In Defense of the Breakup: when romance doesn’t work out on the bigscreen..and everybody is still (mostly) ok

If there’s a pattern we are happy to see repeated in art, it’s the culmination of a romantic relationship: the moment when the girl gets the guy, the wedding, that heart-wrenching scene when the characters realize they are in love with one another in the same moment, and will live happily ever after. As much as we might say we enjoy surprise endings, there’s a lot of comfort to be found in a story where our expectations for the characters are met, and a relationship is forged in cinematic eternity.

So it’s rare to find movies, especially those that fall into the ‘romantic comedy’ genre, where characters don’t (gasp) end up together. And I’d like to make an argument for this story. Because in ‘real life,’ we don’t always end up with the guy, and you know what? It is ok. We are ok. As much as I do want movies and tv to represent a glorification of real life– a glossier, high-def version of what I am experiencing, I also like it when a movie reflects my own experiences in romance. So, here are some movies to check out when you need a reminder that romance doesn’t always end in a trip to the church, and sometimes for the best. “Just because something good ends doesn’t mean something better won’t begin.” 

5 not-so romantic Romantic Movies:

5. 500 Days of Summer

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I’d watch this movie simply to gaze at Joseph Gordon-Levitt and emulate Zooey Deschanel’s wardrobe. Hip as hell, the both of them. Not to mention an addictive soundtrack. And to be honest, I did not like this movie the first time I saw it. It was one of the first romantic movies I watched where the protagonists don’t end up together, and I think I struggled with the concept. I was also a little in denial about my own relationship at the time, and the possibility that it might not work out. I ended up watching it a while later and I realized how great this movie is exactly for those reasons: accepting the reality that not every relationship is going to work out, and as challenging as they experience might be, you can learn so much about yourself through it.

    4. Begin Again

Focal point on music, and being true to yourself. Spoiler alert: Keira Knightley doesn’t end up with either Adam Levine or Mark Ruffalo. And she is (another gasp) ok. In fact, you get the feeling she’s better off for finding her independence and following her heart, not in the arms of a dude, but in her career aspirations.

     3. Drinking Buddies

Man, director Joel Swanberg loves his sexual tension. He is so good at depicting the pivotal situations we find ourselves in and the choices we get to make about our relationships in those moments. As adorable as Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde are in their exchanges, I was really satisfied that they remain, in fact, drinking buddies, and not romantically entangled. Hey, Harry and Sally: guys and girls can be friends.

     2. Her

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I did not think I would fall for a movie about a man falling for a piece of technology. As much as I enjoy perusing Instagram, Snapchat, and other people’s blogs, it also bums me out how entranced people become by all of it– when I’m at a restaurant with friends and we are all looking down at our phones. And that’s exactly why this movie is worth watching. It’s a reminder both about how our desire to be loved and seen and heard is so intrinsically human that we might be willing to find it in any form, and how important it is to cultivate the relationships right around us, whether romantic or otherwise. The dangers of technology, at its rawest. Also, Joaquin Phoenix is pretty lovable, even at his most desperate moments pining after his computer operating system.

  1. Celeste and Jesse Forever

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“It recognizes that the hardest part of breaking up is losing a partner” – Gyan Yankovich, via Buzzfeed

I love Andy Samberg and I love Rashida Jones, and so, of course, watching them together is delightful..even if very early in the movie, you learn this is not a ‘girl met boy’ story. This is a ‘how do you deal with the unwinding of a relationship when you still care about each other,’ kind of story. Of all the movies on this list, this one resonated with me the most. Having been in a similar situation (and really, who hasn’t?), I could relate to the pain you feel as a relationship is ending, but also starting to recognize the possibility and room for growth that you give yourself when you end a relationship that isn’t functional. This is a well-written (Jones is one of the main writers) and relatable story that anyone struggling with a breakup can find perspective in. Buzzfeed summed it up well: It doesn’t have a perfectly packaged ending, “and that’s important, because not everything does.” Whoa.

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Christmas with palm trees

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Having grown up in a desert climate with 4 full seasons, I always thought Christmas would not feel complete without cold weather and ideally, a bit of snow. Not anymore. Turns out I am more than happy to have the holidays sans snow and plus beach, sun, and sand. I’ll take Christmas day beach runs, body-surfing and sunsets any holiday.

This year, I got treated to all of those things in the Sunshine State. Yes, Christmas in Florida. No coats, barely even the need for a sweater, and beach-time. For those of you in the cold, I’m not trying to invoke jealousy, and I hope I can warm you up a bit with some of the sunshine in these pictures.

Having all traveled from much colder regions (winter isn’t coming, it is here- GOTR reference, anybody?), my family and I spent as much time as possible outdoors, finding nature reserves in abundance, exploring mangroves, and watching beach sunsets.

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Happy Holidays!

Movie (& TV) Monday: Master of None

Aziz Ansari in Master of None.
Photo from Slate.com, via Netflix

 

Sorry guys, TV wins out again. You’ve probably had a conversation about the shorter attention span of our generation? Well, maybe I’m adding fuel to that fire by showcasing as many shows as I am movies..and maybe there is just some great television out there worth mentioning 🙂

That’s how I feel about the Netflix original Master of None. Created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, the show follows a young New Yorker (played by Ansari) as he navigates ’emerging adulthood’*. The show feels fresh and timely. Talking about the show, a friend mentioned how Ansari has captured many of the same feelings and conversations he has had–something most shows fail to do. Don’t get me wrong. I love sitcoms like Friends, but I can’t say many of the situations it portrays are as relatable. From a female perspective, I especially enjoyed the episode ‘Ladies and Gentleman,’ where the guys in the show are surprised to find out the about the misogyny women face every day, from the workplace to the dating world. The Terry Gross interview with the co-creators gives a great inside look at the show and reveals some of Yang’s and Ansari’s motivations for the material.

By the way, if you haven’t had a chance to read Ansari’s book, Modern Romance, I would recommend doing so. It’s a quick read full of interesting anecdotes about romance (and relationships in general) in the modern age, pooled both from Ansari’s own experience and sociological studies. I was impressed with the international population Ansari and sociologist Erik Klinenberg analyzed for their research, and intrigued with the explanations of how our brains have been conditioned to expect that instant gratification (and with it, withdrawal) we get with each new text message and email.

*Term Ansari uses in Modern Romance to describe the relatively new period of young adulthood, where we don’t go straight from our parents home to that of our spouses

Movie Monday: 9 to 5

In a previous post about the movie Grandma, I wrote’Lily Tomlin, what more is there to say?’ Well, when Ms. Tomlin is working with Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton on a movie, you can bet your 80’s lovin’ self there’s going to be a bit more.

9 to 5 follows the three ladies through hijinks and hilarity as they come together to overthrow their “sexist, egotistical, lying hypocritical bigot” of a boss.

What I enjoyed most about this movie– besides it’s 80’s workplace attire — is the way it portrays women coming together towards a common cause (even if it is totally goofy at times– also part of what I enjoyed). It’s been said before that women often feel a need to compete against one another in the workplace (among other settings). In the beginning of the movie, the women are at odds, until anger at their boss brings them together (alcohol and marijuana might also help that cause).

Tina Fey pointed out in Bossypants that we aren’t competing against other women, we are competing against everybody. 9 to 5 showcases this: Tomlin’s character vies for a promotion that is ultimately given to a co-worker because, she is told, “they needed a man.” We know this still happens today, and so it’s both refreshing and frustrating to see the parallels with today’s workplace culture. Rebecca Shaw of The Toast came up with some hilarious taglines inspired by the movie you can read here.

In addition to feminism, the movie does a great job of showcasing Tomlin, Fonda, and Parton’s humor. Go check it out for a dose of laugh and 80’s nostalgia.

 

Mindy Monday

Ok, so not movie Monday today– t.v. show Monday. Breaking out of the tradition..I’m going to call it being creative. Because I want to talk about Mindy Kaling, and mainly, her brainchild, The Mindy Project. It’s on my mind because I just finished watching the first episode of season 4, and the first episode since the show’s move to Hulu. Let me tell you: any concerns over how the move would affect the show were immediately laughed away. The Mindy Project is back, baby, and it’s as strong as ever in its 4th season.

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As you’ve probably noticed, I have an immense amount of admiration and appreciation for women writers out there, especially women comedy writers, rocking it in what has for so long been a male-dominated force field. To watch a show written, produced, directed and starring a woman is awesome– it shows us females that we can be anything we want to be (and ya, we hopefully already knew that, but it’s nice to have some real-life examples).

Regardless of gender, what makes the show so awesome is the confidence that the title character brings to every situation. I love watching it because I find myself imbued with Mindy’s confidence after every episode, and it’s what keep me coming back for more. It’s rare to find a show that makes you feel that way, that presents a strong female role model who does not apologize for who she is.

If you want to hear more about Mindy Kaling’s views on confidence, Glamour has a good article (and excerpt from her new book) here.

In the start of season 4, we get to see Mindy and Danny’s relationship continuing to blossom, still complete with all the challenges every relationship brings. While there’s a tendency for shows to lose spice when the two characters you knew from the beginning were going to get together finally do (ahem, New Girl), Mindy keeps the romance between Mindy and Danny spicy. Guest appearances from the likes of Joseph Gordon Levvit definitely help that cause.

If you’re even considering not watching because of the show’s move to Hulu, stop it. It’s so great. Just use your sister’s Hulu account if you don’t have one..I mean, sorry Hulu. Don’t be cheap. Get your own, people! Mindy makes it worth it.