The 25 Best Feel-Good Movies For Lazy Weekends

Are you genuinely still social-distancing?

Same Kind Of Different As Me movie poster with four of the cast.
Same Kind Of Different As Me Movie Poster

Or are you just socially anxious like me, and pretending you still have to?

If so, let me plan out next weekend for you because Angela at Heritage Films has asked me to give a shout-out for this wonderful, feel-good movie starring Renee Zellweger that they are premiering online between the 29th and 31st May. It’s called “Same Kind Of Different As Me,” and for each ticket sold (drum roll) a donation will be made to the Salvation Army and its Red Shield Appeal, who have been hit really hard this year.

Check out the movie trailer here:

A bit about the movie…

Ron Hall, played by Greg Kinnear in the movie, wrote the original story of “Same Kind Of Different As Me” – about a couple, whose lives change forever when they develop an unlikely friendship with Denver Moore, a homeless man – and sales from it have raised over $100,000 towards homelessness. As soon as Angela described it as “a true, inspirational story about a woman who transforms a city with kindness,” I knew it would be right up the street of a feel-good movie aficionado like me…especially now, during these dark, COVID times.

Who hasn’t loved Renee Zellweger since she dished up blue soup in Bridget Jones?

Evidently, Angela knew that flattery would get her everywhere (when she described me as a blogger with compassion in her pitch to me), but there are other (less shallow) reasons I want to endorse this movie premiere. Firstly, there are those massively important donations to The Salvation Army who “leave no-one in need” – and I know from personal experience how easy it is for any of us to suddenly find ourselves in a position of dependency on awesome charities such as these – and secondly, this is not just any old movie, it is a story with heart and soul, with an amazing cast, and I think most of us could do with a little of that right now.

Did You Know That Ugly-Crying Actually Enhances Your Mood?

This movie is guaranteed to release all those pent-up emotions of the last two months – which is a good thing because (interesting fact) a big, ugly cry actually ENHANCES your mood. And, frankly, it sounds like a) the perfect antidote to the Corona blues and b) the ultimate way to waste a lazy weekend afternoon for the professional couch potatoes among us.

But if those aren’t big enough incentives, remember that feel-good stories like these force us to think about how lucky we are – a really important reminder for those of us fortunate enough to come out of COVID-19 relatively unscathed.

Anything that gives us pause for thought and time to reflect on our priorities is a good thing, right?

AND FINALLY, THE BEST BIT. With your invitation to watch this movie, you are ALSO invited to the pre-movie program which includes interviews with the stars and the author, i.e. the perfect excuse to put on your glad rags for the first time (in what feels like a decade) and crack open a bottle of bubbly.

You can buy your movie pass HERE, and once you receive it you’ll get 48hrs to complete the movie and two weeks to start it.

And remember, the MAIN reason I’m giving you permission to take an afternoon off is because single and family movie passes make a direct donation to this year’s RED SHIELD APPEAL.

Cast of Four Weddings And A Funeral
Four Weddings And A funeral movie poster

And while I’m on the subject of THE BEST FEEL-GOOD MOVIES, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few of my own. I’m not an idiot, so I realise that anyone worth their salted popcorn (when it comes to tearjerkers) will have seen most of these already, but if you haven’t, hit up a box of Maltesers, get out the blankets and give them a shot.

Enjoy!

  1. The Green Mile – Starring Sandra Bullock, the queen of feel-good movies.

2. When Harry Met Sally – Who hasn’t been in the situation this couple finds themselves in “the morning after”? Harry’s expression says it all. It always reminds me of the look on the old man’s face the morning after we (drunkenly) decided to try for a baby.

3. Chocolat – Anything French is “HOT AF!” I would definitely turn for Juliette Binoche.

4. Love Actually – So yeah, in terms of political correctness, this movie hasn’t aged the best, but who can forget the magic of that wedding, THAT funeral, or the brutal bedroom scene caused by Snape’s infidelity.

5. Notting Hill – The fairytale. “I’m just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking him to love her.”

6. Steel Magnolias – The best story about friendship. Hankies a must.

7. Ten Things I Hate About You – Heath Ledger. *Sob*

8. Pride and Prejudice – Where Mr Darcy’s awkwardness is almost as sexy as a man carrying a baby.

9. Four Weddings And A Funeral – This movie always reminds me of the year of our wedding, minus the funeral. So many memories, so embarrassingly nineties.

10. My Big Fat Greek Wedding – John Corbett at his sexiest. We learnt what a bunt was and we’ll never say I.A.N the same way again.

11. Forrest Gump – An epic journey of kindness.

12. The Shawshank Redemption – The best bromance.

14. The Holiday – Cutest cottage, kid, and dad.

13. Bridget Jones Diary – The most accurate depiction of those angst-ridden years of our late-twenties and early-thirties. The best song to sing with a hairbrush.

15. Grease – The first movie I saw at the cinema with friends.

16. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – The subtle introduction of Leonardo to the world.

17. Silver Linings Playbook – The most romantic take on love with mental illness.

18. Dead Poets Society – Robin Williams “Oh captain, my captain…’

19. Bend It Like Beckham – An inspirational tale for young girls everywhere.

20. My Left Foot – The courage and determination of Christy Brown.

21. The Full Monty – Finally, some titillation for the ladies.

22. Bridesmaids – Too many hysterical moments in this movie to mention, but…every bride’s worst nightmare has to be a bad case of diarrhoea in your wedding dress.

23. The Untouchables – A mesmerising story of friendship and hope.

24. The Body Guard/Field Of Dreams/Dances With Wolves – Something for everyone. Who knew that Kevin Costner was such a feel-good film maker?

25. Benny And Joon – A beautiful film about love and “difference”.

Any movies I need to add to my list?

If you enjoyed this post and want to follow my blog, please head to my homepage to subscribe and get weekly newsletters.

Why Every Parent Needs To Watch Lady Bird

Described by Empire as ‘A coming-of-age story like no other, Lady Bird is smart, emotional, funny and completely original. Rarely has a directorial debut been so assured, so singular and so heartwarmingly affecting,’ the movie Lady Bird has been critically acclaimed worldwide, and as a sucker for any movie that offers the secret to parenting, it was a must-see for me.

The best part about Lady Bird is the lightbulb moment as you leave the cinema that there aren’t really any secrets to parenting. The truth is, every parent and every child comes from the lucky dip of genealogy and we all end up just doing the best we can.

Every parent of teenagers needs to go straight to the movies to watch this movie. I’m not saying it’s the best film I’ve seen this year, but if you are in denial about what really goes on in the head of your soon-to-be adult child, it offers a formidable apprenticeship.

Every parent should watch Lady Bird to learn the truth that love isn’t always enough – not without communication or being able to put yourself in each other’s shoes.

Every parent should watch Lady Bird to better understand the limitations of the young, under-developed brain, packed full of dreams and hope and so often at war with the older, bitter brains acquired through life’s experiences. It’s not rocket science, but perhaps our kids aren’t always being intentionally difficult; maybe they’re simply looking at life through their own lens. 

Every parent should watch Lady Bird to understand that however hard they make our lives, it is wrong to destroy the dreams of our children; we mustn’t infect them with the poison of our own lives and our anxieties, and nor should we push our own expectations on to them, borne of our own failures.

As a child psychologist once told me: Be consultant, rather than judge.

Every parent should watch Lady Bird to appreciate the struggles young people face today – the pressures of social media, mental illness, shootings, hazing – stuff that we didn’t have to deal with, that may contribute to that entitled or narcissistic label. Their goals aren’t the same as ours – and that is progress. The world is different to the one we grew up in, and if their challenges are important to them, we need to take them seriously.

Everyone should watch Lady Bird because it may not have the artistic depth of a film such as Call Me By My Name – my favorite film this year, with one of the most emotive father/son scenes I’ve ever sobbed my way through – but it is an authentic and honest portrayal of real lives that will resonate with most parents. Spoiler: Any of you of a blubbing disposition will need tissues for the scene where the mum drives away from the airport.

Fact:

Sometimes we say terrible, abusive things to our kids because we’re tired, hormonal or under stresses that they know nothing about; nor should they know about.

Sometimes we swear at them.

Often, we cry over them.

Parenting can be a mind-fuck that pushes the limitations of even those patron saints of parenting among us. It can be heart and gut-wrenching. The clever way it exposes our vulnerabilities is terrifying. Who hasn’t raged at a toddler? Who hasn’t threatened to kick their child out of home? Lady Bird highlights those tough parts – the unemployment, depression, and relationship stress that we all have to manage as we raise our children. But it also shines a light on the really good bits, borne of those tough parts.

Broken People

Wow! ‘Manchester By The Sea’.

 

sad-505857_1920It’s unlike me to enthuse about movies on this site. Truth be told, it’s getting much harder to walk away from a movie and feel truly motivated these days, (Hidden Figures is an exception), so exhausted am I by the blatant ageism, objectification and sexism that Hollywood continues to get away with.

 

But then a little film like this comes along.

 

Admittedly, it had my name all over it. Grief, depression and dysfunctional relationships are the sort of dark ingredients that get my blood pumping, although hardly the ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster, even when they are blended so beautifully together that it’s impossible to take your eyes off the screen. Even the visual is bleak, as the storyline is set up in a backdrop of snow, sleet and the sort of bitter cold weather that makes the characters appear even more vulnerable and our heart ache even more viscerally for them, before anything awful has actually happened.

 

You might not go and see this movie because of the controversy surrounding the lead actor, Casey Affleck – sexual harassment allegations from some years back which have tarnished the production because they were settled out of court, leaving inevitable question marks. NC refused to come with me, and I had to overcome the sour taste in my mouth because the theme of the movie is so important to awareness about depression and, well frankly, personal.

 

I won’t spoil it for you by giving away the storyline. Suffice it to say that this is a ‘real’ film about broken lives, shattered relationships and fragmented families, hence no solution and no happy ending where you walk away with a smile on your face and a good feeling in your heart. I commend the filmmakers for that, because when it comes to depression, it’s a falsity to think that anyone fully recovers or that they wake up one morning and are miraculously fixed.

 

Below are some thoughts I wrote about on a bad day:

 

Do you ever think about doing something easier? Until you realize all over again that nothing is easy.

 

Do you ever think that everything is too hard? That no matter how many times you re-invent yourself, you’ll never be truly happy?

 

Do you often feel so tired that even your most reliable friends, coffee and wine, can’t get you through the day, can’t lift your mood any more, and your only solace is buried beneath the bedclothes with your anger and self-pity for company?

 

Does that voice of self-pity become so loud sometimes that the only way to keep it in check is through thoughts of escape?

 

Does that grinding ache of impending panic in your belly take over every waking thought some days, and do you hate yourself for being such a loser, for being so pathetic, so spoilt, when you have more than most people would ever want?

 

Do your relationships and interactions with close ones feel two-dimensional? Do you feel like they ask too much of you one day and not enough the next? Do you feel that you can’t give back what they need from you and that what you have to give, isn’t enough?

 

Is the visual of happiness in your head completely different to what you thought it would be? Is it closer to a small room, these days, by yourself, where you can do what you want, eat what you want, the only place where you feel in control of your destiny?

 

Friends, don’t worry because I’m fine, and reading this back today I realised that it is the voice of the typical creative who has a platform where she can explore, through words, all dimensions of self-pity.

 

Sometimes, I think I suffer from ‘perfectly hidden depression,’ a word made up by Dr Margaret Rutherford, which she explains in her piece When People With Depression Function Too Well. Most of us suffer from this some of the time, I suspect, mainly because it turns out that life is not the fairy tale stories we were brought up on.

 

I function well, but as Dr Rutherford so cleverly describes, sometimes I feel as though I don’t have the vitality for life that I should have, and the closest I get to it is via pills and self-medication, aka wine.

 

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Many of us are ‘broken’. Some by trauma; some by inherited mental illness.

 

And some will handle it better than others.

 

What I love about ‘Manchester By The Sea’ is the rawness of Lee, the main character, and the honesty of his depiction of ‘the black dog’, which is a real dedication to nothingness, because the trigger to his illness has left him barely functioning. He continues to work in a non-challenging environment, but the only way he can function outside of this distraction is to isolate himself, self-medicate and not have to explain why. Trauma has changed his life irreparably, in spite of society and his family’s expectation that everything will be okay in the end.

 

Casey Affleck deserves an Oscar for playing a ‘dead’ character who will never go back to the person he was before, no matter how much others want or try to coerce him to. Sometimes the pain doesn’t go away and I don’t think that Lee really wants it to. He sees it as his punishment.

 

Most of us find a way to move forward after trauma; to appear normal on the outside, at least. It is assumed (or hoped) that we will get through whatever triggered the depression because no-one wants to talk to the sad person at the dinner table when they’re hellbent on having fun.

 

Sadly, many don’t get through.

 

 

14 Ways To Achieve Fuck All On A Rainy Day

You might have gathered from the news that it’s been raining kangaroos and funnel web spiders here in Australia over the past few days. rain-360803_1280

 

There’s this giant myth around the rest of the world that it’s sunny all year around here, and if you live in states of the country fortunate to have crocs and deadly jellyfish as opposed to Zara and WIFI, that’s probably true. Fortunately for us Sydneysiders, we get seasons, because living in God’s country, we need to be reminded about the harshness of life, to keep our feet firmly planted on the sand.

 

Mind you, they’re only mild seasonal changes – just enough of a dip in temperature to teach us the difference between bitch hot and a bit chilly.

 

IMG_2250
Obviously I photographed the bra that I ONLY wear to watch Poldark and Chris Hemsworth movies.

Australia probably lost a bit of credibility in the weather stakes last weekend, and if our political stability hasn’t already put them off, I imagine that thousands of Brits are cancelling their visas at this very moment while the climate change doomsday mob rub their hands with glee, such was the Armageddon we experienced at the hands of nature.

IMG_2251
The turtleneck jumper – one of the best fashion inventions EVER!

 

And while there are tons of great suggestions on the Internet about what to do on rainy days in Sydney, unfortunately most of them involve actually leaving the house, like this one:

 

50 Things To Do On A Rainy Day In Sydney

 

IMG_2261And we were strictly told by our government NOT to go anywhere unless there was an emergency, such as running out of wine, so faced with two whole days at home, with hatches well and truly battened, rugged up, and thanking God that our parents forked out vast sums of their hard-earned money on swimming lessons, (just in case), I made up my own ‘To Do’ list.

 

If your glass is half-full, you’ll know that the good news about days like these is that they give you time to reflect, to catch up on house stuff or even spend some quality time with the kids. Then there’s my preferred option, of doing fuck all.

 

Here are my top tips for making the most of a rainy day:

 

  1. Remove your bra and make up and on no account wash your hair
  2. Ignore your husband until his Neanderthal exterior cracks with anxiety
  3. Wear those fugly turtle necks and holey leggings that you normally reserve for the anonymity of the slopes
  4. Wear your oldest, biggest, most comfortable undies because there’s no chance you’ll end up in the ER
  5. Cook up naughty foodstuffs that you’d never normally allow your body to partake of… because it is a temple. It’s raining. It might even be the end of the world. I made these butter and banana muffins, which didn’t quite meet health and safety regulations when both kids found a tiny slither of plastic in theirs. SO entitled!
  6. Simultaneously laugh at the jokes and rub your thighs at the sight of Ryan Reynold’s gloriously firm buttocks in Deadpool – there to remind you just how much you hate Blake Lively – then confuse your hormones and mix up the whole gamut of emotions by watching a weepy period drama – explain first to your teenage son that it isn’t a film about menstruation
  7. Paint your toenails, even though it’s winter and you did them three months ago
  8. Take the fridge leftovers out of the mouth of the dog and play an cooking invention challenge by knocking up the most amazing chicken soup to remind everyone how perfect you are and how you can rise to any challenge
  9. Say ‘no’ to your adult son when he implores you to play Monopoly with him and watch him crumble as you remind him you have no parental obligation to do that shit any more
  10. Prank call Optus and Telstra for all those times they’ve called you at 6pm at witching hour, when you’re only just managing to hold your shit together
  11. Delight in the therapy of a chin/mole plucking session
  12. Hide the Foxtel remote to ensure hubby does his 10,000 steps
  13. Do a family towel wash and lay them wet on the floors of your teenagers’ bedrooms
  14. Adele karaoke, anyone?

Any better suggestions?

IMG_2265
Chicken soup made with a touch of smugness

The Courage To Be Different

Wine Club was as messy on Saturday as a girlfriend predicted. What’s a girl to do when faced with the challenge of an esky overflowing with the best Chardonnays?

 

Such shockingly poor self-discipline determined that Sunday would be a write-off, a day for recovery, when I could lament my poor choices, suffering liver and middle-aged intolerance to just about anything fun. mountain-climbing-802099_1280

 

Fortunately, around midday I felt vaguely human and managed to drag my sorry ass to the couch, and the old man and I managed somehow to compromise on a movie called ‘Meru’. To be honest, I’d planned to doze my way through the movie because in general, films about climbing, mountains and being cold all the time are not exactly my idea of fun, but it was better than the alternative of some fantasy nonsense with dragons.

 

But the documentary turned out to be a real eye-opener and a wonderful lesson in parenting.

 

It’s about three climbers who attempt to reach the summit of Meru – a very big mountain… located somewhere near India. ‘Meru’ is a story of courage, commitment, friendship and trust, with the inevitable dose of madness that goes hand in hand with any film about mountaineering. The photography and filming of the team of three as they dangle from dodgy looking ropes, sleep in tents suspended from the side of a mountain some 20,000ft in the sky and fight their inner demons is breath-taking, even from my position of safety, prostrate on the sofa with a bag of Pods for company and an achievement level of zero.

 

And it made me think about how obsessed our culture has become with celebrating the success of brain-poor celebrities for their looks and sex tapes, rather than the true achievers and heroes that should rightfully be the role models to our children. 

 

It was the personal stories of triumph that made this film. One of the team, Jimmy Chin, a Chinese film maker/mountaineer/extreme skier/superman talked about his lifelong passion for climbing and the strength he required to go against his parents dream, and effectively drop out of society to become a climbing bum, before he had any success with which to appease them. This big man was tearful as he told the camera how he had refused to push himself to his absolute craziest limit of risking death for glory until his mother passed away, because he had promised her he wouldn’t die on a mountain.

 

Jimmy now gets published on the front pages of the best climbing and photography glossies such as the National Geographic.

 

And it made me think about Kurt who (holds breath) is finally turning a corner. And I know that we may be in another ‘one step forward phase’ and soon we’ll be three steps back again, but I have to remain hopeful. Who knows what has finally incited this positive change, but I’ll take it for whatever it is. Perhaps it’s because some maturity has kicked in, or perhaps we have a better understanding of his complicated persona and needs and have allowed him the time he needs to breathe and evolve at his own pace, rather than the expectation set by society.

 

Jimmy’s achievements prove that no-one deserves to be written off at eighteen, like society has a tendency to do when kids stumble at the first major hurdle of mainstream education or don’t follow a conventional path. My proudest personal achievements in life have come about since my thirties and as I write this post, a print-out of Part 1 of my manuscript is taunting me from the coffee table, questioning if I have the courage to take it the whole way.

 

Jimmy had that courage and Kurt will find his too, in his own time.