People are faced with it all the time - choosing between being a career woman or a mother. Choosing between being successful or happy. Choosing between being rich or moral. In "An Education", the lead character Jenny (Carey Mulligan) finds herself in that kind of a predicament at the very young age of 16. Should she follow the path she's been on forever and attend Oxford
University or should she stay with her much older boyfriend and live the life she's wanted to live forever? Fancy dinners, exquisite clothes, beautiful cars, impressive art galleries, grand theater productions, lavish vacations... all these things make Jenny re-think her plan. My question, however, is why can't Jenny have both? Likewise, why can't we all have both? Can't mothers be successful in the workforce AND incredible moms to their kids? Can't people achieve true success in their field AND be happy? I think we can. Sure, it may be a challenge at times and it may be hard work, but I don't think it is too much to ask to have it all. So, next time someone says "Well, you can't have it all", I'm going to say "Oh, yeah?" and prove them wrong. What are YOU going to do?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
"Precious" is a film about a Harlem teenager in the 1980s suffering through a life that is far from precious. This film inspires so much thought, it's almost impossible to choose a topic to discuss. "Precious" touches on the failures of our education system, obesity, bullying, physical abuse, mental abuse, HIV, teen pregnancy, problems with our welfare system, incest and giving birth to babies fathered by the woman's own father - just to name a few. Each topic is huge enough and important enough to have entire books written on the subject, but for this book of sorts, I'm going to focus on mothers, who know their husbands or boyfriends are having sex with their daughter for years and simply stand by and let it occur. How can this happen? A mother carries her baby inside her body for nine months - that child is truly a part of her. What kind of person stands by knowing that the person she brought into the world is being raped by her man (or any man for that matter) and allows it? As hard as this film is to watch at times, as far-fetched as some may think it is, the devastating truth is that this is not as uncommon as you may think or want to believe. While the rapist is clearly the perpetrator, isn't the mother just about as guilty? She could have stopped it. Mothers are supposed to risk their own safety to save their child in a disaster situation. Isn't incest one of the biggest disasters around? What happens in a person's mind that they can rationalize their actions and believe that not doing anything is acceptable? In what world would that ever be o.k.? Not in any world I'd like to live in.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
"Looks can be deceiving." "You can't judge a book by its cover." We've all heard these phrases throughout our lifetime, but for some reason, people continue to stereotype and often get the wrong idea. In "New York, I Love You", we see this all too common real-life problem. The film is a collection of stories about various people living, working and playing in New York. Each story has its own writer and director. In the story written and directed by Natalie Portman (though she only appears onscreen in another vignette), we see a Cuban man named "Dante" walking through Central Park with a little Caucasian girl named "Teya". We can tell that they are close and get along very well. They share some very sweet moments. At one point, they go to a section of the park, where two Caucasian women tell him that he's really good with her and that it's rare to see that kind of bond between a "manny" (male nanny) and their charge. The women mean it as a compliment, but the man (played by Carlos Acosta) doesn't really respond. He seems to be reflecting on what they've said. Fast forward to a later scene when we realize that Dante is the little girl's father. Her mother is Caucasian and we never find out whether the child was adopted or just didn't inherit any of her father's coloring, but that doesn't matter. This happens all the time. We see a Hispanic woman in the middle of a weekday pushing a stroller with a Caucasian child sitting in it and people automatically think the woman is the maid or nanny. Could she be the child's mother? Of course! We see a man in his 60s with a child and people assume he's the grandfather. Could he be the father? Of course! We see a man in his 80s with a gorgeous woman in her 30s and assume they're father/daughter. Could they be married? Of course! We see a man and woman about the same age holding hands with two young children and people assume that the woman is their mother. Could the woman be his girlfriend and not his wife? Of course! We see a man and a woman together at a wedding and people think they're going out or married. Could they be brother and sister? Of course! No matter how many times we see Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with their ethnic children or hear of a gay couple having a child together, people continue to jump to conclusions. When will people truly become open-minded and see life as it really is? When will people stop making seemingly positive comments that end up insulting or hurting someone else? Please forgive me for my assumption, but I think we have a long way to go and a short time to get there.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The title "This Is It" really says it all. Although the film is sort of a celebration of Michael Jackson's career, the King of Pop's LIFE is officially over. Say what you want about him - you can call him an icon, a man with a beautiful voice, a superb dancer, an extraordinary choreographer, a brilliant songwriter, a trailblazer. Others may call him a child molester, a freak, a has-been. And then, there are others who call him a caring father, a gentle soul and a giver. No matter what you think of Michael Jackson, I think most would agree that his life was cut way too short and it clearly didn't have to be. When watching the clips of his rehearsals only weeks, even days, before his death, you can see that he was very much alive - in every sense of the word. There's a part in the film when one of the crew members talks about the "This Is It" concert being about pushing boundaries, "because that's what Michael Jackson is all about". He constantly pushed boundaries in his life - some made him famous, some made him infamous... but it's interesting that pushing boundaries so that he could get some sleep led to his ultimate demise. When will celebrities, and regular people like you and me, realize that you can't ALWAYS push boundaries in life? Heath Ledger - died of an accidental overdose. Anna Nicole Smith - died of an accidental overdose. DJ AM, also known as Adam Goldstein - died of an accidental overdose. These are all people, who were young when they died. I am quite certain none of them wanted to die when they did. They should have had many more years to enjoy life. We only get one chance to live in this lifetime... one chance. Why risk losing that chance? When people practice this kind of behavior, they're not just playing with fire. They're playing with fire, gasoline and dynamite. I wish Michael Jackson had taken a little advice from himself before it was too late. "I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make the change." Even if you can't get it entirely "right while you got the time", you can certainly get it close and continue to live.
Monday, October 26, 2009
"I WANT to be married, 'cause I wanna have people to share my life with." That's what Dave (played by Vince Vaughn) says to Joey (Jon Favreau) towards the end of "Couples Retreat". Here's the question though... and I would truly like some answers. Is it better to stay in a marriage that's mediocre or worse just so you have someone to share your life with and grow old with or is it better to be alone? Of course, you can still share your life with friends, siblings, parents, children and the like, but is it crucial to have that companion? Someone to go to weddings with, a standing date on New Year's Eve... someone you can always call if your car breaks down or if you need them to pick up milk on the way home. So many people live these lives day after day after day, but they're not truly in love with their partner. They do it for the kids, they do it because they think it might be better than being alone, they do it because it's easier to stay married than get divorced and divide everything up. Many of them are cheating on their spouses and try to pretend like everything's hunky dory in their home life. I don't mean to sound like Debbie Downer or anything, but let's face it. This is the reality. Don't get me wrong. There are certainly people who are madly, passionately in love and will remain committed to one another until they die, but sadly, I think those couples are few and far between. Why is that? I think people get scared that they will end up alone or that they'll be too old to have kids if they wait for their soul mate, so they just tie the knot with the wrong person. Why is the divorce rate so high? About 50%, I believe, right now. That's not good. On the flip side, having someone you can always rely on, someone you can talk to about anything and everything, someone who makes you feel better just by giving you a hug or passing along a smile... that all sounds fantastic. But does it last? How do you make it last? How do you find that person? How many of us are capable of being with that one person for the rest of our live's? Why are there so few couples like Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward? Think about those couples who are married for decades and when one of them dies, the other one ends up dying a few months later, because they can't live without the other person. Why do so many people say the fairy tale doesn't exist? Why can't it? Why? Why? Why? I welcome your responses.
Monday, October 5, 2009
In "Zombieland", Bill Murray acting as himself gets mistaken for a zombie and gets himself shot. Ah, Bill! If only it were "Groundhog Day", you could start the day over and reconsider that prank that got yourself hit with a bullet. Dagnabbit!!! Anyway, as he lays dying (hilarious till his final breath), one of the Zombie hunters says "Any regrets?". His answer: "Uhhh, maybe 'Garfield'." Remember that live action film about that lazy, orange, cartoon cat? Yeah, most people don't. But maybe you'll remember this. When people ask me what my greatest regret is (though thankfully not on my death bed), I always say that I don't have any regrets. I believe that if you learn from mistakes in life and don't make the same mistake twice, there's no reason to regret anything. Perhaps things didn't go your way at one point or you made some bad decisions... whatever it is, if it makes you a better person or helped you get somewhere you otherwise wouldn't, then there's a reason it happened. So, instead of harping on something really stupid you did (because let's face it - we ALL do stupid things sometimes), figure out how that experience can benefit you in the long run and move on. NO REGRETS! NO REGRETS!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Though sometimes it's more like try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again, this age-old saying makes loads of sense. If you don't believe me, ask "Flint Lockwood" from "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". He'll tell you the exact same thing. "Flint" is a young inventor, who has really incredible ideas, but they never seem to work out. They keep backfiring on him, but no matter how many people ridicule him or express their extreme lack of support, Flint just keeps on pluggin' away. He knows in his heart that one day, he will come up with an invention that will change the world (or at least his little seaside town). Spray-on shoes proved to be too permanent to run with the changing styles and activities. So what! Ratbirds were even creepier than the real rats with wings, otherwise known as pigeons. Big deal! The hair unbalder wasn't exactly a growing trend. Poppycosh! It's all those experiences that led to Flint inventing a wacky weather system that drops all kinds of delicious food from the sky, hence ending the hunger problem. Now, that's an invention that will improve EVERYONE'S life. So, no matter what you want to invent, achieve, solve or discover... it's not just about the goal. It's not just about the one thing at the end. You have to fail a little to reach greatness... and once you do, you'll appreciate it so much more. Just be sure to take time to remember everything you went through to get there. It's all important... every step. Without the trip to the market, the pot, the water, the pasta, the sauce, the meat, the seasonings, the stove and the dinner conversation, your life may remain Overcast with No Chance of Meatballs.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
We all know the words, don't we? "Fame! I'm gonna live forever. I'm gonna learn how to fly... high!" Question though... how can kids learn to fly high if their parents hold them back from their passion? Case in point - in the remake of "Fame", "Denise Dupree" played by Naturi Naughton has been training to be a classical pianist since she was a child; however, her true passion is singing. Her dad (and mom - simply because she doesn't want to defy her husband) is dead set on her being a classical pianist when she "grows up" regardless of what SHE wants to do. In the end, after seeing her sing on stage, they tell their daughter "We'll support you, no matter what". Why can't it always be that way? We hear so often "my daughter's going to be a surgeon" or "my son's going to be an lawyer". If the kids want to be a surgeon or a lawyer, then that's another story, but why can't parents ever ask their children what they want to do with their life, instead of telling them what to do? A parent/child relationship is supposed to consist of unconditional love, so whether a person wants to be a painter, an actor, a circus clown or the president of the United States, shouldn't parents do their best to support their child and help them succeed? Shouldn't parents honor their children's goals, interests and talents, even if they're completely different from their world of commercial real estate or accounting? If they did, perhaps more kids... more people would be less stressed and feel more satisfied with their lives. "Baby, look at me... and tell me what you see. You ain't seen the best of me yet. Give me time, I'll make you forget the rest." Perhaps parents should really listen to the opening lyrics of the "Fame" song, open their eyes and notice what their children truly have to offer the world. Maybe "Fame" is not so lame after all.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
It's been too long since I've blogged and let me tell you something... I've seen plenty of movies since my last entry. Perhaps, I'll play catch-up... now that the sunny side of summer is turning into the fabulous feeling of fall. Now, THAT'S a coming attraction! Until then, I will write about something I grabbed from "Love Happens" starring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart. (Though this blog is not about critiquing films, I will say that what's to come is the only thing I took away from the film, except for maybe what remained of my medium Coke). In the movie, Aaron's character tells the group attending his Tony Robbins-esque seminar that "Happiness is a state of mind". It really is, isn't it? Let's face it. Life is not always fun or easy or as we planned... and the great pitcher of life continues to throw us curveballs... but that's what life is all about. Dealing with whatever comes our way, learning, growing, not making the same mistakes twice, becoming stronger, taking the worst of the worst and turning it into something positive - it can be next to impossible sometimes, but it's part of what makes life so interesting. If you are having the most wretched day of your life, month of your life, year of your life, sulking won't solve your problems. It'll only make you feel worse. You need to acknowledge that you're down in the dumps, figure out why and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Only YOU can make yourself happy. I guess this would be the most appropriate time to bring up a song from... you guessed it... a movie! It's from Monty Python's "Life of Brian". Remember it? "Always look on the bright side of life. If life seems jolly rotten, there's something you've forgotten! And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing." I'm not some lunatic telling you to dance and sing in the streets (though it really does make you feel better!)... but get rid of that baditude and laugh your way through life. Let's start now. Ba ha ha ha BA HA HA HA HA!!! Feels good, doesn't it? Now, keep it up.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
For as long as I can remember, movies have inspired me, moved me, changed me. A boyfriend once asked me what it was about going to the movies that I loved so much. He just had to get to the bottom of it. Was it actually seeing the movie? Was it escaping from real life? Was it the actual act of sitting in the dark eating popcorn and Milk Duds? Was it that I liked to know what was out in theaters, so I could be up to date and carry on conversations about them? Was it to get away from the heat in the summer? Or was it because I simply had nothing better to do? Well, the answer... is none of the above... and all of the above. I like going to the movies, simply because I like going to the movies. Some people think it's strange that I not only don't mind, but actually enjoy going to matinees by myself. You just sit in the dark anyway, so seriously... what is the big deal?!? At night, different story. Feel like a loser, but that's just me. Totally don't judge others for doing it. Anyway, I have been writing in journals pretty much for as long as I've known how to write. Often times, I come home from a movie and write about how it made me think, how it reminded me of someone, how there was a part that really cut to the core. And today, the same thing happened; however, this time, I decided to start a blog and share my thoughts, instead of putting them down on paper and tucking that book of mine deep into a drawer. Now, if you ever come over (no, that's not an invitation), don't ruffle through my stuff looking for it. It's in a secret spot... though I may share some of it with you if you're worthy. (Insert Wayne and Garth here "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!") What's that? Cut to the chase? Where is this going? Clear and concise... clear and concise. Guess I've been out of news too long. Words to remember as I begin my blog, because let's face it... people are busy these days!!! I mean, I'm busy. Huh? Oh, well, yeah, I'm not too busy to write a blog, but seriously, I'm BUSY!!! I digress. So, back to today's feature presentation. It began with (shocking!) a movie trailer. It was for "Julie and Julia" with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I've seen the trailer a hundred times, but for some reason, today, it hit me. The line when one of Julie's friends says "Showtime bought my blog for a mini-series" made me think. In fact, from what I understand, the movie is based on a true story about a girl who started a blog cooking her way through Julia Child's cookbook. Now, I'm not expecting Showtime or anyone to buy my blog, because IT'S NOT FOR SALE! Well, maybe. I'm really just doing this, because I've got somethin' to say (insert Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages"). After the trailers, the movie started; that's usually how it works. "(500) Days of Summer". It's a story about love, but it's NOT a love story! Here's the problem. Just as this blog is about to get really good (wait for it), I can't find the actual lines from the screenplay online to insert here. How can I wax poetic if I can't tell you the exact words from the film? You're killin' me, Smalls! I did find this, though, so let's see what I can do. Oh my God! I'm so fired! ***Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt): What happens when you fall in love? Summer (Zooey Deschanel): You believe in that? Tom: It's love, it's not Santa Claus.*** O.K., I'm Tom! I keep believing in true love. I keep believing that I'll slip on a banana peel on a crowded street and some hilarious, gorgeous, intelligent, fantastic cupcake of a man will be there to say something perfect, so I don't feel like an idiot, then ask me out. Our first date will begin right then and there. We cancel all our important plans for the day, because THIS becomes the most important. We talk and talk and talk and talk for hours and I realize that YES - this is what I've been waiting for my whole life. THIS is what I've been holding out for. THIS is the soulmate I've been hoping would come along. THIS is fate. THIS is destiny. THIS is elation. But THIS doesn't exist. Does it? I always thought it did, but I'm beginning to think I'm wrong. I think it exists for some people, but do I have to wait until I'm 80? In the movie, Tom gets to a point where he loses all faith in true love. That's where I am now. I don't like being in this place - where I'm losing my optimism, but alas, I am. I'd like to tell you more about where the movie goes (you're waiting for a happy ending, right?), but I don't want to ruin it for you in case you haven't seen it yet. So, I'll leave you with this - like a Harry Potter film or "Friday the 13th", THIS story will continue... and if people continue to fill the seats, so to speak, there's a good chance I'll throw in a "Star Wars"-like prequel minus Jar Jar Binks. Thanks for watching and please discard your trash as you exit the theater.