Can one life story have two authors? Giveaway of ‘Being Flynn’

Can one life story have two authors?


Based on the memoir by Nick Flynn, Being Flynn is a new film I’m excited to see — and I’m pumped to have a copy of the book on which it is based up for giveaway. The movie stars Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore and Paul Dano — woo, wee! — and sounds like an emotional, fascinating ride. Here’s our premise:

Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) is a young writer seeking to define himself. He misses his late mother, Jody (four-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore), and her loving nature. But his father, Jonathan, is not even a memory, as Nick has not seen the man in 18 years.

Jonathan Flynn (two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro) has long defined himself as a great writer, “a master storyteller.” After abandoning his wife and child, Jonathan scrapes through life on his own terms, and ends up serving time in prison for cashing forged checks. After prison, he drives a cab for a number of years, but with his drinking and eccentricities now accelerating, he loses his job. Despite the occasional grandiose letter to his son, he has remained absent from Nick’s life.

Suddenly facing eviction from his apartment, Jonathan impulsively reaches out to Nick and the two come face-to-face. The older man is eloquent and formidable; overwhelmed, Nick nonetheless prepares to integrate his father into his own life. But, as quickly as he materialized, Jonathan flits away again.

Moving on, Nick takes a job at a homeless shelter, where he learns from Captain (Wes Studi) and Joy (Lili Taylor) how to relate to the guests who arrive night after night. Seeing the homeless — some permanently, some temporarily so — and hearing their stories, Nick finds purpose in his own life and work. He also sustains a romance with a co-worker, Denise (Olivia Thirlby). Then one night, Jonathan arrives, seeking a bed, and Nick’s senses of self and compassion falter. To give the two of them a shot at a real future, Nick will have to decide whom to seek redemption for first.

Evocatively told, ruefully funny, and moving in its depiction of the ties that bind, “Being Flynn” tells a story that reveals universal truths.


Writers! Family drama! Evocative stories! I’m in.

Want to win a copy of the movie tie-in book edition and $25 worth of Fandango bucks, all courtesy of the publisher? You’ve come to the right place.

Entries are limited to U.S. residents only, please. Contest is open today, March 16, through 12 p.m. EST on March 21. One winner will be randomly selected via Random.org and emailed by Meg for their shipping address.

Check out the film’s trailer below — it’s in theatres now.

EDIT on 3/21: Congrats to Bonnie, our randomly selected winner! I’ll be emailing you shortly.



“500 Days of Summer” — a story about love

500_days_summer_posterEvery now and then you come across a film that sends little jolts of electricity through your body, making the tiny hairs on your arm stand up and your lips to part and your eyes to dialate. You see a movie that lifts you out of a sticky reclining seat and into the ether, where you’re looking at a screen for an hour and a half but it feels like thirty seconds.

“Garden State” was that kind of movie — a film that made me breathless after seeing it, desperate to grab the soundtrack and relive a little bit of what had me so transfixed.

And now I can say, unequivocally, that “500 Days Of Summer” is all of that — and more.

The movie’s tagline explains, “This is not a love story. This is a story about love.” And the players in our story about love? Tom, an L.A.-based greeting card writer and artist, and Summer, a woman who arrives from Michigan and promptly carries Tom’s belief about destiny around in her hairbow-laden ponytail.

Tom is utterly captivated by her — by her laugh, her smile, her eyes, her teeth. He’s smitten. And the film is a chronicle of his love for her . . . and his eventual return to himself. Because this is, after all, Tom’s story of returning to the land of the living — shedding his ambivalence and complacency, opening his eyes to the world and recognizing that he has something major to contribute to it.

500_days_stillOf course, it’s also a heartbreakingly realistic look at falling in love — the way in which the object of one’s desire consumes their thoughts, plans, energy. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is masterful as Tom — totally expressionate, moving, real. Zooey Deschanel’s Summer is ethereal, funny, beautiful . . . and, in many ways, unattainable. This doesn’t detract from Tom’s feelings of her, which are etched across his face in every scene.

And, as my sister and I frequently whispered to each other, “He’s like the perfect guy.” And one seriously fantastic dresser.

Though Tom is certainly an adult, this is ultimately a coming-of-age story. It’s a before and after. It’s a fantastic, goosebump-raising look at love, loss and having the courage to be vulnerable, open and honest in a world of, well, e-mail, text messages and greeting-card sentiments doing the hard stuff for us.

It’s too hard for me to say succinctly why I felt like someone had reached into my chest, wrapped their fingers around my heart and started pulling — but that’s just what happened. I spent most of the film with my head bent toward my sister, tears welling in my eyes, and I couldn’t have lost more track of time if I tried. When the credits started to roll and the music swelled, I felt like I’d been on a trip to Pluto and just been dropped back to Earth.

I guess I’ve just been there. And the fact that a team of writers, actors, producers and a director could make a film that feels as though my own heart has been laid bare is no small feat. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time to come . . . and rushing home to download the soundtrack tonight!

Meg’s Summer Movie Preview

Summer is full of excitement — standing in line at the ice cream shop; my stubborn wearing of flip-flops, even in the rain; the beach vacations; the suntans and barbeques and fireworks. Even though I haven’t had a whole summer sprawling before me, open and uncommitted, in years, I can definitely work up some enthusiasm for summertime!

Especially when I have so many awesome movies to catch! There’s just something about the season that makes me want to plunk down in a cold, sticky theater and lose myself for a couple hours. And if the next few months are any indication, I’ll be able to do just that time and again.

A few of highlights between now and August?

 

Summer Movies Meg Can’t Wait to Catch



my_life_ruinsMy Life In Ruins • Opens June 5 • PG-13

This comedy featuring “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” star Nia Vardalos and Richard Dreyfuss promises to feature everything I love about a great summer flick: awesome scenery outside the U.S. (here, the gorgeous Greece), a little steamy romance, funny characters and plenty of comedic timing. I’m a huge fan of Vardalos — and good on her for going from indie lady to star! — and can’t wait to see what she cooks up for this one. Plus, have you seen her character’s Greek love interest? Check out the preview — I’ll be there!

 

 

away_we_goAway We Go • Opens June 5 (limited) • R

I don’t think I could really love delightfully awkward and handsome actor John Krasinski (of “The Office” fame) any more, so I’m fully devoted to finding a theatre playing his offbeat new movie “Away We Go.” Krasinski and Maya Rudolph play an expectant couple who travel around the country looking for the perfect place to raise their family, running  into old friends and family members on their quest. It looks touching and just . . . different. Guess I’m headed to Virginia to get a glimpse of this one!

 

 

year_oneYear One • Opens June 19 • PG-13

A caveman comedy starring Michael Cera and Jack Black? Okay, I don’t really have to give much explanation here . . . because who can resist Cera’s deadpan comedic charm? I have to admit that “Juno” didn’t really do much for me, but his loveable baby daddy character completely saved the day. And Jack Black is a genius! I know that his films can be either, um, hit or miss . . . but since seeing his awesome, sensitive character opposite Kate Winslet in “The Holiday,” I’m a huge fan. And “Nacho Libre” was quite underrated! The preview already has me cracking up, so I don’t think I’ll be too disappointed.

 

 
my_sisters_keeperMy Sister’s Keeper • Opens June 26 • PG-13

I know it’s going to be just about impossible to find someone to see this with me, but I’m still (a little) determined that I’m going to check it out. Based on Jodi Picoult’s novel of the same name, “My Sister’s Keeper” looks to be the tear-jerker to end all tear-jerkers. Though I’m not completely sold on the idea of Cameron Diaz as the mother of a brood of teens (seriously? Cameron Diaz?), I’m willing to set that aside and let myself have a good cry. We’ll see how long I can make it without shedding a tear . . . I’m betting five minutes.

 

 

harry_potterHarry Potter & The Half Blood Prince • Opens July 15 • PG

Yeah, I won’t bore you with any descriptions here. I’m beside myself with eagerness to see this one — along with everyone else in the world! But each movie brings us a tiny bit closer to the end of the franchise . . . doesn’t it? I don’t even want to ponder that!

 

 

 

 

julie_juliaJulie & Julia • Opens August 7 • PG-13

Based on a blogger who embarked on a year’s journey preparing the recipes of famed chef Julia Childs, this film starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep (love them!) looks awesome. Of course, they had me at the mention of the blog . . . and since I’m ever the aspiring gourmet who just can’t bring herself to really buckle down and cook something, I’m hoping “Julie & Julia” will give me some needed culinary inspiration! It seems to fluctuate between the life of Julia (Streep) and modern girl Julie (Adams) as they separately fulfill their destinies. Yes!

So I saw “17 Again,” but I wasn’t really seeing it…

17_againIn the world of cinema, it doesn’t take much to make me swoon. A slight grin; gently tousled hair; a longing glance or two; some tears; a dynamic love story. And an incredibly good-looking guy doing/being all of the above!

And after seeing Zac Efron in “17 Again” on Saturday, my quota of ridiculously hot ogling has been filled.

It’s a really cute movie . . . really. Twenty years ago, Mike was the hotshot basketball player with his whole life — and career — ahead of him. An unexpected, erm, development derails his plans of going on to greatness and instead lands him squarely in the role of husband, father and office drone. At the end of a terribly long day capped by his discussions of his impending divorce from high school sweetheart Scarlett, some sort of magic — and an observant school janitor — allows him to transform back in his 17-year-0ld self. He basically gets a mulligan.

At first, Mike (played by Efron or, for about ten minutes, Matthew Perry) believes he’s been given a second chance at adolescence in order to go after all those dreams he sacrificed for Scarlett and their son and daughter. He’s basically living in a selfish wasteland. And I won’t ruin the film for you . . . not that there are too many spoilers, persay. But Mike heads back to high school with the help of his longtime best friend Ned, he gets a firsthand look at what life is really like for his kids. And he realizes that his true purpose in being 17 again is, in fact, not selfish at all.

Yeah, I know . . . blah blah. Plot stuff. Things happening. I laugh out loud a bunch of times, and I’m watching the movie but I’m not watching the movie. I’m too busy staring at Zac Efron pushing his hair out of his eyes (how is even that quirk adorable to me? Why doesn’t he just get a haircut?), Zac Efron twirling a basketball, Zac Efron leaning back casually in a chair. I can’t stop staring at his face, the way he crosses his arms. And before you think I’m a cradle-robber, let me remind you that Mr. Efron is, in fact, 21 years old! I had to Wikipedia that before I got too involved! I’m 23, so I figure my window of opportunity hasn’t quite slammed shut just yet . . . never mind that he’s, uh, perhaps a wee bit out of my league!

But that’s just depressing. Let’s move on to the eye candy! I present to you . . .

zac_efron

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

Exhibit B? Yeah. Mama’s got a new desktop background. And it’s high-res!

“Watchmen”? Pass the booze, please

I'm gonna need this!

I'm gonna need this!

pina_coladaAt dinner last night, my boyfriend and I decided that the only way I was possibly going to get through the new, hit flick “Watchmen” was to drink.

Enough to get a little silly. Enough to make almost three hours of violence, sex and a bizarre alternative universe scenario in which the good are bad and the bad are good and we’re all headed for nuclear war unless some blue guy can stop the whole mess begin to . . . make sense.

Mind you, I very, very rarely drink. Ever. I can probably count on two hands the glasses of alcohol I’ve consumed in my entire life. And that’s what makes my immediate interest in booze a little hilarious to me — I was desperate to get through this film. I was trying to be a good girlfriend! It may be hard to believe (or not!) based on my good-natured blog posts on books, music and cute scarves, but I can actually be a pretty hard-headed, difficult person. We usually do what I want — see the movies I like, eat the places I enjoy, etc. — and I can recognize that good relationships are all about compromise. Boyfriend is very sweet and usually willing to go along with my demands, but I knew how much he’d been looking forward to “Watchmen” — and talking about it for months. I had to tough this one out.

watchmen_movie_posterThe problem is that, Internet guru that I am, I looked up the movie’s stats a while ago . . . and promptly decided that the gore was going to be too much for me. Everything I read talked about “intense” scenes and disturbing images, and I’m not all about the blood! In fact, I’d much rather skip the blood all together, thankssomuch. But I was trying to be good! I really was!

And that’s where the piña colada came in.

We get to the theater a little early, hunker down with our snacks and settle in for a long wait. I get a little antsy in theaters, I’ll freely admit it — I can’t stand when people around me are talking during a movie, and I have a tendency to voice my unhappiness about said distractions. Much to the dismay and chagrin of my friends and family. But I was determined not to let anything ruin this for Palmer — he’d been dying to see it for so long, I was going to turn around and punch the guy behind me in the jaw for mumbling plot points to his girlfriend for the first 10 minutes of the showing. Or was I?

watchmen_smiley_faceNo, no — I didn’t. I behaved myself. While people are being thrown through windows, blood is spewing and random characters are appearing out of nowhere, I rocked gently in my rocky theater chair, eyes to my lap to avoid seeing any unpleasantness, and swayed to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” (love that song, by the way). At some point, the movie introduced the fact that it was 1985, Nixon had been elected for a third term (okay, we’re in an alternate universe — got it) and the U.S. and Soviet Union were in a heated entanglement regarding nuclear weapons (Cold War issues — check). And then I got a little lost. Or I zoned out. Or the booze took effect and I dozed off with my eyes open. I don’t know.

Needless to say, I got a wee bit lost! The movie was interesting, the special effects awesome and the acting solid, but I just couldn’t keep my brain moving at the speed of the comic characters. And I had to look away every ten minutes or so to keep from watching someone bleed out. Unpleasant. All tied together in a neat bow, it added up to one perplexed Megan.

Of course, driving home from Virginia, Boyfriend totally filled me in on any gaps in the story — and explained a lot more of the back story and other details I was missing, or just didn’t catch. The important question I kept asking was whether he liked it — he was the target audience. I was just a sleepy, semi-tipsy tag-along girlfriend. So it’s not like what I was thinking was of serious importance! Palmer said the movie was true to the book, and that most of the characters (save Dr. Manhattan) were as he would picture them. He was happy with the representation of Rorshach — the creepiest of all the characters, in my opinion — and liked the movie’s tying up of loose ends at the end. I’m glad he had a good time!

And I’m glad I had a little something to . . . take the edge off. As I sat on the edge of my seat. Ha!

img_5481

‘Slumdog’ is sweeping

Slumdog Millionaire posterAfter getting Oscar-winning song “Jai Ho” stuck in a perpetual loop in my head last week, my parents and I decided to head out to the movies to see “Slumdog Millionaire,” a gritty and moving account of a young man’s rise from poverty to fame in the Dharavi slums of Mumbai, India. I haven’t stopped thinking about the film since I saw it Saturday!

Jamal, our protagonist, travels around the country with his brother eking out a hard-scrabble income and looking for his long-lost love, Latika, a childhood friend whom he was viciously separated from years before. After he finds Latika only to lose her again, Jamal tries out to be on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” titled “Kaun Banega Crorepati.” He doesn’t for a minute believe he’s going to win — he just knows that Latika will be watching the show with the rest of India, and he’s desperate to find her. And he does — after a series of twists of destiny that simultaneously bring them together and pull them apart. But ultimately bring them together again.

Jamal and LatikaI can’t say exactly what I loved about this film — it was just as that all the elements combined to create a poignant work that had my head spinning. I’ll be frank and say that the violence in the movie was disturbing — and there were several scenes I never saw coming. I was on the edge of my seat with worry, really, and I had to keep reminding myself it was just a movie . . . it was just hard to watch such devastating things happen in quick succession.

But the story has a happy ending.

Ultimately, the movie was about hope — and it was about destiny. Some of the seemingly unplausible plot points of “Slumdog Millionaire” can easily be traced back to this idea of fate, the knowledge that “it is written.” Latika and Jamal find each other in a city of more than 90 million residents because they’re supposed to find each other. Oh, I love fate! 🙂 The love story here was spectacular, and really sweeping. When Jamal finds Latika and floats into her kitchen like a ghost to wrap his arms around her, I definitely had tears in my eyes. Actors Dev Patel and Freida Pinto were amazing — and that scene was so beautiful.

“Slumdog” picked up a massive haul of eight Academy Awards Feb. 22, including the award of Best Director and Best Picture. I saw fellow-nominee “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” back in December and really enjoyed it, too, and recently thought that perhaps Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett’s stunning film should have won. But while I liked “Button” and was completely engrossed in the story and cinematography, I’ve definitely thought more about “Slumdog” since leaving the theater. The film has opened widely in many areas (hey, including Southern Maryland!) and I would absolutely recommend it. Just bear in mind that it’s rated R for a reason — definitely no one younger than 17 should be there. And be ready to avert your eyes if, like me, you can’t stand the gritty stuff.

Twilight weekend wrap-up

I know, I know. write meg! is quickly turning into some sort of makeshift homage to all things Twilight lately! Please just humor me a little bit longer — I can’t get all the madness out of my head!

Yes, I had to stop in front of Hot Topic. Notice the Cullen crest on the left, too?

Yes, I had to stop in front of Hot Topic. Notice the Cullen crest on the left, too?

My sister and I went to see the movie Saturday morning, as planned — and I absolutely loved it! It was pretty much everything I was hoping for, and I didn’t feel disappointed at all concerning the way things played out. Interestingly enough, Bella and Charlie’s house looked just as I expected it would — and so did the Cullen homestead. And so on, and so forth. I thought the imagery was pretty dead-on, and it “evoked” all of the feelings I’d hoped it would. Rob Pattinson was indeed an excellent choice to play Edward! And though Kristen Stewart was a bit of a surprisingly casting choice for me, I thought she was a great Bella. Overall, excellent! Loved the music, too. I downloaded the soundtrack and have it on replay on my iPod. At least I can remember the film fondly when I’m stuck at my desk!

Concerning the classic “does the film do justice to the book” argument, I thought it closely followed the novel. Out of necessity a few things had to be changed around — placed in a different, but still logical, order — and I know a certain scene was added to help move the plot forward. But none of these switches bothered me at all. It was all pretty much just as I pictured it would be!

And it had a prom scene. Yes, this makes my inner 13-year-old squeal with glee!

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went out in celebration of our second anniversary and made a few stops along the way at Arundel Mills. Like this location in FYE, where Edward just, um, happened to be standing?

me_edward

And I couldn’t walk by the poster without posing again:

me_twilight_poster

And I’m very excited to hear the book and film’s sequel, New Moon, will have its own film in the future! I guess after raking in $70.6 million in three days, the company isn’t too afraid to shell out the dough for a follow-up. Loving it!