Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: Feminism Documentaries

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On Friday, my husband and I were both feeling under the weather, and spent most of the day in the living room watching documentaries and cuddling with our two adorable cats. It’s probably kind of weird that we watch so many documentaries, but it’s definitely evidence that we’re meant for each other!

Two that we watched on Friday were related, and were both amazing! I’m going to talk about both of them today, because I loved them both so much! They were both very informative, inspiring, and a little sad.

The first one we watched was called She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. It’s about second-wave feminism in the United States. They talk to many of the women who were leaders in the movement, which was incredible! It was so awesome to be able to hear about the women’s liberation movement from the voices of women who were actually a part of it.

One of the coolest things about the movie was seeing footage from the time, not just of some of the protests and speeches, but also footage of the press and how they talked about the movement. It made me mad, because there were news stories where the reporters were really rude. It made me thankful that I wasn’t alive back then. It was also interesting learning about the women’s liberation movement and the role the civil rights movement and anti-war movement played. Those movements worked together because they tended to have quite a bit in common.

The most heartbreaking part was when they were discussing Roe v Wade, and the way things worked beforehand. One woman talked about how she had a friend from high school who only made it a few months into college and died because she had an unsafe abortion. The role that access to birth control and healthcare for women is so important. This movie made it clear that it’s not something to take for granted. It’s part of the reason that women now are able to have careers and plan their lives. It was a good reminder that access to healthcare, family planning, and birth control is still something that we’re fighting for here, and its importance shouldn’t be forgotten.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry can currently be streamed on Netflix.

The second film we watched was Miss Representation. This film was a good complement to She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, but it took more of a modern focus on media portrayals of women and how it affects not just adults, but also children. This film was made by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who is the wife of Gavin Newsom, the current Lieutenant Governor of California. She is an actress, who has become a filmmaker and activist, drawing attention to how the media affects both males and females.

Miss Representation talked to politicians, actresses, youth, activists, journalists, and others about the role that media plays in the lives of women and young girls. They discuss many topics, including how women journalists wear revealing clothes, like they are on screen as decoration, rather than as professionals informing the public.

They also discuss the film industry, and how there are not many women protagonists or directors. This is especially unfortunate since women make up 51% of the American population. They bring up an interesting point: women will watch movies and shows about men, but, in general, men will not watch movies or shows about women. This is really strange to me, and I’m not quite sure why it’s the case. That would explain why there are not as many female protagonists, however: it seems that the industry doesn’t think there is much of a market for it. That is starting to change, slowly.

One of the coolest things about this movie was that there were a couple different generations talking about the same issue. It’s cool to see the different perspectives and experiences, since they are so similar and yet also very different. Gloria Steinem, who has been working on this cause for a long time has been through different life experiences than a high school student, but both perspectives are important. It was also cool because the movie discusses how this issue affects men, which is important and interesting. A lot of time is spent discussing how the media’s portrayal of women affects females. And rightfully so. But, it’s important to note that this issue also affects boys and men. It not only impacts how they view the women around them, but also distorts their view of the way the world operates. I find this to be extremely interesting.

Miss Representation is also available for streaming on Netflix.

I think that both of these movies are a good pick for anyone wanting to learn more about the women’s liberation movement or feminism. They are also good movies for people who are knowledgeable about feminism and media’s portrayal of women because they both give great examples and food for thought.

Let’s chat! What’s the best movie you’ve seen lately?

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Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: Ivory Tower

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Once again, it’s Sunday, and the end of the weekend. ::sobs:: I don’t know about you, but Sunday is such a melancholy, bittersweet day. It’s awesome because it’s still the weekend, but so much of the day is getting ready for the work week. I should really count my blessings. At least I have a job, right? Still, Sundays are a bit sad for me.

When I was planning this month’s blog posts (which has obviously gone really well, since I’ve been so quiet this month…), I had planned on having all of my lazy Sunday posts be about Christmas movies. I haven’t been watching much stuff recently, or Christmas stuff at that. So, I wasn’t sure I was even going to write today. My husband and I did watch a documentary that we checked out from the library, though, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot, so I am going to talk about that instead!

The last time we were at the library (which is surprisingly often), we checked out a documentary called Ivory Tower. This documentary had been on our radar for a while, but we have had the hardest time finding it. My husband just happened to be looking at the movies when he spotted it, and I’m really glad he did!

Ivory Tower is a documentary about the rising cost of college tuition, and the precarious position that those rising costs have on students. It covers some of the pros and cons of going to college (though I will be honest, the message of the movie is not very favorable about college). It also discusses the pros and cons of some of the current available alternatives. As someone who spent 7+ years in college earning both a Bachelors and Masters degree, the issue of student loans is one that is very near and dear to my heart. I was lucky to get our of college without too much debt, but starting a career with any amount of debt can cause issues in the long run.

One of the most interesting arguments in the movie was that colleges (specifically public ones, though private ones fall into this same trend) have increased their tuition so much in the last 40 years or so, partially to make up for government funding lost. The amount that they have increased tuition more than covers the deficit brought on by lack of government dollars. It has become less about sustaining the school, and more about competing with other schools to be more desirable for prospective students. Schools are charging tons of money to attend their school so they can afford to pay their administrators and build state of the art facilities. It is not uncommon for schools to spend millions of dollars on student centers and recreation centers with pools and climbing walls, along with fancy dorms, all for the purpose of bringing in more students so they can get more money. Where does it end?

Now, it’s not uncommon for students to graduate not only weighed down with debt, but also unable to find a job to help pay that money back. I am not working in my field, and most of my friends are not as well. We are all doing ok for ourselves, but it sometimes feels hard to justify all the money we have spend on getting degrees that did not really get us anywhere. It used to be that a person could attend college and pay for it with money they saved up from a summer job. That isn’t realistic anymore, unfortunately. There are other options, however. With technology, it’s becoming possible to learn how to do jobs without going to school. I am currently learning how to build websites without stepping foot into a classroom or spending money on classes. I am currently relying on free resources to learn the skills, and it’s working fairly well, I think. There are all kinds of places that are cheap or free to learn anything a person could want to know. These resources are generally taught by some of the best people in the field, or have the most up to date information available. The hard part is that you’re generally  alone when learning like this, but it’s always possible to use the power of the internet to network with people who are interested in learning the same things.

One of my favorite parts of the movie is that they covered this school called the Cooper Union, which is in New York. When it was opened in the 1800s, its founder believed that education should be free to whomever wanted to pursue it. He set up and endowment to keep classes at the Cooper Union free. It has remained that way since. Recently, they got a new president, who decided that they needed to start charging tuition. It seems that this was partially because of some bad financial decisions that were made, and also partially to cover his compensation, which is over $700,000 per year. When the board voted to start charging tuition, the students started protesting. Many signed a document stating that they have a vote of no confidence in the school’s president, and when the presented the document to him, they did it at the beginning of a two month long occupation of his office. It was an interesting and uplifting story, because it was really cool seeing students fight for something they believe in and fighting uphold a tradition that is over 100 years old. College does not have to cost money, at least not much, and having schools that make higher education more accessible to everyone are just the kinds of things that we need.

This documentary was sort of different from other ones I have been watching recently. It shows that there is a problem with the current state of affairs, but also shows that there are viable alternatives. Most documentaries show that there is a problem, but don’t always offer much in the way of a solution, so I appreciated it from Ivory Tower.

If you like documentaries or think that the rising cost of higher education is a problem, this is a fantastic documentary. It goes into detail about when things started to change and how. It discusses the current situation and how unsustainable it is. Even though I was in college not too long ago, I learned quite a bit about how some colleges run. I learned how much greed there is in the college and university system.

I don’t regret going to school because I got some good memories, and I learned some valuable lessons, but I don’t think that college is for everyone. With is becoming as expensive as it is today, I think it’s great that people are starting to look into alternatives. I hope that this documentary gets people talking and thinking about the issue and ways that I can be fixed.

So, I highly recommend Ivory Tower. Have you seen this or any other great documentaries recently? Let me know in the comments!

Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: Love Actually

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Happy Sunday, everyone!

I have been busy getting ready for the holiday season! I have been really stumped on what to give some of my family members for Christmas, but I’m slowly starting to figure it out. I do this to myself every year… I should just think about it and prepare months in advance, and then things wouldn’t seem so hectic come December. Maybe. There’s always something to do.

Yesterday, I spend the afternoon with a friend of mine at her house. We planned on watching Christmas movies and filling out our Christmas cards. We put out snacks, put on Love Actually, got our cards ready (she has twice as many to fill out as I do!), and… watched the movie. And chatted. After the movie was over, we put on Gilmore Girls, and chatted about the show. It was such a fun day! But, I only finished one card… So… looks like I will need to work on that more!

For today’s Lazy Sunday Binge Watch, I am picking Love Actually! The funny thing about it is that I was going to talk about it anyway, but now it’s extra fresh in my memory.

Love Actually is a movie that takes place in London around Christmas. It follows multiple story lines, which fit together like puzzle pieces. Each story line includes a love story of some sort. Some relationships work out, some don’t. Some involve kids, widowers, cheaters, and people with barriers making it difficult for their feelings to be expressed. In the end, some of the stories have happy endings, and some of them don’t, which I really like because it’s more realistic than if everyone got exactly what they wanted, without consequence.

The really awesome thing about this movie is that there are tons of well known actors and actresses in it. This includes Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightly, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, and Billy Bob Thornton. It makes it fun to watch the movie, because there are so many well-known people in it. It’s fun to pick people out and get surprised when someone new comes on the screen.

I recently came across a Buzzfeed article discussing the fact that Love Actually is not a good movie. There are some points made in the article that I think are fair, but definitely not all of them. There are some one-dimensional and misogynistic characters, which isn’t fun to watch, but it’s fairly realistic. Many of us know that guy who thinks that he is God’s gift to women, and thinks that he deserves a woman and blames women when he is single. It’s not the type of man that I would want to spend my time with, but they are, unfortunately, not a rare breed. There is also the fact that one of the characters makes a move on his best friend’s new wife. I agree with Buzzfeed that he shouldn’t do that, because if he liked her and wanted to act on it, he probably should have done so before the wedding, rather than after. I think that the way he did it was pretty cute (his confession written on cards: “To me, you are perfect.”, though his intention in doing that was less to be cute and more to avoid a fight with his friend, who was in the other room.

Perhaps, despite all of those (and other) reasons that the “love” stories in this movie aren’t that great, that is why I like this movie. The stories are messy. They are full of cheaters, misunderstandings, bad intentions, poor timing, and life circumstances, which make the stories less like a fairy tale, and more like the difficult situations people encounter. Is it believable that a british man would fly to Wisconsin, meet 3 beautiful girls in the bar who are all interested in him, have two other cute friends, and it works out for him? No. Is it realistic that someone would go to France to get away from his cheating girlfriend, only to fall in love with the housekeeper, who does not speak English or any other language he could possibly use to communicate with her? And then, have them both learn the others language so that he can surprise her at work with a marriage proposal? Not really. Is it, however, realistic that a husband would have an emotional affair with his assistant at work, and his wife finds out? Yes. That happens all the time. So, of course there are parts of the movie that are weird and not really realistic. But there are others that hit close to home for some people. Besides, aren’t most romantic comedies pretty hard to believe? That’s part of what makes them fun to watch.

Love Actually is not a movie for everyone. If you like romantic comedies, you will probably like this movie. It’s not the most Christmas-y movie, but it is set during the Christmas season.

Let’s chat! What is your favorite Christmas movie? Have you seen Love Actually? Do you love it or hate it? Do you have a favorite story line?

Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: Back to the Future, Part 1

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Wednesday is Back to the Future Day. It’s the day in the second movie that Marty and Doc Brown travel to (seriously, they travel to October 21, 2015!). One thing you all may have noticed by now is I love theme days and theme parties. My birthday is next weekend, and I’m having a Back to the Future party, because I was born on another important Back to the Future day (the day where the first movie starts and ends: October 26, 1985). So, since I need to not only celebrate Back to the Future day, but I also need to celebrate my birthday, I am watching the three movies this week! Today, for Lazy Sunday Binge Watch (even though my actual Sunday isn’t going to be lazy at all), I am highlighting Back to the Future Part 1.

I have been watching Part 1 since I was a little kid. I adore this movie in all of its 80’s awesomeness. The soundtrack is fantastic, the story is both funny and intriguing, and who doesn’t love Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson?

Back to the Future Part 1 is the story on a teenage boy (Marty McFly) who is friends with a crazy scientist (Doc Brown). Doc builds a time machine out of a DeLorean (which may still be one of the coolest cars ever), and Marty mistakenly travels back in time to when his parents first met. He meets his attractive and popular mom (Lorraine), and his nerdy/awkward dad (George). But, instead of falling in love with George, Lorraine begins to fall in love with Marty (ew). So, Marty works with a younger Doc Brown to fix the mistake! If he doesn’t, Marty and his siblings with cease to exist! At the same time, Marty and Doc work to fix the time machine so that Marty can get back to 1985 in time to take his girlfriend camping.

Is this movie cheesy? Of course! There are some parts of it that are hilariously cheesy, but I honestly think it just adds to the charm of the movie. It does not always have the best acting, but it is supposed to be a comedy, so that is not entirely surprising. I think that it has a pretty good story, because it’s an adventure movie, and there are just so many funny things that happen while Marty is in 1955. Here are a few of my favorite parts of the movie:

  • Marty meets his uncle who is in prison in 1985. In 1955, he is a little kid, and when Marty meets him, he is in a crib with bars. The family says that the kid loves being in the crib, and cries whenever he’s taken out. Marty tells him to get used to those bars. Funny!
  • When Marty is in 1955, he is coaching his dad on how to win his mom. At one part, George goes into a diner to ask Lorraine to a school dance. He has this whole speech written out to say to her, including talking about how she is his destiny. However, instead of saying “destiny”, he says “density”. “My density has brought me to you”, is so hilarious!
  • Doc Brown says “Great Scott!” throughout the movie, and it’s pretty awesome every time!

There is not a ton of inappropriate things in this movie, so I would say it’s ok for older kids to watch. I loved it when I was a kid, because I loved the dresses of the 1950’s, and the sense of adventure in the movie is really fun.

Part 1 has always been my favorite movie in the trilogy, but the other ones have value as well. Each of the movies involve them traveling to a different point in time, which adds more to the bigger story, and is really fun, especially for kids.

If you have never seen Back to the Future, I suggest you give it a try! It’s really entertaining. This week, I plan on watching Part 2 and 3 as well. I am especially excited for Part 2, so I can see all of the predictions they had for 2015, and how most of them probably did not come true (though a few have, surprisingly).

Have you ever seen any of the Back to the Future movies? What do you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: Scott Pilgrim vs the World

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This week, I am picking one of my favorite movies: Scott Pilgrim vs the World. This movie is a few years old; it was released in 2010, but I still watch it often. It was adapted from a series of six graphic novels, written by Bryan Lee O’Malley. I have read them, and the movie is actually really close to the way the books were written, down to some of the illustrations being brought to life.

Scott Pillgrim vs the World follows the somewhat pathetic Scott, as he navigates relationships, being in a band and some really interesting life events. When we first meet Scott, he is dating a high schooler (Knives), which is really scandalous, since he is in his twenties. He is in a band, and his girlfriend thinks that he’s the coolest person. We quickly learn that he has recently had his heart broken by a girl. Soon after the story begins, he meets another girl (Ramona), who is mysterious. He wants to meet her so bad, and soon ends up in the precarious situation of trying to choose between two girls, one who is way too young for him (but not complicated), and one who is complicated (but his age and more interesting).

Soon after meeting Ramona, Scott starts getting into battles with people he has never met. It turns out that, in order for him to date Ramona, he has to defeat her seven evil exes. He doesn’t always know when a battle is going to happen, and doesn’t know who the person he is going to be fighting will be.

This movie is really great for people who have played video games, because there are tons of video game and pop culture references throughout the movie. It is still a fun movie even if you don’t understand all of the references. It’s still really funny and have excellent comedic timing. It has a great cast, including Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, Kieran Culkan, Mae Whitman, Chris Evans and Brie Larson. All of these people together are really funny, and make the movie really fun to watch.

Another fun thing about the movie is the music. Since Scott is in a band, quite a bit of the movie involves music. In the making of the movie, they got help from Metric, Broken Social Scene and Beck. The Blu-Ray has a behind-the-scenes special about not only the bands that helped with the music in the movie, but also went over how the actors learned the instruments they played. It was really impressive, because most of the actors has to learn how to play an instrument that they had no prior experience with in the past.

This is a great movie for anyone who loves nerdy references, and for those who are looking for a genuinely funny and quirky movie. It has an interesting story and the performances are great.

Let me know: have you ever seen Scott Pilgrim vs the World or read the graphic novels? Did you love it or hate it?

Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: Pitch Perfect

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If you don’t already follow Anna Kendrick on Twitter, I highly recommend it! She’s sarcastic, funny, and she writes so many things that you would expect from the “average” woman, not a Hollywood celebrity. It makes me respect her so much!

If you want to follow me on Twitter (I am not as funny as Anna Kendrick, but still), you can get to my twitter account by clicking the bird at the top of the page, or by going here.

In honor of the awesomeness that is Anna Kendrick, and the tweet above about her Netflix habits (binge watching!), today’s pick for Lazy Sunday Binge Watch is Pitch Perfect.

Note: I have not yet seen the second one. I am pretty slow in catching new movies, because I really don’t like going to movie theaters. I think they’re expensive, and most of the time I get motion sick, so it’s pretty pointless. But, I digress. Let’s get to talking about Pitch Perfect!

Recently, there seems to have been a huge trend in shows and movies about Glee Clubs and acapella groups (obviously made popular by the show “Glee”). For some reason, I like Pitch Perfect the most. There are quite a few reasons why I really enjoy watching it (over and over again).

First, it’s hilarious. The character “Fat Amy”, played by Rebel Wilson is just amazing. I think most of you know how I feel about fat shaming, so having a character named “Fat Amy” would normally not be something I would appreciate. However, this is addressed early on in the movie, when she is asked why she goes by that name. She states that she calls herself fat so that no one else can. While I am not sure that I agree with her logic, I do like that she is one of the best characters (not just the funny one). Along those lines, I think that this movie does a pretty good job of having diversity. Definitely not as much as I wish they would (the male acapella group does not have many men of color, especially not ones with speaking lines). The women, however, are really diverse, not just racially, but also in body shapes. They are not all stick thin, blonde and supermodel beautiful. Some of them are short, some of them are somewhat awkward. The vision of the acapella group is that they have that “perfect” look: all thin, beautiful, etc, but they end up desperately recruiting a rag-tag group of women who end up working really well together.

Secondly, this movie never really takes itself too seriously. Even the “serious” parts are funny and charming. There are some gross teen comedy parts (mostly involving vomit), which I think are a little over the top. Even though this movie does have a moral (mostly a “don’t judge a book by its cover” lesson), it gets to that point with plenty of laughs along the way.

I also love Anna Kendrick’s character, Beca. She has that outsider, misfit attitude. She basically only joins the acapella group so that her dad will allow her to work at the college radio station (which is what she wants to do for a career). She loves music, and loves making mashups of songs, which ends up coming in handy for the group, even though her suggestions for how to change their tired routine comes with some opposition. She is especially sarcastic and witty (just like Kendrick is in real life). She meets a boy named Jesse (played by Skylar Astin) who becomes a part of their rival all-male acapella group. He obviously likes her, and she obviously doesn’t really want to give him the time of day, but just like every other teen romantic comedy, this turns out just the way we want it to. On an interesting side note, Skylar Astin ended up dating fellow co-star Anna Camp!

Finally, the music is really fun. It really should be, since it’s basically all about music and performing acapella versions of songs, but some of the songs are so catchy! One song in the movie that is not a cover is “Cups”, performed by Anna Kendrick. It was actually played all the time on the radio the summer that the movie came out. Kendrick is a really good singer, and for some reason that was really surprising to me. The whole song isn’t in the movie, so you should go find it if you haven’t heard it. Such a fun song!

I’m sure a lot of you have seen the movie, since it was so popular when it came out. If you’re looking for a fun movie to pass the time with, however, this is a great choice! Let me know what you think in the comments! And, have a great week!

Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: The Princess Bride

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Happy Sunday!

I am writing this from northern MN. Minnesota in the summer can be absolutely perfect. Sometimes, it’s so hot and humid that it’s hard to enjoy (though heat and humidity isn’t what MN is known for… it’s actually the opposite). This weekend, however, has been amazing! Little to no humidity, warm but not burning hot, with just a few clouds.

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This is the beautiful view I got to wake up to!

This week’s Lazy Sunday Binge Watch pick is the 1987 classic movie The Princess Bride. This movie is based on the 1973 novel written by William Goldman. We just read this book for our book club (and a review is coming up soon!). If you have never seen this movie, it’s definitely worth watching!

It’s essentially a fairy tale, but done a little differently. It’s super quotable, hilarious, and holds up pretty well for a movie that will soon be 30 years old. Don’t let the title fool you, it’s something both males and females can enjoy. It’s also great for kids: not overly raunchy or violent, so perfect for a family movie night!

Sorry for the short post, but I absolutely don’t want to spoil this movie for anyone! Also, I was in a car for almost 4 hours today, and I am exhausted!

Have any of you seen The Princess Bride? What is your favorite (or least favorite) part? Let’s talk about it in the comments!