Fat Head, the movie

Two nights ago I managed to watch Fat Head after my sister recommended it.  It is an indie documentary which is sort of a rebuttal to SuperSize Me.  In Supersize Me, Morgan Spurlock eats nothing but McDonalds for 30 days and gains weight (duh!) and tries to prove that McDonalds is the evil mastermind behind the weight gain ‘epidemic’ in the United States. Tom Naughton, the man behind Fat Head, thinks that Super Size Me is a load of bologna and goes out to prove it.  He also decides to eat fast food for 30 days but instead of eating anything and everything, he skips the fries and soda.  He doesn’t eat salads or tries to order ‘healthy’ stuff from the menu, he just eats smarter.

I enjoyed the movie, it was smart, clear and quite funny.  I have been thinking about what I eat and what I feed my family (yes I do cook and feed them) ever since I watched Food Inc.  I sometimes fall off the bandwagon and sometimes I don’t.  I need to find a style of eating that tastes good, healthy and is easy to cook too.

I am currently liking the idea of Paleo (AKA the paleolithic diet).  High in protein, low in carbs and fat basically while consciously eating cave man style, i.e. hunter/gatherer.  It makes sense.  I have only managed to lose weight when I cut down the carbs and sugar.  I have been doing it for a couple of weeks and I also feel that my energy levels are better than usual, and trust me I don’t get nearly enough sleep.

Having a daughter also makes me want to put her on the right eating habits track instead of creating a problem now and having to deal with it later.  I want her to be fit and healthy not just weigh a healthy weight.  I want her to be able to make the right decisions and understand why she is making them.  And trust me children do learn more than you think you are teaching them.  She now very firmly tells the cashier in supermarkets that she does not want our groceries to be bagged because we carry our own reusable bags.  I never talked to her about it, but after seeing me do the same thing a couple of times, she just mirrors what I do.

A couple of weeks ago they had a ‘healthy food’ theme and now asks if this food or that food is healthy, so I guess if I drill it into her she will eventually intrinsically know what food is healthy and what is not.

I also loved the part where he explains LDL and HDL, what I always thought was cholesterol, but really turned out to be cholesterol carrying proteins and how they affect our bodies.  A simple animation cleared my whole misconception of the issue.

With so much information available which is so readily and easily accessible, we sometimes get so overwhelmed with it and making the right decision becomes harder.

So seriously, go watch this movie now.

You can also follow Tom Naughton’s blog for more info.

Whip it {Movie Review}

Last night I watched the movie whip it!

Not exactly the type of movie that  you  would add to your “inspiring movies of all time”  list but nevertheless I haven’t been this inspired by a movie since I last saw hitch

I’m not saying I haven’t watched my fair share of profoundly deep movies like temple grandin , steel magnolias and erin brokovitch

But for some reason this atypical teen movie touched me for more reasons than one

The star of the movie Ellen page (star of the movie Juno) is one of my favorite starlets of the moment  , even though she lacks the conventional teen cuteness of her counterparts selena Gomez and emma Watson this girl is in a league of her own reminding me of a younger prettier Jeanine garafallo with her in your face take me as I am attitude

Completely side stepping the importance of her looks Page shows you what shes made of and it goes beyond any type of beauty any girl her age possesses

The movie is about Bliss a 17 year old girl forced by her mother to endure a series of debutant type beauty pageant in the small Texan town of Bodeen feeling like a total misfit amongst her peers especially during pageants bliss discovers a roller derby league in the nearby town of Austin

The details of the storyline are quite irrelevant to me it was the self discovery journey that inspired me the most and a few scenes that really stood out and spoke to me there were three of them:

The first one was the scene where she first encounters the roller derby girls in a shop three girls on rollerskates float in like butterflies to give out fliers advertising the upcoming season , the lovely contrast of their gothic makeup and their loud tattoos with their fluid movement and big hearty smiles gave ME goosebumps and im not in the movie, the look on her face said it all …..this is who I am I can be me with them I can be like them a poetic walking contradiction of everything beautiful brash and ugly rolled into one big ME

The second scene was when her touring musician bf comes to meet her at the tournament after seeing his pictures on his website with another girl wearing the STRYKER tshirt she gave him before he left on tour…..she tells him she had seen the pictures he then tries to explain that the girl had climbed in to their van and threw herself at him ….she stops him and says “I don’t want to be that girl…the girll who stands here listening to you tell me what you DIDN’T do with some idiot” she then gives him a kiss and a slap on the face

Hats off hats off this is how  I think every girl should react to a cheating boyfriend get it all out let him know you realize hes lying check….kiss him good bye check…..revenge SLAP PERFECTION

Last but not least …..so I don’t spoil the movie completely for you her roller derby evil nemesis Juliette Lewis compliments her on a jump she had successfully executed so Bliss answers “maybe ill teach you someday” and they both smile and that’s when it stopped being a competition where they beat each other senseless on the track but  a sisterly camaraderie to teach  each other how to jump over the obstacles in life no matter who won on the track

This movie was funny and deep with out being too serious its about the coming of age of teenagers and wanting to find a place in the world  its not about winning the first place its about feeling that your number one it doesn’t have to be a fancy ivy league university or winning a beauty pageant or sealing a deal it’s about feeling that u matter and that your special even if the rest of the world think your as plain as paper 😀

Food Inc. : Not for the squeamish

I watched the documentary Food Inc and was this close to turning into a vegetarian.   I am not a “meat” person, I am not in love with burgers although I will get a burger craving every once in a while but this documentary made me decide never to eat a fast food burger or any kind of meat of unknown origin again.

I never really thought about where the meat came from, because ground beef comes from cows right.  In my imagination it came from one happy cow that munched on green grass somewhere with blue skies and maybe a fresh water stream in the background.

Wrong!  It come from cows in these extremely highly packed feeding areas and one burger can come from literally thousands of cows.  There was a part about a mom turned food activist because her 5 year old son ate a burger and contracted E.Coli then passed away 12 days later.  That wasn’t what scared me the most.  It was the bit where she described how his kidneys had failed and he would beg for water.  I am not a particularly healthy eater  ( I’d be very happy to live on pizza, brownies and diet pepsi if I could get away with it)  but this isn’t about healthy eating or not.  This is about the fact that even the food that you might assume to be healthy or hygenic could be the exact opposite.

How about fruits and vegetables.  Do you have any idea what has been done to them to make them season less?  No wonder everything tastes like cucumbers and cucumbers taste like cardboard.  A couple of weeks ago my husband bought some kiwis.  I love kiwis,  but they tasted like pipes.  They were so metallic in their taste that we forced ourselves to eat them.

Any way, this started the search for the best homemade burger recipe.  We made burgers twice (from beef, ground before my eyes from a trusted butcher), they were good but not perfect yet.  It took us over six months (26 thursdays) to get our pizza the way we wanted,  so we are not in a hurry.

I just realized that it takes the same amount of time to make burgers that it takes to order them, although if you order them you get to sit on your butt for 30 minutes and don’t have to wash any dishes.

Or the chicken, eeeewwwwwww.  I am not eating chicken unless it is free range.  Gross how they have re engineered chicken.

One of the other interesting facts was how the food industry has always fought labeling.

This is a movie that you really should see.  Just make sure you are not eating dinner (or have plans to).

Mecano: Lessons Learned

I watched Mecano last weekend with my husband and loved it.  It was heart warming and moving or maybe I was in an emotional mood.

If you haven’t watched the movie and don’t want a spoiler than go check out another post and come back when you have seen it.  It really is a great movie worth watching.

In 2 minutes the movie is :

Khaled is a freelance architect who creates amazing work and also had a tumor removed from his brain and keeps losing his memory.  Waleed is his brother who helps him out.  Amira is a marketing guru and is marketing the project Khaled designs.  Amira meets Khaled, they fall in love, he tells her, her ex-husband wants her back, he finds out about Khaled, tells the owner of the company Waleed works for, gets them fired, Khaled loses his memory, Amira decides to stay.

To keep a secret, you must not tell anyone

Seriously, if you don’t want people to know stuff don’t tell anyone.  Just because you told your friend who promised she would not tell anyone does not necessarily mean she won’t.  Amira confided in her friend because she trusted her and her friend went and told Amira’s ex-husband about Khaled’s condition thinking she was doing the right thing.

People are fickle

You might be indispensable now but if people think you are a threat to their well being they will drop you like hot coal.  Even though Khaled’s designs were fantastic, the boss didn’t want to loose his credibility if the world found out about his condition so he fired Khaled and Waleed.

The trailer is not the movie

Just because you have seen a trailer doesn’t mean you have seen the movie.  The same goes for people, just because you have met someone once or twice does not really mean that you know them.

Blood is thicker than water

Waleed, Khaled’s brother chose to stand by him because that is what family does.  Be grateful for your family.

Even the toughest people need breaks

Waleed rode his bike every night to take a break from the stress.  We all need a hobby or some sort of interest that can take us away from the daily grind so we can keep going.

Sometime, you need to choose to make tea

Nearing the end of the movie, Khaled chose to be honest with Amira, Amira chose to stay with him and Waleed chose to make tea.  Sometimes you need to let people make their own decisions even if you disagree with them.  We can not control every aspect of life and we can not believe that we can tell people what the right thing for them is, everyone has to make that choice on their own and bear the consequences.

Random thoughts:

Nour and Tayem Hassan are non Egyptians playing the leading roles in an Egyptian movie.  It is nice to see this kind of collaboration in the movie industry.

It is cool to see ‘freelancer’ being used in a movie.

I thought the building blocks he used were generic Legos why does he call them Mecano?

Spicy popcorn is awesome.

Caramel popcorn is even more awesome.

A smart lady buys lots of pop corn just in case.

Sayyad el Yamam - صياد اليمام

yamam hunter

فيلم إجتماعي فلسفي يدور حول “علي” وهو مواطن سكندري يعمل في محلج للقطن ودائم التمرد على وظيفته لكنه يحب صيد اليمام فهو دائماً يحمل بندقيته كي يصطاد حتى انه ترك عمله في المحلج من اجل هوايته هذه لكن حياته تتغير بعد مشادة مع زوجته يخرج على اثرها ليقابل شخصيات عدة فيشعر ان حياته الفوضوية التي كانت تسير دونما تخطيط او تقويم كانت نوعاً من العبث. From Mashy.com

I watched this movie with my husband a couple of Thursdays ago and was touched.  It is a philosophical and symbolic movie more than anything else.   A simple journey of one man in a single day intertwined with his life long journey told simply with amazing music.  Perhaps the soundtrack was the best thing about the movie.  Most of the songs are sung by Nihal Nabil, I have no idea who she is but her voice is remarkable.  You can download the ost album here.  It is also kind of strange seeing Ashraf Abdel Ba2i in a movie that is not a comedy.  The sombre character he plays is kind of weird but at the same time understandable as the movie progresses.  The pace of the movie isn’t slow but kind of lazy and relaxed.  It felt more like a book than a movie.  Overall I liked it.  If you are in a life questioning mood this movie is definitely a good idea.  Just beware it’s a sad movie.

Growing Younger and Benjamin Button

Benjamin ButtonA couple of weekends ago I watched “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” with my husband.  He totally surprised me and liked the movie.  The guy surprised me even more the week before when he didn’t enjoy “Wanted”.  Guns, car chases, lots of action and Angelina Jolie in theory should make a great movie, but apparently he thought it was too surreal.  So I thought he would find BB boring or not interesting.  He actually liked it and so did I.

I don’t want to spoil the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, but consider the idea of growing younger.  What if insteaf physically growing older you became younger, which is the whole idea behind the movie?  I keep thinking about it and realize it doesn’t make much difference.  It is just a matter of perception, we are born weak and unable to physically do the same things older people can not do.

I had this post all outlined in my head and had thought of all the things I wanted to write but now everything has totally gone.  Basically the movie was so human,  a woman who could not have children finds a very strange newborn at her doorstep and decides to raise him.  She needed him as much as she needed her.  Life is like that, by helping others we sometimes end up helping ourselves.

The old people in the home accept him as one of their own (he looks older than they are at the begining).  He blends in and stands out at the same time.  That is another thing about life.  Sometimes we look like everyone else but don’t share any common ideas, beliefs, hopes or dreams.  Some people learn to blend in and change their views while others, take a leap of faith and find other people to surround themselves with.  Either way ignoring the problem does not work.

Living with older people also helped him learn from their mistakes and aqcuire wisdom he otherwise wouldn’t have gained.  This is why people who have older relatives like grandparents or aunts and uncles can be wiser.  If you have someone close to you from an older generation learn from them, they are not going to be around forever.  If you learn to get past the war stories and “this country used to be great” stories there is alot to learn.  They know more about human nature because they have been around humans far longer than us and they know more about life because they have lived longer than us.

BB childlike honesty, curiousity and interest in everything around him were probably the most touching things in the movie.  He wanted to learn and explore everything.  Just because you think you are too young or too old to be doing something doesn’t mean that it is true.  Get out there and experience everything.

The love story was simple but very complicated because of the age thing.  He stood by the woman he loved even after she had pushed him away once and then he decided he had to leave her to spare her the pain of having to raise him and their daughter at the same time.  At first I thought it was a silly thing to do and then I realized that it was probably the best thing to do.  Daisy eventually did stay by his side until he passed away.  She cared for him while he regressed into an infant when he needed her the most probably because she was not to drained by having to deal with the years in between.

BB kept a journal which told his story.  We all have a story to tell, writing it down even if it will never be read might be an interesting and rewarding exercise.

Lessons from Horton Hears a Who

hortonhearsawhoDr. Seuss is one of my favorite childhood authors.  The silly rhymes and weird looking creatures created funny and interesting worlds for children and adults alike.  Each story always had a couple of lessons to be learned.  Yesterday my daughter and I watched Horton Hears a Who, well actually I wanted to watch and she happily chewed on our new bean bag.  Did I tell you I bought a huge bright orange bean bag?  I did, it’s for extra seating and to block her pathway to the TV table and well honestly, I’ve always wanted one, I just needed a valid reason for getting one.

Back to the movie, I loved it.  My husband came home after it had just started and actually watched it with us  (he’s Mr. I don’t watch a movie if it doesn’t have action scenes) and liked it too.  Colorful and vibrant, the movie stays true to the book and Dr Seuss’s style.

There are several morals in this movie and I think that when Lulu is a little bit older we can watch it and discuss them together (another excuse for me to watch this movie again).

If you can’t see, hear or feel something it doesn’t exist.

Actually this is not true and the story proves that even though the animals in the jungle couldn’t see the Whos, they did exist.  It takes faith to believe in things we can not see, touch or hear.

A person’s a person no matter how small.

This in my view is a composite lesson.  It teaches respect, compassion, tolerance and acceptance.  If someone is weaker or different than us that does not give us the right to be mean or offensive to them.  The stronger and bigger you are the more compassionate you should be.  Learning to accept that other people are different is probably one of the most important lessons children need to learn.  After that they need to learn that these differences can be very beautiful and they need to be respected.

I meant what I said, and I said what I meant.

Horton promised the mayor that he would save Whoville and even when things got really difficult he chose to keep his promise instead of saving himself or taking the easy way out.

I am as light as a feather, I am as light as air.

This is a slightly advanced concept but I am guessing children can understand it in a simplified concept.  Horton has to cross a very precarious and delicate looking bridge.  He decides to pretend to be as light as air because air is so light and it will be easier to cross the bridge.  It’s like a positive imagery 101 and a fake it till you make it attitude rolled into one sweet, simple and very effective lesson.

Team spirit.

All of the Whos worked together to save Whoville.  Everyone made noise and chanted “we are here”.  Sometimes the only way something can happen is that if everyone works together.

Forgiveness

Horton forgave Jane the obnoxious kangaroo even though she put him through hell.  Forgiveness is a skill that you need to learn.  We are born with a very limited ability to forgive and we need to practice forgiveness in order to do it more often.

Party Poopers

Party poopers exist everywhere in many different forms.  Jane Kangaroo just couldn’t let Horton be and had to meddle and poke her nose into his affairs with her negative and disbeleiving views.  In life there will always be someone who wants to rain on you parade, learn early on how to deal with them, by standing up for yourself, ignoring them or exposing them to the world.

If you were watching this movie with a child what would you discuss?

Marriage in movies – Le3bet el 7ob (The game of love)

I am not a romantic movie fan in general, I find them soppy, sappy and boring and it usuall has an unbelievably happy ending.  That said I watched Le3bet el 7ob, starring Khaled Abou El-Naga and Hend Sabry a couple of days ago and I liked it.  Since I am not going to spoil it for you I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I did like how they depicted marriage for the new age Egyptian couple.

In one scene Khaled Abo El-Naga goes home turns on the lights and throws his jacket on the chair in the hallway, his wife immedeatly calls out to him telling him (in a very annoyed voice) to switch off the lights and not to leave his jacket on the chair because that’s not where it should be.

It was one of those “Aha” moments as Oprah calls them.  This kind of behavior is what gets you in marriage rut.  In every marriage there are those annoying things that each spouse does and it gets on the other person’s nerves.  I know firsthand because we have that same “turn off the light” conversation most days, my husband likes the lights really bright and I don’t.  There’s also “why can’t you pick up your dirty clothes” talk everyday.  A few months back I decided to totally drop these little nags and just do the things myself without feeling angry or petty.  The interesting thing was that the pesky socks eventually learned to find their way to the laundry basket on their own and the lights are at medium brightness most of the time.

Along the way we forget what brought us together and remember only the small annoying little things, we stop looking at our spouse as a partner, a friend, a confidant and an amazing person and we see a husband and a father.  I think that is what turns many marriages sour.  If there are things that bug you, talk to your other or should I say better half nicely, explain why this thing bothers you and tell him clearly what you would prefer he or she do without being accusatory or aggressive, then drop it.  If this thing is one of those little things don’t nag, eventually it will fix itself.

Nagging just annoys the person being nagged, they feel belittled and usually get on the defensive or passive aggressive side.  For every bad habit your partner has thing of 2 good ones and you will definitely realize that they are just great and your need to nag will go away, so will your feeling of martyrdom too.

Enjoy your relationship instead of focusing on the flaws and it will all work itself out.

45 Days

45 Days Movie Poster

45 Days Movie Poster

Ahmad Ezz El Deen (El-Feshawi)  is a rich kid, convicted of killing both his parents and is sent to a mental institute for 45 days to confirm the state of his mental health.  I am not a fan of Arabic movies in general.  I don’t like silly comedies (El Limby style) but sometimes watch out of sheer boredom when there is nothing useful to do.  But everyonce in a while an Egyptian movie truly impresses me.  This was one of those times.  The story was strong and deep.  The characters were real and portrayed superbly by the actors.  The direction of the whole thing was the cherry on top of the cake.

As the story progresses the boy tells his story to his doctor (Hesham Selim)  who is having problems of his own in his personal life.  As he flashes back to times of abuse and turmoil, you can not but help feel sympathetic towards this alleged murderer, angry towards his abusive violent father and frustrated with the passive mother.

It is a complex story told very beautifuly and simply and the ending was a huge surprise.  I was half expecting a cheesy cliche ending and was surprised when it wasn’t there.

I am not sure why the movie didn’t do so well in box office terms but I think it was bad timing or maybe just that the general Egyptian population does not enjoy movies like this.  It is a shame because we really do need better movies.  Movies are entertainment but are also part of our culture and heritage and are a reflection of societies.  Apparently we are a Limby society and will be for some time to come.

45 days, On the motor bike

45 days, On the motor bike

The incredibles, self esteem and raising smart kids

incredibles.jpgI subscribe to a wonderful podcast called ThePsychFiles by Michael Britt a psychology professor, he talks about everyday topics with a psychological twist. In his episode titled “How Do You Really Raise Self-Esteem? The Incredibles vs. American Idol” he touches on the subject of praising children on talent versus effort and how it really affects them. Another article by the Scientific American, The secret to raising smart kids, also talks about the same issue.

I watched The Incredibles a while back and really enjoyed it but I had never thought about it deeply or about what underlying message it might be trying to convey. This review points out lots of points which I had previously missed such as recognizing the stay at home mom who left behind a life of super heroism and the dad who leaves the limelight to work in a miserable cubicle. Perhaps I never gave it second thought because at the time I was single and watched it for the entertainment value (which was super) and today I am married and expecting my first child and already trying to figure out what are the kind of movies I want my kid to watch and which I want to filter to make sure she is only exposed to positive influences.