Month: February 2016

The crying game

There are lots of things in life that can make you cry. Not getting any chocolates for Valentine’s Day, very sad animal stories, breaking your toe on one of your dog’s stupid bones that you have asked her quite nicely to put away a thousand times before and the simple fact that even though McDonald’s is now serving breakfast 24/7 you still can’t get any biscuit options past ten unless you live in one of a handful of states, none of which I would ever choose to live in, despite my love of all things biscuit-y.




Some people don’t cry very easily and others cry at the drop of a hat like America’s least favorite tan dad, former Speaker of the House John Boehner. Whether it was being crowned House of Representatives king-of-the-prom or getting backstage passes to see the coolest pope in the universe this guy can bring on the waterworks like nobody’s business and I sorta miss him for that, and for that reason only, because he was a terrible speaker. Personally I kinda fall somewhere in the middle between being all dead on the inside or cries like a weeping puddle of Boehner, depends on what I am watching, how crappy my day was, or you know, hormones. But if you feel like you need a good old cry these three movies bring on the waterworks for me each and every time and even if they don’t make you sniffle a whit they are still great movies.*

Dear Frankie: stars Emily Mortimer (woefully underrated as an actress in my book) as Lizzie, a single mother of a hearing-impaired mute boy named Frankie (Jack McElhone). Lizzie is on the run from Frankie’s abusive father and goes to great lengths to make sure Frankie never meets him by making up the name of a merchant ship and turning Frankie’s father into a crew member. Frankie regularly sends letters to his fake father on the fake ship and Lizzie responds with stamps from around the globe to make the story believable and everything is hunky dory until the fake ship turns out to be real and coming soon to the quaint coastal village they currently reside in. Lizzie needs a fake dad real fast and her friend and chip shop boss finds her one in the guise of an unamed visiting sailor played by Gerard Butler.

Fake daddy takes his job very seriously and his pay-to-play gig turns into something much more than anyone was bargaining for, least of all Lizzie. He buys Frankie a fancy book about the ocean and when he hugs his pretend father in genuine gratitude the feels begin in a big way and you can tell this movie is moving in a direction that will soon require some tissues. When one night Lizzie tells fake daddy that she only gets to hear Frankie’s voice in his letters we understand why she has been faking it so hard for so long. (Netflix, YouTube)

Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About A Father: I saw this movie the very first time when I was sick in bed with a cold, the kind of sick where you can listen to the TV but not really watch it because your head feels like it weighs a thousand pounds. Once the movie started though I had to get over it and watch because I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. Dear Zachary started out as one kind of documentary by the filmmaker but due to horrific, unforeseen circumstances ended up a completely different one. If Making a Murderer made you angry about the sorry state of our criminal justice system then Dear Zachary will make the Canadian one look even worse, but for opposite reasons. Andrew Bagby was an only child, adored by his parents, a good guy with a solid group of friends, one of whom Kurt Kuenne, set out to make a film about Andrew initially for his parents to remember him by and then subsequently for Bagby’s son Zachary to get to know him by after Andrew was killed by Zachary’s mother before he was born. This is NOT A SPOILER since it was the original premise of the film.

Parents are not supposed to outlive their children, that is not the natural order of things. Watching what Andrew Bagby’s mother and father go through to have a relationship with Zachary, their only grandchild and last tangible piece of their son on Earth is punch-to-the-gut-wrenching. Only an android could watch this movie with its shocking turn of events and not ugly cry, a lot. Grab a full box of tissues for this one, you will need it. (Netflix, YouTube)

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont: Recently widowed Mrs. Arthur Palfrey (Joan Plowright) decides to move to a residential hotel in London, to a room absolutely without a view and an assortment of other widows and widowers, (mostly widows). She and her fellow residents spend their evenings in front of the telly watching old Sex & The City reruns while they wait for members of their respective families to come visit. Mrs. Palfrey hopes to spend time with her grandson Desmond and calls him repeatedly but he never returns the call. One day while out on a walk she takes a tumble and is rescued by a young man around her grandson’s age named Ludavic Meyer (Rupert Friend in his pre-Homeland days). To thank him, Mrs. Palfrey invites Ludavic to dinner and all the single ladies assume he is the much talked about but never actually seen Desmond.

Mrs. Palfrey and her fake-but-so-much-better-than-the-real-thing grandson bond over their mutual love of Wordsworth and Blake and it’s all so sweet and cultured and cute that you just know something’s gonna make it all come crashing down to reality and it does when the real Desmond shows up unexpectedly one afternoon at the Claremont. This movie proves that sometimes fake or manufactured families can often times be more kind and loving to one another than the real blood ones and that old people deserve much more than just being put into cold storage somewhere until they die. (YouTube, Amazon Instant)

* seriously, if you don’t shed a tear or twenty watching one of these movies than we are going to have to assume you are a Cyberman or a Dalek or some other member of the undead.


The End Of The Innocence

I don’t normally use this blog to get all serious and Debbie Downer-y or to air my petty grievances (we all know that is what Twitter is for), but every once in a while a story hits the news and I just can’t help myself. Last week a couple of Virginia Tech college students were arrested for the murder of thirteen-year-old Nicole Lovell. Now I have lived in America all my life so unfortunately people being murdered or arrested for murder is a pretty standard affair. What made this murder stand out amid all the others was the victim and her particular story.

Nicole Lovell survived cancer, MRSA and a liver transplant at the age of five only to be lured out of her home and allegedly murdered by the 18-year-old “boyfriend” she met online. Nicole had a tracheotomy scar and took twice daily anti-rejection drugs that made her gain weight and because of this she was often bullied at school, so much so that her mother kept her home on more than one occasion. And while they may look like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths there isn’t anything more vicious in the wild than an 8th grader in yoga pants with an agenda. Nicole was ripe for the picking from a predator and the Internet made that all the more easy to do.

I think a large part of why this story just plain got to me is that we all could have been this girl (although in my day we did not have mobile phones or Kik and were lucky if we had a corded princess phone in our bedroom and a tv with four channels, max). By just about anyone’s measure the junior high/middle school days are the worst even if you don’t have anything to make you stand out from the bland madding crowd like scars and transplant drug weight issues. Throw in a Lord of the Flies survival-of-the fittest herd mentality and it’s a miracle any of us get out alive.

But survive most of us do, even if we do stupid things like lie to our parents or sneak out of the house, carrying a Minions blanket like Nicole did. Maybe because her school life was not the best she had an active online presence, posting selfies to sites asking total strangers to deem her hot or not. She met someone and showed his pictures to her friends and described him as her boyfriend. One of her classmates supposedly went to a school counselor because she thought he appeared older than the 16-years Nicole said he was. The school counselor denies the relationship was ever brought to his attention and it doesn’t really matter now because it is too late for Nicole but it shouldn’t be.

Girls from a young age are sold the fairy tale that there is a soul-mate out there, a proverbial cover for every pot, but sometimes that lid just doesn’t fit right and the Judge Judy show is jam-packed with cases of lonely women (mostly, not solely) so desperate to be loved that they take out loans to borrow money to a guy they have known for a New York minute.

I have a couple of thirteen-year-olds in my family and for all intents and purposes they are babies even if they don’t think so. My heart aches for Nicole’s family and all the other little girls out there who just wanted to be accepted and loved even if they are not standard issue Barbie dolls.