Joyful Reflections

Pink Cacti

My weekly joys:

  • These movies: 1 │2│3
  • Recommend this book for all fellow introverts. What’s the last great book you read?
  • Working on products for my (currently empty) shop and I’m just stoked!
  • Switched my layout back to a single column, updated my about, and approaching this blog with passionate action.
  • Got two Groupons for things I’ve been wanting to do, sharing one soon.
  • Adding neat places to my RV Travel Destinations board, like this tree house ‘hotel’.
  • Reflecting on my one day of jury duty, a capitol murder case. I wasn’t selected but I got a new perspective on our system.
  • This article on cheat codes for real life.
, , ,

Movies Watched In :: September


Well, I watched four less movies than last month but I’m okay with that. Apparently I was really digging documentaries and crime/dramas this month. I’m hoping to get in some good horrors in October.

*The title of each film is linked to the trailer for it.


Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (documentary) – First off, thank you again to Tori for recommending this! If you want to be inspired by someone, look to none other than Ai Weiwei. He puts his life on the line in the sake of art.

The Kings of Summer (drama) – Maybe I’m bias but a movie about building a house out in the woods, free to explore…count me in! Loved the cast, the story, and that house.

The House I Live In (documentary) – What I loved most about this film was how it showed the detriment the ‘War on Drugs’ is having by getting the perspectives of the prisoners convicted, lawyers involved, corrections officers, and the cops doing the arresting.

West of Memphis (documentary) – Wow. Wow. Wow. Though centered around the killings of three boys in West Memphis and three teenagers accused of the crime, what this film is really about is just how broken our system is. Powerful. Informative.


This is Not a Film (documentary) – Yet another artist barred for making art. While simple, it’s also inspiring.

Side Effects (crime/drama) – I was totally caught off guard by this one, in a good way. Loved it, the acting, the cast, and the twists and turns of the story.

Happy (documentary) – This documentary does a great job touching on the topic of happiness, via interviews and research.


The East (crime/drama) – I was probably too excited about this because hello Alexander Skarsgard. I was also excited because of the concept, revenge on big businesses wronging people. I think it was making a statement for our time. While I did enjoy it, my expectations were too high and that was my fault.

World War Z (action/horror) – I read and enjoyed the book World War Z but I knew the film was taking a very different approach with it. I expected it to be cheesy and poorly done and honestly, I enjoyed it. Zombies aren’t much my thing because I don’t find anything all that scary about slow moving dead people but in World War Z, they aren’t slow at all and I think that elevated the action.

Coraline (animation/fantasy) – I’ve been on a Neil Gaiman kick after reading and loving The Ocean at the End of the Lane. So I read and enjoyed Coraline, wishing I had a friend like her when I grew up, and I think the film adaptation did a great job of telling the story.


Man of Steel (action/adventure) – I’m one to love super hero films (love!) but meh on this one. Henry Cavill played an excellent Superman, which I expected nothing less, but all else didn’t live up to his acting for me.


The Bling Ring (crime/drama) – This one just didn’t peak my interest at all and I’m not surprised by its low ratings.


What movies did you watch this past month? Any recommendations?


Worth Watching: The Call Centre


This Worth Watching spotlight is a little less serious than the last one, but is oh so good. Were you a fan of The Office like me? Do you just wish that maybe all offices could be like that? Well I present you, The Call Centre. It’s a real world, short film series of a call centre in England. But it’s mostly about this call centre’s CEO, Nev (pictured on the left), who truly cares about his employees (like when he set up a speed dating service for one of his employees who just had her heart broken). He works to help them and make the environment a fun one. I would venture to say there are no limits to how silly and supportive he can be, as well as the employees are to one another. Gosh do I wish more companies were run like this. I’ve worked in one too many places, including the military, where I was nothing but a number. Not with Nev’s employees, oh no.

The Call Centre

BBC TV Series │ 1 Hour per Episode

I’m a fan of a lot of British series’ (just finished up Black Books and loved it, too bad it was short lived). With The Call Centre, I loved the humor, the integrity, the community and of course, Nev. There are just five episodes. The later few can be found on YouTube but the first couple take a bit of digging to find. It was certainly worth my time and put a smile on my face knowing there are good people out there like that. It will likely do the same for you, as well as make you wonder how people can really wear that much makeup. Here is a little trailer of the show.


Movies Watched In :: August


Because there are so many films I saw, but I do love film, I’m going to try and keep the reviews for this monthly post brief.

*The title of each film is linked to the trailer for it.


Blackfish (documentary) – My full thoughts and review can be found here.

I’m Fine Thanks (documentary) – This was right up my alley! If you are at all fed up with complacency and what’s ‘expected’  to be happy, then this film is for you.

What Maisie Knew (drama) – Who doesn’t love Alexander Skarsgård? Two of the films I watched this month starred him in it (the other being Disconnect). Man, that little girl in that film can act! This story was simple to the very core but so, so beautiful from beginning to end.

Disconnect (drama/thriller) – This one has a Crash feel to the way it flows from character to character. In a nutshell it is a look at the personal impact that the negative effects of technology can and does have on people.

Before Midnight (drama/romance) – This is the third in a trilogy of, in my opinion, some of the best romance films. I highly recommend the lot of them. The films are most known for the beautiful long reels of scene, with the actors having to memorize lots of lines to get one very long shot. They are so natural and I love the things they chat about.

The World’s End (comedy/sci-fi) – I’m a big fan of anything by Simon Pegg and a sucker for British humor. So if you aren’t a fan of his humor then this movie is not for you. If you are….see it! Oh the joy this film brought me from the characters, the lines and the story.


Smashed (drama) – This lovely story is about two alcoholics married to one another and you can see what happens when one tries to get sober but the other doesn’t. I adore the cast in this film and the story as a whole.

The Call (thriller) – This is one of those movies that had a so-so rating but rather surprised me. It had my attention and I enjoyed it.

The Elephant in the Living Room (documentary) – This film looked into raising wild animals as pets and the reprecussions of doing so. What really tugged at my heart strings was when they showed the market for them, which goes under the radar a lot and this film shed some light on that. Worth a watch.

Serendipity (romance) – When I put stuff up on Craigslist for free and had wonderful interactions with people, one woman recommended this film. I liked it. It was a happy, nice kind of flick and we can always use happy nice.


The Story of Luke (drama) – I didn’t love it but I liked it nonetheless. It was a nice light watch. Honestly, I thought Seth Green stole the show in that role.

Mud (drama) – I’m not a big McConaughey fan but I was pretty impressed with this and his job in it.


Any Day Now (drama)- I appreciate the idea behind it but it felt overly forced, making it hard to connect to the characters.

Consumed (documentary) – I am drawn to any film about our addiction to consumption and commodities and while there were some insights in the film, it felt a bit amateur and ‘been there done that.’ (*The title is linked to the full documentary)

Star Trek: Into Darkness (sci-fi) – I hate to put this here but I agree with my husband, it felt like a big budget film with a lot of holes in it. It was a pretty picture but otherwise left me feeling… meh.



A Place at the Table (documentary) – Without going on a big long rant on this one, I’ll say that it felt more like propaganda and less like an educational piece. That and I wish it focused more on under-education of how to eat cheaply and less on ‘hunger’ because that wasn’t the real issue.


What movies did you watch this past month? Any recommendations?


Worth Watching: Blackfish


I’ve never had a blog that didn’t include film reviews. Ever since I was in elementary school and first heard of Roger Ebert, I always said I wanted to be a movie critic when I grew up. Film has a special place in my heart and I unabashedly enjoy watching a good feature film or television show. I watch big box movies, indie movies, foreign films and documentaries. If it’s good quality, I will watch it. Next week I’ll share a group of great films I’ve seen but every now and then some are so special that they need their own spotlight.


Documentary │83 Minutes
Summary (from the movie’s website):

Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the mulit-billion dollar sea-park industry.

My Thoughts

Absolutely a must see. Growing up as a kid I have gone to Sea World a few times. I saw the performances. I ooo-ed and aaaa-ed over the splashing, the tricks, over their massive size swimming around right in front of me. I even had my very own ‘Shamu’ stuffed animal to cuddle at night. The last time I went was in September 2006 and not long after that we made the decision to never go back again. It just didn’t make sense to us, didn’t seem right to put such a large animal in such conditions. With that said, even having read a lot on animal welfare, we didn’t know the half of it.

Blackfish validates our decision but informed us even further. It starts off with the killing of Dawn Brancheau by Tilikum at Sea World back in 2010. But director Gabriela Cowperthwaite takes it far further than that. Blackfish addresses that Dawn’s death was by no means an isolated incident. It acknowledges the absolutely kind, intelligent and gentile behavior of killer whales in the wild. Not only does it show many of those other incidences but explains why they happened, that these animals are not cruel. They are frustrated. They are isolated. They are deprived.

Blackfish showed the conditions, informed viewers of the history but also exposed the lies. I remember, when I first started informing myself about the conditions of places like Sea World (what I could get my hands on), in 2006 I put some blame on the trainers. I didn’t understand why. But what I’m grateful for the most about this film is that it showed that these trainers, the majority, cared deeply for these animals and they were outright lied to. They were never told of past events. They were told information, which they were then told to pass on, about killer whales that just wasn’t statistically true and they hid much from them. They, in a nutshell, had their trainers and employees lying but those very employees didn’t know they were lying. They had their employees in dangerous situations but those employees would have never otherwise known. The film explained why those situations were dangerous and that they were caused by the conditions, by captivity.

I’m really not sure if I can sum up this film properly. So instead, I will leave you with the trailer, would love to hear your thoughts, and just ask to please consider watching this movie before ever buying a ticket to that park.

It is still in theatres and will likely be in a local theatre that plays indie films, and it’s worth every single penny to support the spread of such information.

A side note: The people working on Finding Dory (the sequel to Finding Nemo) were so struck by Blackfish that they changed the ending to their movie.


Double Feature


I was flipping through the local newspaper and saw that The Hunt  was playing in a nearby theater. I got so giddy. I have wanted to see it ever since falling in love with the acting by Mads Mikkelsen in one of my new favorite shows, Hannibal. In my opinion, he is one of the best actors of our time. He’s incredible. The Hunt is a foreign film and, when I looked it up, was rated very highly but at the time I couldn’t find it playing anywhere until now. In addition, I am an out-of-the-closet, loud and proud obsessor of all things Joss Whedon. Joss Whedon is one of my favorite screen writers, so I got even more excited to see that Much Ado About Nothing was playing at the same theater, a nearby theater that supports indie films. So I had a bit of “me” time and went by myself. I saw the first one, came back for dinner and went back again. And it was one of the absolute best days and I’ll tell you three reasons why.

  1. When I sat down for The Hunt, this really nice woman sat next to me and we chatted a bit about why we came to see the film and she too came alone. I thought maybe that was the end of our conversation but we ended up talking after the movie. We stayed in the theater and talked for a good hour, while everyone left, the cleanup crew came in, and the next movie was about to start. We talked about foreign films, minimalism, animal rescue and animal cruelty, RV living, following your dreams and so much more. It was like we needed one another in that moment, two total strangers, and it was so much fun to talk to a stranger so openly. Her name is Candi and we are already making plans to see another indie film, Blackfish (which I highly recommend checking out the trailer).
  2. That was my first time seeing a foreign film in theater and may have even been my first foreign film. And boy am I hooked. I have become less impressed by big box films. Just the other day I went to see Despicable Me 2 with my husband because we loved the first one, and we were just disappointed. Over the recent years I’ve come to appreciate indie films and documentaries a lot more. Big box films, which Candi agreed and we talked about, are more about oversaturation and overstimulation. Indie films tend to be more focused on an emotional connection. They don’t go over the top to make that connection. It’s like you can see how when you insert lots of money in the equation (ie big box) you start to see less quality and less heart. There are good big box films, don’t get me wrong, but I do wish more people saw more indie, foreign and documentary films. They are worth every moment.
  3. When I was watching The Hunt (which was an amaaaazing film!) there was a pivotal moment of incredible sadness and I briefly looked around at the people watching it. I saw one woman sobbing as though it were happening in real life right in front of her face. I saw another shaking her head and holding her hands to her face. And in that moment, it’s when I said to myself, “this is why I want to write novels,” to make people feel things. It’s such a powerful thing to be able to make a story connect with someone on a deep and emotional level and that’s why I love stories. It was just the moment I needed and when I got home for my “intersession” I just cried because I knew how important it was for me to get that message in that moment.

On to the movies. The Hunt was just brilliant and incredibly moving. I highly recommend it. Much Ado About Nothing took some adjustment for me because I’m not a lover of Shakespeare, so I just had to briefly adjust to the way they talked but I adore the lovable wit Whedon puts into his writing.

Some other movies I’ve seen lately and loved: Project Nim, Room 237, Shelter Me, and No Impact Man.

What movies have you been watching and loving? Any recommendations?