pansycakes April 12th, 2013 1:36 AM

    I love all these movies! But i just thought I ought to let you know that Turn me on, dammit is norwegian, not swedish… great movie though ! ;)

    • Phoebe April 12th, 2013 2:28 AM

      Thanks for the correction!

  • Grenade April 12th, 2013 3:40 AM

    Don’t mean to be a party pooper, but Turn Me On, Dammit! is a Norwegian film from 2011 :)

    • Anaheed April 12th, 2013 5:30 AM

      We fixed it; I think there’s a weird glitch going on where our changes aren’t showing up…?

  • enface April 12th, 2013 3:58 AM

    Great list. Never heard of Moone Boy before, but does it sound perfect, or does it sound perfect?

    • Simone April 12th, 2013 3:42 PM

      SO perfect. I’d never heard of it either and now I’m going to spend the weekend searching it out!

  • RaineFall April 12th, 2013 6:26 AM

    Great list, but I’m terrified of watching Stoker, my friend showed me the trailer and I was like ahhh. Is it like a proper horror, or just a bit scary? I’m a wuss of a 19 year old…

    • whatever April 12th, 2013 10:10 AM


      or at least i haven’t since i watched a week ago..


      • RaineFall April 12th, 2013 1:55 PM

        Erm, ok I’ll take that as a no to watching it then haha.

    • enface April 12th, 2013 2:10 PM

      Well, it’s not as scary as it’s… disturbing. As in, it deals with some very morbid stuff, but it’s more of a drama than something that makes you jump in your seat, genre-wise.

  • catpower44 April 12th, 2013 8:57 AM

    I love Perks of Being a Wallflower so so much. I finished the book, and cried, and then five minutes later I watched to movie. And cried again when Sam left for college and at the very end. I think I’m going to watch it again soon, because It’s such a beautiful story.

    • Ella W April 13th, 2013 5:53 PM

      I was the same, but the other way around.
      I saw the film, cried my eyes out, then bought the book 3 days later, and cried my eyes out. It has to be one of my favourite films ever.

  • Tara A. April 12th, 2013 11:52 AM

    Amazing list! I always look to these features in order to get ideas regarding which movies/tv shows/books I should watch/read next. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is perfeeeect :D I really want to see Stoker, but I’m a little scared of the blood. Okay, maybe a little more than a little.

  • Sunshine April 12th, 2013 12:10 PM

    Princess Bride :D Possibly the most quotable movie ever.

  • ruby April 12th, 2013 2:09 PM

    Hi everyone,
    I’m really sorry to be that person who comments on a post with something totally unrelated, but anyway…
    I recently started up ‘The Zinepalling Project’ -a ‘project’ where people make zines (about themselves/ their interests, with artwork, poetry, film/music/book recommendations in) and post them to strangers.
    (Basically it means getting handmade, pretty things in envelopes through your letterbox and making ‘zinepals’)
    If anyone is interested in taking part, I made a basic website here:

    Ruby xx

  • soviet_kitsch April 12th, 2013 2:30 PM

    with no disrespect to any fans of the book, i HATED perks of being a wallflower, but i actually completely love the movie! it’s available on youtube for anyone who’s interested. (also ezra miller is a babe and a half, so i think that helps me enjoy it more)

    • Maggie April 12th, 2013 2:49 PM

      I’m the opposite- I loved the book but hated the movie!

  • Kasey April 12th, 2013 3:19 PM

    When Perks first came out, my big group of best friends all went to an independent movie theater across town and saw it. Afterwards, we were all in the lobby hugging and crying, and ended up group-hugging with another group of kids we didn’t know. It was probably one of my favorite nights ever <3

    and OMG Princess Bride. Anytime my dad wants me to stay home with him, he'll put on that movie right before I'm about to go out and all of a sudden I can't leave the couch because it is probably my FAVORITE MOVIE EVER.

  • meganjanie April 12th, 2013 3:34 PM

    I adore Riding in Cars with Boys…I tear up when she sings “Dream” with her Dad in the end! I am a total sap and a daddy’s girl, I guess. I can relate to feeling like you aren’t that little girl anymore to your dad because of the stuff you went through…certainly relatable to the “Age of Innocence” theme.

  • GlitterKitty April 12th, 2013 3:35 PM

    Princess Bride <3

    I liked the Perks of Being a Wallflower movie but I felt like it was somewhat lacking. I thought it was just a little too happy and didn't really delve into the "dark side" until the end. I felt like the dark part came in super strong at the end but was a fun movie up until then. I also found Emma Watson doing an American accent sooooo distracting. She's an amazing actress but after watching Harry Potter so many times I couldn't get over the American-ness.

  • Sorcha M April 12th, 2013 4:15 PM

    WOWOWOWOW all of these sound amazing!

  • Teez April 12th, 2013 4:51 PM

    ezra miller is everythinggggg in perks

  • mingxi April 12th, 2013 5:11 PM

    AHHHH I really want to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and then watch it! (just to watch ezra tbqh)

    and holy god, if nicole kidman is in a movie, I NEED TO WATCH THAT MOVIEEE~~

  • Clairebearscare April 12th, 2013 5:12 PM

    I loved Stoker!

  • rubypowers April 12th, 2013 6:21 PM

    I really need some pink converse now!

  • KatGirl April 12th, 2013 6:52 PM

    The awesomeness of The Princess Bride is inconceivable!!!

  • unicornconnect April 12th, 2013 6:55 PM

    I know there are a million other teenagers exactly like me, but PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Also, the princess bride, I watch this when I was little at my “spooky party” cause everyone was to scared to watch “scary movies” like the corpse bride and the goonies:):)

  • Miarele April 12th, 2013 10:24 PM

    No Lolita? I think it fits into the “innocence” theme well. Also, I might be the only one who prefers the 1997 Adrian Lyne version to Stanley Kubrick’s 1962

  • llamalina April 12th, 2013 10:38 PM

    i picked perks of being a wallflower out from a sea of library books about 5 years ago, when i was like 10 or 11. after that, i read it over and over again so many times- there was like one point where i had to pay $20 in library fines because i kept it for so long. when i first found out it was going to be a movie i almost cried because i didn’t think that this was the kind of book that could be made into a movie. but i took my two best friends to see it anyway, one who had read it and one who hadn’t, and the movie was so perf. it was even better that stephen chbosky himself was in charge and when we left the theatre it was just like nothing was the same. i really really relate to everything in that book, especially the dark things and the drugs and the friendship. there was just this moment when we were standing out on a bridge looking out at the city with each other about 10 minutes after the movie and everything just kind of stood still. that’s the kind of effect perks had on me.

  • Sue Denim April 13th, 2013 2:46 AM

    I got Stealing Beauty out last year because the online trailer assured me that it would have creepy Jeremy Irons in it and all I can say is that he wasn’t creepy enough.

  • flocha April 13th, 2013 10:08 AM

    The princess bride has been my favourite movie since I was about seven

  • disast3rology April 13th, 2013 10:56 AM


  • deuxiemesexe April 13th, 2013 11:31 AM

    Why would Jeremy Irons say something like that in real life? This remark was stupid, unnecessary and offensive.

  • Sam April 14th, 2013 6:20 AM

    I’m shocked and a bit sad to NOT see The Breakfast Club here. It would have been up the top of my list, right next to Perks.

    A great selection, nonetheless. I’m intrigued by Turn Me On. Will have to check that out some time soon.

  • Nikilodeon April 14th, 2013 6:50 AM

    this must be the most interesting movie list you’ve posted, rookie! looking forward to seeing all the films here that i haven’t seen yet. although – and please correct me if i am wrong – wasn’t “turn me on, dammit” released in 2011, not 2001?

    • Anaheed April 14th, 2013 7:20 AM

      Yup! ‘Twas a typo — thanks!

  • Antionette June 29th, 2013 3:40 AM

    Riding in Cars with Boys is a movie that I found on a total fluke when my mom got it for me thinking it wasn’t the type of movie it was going to be. But now I am absolutely in love with it.