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sentimentality & cinema

i’m not one for overly sappy movies. yes, i love a happy ending, but not necessarily the all-tie-up-with-a-bow, pretty-package endings- drivel and fluff with unrealistic expectations. what really gets to me are films that have a more pragmatic view on life, and yet, still contain a satisfying and realistically “happy” ending.

last night, i randomly picked a movie on netflix, based on the brief description and the cast. Hector and the Search for Happiness – which is based off a french novel- did not disappoint. In it, the titular hector { played by the delightful as ever simon pegg }, feeling like he is stuck in a rut, travels the world in search of finding what truly brings happiness to people. the comedy was subtle, and the cinematography was stunning. hector’s journey was cringeworthy at times, humbling, terrifying, and eye-opening, and in the end, our “hero” hector has grown as a character and come to the amazing { yet not SO amazing } discovery that the happiness he thought had eluded him, was there all along.

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in many ways, it reminded me of another favourite film: Away We Go, which is also a journey-of-self-discovery movie.  in it, burt { john krasinski } and verona { maya rudolph } travel to various cities in north america, seeking a place to put down roots and call home, since they are expecting their first child. each city presents a host of positives and negatives, and they are faced with the challenge/reality that not everything { or everyone } it quite what it seems. in the end, they “discover” home in a beautiful, realistic, emotional, and SATISFYING way.

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the wonderful world of documentaries {or netflix. you choose}

our household {myself, spousal unit and fuzzy-lumps-of-love aka kittehz} have been on quite the documentary kick lately. and mostly due to netflix instant viewing. now, i’ve never been a huge docu-gal– before this year i can only count maybe 3 that weren’t michael moore works– but i’m really starting to appreciate enjoy what i call the “soft-docu”: documentaries that appeal more to feelings than facts. my guess is, in this age of digital video and sites like youtube, vimeo & the like, it’s become a lot easier {and more affordable} to make these “soft-docus”.  what i worry about though, is how seriously they could be taken by the viewing audience. while watching them, i find it hard to be swayed to the point of view being put forth, but mostly because {as previously mentioned} they are very light on facts, or worse, the facts are blatantly cherry-picked.

it must be the graduate student in me that knows an argument only becomes truly compelling when both sides are presented and BOTH quantitative & qualitative evidence is present. {thanks a lot DOOWAN} however,watching these “soft-docus” has almost become an exercise in debate- i find myself angry with presenters when they don’t delve deep enough, aren’t hard-hitting and especially when they ignore whole swaths of evidence that contradicts their viewpoint. bottom line: even if you don’t at all agree with the premise put forth, you still can learn a hell of a lot just by seeing where these directors/producers are coming from.

“soft-docus” watched so far {and all available through netflix instant, if you want to enlighten yourself}:

  • America the Beautiful–  about the beauty industry. didn’t go nearly far enough for me
  • America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments– about the weight loss industry & “sequel” to above. better than above, but not enough hard evidence
  • Business of Being Born– medical vs. home births. pretty good balance. more stats would have been nice
  • Vegucated– should have been a food network show. barely worthy of the “documentary” status. super cherry-picked
  • No Impact Man– a decent documentary, interesting premise. not really viable and many times ignored better solutions
  • Mansome– very entertaining, an insightful view into the rather overlooked world of male beauty standards