Review: STEP

Founded in 2008, the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women is a charter school with a goal of seeing all its graduates succeed in college. Its educators and administrators set high standards and expect greatness from the girls in their charge. Academics are paramount, and failure is not an option.

For the students at BLSYW, though, it’s more than just a school. It’s a haven in a rough neighborhood; a support network often far more dependable than family; and a launch pad for talent, passion and futures so bright these girls’ll need shades.

It’s a glimpse into those trials, tribulations and triumphs that Step delivers in one of the year’s best documentaries, as it follows three young women in the school’s first graduating class. They’ve been together since middle school, the year they started at BLSYW and also founded the school’s step dance team. The film chronicles their lives both on and off the stage as their senior year winds down, through college applications, dicey friendships and one major dance competition. Continue reading “Review: STEP”

Review: The Big Sick

Two pieces of information preceded my screening of The Big Sick, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s adaptation of their real-life, unconventional love story, and I’m afraid those two pieces of information ultimately impacted my enjoyment of this quite lovely, quite wonderful, modern romantic comedy.

First, I’d come across Nanjiani’s own twitter thread articulating his particular adoration for legendary romcom writer/filmmaker Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love, Actually, and on and on…). I, too, am a massive Richard Curtis fan, having ugly-cried my way through About Time and realizing with delight that my favorite Doctor Who episode is one from his own pen (which, duh. It’s so good, it has to be his.). Curtis has a knack for tugging at heartstrings, and in a way that is entirely noble. It’s never cheap or dumbed-down (well, ok – he did adapt Bridget Jones’s Diary, but not the sequels!). It’s human, and often bittersweet – even painful – much the way real life can be. Decades later, his stories still resonate as some of the best in modern cinema.

I read Nanjiani’s tweets with giddy anticipation. If this filmmaker is as smitten with Curtis as I am, surely his movie will be just as nuanced and moving! Expectations were categorically and sufficiently heightened. Continue reading “Review: The Big Sick”

The Shape of This Thing

Though I left my last employer at the end of February, I only formally announced my latest professional endeavor a couple of weeks ago. Which means in the intervening weeks and months, I didn’t really have a lot going. Sure, I was working here and there. And I did take a trip to Paris.

But generally speaking, I was existing from day to day without much of a schedule. For most of that time, I didn’t wake up with any kind of alarm other than my own internal clock (and sometimes, my annoying cat). Any day could be a lazy, binge-heavy couch day. Any day was just as likely to be a crazy-productive errands and chores day. Either way, it was all on my own schedule. Or lack thereof.

This week, that all seems to have changed.

For the first time since leaving a job with an actual office and the hours to go with it, I set an alarm to wake me up at a decent time. I got up with it and went about my routine to get ready for the day ahead. Put on the coffee. Hop in the shower. Find something presentable to wear. Coffee and makeup and the morning news…

Continue reading “The Shape of This Thing”