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My daughter, who is a para-professional special education teacher who is studying for her Masters degree in the subject, recently did something she rarely does. She recommended a movie to me. (Unlike her brothers and me, she’s not a movie person.)

But when she does it, I tend to listen. And so, the other day, while flying back from the west coast, having previously downloaded it, I decided to watch it on my iPad. And pretty quickly found myself completely pissed off at her, because it was so profoundly moving that I was sitting in 12D with tears rolling down my cheeks.

The move is Life, Animated, a 2016 documentary based on a book, “Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism,” by journalist Ron Suskind. The subject is Suskind’s son, Owen, who was diagnosed with autism at age and slowly devolved into be uncommunicative and withdrawn, no matter what his parents did to try to help him. But then, through a series of lucky accidents, they discovered something extraordinary - that Owen actually was connecting to the world, but doing so through Disney animated films in which he was identifying with plot points and characters.

Owen’s story is an extraordinary one, as we watch him - through home movie footage, interviews with family members and doctors, and both original animation as well as clips from Disney films - grapple with the world around him, finding his place and learning to achieve a measure of autonomy. The film does a nice job of not suggesting that Disney’s films are some sort of panacea - that would’ve made the film way too exploitive and commercial - but rather keeps the story narrow and always in context.

Life, Animated is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. It is touching, emotional and smart - and I kind of hope that a few years from now, they produce a sequel. I’d like to catch up with Owen and his family and see how things turned out.



I made a spicy, blackened salmon the other night - though I cheat in how I make it, because cooking it in a pan full of butter strikes me as the wrong way to go when it comes to heart health. It was really good, though, and the wine I served with it was a 2017 Walnut Block Collectables Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, which was smooth and just citrusy enough to balance out the salmon. I recommend it.



That’s it for this week.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

Sláinte!
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