THE GRIZZLIES (website) is an inspiring, true story based on a group of Inuit students in a small Canadian town who are struggling to find their way. With nothing to do in their extremely tight knit community, many of them turn to alcohol and drug abuse to ignore their problems. Arriving on a one-year teaching contract, Russ Sheppard unwittingly steps in and the whole town experiences a major shift. While at first they don’t trust this newcomer, the students and elders of Kugluktuk grow to lean on Sheppard and allow him to change their lives forever.
The film has already been released in Canada and stood at #1 for five weeks at the box office upon its release. It is entertaining, inspiring, and shares a glimpse of what many families and communities are dealing with today – mental health issues. Audiences and critics alike have been loving the true story of THE GRIZZLIES for its ability to tackle very serious subject matters with heartwarming overtones, and the film currently boasts a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (seriously, this Rotten Tomatoes score speaks volumes. As a former critic, and an AVID RT watcher, this is amazing!)
leave a comment, telling me ONE person, you know, who had a large impact.
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Giveaway winner will be chosen, at random, on 3/18
“Unfortunately due to the current recommendations around the Covid-19 virus, Elevation Pictures has decided to postpone The Grizzlies from opening in theaters this weekend. We look forward to bringing the film to theaters and audiences at a later date.”
We are a few short days away from March, and March happens to be my birth month. In an effort to redeem a lifetime of hard birthdays, I am planning to celebrate, in small ways, all month long. Even though it isn’t March yet, this post contains giveaway for one of my VERY FAVORITE THINGS, and it runs THROUGH March 4th!
The majority of us find ourselves drawn to redemption stories. As we scroll social media, the rare posts about people who have overcome really hard things, and changed their lives, seem to draw us in… We LOVE a good comeback story.
Maybe this is because we both relate and aspire for our own version of one. No one knows our own, personal hardships more than we do. No one will ever be as invested in our efforts, our successes and our failures, than us. We understand how crushing lows can feel, and we hope that our life will see those moments turned around for greatness.
We love these stories because they give us hope.
I am partnering with Grace Hill Media to promote the Warner Bros. film The Way Back, starring Ben Affleck. This inspirational film is a real and raw portrayal of how hope is found in second chances.
In this heartwarming story of redemption, Jack Cunningham (portrayed by Ben Affleck) is struggling with addiction when a priest offers him a coaching position at his former high school. He reluctantly agrees to accept the job and ends up finding a glimmer of hope for the future and shot at a second chance. The Way Back is an honest representation of how we all struggle and face set-backs in life, and emphasizes that the way back is never too far away.
Over the years I have encountered many people who have admitted to not knowing about the dark things that were happening in my childhood home. Even less often, I will be approached by someone who eventually admits that they suspected such things, at least to some degree, but weren’t sure what to do about it.
Life is funny, like that.
We are quick to criticize concerned people for their silence and lack of action/intervention, but this is the decision the majority of people come to. We question that we may be wrong, and if we are, we don’t want to make anything worse. We second guess everything, until we have talked ourselves into a corner. I truly believe there is a difference between this and knowing for certain, yet choosing to look the other way.
My mother didn’t have the best judgement. There were mental health issues, absolutely complicated by a heightened self-focussed victim response. My mom, for reasons those of us who love her will never understand, NEEDED people to feel like she had it the worst. This would happen whenever she discussed her romantic relationships, her friendships, her parental relationships and her motherhood. By the time I was eight years old, she was pretty committed to the story that I had held her at gunpoint multiple times and that she had to sleep with locked bedroom doors for her own safety. I had never seen a gun, let alone knew the first thing about doing anything with it. My biggest crimes, where my mother was concerned, were aching for her to parent and love me, and for being her biggest competition when it came to her boyfriend’s affections…
For a collective thousands of hours, I had sat at my mom’s feet while she told me story after story of the heinous abuses her childhood had known. How absolutely diabolically her mother, (and her grandmother too,) had abused her. Some of my earliest memories with my mother are me, cloth diaper & plastic pantsed on the floor, while she sat sewing, telling me these stories with a cigarette dangling from her mouth.
These horrific tales that I grew up hearing were about the very same grandmother whom I spent a ton of time with. My mom expected her to watch me whenever she wanted to date, felt overwhelmed with life, or any other thing.
Basically, I was at my grandparents, two blocks away, a lot.
And, it wasn’t until I was much older before I connected the dots that this same woman my mother DETESTED, filled with resentment of the worst childhood abuse imaginable, was my Jesus loving grandmother. She was patient and, though she could be gruff, I never questioned her love for me, or my security with her. It seemed inconceivable.
My mom never outright attempted to turn me against my grandmother, but she was desperate for me to not only believe her tales, but validate how horrible life was, for her. This meant that whenever the TV movie Sybil came on, my mother sat me down, roughly four feet from our console television, and made me sit, cross legged and watch it. The entire 3.5 hours (plus commercial breaks), every single time it came on, which was a lot. This role of Sally Field’s is almost as much a part of my childhood development as my own experiences were. During each viewing I would have the added commentary of my mom painting far worse images of her own adolescence, comparing herself to the life playing out on screen.
I was eleven years old the last time I assumed my position and soaked in a showing of Sybil. At the time I remember marveling at how well I could quote the film, while also knowing exactly the words and tone my mother would be using in her “bonus features”. This was the closest I’ve come to an “out of body” experience. Even now, nearly 33 years later, it is clear as day how surreal that day felt.
As a gift, the Christmas of 2018, my husband gave me the only thing I really asked for- Sally Field’s memoir In Pieces. I could not seem to formulate words as to why I had to read this book. From the moment of its release, it was always there in my mind. It wasn’t until many chapters in, that I realized my spirit was searching for the words Sally would say about that movie…
I had gone on to love Sally Field movies with a fierce loyalty, after I moved and was no longer in the care of my mother. I was the only girl my age who was adamant about consuming the Sally Field shows. While I certainly wasn’t her prime demographic, I loved her all the same. My own splintered youth so completely fragmented that I could not comprehend this one sided bond that had been stitched into my spirit, to this brown haired actress. It wasn’t until I found myself halfway through her book, roughly a year ago, that I was able to see this clearly. Those hours and hours (and so many more hours) of watching Sybil hadn’t ever filled the gaping hole of whatever thing my mom was needing, but it had tied me to a stranger, playing a character. It gave reason to a question I had never even known to ask.
In case you’re wondering, I do love her book and strongly recommend it. I find her absolutely classy and fascinating, and she barely talked about Sybil at all.
I’m wrapping up the very long and often difficult journey of writing a memoir. In that synchronistic way that things sometimes happen, I needed to read that book (and her accounts of abuses, injustices and her own mistakes) before I could get past some of the things that were holding me back, in my own story. I needed to reconcile a sense of understanding for the mother who hadn’t been much of a mother. I needed to step in and advocate for a child who deserved so much different… Before reading her book, those days of forced Sybil viewing were so far removed from my thoughts. When I saw Sally, I didn’t consciously associate her with that movie. Since reading the book though, and opening that memory, I have thought about it almost every day…
Sybil isn’t streaming. I have spent an entire year checking. I have known that I need to revisit the movie, for myself and for the little girl sitting cross legged, four feet from the old console tv. (My mother also forced me to endure multiple showings of The Entity. I do NOT plan to revisit that. Thankfully, it came on TV a lot less often. My girlhood eyes have seen enough demon rape to last my lifetime. Unlike the memory of Sybil, I have never forgotten that movie and could describe the room she’s monitored in, in GREAT detail still. Our minds are fascinating really…)
After twelve months of hoping the video store (yes, we do have one)might somehow find their lost copy, or crossing fingers that it would finally pop onto Netflix, I reluctantly took the plunge and forked over $16 for a dvd I doubt I will ever watch again, after our reintroduction viewing. (partly because we haven’t even used our DVD player in years and I doubt I even know how. Mostly because, why? This is an advocacy and closure mission.)
Amazon delivered it yesterday, and as I held it in my hand I realized that I hadn’t been opposed to spending money on it, at all. I guess I didn’t want to own it, I just wanted a visit and then it was behind me. I am not scared, my gut tells me it will feel more old friend than horror, but I would also be foolish not to realize that it may stir some things. My memories have been such a fortress to so many of the harder things, this may affect something. Then again, maybe it won’t. I don’t think this movie night will have popcorn, but if you’re wanted to send some positive thoughts my way, I’ll take them…
Maybe it is generational nostalgia, but I have a deep affinity for 90’s movies. While I realize the romantic comedy genre was done in by this generation and many are still happy to see it’s almost nonexistent presence these days, there are certain movies from this 90’s golden genre that hold special places in my heart.
One thing that is fun about them is that they are so dated. Between the styles, cars, hair and makeup, music… If you were alive in that era, that alone makes them fun!
In the vein of 90’s Rom-Coms, let’s talk Never Been Kissed, shall we? I mean, COME ON, this movie is SO TOTALLY RUFUS! In the context of 1999, this movie was pretty amazing. Most of its core audience was ready to relive the youth of our own bad high school crushes, embarrassing moments and adolescent misery. In one way or another, each of us had been our own version of Josie Grossy, and adult Josie gave us a special mix of encouragement, validation and motivation to move past those heinous scars locked tight within our memory.
With a (still) perfection-woven soundtrack, this movie evokes so many warm fuzzies that it is easily a feel good favorite, twenty years later… (Twenty?!?!?! What?!?!?! HOW?!?!?! I know…) But seriously, this soundtrack is timeless. I could talk for a good 2000 words about this album, but I won’t. (you’re welcome! Unless you were hoping I would, in that case- hit me up! Let’s chat!)
What about when we let our violet lensed, round 1999 shades fall to the wayside while we view this sweet little movie from today’s contextual perspective?
The scales are completely different.
Let’s chat the bad out of the way- this movie would never be made now. COULD never be made, not without so much internet rage, controversy and bad press that it would kill the project, anyway. The fact that a huge portion of this premise involves men well into their adulthood talking about the high school girl’s bodies pretty openly is pretty terrible. Add to that the adult male (older brother) dating the high school student whose ready to have sex with him. Great, he hasn’t technically broken the law yet, but also- if she’s “ready for sex” odds are they’ve at least fooled around. So wrong...
Lastly, as if these things aren’t enough, we have the teacher who has feelings and an attraction to Josie, whom he believes is 17. He is willing to alter an, although completely flawed, long-term, long distance relationship to explore being with her- HIS STUDENT. In many circumstances he is placed in positions of being with her enough to open up about personal things AND spend alone time with her, while no one bats an eye.
As a mom, I cringe. I mean, we viewers know she’s really an adult and that no one is doing anything wrong- but he and the school staff witnessing such things DO NOT KNOW THIS. Just like we, the viewers, know these scripted pervy comments about the “high school girl’s bodies” are really being said about adult women playing high schoolers… but still.
And I swear to you, I am not trying to ruin this beloved movie! I’m not. I love it, even with my 2019/42-year-old bifocals on, I still love it. Let’s be honest though, suddenly this sweet movie sounds pretty terrible, pretty un-#timesup/#metoo and we have to pause for a moment to wonder what the pitch of this film must have sounded like, and were any women in the room to say yay/nay? (of course not, it was 1999) (also… fun fact… Most of you know (or should) that I find James Franco ABSOLUTELY REPULSIVE. I had no idea he was in this movie until we rewatched it the other night.)
While these things are troubling, what it shows me is that we really have come a long way in our entertainment. Do I still love the movie? YES! It plays off more innocent than it should because we weren’t aware of the underbelly of the entertainment industry and what was happening. Most of us didn’t know about human trafficking, sexual assault/abuse was not part of every day dialogue and women/girls weren’t in belief of being owed respect and valued for more than their physical assets…
But, the scales of balance are alive… Though not at all as timeless as its soundtrack, what about this story is still relatable to anyone, regardless of age? In a time when these kids had no social media presence, what could Never Been Kissed possibly show us about internet life?
Josie stands on a literal mound in complete transparent vulnerability… She shares her own journey of humiliation, peer pressure, the need for attention/approval, etc- and took the difficult journey to see herself for the mess she’d become. People were hurt, she had misrepresented and disrespected herself and she has to own up to it. Even pre-instagram/Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter, we all struggle to authentically be real and honest representations of ourselves. Even without understanding what a “filter” would become, we filtered ourselves.
This human struggle for love and acceptance has always been, and it will always continue.
Wherever you are at, in life, as you’re reading this, tell yourself you will be ok. Put on some Smiths, throw your hair into a messy bun and take inventory of the hard stuff. It doesn’t matter if that guy likes you, or those girls are unkind, what matters is how you feel about yourself. Work on you, and if your soul needs a quiet moment of entertainment, grab a 90’s flick and kick back with your diet coke- just remember, it was a different time and then allow yourself to be grateful because when the world is feeling all topsy/turvey, you have the subtle proof right before you’re eyes: we’ve come a long way, baby, and it will get better.