Here we are on a Tuesday with a post intended for the weekend. I finished this post, the first in far too long, and couldn’t help but hit publish, Sunday or not. Deal with it (I say that with love). If you’re a story lover like me, you won’t mind what day of the week it is. Moving forward Sundays will be reserved for sharing the best stories I’ve read and seen lately. For the longest time I thought of myself as someone who loves movies and books and blogs and magazines. Really, what I love is stories. So welcome to Sunday Stories. On Tuesday. Just this once.
This one snuck up on me. J.K. Simmons was intense and intimidating. I love when an actor can convey emotion with just a look and Simmons does just that repeatedly in this film but most notably in his final stand off with Miles Teller’s character. Teller really surprised me. I’ve only seen him in lighter films where he more or less plays the same character – the cocky yet sensitive funny guy without a care in the world who walks the line between being a dick and being a great friend (oh and that turn as an all out dick in Divergent). I’m not complaining about any of those rolls (I actually like his movies) but he shares a wider range of his talent in Whiplash. It made me eager for what else he might be working on.
Last year I saw a lot of movies. A LOT. I don’t think there are enough Sundays ahead of me to share with you the movies of the past year PLUS the movies I’ll be seeing moving forward (A LOT…I’m sure of it) so…here’s the quickie version of some of my favorite movies I saw in 2014.
Harry Potter in a romantic comedy? How does that work? Surprisingly well, actually. It’s a romcom flick that’s not totally predictable and provides laughs by showcasing how awkward and funny love can be.
James Gandolfini is charmingly human in this film. Enough Said tackles dating after divorce when you have grown children and exes with spouses and exes with significant others. It’s a romcom of the best variety – smart, funny, and tender.
In A World
Lake Bell wrote, directed, and stars in In A World, a sharp look at the opportunities available to women in Hollywood. She’s created a movie you can’t stop watching. It’s on my list to watch again because I’m pretty sure I missed some really good parts while I was busy laughing at some other really good parts.
I didn’t like this movie. I didn’t connect to the story. The characters weren’t particularly compelling. The plot is rather predictable. I love the cast, though. Jason Bateman can do no wrong. Watch it if for no other reason than to support an actor/actress you love.
“And I looked back at them with the saddest eyes because my girls were hurt and it was all my fault. And I should have grabbed them right then and there – but I couldn’t say sorry yet. I just couldn’t. I was so tired. I just wanted everybody to feel as bad as I did for a little bit longer.” Bless Glennon’s heart for making us all feel less alone in this parenting gig. via Momastery
“Neither of us grew up with a clue as to what we wanted to do with our lives. But when What Color is Your Parachute suggested we figure it out by focusing on the things we liked to do in our free time as kids, at least we had free time to draw on.” This feels especially true right now as my kids are in school and so many of their classmates have jam packed schedules afterschool. via Brain, Child
“You need space in your life for your fulfilled desires to arrive. And too many expectations and fears clog up that space. The noise of demands interrupts the signal. Your pure desire — your core desired feelings — is a very big magnet. If there are too many filaments of demands and expectations stuck to the magnet, you can’t pull in the big steel that you want. So just amp up the intensity of the desire and give it space to manifest.” To quote that movie, let it go. via Danielle LaPorte
Ella: A cheeky parody about a little girl who lives at The Local Hotel
by Mallory Kasdan, illustrated by Marcos Chin
My daughters enjoyed the modern illustrations but they were more entertained by how much I was laughing while I read. Who wouldn’t get a chuckle from a girl who pretends her American Girl dolls are “twin orphans who live in Costa Rica and run their own zipline business in the rainforest?” I’d recommend this one for any kid, young and grown, who loves Eloise. Also, Halloween costumes, anyone? ps. I have a dream of having a coffee table revolution. People would do away with giant art books and replace them with inspiring picture books that remind them what it’s like to be a kid again. Ella would be the perfect choice to top the stack and give guests a laugh.
Images via Vogue.
Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson
Pure fun is the best way to describe this one. The tables are turned in this whimsical story about a bear lost in the city who finds himself in a high rise apartment, you guessed it, testing out the goods of a family that happens to have stepped out. I won’t ruin the twist at the end but it made me and my girls grin from ear to ear. Playful and cheeky, this book is a delight.
Earrings by Judith Viorst illustrated by Nola Langner Malone
I adore books where children show real emotions like frustration and impatience. This book is all about a little girls grand desire to have her ears pierced and all the many reasons she MUST. HAVE. EARRINGSrighthtissecond. It’s repetitive and dripping with the reality of how laser focused children can be. She gives the silliest reasons for wanting earrings but it’s so charming because you can tell that to her none of it is silly. And if you’re a nerd like me, you’ll love this lesson for using Earrings to develop children’s persuasive writing skills.
The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas
by Tony Wilson illustrated by Sue deGennaro
Sound the alarm! We’ve got ourselves a twist on the princess story! With simple yet gorgeous illustrations, this book introduces children to the revolutionary idea that perhaps we should marry someone who is our friend instead of just marrying within our social class. I know. So radical and ahead of it’s time. Seriously, though, this was a sweet read and a great way to get kids talking about the classic fairy tale narrative and the message it sends. Nerd alert: here’s a fun art activity for The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas. Considering it’s a fresh take on a classic, I’m certain Pinterest has a mountain of Princess and the Pea activities to choose from.
This film had a great message about the value of persistence and hard work. It was also a good exercise in rooting for the underdog (note to self: watch Rudy with my kids). My girls were a bit uncomfortable with a few scenes, in particular – one where a husband and wife have a heated argument (it doesn’t last long but there’s a lot of intense shouting and the husband punches the wall), another where a young man is sitting on a bridge suggestive of wanting to jump and (spoiler) the coach talks him down (the scene is all talk and he never attempts to jump), and finally, a birthday parade is cut short by some gang violence (it’s important here to mention none of the actually fighting is shown…you go from seeing the kids first notice cars driving closer and then right to a few folks being taken away in an ambulance for minor injuries). I’m sure that all sounds intense but I was okay with them seeing it in the context of the movie. I’d rather they see those scenes than a tweeny bopper movie where young kids worry about boyfriends and get sassy. In the end, while they had some questions about those scenes, their big take away was that they needed to start running. ps. Here’s some food for thought on Latinos in films and American audiences. pps. I also believe it was valuable for them to see the daily lives of the young men in the film which is so different from their very sheltered, suburban lives.