January Media Companion

Moonlight | Barry Jenkins

With the much deserved recognition that follows Moonlight, with numerous nominations in acting and filmmaking, I wanted to celebrate not only how beautifully executed this film was but also the perfect timing of this work and the important message it brings to audiences. Timing is everything and I believe moonlight being released at the tail end of 2016, after the craziness of the Trump election and the obvious split in this country, is no coincidence. The world needs more films like this. The film is broken up into 3 different chapters of a boys life: child, teenager, and adult. Chiron, the boy, has to learn all of the important lessons in life in a not so typical upbringing. He has to grow up quickly and is exposed to a lot a quite a young age. This is a real coming of age film. You see the natural process of a typical kid and how he deals with his surroundings.

I want to stress the importance of keeping art like this alive and going. With the terror the new administration has brought, its a scary thought knowing that this cast, filmmaker, and crew doesn't have a voice in Trump's America.  This film shines an important light on one of the many faces of our diverse country. Continue to support films that tell unheard stories. Go out and make your own art! The best way to fight this administration is through our action and our voices. We all have a story to tell!

Captain Fantastic | Matt Ross

I need to clean my room. That was my first thought after finishing Captain Fantastic. Okay, maybe not my my first thought, but it was up there. This was such a refreshing movie to watch. It had so many things that gave me that visceral feeling I ache for when I watch a movie. It was pure, and it was so honest. It was so beautifully honest (written and directed by Matt Ross - who you may know as Gavin Belson from Silicon Valley). The story is about a dad (Viggo Mortenson) raising his six kids - Bo, Kielyr, Vespyr, Rellian, Zaja, and Nai - in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. They dad books, hunt, learn survival skills and train. They just live simply. They don't know any differently, until the hop on Steve (the family bus) to head into town. The kids are strong and smart enough to hold their own against people who try to put them down. But at some point, socialization becomes a problem. Bo doesn't get a girl's joke because he's never watched TV. On the other hand, eight year old Zaja can recite and thoughtfully explain the Bill of Rights while her much older cousins stand by dumbfounded. There's different kinds of knowledge in the world and life is a lot about balance. I hunger for this family's knowledge. I want to get rid of some of (a lot of) the things I don't need. (I think I've mentioned before that I'm a "things" person.) I want to be more honest with myself and other people. And I really want to take better care of myself. I tell myself that every year, but I think twenty-six is it. Cheers to being fantastic. 

"Ben: When you have sex with a woman, be gentle and listen to her. 

Bo: I know. 

Ben: Treat her with respect and dignity even if you don't love her. 

Bo: I know. 

Ben: Always tell the truth. Always take the high road. 

Bo: I know. 

Ben: Live each day like it could be your last. Drink it in. Be adventureous, be bold, but savor it. It goes fast. 

Bo: I know. 

Ben: Don't die. 

Bo: I won't."

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl | Carrie Brownstein

“As a woman I was always taught to be hungry… We could eat just about anything/We might even eat your heart up like love.”

When I was in high school I dated a guy who listened to all the cool music.(I guess it was music that a certain kind of people considered cool.) That was the last time I was actively seeking out new music on a regular basis. Now Spotify’s algorithms do it for me. But I love music, I always have. And I love Carrie Brownstein. But, I’ve never listened to Sleater Kinney. I knew she was in a band, but I had only ever seen her on TV. If there’s one thing I took away from reading Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, it’s that I should be listening to wayyyyy more music. Like I said, I love music. But it’s not the highest on my “media totem pole”. It’s hard to find time to listen to everything along with watching, reading, seeing and doing everything. There’s a lot of content in the world and a very large portion of it is good. So how do you find the time? You have to want to make time, and this book made me hungry for music. I felt something so intensely drawing me to music, a feeling I haven’t had since I was sixteen. I had heard that Carrie had written some music articles and that people liked her writing, but damn can she turn a phrase.

“My favorite kind of musical experience is to feel afterward that you heart is filled up and transformed, like it is pumping a whole new kind of blood into your veins. This is what it is to be a fan: curious, open, desiring for connection, to feel art has chosen you, claimed you as its witness.”

I recommend this book to every single person who likes not just music, but art. This story is for you. Eat it up.

The Wonder | Emma Donoghue

I didn't plan on writing about this book when we decided on this month's topic, but after I finished it I thought it was a perfect fit. The Wonder is a story about an eleven year old girl, Anna, who hasn't eaten anything in four months; and a nurse, Lib, who is hired to watch her 24/7 for two weeks to verify that she really hasn't been eating. I won't give away the ending, but there's plenty else to talk about. Lin can't figure out why Anna isn't eating, and that's what drives the story. But the answers that Anna gives in the meantime (that Lib doesn't accept) are all religious or spiritual. When Lib asks Anna if she's hungry, she says no. She's been living off "manna from Heaven." Lib isn't buying any of this, and her frustrations sometimes bring out an ugliness in her otherwise very likable character. Anna's stubbornness does the same thing, and that's what makes this story so engaging. The characters' motivations and intentions evolve throughout and thus changed my perceptions of them. When I was reading this book, I didn't think that I liked it that much. I didn't feel the need to stop in the middle and tell someone about it. Then, after I finished, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Anna's hunger is literal, my hunger is everything but. My hunger for knowledge, happiness, contentment, understanding, truth. And if I asked myself why I don't have some of those things, I could come up with every excuse in the book. Excuses that would be sure to irritate the hell out of people. They may not be acceptable to others, just as Anna's excuses weren't acceptable to Lib. But until I choose to work through my excuses and find a way to overcome them, they will continue to hold me back.

"A fast didn't go fast; it was the slowest thing there was. Fast meant a door shut fast, firmly. A fastness, a fortress. To fast, was to hold fast to emptiness, to say no and no and no again."

Sex, Art and American Culture | Camille Paglia

 Sex, Art, and American Culture discusses the influence female celebrities have on American culture. This book is somewhat dated but I was seeing some important, recurring patterns in celebrity culture. Now with the huge influence social media has, celebrities are more in the limelight and expectations are very high with instagram and twitter being followed religiously. The author discusses the sexual freedom artists like Madonna pioneered in American media. Now musicians like Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus are following a similar mold. Freedom of sexual expression, freedom to free your body and show nakedness, and not apologize for it. The author believes this is a creative form of feminism. She feels that straight men are able to talk about it and act freely, sexually and women and LGBT men and women should do the same.

I attended the women's march in Los Angeles just a couple weeks ago and there were several female celebrities who spoke out for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, and for the protection of our planet. Each celebrity had their own agenda about what they wanted to talk about. I thought this was a brilliant way to make an important cause viral. These celebrities used their fame to their advantage and I'm grateful for that. I hope it could turn the heads of someone who is unsure about where they stand in the craziness of today.