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.

January 8, 2017

Challenge Yourself: A Rose For Christmas (2017)

Image Credit: Hallmark Channel
When was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone and challenged yourself? You know, applied to a job you really wanted but felt you weren't qualified for, tried a new fitness routine like spin class, or finally took up a hobby you've been eyeing for a while? I know what you're thinking. You're thinking about all the reasons why you can't or shouldn't and let me tell you I've been there with you. But it's a new year now, and I say we should endeavor to be a little different this year and try something new, especially if that something new involves going out of our comfort zone. And that's exactly what Rose parade float maker and talented artist Andy did when she took a risk of displaying her painting in an auction for all to see upon the urging of her client turned new friend, Cliff, in the Hallmark Channel movie "A Rose for Christmas". Like most of us, Andy had a tremendous talent and passion for something (painting) that she simply was too afraid of pursuing publicly. Her problem, like so many, was that she had gotten comfortable settling solely for working with her dad, using her artistry within the context of making Rose parade floats, albeit a pretty awesome job in and of itself. The problem was she wanted more and that's ok too. That's why this movie serves as a great reminder to us all of the important life lesson to challenge ourselves because, at the end of the day, it's kind of the only way to live a life of no regrets. As they say, no risk no rewards.

Image Credit: Hallmark Channel
In the movie "A Rose for Christmas," talented artist Andy Lindry (Rachel Boston) finds herself at the helm of her father's float-making business just as a new client, Cliff (Marc Bendavid), makes his way into town with a tall order for his boss to deliver a Rose parade float to impress. Luckily for people-skills-lacking Cliff, Andy was able to round up some local talent to volunteer for the very last-minute, enormous project and provide some much-needed finesse with the volunteers to keep them motivated, on task, and enthusiastic about giving their free time during the holidays to help build a float for an uptight businessman. For Andy, however, working with corporate-minded Cliff wasn't the only challenge she faced. As she spent more and more time with her new client, they began to develop a real friendship. And like all good, true friends, Cliff saw Andy's talent and immediately began urging her to show off her work to the world, initiating an opportunity for her to get out of her comfort zone and enter a painting (at the time unfinished) into a local auction. Predictably, Andy's painting was a hit at the auction and with Cliff deciding to stay in town and make some changes in his life, presumably the two lived happily ever after.

Image Credit: Hallmark Channel
While "A Rose for Christmas" is very much a cute holiday-themed romantic comedy, it also reminds us all to challenge ourselves. Like Andy in the movie, we should stop hiding behind our comfort zone, whatever it may be, limiting our abilities to whatever it is we think we're supposed to be doing or whatever is expected of us. We can and should do more, especially if we desire to do so. So, go forth and step outside of your comfort zone, and finally pursue that thing you've always wanted to. What better way to kick off the new year than to start it off by challenging yourself to be a new, better you, right? Happy New Year!