April 11, 2017

Live Your Truth: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

When was the last time you did exactly what you wanted, with whom you wanted, and when you wanted? Why don’t you do that more often? What’s stopping you? I bet I know. Like so many people, myself included, you've probably stopped yourself from doing and being with whom you wanted because you were overly concerned with what others may think or say. I’ll let you in on a little secret: the people that are the happiest don’t really care about status quo. They march to the beat of their very own drum and are loving every minute of it. Kind of like Belle, from the movie Beauty and the Beast. A story about a “different” girl whose life doesn’t revolve around finding a guy, Belle is rather inquisitive, romantic and interested in other, worldly things… and she just so happens to find love in the process of being true to herself. Beauty and the Beast has stood the test of time as a wonderfully, inspiring children’s story (for the benefit of both girls and boys), but it’s also about giving yourself permission to live your life the way you want irrespective of others’ opinions. That’s why Beauty and the Beast is a great reminder for us all to live our truth. And what better lesson to teach young girls and boys!

Beauty and the Beast 2017 poster.jpgIn the movie Beauty and the Beast, a beautiful, young woman by the name of Belle (Emma Watson) lives in a small village that is less that enthused by her blatant opposing to being like all the other village girls. Truth be told, Belle was never like the other girls: she grew up in a single-parent home with just her father Maurice (Kevin Kline), an artist. Despite her beauty, Belle liked to get lost in books, frequenting the library to expand her mind and get lost in other worlds. Others, particularly her peers who were more obsessed with achieving male attention, were not impressed. Neither was Gaston (Luke Evans), a former soldier that wanted Belle’s hand in marriage. Belle also has a heart of gold and like any loving daughter, she would do anything for those she loves, especially her father. And that she did when her father disappeared and ended up the prisoner of the Beast (Dan Stevens), a young prince who once had a misunderstanding with an enchantress who then turned him into a hideous creature and cast a spell on him that could only be reversed by returned love. With a little trickery, Belle was able to switch places with her father and become the Beast’s prisoner, freeing her father and ensuring his safety in the process. Soon, an unlikely love story began to take shape in the Beast’s magical mansion of singing teapots and chandeliers. Over time, both Belle and the Beast were able to find common ground and eventually establish a friendship. This came in handy when Belle’s father landed in trouble with the townsfolk, a charge lead by Gaston, which ultimately landed half the town at the Beast’s doorstep, wanting to confront the creature. After a theatrical, climactic tussle and a seemingly fatal end for the love-softened Beast, Belle’s returned loved for the creature helps end the curse inflicted on him by the enchantress and brings him back to life, restoring him back to his male form. And both the prince and Belle, along with the staff of the mansion – back in human form again – live happily ever after.

While the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie is a delightful musical with an infectious, sing-a-along soundtrack that is sure to entertain all ages, it is also a great reminder of the very important lesson for us all to live our truth. Forget status quo. Like Belle in the movie, don’t be afraid to be true to yourself and pursue your own happiness. So, let us all go forth and dare to be different from everyone else, especially if being different and doing things differently makes us happy.

March 8, 2017

You Decide Who You Want To Be: Colombiana (2011)

A woman holding a gun in two hands, as if in prayer.
Choices. Our days are filled with them. Some small and seemingly inconsequential, and some huge and life-altering. And while the gravity of those choices is likely based on our perception alone, and not reality, the fact of the matter is that we still face a certain amount of choices on a daily basis, some of which will impact our present and to an extent our future, too. The only problem is sometimes we make choices based on misinformation or in moments of some kind of devastation or tragedy. These defining moments then become our driving force for the kind of person we then choose to be, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. Either way, whatever choice we make in one seemingly fleeting moment in our lives doesn't have to define who we are for the rest of our lives. We can always make another choice and change direction. For Cataleya Restrepo (Zoe Saldana), making her choice was easy, as it often is for us all. It was what came after that was the hard part, which is why the movie Colombiana (2011) is a great reminder of the important role we all have as a choice-maker, and that we all get to decide who we want to be with every choice we make. While it was easy to make a life-altering choice to pursue a life of crime in vengeance of her parent's brutal slaying when she was only 9-years-old, her young mind didn't necessarily fully think through just what that entailed or what would become of her (physically, psychologically, etc.) after she accomplished her goals. That's the thing about the choices we make, whether we make them of sound mind or not, there are always consequences of those choices.

In the movie Colombiana, choosing a life of crime was in all likelihood in the cards for Cataleya Restrepo, the beautiful and bright daughter of a drug lord's assassin. It was inevitable ... at least at first. What Cataleya probably didn't anticipate, however, was the possibility that her future involvement in crime would involve seeking vengeance on Don Luis Sandoval, her father's former employer and the man responsible for the murder of both her parents. Shortly after her parents' deaths, at the tender age of nine, Cataleya began working with her uncle to train to become an assassin. Although she took on many assignments to hone her skills, she did it all with the intention of one day accomplishing her ultimate goal: To track down Don Luis Sandoval and enact revenge for her parents. By the age of 24, and in spite of her uncle urging her to retire, Cataleya's assassin career had finally been aligned with that of her ultimate target Don Luis, thanks to a meeting with a FBI detective where she, of course, threatened the life of his family -- after all, she is an assassin. Long story short, Cataleya makes good on her life-long goal to avenge her parents' murder, and now her uncle and grandmother, too, by killing Don Luis and his close-by cronies. The only problem is after spending her whole life being a career criminal, waiting for the moment to kill Don Luis, Cataleya was now faced with a new decision: Who does she want to be now? Especially since her choices leading up to that moment left her with no family and future questionable contact with the man she met and fell in love with on her previous journey. Although at the end of the movie she boarded a bus going to who knows where you can bet that Cataleya's future would have likely taken a turn for the better as a result of some different choices.

Action-packed and highly entertaining, Colombiana is a great reminder to us all about the gravity of the choices we make regarding who we want to me. Although Zoe Saldana's performance is captivating, alongside her striking beauty, there is a lot of depth to this film that can teach us all about that important life lesson. Like Cataleya in the movie, we all face choices that will affect our lives (and more often than not others as well) and shape who we are. The good news is if we don't like who we are or who we're becoming, we can always make a different choice. So, let us all go forth and make the choices that reflect the kind of person we want to be, now and always.

January 22, 2017

Love Will Find You When You Learn To Love Yourself First: Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

People are always looking for love. Or at least that's what the movies are always portraying. But what if we all stopped looking and just let it happen when and how it's supposed to? What would we do in the meantime? Well, we live. We focus on ourselves. We love, or if need be learn how to love, ourselves. That's what we do to fill our time and space. And then magically we'll find someone who will love us (almost as much) as we love ourselves. That is, if we've really done the real work to love and respect ourselves, making our needs and happiness a priority in our own lives. That's what Bridget Jones did in Bridget Jones's Diary and it worked, which is part of the reason why it's such a great movie. Perhaps the same is true in real life for both you and me. Maybe, just maybe, we too can uncover a great life filled with love for both ourselves and others when we learn to stop chasing love on the outside and start loving within first. Bridget Jones's Diary is a great reminder of the important life lesson to us all that love will find us when we learn to love ourselves first. Now that's something to be hopeful about.

BridgetJonesDiaryMoviePoster.jpgIn Bridget Jones's Diary, lovable, hopeless romantic Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) represents every woman at a certain stage in life when it comes to pursing love, especially in the wrong places. That is, until she gets a much-needed reality check, which only served to prove her "gut feeling" right in the first place. But before Bridget gets there, she falls pretty hard for the wrong guy. What exactly does the wrong guy look like? In this instance, he was literally everything that Bridget knew she didn't want but yet the little devil in her head just had to pursue him anyway. Handsome and charming, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) was quite the lady's man in addition to being Bridget's editor. Office romance turned very wrong, Bridget and Daniel's steamy affair was never built to last and Bridget knew it. Their relationship was just physical, and every time Bridget tried to make it more meaningful or lasting (or allowed herself to read more into things) she was quickly reminded by her lover that he never had such intentions with her. The man that she never thought she would have any romantic feelings for, however, esteemed lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), was just the opposite of her boss Daniel and before long Bridget began to realize that he was exactly what she needed and was looking for. Unfortunately, she didn't have this epiphany until well after Daniel broke Bridget's heart and she spent some much-needed, forced time on her own. During which time she did all the right things: she put her health first, focused on her career and spent time with family and friends. Over time, Bridget had finally resolved to only wanting the best for herself because she realized that she deserved nothing less, which of course meant not settling for being Daniel's toy. In the end, Bridget ended up with Mark and the two began what we can only imagine was a great love affair ... but then again there was a sequel.

Although Bridget Jones's Diary is revered as a modern-day classic romantic comedy, it's also revered for being honest and relatable. True, Renee Zellweger sells Bridget Jones like Coca Cola sells beverages, but equally important the entire movie is a great reminder to us all that we have to love ourselves first before embarking on love in external relationships. Like Bridget, we should all take the necessary time to develop and nurture a loving relationship with ourselves as a basis for attracting respectful and loving relationships, romantic or otherwise, with others. So, let us all go forth and learn to love ourselves first. When the timing and the person is right, love will find us.