MJ Monday: Movie-THE REWRITE

The first time I saw THE REWRITE was with my husband who thought I’d like it because it was about a writer. He wanted to see it because it takes place at SUNY Binghamton, where he went to college. Starring Hugh Grant (eh) and Marisa Tomei (I’m a fan), I was surprised I hadn’t heard of the movie. We watched it. I recognized other actors–Allison Janney, JK Simmons, Chris Elliott. I thought, Oh, this is a cute movie.

Fast forward a year or so, and one of my critique partners found the DVD in the library and brought it on our semi-annual writing retreat. I didn’t hate the idea of watching it again; indeed, I enjoyed it more the second time around (but that may be because of a more sympathetic audience).

Hugh Grant plays a washed-up screen writer whose sole success was 15 years earlier. The only gig his agent can find for him is Writer-in-Residence at Binghamton University in upstate New York. The plot is predictable. He’s resentful, sullen, and selfish until the eternal optimism of an older single mother with two children who happens to be taking his class turns him around.

Three stars–Janney and Tomei are worth the watch.

Self Help Review: Made for More? Nope.

I’m switching things up a bit this year, trying to keep the blog fresh. I will review a self-help book, or in the case of January, a self-help movie, the first Thursday of every month. I’ve certainly read my share.

One thing you’re going to learn about me is my skepticism. You may think I am a negative person, but I’m really not. Positivity is my number four strength, according to the Clifton Stengthsfinder assessment. But I’m skeptical. Or maybe I should say I’m wary of being conned.

My then-manager showed the Rachel Hollis documentary Made for More to us as a team building exercise. Rachel Hollis, in case you didn’t know (and I didn’t), is a guru of self-help for women. Her book Girl, Wash your Face was a best seller. A friend recently told me there have been accusations of plagiarism, but I don’t really know enough about it to comment. What I do know is the first half of the movie. (I declined to watch the second half, which was shown in another team meeting).

The first thing that struck me about this movie was while Rachel was discussing how her organization is all about empowering women, the video showed her husband driving the family van with the caption: CEO of her company (The Hollis Company).  I thought an empowered woman would be empower other women. Making your husband CEO of your company seems contradictory.

Further into the movie Rachel tells us about her boob job. How she hated her breasts because after nursing four children they were like yogurt, so she decided to get a boob job to increase her self-esteem/body image/whatever.

After she has justified why she wanted a boob job, she went to a scene from one of her RISE sessions (3-day personal growth conferences) where she asked the attendees how they felt about their bodies. Everyone was in tears, because everyone hated something about their bodies. It was very moving. She went on and on about how awful it was that these women hated their bodies.

I had a problem with this–not with her having a boob job–but the mixed message (and her tears) she sent to that conference of crying women with body image issues. If I had been in the audience that day, I would have felt used.

In about 40 minutes of documentary, the woman managed to turn me off. Not every “method” of self-help works for every person. Rachel Hollis is not my guru.

 

 

 

MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping is one of my favorite Christmas movies. Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher, and other recognizable faces star in this rom-com.

Many people do not consider this a Christmas movie. The controversy isn’t as well-known as the Die Hard debate, but it does exist.

“Just because it takes place  between Christmas and New Year doesn’t make it a Christmas movie,” I’ve heard. That would be correct.  It’s the plot that defines the genre, and this plot is fully-loaded.

Lucy, our heroine, is alone. She gets stuck working all the holidays because she has no family. Her stated goal is she wants to see the world, but her longing is for family.  She has a crush on a commuter she each day while she works in a toll booth. When she witnesses him being mugged on Christmas Day, her life changes. Through a series of funny misunderstandings, Lucy ends up enmeshed in the lives of the commuter’s family while he’s in a coma, and falls in love.

The ending is a Christmas miracle, because Lucy gets everything she wants.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-What’s Cooking?

I’ve seen this movie only twice, but that doesn’t stop it from being my favorite Thanksgiving movie of all time.

It is the story of four ethnically different families preparing for  then participating in Thanksgiving dinner.  As one reviewer said, “There’s stress, there’s food, and there’s stressing over food.” The ensemble cast is wonderful.

My favorite part is the variety of textures. Textures in stories matter a lot to me, and this movie sets the tone for each of the cultures by using textures.

I’m truly surprised the movie isn’t better known.

MJ’s MOVIES: STRANGER THAN FICTION

When my critique group and I go off to the woods for long writing weekends, we also bring movies to watch during the evening. One year, someone grabbed Stranger than Fiction from the library, thinking Emma Thompson would outweigh Will Ferrell. Thankfully, she did.

I actually like Will Ferrell in this movie. He plays an IRS agent who suddenly begins hearing his life being narrated by the voice of a famous author. He hunts down the author to convince her to change the ending of the book she’s writing because he doesn’t want to die the way he will die in the book. I know. Weird.

There’s a great cast to go along with the interesting premise. This movie deserves to be better known than it is. It’s not a great movie by any means, but neither is it a dud.