“Forever My Girl”, A Heartfelt “Chick Flick” that Struck A Few Chords…

I like what people often refer to as “Chick Flicks”. Yes, those corny falling-in-love type of movies that tend to make one get all weepy and xpsmotional when watching them and “Forever My Girl” is one of those that I saw recently in the theater that was not only heartfelt, but also struck a few chords.

Initially taking place in a very small town in Louisiana named St. Augustine, the film begins with a young woman named Josie (Jessica Rothe) getting stood up at her own wedding by the love of her life, a man named Liam Page (Alex Roe), someone who just recently has come into musical fame in the country circuit. The film quickly moves on after that to 8 years later where Liam has gained worldwide stardom with his music. But it’s apparent he’s extremely unhappy even in light of that with all the alcohol he consumes on a daily basis. It’s also apparent Liam is living with regret and shame about leaving Josie at the altar all those years later when his ratty flip phone containing a message from Josie gets crushed under a fangirl’s foot in his hotel room. As he desperately seeks to get that phone fixed, he notices a news report covering the tragic death of his closest friend from high school, the one who was supposed to be his best man and the one who let Josie know he wasn’t going to be showing up for their wedding. Liam starts to suffer from a total mental breakdown because of all this and decides to leave his national tour in the lurch on the eve of its final performance by heading home to attend the funeral. Once there, as soon as Josie sets eyes upon him, along with the rest of the town, it’s obvious his presence is unwelcomed. But that’s all about to change once Liam discovers Josie has been holding onto a huge secret over the past 8 years.

I know the plot of this movie might sound like it belongs on some silly Hallmark channel evening special and maybe indeed it could very easily show up in some similar fashion there as well. Yet, this movie still touched me nonetheless more so than many of the other “Chick Flicks” I’ve seen, mostly because of the life Liam was living. Filled with money and fame, Liam was a guy who had totally lost his way, having grown up too fast from his sudden musical fame. Money, drugs, booze, and sex had become his way to cope with everything and boy, do I know that pattern well.

While I may have not gained any type of fame thus far in life, I did come into money quite early on, as well as drugs, booze, and sex. And because of it, I always thought I was above everyone else. And like Liam, I constantly expected everyone else to do everything for me. I really had to chuckle at one point in the film where Liam pretty much snapped his fingers and told his manager to get him an espresso. This selfishness and self-centeredness that Liam demonstrated was a great reminder to a life I once lived. Mercifully, money, drugs, booze, and sex don’t rule my life anymore. Instead, I have something far more valuable in place of it, that being an unconditionally loving heart for my friends and loved ones. To me that’s way more priceless than any of the things Liam or myself ever coveted in life.

That’s why I thoroughly enjoyed watching “Forever My Girl”, not only because it was a heartfelt “Chick Flick”, but also because of these few chords it struck within me. Each were great reminders of a life I never want to go back to. One where I was far more consumed with self, instead of what’s truly important in life, that being the unconditional love for others, something that thankfully, both Liam and I finally realized in the end.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

“The Florida Project”, A Real-Life Look At Impoverished Families Living Near Disney World

There are some movies that make me grateful for the life I’ve been able to live thus far and “The Florida Project” is one of those, which takes a real-life look at impoverished families living in a place where one might never think poverty even exists, that being near Disney World.

Set over the course of one summer, the film surrounds the life of a 6-year-old girl named Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her friends Scooty (Christopher Rivera), Dicky (Aiden Malik), and Jancey (Valeria Cotto) who each live at low budget motels that are extremely near the Disney World properties. At $38 a night, these motels have become homes for many poor families including Moonee’s, whose sole guardian is her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite). At first glance, it’s quite easy for the movie watcher to become appalled at Moonee’s use of foul language, lying, scamming, and numerous delinquent acts, that is until we start getting to know Halley. She doesn’t have a job and instead sells cheap knock off perfumes to Disney World resort guests to pay her weekly “rent” at their motel. And when not doing that she regularly engages in the use of recreational drugs and alcohol, solicits herself for sex to make extra cash, and is consumed with plenty of vulgar language herself. Yet what is also apparent is the fact that Halley truly does love her daughter and tries to do everything she can to provide Moonee a decent life given their poor circumstances. Unfortunately, Halley acts as much her daughter’s age in behaviors and isn’t the role model Moonee really needs, which the motel’s property manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe) is overly aware of. But because of the soft spot he has for Moonee and the other kids living out of the small motel rooms on his property, he provides more warnings than anything else when violations occur. But as the summer wears on and as those violations continue to grow in number between Halley and her daughter, it seems as if their days of living in this low budget motel are numbered, as well as Halley continuing to remain Moonee’s guardian.

Why I liked this movie as much as I did was simply because these low budget motels do exist as homes for poverty stricken families within walking distance of the Disney proprieties in Florida. For someone like me who has visited Disney a number of times throughout my life and knows how expensive it is to have a vacation there, I must say that the thought of those places existing so close by never once crossed my mind anytime I was there. Instead, I was always more consumed with myself and my lavish spending instead of thinking about those less fortunate who lived in poverty more than not nearby.

The sad reality is that there are more than 45 million people living this way in the United States and yet it repeatedly gets overlooked by too many of us. It’s easy to turn our heads away and deny it even exists, especially if we’ve never suffered from poverty ourselves. In turn, it also becomes easy to judge the actions and behaviors of the impoverished, like I found myself doing mentally when watching Halley and her daughter’s actions in this film. But for someone like me who has never once lived a day in their shoes, judging them is the last thing I should be doing.

Nevertheless, “The Florida Project” opened my eyes to something I’ve personally overlooked far too much in this life. It was a great reminder as well that I not only need to remain grateful for the abundance God’s given me in this life, but also and far more importantly, that no matter where I am, even at a magical place like Disney, there are people living in poverty nearby just like Halley and Moonee, who may never know what it means to ever have any type of abundance in life. And in the end, seeing that depicted in this film was a pretty humbling experience for me.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Spiritual Recap Of The 2018 Golden Globes Awards Show…

I’m not sure if you tuned into the 2018 Golden Globes this year like I did when it was on this past Sunday evening. The only reason why I chose to tune in was to see what interesting things might be said on stage from presenters, winners, and from host Seth Meyers.

Given all the tumultuous things that have taken place both in our country and in the entertainment industry specifically over the past year, I was hoping to hear some inspirational speeches. Thankfully, Oprah delivered on that while accepting the Cecile B. DeMille award. Her words certainly moved my heart. Ironically, there’s even talk now of her running for President in 2020 after that speech and a number of people I know have already told me they’d definitely vote for her.

Beyond Oprah’s stirring words, I was happy to see all the woman coming together that evening wearing black to support the “#MeToo” movement, as the entertainment industry has long been weighted towards males, of which I’m hopeful that’s finally coming to an end. Much of which can be thanked actually to all the sexual allegations that have come forward ever since the initials ones took place with Harvey Weinstein in the early Fall of 2017.

In addition to the unity I saw in support of women in the entertainment industry, I noticed two other things that made watching this show far more enjoyable this year and both took place during the red carpet. There, the focus wasn’t on the women’s dresses this year and how dazzling they looked or who made them. Instead, it was for once, on their careers and the talent they had, which in my opinion is what it needs to always be focused on. The other was when Jessica Biel was being interviewed for her nomination for her role in the TV movie The Sinner. After she answered a few questions, the focus was put on her husband standing next to her, which is no other than Justin Timberlake. In a very gentle and loving way, Justin asked if they would keep the focus on Jessica because the night was meant to be more about her. That was a strong sign of humility and something I think we all need to strive for in life because the spotlight isn’t always meant to be on ourselves.

Sadly, there were a number of things that did bother me though during this awards show. One was from Natalie Portman who was presenting with Ron Howard for the category of Best Director. As she began to read the nominations, she started with, “And here are the ALL-Male nominees for Best Director”, which I felt took away from the work of those who did get nominated. Do I wish more women had been recognized this year for their amazing directing skills like Katheryn Bigelow for “Detroit”? Absolutely! But when I saw the reactions of sadness and shame from those men who were waiting to see if they had won this category after Portman’s comment, I felt bad for them even being in that position at that point and I think so did they. After all, it wasn’t their fault that a woman wasn’t nominated in their category, it was the people who did the voting, which in this case was the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

I was also somewhat turned off by a few things Seth Meyers had to say during his opening comedic monologue. First, he said, “Harvey Weinstein isn’t here tonight. Because, well, I’ve heard rumors that he’s crazy and difficult to work with. But don’t worry he’ll be back in 20 years when he’s the first person ever booed at the in memoriam.” Then, he said, “I was happy to hear they’re going to do another season of House of Cards. Is Christopher Plummer available to do that too? I hope he can do a Southern accent… cuz Kevin Spacey sure couldn’t.” And lastly, he followed that up by “I have to admit, when I first heard The Shape of Water was a movie about a naive young woman falling in love with a disgusting sea creature, I thought, ‘Man, not another Woody Allen movie.’ There was relatively no laughter during any of these attempts at humor and instead plenty of silence and groans, of which I believe is far deserved. Personally, I found those specific jokes distasteful as much as everyone else there seemed to. I think it’s time to shift the focus onto spiritual unification and equality and not highlight the actions of those who led to any of the disunity and separation anymore. Hopefully, the lack of laughter with these jokes will prevent this from happening at the Oscars next month or any of the other awards shows for that matter.

Lastly, I need to mention the one thing I always look for every year with awards shows I watch, that being whether anyone thanked God or their Higher Power during their speech. No one did once again, which was rather disappointing. All I know is that if one day I’m ever on a stage like that where I have a chance to give God the glory He deserves, it will be first and foremost before I say anything else, because without God, I would never have made it to that stage in the first place, and frankly, without God’s help thus far, I’d probably be dead by now anyway.

Nevertheless, overall, I found the 2018 Golden Globes enjoyable and quite moving at times. I’m grateful to finally see equality moving forward in ways we’ve never seen before, especially in the entertainment industry and that alone made it worthwhile watching this year.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Fondly Remembering The Days Of Old When It Comes To The Movie-Going Experience…

While it’s no secret how much I love watching movies, especially at a theater, I must say that I really miss the days of old when it comes to that experience.

These days, there are twenty minutes of pre-show advertising and twenty minutes of trailers that run before the movie even starts, where most people seem to spend the majority of that time on their cell phones. It also appears that plenty like to arrive towards the end of all those trailers nowadays, which tends to cause distractions and disruptions to all those who came early to enjoy them. In regards to each of those trailers, which can be up to eight or nine in total, they generally last several minutes each and often spoil many of that coming film’s best plot points. When the movie finally begins, phones always seem to ring, people like to talk to their companions there with them, texting goes on way too much, and bright screens often distract viewers more than not throughout the entire running time. When I was growing up though, things were very different whenever I went to the movies.

People liked to arrive quite early at theaters back then to get a good seat and they often conversed with others, including strangers, while waiting for the movie to start. There were never more than two or three previews for future movies shown and each would run between 30 seconds to a minute, never spoiling any of the film’s best parts. The film also consistently began a mere couple minutes from the show’s posted start time in the paper and silence always seemed to be golden more than not with each audience I ever sat with. And in the end, when the credits would begin to roll, people liked to converse with each other again, asking whether they liked the film or not, as they poured out of the theater.

So, yes, I’m finding myself feeling quite nostalgic towards the days of old when it comes to the movie-going experience because of all these 21st century changes. I think that’s why I feel so grateful whenever I attend a movie now where no one else shows up for it and I have the entire theater to myself, as then I can become immersed once again in the experience like I used to as a kid. I can get whisked away for a few hours where there’s no theater drama going on around me, nothing to distract me from the reason why I have always loved going to the movies, that being to escape from the real world for a short period of time.

In light of all this, I can understand why the entertainment industry continues to report that less and less people are going to the movies these days and why box office totals seem to decrease one year to the next. Those who love the movies as much as I do are probably finding themselves wanting to remain at home where they can see a film and not have to deal with all those 21st century distractions that make their movie-going experience a stressor more than a de-stressor.

Nevertheless, I guess I’m beginning to show my age as I reflect upon those days of old, when things felt a lot simpler and a lot better in life. I’m told that type of reflecting happens a lot as we grow older and well, I am hitting my middle-age years you know. But thankfully, God has blessed me and keeps on blessing me with many fond memories of countless hours spent in dark theaters across the world watching the latest films and being transported into other times and places where the stressors of life always tend to go away, at least for a short while. And that is truly something I think we all need from time to time in life, don’t you agree?

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson