As I posted last week, I got away for a mini "me retreat"for a couple of days. I didn't feel great while I was away, so I rested and enjoyed the lack of responsibilities. I did manage a little writing, lots of reading, and plenty of TED talks (I don't like eating alone, so I watched TED talks during meals!). And I indulged in a couple of girly movies I knew my husband wouldn't be too crazy about. All in all, it was a good movie week Although they are not movies, I'll include the TED talks because I watched some really good ones last week. I worked through most of this What Makes Us Happy playlist and really enjoyed all of the talks. Some were so inspiring that I started taking notes so I wouldn't forget what I'd heard! If you are looking for some inspiration and joy, check out these talks on happiness - some are very thought-provoking, some are funny, and all are interesting.
Now for the fun fluff...the first movie I watched on my own was The Answer Man, a romantic comedy. I chose this one because I was looking for something light and fun, and I really like Lauren Graham (and it was free on Amazon Prime!). Graham plays a struggling single mom named Elizabeth who is trying to start her own chiropractic business and is very over-protective of her young son. Jeff Daniels play a reclusive author named Arlen Faber with problems of his own. He wrote a best-seller 20 years earlier about his close relationship with God, but since then, his inspiration has completely dried up. He's become a cranky, difficult man who rarely leaves his home or talks to anyone...until he hurts his back and literally crawls through Elizabeth's office door. I really enjoyed this movie, and it was better than I expected it to be. The great thing is that I was undecided whether to watch a fun movie or an inspiring one, and this was a little bit of both, since Arlen's spiritual quest is a big part of the plot.
I was very indecisive the next night and had trouble picking a movie, until it was getting late and length of the movie became a critical factor! I chose Two Lovers, starring Gweneth Paltrow and Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin plays Leonard, a man struggling with mental illness (should have been my first clue that this wasn't really light); he seems to be manic-depressive with suicidal tendencies (the opening scene shows him considering suicide). He's had to move back in with his parents (his mom is played by Isabella Rossellini), a nice older Jewish couple living in an apartment in Brighton Beach who are worried about their son. They try to set him up with a nice Jewish girl, the daughter of a business associate, and Leonard does like Sandra. However, he is drawn to his bad girl neighbor, Michelle, played by Gweneth Paltrow. Michelle is clearly a poor choice for Leonard, with some major issues of her own, but his attraction to her is strong and passionate. It's a good movie overall (how could it not be with that cast?), but it is quite dark and depressing. Not quite the light and fun flick I was in the mood for, but a very well done melancholy drama.
Back home, my husband and I watched American Hustle, one of many recent DVD releases we've been dying to see. Our 16-year old son watched some of it with us, too, though he wasn't really in the mood for sitting still! Christian Bale and Amy Adams (like you've never seen her before - this is not the sweet princess from Enchanted!) star as Irving and Syndey, a con-man and his girlfriend who get caught by the FBI and are forced to help with a sting operation to catch bigger fish. Bradley Cooper plays Richie, the FBI agent in charge of the operation who keeps seeing the possibility to catch bigger and bigger fish, as the operation rockets out of control. Jennifer Lawrence also stars (a long ways from Katniss!) as Irving's wife. All of this is set in the 70's, with fabulous fashions and hairstyles also starring (you must see Christian Bale's comb-over and Bradley Cooper in perm rods!). This is a fabulous movie from start to finish, with an all-star cast, an intriguing plot, and great acting. Highly recommended.