“Cesarean”

My momma swallowed a watermelon seed.
It grew upside-down and backward.
Warped, lodged feet first.
Prone to afflictions of the mind.

Sick and tired of life before
I learned how to be
Sick and tired.

I ruined my mother’s birthday.

I guess I knew what was good for me, even then:
They had to cut me out.

– P.B.

“Watermelon Watermarks” by Eugenia Loli

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Some Summer 2015 Movie Reviews

Pitch Perfect 2 3 stars

Image via Pars Movie

I saw this one a while ago, so my memory might be a little foggy. It was okay, but for me it didn’t feel as “magical” as the first one. Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, and Anna Camp still delivered. The songs were good, and there was a decent mix of newer music and older music. But since when do the Bellas live in a sorority house? Who are these new randos in the group? Is Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) going to bump Bumper (Adam Devine) or not? This movie raised all these questions and more.

I didn’t really love the new girl Emily (Hailee Steinfeld – oh my god, someone younger than me playing a college freshman in a movie makes me want to die) that they were shoving down our throats, but that might be because she was eerily similar to someone I went to high school with. She seemed way too innocent and clean-cut, and she wrote one mediocre song and everyone hailed her as a genius. I wanted to see more of Jesse (Skylar Astin), but his character was pretty much wiped out and diminished to a cheerleader on the sidelines.

John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks) were still funny, too, but I think the best part of this movie was the Green Bay Packers. I think I cried from laughter when they were introduced in the Riff-Off. Also, Snoop Dogg was in there somewhere.

Aloha 5 stars

Image via Wikipedia

I really loved this one. It has gotten some hate on Rotten Tomatoes, but I don’t understand why. Aloha is honestly one of the first “romantic” movies where I couldn’t tell who was going to end up with who. It could’ve gone either way, but somehow they managed to wrap the story up without any of the characters ending up hurt. There’s some military mumbo-gumbo that I didn’t care about, but it didn’t take away from the love story at all.

Bradley Cooper was great. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors; he’s so dynamic. I had never imagined seeing Emma Stone as a fighter pilot, but she was absolutely fabulous. So were Rachel McAdams and the sassa-frass Alec Baldwin.

This was the first time I saw John Krasinski outside of The Office and I was worried that I would have a hard time processing him as someone other than Jim, but I was pleasantly surprised. Bill Murray could honestly play a pile of dirt and I would still love him. The emotional range of Danielle Rose Russell, who played Grace – Bradley Cooper/Rachel McAdams/John Krasinski’s daughter – was also outstanding, especially considering that this is only her second film credit. There were so many “stars” in this movie, but none of them took away from the plot. I honestly can’t say enough about how good everyone’s performance was.

Aloha left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside…and like getting revenge on my mom because she never signed me up for hula dancing lessons.

Inside Out 5 stars

Image via Screen Rant

Holy cow, Inside Out was fantastic too. Of course, I knew that it would be going in because it’s by Disney/Pixar. I don’t really know how else to describe it besides “smart.” I honestly don’t know how they continue to come up with stuff that is exciting for children but makes adults think, too. Also, I think this was the first time I’ve seen a butt (albeit animated) in a Disney film!

You can tell that they learned from Toy Story 3. There’s a similar theme of growing up and loss of innocence. The death of Riley’s (the little girl whose head the audience is inside of) imaginary friend in a dark pit of doom mirrored when Woody, Buzz, and company were almost incinerated.

I loved that the voices were recognizable, too. Amy Poehler (Joy, who was extremely similar to Leslie Knope), my one true love Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Lewis Black (Anger), and Bill Hader (Fear) killed it.

All in all, Inside Out is a great concept and it’s executed beautifully. It speaks volumes about growing up, and even though it’s animated, the storyline seems “real” and reflects a common human experience. I can’t wait to see it again!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 4 stars

Image via What’s After the Credits?

Putting his Project X party days behind him, Thomas Mann stars as Greg, a high school loner whose mom makes him hang out with an acquaintance who has been diagnosed with leukemia (Olivia Cooke). His “co-worker” Earl (RJ Cyler), who comes from the other side of the tracks, tags along. Also, the lovely Nick Offerman appears as Greg’s dad. 3/4 movies on this list have someone from The OfficeParks and Recreation, or both. Is that some sort of sign? If anyone figures it out, please tell me.

I feel like this movie turned out exactly the way it was supposed to. It’s quirky, emotional, and has enough comic relief to get the audience through the depressing storyline. The soundtrack was moving, and the characters were honest.

The only thing that really pissed me off was that Olivia Cooke’s character kept her eyebrows through chemo. If you’re gonna shave your head for a role, just take the eyebrows off too. For God’s sake!

Now that I’ve seen the movie, I really want to read the book. That’s backwards from usual for me, but hopefully I’ll enjoy it just the same.

5 Netflix Documentaries to Watch Before You Die

1. Blackfish

“Blackfish” (2013) is hands-down the best, most moving documentary that I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure it made me cry. It gives a thorough history of SeaWorld’s capture and mistreatment of orcas, and focuses specifically on Tilikum – an orca who has been involved in three deaths during his captivity at SeaWorld.

The film caused a lot of controversy, and although SeaWorld has refuted the filmmakers’ claims, one of the biggest things “Blackfish” has going for it is employee testimony.

You’re going to want to pull a “Free Willy” after this. Also, be prepared to have your heart broken when you hear baby and mama whales crying as they are separated. This thing could make Hitler want to save the whales

2. Crazy Love

“Crazy Love” (2007) is truly bizarre biography of Burt and Linda Pugach. It’s a classic love story.

You know how it goes. Boy meets girl, boy hires someone to dump acid in girl’s face and goes to prison, and then somewhere in there, there’s a wedding. This shit makes the stalker ex who goes through your trash at night seem perfectly harmless and lovable.

Don’t make the same mistake I did for the first half of this movie and mentally scoff at the fact that Linda is wearing sunglasses for all of her interviews. Spoiler alert: she’s blind – from, you know, having acid dumped in her face.

There’s a fine line between passionate and obsessive, and Burt Pugach definitely crosses that line. Nobody panic – he still gets the girl in the end.

3. Jesus Camp

Speaking of crazy, if there is anything more terrifying than religious fanatics, it’s the influence that these fanatics have over their children. “Jesus Camp” (2006) documents the brainwashing and manipulation that goes on at a particularly controversial Christian summer camp.

This one can be kind of tough to stomach, as it’s basically an hour and a half of watching children undergo psychological torture.

And don’t worry, this horror movie documentary isn’t a bash on your average Christian. The leaders of the camp are definitely extremists, and are so far to the right that they have the kids lay hands on and pray to a cardboard cut-out of a particular U.S. president (hint: it’s George W. Bush). So, don’t get offended. Just get angry.

4. Sound and Fury

Continuing with the theme of abusive questionable treatment of children, we turn now to “Sound and Fury” (2000), which explores two brothers’ decisions about giving their deaf children cochlear implants that would allow them to hear.

One of the brothers is super adamant about keeping his 5-year-old daughter deaf, even when she specifically asks for the implant.

Apparently this is a thing in the deaf community, so we aren’t really supposed to be mad about it. As a group, they have a very strong sense of culture and see the cochlear implant as a rejection of this identity. The debate gets pretty heated, and the documentary is pretty intriguing.

Also, if you like this one, there is a follow-up on YouTube called “Sound and Fury: Six Years Later,” and a TEDx Talk by Heather Artinian (the little girl who wanted the implant), which is also available on YouTube.

5. It’s a Girl

I’m don’t really consider myself to be hugely interested in the feminist movement, so I put this one off for a long time. After watching it, I feel stupid for doing that. “It’s a Girl” (2012) is about gendercide and violence toward women and girls in India and China, not straight up feminism.

It’s a super serious subject – one Indian woman emotionlessly describes how she killed her multiple (I think it was eight) infant daughters. The only weird thing about this documentary is that these hard-hitting stories are paired up with cutesy animations that I could have done without.

“It’s a Girl” is a good one to watch if you just want to stay updated on what’s going on in the world. I feel like I’ve heard about China’s one-child policy a million times, but I didn’t really know how it affected people on an individual level until I watched this.

“Memory”

I could navigate this house by memory:
The big round windows to the soul.
The shutters, for slamming.
The doors that lead to the chambers of the heart.
And the rooms left unlocked.

The joints and beams that will
Creak when we grow old,
Nails giving themselves to hold us together.
Rotting wood carved erratically
By a circulatory system of termites.

That place upstairs where we will paint –
Desperate artists must always bleed to feel
(Or so they say).
The shelves of books that we will study,
Tearing through pages
Until we find
What makes a heart tick.

– P.B.