Life is Beautiful
Roberto Benigni commands this brilliant 1997 classic. In regard to the holiday season, it is important we stop to recognize our blessings and our health throughout these chaotic times. Life is Beautiful showcases a Jewish-Italian family caught in the middle of the Nazi Holocaust, reminding us all of the fragility of human life and the strength of familial ties. Benigni must make light of the horrible circumstances he and his family faces, utilizing relentless comedic relief and inspiring his son to keep hope throughout the pain.
It's a Wonderful Life
Although often associated with the Christmas spirit, It's a Wonderful Life is a great film to throw in around Thanksgiving. James Stewart stars as George Bailey, whose guardian angel, Clarence, intervenes on his suicidal contemplations to show him what value his existence truly carries. By illustrating a world without George's interaction, Clarence illuminates the positive impact and the relationships fostered around George, inspiring a new perspective and change of heart committed to his family and his community. It's a Wonderful Life is a great catalyst for reflection, gratitude and service.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen star in this comedic — yet appropriate — perspective on cancer. The two are co-workers and best friends, but when Gordon-Levitt is diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his spine and normality soon shifts to chemotherapy, their relationship evolves into an entirely new realm. Take the time to appreciate your support system and your irreplaceable friendships this Thanksgiving.
Benny and Joon
An often-overlooked Johnny Depp classic, Benny and Joon examines love, friendship and family in some of life's unexpected places. It's lighthearted and fun on the outside: Depp plays an eccentric Buster Keaton fan who falls, quite literally, head over heels for the "ill" sister, Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson) of the man, Benny (Aidan Quinn), who took him under his roof. The film also highlights sensitive issues of identity, acceptance, sacrifice and healing. Although it never explicitly defines Joon's condition, I've always been reminded of the spunk and quirkiness exhibited by my younger sister, who has Autism, and personally, this film has always inspired me to remain thankful for the beautiful challenges and curveballs we all face in life. Sometimes the best answers are unconventional — like cooking grilled cheese with an iron!
This season is all about tradition. For many, although the holidays are chaotic, they symbolize a certain routine and functionality carefully disguised by all the last-minute shopping and cooking to pull it off. But what happens when the routine of life as a whole gets out of whack? What happens when your ex-husband brings a newer, younger mother figure into the picture who steps on your toes left and right? In addition, you've just been diagnosed with a fatal disease, and you're left with quite the conundrum. Susan Sarandon, Ed Harris and Julia Roberts star in this tale of purpose, promise and poise and the passing of the torch as our days go by and tradition is rattled. The film serves as a reminder that change is scary, and asking for help can be equally intimidating, but the persistence and grace of others around us can truly come to our rescue. Stepmom teaches us the importance of trust and acceptance, and the underlying element of mortality demands we appreciate every special moment we have in life.
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