Caregiving Chronicles: 4 “must-stream” feely movies on Netflix

My friend Mary Tyler Mom wrote the most exquisite piece on caregiving for aging parents. It’s candid, tragic and perfectly articulates the complete and utter bullshitness that is our health care system in the good ole US of A.

We don’t talk about the ugly side of aging much. I know the term “sandwich generation” is now part of our cultural vernacular, and will continue to gain popularity as the Baby Boomers age out of retirement and into the ugly end of life stuff we don’t want to discuss. Plus caregiving isn’t sexy (unless it’s for my mom who is offering up used lingerie).

However,  while it’s not incredibly popular in Hollywood, I’m pleased that there exists some representation of those ill as well as their sometimes reluctant caregivers. If I have leanred anything from Mary Tyler Mom, it’s that caregiving can be isolating; whether it be in a movie or a support group, hearing someone say aloud your darkest thoughts can sometimes be more validating than ten bazillion dollars spent on counselors’ co-pays.

Still interested? Below are a few movies you can stream courtesy of Netflix that ring true to life and offer an intriguing plot line.

tumblr_inline_n26f921BIE1qjdjby1. A few months ago I watched Nebraska (2013), starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, and Bob Odenkirk. Dern picked up a “Best Actor” award at Cannes and the film was nominated for six, yes six, Academy Awards. It’s phenomenal.

Dern plays a father showing the early signs of cognitive impairment (no diagnosis offered) and Forte, his son, takes his father on a fool’s errand from Big Sky country to Nebraska to shut the old man up. The film is simultaneously humorous and depressing in its depiction of confusion brought on by the aging process as well as family members’ responses to new and unpredictable behavior from their loved ones.

Whether the plot hits close to home, or you are a sympathetic soul with a sense of humor, this bittersweet movie is worth your eyeballs’ attention.

2. Steel Magnolias (1989) will forever be one of my top ten movies ever made; armadillo cake, helmet hair and undying devotion to loved ones make this emotional drama such a fabulous (and exhausting) way to spend an afternoon.

tumblr_msfbpolLqW1sbhxjro1_250A close-knit group of six Louisiana women come together at Truvy’s (Dolly Parton’s) beauty shop to laugh, cry, drink orange juice and shoot birds. The film follows them through the years as they take care of one another through good times (weddings, babies) and bad (unexpected deaths, abusive relationships). It’s a movie that highlights the fact that life is beautiful even when it’s ugly.

It’s freaking perfect.

91e1Q2-hzAL._SL1500_3. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1994) stars a young Johnny Depp and even younger Leo DiCaprio. Meow Depp’s character, Gilbert, is charged with caring for his morbidly obese mama, cognitively impaired seventeen-year-old brother (DiCaprio) and little sisters, whilst working at a dead end job in a sad little midwestern town. Cue a love interest and the inner turmoil that follows weighing wants vs. responsibilities.

Both intense and lovely, the film does an excellent job illustrating the many conflicting thoughts of a caregiver.

4. If you haven’t seen Silver Lining Playbook (2012), you should sit yourself down on your couch and immediately stream this eight-time Oscar-nominated sucker. Bradley Cooper portrays a bi-polar protagonist just released from the psych ward and into his parent’s care. Jennifer Lawrence, AKA the queen of everything awesome, plays a recently widowed 20 (30?) -something who has her own set of coping issues. After meeting meeting Cooper, JLaw’s character offers to help him reunite with his wife in exchange for pairing up with her for a dance competition. Obviously.

Through their odd relationship, they come to care deeply for one another AND enable each other to move through their respective pain and accept their own neuroses. It’s a charming movie that addresses mental illness and promotes conversation in a sensitive and respectful manner.

What did I miss? Please share your recommendations  below!

Click here to like Swirleytime on Facebook for quirky shares,  links and a lot of self-deprecating humor. Follow me on twitter @swirleytime.

Don’t rely on fickle Facebook for updates. Subscribe to Swirleytime below for more stories of screw-ups, caregiving and weird observations. Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

I love that my kid lacks a filter

I don’t want my kid to grow up. Well, I want him to grow up, but I don’t want to turn into a sad little robot and shove his feeling down into his guts. Check out my newest post at ChicagoNow on how we should learn something from the way children communicate.

Bonne Bell lip smacker is dead

I am not sure I want to live in a world that doesn’t include Bonne Bell Lip Smacker, but according to the news, that’s exactly what will happen on March 29, 2015.

From Crain’s Cleveland Business:

The company plans to close substantially all the manufacturing and distribution operations at its location at 1006 Crocker Road in Westlake, resulting in the permanent layoffs of 91 employees there, according to a letter Westlake Mayor Dennis M. Clough received on Thursday, Jan. 29.

Berry Heavenly was my JAM!

Berry Heavenly was my JAM!

That’s messed up, man. How many Christmas mornings did you wake up to a candy-cane tubed filled with Watermelon, Strawberry and Dr. Pepper lip glosses? Or the uber-sparkly tubes that came out in the mid-90s? I could almost smell my angst when I recently popped open a rancid tube of silvery balm goodness.

Maybe the buyer, Markwins International Corp. (also owner of Wet ‘n Wild) will keep the shelves stocked with lip smacker; HEAR OUR PRAYER, MARKWINS!

But until we know the fate of our favorite flavored lip coatings, I suggest you revel in Netflix-enabled nostalgia to the tune of high bangs, caboodle loving teenage girls and everything that made the 1980s so God-damn amazing.

MV5BMTI2OTk5NTE5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODA0NTQzMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_1. Pretty in Pink. We all know the plot. What you don’t know is that my friend in high school fell madly in love with a guy she dubbed “Andrew McCarthy”. They never talked or anything, but we spent many a night making mix tapes, slathering on our mom’s beauty creams and coating our lips in Bonne Bell lip glosses just because. I mean, Molly Ringwald’s lips are/were luscious, why couldn’t 13 year-old girls aspire to such great aesthetic heights.

I re-enacted this scene in front of a nurses station at Northwestern Hospital just a few weeks ago.

2. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Yes, I admit this film is an unexpected choice, however, it was my first exposure to unabashed cussing. If you know my family, this fact is honestly more surprising than anything. Anyway, my best friend and fellow lip-gloss aficionado introduced me to the film and we felt like real badasses. Plus the John Candy/Steve Martin duo is unbeatable. Movies like this turned us from little girls into slightly bigger girls.

Don't tell me these ladies AREN'T wearing lipgloss.

Don’t tell me these ladies AREN’T wearing lipgloss.

3. Coming to America. I might have written about this film before, however, I don’t care – it’s just that good. Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Samuel L. Jackson (what? Yes) and SoulGlo. A prince moves to Queens to find his Queen and, as expected, 1980s-esque hilarity ensued. We watched this beast on repeat when moms and dads weren’t home whilst pressing on fake nails and lubing up our lips.

4. CLUE. OH MAH GAD. I can still hear the sound of the over-watched video tape grinding in the VCR while it played almost every weekend for the better part of the late-1980s. Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry and Michael McKean were but a few of this all-star cast. I considered it an educational film as I learned about french maids, deception and the definition of the term, “red herring”.

I find myself referencing this line weekly.

5. Clerks came out in my grunge phase when I desperately wanted a boyfriend, but had no idea how to go about procuring one. Watching dudes like Jay and Silent Bob “work their magic” probably wasn’t the best way to learn about the male species, but hey, it was high school and I was clueless. I still had fun though, which is all that matters.

I plan on reliving some of my lip-smacking glory days via streaming movies and suggest you do the same. Seriously. We have to cope with this loss somehow.

Click here to like Swirleytime on Facebook for quirky shares,  links and a lot of self-deprecating humor. Follow me on twitter @swirleytime.

Don’t rely on fickle Facebook for updates. Subscribe to Swirleytime below for more stories of screw-ups, caregiving and weird observations. Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

The Oatmeal & friends’ “Exploding Kittens” card game just exploded their Kickstarter goal

Sweet Lord, the Oatmeal and friends dominated their Kickstarter compaign to fund a fun new card game. Bravo! Read about their coup in my most recent ChicagoNow post.

Floating heads, dogs in costume, longing gazes: I’ll never beat this year’s holiday card

We created the best family holiday card ever this year. Plus our friends are still living with us which, in my book, is a very happy thing! Check out the card and such in my newest ChicagoNow post!

5 movies whose soundtracks are as good as their plots

I wish I could consider myself an audiophile. Don’t get me wrong, I love music. It’s always blasting while we attempt to complete household chores, read books, hell, I leave it on when we aren’t even home because I am an AMERICAN and Americans live to waste energy. However, aside from giving tunes a thumbs up or down on Pandora, I can’t tell a treble clef from an ampersand.

I also love movies. Love love love movies. But not musicals because they creep me out. Anyway, since our DVD collection consists of a few HIGH QUALITY films (e.g., Clue, Overboard, The Man With Two Brains), I rely solely on streaming my entertainment.

if you like your music subtly integrated into films, check out these five films available via Netflix that boast outstanding soundtracks. The movies aren’t too bad either.

Roayle with cheese, please.

Roayle with cheese, please.

1.Pulp Fiction (1994). Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta are only three of the ridiculously talented array of actors starring in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. With plot lines weaving together here and there, the spectacular soundtrack really ties the film together.

I remember listening to this CD on repeat in high school and falling in love with Bill Withers and the idea of “perfectly round potbellies”. Plus Tarantino movies are so deliciously gory that they demand an equally pleasing soundtrack for your earholes.

almost famous2. Almost Famous (2000). Who didn’t want to be in a rock band in the 1970s? Well, I didn’t. I wanted to be Strawberry Shortcake, but whatever. Now that I am older and wiser, I have since realized my mistake and live vicariously through the ponytailed protagonists in Almost Famous. I also get all squishy-nostalgic listening to the movie’s soundtrack which includes artists like David Bowie, Elton John, Led Zepplin, YES and Simon & Garfunkel. It’s like my mom put this compilation together for the world to enjoy.

amelie3. Amelie (2001). Follow “impish” Amelie as she searches for the owners of a trove of toys found in her apartment. The soundtrack for this five-time academy nominated film is primarily composed of songs pulled from French composer and musician Yann Tiersen‘s first four albums. If you enjoy accordions, harpsicords, guitars and other whimsical sounds plus a quirky protagonist, I highly recommend checking this film out. I still play the CD from time to time. God, I am really dating myself here.

waynes world4. Wayne’s World (1992). OK, yes this movie is over twenty years old. And IT’S STILL AS AWESOME as the first time I saw it with my dad and he kept laughing at Garth’s mono joke (I was very confused at the time.). Dudes live in Aurora, IL, have a public access show airing out of Wayne’s mom’s basement and RAGE when it comes to music. It’s a cute movie that really brings back the awesomeness of the 90s and Saturday Night Live. It also shared the music of historic bands like Queen, Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper with a new generation. Thank you, Wayne and Garth. THANK YOU.

You remind me of the babe. That and really tight pants.

You remind me of the babe. That and really tight pants.

5. Labyrinth (1986). Well you fools knew this was coming. I mean, I just went to the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art to watch this film and was so close to donning a Jareth Mullet wig. Then I wrote about Labyrinth-inspired Xmas gifts and how David Bowie was my first crush. Anyway, you know the plot:Teenage Sara (Jennifer Connely) wishes her baby brother away to the Goblin Kingdom, then enters the Labyrinth save her annoying little beast of a sibling from Jareth, the Goblin King. I am willing to sing each song from this soundtrack to you if that is your wish, or you can just watch the movie and listen to David Bowie croon his way into your pants heart.

Click here to like Swirleytime on Facebook for quirky shares,  links and a lot of self-deprecating humor. Follow me on twitter @swirleytime.

Don’t rely on fickle Facebook for updates. Subscribe to Swirleytime below for more stories of screw-ups, caregiving and weird observations. Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.