I had so many plans to see different films and read different books this summer. Yet, here we are, in August, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I wanted to see and read in these past few months.
Still, it hasn’t been a total bust.
Last weekend, I watched Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, a documentary by HBO on the life and career of one of the greatest entertainers of all time.
I have always been a fan, from watching Mork and Mindy when I was a small child, to appreciating his dramatic roles as I got older. It has always amazed me at the range of those actors we generally associate with comedic antics to delve into some truly heart-wrenching performances on the big screen.
For example, I saw a preview yesterday of a new drama with Steve Carell. He, too, has the range that Williams had in his capacity to completely transform from goofball to serious, dramatic actor, and make you believe it.
The documentary on Williams included many interviews from close friends, family, and costars, and gave an in-depth look into his brilliant mind.
I highly recommend it. It’s available for streaming on HBO until August 16th.
Yesterday, at my daughter’s prodding, we saw Eighth Grade, a painful, funny, and awkward look into the life of a teenager about to enter her high school years.
Bo Burnham’s directorial debut was surprisingly full of heart, and a lot of truth. Having seen some of his comedy, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. It was definitely a cringeworthy movie, but only because the subject matter is so. The performances are genuine, and smart, and resounded with both me and my daughter on many levels.
It’s definitely a great discussion film for parents and teens to view together, even if your child, as mine did, keeps their face hidden behind their hands in second-hand embarrassment throughout much of the film.
The social media storm that surrounds our offspring these days puts us, as parents, in a world unlike anything our own authority figures ever had to endure.
The thought of all the capabilities out there for photos, recordings, and words that cannot be unsaid, documented for all time on the world wide web is often an overwhelming challenge to help a young person navigate. But navigate it we must, because it is our reality.
In one scene, the main character burns a time capsule from the 6th grade, believing that nothing in it has value. It was a poignant moment for many reasons. For one, many of the things a kid in today’s world would like to burn and forget cannot be destroyed so easily. Even if the physical reminders can be burned away, the virtual and emotional scars can remain for a lifetime.
Secondly, her father’s desire for her to see herself as he sees her, and his monologue about it, is where my tear ducts gave out during the viewing.
That’s all we want, isn’t it? For our children to see all of the goodness within themselves, all of the potential and already existing positive attributes they possess?
It is definitely an emotional ride for parent and teen, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the film’s ability to show both sides of the coin with equal heart.
Book club resumes the end of this month, and our selection for the summer break is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
A New York Times best-seller, set in Afghanistan, this novel already has me hooked, and I just started it in the waiting room of an appointment I had yesterday.
I’m not going to write an official review yet. I might just share the one that I feel sure the book club member that selected it will write, as she has a blog of her own. I will just say, I love it when our club reads something as honestly different as Suns is turning out to be.
I think a great discussion will be had when we resume our meetings in a few weeks and I definitely look forward to hearing everyone’s perspectives on the story.
If you’ve seen any great movies or read any great books this summer, share them with me in the comments. I’m always looking for new ones!