Watching

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I Am Not Okay With This: A teenage girl deals with the everyday as well as the complicated: friendship, high school, the effects of her father’s suicide on her family, as well as her budding and, as yet, untamed superpower.

Patrick Melrose: I am slightly premature on this one, only having viewed the first three of five episodes, but that, in itself, should be a major tell. Benedict Cumberbatch is positively brilliant as a man struggling to overcome the demonic hold of his wickedly abusive father and emotionally absent mother over his life. The first episode alone is worth a view. Horrifying in its intensity, it depicts his wild spiral into the madness of drug addiction.

Mr. Church: A man hired to be the cook for a dying woman and her child forges a lifelong bond when the original six months spans years. This was so sweet! I love you, Eddie Murphy.

In the Shadow of the Moon: A serial killer defies death and physics to kill every nine years while the cop on her trail nearly loses everything to capture her.

All the Bright Places: A high schooler mourning the loss of her sister befriends a boy struggling with his own past and present. Tender and ever so true.

ZZ Top: Like much of the music my dad listened to when I was a child, I cannot remember a time without ZZ Top, singing along to La Grange and Cheap Sunglasses before I even knew the name of the band. This one is on the lighter side – a fun and thougthful look at an equally fun and thoughtful band.

Anita: A young woman with down syndrome loses track of her mother after a terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires. Adrift and disoriented, she finds help among the equally broken and lost.

Youth in Oregon: A cantankerous man learns that a surgery to repair his heart was unsuccessful and demands to be driven to Oregon where he can take his own life via assisted suicide.

Blue Ruin: A homeless man learns the person responsible for the murder of his parents has been released from prison. A slow burn of a fil-um, sucking the viewer into a violent abyss, tense and sweaty and mad.

Beforeigners: A near future tale of people from varying time periods in the past who literally surface in water and have to adjust to modern life. One of them, a Norwegian Shieldmaiden, becomes a cop. Super funny and smart!

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Tuck In

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!

p.s.

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

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