Tag Archives: entertainment

Indie movie of the week #1: The Starling (2021)

After finishing making another delicious pasta casserole, I sat down in my recliner and hopped onto Netflix to try and find something to watch. Normally I ignore movies that are on top frame but every now and then a real gem will pop up like The Starling.

This low budget indie film was produced by Netflix for $20 million which is surprising since the movie has some big names in it.

The only reason I chose this movie is that I really like Melissa McCarthy. She starred in Gilmore Girls which was a show I enjoyed in the early 2000s. Jack O’Dowd is also in the movie -the two starred in Bridesmaids which is one of the most hilarious movies released in the last 10 years. Oh gosh. The movie is 10 years old this year!

The Starling

The Starling hit a few theatres in the US on September 17th, but was released to Netflix in the US and Canada on September 24th – which means I caught it early. I haven’t watched any movies this week so I’m glad I watched this one.

The film (I call smaller productions films) was produced by Netflix but with a smaller budget of $20 million. It was directed by Theodore Melfi, a New York based screenwriter and well known producer. He is known for films like St. Vincent (Bill Murray), Hidden Figures, and El Camino Christmas with Dax Shepperd. I watched this movie last Christmas and it was… awful.

Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Heat) stars as the lead Lily, a woman who is going through a tremendous loss and is dealing with the various stages of grief. Her husband Jack, played Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), has been admitted to an institute where he is undergoing treatment for his own grief.

The story focuses on Lily and Jack’s journey through their own grief which they handle very differently. I can’t say much more than that, as I don’t want to give the point of the plot away. Lily seems to have her life together as she works full time and is taking care of the house – and all the responsibilities that come with an old house.

A year passes and Lily has taken on the task of cleaning up the garden. She decides to plant a vegetable garden to help pass the time while her husband is in the institution. As she works on the garden, Lily is attacked by a starling – a bird that is not known in her area.

She is referred to a psychologist turned veterinarian, played by legendary Kevin Kline. I adore Kevin Kline. He’s been in some fantastic movies like In & Out, Wild Wild West, Beauty the Beast (live action), and more notably, a classic, A Fish Called Wanda. 10/10 recommend this movie.

Kline stars as Dr. Larry Fine who is struggling with his own life changes and decision to work with animals instead of people. He agrees to help Lily with her “bird” problem, and the two become fast friends.

Also in the movie – Timothy Olyphant and Skyler Gisondo from Santa Clara Diet, Loretta Devine (Supernatural), Gustavo Gomez (Animal Kingdom), and many other names that I don’t recognize. But that’s my fault. I haven’t watched many new indie films – and I plan on changing that.

My thoughts after watching

I’ve given up on Hollywood movies because of the “politically correct” narrative they push on movies. It saddens me as someone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s with such a great time for movies. Now everything is filmed with green screens and CGI. I feel that this takes away a little bit of movie magic that we see in older movies.

That and the fact that Hollywood has run out of original ideas. Most movies now are reboots or sequels that we didn’t need to see. Like the new The Craft reboot. It was just – god awful. I turned it off about 30 minutes into it.

What I love about indie films is they are like older movies with very little special effects. It’s almost like watching a really good play. Producers have less money to use on building enormous sets and tend to focus more on storylines and acting. And the music. I love the music of smaller films. I’ve discovered a lot of great artists from watching independent films.

I imagine that they used CGI or animatronics for the birds in this film. But other than that, the film was beautiful to watch. Whoever worked on the cinematography did a great job. And the soundtrack was just – perfect. I’m now listening to Brandi Carlile because of it.

Anyway. If you’re looking for something heart warming to watch, I recommend The Starling. Unfortunately, it didn’t do very well with critics. They say it was over the top with “melodramatic antics”. But honestly, as someone who has suffered the various stages of grief more than a few times in my life from losses – I found myself laughing in some parts, and tearing up in others.

I thought I would cry my eyes out but I managed to hold it together. Though if you’ve lost someone recently, you might want to have a box of tissues close by.

I’m not going to rate movies or films here on a rating system. What I will say is – do give this one a chance and support indie film makers.

Official Trailer


The opening song was performed by The Lumineers, an indie folk band that I’ve been a fan of since I first started using iTunes Music back in 2010. I honestly don’t remember when I started using Itunes – I switched to Spotify in 2019 and am addicted to it. I just tried finding the tune on Spotify but it’s not released yet. I suspect it was probably written for the film – but honestly the song moved me to tears before the movie even really started.

The rest of the soundtrack is amazing with songs from Brandi Carlile, Melody Gardot, Zelma Sanders, Alyssa Garcia and more indie artists. I think this is why I love indie films so much – it’s cheaper for indie film producers to use songs from lesser known artists. But it’s also a great way for artists to get discovered. Most of the music I listen to now came from some of my favorite tv shows and movies.

This song isn’t available to listen to, so I found this video of the opening credits on YouTube. I’ll share the official video when it is available. Hopefully soon.

Indie film challenge

A while ago, I said I was going to share some of my favorite movies with you. Tonight, I had intended to watch a horror movie and get started on my Halloween marathon early. But I think maybe discovering a new indie film every week would be a better use of my time and this blog.

So, every week, Friday or Saturday nights, I’m going to sit down and watch whatever is new (or newer) released to sites like Prime and Netflix. I’ll share my thoughts as I’m watching the movie here.

If you have a recommendation, please let me know!

List of films (so far):

February Podcast Recommendations

Hello dear readers! It’s Sunday morning at 7:42 am and I’m wide awake. Sipping my first coffee of the day – I’ve moved onto Nestle’s Gold Cafe and am loving the medium roast. Since switching to instant coffee, I’ve tried the Tim Horton’s Dark Roast, Starbucks Vanilla Latte, and Folger’s Dark Roast. I think Tim’s still might be my favorite and I don’t miss regular coffee as much as I thought I would. Did you miss my post on this major announcement? No worries, check it out here – the day that I switched to instant coffee and never looked back.

I’ve been hooked on audiobooks and podcasts lately. I’m getting tired of YouTube and the same shows on Prime and Netflix. I’ve turned to Spotify and am really enjoying discovering new content. So, along with my monthly Good Read recommendations – I’m going to start a monthly series with podcast recommendations and updates.

And hey, guess what? I started a podcast this morning! I have two episodes up on Spotify and apparently, even have two followers already! That’s amazing. I plan on recording at least one per week – if not daily while I’m off work. I’m researching various topics I can cover. So first off – go follow me on Spotify. Or you can follow my stream on RSS (I think).

Armchair Expert – Dax Shepard

I’ve been listening to this podcast for a few weeks now and it’s just enjoyable. Dax is a well known American actor who has starred in shows like – wait, I have to look this up. The Ranch (Netflix tv), El Camino Christmas (terrible movie by the way), Parenthood and Robot Chicken. But most people know him as Kristen Bell’s husband. He had a short cameo on The Good Place which Bell starred in and it’s pretty hilarious.

The first episode of this podcast Dax interviewed Kristen – whom he lovingly calls Bell when talking to other guests. They had just had a fight and were still annoyed with each other. It was sort of like listening to couple’s therapy and mostly talking about Kristen’s tiny “boobs.” I learned entirely too much about her anatomy. Other notable guests that I enjoyed included Seth Green, Jason Segel, and even Hilary Clinton.

Amazingly enough, the show has been on air since 2018 and has grown in popularity. I guess I’m just late to the party. Make sure to check it out – here’s the first interview of the show.

Oh – I almost forgot. Dax has a costar named Monica who comes back at the end of each episodes and corrects every time Dax made an error during the interview. Their banter is pretty hilarious.

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend

Now I’m not a huge Conan fan and I just discovered his podcast this weekend. I’m more about the people that are being interviewed. Just looking at Conan’s recent guest list – I followed the podcast without listening to any interviews. Is that terrible of me?

His first two guests are David Spade and Bryan Cranston – two both very talented comedic actors. I loved Bryan in Malcolm in the Middle and later in the hit show Breaking Bad. But honestly, Bryan is great in everything he does. Even in an old episode of Xfiles.

Conan has had some great guests on his show in the last year from Jim Parsons, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo to the amazing Bruce Springsteen.

I’m really looking forward to listening to these interviews! I think Spotify podcasts may have just replaced my daily morning YouTube routine. Isn’t it great how much content is available to us now?

Wow this is really hard sticking to just three podcast recommendations. It seems like everyone has a podcast these days. Does anyone have time to actually listen to them? There are podcasts for all genres and walks of life. So, I’m just going to recommend one that I’ve listened to a few times and is a bit of a guilty pleasure.

And no, it’s not Joe Rogan. I used to listen to his podcast until he switched to Spotify and removed his content from YouTube. He said he wasn’t going to sell out. But it feels like he sold out. And who wouldn’t for a cool $100 million deal. I’d do a lot for that kind of money… does that make me a terrible person?

Directionally Challenged

Hosted by two stars from The Vampire Diaries – Candice King and Kaylie Ewell – these two lovely ladies interview a great variety of women – and of course on occasion, friends from The Vampire Diaries like Michael Trevino (Tyler) and Julie Plec (show runner). Admittedly, I tune in when they have their friends on the show. Topics range from self-help, spiritual guidance and motherhood.

If you were a fan of TWD – it’s a guilty pleasure – I highly recommend checking out early episodes of this podcast. Here’s the interview with Paul Wesley – I’m listening to it next.

What are you listening to right now? Let me know your favorite podcast in the comments below! Have a great Sunday!

Movie Review – Doctor Sleep

Last night, I stayed up late and watched Doctor Sleep. As a teen growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I loved reading scary books before going to sleep. It’s partially why I have so many nightmares. But I think it also is what developed my love for story writing and writing in general.

I love horror movies. But every now and then I need to take a break. I was never a fan of gore or lots of blood in movies. For me, a good horror movie has to have a good plot.

As a kid, movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Alfred Hitchcock’s, The Birds, terrified me.

I’ve written about this scene before – but I’ll leave it here again. This scene still stays with me – all these years later. It’s no wonder I fell in love with Donald and Keifer Sutherland as actors over the years.

By age 13, I had read most of Stephen’s Kings books. The Shining was a terrifying read. The book was so much scarier than the movie.

I actually forgot that Doctor Sleep had come out and saw it trending last night on Twitter. So, I decided to watch it on my not so legal (but still okay in Canada) streaming website.

I won’t give too much of the plot away. Even though the monsters didn’t have a name, “The Shining” refers to a psychic gift or ability that some children have. The gift varies from child to child.

Some can see into the future. Some children can see spirits or evil entities. Some can astral travel while dreaming – or have out of body experiences while wide awake. While one of the main characters of the movie, could jump into other people’s mind and invade their private space.

As someone who astral travels a lot in my sleep this idea disturbed me. And so, I laid awake until about four in the morning almost afraid to even fall asleep.

My dreams are always “out there” weird. I travel to countries I’ve never been. I meet up with people I’ve never met. Once I traveled back in time and followed Mozart around on the cobble streets and watched with amusement as he drunkenly hit on women on his way to his local watering hole.

The dream felt so real. I remember learning in the dream that Mozart died from an infection and my mind ultimately went to syphilis or another STD. In today’s world, these can be cured with pills. In those days, syphilis was a silent killer.

When I woke up from that dream, I hopped online to learn what Mozart had died from. And the cause of death was “unknown infection from high fever.” I looked up his other symptoms and they matched common symptoms of early syphilis.

I laughed at that. The dream had felt so real it was as though I was getting a glimpse into Mozart’s life. I remember the feel of the cool cobblestone on my feet as I carefully stepped in between the stones. I could hear light music in the background and the sound of distant chatter.

So, when I watch movies like Insidious and now Doctor Sleep – it leaves me with all these thoughts and feelings and “what if’s”.

What is we really travel when drift off to sleep? What if our minds tap into other dimensions? There’s very little scientific evidence to back these theories or claims up – but there are lots of studies still being conducted today.

I just wanted to take a moment and acknowledge the casting choices of the Torrance family. Actors hired to play the original family – did a brilliant job. I almost thought that was Jack Nicholson at the end in the hotel. Maybe it was a trick of the cinematography.

Sometimes I wonder if I should write all my dream experiences down and turn them into a book. Question is, would anyone read it? These are thoughts that keep me up at night time.

Doctor Sleep – if you’re a horror fan, check it out. It wasn’t entirely disappointing.