There's No Good Card For This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful and Unfair to People You Love | Emily McDowell and Kelsey Crowe
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl | Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
I'm a sucker for hipster coming of age movies, and books. So this movie was right up my alley. It was a pretty solid adaptation of the YA novel by Jesse Andrews that it's based on, which also made me happy. The story follows an awkward high schooler, Greg, and his friend Earl. They make really fun movie parodies, but their friendship doesn't consist of much else. Those sequences in the book are really vivid and fun, they were adapted beautifully with some cool effects. The titular "Dying Girl" is Rachel. She's in their class, but neither Greg nor Earl have ever really talked to her. When she's diagnosed with cancer, Greg's mom makes him befriend her. Neither of them are very keen on the idea. He's an introvert with no idea what to say to a dying girl, and Rachel doesn't want the pity. After awkwardly hanging out with her a few times (everything about Greg is awkward), they open up a little. Rachel is funny, self-deprecating, and really pretty. But she's dying. Which is another stone to throw on top of the pile that is Greg's nervous, angsty, teenage life. This movie isn't for everyone. I know a lot of people thought it was hard to get through, and felt a little forced at times. But I think that underneath all of the warm hues and sarcastic dialogue, you can learn a few things from a Greg's awkward mistakes. No one asks to get sick, and when we encounter sick people, sometimes it's easier to freeze up and forget all of the other pieces of them. Rachel was just a kid. Sometimes we find sour selves bald to be in situations that we were forced into. We may need a push, but it never hurts to reach out. Whether you're asking someone if they want to hang out, if you can help with something they may not have time for, or just reminding them that you're around. It can make a huge difference. Compassion can seem scary, or like too big of a thing. If you think something would be a nice gesture, chances are it would be. And you've already thought of it, so you're halfway there.
Inside Out | Pete Docter
Expectations are a funny thing. They can go either way. They can sneak up on you, let you down, or surprise you. I think my expectations for Inside Out were mild, nothing crazier than any other Disney movie. I hadn't read much into it, but I wasn't expecting to be blown away. Have you ever had anything dramatically exceed your expectations? It is one of the best feelings. I spent so much time reading about Inside Out after I watched it through tear filled 3D glasses on a weekend afternoon. Pete Docter (who also directed Up, more tears) wanted to make a movie for his young daughter, the inspiration for Riley, to show her that it was okay to be sad. For someone who's struggled with depression for almost ten years, that opens up a lot for old wounds. It also makes me so grateful that there's something like this out there for younger versions of myself. My life would not have changed completely if I'd seen this movie when I was younger, but I would have remembered feeling like there were people out there who understood. Understood enough to tell it in a story. The pressure to be happy, and genial, and always smiling can be extremely overwhelming, especially for a girl. Riley is trying to figure out life in a new town, without her old friends to reach out to, and her parents are busy settling into their new lives. Things that seem trivial can sometimes be the most difficult to deal with. Having Riley's emotions be the primary storytellers could have proved challenging. I bought the art book that was published along with the movie and it was fascinating to see the early concept art for what the emotions would eventually become. Some early sketches were similar, but some evolved in such interesting ways. The use of color and the design of the memory system. I think it's brilliant, and beautiful. So often we're taught that things must exist separate from one another. If you're happy, it's impossible for you to also be sad. The world isn't black and white. Life isn't, and the way that you feel definitely isn't. It's really hard to understand something as intricate as emotions, especially if you're trying to explain them to someone else. The simplest visual aid can help with that though, like colors. You can be both happy and sad, there is nothing wrong about that. You can have multiple, twisted, complicated thoughts about something. Your memory globes will blend and change, for better or for worse. But they will always be yours, and you will always be you.
Jane the Virgin | Jennie Snyder-Urman
I did not expect to like this show. I handmade a habit of not watching anything on The CW. In hindsight, I was just being a snob. We screened the premiere at work and one of my coworkers told me that I had to try and catch a few minutes of it. Long story short, they had to keep pulling me from the theater to get me to go back to work. I love this show. I am obsessed with Gina Rodriguez. And I tell anyone who questions me about this, that they need to give the show a chance. The titular Jane starts the series living with her mother, Xiomara, and her grandmother, Alba. The show is a telenovela. Yes, like the ones on daytime TV that your mom or your grandma watch, but mostly only when it comes to the format. There's a narrator (he's amazing), and lots and lots of drama. It all sounds like it would be too much, in theory it should be, but this show knows what it's doing. The pacing is quick, and the show burns through plot like nothing I've ever seen, but I have never seen a show with so much heart. There is so much negativity in the current TV landscape, and I watch a lot of it. But sometimes you need a break from that. Jane the Virgin is my break. The show has the strongest mother, daughter relationship that I can recall seeing on television. And they hit it from multiple angles: Jane/Xiomara, Ximoara/Alba, Jane/Alba. They find ways to talk about important issues without it feeling forced or preachy. In four seasons, they've managed to look at: immigration, the prison system, postpartum depression, single motherhood, race, class, and female empowerment, just to name a few. Sound heavy right? Okay to be fair, sometimes it can be. I've cried a lot while watching this show, but I also laugh out loud during those same episodes. I mean, the show is about a religious girl who while waiting for marriage to have sex with her long time serious boyfriend, is accidentally artificially inseminated during a what is supposed to be a routine pap smear. I know, it's a long long. But it's a good one. Trust me. It's full of heart, acceptance, love, compassion, and an overall positivity. It's good vibes, I don't really know how else to describe it. I love TV. It's one of my greatest passions in life, and shows like this one are the reason why. Jane is a wonderful character, she definitely has her flaws, but she is such an important role model for girls. No matter what age.