meg says watch this, Watch This

Watch This: May It Last

78dec2d0ddd91b437ce46410b79e6f6cMy oh my, I don’t even know where to start with the Judd Apatow’s incredible documentary on The Avett Brothers, May It LastWhen it was first announced that the film would have a one night showing in theaters nationwide, prior to the release of the film on HBO in January, I was still living in Florida. The closest theater playing it was about two hours away, and it was a Tuesday. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to swing that, but the temptation was real. Well, I moved to Nashville Labor Day weekend, so it turned out that I was lucky enough to be about fifteen minutes from a theater playing it last week. From reading tons of posts of praise across social media, I knew I was in for something special, but I wasn’t prepared for how amazing it was. As a viewer in the audience, it felt like these people invited you into their homes (well, they did literally,) and gave such an intimate glimpse into their lives. The rawness and realness that is portrayed in the film is just something entirely unique. I have chills just trying to write about it. There are so many scenes in the film that made me love them even more than I did, prior to seeing it.

When Scott and Seth’s mom talks about how Scott didn’t trust her supervision skills of Seth when they were younger, and had an irrational fear of him being kidnapped and would insist on accompanying them anywhere. The boys talking about when Scott when off to college, they would record song ideas on one another’s voicemails, and mail cassette tapes back and forth. Finding out that Bob played for them in a parking lot, and basically did not have prior stand up bass experience! (Um, wow.) The emotional discussion of Hailey’s health journey after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and the way the whole crew rallied around one another. Them talking about how that was a real moment of figuring out faith, deciding what they believed. Seth and Jennifer talking about becoming parents. The discussion of divorce. The poignant moments following the recording of “No Hard Feelings” and the discussion of the elephant in the room. The emotion in that scene was so intense, that it almost seemed palpable. I almost felt uncomfortable as if we were seeing something we shouldn’t have permission to see because it was such a vulnerable conversation.
The scene where the boys are working through the lyrics to “Wish I Was” was  one of my most absolute favorite moments of the film. It was incredible to see how this stream of poetry just falls from their mouths in literal seconds. Their ability to bounce ideas off of one another and make it work so seamlessly is incredible. Following the transition from this scene, you could hear whispers throughout the theater. I have a feeling it was over the awe inspiring brilliance of the moment. I mean, Seth and Scott Avett are both masters of the craft but it was so intriguing to watch how obviously this is what they were born to do, music is the language that they speak.
There’s a time early on in the film where Scott is being interviewed as he drives. He discusses how growing up, and to this day, they all just thought that everyone would want to know their feelings on things, that they were supposed to share them, and that people wanted to hear them. That’s just the way they operated. (In that moment, I felt a sense of kindred spiritness. I mean, hey…that’s probably why I write this blog because I have an innate need to share my thoughts and feelings on the things I care about.)
One of the coolest parts of the film to me, was that person after person in one-on-one interviews, (so not overhearing someone speak it before them) touched on how special the relationship between Scott and Seth is, and that they don’t see brothers who have that connection like that often. Plus, the fact that they can work together the way that they do. This was extended to what an experience it is to work with the band, and how close and cohesive everyone is as a whole. Key terms that kept being repeated were the kindess, respect, and love shared across the board.
I think fans of The Avett Brothers have caught on to this because it’s obvious there’s something extremely special about this group of people. If you’ve ever seen them live, then you know they are literally opening their hearts up on that stage, and pouring it out. But the really cool thing is that now the rest of the world can see what makes this group so unique.
When watching May It Last, it’s not like “oh this will be a cool movie to see” it’s more like a journey or experience you are taking, or joining in. As soon as the film ended, I thought to myself “I can’t wait to see that again.” (Funny enough that’s the exact same reaction I have every time one of their concerts comes to a close. It’s why people travel across the country and see them play three nights in a row.) This film made me laugh and cry, and I can’t tell you how many times I caught myself grinning from ear to ear as I stared up at the screen (that was if my mouth wasn’t hanging open in awe over whatever new thing surprised me.)
PS: Encore dates have been added at certain theaters, so check out the list and see if there’s a showing near you!
(If you’re not convinced yet, you can check out the trailer below!)
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meg says read this, Read This

Read This: The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas’s debut novel The Hate U Give has spent  about 24 weeks on the NYT Bestsellers list. That’s not a coincidence. If you haven’t ready this story yet, you’re missing out. I suggest you settle in for the roller coaster of emotions you’re about to experience when you finally dive into this heart wrenching, powerful, giant chunk of truth you’re about to devour.

I honestly believe this is one of those books that everyone should read, a book for all ages. Don’t let the category of “young adult fiction” turn you off (though, let me just say if it does? Get over it!) It’s a punch in the gut and a squeeze in the heart, but Thomas doesn’t shy away from anything. I wholeheartedly agree with John Green’s “stunning.” Seriously. (It’s heavy for a beach read, but anything is a beach read if you bring it with you right? I was just glad to have my sunglasses to shield my ugly cry.)

Starr Carter is just a teenager hanging out at a party, catching up with old friends, when a fight breaks out and everyone scatters. She catches a ride with a childhood buddy, and next thing you know – they’re getting pulled over by a cop. There’s so much aggression and tension in the situation even though neither of the teens were doing anything wrong. The situation escalates, and next thing you know Starr is holding the lifeless body of her friend as he dies in her arms at the hands of a cop.

Thomas explores such a tumultuous terrain in the story. Starr at first doesn’t want people to know she was involved. She doesn’t want the media attention. She doesn’t want her friends at school who don’t really know the reality of her life, to judge her. She starts to question everything around her. Whether her friends actually see her for who she really is? When I say Thomas explores a variety of terrain I mean – she goes down paths that lead to questions about applying stereotypes, preassigned notions to people or their actions. Do you think about what might lead a kid to sell drugs? One who doesn’t even do drugs himself? The options people have based on their living situations, but the desire to turn their lives around. Think about the undeniable link of family and the lengths that people will go to to help each other survive, at all costs. There are a lot of things to consider here, things to think about without making snap judgements and I think Thomas leads the reader through these – gently, but with the rush of reality. The wave of emotions – fear, hope, uncertainty – you pull for these characters, you see how they get backed into corners at time and feel stuck. You understand the decisions. Then there’s also the media portrayal, odd details that are emphasized even if there’s nothing to back them up – and then all of the pertinent information that’s excluded.

We live in wild times. Countless people have lost their lives for absolutely no reason. Maybe you have your own thoughts about this before hand. I think that by allowing you to get to know characters, their backstories, their families, their aspirations, their struggles – Thomas adds a layer of compassion that hopefully opens readers’ eyes to multiple sides of a story. Hopefully it makes them consider angles they haven’t before.

The Hate U Give made me cry, but it’s probably not for all of the reasons you might think. I cried because here was the story of a girl who had lost so much, got caught in the middle of an awful situation, wanted justice for her friend, wanted those she loved to be remembered for the amazing people they were. I cried because Starr finds her voice, and Thomas makes you feel like you’re standing next to her in the street as chaos rises all around them. I cried because maybe the Carters are a fictional family, but this story is real and it’s happening around us right now. I cried because it sucks that anyone has to experience this. I cried because it’s a shame that we’re having to fight to remind people the importance of human lives. That we’re all equal. I cried because it’s 2017 and why are we still here? But we are. And it’s important not to pretend that we’re not. It’s important to understand where people who are different than you are coming from. It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, despite differences in circumstance, socioeconomic status, etc. – we all have feelings, we all have friends and family, we all have more in common than different at the end of the day.
I most definitely, 1000% recommend this one. Read it, share it, talk about it. Go in with an open mind. Think about it.

The Hate U Give is now being made into a movie (with an amazing cast,) but I would definitely recommend reading the book before you watch!

meg says read this, Uncategorized

Meg Says Read This: Scrappy Little Nobody

scrappy-little-nobody-9781501117206_lg2017 has been off to an interesting start. I mentioned before I started reading A Game of Thrones which is great, but I just really needed to read a book that would make me laugh. Books can expand our horizons, provide an escape, a distraction, and some books can entertain us. In comes Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody as my first read of 2017. I laughed out loud reading this, continuously, hard, and sometimes until tears sprung in my eyes. Oh, Anna did I need those laughs. But also her book made me think a lot about our preconceived ideas of celebrity, and Hollywood. I can’t imagine being in a film at Sundance, and your peers having no idea, or worse just not caring a bit about it! Kendrick shares stories from her childhood, (I loved the one about how she got her first Broadway gig), her dating life, apartment living, how she still gets star struck, and everything in between. I was surprised to learn that Happy Christmas was filmed in eleven days, on an $80,000 budget, with  no script! And I guess, like Kendrick, I thought once you were famous people probably followed you around and basically made you keep yourself (and your house) together – surprise! They don’t. Kendrick writes with such ease, and honesty that it feels like it’s a friend telling you about her life. I felt like you could feel her anxiety about certain situations, or the frustration with  nothing productive happening on press tours (even if they’re necessary.) If you’re a shorty, petite girl I think you could really relate to this too. She touched on a lot of points, of experiences I’ve had all my life. (At 5 feet tall, with tiny feet, and still being able to wear clothes from first grade when I was in fifth grade – I felt like I’d just use my noise level and energy to make up for my lack of size. Anna Kendrick sounds like she totally got this!) She talks about insecurities, but also about the things she knows she should just say “screw you” about if someone has a problem. She sounds like she really takes pride in her work, and invests in the relationships she develops with her coworkers but she’s super open about the time she’s not on a job she’s at home chilling in sweatpants, watching Netflix, eating take out. She sounds like the rest of us doesn’t she? (Adulting, hmm…)  Kendrick mentions multiple times that she hopes while reading her book, the reader feels less alone – well girl, I think you more than accomplished that task. I would definitely recommend this book. It lifted my spirits a little, and it reminded me that although our paths might look different, we’re all kind of floating around in the same boats.

meg says read this

Meg Says Read This: Bare Bones

51yuw-gupvl-_sx329_bo1204203200_If you follow me on any form of social media, my Bobby Bones interest is pretty evident. They don’t broadcast the morning show where I live now, but I still listen to clips. Even more than that – I am absolutely hooked on the Bobby Cast podcast where he interviews different artists (musicians, songwriters, etc.) It’s always about the stories, or to get a little VH1 on you guys, the stories behind the stories. I love to learn what makes people tick, what events set in motion all the things that brought someone to where they are, I want to hear their climbs and stumbles, but also their passions. When you talk to someone who is passionate about anything, that drive and interest just pours out of them in a beautiful way. (At this point you’re probably wondering what I’m rambling on about, but hold on a sec.) All of this to say, Bobby Bones is propelled by stories – his own and the stories of others. That’s exactly why his new book Bare Bones: I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading this Book is so dang wonderful. Bobby has always been open and real on the radio show, but it was really interesting to get the stories of his life in chronological order. (You learn about Bobby’s life, growing up in Arkansas. His mom got pregnant with him at 15, and had him at 16. His dad was only around for a few years. He had a sweet grandma that definitely did what she could to take care of him. He worked really hard in school, and tried to surround himself by positive influences. He talks about the way his childhood has affected his ability to open up in relationships. He shares how his background lets him to connect with people.) And my word…the obstacles he has overcome in life to get where he is? The drive he had to make something of his life, from such a young age? It’s inspiring. I’m an emotional reader (obviously,) but I’ll admit I had to pause sometimes while reading to let the weight of his words sink in. (Also, maybe to get it together and stop crying.) Sure there are definitely some pretty sad parts to this book, but it’s life and it’s real and it’s gritty. At the end I don’t think you’re going to walk away saying “man, I wish I didn’t read that book I’m so sad now.” Because you’ll laugh, out loud. You’ll be reminded how important it is to keep going and learn from mistakes. And you’ll probably take a closer look at your own relationships. It’s a real reminder about the lifelines of friendships, how big of a difference the little things make. When I was reading it, I was reminded that we all come to the table with our own battles and scars we’ve been carrying and they shape us, but they also allow us to connect with others on a deeper level. You never know what someone else is carrying. Sometimes the people who make us laugh the hardest,  have the heaviest hearts. You just don’t know – but that’s what’s so important about sharing our stories. So if you haven’t yet, read this book. Laugh a little, cry a little, appreciate everything.

(Image via Amazon.)

 

meg says read this

Meg Says Read This: Extraordinary Means

23149128Robyn Schneider has done it again. She finds this beautiful way of telling a story that involves grief, love, friendship and the roller coaster of life and adolescence all rolled into one. I was blown away a few years ago when I read The Beginning of Everything (so of course when I spotted it on a shelf in a visit to Powell’s last year I broke my own rule of  not buying anymore books to add it to my collection.) I was absolutely thrilled when I saw she’d come out with a new novel, Extraordinary Means – I may have even been the first person to check it out from the library.

So more about what Extraordinary Means is actually about. Seventeen year old Lane has been sent to special school, kind of like a boarding school, kind of like a summer camp – except here there is one link that bonds all the students together, and it’s not s’mores and kumbaya. All the kids at Latham have TB, albeit different strains so different levels of the way this diagnosis takes its toll on their bodies. On their good days the students might seem like normal teenagers, but whether it’s a fitful night of coughing that results in bloody pillowcases, or just the lack of energy and dark circles around their eyes – these kids are no longer able to lead something similar to their pre-TB lives. Away from their family and friends, sports and activities with no cure in sight their futures are uncertain.

Although what they considered “normal” lives are disrupted, and they can’t even continue a regular study path of school work – Lane and his new found friends have found a way to make the most of their time, and add some fun to their days. Who would have thought he’d find a familiar face at Latham? But why does this person seem to be so cold towards him? Even with a rocky start Lane will soon have new relationships develop, friendships evolve, and a spark of romance. The scary thing is no one ever knows how much time they have left – but Lane and his friends are cramming a lot of life in their days. Extraordinary Means is a heartwarming story that’s a reminder of the frailty of life, and the power of friendships in any circumstance in life. Schneider has shown us once again what a gift she has to leave such an impressionable story on the hearts of her readers.

(Image from Goodreads.)