The Big Sick: This romantic comedy starring Pakistani comedian Kumail Nanjiani (you will recognize him if you watch any stand up specials). It tells the story of his romantic life and how he met his wife. He was doing a stand up routine in Chicago and there was a young pretty blond woman cheering him on rather loudly. She caught his eye, and after the set they struck up a conversation. His traditional Pakistani family, especially his Mom, wanted him to marry another Pakistani girl. They believe in arranged marriages and Mom was intent on introducing him to various potential suitors while at the same time trying to get him to go to law school (rather than be a comedian). His challenge is in balancing this life with a girl he seems to get along with really well, and being the dutiful son to his parents, who have no trouble reminding him that he owes them everything. It can’t be easy being a young person trying to get through life and overlaying cultural pressures that place boundaries on just where one’s life can go. Isn’t the point in moving to North America allowing your children to have freedoms that you didn’t have growing up? The story is more emotionally impactful than I thought that it would be. Without giving too much away, Emily (the young lady) ends up in hospital and Kumail meets her parents, played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, with a story that has them being more than just one dimensional. It is refreshing and adds to the story. Life is full of choices and he learns to make some on his own, despite outside pressures. I can recommend this and encourage the reader to seek it out on Crave or wherever such movies are streaming. In Alison’s words “it didn’t suck” and I would echo that sentiment and be a little more positive about it.
Now, in the sucking department, on Netflix there is a documentary four part series on a young Canadian woman’s disappearance at a seedy hotel in Los Angeles. Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is four hours of your life that you won’t get back if you choose to watch it. When you see uber-producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer associated with it, you may think it will actually hold your attention. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a rather simple story of a mystery surrounding a 21yo woman disappearing in a very sketchy hotel in LA. She wanted to spread her wings from Vancouver after UBC grad and see some of the world. She disappears after a short stay in San Diego and then arriving in LA. A few learnings for me is that “web sleuths” are people with way too much time on their hands. The conspiracy theorists can virtually find anything that supports their interpretation of events, despite facts to the contrary. I also think that hotels that advertise themselves as “budget” aren’t always being truthful in their location, in this case right on the edge of LA’s Skidrow. That wasn’t advertised to young people from around the world, looking for a clean bed with running water. To say that these guests got more than what they bargained for is an understatement. There is also a clip from a security camera where the young woman is shown and you see it time and time again. In short, this series could have been a 20 minute segment on 60 Minutes or similar. So much time is wasted pursuing red herrings and listening to people’s opinion who just simply don’t matter. One also learns that those who sling their opinions around without much proof can harm those who are innocent. Sad really that defamation and libel laws which are just as valid in an online world, aren’t always a remedy that can help the targeted party. Cyber-bulling and shaming are serious business in this world. Avoid this if you can, much like the Cecil Hotel!!