Food: As part of a recent recipe exchange I participated in, I made a Balsamic Chicken Dish that can be made in one pan. You will need balsamic vinegar (1/4c), extra-virgin olive oil (1/4c), honey (1tbsp), Dijon mustard (1tbsp), garlic (2cloves, minced), red pepper flakes, chicken breasts, salt, and black pepper. First, make the vinaigrette by whisking together the balsamic, olive oil, honey, mustard, garlic and red pepper flakes. Once combined, set aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat, and add the chicken, seasoned with salt & pepper. Sear until golden. Douse the vinaigrette all over the chicken and serve over arugula or other mixed greens. Enjoy!
Film: “Brittany Runs A Marathon” (2019) was one of those films that went under the radar, an Amazon Prime original, and went straight to streaming. This inevitably makes it more accessible than the theater, but it may get lost in the shuffle. Writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo was inspired by his friend, Brittany O’Neill, who transformed her life after running the New York City marathon. They semi-collaborated on the script, him sharing his screenplay to her, her adding notes back.
First time director, and first time for Jillian Bell to lead a film, and the whole piece relies heavily on her ability to carry it. She plays Brittany, a typical meandering twenty-something who is lacking direction, purpose, inspiration, and fulfillment. She works a paying, but meaningless job taking tickets at a theater. She spends her nights bar hopping with friends and she uses humor to bypass confrontation and responsibility. She’s unhappy, but also not interested in fixing that. Everything is just fine. That is, until, at a routine check-up, her doctor suggests she start taking better care of herself and lose weight.
It doesn’t surprise me that Colaizzo and O’Neill collaborated on this story, because it feels incredibly personal and specific – the magic of good writing. As she reluctantly begins her journey towards a more in-shape version of herself, she unearths some aspects of her life that had previously gone unchecked. Maybe it isn’t just fine. She joins a running group, recommended by her neighbor, Catherine (the lovely Michaela Watkins), and ends up surrounding herself with a hodge-podge of people who support her in a way she has not experienced before. “Brittany Runs A Marathon” is about her running a marathon, of course, but it is also a story about self-discovery.
Unleashing the nuance in body image insecurity and toxic friendships, the film manages to portray Brittany’s journey with a lot of depth. It magnificently subverts heavy tropes, even with such a familiar underdog story, and understands that combating body-image pain is more than just losing weight. This felt so incredibly sincere, intelligent and genuinely inspiring. It is a touching and surprisingly excellent.
And I say surprising because “Brittany Runs A Marathon” feels incredibly underrated.