Several weeks ago, I went to the North Carolina coast for a week by myself. I planned to take my computer to finish up a little work but mostly to relax and clear my head. When I arrived at the cottage in Swansboro where I was staying, I realized that I brought everything I intended to bring except my computer case.
After a beat, I laughed out loud.
I think the message was clear; I needed a break and took it. Now, it’s time for me to play a little catch-up with things I’ve been watching but not reporting in this space. Here’s I’ll make a little report on movies then will devote a second post to television musings.
Inside Out – excites me as a film that can teach parents as much as it reassures children. I hesitate to mention Bruno Bettelheim because of his discredited theories regarding autism and controversies of his treatment practices, but his book The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, has been widely read and discussed. While I find his frame for analysis reductive and have other quibbles, the central idea that dark stories give children an abstract way to express and deal with their very real fears is compelling. This film reminds parents that children have to grow into a more sophisticated way of many complex and competing emotions and that protecting their offspring from difficulties and sadness is a disservice to them. I’m not sure what children get from the film since I saw it by myself and don’t have any children handy to ask about the film, but I can imagine that it is reassuring to see the range of emotions and to know that kids on screen feel sad and afraid and angry in all the normal ways.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – I’m surprised there isn’t more buzz about this movie, which is clever, smart, and just the right amount of quirky. This is director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s first feature, but he’s directed episodes of Glee and the pilot for Red Band Society. This film is everything the clichéd Red Band Society was not in terms of its originality. It’s refreshing to see a coming of age film about misfits who struggle against life-changing events and don’t find pat solutions to the problems that arise.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – is, for me, the movie Forrest Gump could have been. I always cringe at the underlying message of the American, pop culture favorite (don’t question authority, and everything will be okay) wrapped in an admittedly effective and entertaining package. This Swedish film tells the sprawling story of an old man on a new adventure, which turns out to be one of many that intersect with international historical touchstones throughout his eventful life. There is a lot more to consider here than a box of chocolates.
Pitch Perfect 2 – Love to see Elizabeth Banks’ success behind the camera as well as in front of it and am happy to see a film showcasing lots of female talent, but the movie is a bit of a yawn after the surprising fun of the original.