Archive for December, 2017


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Now that Christmas is over and we have eaten ourselves into holiday stupors, there is only one thing left to do.

Make New Year’s resolutions.

Or pretend that we are going to make them.

Sometimes what it takes is inspiration.

I was thinking about this when I saw the box for the movie, Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It is the story of a man who’s legs were amputated after being caught in the wave of the bomb at the Boston Marathon in 2013.

It is hard to believe that was 4 years ago when that big explosion occurred at one of the largest marathon events in the country. For Jeff Bauman, it lead to an extraordinary injury and a tough comeback. But what was even tougher was finding out people thought he was a hero.

One of the themes explored here is what makes a person a hero.

Stronger posterBauman was an ordinary guy trying to be at the end of the marathon when his on-again/off-again girlfriend crossed the finish line. Boston proud, this red sox fan needs to make sure his girlfriend is supported after her big run.

While getting into place, he passes a young man with a backpack. The young man disappears and Bauman focuses back on the race until a white flash goes off. And just like that, life changes. Bauman’s image is caught in the iconic photo of being taken away in wheel chair by first responders.

When he wakes up in the hospital, he discovers that his legs above the knees are gone. Most people have amputations below the knees which allows for more flexibility. His journey towards recovery is tough as he deals with family dysfunction, depression, and a sense of incredulous wonder.

People think he is a hero because he survived the attack at the marathon. People fete him and lift him up while attending the therapy sessions are more than Jeff can bear at times. But at some point, he begins to get it. And that leads to something more.

What makes this movie great are the choices by actors Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, and Miranda Richardson. They make the characters more human than heroic, more real than artfully earnest and triumphant.

Stronger pic 2Which is not to say there are not moments of triumph. Bauman has since gone on to school to become a prosthesis engineer. He created a solar energy capture device for his prosthesis legs. And he has a daughter that he loves to pieces.

What he has come to understand is that people don’t admire him for being ht by a terrible awful bomb. They admire him for going on, for making the effort to recover when he wanted to quit. For showing up when he didn’t want to.

Because as we all know, showing up is the hardest part of any endeavor. If Bauman can show up for this, what could we show up for in our own lives?

Happy New Year and good luck with those resolutions.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Love Came Down at Christmas

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Are you ready for Christmas?

I heard that question everyday last week. I will hear it everyday this week until the man in red makes his big arrival.

I am not ready; I am half way there. There are cookies to make and presents to wrap. Then there are those last minute present thingies.

So the best thing to do is procrastinate. Maybe buy some pre-made cookie dough and pretend I made it from scratch. Maybe grab some cute gift bags from the dollar store (I hear Dollar Tree has upped their game) and some tissue paper to create pretty gifts without a lot of corners.

And then there are the movies.

There is no cheating there. I prefer getting movies without annoying commercials – ‘buy the house,’ ‘get the whizbang toy,” ‘get her a car for Christmas?” . Yes, there are previews at the beginning. That is the time I use to get my popcorn ready.

Then I plop down for a watch and at this point in time I have a few movies I must watch. I find myself drawn to the old classics with one exception.

I find that I must watch Love Actually starring the brightest stars of British cinema – Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Love ActuallyAlan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Kierra Knightly, Liam Neesom, and Martin Freeman. It has various tales of love at various stage of life.

 

If  you choose to watch this movie, you must know that it is for adults. This is a late night treat so little ones do not hear the swearing or deal with some of the heavy situations such as death of a beloved wife, a cheating spouse, or a loud honestly abrasive former star making a comeback. I find myself rooting for most of the cast as some learn that love, actually, exists all around us.

Christmas carol, alastair simsBut I also want to see the 1951 Alistair Sims classic rendition of A Christmas Carol. Hear we see the classic tale in one of the best versions of the tale of a bitter old man who is visited by three Christmas ghosts who’s goal is the change the miser’s fate. It is filled with sweet memories and ones filled with tears. We see a man unrepentant about a life held back until he is filled joy.

This is one that can easily be watched by all family members although maybe not so much by the younger members. Truth be told, they are going to want to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. I remember how we had to plan to watch that TV special but thanks to DVD or streaming serviCharlie Brown Christmasces, we can watch it anytime.

We can see Charlie Brown try to direct a play filled with players concerned about their own parts. It takes a small little tree and the retelling of the Nativity for the cast to remember why they are here and what they are about to portray. Plus there is that great jazzy soundtrack. All of these movies show the hope of Christmas in one way or another. All of them display some sort of wonder.

Merry Christmas, everyone. And to all a good night.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Getting to The Nativity

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Last week I shared the story of my friend and her son. About the horrific car accident that took the lives of his two very young children.

Sad WomanMy friend has had to struggle with the worst a parent can deal with. They are not sure if her son will live or join his children in heaven. While I pray for the young man who is only 26, I also pray for my friend to have the strength she will need to get through every day.

It is a difficult thing and I want my friend to know I am here. I also know she has many other people around, she is not alone. But anyone who has gone through this knows that the lonesomeness of the situation feels very real.

In the meantime I try to focus on the season. Our grade school and high school jazz bands just performed at the mall and did a great job. We finally got our tree at Cupola House Tree Farm and it is displayed on our front porch.

Our church had its monthly movie night and we watched The Nativity starring Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Issac. The movie is from 2006 and was put together quite quickly. But I love it because it tells the story of the Christmas birth beautifully.

The Nativity Story poster IMDb com

Poster image from IMDb.com

It starts at the time that Mary is about to be betrothed to Joseph. She does not love him or want the marriage. Then she is visited by an angel who tells her she will bear the child of the Lord.

We go through the familiar story until the young family leave for Egypt. It is filled with dangers from Roman tax collectors and the wild elements of the terrain. We see the beauty of faith played out along with fear of the real dangers of everyday life.

While I am not a big fan of Christian cinema because the focus is on the message, here the focus is on learning about these two character who will raise a child like none other. We see that Joseph honestly cares for Mary. And we see how she begins to trust him, even before they leave for the census in Bethlehem.

The quality of the photography of this movie is breathtaking as well. Each scene displays the tone and the feelings of the moment from Zachariah’s moment of doubt to the fear that soldiers on horseback can bring to the joy of a special new born.

I might not show this movie to younger children because of the context but I would certainly allow pre-teens to watch it and be prepared to talk about the story and its themes afterwards.

There will be many points to ponder and wonder about when it is over.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Suicidal Blonde, NOT!

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This has been one of those weeks where the good and bad of life seems tipped towards the bad.

The Bradley Christmas parade was fun with the weather being optimal for a night time parade. It was cold but not too cold. It was not windy, raining, or snowing. We had fun, the kids in the band looked like they were having fun.

Parade, christmasMy friends and I were standing near the Mexican bakery and had great hot chocolate to drink. We laughed at the princesses who didn’t stay in their car but made a point of taking pictures and shaking hands with the crowds. That was Friday night.

Saturday afternoon I found out a friend who lives in Indiana has had the bottom drop out of her world. Her son and his children were in a car accident that took the lives of the children and put her son with life threatening injuries in the burn unit. His girlfriend had lesser injuries. But still, they lost their children, ages 2 and 7 months.

Crashed car terrenceThe only good news is that my friend’s son is still alive but in a coma. It’s unknown if he is going to make it. However, the police were able to catch the person who caused the accident.

When the world gets crazy, I need a movie like Atomic Blonde starring Charlize Theron. I need a movie with a strong character who is good at solving problems or getting herself out of sticky problems.

In this movie, Theron plays an MI6 spy who is sent to Berlin just as the wall is about to come down. She is sent to retrieve something or someone. But just as it appears it is going as plan it goes all wrong. And our spy has to do whatever it takes to keep her mission on track.

There are several elements that makes this movie fantastic.

First are the fight scenes which are choreographed well. They are tough to watch, long drawn out events, and feature fighters who might be a bit tired near what could be the end.

Secondly the soundtrack is allout euro-techno pop. It reminded me so much of the 80s with music by Nina, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and so many others. I was having flashbacks just by the soundtrack.

atomic-blonde-posterLastly, while it was a standard spy double-crossed movie I was sucked into the story line. I need to find out who was supposed to be who. Of course there is a double agent and I wanted to know exactly who it was, even if I was completely wrong in the end.

Some of you may have seen the end and knows what happens. I’m not telling about that. For me, it was thrilling and electric. But I need to warn those who do not like swearing, violence in a movie, or more graphic love scenes. There is plenty of that stuff in this movie and if it makes you queasy or upset, perhaps it is best to not watch.

For me the most terrifying things were her constant baths in ice cold water. There is a purpose to it and I get it that it is a spy thing. Still gave me chills up and down the spine. I had a feeling I knew exactly where it was leading. And I was right.

In the end, the problems were solved with biting violence that made everything irrevocable, Problems erased with a great deal of finality.

Maybe that is not how we do it in real life. But sometimes when life throws bricks at us, I want a way to throw them right back with twice as much force. That is the feeling Atomic Blonde leaves me. Violence with the hope of redemption.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Ever since the election in 2016, I have been angry.

Some people might say I have always been an angry soul but now I am on the edge of going off at all times.

I want to scream and yell all of the time. I want to eat birthday cake and all the bad things I shouldn’t eat all of the time. I completely understood Tina Fey’s rant a few months ago after Charlottesville.

Everyday our President or our majority party congress does or says or tweets something that makes me want to scream, loudly.

angry-womanTaxes, sexual harassment, North Korea, Russia, healthcare, racial agitation, nazi sympathies, anti-woman sentiments, anti-middle class sentiments are just a few topics that push me over the edge.

Our president and his supporters creep me out. All they seem to do is hate, hate, HATE!

They hate Mexicans, Muslims, women, blacks, immigrants, gays. Transgenders, journalists, anyone different.

They can’t stand the fact that they might not be in power and they turn their sights on anyone who can take that power away from them. Intelligentsia, the press, the scientists are all evil.

They think their guns are going to be taken away, that a wall will protect us, that the earth is not warming and climate change is a big fat lie. That women are more evil than cats. that stories or videos on what they have said or done is all fake news.

Worse yet, all of the things that 45 decided were not true have become true in his head again.

Arrogant businessmanThis is what happens when a business man becomes a governmental leader who does not understand how government works. Businessmen expect to snap their fingers and the changes they want will happen. But it doesn’t work that way as my own governor is finding out. You actually have to work with people, write things out, make sure they are legal, sit through committee meetings.

So these guys are trying to force the world back to something that is great for them and they don’t care if it doesn’t work for the remaining 95% of the country. They turn off their phones and refuse to meet with constituents, the people who voted for them. Who cares about small businesses and the middle class – you know them as the people who buy your products. But after this bill passes and taxes lose all of the deductions for the middle class, life won’t be the same. You can take off your expenses for that jet but not your healthcare costs, state taxes, and real estate and student loan interest.

Who cares about seniors? Or veterans or the disabled? Meals on Wheels simply is “just not showing results” according to Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget chief.

While I call my representatives in Washington, it is like singing to the choir. I do it now for the tallies so they can go back and say “see, my constituents hate this!” On the other hand, my state rep still thinks bump stocks are not worthy to fight about. Shooting up a grade school and music concert and a church is simply not enough reason to make consistent gun laws across the country

I understand why people are going off. I won’t be surprised if senators find themselves in front of angry constituents during the next round of town hall visits. I wouldn’t be surprised if their local offices are egged, tp’ed, or blown up. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they all have armed guards paid for by tax money.

People are angry, fighting mad. They know that around the corner or at the next family gathering is a Trump supporter gloating at all of the winning that is not happening. And on days that another indictment or guilty plea comes out, I feel like we can throw it all right back in their faces even though we shouldn’t.

While I try to keep my cool, I find myself not listening to the news. I have a steady stream of audio books to get me through when the classical station refuses to come in. I’m working on scarves to put on our church’s mitten tree. I am eating more (dark) chocolate and bread. (love white bread but avoiding it like the plague). I am also trying to work out more and drink a little extra alcohol to take the edge off.

Ice cream gallonNow that the tax bill nightmare has come true, Congress is moving on to net neutrality and social security.

I might need to move on to a gallon of ice cream to get through those issues.

What are you doing to relieve the stress of the Trump administration?