Movie Monday

Gloria
I have a working theory I’d like to run by you. The previews for a movie are in direct correlation to the quality of the film. Do you agree? Never has this been more true that with this little gem of a film, Gloria, which I was first introduced to in the movie previews for her.

A chilean film by writer-director Sebastián Lelio, Gloria is the story of a 58-year-old woman living in Santiago, who even though divorced, alone and an empty-nester, has a zest for live that is intoxicating. We see Gloria, beautifully acted by Paulina García, open herself up to love again with a man she meets while on the dance floor. Will he rescue her? You will just have to see the film to find out.

One of my favorite scenes in this film is when Gloria, attending a wedding on her own, comes face to face with a breathtaking peacock in the garden of the hotel and just laughs. A peacock. How strange. But after a little research, I came to find out that peacocks naturally replace their feathers annually making it a symbol of renewal. What a beautiful symbol to a beautiful film.

Gloria is one of those songs I have heard for years but never really listened to the lyrics. Oh how I relate!

Gloria, you’re always on the run now
Running after somebody, you gotta get him somehow
I think you’ve got to slow down before you start to blow it
I think you’re headed for a breakdown, so be careful not to show it

You really don’t remember, was it something that he said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
Gloria, don’t you think you’re fallin’?
If everybody wants you, why isn’t anybody callin’?
You don’t have to answer
Leave them hangin’ on the line, oh-oh-oh, calling Gloria
Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number (Gloria)
I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you’ve been living under (Gloria)
But you really don’t remember, was it something that they said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?

Movie Monday

Gravity
I did a very Hollywood thing when I was out in L.A. I saw my very first theatre movie in 3D. Gravity. The story line quite simple but the craft of creating this film simply mind-blowing. I see why the team won the Academy Award for best visual effects, sound editing, sound mixing, cinematography, film editing and the big one, best director.

And although the story line was simple its one that I think is relevant for many of us. I’ve been feeling a bit lost. A bit beat up. And Sandra Bullock’s character struggled with the same emotions. A single mom who lost her daughter, she got lost in her work. Her work and long drives. I won’t admit how many miles I’ve put on my car since moving home but promise you, its been quite a few. But faced with adversity, she finds the courage and strength to hold on and not let go. And you know what, choosing life and to actually live it, a very good thing.

George Clooney does provide a bit of comedic relief and while I don’t swoon over him as many girls do, I did enjoy his performance.

What do you think… did you enjoy this movie? Only one left on the Academy list to watch… Nebraska.

Movie Monday

Dallas Buyers Club
Six days till the Oscars… can’t wait! her has certainly been my front-runner this awards season. That was until Dallas Buyers Club. Based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1985 and given 30 days to live, this movie just blew me away. What a performance by Matthew McConaughey. Not only his physical transformation (he lost nearly 40 pounds) but the depth of his performance. A far cry from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

In reading a few reviews this morning, I was shocked to learn that this film has not only been making its way around Hollywood since the 90’s but almost didn’t happen. Craig Borten, the screenwriter who came up with the idea for the film, said “Everyone was afraid of it.” But Mr. Borten didn’t give up. He interviewed Ron for several hours and wrote and rewrote the script close to 50 times. The film was originally set to be filmed in Canada, but when financing fell through, production began in Louisiana.

This is a story about survival. As Ron says “At any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.” In his quest to find the best medicine he can, he uncovers the hypocrisy that exists between the drug companies and the Food and Drug Administration and sets out to import the right drugs from around the globe, first starting in Mexico. Not only does he want to improve his own life, but the lives of everyone affected by this tragic disease. His friendship with Rayon, played by Jared Leto, is one of the most touching. Overall, superb acting by all in this film, including Jennifer Garner.

2557. Watch this must see film and you’ll know what this number is!

Movie Monday

Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street. I was lucky enough to spend my Valentine’s Day with not only Leo but Jonah, who in my opinion was the highlight of the film. What a story. Really makes you think about what greed does to someone. I did take away one very important lesson from Mr. Belfort, which is this. “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

Movie Monday

Philomena
Well I checked another Academy Award nominated film off my list this past week… Philomena. Only five more to go. Think I can do it? If this snow continues, I have no doubt!

The story of Philomena is a quite tragic one. A mother’s death, a father’s abandonment, teenage pregnancy, lost love. You see, Philomena was sent to a convent in Rosrea, Ireland in the early 1950s after becoming pregnant. Forced to work in the convent’s laundry seven days a week, as payment for taking care of her son Anthony, Philomena was being punished for her “sin”. And then a mother’s worst nightmare, Anthony, at the age of 3, was sold by the nuns to an American family for 1,000 pounds. Philomena wasn’t even able to say goodbye.

Fast forward 50 years, and Philomena connects with Martin Sixsmith, a onetime BBC correspondent and former member of Tony Blair’s communications team, who takes on her request to help her find Anthony as a human interest piece. The friendship formed between these two is quite something.

I won’t tell you much more of the movie as I don’t want to ruin it but what I can tell you is this. Judi Dench is phenomenal. And her co-star, Steve Coogan, who adapted Martin Sixsmith’s 2009 book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee into a screenplay, provided a bit of comedic relief and voice of reason.

I would consider myself a religious person. I try to follow my life in the tenants of the bible’s teachings. However, I also believe that we are not placed here on this earth to judge anyone but rather to love and support one another. The way Philomena is treated by the nuns and punished for her actions is beyond me. And yet, she forgives. The church, the nuns, herself. Philomena embodies the very essence of Christianity in my view, the ability to forgive, even those who hurt us so gravely.

My favorite line of the film is when Martin recites to Philomena a poignant T.S. Elliot quote “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Forgiveness and home. I think that about sums up this film for me.

Movie Monday

12 Years a Slave
There are films that stick with you… that keep you thinking and wondering why. 12 Years a Slave is one of those for it tells the incredible true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who is tricked and sold into slavery and fights for his freedom for nearly 12 years.

Director Steve McQueen, who I first was introduced to with his movie Shame in 2011, is quite an artist. I will admit it was difficult at times to watch this film but McQueen’s depiction made the viewer feel what we should feel, remorse and guilt for this tragic piece of our American history. As The Guardian review reads, this movie is “stark, visceral and unrelenting…. Not just a great film but a necessary one.” I couldn’t agree more. Solomon teaches us a very important lesson in this film. Life isn’t about just surviving, but living. Let us always remember this.

Movie Monday

movie monday
It’s that time of year again: award season. The Globes, The People’s Choice Awards, The SAG’s, The Oscars. I must admit I haven’t seen all the nominees just yet but my goal is to see them all by Oscar Sunday. Last week, I knocked two off the list.

First up, August: Osage County, an adaptation of Tracy Lett’s Pulitzer and Tony award-winning play. I knew very little about this film except the star-studded cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard and Benedict Cumberbatch. Set in the plains of Oklahoma, this film tells the tragic story of the Weston family. Alcoholism, drug addiction, incest, sibling rivalry, death, adultery… this movie covered it all. I am one for tragic films that make you question morales and family dynamics but this film left me just sad and with little resolution. I will say, Meryl Streep was flawless but her character, Violet Weston, might just be one of the most evil women I’ve seen portrayed on-screen.

American Hustle. The opening screen “some of these things happened” is quite true for this movie tells the story of an F.B.I. sting operation in the late 1970s that landed several congressmen and one senator in jail for fraud. The cast, similar to August, was star-studded. Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper. A fine-looking group indeed. What else can I say. Loved the music. Loved the wardrobe. Golden Globe winner beating out Her… I don’t agree.

Have you seen either of these films? What were you thoughts? Would love to hear!

Movie Monday

her
I started off my New Year indulging in one of my favorite activities… a movie at Kendall Square Theatre. The decision of which film to see was a bit difficult as there are many amazing films out right now (American Hustle was our second choice) but alas we decided on her, a Spike Jonze love story. And you know me, I love a good love story.

her, set in a not-so-distant future L.A., tells the story of Theodore Twombly, played by Joaquin Phoenix. From the first clip, the viewer is introduced to Theodore’s amazing ability to express love through the written word, his daytime job a writer at beautifulhandwrittenletters.com. We soon learn that he is going through a heartbreaking divorce from his wife Catherine, played by Rooney Mara. It becomes quite evident that Theodore leads a lonely existence as we see him leave work and immediately log into his email (through an ear piece that listens to his commands). In his stark apartment that appears to be missing a dining table but has four chairs, Theodore sits back to play hours of interactive video games. And the only slight enjoyment we see him experience is a late night encounter with a lonely woman from the internet. Theodore exists in a city full of people being alone together. A feeling I am sure many of us can relate to.

Enter Samantha, the operating system Theodore falls in-love with. At first, this may sound like a crazy idea. How can one fall in-love with an operating system? But what Samantha provides Theodore is something we all need: someone who listens and is there when we need them. Since Samantha is linked to Theodore’s computer, she is able to review his emails in seconds, to get a sense of who he is and thus the getting-to-know-you period is virtually instant. She anticipates his needs and meets every one of them, even his physical desires. Samantha is there when he falls asleep at night (often asking to watch him sleep) and is there in the morning when he opens his eyes. It all seems ideal.

But as the movie progresses, we learn that Samantha is talking with hundreds of others. What Theodore thinks is only his, he soon realizes, is in-fact shared by many. The only other significant relationship we see Theodore have is with his upstairs neighbor Amy, played by Amy Adams, who herself has separated from her husband. I believe it is Amy who provides the key takeaway from the movie… “We are only here briefly. And while here, I want to allow myself joy.”

This film questions what makes love real: the lover, the loved one, or the means by which love is shared? Have you had a relationship purely over your mobile device, without much physical contact, that made you think you had it all? I know I have. Is the human form a necessary? A movie to make you think.

Joaquin Phoenix certainly has my vote for Best Actor. He was in one word, superb.

Movie Monday

stuck in love
Thought it was about time to bring back one of my favorite columns… Movie Monday. And I have my dear friend JohnJohn (and this weekend’s storm) to thank for today’s movie pick. Stuck in Love.

I will be honest. Judging on title alone, I would have passed on this one but I am so grateful I didn’t. This delightful little film traces the story of a family : John and Erika Borgens (played by Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connolly) who have separated but still seem to love one another; Sam, the promiscuous daughter (played by Lily Collins) who has just received news that her manuscript will be published and Rusty, the loving son (played by Nat Wolff) who is a bit awkward and looking for self and love himself.

Greg Kinnear’s character is an accomplished novelist and thus his dialogue weaves in excerpts from some of his favorite works. The one that stuck with me most is the following: “I’m not sure what it is that compels a person to continue to play make-believe even after they are an adult. My favorite book is a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver, called “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.” And in the closing line of the title story, Carver says, “I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making. Not one of us moved. Not even when the room went dark.” And I think, that is what writing is. It’s listening for that beating heart and when we heard it. It’s your job to decipher it to the best of our abilities.”

This movie reminded me of what it takes to make any relationship, whether parent/child, sibling, or lover, work. If you are looking for an easy, not-too-complicated plot line, I’d highly recommend Stuck in Love. Will restore your faith in relationships too, I promise!

Movie Monday

Before Midnight
I think I have said this before but I am a true romantic and thus a sucker for a beautiful love story. The Before Sunrise trilogy, which I was just recently introduced to, may just be my favorite. If you aren’t familiar with these movies, please allow me a brief introduction.

The first movie Before Sunrise premiered in 1995 and introduced the world to Jesse and Celine, an American boy and a French girl, who have a chance meeting on a train and decide to disembark in Vienna, unplanned of course, and spend an evening together exploring the city and their new friendship. The film ends with Jesse and Celine at the train station making a plan to visit each other in the same spot six months later. Will they meet again?

Fast forward to 2004, Before Sunset. Jesse is in Paris promoting his recent novel about an evening encounter that turns into love (a work of fiction, of course). Through the crowd at the Shakespearean Book Company, where the reading takes place, Jesse catches eyes with Celine. They spend the afternoon walking Paris, similar to their time in Vienna, discussing life and the years lost. We learn that Jesse did indeed travel to Vienna to meet Celine. They share stories of their current relationships, their jobs and the love they still share for each other. The film ends with Jesse and Celine at her apartment. Will Jesse leave and get on the plane back to his wife and son?

Nine years later, we get our answer. Before Midnight begins with Jesse and Celine together in Greece with their two beautiful girls. Did true love prevail? You will just have to watch these films to find out!

These films show us the poetry of everyday life… how the simple choices we make can change our lives forever. Would you get off the train to spend an afternoon with someone you just met? Would you fight for the one who got away? My answer is emphatically YES! I will share more of my own “before sunrise” story later this week but let me leave you with this beautiful thought… “You can never replace anyone because everyone is made of such beautiful, specific details.” Embrace the wrong ones that got away. Don’t try to forget them. They lead you to what really matters. And as a sweet lady told me last week, “Remember, Maybeth… it only take’s one.”