Watching

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Mid90s doesn’t have the coolest title, but gosh, Jonah Hill makes up for that in spades in this coming of age tale. Stevie is rudderless and virtually friendless, with a home life most would find no reason to envy. When he hooks up with a group of skaters, he finally begins to belong, learning about true friendship, love, pain, and loss. Fantastic!

Brigsby Bear – Imagine living the whole of your life solely in the company of your parents, isolated in a post apocalyptic Utah. Your life revolves around your favorite television program, Brigsby Bear. Only it isn’t true. Your parents kidnapped you as an infant. The air isn’t toxic, and your favorite show, the one you’ve memorized backwards and forwards was never even broadcast, but made solely for you by the man who claimed to be your father. This is what happens next. How you move in with your birth parents and sister, awkwardly learn how to be a brother and friend, behave around the opposite sex, and how, more than anything, you need to finish the story of Brigsby Bear. WOW! Touching and ever so funny.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot  is the story of Portland cartoonist John Callahan, following him in the days before his paralysis and through the beginning of his recovery from alcoholism. Earnest, thoughtful, and a bit silly, too.

Three Identical Strangers – Triplets separated at birth find each other as young men and struggle to discover the truth behind their adoptions. Prepare to get very, very angry.

The Rider – Words really fail me here, as this fil-um is ALL THE THINGS. Toxic masculinity, friendship, family, L O V E , loss, desire, horses, cowboys, and the sublime beauty of South Dakota. Blurring the line between fact and fiction, it follows Brady as he recovers from a near fatal head injury.

The Incredible Jessica James is the story of a woke and wise aspiring playwright after a devastating breakup. One of the side splitters!

Manhunt: The Unabomber documents how the FBI finally caught Ted Kaczynski by the pioneering use of forensic linguistics. Fasinating.

Swim Team profiles the members of the New Jersey Hammerheads, a winning team made entirely of young people on the autism spectrum. The film shines a light on the dedication and struggle of the parents and swimmers, in and out of the pool. Truly inspirational.

Peanut Butter Falcon – A young man with Down Syndrome escapes the retirement home charged with his care to search for his wrestling idol. On the way, he meets Tyler, a man running from trouble, and they forge a deep and abiding friendship, Huck Finn style.

Isn’t It Romantic is a lighthearted dig at all the ways romantic comedies fail to portray life as it is. Super cynical Natalie hits her head during a mugging and wakes up in her least favorite film genre, quickly learning the only way to escape is to play along, but with her own rules. Thank you Rebel Wilson for another side splitter!

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To Dust – An orthodox Jew struggles with the death of his wife, and in particular, the state of her decomposing body, practically stalking science teacher Albert until he agrees to help him. A story of grief, love, familial bonds, and unconventional friendship.

Columbus – I only initially cared about this film because of the location. I was, quite thankfully, equally enchanted by the story. An exploration of the importance of spaces (so much stunning architecture on view!!), reconciling our needs and wants with that of family, and the friends, old and new, who help to guide us.

Heartstone – teenage pals discover the painful realities of who they are and the people who matter most. Super bonus – it takes place in gorgeous Iceland!

Sunset – In Budapest on the cusp of World War I, a young woman applies as a milliner at the store her parents once owned, but is turned away. Determined, she stays in the city and is witness to the unfolding of violent and horrible events. Beautifully filmed, it questions the nature of good and evil, and the fraught nature of taking sides.

Terminal – a bathed in neon wonder about assassins, greed, and one big come uppance.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – A foster child finally finds his forever family. When tragedy strikes, he’s determined not to go back into care and heads for the wilderness. Wacky, sweet, and quirky, set in stunningly beautiful New Zealand. All the Colleen things…

The Death of Stalin – This movie explores the abject terror of life under Stalin and the wildly melodramatic power play following his death. Hilarious and horrifying.

Eighth Grade – A work of fiction, but a painfully real tale of the oftentimes harrowing life of an everyday teen girl. Simply brilliant.

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Oh, and delightfully movie related – do you know about Kanopy? It’s a streaming service that is available for FREE with a library card or university login. The selection is pretty stellar, too, just like the library! I watched about half of today’s movies using it. To see if your library participates, check the link. Fingers crossed….

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Lucky – a man near the end of his days, Lucky follows a rigid and routine existence in a small California town. Yoga, the same seat at the diner, puzzles. With fear of the end, he moves forward, sometimes awkwardly, always with intention.

Paddleton – two loner best friends live a small existence of regularity and routine, watching the same movie over and over, making pizza, playing their favorite game. All is upended when one learns he has a terminal illness and asks the other to help end his life. So touching!

Shirkers – Teens make a movie only to have it disappear along with the strange friend who helped them with its creation. Decades later, they seek to learn what happened.

On Body and Soul – One of the most magical films I’ve seen in a long while. Co-workers discover they share a strange dream time connection which sparks a tenuous romance. A stunning meditation on love and the beauty and sanctity of life. A word to vegans and vegetarians – contains scenes from a slaughterhouse. I should hope to die in such peace.

Dean – A man struggles to find his mojo, creative and otherwise, after losing his mom and breaking with his fiancee in short order.

The Other Son – A Jewish and Palestinian family learn their sons were mistakenly switched at birth, the anguish and reconciliation.

Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back) – A man inept at suicide outsources the job only to discover he might have something to live for.

The Breaker Upperers – best friends help cowards end their relationships for a living, via cowboy songs and elaborate schemes, depending upon how much the client wishes to pay. All is rolling along nicely until they meet a former victim in need of a friend.

p.s. The woman on the right looks like Bethie, one of my best childhood pals. Love….

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It’s been snowing light lofty flurries for the better part of three days. The accumulation is nothing serious (sorry Seattle!) but enough to shovel and sweep. Like the best snow of childhood memory, it keeps us mostly inside and huddled under wool blankets, gazing at the hypnotic fall. Yesterday we celebrated President’s Day and kept from freezing by binge watching an entire season of Grand Designs Australia. I love architecture! I also dragged out the instant pot to make lickety-split quick boneless pork ribs – fall apart tender in one hour – and a sweet potato mash. Food of the gods, I tell you.

Juniper remains delighted by snow, rubbing her nose in it, jumping, frolicking, and barking in delight as she zips to and fro in the back yard. We are considering hooking our girl up to a sleigh, so eager is she to pull us along on our now short because it’s so darn cold walks. Her eager face exclaiming, “Isn’t it wonderful? It’s SNOW! SNOW! Hurry up, so we can smell ALL of it and pee on some, too.”

And art! While delivering holiday treats to one of our dear neighbors, I spied a rather lovely painting on her bureau and commented on it. Lucky for me, it was painted by yet another dear neighbor (and all around fine person!), so I made arrangements to buy a couple for our upstairs bathroom. Both are of New Mexico and make my heart sing. I will post more accurate representations soon! In the mean time, you can check out her work for yourself – Susan Owens Fine Art and maybe buy something too!

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If you squint your eyes at the house photo, you just might spy Greg and Juniper waving hello from the living room!

Latest Film Picks

A Ghost Story – a beautiful meditation on grief and our deep connection to people and places. A bit magical, too.

Sweet Bean – Oh, gosh, gosh, gosh. A fil-um about really recognizing what is important. Kindness. Small joys. Connection to others. Making food that speaks of love and caring.

Lean on Pete – Written and filmed in and around Portland and the great state of Oregon, which always sparks a light in me. A boy whose had more knocks than a person of his age ought takes some more. Also about doing right by those we LOVE. A stunner.

First Man – A brief glimpse into the life of Neil Armstrong: dedicated, earnest, humble, daring, and a little bit sad. Also a lesson in early rocket science – holy guacamole, it’s a wonder any of them lived.

Faces Places – A delightful film about honoring tucked away communities and the people who live and work in them.

American Ultra – a stoner learns he is actually an assassin with some pretty badass skills. Mayhem ensues. Funny and wild and NOT for the faint of heart. There’s a whole lotta blood, peeps.

Maniac – A pharmaceutical trial with questionable ethics brings two broken strangers together. A computer suffers from depression. Sally Field in fabulous glasses. A whole lotta weird. Truly wonderful, too.

The Hero – My guy (remember we had a moment? Scroll ALL the way down…) with the velvet voice! An actor proud of and most fondly remembered for a single role learns he has terminal cancer. With the time that remains, he hopes to make more of his life and amends for past mistakes.

Hearts Beat Loud – A father and daughter create a magical bit of music and do NOT form a band before she leaves for college.  My favorite bit: the daughter is gay, and it is a complete non-issue. How I wish that could be true for everyone.

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