Category Archives: Movies

Alphabet Soup Challenge: B is for Because

I’m choosing the word “because” for this post in part because I’m not jazzed about finishing and publishing any of the posts in progress in my draft folders.

Also because I’m feeling relaxed and a bit lazy. Because Sunday is the Sabbath, after all, the one day of the week we are to refrain from work and focus on family/home/emotional well-being. Or for those of us who are not Christians (no judgement here), it’s the one day of the week where you best rest up and chill out so you’re ready for the work week ahead.

Because I am finding great enjoyment in watching “feel-good” movies these days, I’ve got a few to recommend. Ones I’ve seen very recently and ones I haven’t seen in a while but aim to see again soon.

I’m sharing these movie recommendations with you today because I care that you are exhausted from our new “normal” of existing amidst a pandemic. Because you deserve moments of time right now of pure enjoyment, because you work hard and have a lot on your plate. Because happy distractions like a good old fashioned “feel good” flick are good for you. They make you laugh, lift your spirits, and improve your outlook (if only for the short term, but these days maybe we ought to take what we can get).

I invite you to grab your favorite beverage and take a couple of minutes to let me tell you about these films.

That Would Be Great (Office Space Bill Lumbergh) meme
Office Space is not on the list–but is high on my list of great comedies

It would so tickle me if you choose to share your comments on these or recommend other “feel good” films that we all should watch ASAP.

In the spirit of keeping things simple this Sunday, I’m going to share this via the numbered list method, with condensed explanations of what the movie is about or why I loved it.

  1. “Kiki’s Delivery Service”: we watched this in honor of Kid #2’s 27th birthday. It includes awesome animation, but more importantly uplifting messages about conquering self-doubt, being courageous, and friendship. It’s a real treat; a film that can be enjoyed by any generation.
  2. “Satisfaction Not Guaranteed”: a heartfelt comedy about taking chances, following your curiosity, and addressing life’s regrets. Stars Aubrey Plaza, who I loved as sarcastic under-achiever “April” in “Parks and Recreation”.
  3. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: this is very possibly the original “feel good” movie. Audrey Hepburn is ever so charming as “Holly Go-lightly”, making her way and finding love in the big city. If you haven’t ever seen it, I urge you to now. It is delightful and if you are a fan of late 50’s-early 60’s fashion and set design, you will adore it like I did.
  4. “Hector and the Search for Happiness”: this one actually came to me by recommendation of our former pastor. It’s an offbeat, adventurous tale of an uninspired psychiatrists’ search around the world for the meaning of happiness.
  5. “Little Miss Sunshine”: full of quirk, charm, and humor. It’s a fabulously cast (Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear) film that celebrates the weird wonderfulness of family. This is a movie I will happily watch any time.
  6. “Blinded by the Light”: the first movie I watched on a plane. It’s a coming-of-age story set in the 1980’s of a teen of Indian descent living in England who becomes obsessed with the music (really the message) of Bruce Springsteen. There are marvelous musical and dance segments. It was a joy to watch.
  7. “Bathtubs Over Broadway”: a documentary I love with my whole heart which I mentioned here. If you choose to do yourself a favor and watch this, I think, like me, you’ll find it very entertaining, joyful, and inspiring.

I hope you all get a chance soon (if not this very day) to give yourself some love by sitting down with no distractions and watch one of the above films or another one that you hold dear to your heart.

Because it’s Sunday, friends ūüôā In the U.S. anyway-my bad! Those of you living elsewhere, please take some time to refresh and be uplifted with a “feel good” flick on Monday or Saturday or whatever day it happens to be where you are.

Alphabet Soup Challenge: R is for Reading

My reading choices are varied. I devour anything from articles in Esquire magazine (there are some great articles in there on the regular) to self help books (How to Be a Bad Ass by Jen Sincero is an all time favorite) to comedic memoirs/essays by authors like Chelsea Handler, David Sedaris, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and more, to fiction (family sagas like “The Nest” and psychological thrillers are my “go tos”).

I read to reduce stress. I read to learn something new. I read to escape. I read to laugh. I read to find connection. I read to obtain wisdom so I can improve myself.

Why do you read?

Currently, I’m working through “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle. While waiting for a response to my online request to borrow “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou from my local library, I thought I’d read something “self-helpy”.

Now, I haven’t finished “Untamed” yet, but there are numerous pearls of wisdom within these pages. This is a book that gets more interesting and thought provoking with each new chapter. Glennon shares stories about failure, pain, and triumph. Stories about love, bravery, and “Knowing”. I’m very intrigued by it. It’s speaking to me in a multitude of ways.

I must finish this book soon so I can get on with it and finally read Ms. Angelou’s masterpiece (from what I know of her and what others have said, I think calling it a “masterpiece” is a fair assumption).

While on our two week “Great American Road Trip” last month, I read a couple of great books.

The first was “Woman in the Window” by AJ Finn. It’s a psychological thriller told through the lens of a female child psychotherapist who’s agoraphobia was caused by deep psychological trauma. She witnesses violence through her window at the house across from her one night and struggles to make sense of it through her alcoholic haze. Seemingly, no one believes what she saw was real. The story was heartbreaking and unpredictable. I appreciated the surprising but creepy twist at the end. It was shocking to learn “Whodunit”.

The movie version of this book has been finished and was recently acquired by Netflix, so hopefully we can all see it before too long. Some of my favorite actresses-Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Jason-Leigh star in it.

During the first leg of our vacation, spending time with Hubs’ folks and sister, MIL gave me a copy of “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, which she raved about. Since I had but a mere 50 or so pages left of “The Woman in the Window”, I decided it’d be a good idea to start reading it since we had “only” 2,000 miles left of road to cover and 10 days before we got back home.

I could hardly put it down. It was in a similar vein as “The Woman in the Window”, in that it was a murder mystery/psychological thriller. Total escapism. And the surprises were mind-blowing, like “I didn’t see it coming till the very end” kind of mind-blowing. It took me some time to process that ending.

The story is told through the lens of both Theo and Anna. Theo is the psychoanalyst who works with Anna, who is a completely silent patient in a mental institution. Anna, a prolific artist, was placed there after being charged and convicted (all the while not speaking a word) for her husband’s violent murder. Both Theo and Anna are psychologically complicated people who come from troubled childhoods. Theo’s goal, at the outset, is to get through to Anna. Unlock the key to why she did what she did. And that he does. The twist and turns to how he gets there are nothing less than shocking. It was even more of a page turner than “The Woman in the Window”, if I’m being honest.

I of course had to google whether or not this book was going to be made into a movie and found out it indeed is. Brad Pitt’s production company has acquired the rights. I have ideas in my head about who plays what characters already. Hopefully it’ll show up on one of our video streaming services before long, since re-opening movie theaters appears unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Please share your comments on these books if you have read them and/or share your “must read now” book titles.

Read With Me: 5 Tips to Foster a Love for Reading | Edutopia

Life Changes and a Bizzare Film Experiment

A couple of blog posts back, I christened 2020 as my year of Clarity.

What seems natural to me as a result of this is for me to be experimental. Mostly with my creative writing; but I doubt that my writing pursuits would benefit if I wasn’t also willing to simultaneously be experimental in my day to day life. Experimental with what I do and how I do it. With who I interact with and how. With my choices.

So yesterday was Saturday. I love that day of the week, don’t you? Because of my planning tendencies, I usually manage to make it a decent combo of fun/relaxation and taking care of important shit. Like grocery shopping. Which I did do yesterday.

Saturday mornings I always sit down in front of my computer and do some writing for this blog. Yesterday I think I wrote two whole sentences on one half finished (hopefully not half-assed) blog post.

So that was weird experimental.

What was far more experimental, however, is that Spawn #2 (who recently moved themselves and their cat in with Hubs and I and needs a better moniker on this blog) and I sat down and watched the most bizarre film I have every seen in my entire life: Midsommar. I don’t even know where to start on this one. I don’t know that I can even recommend it. As I told the kiddo, I can’t unsee that. I don’t know that I can properly describe it even. It was a fucking trip.

Let’s just say if you have the right combination of the things, you might appreciate this film. Though I’m not even sure “appreciate” is the right word here. Maybe you don’t appreciate it as much as you are compelled to see it through to the end because of morbid curiosity.

Here is what I feel one needs if they are to embark on the strange odyssey that is “Midsommar”:

  • A good block of time. Not that it’s the longest film ever; it’s just that we felt refreshed by the couple of breaks we took throughout the viewing. It’s that intense.
  • Patience. Much of the first half is, while tragic, very slooooowww moving.
  • Enthusiasm (or at least a heaping dose of tolerance) for the macabre.
  • A fascination with human psychology.
  • No one under 18 (or maybe 21?) in attendance.
  • A strong stomach and/or a willingness to avert your eyes PRN.
  • Willingness to hear more Swedish folk songs than you can imagine.
  • A sense of open-minded curiosity. Morbid works too, as mentioned above.
  • If you happen to be a fan of MST3K, you may want to consider not taking this film too seriously by making it a game with your friends. You know, the ones you can have a high old time playing “Cards Against Humanity” with.
A song that ought to be on the soundtrack for “Midsommar”

If you have seen this film, please do me a solid and share your feedback in the comments. I would love to dish (no meat tarts though please) about this with someone!

What’s your go to “Feel Good” movie?

I have always been a huge fan of watching movies. Whether it be in an actual theater with a bucket of artery clogging popcorn and a fresh pack of Twizzlers or lolling about on my comfy couch eating the infinitely healthier microwave popcorn and my favorite chocolate truffles, I find movie watching to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. 

I like a variety of genres: comedies, dramas, thrillers, bio-pics, westerns, and musicals. And I’m pretty open minded about what I will watch. Especially if it is included with my Amazon Prime or on Netflix, where I have the lovely option of simply turning a movie off if it totally sucks. This doesn’t happen very often, however. 

Because I’m such a movie nut, I can’t in good conscience just pick one movie and tell you all why I think it’s great and why you should absolutely positively watch it as soon as you possibly can. 

Depending on how this goes, I might make this a regular feature. I like that idea: a regular feature. I think I’ll put a pin in that one. 

I’ve just got so much to say about how I feel about so many movies

Think I’ll start with the type of movie I love the very most, “my favorite favorite”, as Barney, that goofy purple dinosaur used to say through the t.v. screen to my kiddos when they were small. 

This would be the “Feel Good” movie. Those movies that make me laugh and/or make me tear up (I’m not a big crier when it comes to movies, but now that I think of it, perhaps I ought to pen a post about those rare films that did actually make me cry-and not because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t help myself). Those movies that amaze and inspire me. Those movies that I actually can enjoy again and again and again. 

Movies like:

“Love, Actually”. If I absolutely had to pick one film that is my favorite this would be the one. It’s a movie full of good cheer and humor.  It tells several different love stories, with the characters in each story biologically related to and/or entwined in each other’s lives. Each of the main characters are lovable, albeit imperfect.  The soundtrack is great too.  It also takes place during the Christmas season, which to me adds much to the charm of this movie. And it’s set in England so there’s plenty of those lovely British accents to enjoy. And it has a very happy ending, one that assures you that everyone is going to be alright after the credits are over. 

“Mama Mia”. Oh, the music in this one. It amazes me that the songs of “Abba” could be used to tell the story of a soon-to-be-wed young woman, living in a resort in Greece with her mom, who is searching for her biological father. Her mom, Donna, had summer flings with three different young men 20 years prior, and became pregnant. Her daughter, Sophie, invites all three of these now older men to her wedding. Each of these men, fortunately, embrace the possibility that they could be her father. It is simply a joyful, fun, uplifting movie that I can’t resist. 

“As Good as it Gets” also ranks as one of my all time favorite “feel good” movies. It is an unlikely love story between a curmudgeon afflicted with a severe case of OCD, played by the one and only Jack Nicholson, and a young waitress, who is a single mom of a very ill son, played by Helen Hunt. The (IMHO) greatly underrated actor Greg Kinnear has a starring role as Simon,  as Melvin’s (Jack Nicholson) gay neighbor who becomes a victim of an assault and needs someone to care for his little dog (Verdell) while he recovers. Jack Nicholson’s character slowly bonds with the dog and over time his heart opens to the possibility of real love with Carol, Helen Hunt’s character. This movie is as much about the characters (maybe even a bit more) than the actual story. The scenes with Carol and Simon are especially heart-warming, as they form a special bond between them.  The scenes with Melvin and Verdell are quite precious as well. 

My hope is that you all are able to carve out some time for yourself during this busy, stressful, mentally taxing time of the year (aka the Christmas/Holiday season) to kick back and re-watch your favorite “feel good” movies. Or if you haven’t caught any of the three mentioned above, you’ll take my recommendations and rent, buy, or find one of them via your favorite streaming service.¬†

I Feel Pretty?

There’s a movie out now with this title. It stars Amy Schumer and I fully intend to see it. I’ve read about it and understand it to be a story of a woman, played by Schumer, who has a clutzy accident in spin class which causes her to hit her head, which leads to a TBI that makes her¬† believe that she is the prettiest woman on earth. This turn of events leads her to operate on the day to day with a newfound sense of confidence, and hilarity no doubt ensues.

While I am certain, as a fan of Amy Schumer and her sharp wit, I will thoroughly enjoy this movie, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to relate to it on a personal level.

I think it’s because I am not caught up with the notion of being “pretty”. At least not now anyway, being a somewhat fledged grown woman of 51. I’ve made peace with how I look. I don’t have illusions that I am some great beauty (which is perfectly fine by me), but I have confidence in my ability to make the most of my features with make up. And I know how to dress myself in a flattering way. It’s pretty simple, really.

I prefer the notion of feeling funny (though “I Feel Funny” is not the best title for a film-but perhaps a new pharmaceutical commercial for vertigo), because I fancy myself as a humorist. However, what I would really prefer, instead of feeling “pretty” or “funny” is to feel¬†smart.

True confession: I’ve struggled all my life with the feeling that I am not smart. I’m the one who doesn’t get the punch line while everyone else is laughing their asses off. I’m the one that needs to try, try, try when learning something new before it clicks. I’m the one who was an average student, grade-wise, throughout my education (with the exception of my senior year in college when I earned almost exclusively A’s and B’s). Up until I hit about 48, 9 times out of 10 in social situations, I believed that I was the least smart person in the room, reminiscent of those times in middle school where I was always the second or third to last to be picked for whatever team sport was being played.

But I digress.

One of the gifts of aging, for me, is that I feel smarter than I did, say 10 years ago. Experience does that to a person. Trial and error. Figuring out what works for you and what just simply doesn’t, and what your learning style is comes with age. Not taking yourself so seriously. All of these things are the silver linings to getting older.

In my take on this movie genre, entitled “I Feel Smart”, obviously written in collaboration with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, I would successfully put together IKEA furniture by myself, present TED talks on how to harness female intuition for the betterment of society, and use my Kohl’s cash and coupons to save 150% on my shopping sprees. I would breeze through my days offering useful advice to those I come in contact with and I would be asked to become a partner in a think tank (I’ve always been curious about those-I assume it’s a bunch of high tech smarty pants people hanging out in a state of the art, pristine facility collaborating all day to solve society’s problems. So if I’m feeling so smart, I ought to fit in just fine there).

That would give me a much larger helping of confidence than believing I am the prettiest (or funniest) woman on earth.

So, Amy and Tina….you in?

About my DVD collection

I’m not one of those people who has an extensive library of DVD’s. I feel like I’m in the minority, based on the massive DVD collections I’ve seen from friends on Facebook, friends in real life, and even former clients from my days as a social worker.

My reasoning is that I believe there are better things (and experiences) to spend my money on. And seriously, if I’ve seen the movie already, I know how it ends. Why would I spend my precious time¬† watching something that will not surprise me in the least? And why would I spend $24.99 on a new DVD that I haven’t seen and may or may not even like?¬†Seems like a silly waste of resources to me.

However, that is not to say I don’t have a DVD collection. I do.¬† It’s just a bit on the small side.

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My DVD collection used to be approximately 3 times this size, but we sold most of them at the garage sale we held prior to moving to Colorado. The only DVD’s that were actually difficult for me to let go of for a pittance of $3 was 2 seasons of Arrested Development. Funniest show ever, IMHO. I could re-watch episodes over again and laugh just as hard each time. Kinda like Seinfeld, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock, for me anyway.

You see, I have requirements for buying DVD’s. I will not pay $24.99¬†or even $14.99 for that matter¬†for a new DVD. I will pay $5 at Target for one I always meant to watch but never got around to. I will pay up to $10 for a DVD that I absolutely, truly loved with my whole heart because I am certain I will watch it again.

The following is a justification/review of my meager DVD collection: 

As Good as it Gets: I think this is such a special movie.¬† Jack Nicholson is at his best, playing a cantankerous man afflicted with a severe case of OCD who despite everything, Helen Hunt’s character falls in love with. And Greg Kinnear. What an under-appreciated actor he is. I feel such affection for his character and the scene where he is beaten up by a group of punks broke me. And there’s that dog, a¬†brussels griffon. This is the breed that won best in show at the Westminster dog show on Thanksgiving this year.

This is 40: Purchased this fall at Target for $5 (an example of one I had been meaning to see since it came out in the theaters several years ago). After finally seeing it, I can safely say I would have paid $14.99 for it in a heartbeat. It featured the great comedy duo of Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd in very often almost too close for comfort relatable married couple scenes. I loved it so much I tweeted at Judd Apatow.  Much to my chagrin, I got no response.

Forrest Gump: Need I say anything here? I think any right minded American DVD collector worth their salt owns this one, right? Absolutely charming, classic, and thought-provoking.

Love, Actually: This is an especially charming, feel-good Christmas-themed movie which I absolutely adore. And it features some of my favorite British actors speaking in their lovely British accents: Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, and Keira Knightly. It’s a great, heartfelt mix of romance and comedy. Must watch it again soon.

Christmas Vacation: This is Hubs and my favorite Christmas movie. We know all the lines, to the point where we find ourselves quoting from this movie year round. For instance, when I suggest to Hubs that we could adopt a cat, I hear “Well then we’ll have a cat running around the house”. Or when I am utterly shocked at something I just heard, I might say “I wouldn’t be more surprised if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet”. Or if he can’t hear something I just said, I will channel Uncle Leo by emphatically mouthing “they want you to say the blessing”. One of these Christmases, we’re going to host a “Christmas Vacation” themed holiday party, with guests costumed as characters from the movie. I think, however, that Hubs and I should not do the¬†obvious thing.

It’d be more fun to go as these two, in my opinion.

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Dan in Real Life: I think this is one of those movies I purchased impulsively from a clearance rack at Target or something. It was worth whatever it costed. It features Steve Carrell as a widowed father of three cheeky daughters who finds love during his family’s annual holiday gathering. It is heartfelt, funny, and charming. And the scene where the whole family is playing charades spend makes me wish I could have been there, perhaps as a long lost cousin or niece.

History of the Eagles: Hubs gave me this for one of my 40 something birthdays. I have always been a huge fan of the Eagles and appreciate seeing footage of them playing live and the behind the scenes stories from when they started playing together. Did you know that they lived in the same apartment building as Jackson Browne (who also wrote Take it Easy, which they later recorded)? Well, now you do.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: This is a movie I bought on impulse this fall, with the plan in my head that I would include it in a special Halloween box of treats and whatnots for our 3 year old grandson. I remember enjoying this movie as a kid, but hadn’t seen it since. When I came home and showed Hubs, he commented that this might not be age appropriate for little guy. Then I remembered the scene with the little girl who blew up chewing bubble gum and realized he was probably correct. So I think I’ll hang onto this one for a few more years.

Chocolat: This is the most romantic movie ever! Hubs and I first watched it on a very cold, snowy Wisconsin night several winters ago and we were enthralled. It features a very handsome and charming Johnny Depp. Be sure to have good quality chocolate on hand when you watch it, because I guarantee your chocolate cravings will be activated.

Legends of the Fall: Brad Pitt is looking his very finest in this flick. It’s a beautiful, romantic story about three brothers and one very sought after and beloved woman. I haven’t seen it in years, despite owning it forever, so I need to make time to watch it again soon!

American Hustle: Hubs and I first saw this one in the theater, a rare occurrence for the two of us. It features a great story line and memorable characters with a sweet 70’s soundtrack. I appreciate the detail put into the set designs in every scene as it brings one back in time. And Jennifer Lawrence is an absolute hoot!¬† I love it so much I’ve seen it twice since I bought it!

Hocus Pocus: This movie seemed to re-surface this fall, whether it be people commenting about it on Facebook or the t-shirts being sold online with quotes from it. I hadn’t seen it in years, but thought it’d be a fun one to watch this Halloween season. And for $5 it was totally worth it. After seeing it again right before Halloween, I realized it is the classic movie to watch every Halloween, just like Christmas Vacation is the one for us to watch every Christmas season.

Blue Planet: I bought this one for Hubs when we bought our first and only blue ray/dvd player. He is a scientist after all so he has an especially keen interest in the topic of climate change. It is quite an amazingly beautiful film.

Grand Torino:¬† This is a deeply thought provoking movie. Clint Eastwood’s character was so memorable, and it was amazing to see his character’s development from start to finish. This movie blew my mind and made me cry at the end.

So, fellow movie lovers, what’s in your DVD collection?

 

 

 

Movies that should be made

This post is courtesy of a conversation Hubs and I recently had where we concluded that despite having approximately 488 channels on our Direct TV, not to mention Amazon Prime, this time of year there is very little television we are interested in viewing.

I know-total First World problem right? 

I do realize that we are quite fortunate to even own a t.v. and have the ability to afford our monthly Direct TV bill. 

With the lack of truly engaging, creative, entertaining television happening in this moment, I’ve come up with a few ideas of movies¬†I would happily consume if ithey were to exist. Movies that could be seen on the big screen or the little screen¬†(once they were put on cable or Amazon Prime, or whatever channel we may add when the temps fall and we just want to stay in)

  1. A movie about Amelia Aerhart. Starring Hillary Swank, Michelle Williams, or Maggie Gyllenhal in the title role. It would include what we don’t yet know about her life after her plane crashed. The History channel is planning a documentary on this. That’s a good start, I think.

She may have survived the crash

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2) Biopic of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. They were married for 61 years and worked together as a comedy team for several of them. They were opposites, him being Jewish, and her being Catholic. She made the decision after they married and ¬†gave birth to their first child to convert to Judaism as per Anne: “I wanted my children to know who they were”. I believe they had quite the love story. I think it would be extra special if their son, actor Ben Stiller, played Jerry and perhaps Emma Stone could play Anne.

Jerry and Ann article

3) Biopic of the love story between Paul and Linda McCartney. Michael Sheen and Cate Blanchett would be my top pics to play these two. I’ve always loved Paul’s music, not only from the Beatles¬†of course¬†but from his second act, Paul McCartney and Wings, along with his solo ventures. I think of Paul as being the ultimate optimist. I have the impression that he was the “cheerleader” within the Beatles. And only an optimist¬†and probably a hopeless romantic¬†would marry again after losing the love of his life in 1998, not once but twice. And I feel like we haven’t learned much about Linda over the years at all. I think Paul and Linda had quite the love story, and I’d like to see it on the big screen. This song, written by Paul for Linda, is why.

My Love

My curious mind would¬†love¬†to know any ideas of t.v. shows or movies you’d like to see. Please share!