Meg Says Watch This: About Alex

I think I’ve mentioned before my odd habit of watching all the trailers on the Apple Quicktime trailer page. (I’ll admit, for some of these – the trailer was more intriguing than the actual film.) Anyway, I remember the first time I saw the trailer for About Alex. One of my parent’s favorite movies is The Big Chill (I think their appreciation for it rubbed off on me, even though it’s before my time) and About Alex immediately seemed reminiscent of the film. I was dying to see it but it never made it to a theater near me, so I was super excited when I saw it in the “recently added” section on Netflix. In the movie, a group of young adults who were best friends in college reunite for the first time in years, after one of them attempts suicide. It’s kind of like a modern update of The Big Chill (though if you read the IMDB message boards this is a controversial topic.) The emotional drama directed by Jesse Zwick is extremely dialogue driven, (which I guess is really appealing to me in a lot of movies.) And like The Big Chill the music is fantastic. (Hello, one of my absolute favorite songs “Funeral Beds” by The Districts!) And that would be thanks to Joel P. West, who apparently also was responsible for the music in another movie I’ve geeked out over here before Short Term 12. Let’s not forget to mention that Marshall Herskovitz is an executive producer (yes, the one who produced My So Called Life and Thirty Something!) The movie boasts a stellar cast including Max Greenfield, Aubrey Plaza, and Jason Ritter to name a few. The chemistry between the characters is charming and realistic; there was a genuine sense of nostalgia in their reunion. Over the course of a weekend, the group navigates all sorts of trials in the post-grad “real world” from relationships, choices between career and family, examining their personal successes against their once predicted futures, and recognizing how the decisions they made in college shaped the adults they would grow into. Of course, there’s an open dialogue that explores the effect of social media and smart phone addiction on the intimacy of human connection – the true difference in knowing what’s going on with one another based off a news feed, versus honest attempts at keeping in touch. Ultimately the group’s original foundation of friendship lingers on in their adult lives, proving their bond is strong enough to carry on. Perhaps you’ll notice a sappy trend in my response to dramatic film, but I found myself laughing and crying while watching this. I definitely think this is an underrated gem, and definitely worth you’re time so go ahead and check it out! (And if you’ve already seen it, as always – I’d love to hear from you!)

(Image from IMDB.)

Meg Says Read This: The Opposite of Loneliness

Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 10.08.54 AMMarina Keegan was an amazing woman, with an incredible voice. A few years ago, an essay she’d written entitled “The Opposite of Loneliness” went viral online, (literally it was popping up on the feed of each social media outlet I had.) Appropriately so, because upon reading it you’ll realize just how relatable the content is. You don’t have to be a recent college graduate to identify with concepts of nostalgia, the excitement and anxiety being on the verge of transition, the overwhelming sense of possibility. Keegan had a gift, a craft, a sense of wisdom that seemed to stretch beyond her short years on this earth. The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of her stories – fiction and non-fiction. (Her mentors, friends, and parents worked hard to organize this posthumous publication.) The introduction alone captures Keegan’s youthful spirit and astonishing drive. Each story written in such a compelling manner that I devoured them in the span of 24 hours. Themes of optimism, relentless hope to strive for a future of worth with dedication to acts that mattered, and persistence all echo throughout each work. Keegan died tragically in a car accident, shortly after graduation from Yale. She had a promising future ahead of her, but she still created such a solid legacy. It can be eerie at times while reading, realizing how deeply she delved into ideas of purpose and death when she had no idea what was ahead of her. But none of us do, and we forge on anyway. She was self-aware, she found a way to encapsulate a modern twist to a timeless practice, and she injected emotion, reality, and energy in every word. Keegan’s voice is a shining reminder of why it’s important to find an honest passion in this life, and throw our all into pursuing it. The Opposite of Loneliness is one of my favorite reads in years, I found myself inspired and encouraged by Marina Keegan’s words. If you haven’t experienced the journey of reading it yet, what are you waiting for?

(Photo from my personal Instagram.)

Meg Says Watch This: Comet

Once again, I found myself in the rabbit hole of suggested movie picks on Netflix, based off what I’d watched recently and Comet came up multiple times. Justin Long and Emmy Rossum star in this endearing flick, that’s got a little bit of everything. The comedic timing is fantastic, but the tangled web of a love story can pull on your heart strings a little. It totally forgoes any sort of linear time line, and I think that leaves a lot of room for audience interpretation (especially in the final scene sequence.) Think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Science of Sleep. I’m a fan of both of those films, and I’d say this one nestles in that category of blurred lines of reality pretty nicely. For fans of star crossed love stories – here’s a film for you. It doesn’t hurt that Dell and Kimberly’s relationship starts off with a chance meeting while standing in line to watch a meteor shower in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. That encounter leads to a relationship that is tumultuous and beautiful and at times painstakingly heart wrenching as the two stumble through struggles and pitfalls, tearing away from one another only to find each other again later on. The cinematography is spellbinding, with a gorgeous soundtrack to match. If you haven’t checked out Comet yet, I encourage you to go ahead and watch it now. For those of you who’ve seen it, what did you think? Too reminiscent of similar tales, or original enough to win you over? Share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Meg Says Read This: Attachments

I first fell for Rainbow Rowell’s writing style, when reading the young adult fiction gem that is Eleanor and Park. Rowell has a way of articulating a vast variety of human emotion, and the words on the page captivate such intense feelings in a relatable format. Recently, I found myself devouring the adult fiction novel Attachments. The premise alone is fascinating – a young man, Lincoln O’Neil working a night shift at a newspaper office where he’s in charge of monitoring employee e-mail. It’s the late 90’s and the company only shifted to computers because the ribbon was discontinued for their typewriters. It’s an interesting reminder of a time when social media and cell phones didn’t dominate the majority of people’s lives and interactions. The novel is formatted where the chapters alternate between Lincoln’s perspective, and the correspondence of e-mails between two women (Jennifer and Beth) who work for the newspaper. It’s funny how telling simple e-mails can be – little personality quirks come through quips, snarky commentary, and friendly encouragement. Jennifer and Beth’s personal stories splashed out in the internet world was exactly the sort of thing Lincoln was supposed to be responsible for flagging and warning in the office, but they’re also exactly what made his job more interesting. Attachments is an interesting story of relationships, and life and risks and chance. It’s easy to see how Lincoln could fall for Beth with such an intimate glimpse into the uncensored depths of her life, and her portrayal of chaos surrounding her. But what should he do when the person has no idea he even knows of their existence? . Readers will sympathize for Lincoln’s awkward position knowing so much about stranger’s private lives – but also how he ends up ultimately dealing with the situation. Attachments is a take on what you do when life doesn’t end up exactly how you’re thinking, and what kind of changes we make when we move forward, and how that one big move can be the catalyst to shift everything. While these characters are all adults, Rowell instills the same realness as her teenage characters – kind of just a combination of the qualities that make humans so vulnerable and unique. The book took me through a rollercoaster of reactions, but it’s always endearing when the wittiness of characters can make you laugh out loud. A few elements of the story are a bit heavy, but the tone of the delivery is lighthearted overall. If you’re looking for a quick, quirky read that’s kind of like your Saturday night chick flick, but with intelligent, intriguing characters totally check out Attachments.

(Photo from the Attachments official page.

Meg Says Listen to This: “Coming Down”

I have a bit of an obsession with television music supervisors. As in, I think they hold the coolest jobs ever and perhaps it’s an idealistic dream job of mine. One music supervisor I’ve come to particularly admire is Chris Mollere. I mean, I don’t know how long it would’ve taken me to discover “The Alchemy Between Us” if he hadn’t snuck it in during a pivotal episode of the ended too soon, Kyle XY. He’s the music supervisor for some of the best shows on TV right now: Pretty Little Liars, Chasing Life, The Originals and another old favorite of mine Greek. More recently I’ve admired his work on The CW’s The Vampire Diaries. The other day, I was re-watching some season five episodes over at the neighbor’s house, and for some reason it was the first time that the Dum Dum Girls song “Coming Down” jumped out at me. I don’t know how I missed it the first time, maybe I was over thinking the story line and distracted, but the second time I watched the fifth episode it really struck me. I guess you could say I became a little entranced by it, and I don’t know how many times I played the song on repeat that week. Something about the sound, dreamy and ethereal is somewhat reminiscent of Mazzy Star in my mind. Some people don’t like when artists remind them of someone else, but I say “yes, please. Turn it up!” This song feels like a time machine, to another place, or a moment in memory. And I’m sure it’s different for every listener, as listening experiences should be – but I think it’d be near impossible not to have an inkling of an emotional connection to this song. If you haven’t heard it yet, check out the official music video here:

Meg Says Watch This: “The Martian”

Movies about space fascinate me, and I have a soft spot for Matt Damon so with a combination like that why wouldn’t I check out The Martian? A few weekends ago, my cousins and I got together and we debated between this and Pan (which I am sure I will still end up seeing because c’mon PETER PAN, guys!) but based off of my brother’s enthusiastic suggestion The Martian won. So, I expected some blood pressure raising, probably me having trouble breathing and peaking between my fingers as my hands shielded my eyes while watching this film. (I love that feeling when you don’t think you can stand a second longer of the intensity of suspense, but it also always causes inevitably dramatic bodily reactions.) BUT I was surprised by how much I laughed. Seriously, laughed. It’s not just the writing of the dialogue, but also the way Damon delivers. (And Jeff Daniels because he’s great at it, too.) While this film is futuristic, it’s also so believable – the whole idea that in the not so distant future, we’ll probably be sending astronauts to go hang out on Mars. (Okay, I know they’re not like living it up at happy hour out there, but you know – space exploring and stuff!) It’s kind of mind blowing. And not to spoil anything, but I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of some ABBA in this movie. It’s on the lengthier side, but it didn’t feel like it at all. I’ll admit, amidst the laughter, and the shallow breathing, I did find myself shedding a few tears as well. It’s just a beautiful film. Also, it really put things into perspective for me, too. I mean if this man can be the only inhabitant stuck on an entire PLANET alone and still find a way to muster up hope and hang onto inventive ingenuity – then what’s stopping me from handling some average earthly struggles? If you haven’t seen The Martian yet, I suggest adding it to your to-do list. Might I add try and see it in theatres, it’s one of those that I think the big screen enhances the experience.

If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, check it out from YouTube here:

Did you see The Martian yet? What did you think? Did you enjoy or think the film is overrated? I’d love to hear from you!

Meg Says, Listen to This: “Split Screen Sadness”

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself returning again and again to the ever amazing catalog of John Mayer’s music. I’ve been a fan since my middle school nights spent falling asleep to the sounds of Room for Squares. Mayer has had an interesting evolution of style over the years, but he never loses that touch of such deep emotional connection, a mastermind of lyrical poetry, and awe-inspiring guitar skills. I’m always waiting in anticipation for whatever soul stirring album he’ll put out next, but in the meantime, I fall in love all over again with the old stuff. So, today’s a day I’m sharing a throwback. One song I keep coming back to is “Split Screen Sadness” from the Heavier Things album. I know I have a habit of sharing favorite lines from songs here, but this one is so hard to pick a few. The WHOLE song has some of my favorite lyrics of Mayer’s. The energy in this song is so raw and real. And in a way only John Mayer can do – he finds a way to encapsulate what so many of us are feeling post break-up. That indecision and lingering compulsion to call them. Or the realization that it wasn’t really either person’s fault (it really is so much harder when there’s no one to blame.) Then you’re just left with that heavy sadness. If I force myself to be conclusive in picking something, I’ll leave you with this because some days when the words resonate in my mind I feel as if I wrote them myself.

“I called because I just
Need to feel you on the line
Don’t hang up this time
And I know it was me who called it over but
I still wish you’d fought me ’til your dying day
Don’t let me get away”

If this song passed you by somehow the first time around, I recommend giving it a listen now:

Meg Says, Read This: P.S. I Still Love You

Some of you may recall my slight obsession with author, Jenny Han. From the first page of The Summer I Turned Pretty, I was hooked! For girls who spent any amount of time in life pining over a seemingly unattainable crush, Han has a way of putting all those complex intense emotions on paper. I devoured the trilogy, and later read her middle grade reader book Shug, and the Burn for Burn triology written with her best friend Siobhan Vivian, and of course the romantic story of Lara Jean To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Han’s voice in her writing is just so relatable, so vulnerable and raw that it’s hard not to fall in love with all of her characters.

P.S. I Still Love You is the much anticipated sequel to Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I Loved Before. If you haven’t read the first novel, here’s an over view. Lara Jean is a heart on her sleeve, romantic, who years before had written letters to the boys she loved in her life. Her younger sister Kitty ends up discovering the letters (in addressed envelopes hidden in a hat box in Lara Jean’s closet none the less!) and sends them away! As someone who’s written letters I never intended on sending, I could sympathize with the horror of such a reality. As could be expected, the unsuspecting recipients of the letters were quite surprised to receive such declarations, (especially old school snail mail style.) Not to ruin anything, but of course all that emotional revelation happening in high school leads to some complications, and it might even find Lara Jean in a fake relationship with one of the boys she wrote a letter to!

Fast forward to P.S. I Still Love You. Lara Jean and the boy from the pseudo relationship have decided to give things a real shot, (how could you pretend for that long and not conjure up some real feelings – and who’s to say they weren’t already there?) Throw in some YouTube hot tub video scandal, another boy from a different letter popping back up again, and the woes of teenage turmoil and you’ve got this sequel in a nutshell. In P.S. you’ll see the return of Lara Jean’s older sister Margot, from college in Scotland, get more of the wild antics from Stormy at the nursing home, see Kitty play match maker to the Song sister’s sweet Dad, and get a bit of closure to that ever long feud between Lara Jean and Genevieve.

Han did it again with her ever lovable characters and their heartfelt stories taking readers through a whirlwind that brings laughter, sighs, and maybe even a tear. If you haven’t read P.S. I Still Love You, yet I definitely recommend giving it a read!

(Photo from Simon & Schuster.)

Meg Says Listen to This: Blue Bandana

The first time I heard this song, was a day I was kind of emotional about life events, anyway. Driving back from the airport as the sun was rising; I know how days like that go, I search the radio for something to jump out at me. Then “Blue Bandana” came on, and I thought to myself: “this is gonna be one of my songs.” A few weeks passed and it seems to be gaining popularity, getting more radio play because all these texts from friends started rolling in. One by one a girlfriend would say: “You have to listen to this song! I swear they’re talking about you.” Which makes me smile every time. There’s a dreamy, gypsy-like video to go with this song and I just want to live in that blue van and galavant around like the girl in the blue bandana. Jerrod Nieman delivers this song well. While it makes me think of my Bonnaroo days, it stays true to a country vibe. It’s fun and it’s picturesque, and it feels like it’s got a lot of soul. I think it pulls a close second to Kenny Chesney’s “Wild Child.” (And okay, I’ll admit I fangirled a bit when one of the writers, Andrew Scott Wills favorited my tweet!) Anyway, if you haven’t been graced with the pleasure of hearing this song yet, definitely give it a listen!

Rolling Stone did a cool interview back in July, and I really liked the insight into the song. You can check it out here, and as for that video, feast your eyes on this:

Meg Says Watch This: Before I Disappear

I’m one of those Netflix viewers who ends up watching several shows or movies because of one actor who is the common link. Most recently, after watching several (and I mean several) episodes of the CW show The Vampire Diaries I was intrigued by Paul Wesley, so when Before I Disappear was a suggested movie, I had to check it out! Now be aware, Wesley plays a small part in this film, but that shouldn’t deter you from watching. Before I Disappear is dark, somewhat suspenseful, but it also had this hint of (don’t think I’m crazy but…) heart-warming appeal. The story begins (well, almost begins – you’ll see) with twenty-something, troubled Richie (Shawn Christensen) alone in his apartment, where his suicide attempt is interrupted with a frantic phone call from his estranged sister, Maggie (Emmy Rossum.) Maggie demands Richie pick up his niece Sophia (Fatima Ptacek) from school because she’s “tied up” with something. Richie is obviously not in the right state for such things, but he agrees. Turns out maybe that’s all Richie needed – forming an unexpected bond with his determined, sweet little 11 year old niece. The film takes place over one night; not void of: hallucinations, a drug overdose, angry drug lords, fight scenes and high drama. I don’t want to ruin anything, so I won’t look for a clip but I will say there’s a scene filmed in the bowling alley (you’ll know which one I mean) and the musical sequence and the innocence captured in those moments is such a beautiful, shining moment of this film. Seriously, I think it’s one of the best 45 seconds or so, I’ve seen in a film in a long time. It nestles in, to inspire some hope for the hopeless – much like Sophia’s character herself. The night is much more than just an adventure in babysitting for Sophie and Richie. While this isn’t one of those films that I’ll end up watching several times over the years, it is worth watching because it was an interesting piece of art. And because you’re able to build an attachment to the characters throughout the story – you’re rooting for them, hoping for a happy ending. Think you wanna check it out? Watch the trailer to see what I’m talking about: