Julie & Dana

>> Sunday, August 9, 2009

I saw two inspiring films this past weekend. Two films that couldn't be more different. Yet each with a NY moment attached.

The first one is Boy Interrupted: http://festival.sundance.org/2009/film_events/films/boy_interrupted. I watched it on Friday night.

It chronicles the life and suicide of Evan Scott Perry, a 15 year old boy with bi-polar depression. His mom Dana Perry directed the film, I imagine in part to raise awareness of this disease and in part to help come to terms with her loss. It made quite a presence at Sundance this year, and it's now playing on HBO through the end of August.

I was blown away. I myself have two teenage kids, and we also work on Seroquel, a drug that helps people cope with bi-polar depression. I can't get the film out of my mind, particularly because it shows how the family and friends of Evan Scott Perry had no options to help him. They were helpless, and the end felt almost inevitable to them. You could clearly feel the inevitability.

In a not-so-rare New York moment, the next day I literally sat next to Dana Perry at a nail salon getting a pedicure (yes, I'm not ashamed to admit that I got a pedicure, it's summer after all!). Yes, Dana Perry.

I am embarrassed to say that I couldn't think of what to say to her. I wanted to tell her that I had just seen her film, that it had moved me, that I worked on Seroquel, and that I have two teenagers of my own. I wanted to tell her how brave I think that she is. But I just couldn't bring myself to break into her privacy. But I really wanted to say something to her.

The other film is on the opposite side of the universe. Julie & Julia.

We had planned to go see Julie & Julia on Sunday. The movie chronicles blogger Julie Powell as she rips through the Julia Child classic French cookbook over the course of a full year, paralleling it with the life of Julia Child while she was living in Paris with her adoring husband. It's actually a great feel-good story that leaves you feeling inspired to do something creative.

It doesn't even compare to Boy Interrupted, can't even begin. But the movie is also moving in a different kind of way. Especially for those of us who do a lot of writing.

Another not-so-rare NY moment. Saturday night, the night before we plan to see the film, we pop into Odeon in Tribeca to grab a quick glass of wine before dinner. Who is sitting next to us but Julie Powell. Yes, Julie Powell.

Feeling embarrassed by not publicly acknowledging Dana Perry the day before, I decide to say hello and tell Julie Powell how inspired I am by her story. It was a little easier to break into her privacy as she was just on The Today Show that very morning.

She was thrilled for the acknowledgement. Thrilled. We talked for about 20 minutes and then rushed to dinner feeling inspired to write a book.

While certainly not on the same scale by any means, I "met" two incredibly strong women with a story to tell. I feel for these women, in very different ways. And both of their stories moved me.
You never know who is sitting next to you and what their story is.

If you haven't already, check out both of their films. One is very Hollywood and at your local theater. The other is very raw and available in your home.

Let me know what you think.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


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