MJ Monday-Movies: The Big Sick

The first time I viewed The Big Sick I was with my husband. My critique partners and I watched it again on a recent retreat. It’s a good movie. It’s a true story that takes the larger issues we in the US are facing today and brings them down to the personal level.

It’s the story of an aspiring comedian/Uber driver whose family came to the US from Pakistan and an all-American girl who meet and fall in love. But his family and heritage create problems that hurt the heroine. The heroine becomes deathly ill and is hospitalized, bringing her parents into the story.

We see how prejudice often stems from not understanding and that with effort–sometime a lot of effort–we can overcome our preconceived notions. All of this is wrapped up in a romantic comedy with laugh-out-loud moments and a happy ending.

Five stars.

MJ Monday-Movies: Waking Ned Devine

I saw Waking Ned Devine for the first time not too long ago.  I had a difficult time getting into the movie, because my ears were slow to catch the cadence and nuances of the thick Irish accents. This is not an unusual problem for me. Once my brain clicked into the dialogue, I enjoyed the movie.

The story takes place in a small Irish village where someone has won the National Lottery.  We often hear “it takes a village.” We read news stories where neighbors help neighbors when disaster strikes. But what happens when someone wins the lottery and  the shock of it kills him?

Four stars.

 

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.