February 23, 2015

It's Ok to Feel Lost Sometimes: The Giant Mechanical Man (2012)

Let's just be honest. None of us really have it all together and certainly not all the time. Some of us are just really good at faking it. My only problem with fakers is that they sometimes have a tendency to belittle those of us who either may not know that we are a little lost or happily own our state of confusion and discombobulation. You know, the critical know-it-alls that are always trying to tell you what you're doing wrong with some aspect of your life or how you need to "get it together" even when you're happier than they are.

Giant Mechanical Man.jpgTruth be told, no one has it all figured out or else they wouldn't be human. That's why I like the movie The Giant Mechanical Man (2012) so much. I'm not 100 percent sure if it's a chick flick, although it sure has a lot of the elements of one, but one thing is for sure; it's a great reminder of the life lesson that it's ok to feel a little lost sometimes. Because at the end of the day, we're all in uncharted territory with this thing called life.

In the movie The Giant Mechanical Man (2012), Janice (Jenna Fischer) and Tim (Chris Messina) are two seemingly lost individuals with no real sense of direction in their lives; at least according to some of the people in their lives. They don't mean to appear aimless, it's just that Janice has never really taken the time to ask herself what she really likes or wants to do with her life, while Tim on the other hand knows what he wants to do it's just that he struggles with the idea of balance between sacrifice for art and supporting himself. However, when Janice and Tim both get a job at a local zoo and become friends, not only do they fall in like with one another, but they also help each other to grow out of their seeming state of aimlessness.

When we first meet Janice, she is a struggling temp worker that eventually is fired from her agency for lack of personality. Though emotionally distraught over a lack of ability to support herself, the real drama ensues when she not only has to ask her overbearing and controlling sister to move in with her but then her sister also tries to force her into a relationship with someone she deems appropriate. At the same time, Tim has his own relationship woes. His girlfriend decides to leave him for his lack of personal and professional goals that are contributing to their financial distress. Up until that point, Tim felt that the little money he earned as a performance artist was well worth the sacrifice, as he believed he was contributing to society in a more meaningful way. With his girlfriend gone, however, he now had to financially support himself.

In the end, both Janice and Tim were able to find a sense of purpose as well as something else that they weren't necessarily looking for: love. The moral of the story here folks, you will eventually find your way. So don't listen to people who are just trying to force their own agenda on you or are constantly being critical of your decision making, because we all have our moments in which we feel lost and that's ok. So own it! It's one of the things that at some point in our lives we can all identify with as a result of the human experience. Don't let anyone tell you different.

February 17, 2015

There is Beauty in Imperfection: Thanks for Sharing (2012)

Thanks for Sharing Poster.jpgWomen are always saying that men need to be more in touch with their feelings. Generalizations are hurtful; especially when they're false. The truth is that many men are in touch with their feelings, it's just that sometimes some women view those moments when men are sharing as a sign of weakness. 

I get it; it's scary for someone to show you who they really are, but if any of us, male or female, ever expect to make progress in the area of relationships, then we have to be open to whatever it is that others are sharing with us. Good, bad or indifferent, there is beauty in learning about the imperfections of another person and we must embrace them. The movie Thanks for Sharing (2012) is a great reminder of that life lesson for us all.

In the movie Thanks for Sharing (2012), Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is a recovering sex addict who meets and falls for a breast cancer survivor named Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow) in a chance meeting at a party. Although they immediately hit it off and Phoebe is upfront about surviving cancer and her hesitation about dating another addict, Adam decides to withhold the fact that he is a recovering sex addict for fear that their budding relationship will come to an abrupt end. However, what he eventually realizes is that not only was Phoebe turned off by sex addiction, but that he kept such a secret after she initiated an open an honest start to their relationship. While Phoebe had every right to be upset, what she also had to realize is that people open up when they are ready and usually not a moment sooner.

From the first scenes of the movie, we see that Adam is clearly struggling with something. When he finally arrives at his sex addiction meeting, we begin to learn more about how crippling sex addiction can be; especially when other members of the group begin to open up. For Adam it hasn't necessarily been easy to be five years sober, but then again he had learned to significantly limit his exposure to temptation, including the opposite sex. That is, until he meets Phoebe at a party and instantly there is an attraction, but not just physical. They actually make a real connection, which begins to frighten Adam...for obvious reasons. As things begin to progress, despite his best efforts to keep his sex addiction a secret, Phoebe learns the truth and breaks things off with Adam. Adam's worst nightmare had come true, Phoebe had rejected him after learning his truth. In the end, Adam and Phoebe were able to reconcile as friends, but not before Adam was forced to restart his sobriety again.

While this movie dealt with sex addiction, I think it's important to not get caught up in the semantics of the plot. On a grander scale, this movie is about showing people who you really are, warts and all. Doing so not only makes for a better foundation of all our relationships, romantic or platonic, but it also helps others to see our total beauty as a person. There is beauty in all of us, including our imperfections. So, go forth and share your imperfect beauty!

February 8, 2015

Success is in the Eye of the Beholder: Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

Monalisasmile.jpgEveryone has an idea of what they think success looks like. For some of us, the picture of success may have something to do with money, power and respect. Yet for others, success may include a beautiful healthy family. Even still, some may want both. The thing is, we all have the right to define what success should look like for ourselves. No one nor should the society we live in dictate something so personal to each and everyone one of us, male or female; but particularly for us females.

Though there have always been women who have challenged the status quo prior to the Feminist Movement in the late 60s and 70s, they were often met with personal attacks in an effort to downplay the significance of their argument; which was to get other women to see that they had a right to define success for themselves. The only problem is that women who felt this way were often too focused on getting other women to become career focused that they overlooked the possibility that some women may want to be raising a family at home, and that's ok too. Success then is in the eye of the beholder. The movie Mona Lisa Smile (2003) is a great reminder of this very important lesson for us all, male and female alike.

In the movie Mona Lisa Smile (2003), graduate student Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts) goes to teach "History of Art" at Wellesley College to make a difference in the lives of young women. However, in her first class she quickly realizes that things aren't going to go as smoothly as she once thought. It is as a result of bunting heads with the very bright and self-assured students at Wellesley College, that Katherine Watson is not only forced to take a look at herself, but also really see the students as individuals with their own idea of what it means to be successful.

From the beginning of the movie Katherine was met with blatant opposition from the community, the administrators as well as the students at Wellesley College when she decided to veer away from the syllabus after learning that the students had already memorized it before the first day. Katherine was hell bent on teaching everyone a lesson, particularly the students; one in which included supposedly opening their minds. The only problem was, she herself lacked the very open-mindedness that she felt the students, college administrators and community lacked as was apparent in her forcing them to see her way on all things concerning women in society.

In the end, Katherine did in fact succeed in affecting change in the lives of her students, but not entirely in the way that she initially intended. She did open the minds of her students to see that they could in fact define success for themselves, but in doing so and along with the challenges that she faced as a result, she herself had changed. She learned to be more open-minded and accepting of the fact that everyone has the right to live their own way and that success looks different to each and everyone of us. Isn't that the truth?

February 2, 2015

Honor Your Commitments: Last Night (2010)

There's an old saying that I've found to be true over the years: "words don't mean anything without the actions to back them up." Now, just think for minute about some of the obligations or commitments that you may have had. No matter what that commitment was, you most likely had to put some effort into seeing that commitment through, right? In other words, you had to work to honor that commitment. You couldn't just rest on your laurels and hope that everything would just work out on its own because otherwise everything would just fall apart; and we've all been there at some point as well.

In relationships, in particular, complacency is the breeding ground for the breakdown of that relationship; romantic or otherwise. No matter how many times we've all seen this lesson play out in the movies or in our real lives, for some reason we still end up taking people for granted. When we do this, naturally, our sense of honoring our commitments to the people in our lives begins to fall to the waste side. We lose sight of what's important and begin to act in ways that will ultimately sabotage our lives. The movie Last Night (2010) is a great reminder of the important lesson that we should all honor our commitments or else risk losing what's important to us.

In the movie Last Night (2010), married couple Michael (Sam Worthington) and Joanna (Keira Knightley) Reed lead a complacent relationship until a night out at a dinner party leads them to have a relationship altering conversation about Michael's apparent attraction to his coworker. Though they are able to reconcile before his departure on a business trip with the coworker he was attracted to, Joanna's lingering skepticism sends her down her own path of relationship sabotage when she runs into an ex, whom she still carries a torch for. Both Michael and Joanna are not only forced to confront their own truths about attractions to other people, but are also given the opportunity to act on those feelings. The end results seemingly give away who was more willing and able to honor their relationship commitment.

In the beginning of the movie, it is clear that something is off between Michael and Joanna. What it is exactly remains unknown until they arrive at a dinner party and Joanna assumes a jealous disposition. However, it wasn't until they arrived back at their apartment that Joanna finally voiced her concerns to her husband; sparking an eyeopening discussion between the couple. After they seemingly made up and put the argument behind them, they both were clearly hurt by the other person's insinuations. This set the stage for division and conquer: Michael went to Philadelphia with his coworker and cheated, despite his initial hesitation, and Joanna ended up spending an inappropriate night out with her ex.

By the end, two things were very clear about Michael and Joanna's relationship: they were in a habit of tip-toeing on egg shells around each other in lieu of telling each other the truth to the detriment of their foundation, but equally important, they could so easily be open and brutally honest with the people that they shared their indiscretions. Michael and Joanna said all the right things to each other, but their actions spoke louder than their words. They didn't honor their commitments to one another and although the end of the movie was open to interpretation-- so we don't know what happened with their relationship-- we can still benefit from watching their mistakes. If you make a commitment, relationship or otherwise, honor it, or move on.