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Watch This: The Theory of Everything

Hi, readers! I know I have been off the blogging wagon for a little while now; (I’ve been more vigilant in my paper journal writing,) but as of recently I have finally viewed several films that are definitely worth sharing about. Today I took myself on a “me date” to the $2 movies to see the matinee of The Theory of Everything As you’re probably aware, last week during the Oscars Ceremony, Eddie Redmayne won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking. I admired Redmayne for his craft the moment I saw him on-screen in My Week with Marilyn, (which I blogged about here in 2012,) but after seeing his performance in this film – WOW. The award was definitely well deserved. Both Redmayne and Felicity Jones, who played his wife Jane, gave absolutely outstanding performances.

I’m an emotional film watcher. Actually, I’m just emotional in general. I experience everything to an in intense degree whether it’s film, music, or written material. The Theory of Everything tremendously tugged on my heart strings, though. It was moving, it was inspiring, and it was made in such an incredibly exceptional manner. The cinematography alone is beautiful. I had high expectations for the visuals after the first time I saw a trailer, and I was not let down in the slightest. The film is such a beautiful depiction of struggle and triumph, of unconditional love, of hope of inspiration of living life to the fullest.

The opening scene, and it’s display of the gorgeous Cambridge, England immediately won my heart. The film takes you on the journey of Stephen Hawking’s life as a PhD in physics candidate at Cambridge, where he meets the ever lovely, Jane. He’s quirky and brilliant, and she’s intelligent and beautiful. Not long after their relationship begins, Hawking is diagnosed with a motor-neuron disease. The film follows them on their journey together, the obstacles he faces physical, and what that puts them through emotionally. The story of them building a family, him continuing his passionate endeavors in cosmology, and how the couple grows over the years.

I have to agree with what Eddie Redmayne himself had to say regarding the role:

[he would tackle the part in such a way that] “everything would be connected to everything. Because it is obviously the most extraordinary challenge and responsibility, to be trusted to tell the story of someone’s family, which is also a sensitive and complicated one. And to investigate all these aspects of this iconic human being: the physical, the vocal, the scientific, and then cohere it all in the emotional, because at its heart this is a very unusual love story. Young love, passionate love, family love, love of a subject, but also the failures of love and the boundaries of love.” (How Eddie Redmayne Did It article.)

That is precisely the story – a grand, unusual love story. I was challenged by this film. Challenged about my opinions of enduring love and relationships, and life and hardships and how our trials shape us, and also how the human heart can adapt to life. I was challenged to think about the boundaries of all aspects of life, as well – tangible and philosophical, what our relationships can withstand, the ever expansive possibility in life. This is such a stunningly beautiful film, and it’s driven with soul, and vision, and purpose. This is a splendid telling of the Hawking family’s story. If you haven’t seen the film yet, I highly recommend it!

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Watch This: “Boyhood”

Yesterday afternoon I went to see Boyhood with two of my cousins. It’s Richard Linklater’s latest film. Like Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight he’s teamed up with Ethan Hawke (who plays Mason’s father) once again. The coolest concept of this film to me, (which I saw on the Today Show when I was at my parent’s a few weeks ago) is that it was filmed over twelve years. Basically you see all of these people age, on screen. Kids go through their funky phases and different hair cuts. The audiences watches first days of school, moving to new towns, leaving friends, making new friends, watching parents date, the swapping from one house to another with split parents, the experiences of blended families, new careers.Relationships grow and shift and people make good decisions and bad decisions, and mature throughout time. It’s like the circle of life all played out in front of you.

It was really cool to see newcomers in the film too, but then again if you think about it – they’ve been in the business quite some time, it just took a while to be able to see their work. Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) was only seven years old when they started this project. I was reading the trivia section on IMDB and fun fact: Lorelei Linklater’s daughter plays Mason’s sister, Samantha! It’s almost three hours long, but I definitely didn’t feel like I’d been in the theatre for that long. In other movies like that, I’ve been known to grow restless, or antsy but this one just didn’t have that effect. (And I didn’t even have to miss anything to run to the restroom, which is always a plus.) It’s also kind of like exploring a time capsule of music throughout that time. While the song selections were subtly, they were obviously chosen with careful intention. The film takes place all throughout Texas, namely Houston and Austin (which just struck my wanderlust even stronger to make a trip to Austin.)

I think it’s an interesting depiction of children that have grown up over the past decade or so, as well. However you want to take it, there’s a shift from kids playing outdoors (even if they’re a bit mischievous in their activities of choice,) and then heavy reliance on video games for entertainment, but then there’s also a creative shift, a definite appreciation for nature. I hate to give away too much about films, even though I want to gush over them and convince you to watch them. But it was cool to see how this family evolved over time, changed roles in society, grew closer together, communicated; the snowball effects of their decisions. This isn’t a film I’d necessarily watch several times, but I definitely recommend it for the viewing experience, if anything just because it’s such a genuine depiction of life. It’s a concept like nothing else I’ve seen before. And how exciting that this project was successfully completed! I for one am so glad this came to theaters in Tallahassee, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that even though it was put in one of the smallest viewing rooms, it was packed! (I love when lots of people are interested in exciting films like this.) If you have the opportunity to catch this film, I’d definitely recommend it, and I’d love to hear about your thoughts afterwards!

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the trailer. Now go check it out:

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And the verdict is…WATCH THIS: “Wish I Was Here”

So, I did finally get to see Wish I Was Here this week, and it was everything I hoped it’d be. Braff did it again with his ability to capture the simple moments of life, but also what I like to think of as those, “feeling infinite” moments. If you’ve seen Garden State, to me I categorize that as a pretty intensely emotional film. I have probably shed some tears each time I watched it. WIWH seemed to find a new balance. There is still an intensity, emotional moments, and depth that will tug on your heart but I didn’t even cry once while watching it. When my friend asked me what the movie was about, all I could think to say was…”life.” As cliche as that sounds, I’m still pretty sure it’s fitting. The music was just as incredible as I hoped, and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on Spotify. If you’re curious I’d still say the themes center around death, and purpose, parenthood, relationships – how we grow up and figure out who we are and what we want out of life. There’s a particular scene I have in mind, between Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin at the hospital that just really stole my attention. She has a certain glow when she’s on screen, and she can just steal a scene but the conversation between the two characters was so genuine and so…true to life. Also, little Joey King captured my heart as always. (Ever since I knew she was cast as Ramona Quimby, I just lover her.) Wish I Was Here was funny, refreshing, and beautifully made, (plus the slew of familiar faces popping up throughout the film didn’t hurt either.) If I didn’t convince you last week, here’s my continued encouragement that this one is a definite, “watch this” recommendation.

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Watch This: Short Term 12

What I should say is, watch this right now! Short Term 12 is a touching, emotional, intense film that tells the story of Short Term 12. A facility where at-risk kids that have been removed from their previous living situations come to stay for at least a year. A community of sorts. The staff mainly comprised of Grace (Brie Larson), Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), Nate (Rami Malek) and Jessica (Stephanie Beatriz) are the ones who are there with the kids day in and out. They know their stories, they know what makes them tick, what might set them off. Even with all their coping mechanisms and strategies, and talk through your feelings advice, they have struggles of their own. Grace and Mason’s relationship is strained by Grace’s inability to open up about her past. Nate is the newbie and boy does he have some adjusting to do with the surprises that greet him each day at Short Term 12 (outbursts of rage, fighting, spitting…) The kids themselves steal the show. They’re absolutely heart-wrenchingly endearing. I just want to hug them all. Markus (Keith Stanfield) is soon to turn 18 and the reality of leaving Short Term 12 is hitting him. Sammie (Alex Calloway) has a lot of emotional barriers to overcome, but he’s trying. Jayden’s (Kaitlyn Dever) history of abuse has brought her to some self-destructive behaviors (and a surprising connection with Grace,)…but as intense as all of this is, the story is uplifting. It’s inspiring. It’s beautiful to be reminded of the power and strength in care and love in this world. People just want to be appreciated and loved and that can change everything.

Short Term 12 was originally a short film, but thank goodness Destin Daniel Cretton made it a full length. This is a beautiful story to be shared. I’ll admit I was originally drawn to the film because of my love for John Gallagher Jr’s work on Newsroom. But oh my! While I’ve been itching to see this one for a while, (and was over joyed when it was added to Netflix,) I had been working up the strength to watch it because I knew it’d make me emotional. I am so glad I finally did. My heart hurts, but in a good way. Not convinced yet? Check out the trailer: