My most handsome (that smile!!) favorite person is learning to play guitar. He’s gone from literally not knowing which way to hold it (insert goofy Brady Bunch laugh track) to strumming the beginnings of familiar songs. There is still ever-so-much to learn, but I am so proud of him. Each week, he spends hours and hours practicing (“I gotta stop. I can’t feel my fingertips!”), watching videos, and reading all he can to make sense of different techniques and bits of advice. I’m really enjoying observing the process. Very cool.
After going nearly a month without any moisture, we got some snow earlier this week. So pretty! I am also keeping my fingers crossed for more, though, at this point, we’d prefer it in the form of rain.
Finally, I have another couple of movie recommendations for you before nearly a year passes again. Also, in classic brain fart fashion, one of the movies I mentioned this time was included in last year’s list. Good grief!
Straight Up – A gay man, encouraged by his therapist to not be so afraid of taking chances, interprets the advice as a sign to date women. While rearranging books in the self-help section of the library (he’s a little OCD), he meets a woman who ticks all of his personal boxes. They fall into a deeply intimate relationship without sex that works until it doesn’t, and they are forced to make big life decisions. I loved this on so many levels! The cinematography is splendid, the dialog sharp, and WOW, a fresh look at relationship possibilities. Plus Randall Park as the Dad, which was ACES. Thank you, James Sweeney, I clearly needed that.
The Kid Detective – Jeepers. This was not what we expected! From the previews, we envisioned a light-hearted comedy about a young detective. What we got was a humorous and deeply moving story about a man who peaked at the ripe age of TWELVE and now half asses his way through life, over-drinking, over-sleeping, and mostly disappointing those around him. UNTIL, he has the opportunity for redemption in the form of solving the murder of a teenage boy. So VERY good!!
I am still very much a paper and pen or pencil type. I have never reached for my phone to make a list or take down an idea. Though I have some pretty luddite tendencies, this is not that. Frankly, I don’t think of my phone in that way (it’s me, not you…) I cannot pinpoint exactly why. I use it for phone calls and the calculator and the occasional internet search. I know it has a greater purpose. Half of the time, when I leave the house, I don’t remember to bring it, more if you count walking the dog. I never bring it then. I can’t tell you how many times Greg has called me when I’m at the grocery to hear the phone ring in the next room. To be fair, when I do remember to bring it and call him, his ringer is usually turned off. Aren’t we a pair?!
I am writing all this because I keep a list of movies written on a piece of paper. It goes from the living room, where I bring it after watching something good, then back to my office. I have shown you my messy desk, so, in an effort to keep it from getting lost, I put it off to one side on this very old wire coil of a file organizer that I’ve had forever. It is probably older than desk top computing and very handy. Unfortunately, I am not always consistent in my organization, and the list got lost in a pile of other business, which got shoved into a basket to be organized later. I finally unearthed it this morning, and for about five minutes thought maybe, just maybe, I should try the whole list on the phone thing. Probably a snowball’s chance and all, but you never know. After all this rigmarole, and hopefully a good chuckle on your part, I have some recent favorites.
Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off – Good gracious. For me, this was all the right things at exactly the right moment. I streamed it twice in two days – no guilt, no shame, all LOVE. The music, the best hair of the eighties, the story of Tony growing up and finding skateboarding (so many amazing photos and videos!!) and much, much later, really finding himself. It was honest and earnest and a pure joy to watch.
The Map of Tiny Imperfect Things – A high schooler gets caught in a Groundhog Day type loop, seemingly all alone, until a girl wreaks a little havoc where she hasn’t been before. Their friendship is fast, and he falls hard for her, but she, always aware of the time, holds back. Why? Fun, inventive, and sweet!
Brittany Runs a Marathon – This is a great transformational story, but not in the fairy tale sense. We meet Brittany and follow her as she begins running. She gets stronger, loses weight, makes good decisions and poor decisions, suffers the cruelty of others. It’s a big ol’ life sandwich – messy and funny and worth the time.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post: A lesbian teen is forced to attend a conversion camp after she is outed on prom night. What follows is both horrifying and touching, as the kids do their best to become “straight” at the direction of camp leaders while trying to understand and honor their true selves.
Our Friend – A young mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer and a very dear friend comes to pick up the pieces for the family. He stays well past the point where nearly everyone else has abandoned the family out of discomfort and their own grief, until the bitter end. A tearjerker based on a true story.
Heavy Trip – Turo is a shy, death metal lover in need of a break. He finds it when his band, Impaled Rektum (right?!), is invited to a festival in Norway. It is the ultimate weird and wild underdog road trip story, also utterly implausible, but such good fun!
Pig – What we do for those we love. That’s it. Oh, and bits of Oregon. A treasure.
The Planters – The ultimate eccentric-style story that I L-O-V-E. Really and truly. How to describe? An orphaned woman telemarketer who also plants unusual thrift store items in the desert for money makes friends and enemies while selling air conditioners. Totally inadequate, I know. Watch it anyway. If it makes you even a tenth as happy as it did me, it will be a very good day.
Arab Blues – A Parisian returns to her native Tunisia to set up as a therapist. She struggles initially to find patients, then with government bureaucracy, ideas around femininity, sexuality, and grief. All the things!
The Sunlit Night – A struggling artist gets a job assisting a famous painter in Norway, where she meets a host of colorful characters, dreamers, and oddballs.
Maborosi – After her husband takes his own life, a young mother and their infant son attempt to move forward. She eventually remarries a widow, living a quiet existence by the sea, while still haunted by her first husband’s death. A meditation on grief and life’s unanswered questions.
Woman in Motion – All about the wonderful Nichelle Nicols, her history, and how she championed the integration of NASA. One of those glorious instances when I learn a person I hold in high esteem is even more marvelous (and funny!) than previously believed.
Hi ALL! Though summer has yet to officially begin, the heat (SO hot!) and sun and wild rollick of garden blooms speaks otherwise, so here we are with my recent favorites.
Tokyo Girl, which is not a movie but a stellar t.v. show. It follows Aya from a teenager dreaming of moving to Tokyo, to a recent college graduate making the move to the big city, all the way into her 40s. I loved this! It’s so rare to find a show that feels so true to a woman’s emotional journey, dreaming of one life while another unfolds. Additionally, as someone who has never visited Japan, it was such a treat to get an intimate look at neighborhood life in Tokyo.
Arctic – a man struggles against weather and polar bears after his plane crashes. He is mad-clever and great at systems, but his burden becomes far more dear when the helicopter come to his rescue crashes, and he must help a woman in far worse shape than he. Not a thriller in the typical sense, but Greg and I were seriously stressed out as we rooted for the pair to make it to safety. And bonus, what beautiful scenery!
All Nighter – A father with poor communication skills enlists his daughter’s ex to help him find her after she fails to return his phone calls. Silly and funny and light-hearted.
Freaks – A father and daughter exist in isolation, only venturing outside when absolutely necessary. But why? Is it delusion, madness, a criminal past? Something strange is going on, and the film makers sure kept us guessing!
The Assistant – Spend the day in the life of an assistant to a very important and powerful entertainment mogul. A subtle and disturbing glimpse at the sacrifices people make to bring their dreams to life.
Map of Tiny Imperfect Things – A teenager relives, a la Groundhog Day, one day over and over again, no deviation from the norm. Until a young woman enters the scene and he is flummoxed. It takes ages, but he finds her again, and they form a friendship before coming to grips with what it might take to move into the future. All.The.Things. Yup.
A Fantastic Fear of Everything – A crazy romp with a man who spends far too much time in his head and not nearly enough in the actual world. Paranoid and squeamish, he sees horror lurking around every corner, even laundry freaks this guy out. We laughed A LOT.
The Farewell – Billi, a flailing artist, learns her beloved Nai Nai (grandma) has a terminal illness. Against her family’s wishes, she travels to China for a wedding banquet to say goodbye without arousing suspicion of her diagnosis. Tender and filled with love, with a pro-collectivist nod. By not disclosing her illness, the family takes the burden off Nai Nai and shares it, so she might live more peacefully. Chew on that.
Uncle Frank – 1973. A rather sheltered Southern young woman moves to New York to attend the college where her Uncle Frank is also a professor. During a party at his apartment, she learns he is gay. Soon after, her grandfather dies and the pair drive down for the funeral. A story of love and understanding, a fair dose of hatred (self and other) and fear, of those who can cope with gayness, and those who cannot. Brilliantly done.
Long Strange Trip – When I was in college, my friend Mitch and I had a shared love for Van Morrison, Led Zeppelin, and Big Head Todd. Where I could not join him was in his affection for the Grateful Dead. As much as I tried, no matter how catchy, I did not like Truckin’ or Uncle John’s Band. I could not abide a Touch of Gray, and said as much. He was kindly and told me the JAMS were where it’s at. End of conversation.
Here we are, some twenty-nine years later, and Long Strange Trip pops up on Prime. If you know me, I’ll watch any documentary of quality, regardless of subject. Greg joined me, and we loved it. I scribbled song titles as the fascinating history unfolded. Turns out Mitch was right. It IS the jams. We’ve been playing a pretty steady stream. Apologies all these years later, my friend, wherever you are.
We watched Sound of Metal recently, the only, I think, Oscar nominee we managed this year. It’s funny how I used to be so into it, seeing the movies, watching the red carpet, the ceremony, so interested and invested in it all. The clothes, the speeches, the wonder! A season of my life now complete, I suppose.
The film, however, got to me, deeply. How for a long while, a body moves along, believing it is one person, doing life in one certain way, contentedly so. Suddenly a change comes, wholly unexpected and painfully blunt. In the main character’s case, a loss of hearing. How does a drummer go on when he can no longer hear the notes? How does a body get out of the head space of necessity? Of Disability?
The most intriguing moment of the story happens when he’s told his grief is not about hearing loss. The problem is not deafness. The problem is making peace with deafness. The problem is the mind.
How true this is. How true that our minds are often our greatest road blocks. Stories we are told. Stories we create. Dysfunctional patterns and beliefs run riot, ruling us like bullies, toddlers in need of rest. How bankrupt and desperate. Sometimes ugly, too.
How potent the moment when we witness this ugliness from a distance, truly recognize it. Embrace it with love. Then let it go. What sweet freedom. What peace.
Prince Avalanche – Two misfits re-stripe the back roads of Texas after a massive fire. Both lonely and unaware of how much they need the friendship of one another. The landscape plays itself, beautifully so.
The Hollars – There’s a lot going on here. Pregnancy, insecurity, illness, loneliness, and wicked destructive jealousy. Also awkward funny laughter followed by some truly heart felt moments. Kinda like life.
Plus One – Two friends decide to embark on the unbearable together – ten weddings over the course of a summer. More insecurity, quite a bit of drunkenness, love, dysfunction, and good humor. Oh, and to save you the head scratching, the main man is Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid’s son.
Britt Marie Was Here – A very tightly wound woman leaves her husband upon learning of his years-long affair with a much younger woman. Uncertain of her abilities, she takes on a neglected community center and its flailing soccer team.
Troop Zero – A young girl aching for her dead mother seeks to win the competition to have her voice put out in the universe (and therefore heard by ALL), via the Voyager craft. The only problem is she needs a Birdie Troop to do it, and the only one available does NOT want her. Undeterred, she gathers all the other misfit girls she knows to make their own. Underdogs rule the day, my friends. Plus, Viola Davis!!!
FREAKY – I loved the original Jodie Foster Freaky Friday and prolly could have watched it on a loop were the option given to me as a child. This racy, young adult in our modern times version is no less fabulous. Vince Vaughn plays a serial killer who switches bodies with a high school outcast in hilarious fashion. It’s madcap and funny and terribly gory.
Tales From the Loop – Greg and I, after ages and ages, finally bit the bullet and got Amazon Prime. For the shows, not the shipping. We’ve always kept our cart going until it was free, anyway. But, I digress. This show!!! It’s a three exclamation point and more, yes ma’am. It highlights the frailties, excitement, wonder, and loss of ordinary people living in a most extraordinary place of time travel, adventure, and answers one might not care to know. Beautiful, simply beautiful.
Save Yourselves – A couple super-attached to their devices decides to unplug for a weekend in the country right when the world is invaded my murderous, Tribble-looking creatures. It’s a hoot!
Mum – Follow Cathy as she navigates her new life after losing her husband, starting on the day of his funeral. Her in-laws, husband’s best friend, brother and obnoxious girlfriend, thick-headed and equally obnoxious son and his dimwitted but awfully sweet girlfriend play important roles, as she struggles to find her independence and sense of self. Three wonderful seasons.
Colewell – A quiet film following a postal worker as her office is declared obsolete, despite being the hub of her small community. A stunner.