Thoughts on: To the Bone

This week Netflix released an original movie, To the Bone. I watched a trailer for it last week and instantly decided I wanted to watch it. To the Bone is directed by Marti Noxon and it’s about a twenty year old woman, Ellen (played by Lily Collins) as she struggles with anorexia nervosa.

ToTheBonePosterBefore I go into what I thought about the movie, I wanted to put out a huge disclaimer. I do not personally have an ED (eating disorder) or know anyone close to me who has one. I am not knowledgeable on the subject nor do I claim to be. I truly went into this just trying to learn and understand the characters’ experiences during the movie. Just wanted a short disclaimer as I am reviewing this from a perspective that is completely on the outside of things.

Anyway, onward! There was a lot I liked about the movie. For instance, I loved Lily Collins as Ellen. I thought she did an amazing job in the role and I felt really immersed in her character. I’ve heard some critics say that she felt “too beautiful” and may give some the wrong idea by glamorizing or idealizing an eating disorder. I have to say that I did not have this same reaction. I mean, I agree, she is very beautiful. However, for me, I still felt haunted by her appearance and found it frankly disturbing to watch her at her lowest weights. I also thought it is important to note that Lily Collins has suffered with anorexia previously in her life and I thought she brought a lot of that emotion to the role.

I also liked the humor that played throughout the movie. I know, comedy in a movie that centers around eating disorders may seem a little misplaced; however, it worked great here. The movie is full with sarcasm and bitter dialogue that just propel the movie forward. I think the humor is what helps take it out of just feeling like a Lifetime movie. Instead, it feels more mature, grown up, dark, realistic. It definitely works in favor of To the Bone.

Perhaps, my favorite part of the movie was the fact that there was that there wasn’t a clear cut explanation for why Ellen (later christened Eli) became anorexic. It’s clear she has issues on both sides of her family (her mother and her notably absent father) and they have issues with one another (see: her mother and stepmother) and I think it’s safe to say that her half-sister (although, clearly caring and invested in Ellen’s health) also has some hard feelings toward her. Ellen also is clearly dealing with the emotional aftermath of a horrible incident after she publishes some of her artwork on Tumblr. Of course, these are just some of the most obvious problems Ellen faces; however, none of these are necessarily the cause. Yes, they contribute, but To the Bone doesn’t try to make an easy diagnosis regarding why Ellen is anorexic, because the truth is, there is no one, easy answer.

Lastly, I really thought the ending was well done (note: spoilers in this paragraph.) The ending did not seem unrealistic or like it was a fairytale ending. It felt very true to life. In the end, Ellen/Eli wasn’t miraculously cured. She wasn’t completely healthy living her own life. She didn’t begin to date Luke. She wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t your happily ever after. What you did get though was an ending where Ellen/Eli is finally willing to get better and fight for her life. She tells her half-sister and step-mom that she’s going to be okay, and although we’ve heard her say this several times throughout the movie, it’s the first time the audience is inclined to believe her. I think if things had been tied up too nicely at the end, it would take away from the movie’s integrity. It’s meant to show that sometimes, just deciding to finally fight for yourself, IS enough of a happy ending. In this case, it certainly felt like it to me.

On to what I did not like about the movie. I felt that almost all the secondary characters were completely flat. I felt like we had these characters who lived in the Threshold house and we only got like one or two traits/characteristics about themselves and that was completely it. It all felt so flat to me and didn’t work. I kind of felt the same with her family. It felt like too many characters and not enough time to really delve in and flesh some of the characters out. So while Ellen felt well rounded everyone else just lacked in comparison.

Another thing I did not like about the movie was Luke’s entire plot line. While I felt that he had the potential to be a well rounded character and a foil to Ellen’s, instead it went off slightly onto another path. When he became the love interest, I had to roll my eyes. I felt like it was just too cliche for me. Instead of him just being her friend and supporting her, it had to turn romantic. Plus, it felt so forced between them, I just didn’t feel the chemistry there and it all just felt so off place. I thought a friendship between them would have been much more powerful and less cliche.

Overall, I did enjoy To the Bone. There was a lot I liked about the movie and if you feel like you’re on the same wavelength as me, I’d go as far as to say you’d enjoy the movie too. However, in this case, my dislikes felt intricate to the plot and made the entire story just feel like it lacked depth.

Rating:
For above reasons, I gave it a C+ or a 3/5.

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Links:
Watch the Trailer Here | Interview with both Collins and Noxon | Lily Collins Memoir

Thoughts on: Riverdale

I’m back with another TV Show review! This time it’s The CW’s, Riverdale. I’ll admit that when it aired in January of this year, I did not watch it. To be honest, it wasn’t even on my radar. I remember seeing some buzz about it because of Cole Sprouse (who plays Jughead) and his return to acting. I also remember seeing the promo pictures (one is featured in this article) and I thought it seemed kind of interesting, but I didn’t know much about the plot. Luckily for me, Netflix had the entire first season and I was Riverdale-Season-1able to binge in (literately, I’m not even kidding, though I wish I were) one day.

The first season has thirteen episodes and the plot surrounds a group of friends and their town after a mysterious death occurs. The series follows the main character, Archie Andrews, although the focus doesn’t stay solely on him. The plot surrounds the main characters, secondary characters, and the mystery surrounding the death of Jason Blossom. All in all, it’s a whodunnit but it also has more. Think of Pretty Little Liars but also Teen Wolf and a little of 90210. It’s got the classic teen “coming of age” story lines but there is also a murder mystery, and I get paranormal vibes. It’s like a grown up Scooby Doo.

In fact, the series is based on the Archie Comics. I’ll be the first to admit I have no knowledge of the comics other than they exist, so I can’t speak to their relevance to the show or how closely (or not) the show stays to the comics.

What I liked: There was a lot that I loved about Riverdale. For one, I was completely caught up in the mystery surrounding the murder of Jason Blossom. What made the mystery enjoyable was that each episode I felt like I got a piece of the puzzle. I didn’t feel jerked around for no reason (looking at you, Pretty Little Liars) or that I watched a ton of filler episodes. I found that each episode gave me something and that something had me pressing “next episode” quickly.

The characters and all of their motives was also something I loved. It kind of felt that at one point, everyone had a motive to kill Jason Blossom. I felt that anyone could have been the killer. And that was exciting. This mystery and uneasiness made me feel as though I couldn’t trust any of the characters.

The music was also something that was pretty awesome on the show. Not only did the feature some cool songs (some of the ones that struck me were “Trouble” by Cage the Elephant, “Boyfriend” by Tegan and Sara, and “No Surprise” by The Shacks) they also featured a band in the storyline, Josie and the Pussycats, and they were phenomenal. Their songs are actually on Spotify so you can listen to them and they are amazing. They had such a unique sound that I loved listening to them perform even if it was just snippets throughout the show.

Jughead and Betty almost made the show for me. I absolutely loved scenes with the two of them. Jughead is easily my favorite character, but Betty is a close second. I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to spoil anything. Just watch it.

Also, have to mention the ending. I loved the ending. I literately can’t wait for season 2. That’s all I can really say without spoiling it. You’ll just have to watch for yourself.

What I didn’t like: Some of the characters were annoying at times. (Looking at you, Archie, and you, Veronica…) I just found that Archie kissed way too many girls. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but I felt like he just jumped around continuously from romantic interest to romantic interest. I think I counted around five potentials in a total of thirteen episodes. That just seemed A BIT (a lot) too much for me. I know I can attribute this to them being teenagers and Archie clearly has a lot of growing up to do, but I still found it so irritating.

Veronica also annoyed me at times. Sometimes I just felt like she had horrible tunnel vision and wasn’t really thinking how her actions could affect those around her. (Again, perhaps it’s just her age showing.) Or maybe she just didn’t care because getting answers was more important to her. Either way, it got irritating.

Overall, I say definitely give Riverdale a try if you’re into mysteries/thrillers and are ok with following characters of the teen demographic. The show definitely gets dark at times but also has a lightness within some of the characters. I will be tuning in to see season 2. I didn’t give it a full 5 because I felt like the characters were very immature at times. Still, please check this one out. It didn’t disappoint.

Rating: 4
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Links: You can watch it on Netflix | Check out Archie Comics | See news about Season 2

Thoughts on: Girl Boss

I finished Girl Boss the other day and immediately knew I had to put my two cents in. I started this shgirlboss.jpegow on a whim as I procrastinated for finals. I had no idea it was based on a book or even that it was a “true” account of Sophia Amoruso’s life (until about the second episode when I Googled. What can I say…I am not up to date sometimes.) I binged the entire series pretty quickly. I have a lot of mixed feelings.

What I liked: The thing I liked most about this TV series without a doubt was the music. Almost every episode I had my Shazam app out trying to find out the titles of the songs. A few of my favorites were Float On (cover) by Gwen Harris, I’ll Come Crashing by A Giant Dog, and Gold Lion by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. If nothing else, I recommend watching the series because there are some killer jams.

I also loved the fashion in the show. I mean, duh, because it’s kind of the point but still worth mentioning. The thrifty pieces and ensembles Sophia creates are quite inspiring.

Sophia’s rag to riches story was also something I enjoyed. It was inspiring to see a twenty something had literately no idea what she is doing come into herself. In many ways, I found myself relating to Sophia as a “regular girl.” She’s the girl with a shitty car, eating leftover pizza from last week, and digging through the couch cushions for spare change. Haven’t we all been there? (No? Just me? Ok.)

It was an “easy” show to watch that had great binge-ability. Let me explain in case that made no sense. The show is about a twenty-something trying to navigate her way through starting a business and ultimately a career. This isn’t Game of Thrones or Grey’s Anatomy. You can successfully binge watch all thirteen episodes without being bogged down but the sheer emotional weight of the season, because to be honest, while there are emotional moments, this season isn’t going to get you deep in your feels like other shows might. I guess this could actually be a part of what I didn’t like as well. It depends on what kinda show you’re in the mood for, I suppose.

What I didn’t like: The characters felt so childish and immature after awhile. Perhaps it’s because I binge watched it that I found myself getting so fed up but after a few episodes I wanted to shake some of them. (No spoilers, I swear!) The way Sophia treated others after awhile just made me mad. She acts incredibly selfish at times and it annoyed me. I mean, I understand being twenty something is still relatively young, but Sophia is adult enough to be a little more grown up. Some of her theft and just in general petty behavior got to be too much after awhile (see Sophia ep 1, her behavior at her job was so disrespectful I couldn’t handle it.) While she did have growth throughout the season, her personality still carried through and it got annoying.

The secondary characters were also annoying at times or just kind of boring. There was no one in this season where I thought “oh my god they are hilarious” or “what an amazing character.” Everyone felt like someone you had seen before or a caricature of a person you’d met in real life.

Some of the writing was a bit bothersome. Some of the situations were just so unrealistic and to be honest, felt cliche and unoriginal. There weren’t a lot of totally refreshing moments in the season. It kind of felt like something someone wrote who wasn’t a millennial, trying to depict how millennials actually feel/think. It feels like the almost complete cliched version you can think of about millennials (the “me me me” generation as we are sometimes referred). The writing didn’t blow me away.

Overall, I would say try GirlBoss if you’re in the mood for some “girl power” or are looking for a relatively light hearted show with some kickass music and fashion. But, if you’re looking for a more original series with depth, I’d say skip this one (if it gets renewed for a second season, I probably will).

Rating: 2/5
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Links: You can watch it on Netflix | Check out the book #GirlBoss|Connect with Sophia Amoruso on Twitter