Candid Karina

{December 23, 2010}   Julie & Julia and Karina

The other night I watched “Julie & Julia” for the first time.

Julie & Julia Poster
I loved the movie, it was sweet, and funny, and a joy to watch. I enjoyed Amy Adams and Meryl Streep immensely in their roles (of Julie Powell and Julia Child respectively), and perhaps even more so, enjoyed Chris Messina and Stanley Tucci as their husbands. The story (a true story) was cute, and it was just an all around feel good movie that I am so glad I finally watched.

But this is not a movie review. (Even though I think you should definitely check it out if you haven’t already).

No, this post is about me. Or more specifically about the fact that I simply do not cook.

I can cook. Whenever I decide to whip something up, I can pretty much go for it, and feel secure in the knowledge that it will come out tasting pretty great.

I thank my mother for this. I’ve inherited her ability to just “create” in the kitchen. I can throw a bunch of random ingredients together, without recipe and measuring spoons, and make an honest to goodness meal out of them.

That being said, I don’t cook. Not often anyway.

I live alone, and let’s be honest, the inspiration of cooking for one isn’t really all that great. Plus, I live a pretty busy, hectic life, so the truth is, I’m not home to eat dinner most nights, and on the nights I am, I want something quick and easy. Not some elaborate meal.

Unfortunately, what that means is that most nights, I end up cooking from packages…processed foods…not the healthiest options, for sure.

Watching this movie, however, made me think that I should, at the very least, have a few “recipes” that I’m familiar with, a few things that I can have as my “go to’s” that don’t come from a package of some sort, that include fresh ingredients.

Now, don’t go thinking I’m going to embark on some crazy challenge of Julie & Julia proportions…cooking my way through some lengthy cookbook in a year. That is SO NOT happening.

However, I’ve been inspired…so, I’m challenging myself to go through my MANY cookbooks (because, for someone who doesn’t cook, I have an obsession with buying cookbooks), and every week cooking from one of the recipes in one of those books.

That’s my challenge to myself…to cook more, by committing to cooking ONE meal from fresh ingredients, from a cookbook recipe, once a week, starting in January…

I should be able to do that, right? (GULP)…Right…

Last Thursday I saw Sex and the City 2. I know that the movie has gotten pretty bad reviews, but this is not really a movie review. I will quickly say though that those reviewers and critics who have picked this movie apart were obviously bored or expecting WAY too much. Let’s be honest, it’s Sex and the City. If you were expecting some sort of cinematic brilliance, you went to the wrong movie. If, however, you were a fan of the show, and were expecting to see just a little bit more of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, their crazy discussions about sex and love, and some amazing fashions and gorgeous men, you will not be disappointed. The movie was everything I expected it to be. Campy, fun, silly, over the top, self-indulgent, hilarious, and even a little bit sweet. It was also so pretty to look at. Between the scenery of NYC and Abu Dabi, the gorgeous clothes, shoes, jewelry and purses, and the bevy of gorgeous gals and guys, it was a feast for the eyes. Even the soundtrack was on par, fun, exciting.

But, as I said, this is not a movie review.

I want to talk about the 10 things this movie made me want to run out and get.


Gold nailpolish – Samantha sports this amazing metallic gold nailpolish through most of the movie, and I WANT IT. I want it NOW. Someone find it for me please.


Flowy nightgowns – Carrie struts around the hotel in abu dabi, and her apartment in Manhattan in these amazing, completely impractical nightgowns and robes. No woman in her right mind would wear any of these to sleep in, she’d wake up completely tangled and frustrated. But they are glamorous and fantastic, and I think every woman should invest in a few to walk around in while she drinks a glass of wine and watches some television, before bed. Simply because…she can. I want.

3. Shoes – Oh come on, you knew this was coming. Really, it needs no explanation. OH THE SHOES…I want. I direct you to this blog for the shoes, because they did a great job of capturing some of the best ones.

4. Girlfriends – I have amazing friends from all walks of life, all over the place, for all different occasions and situations, most of them, long distance. But I do not have (and have never really had) a group of girl friends like these four women have on this show. I love the way they can jump to each other’s rescue just as quickly as they’ll jump down each other’s throats. The way they are willing to drop everything for a night of fun, or for a night of tears. Yes, I realize it’s fiction, but wouldn’t it be grand to have a group of girlfriends you can have a standing date with once a week, or even once a month? I WANT a group of local girl friends.

5. A relationship like the one Carrie and Big have – No, seriously, in the midst of all the crazy, the unrealistic, and even the annoying, they have exactly the type of relationship I want. They respect each other’s faults, they adore each other’s quirks, they understand that they won’t always understand one another, and they are completely mature about handling their immaturity. I’m not saying I want their exact relationship, I just want the love, the respect, the trust, and the honesty. That’s not asking for much is it?

Fine, can I just get the nailpolish then? Pretty please??

I watched two movies this past weekend, and they couldn’t have been any more different from one another.

The first, is a movie I’ve been wanting to see since it was in the theatres back in 2007. I never made it then, and a few months ago TIVO decided I might like to watch it and recorded it for me. It’s been sitting in my tivo for months now, waiting for the right opportunity to be watched. Friday night it finally felt like the right time. (don’t ask, I have to be in the mood for movie watching, something to do with my short attention span…lol)

Anyway, back to the movie.

Starring Kerri Russell (Lyla Novacek), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Louis Connelly) and Freddie Highmore as August Rush himself, this movie is the story of a little boy who grows up in an orphanage, believing he can “hear” his real parents. He sets off on a mission to find them, and that’s where the story really takes off.

The cast in this movie was superb. I have always loved Kerri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers completely won me over in this role, and little Freddie is just a joy to watch. Also amazing in this cast were Robin Williams (when is he ever not amazing?), Terrence Howard (who I have loved since Dead Presidents way back in 1995), and a slew of other supporting cast members.

But the true star of this movie is the music. Both the written songs and melodies (some sung quite well by Meyers himself) and the sounds of nature that play such a huge role in the magic of the movie.

And magic it was. This movie was simply a beautiful, sweet, magical story. As a HUGE music lover, and the indescribable force it carries, I was completely smitten with the story. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’ll refrain from saying too much more, but I will say that if you love music, and if you believe (as I do) that there is something about music that can just reach into your soul and tell you things you never knew, then you will love this movie.

Also, the soundtrack is amazing.

I plan to buy both, this one is a must OWN.

The second movie I watched this weekend was Body of Lies. For all the “feel goodness” of August Rush, Body of Lies had the complete opposite feeling to it.

Starring Russell Crow and Leonardo DiCaprio it is a story about the CIA and terrorism in Afghanistan. Why in the world I chose to watch this movie, when I don’t even like watching the news is beyond me. Actually, it’s not that much of a mystery. Two words: Leo DiCaprio. I heart him. I will watch pretty much ANYTHING he’s in. I mean, come on, I watched The Beach (talk about a twisted, dark movie). That does not mean I have to like everything he stars in, but I will watch it.

Truth be told, part of the reason I will watch all his movies is that he has a knack for picking great movies to be in. In terms of his role in the movie, he did not disappoint. His character is complicated, and tortured, and a perfect Leo role. But I felt the plot left a lot to be desired, and when the movie ended, I as sort of left with a “what was the point?” feeling. I suppose, in a way, it was fitting, because let’s be honest, isn’t that the feeling we’re left with anytime anyone talks about this crazy war we’re in? What is the point, exactly?

Anyway, I’m not sure I can recommend watching this movie, but I also can’t tell you it was a bad movie. It was a war movie. Of the terrorism and government kind. So, if you like that sort of thing, you might like this one. I was underwhelmed, and really, the only thing I took away from it is the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio really is a great actor, and regardless of the plot, I will watch anything he stars in, because that boy can act. Doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes either.

Anyway, there you have it, my two latest movie reviews.

I promise some more “personal” blog posts in the very near future. I’m going to a concert tomorrow night, so I’ll tell you all about that. And I have to update you on how I’m doing on my 31 days of exercise challenge…which reminds me, I have to go work out…later!

{December 30, 2009}   Avatar – Movie Review

I kept this review very basic and spoiler free. Read on!

I first saw a preview for Avatar a few months ago, and thought it looked interesting. I remember thinking “yep, I’ll want to see that”. But then, when the movie was released, and all the insanity around it broke out, I lost a bit of interest. I couldn’t understand what all the hype was all about. I wanted to see it, but it wasn’t a “must see”, by any means.

But, the other night, my cousins and I decided to go check it out, and figured that since we were going anyway, we might as well watch it in 3D, right?

So, dorky 3D glasses on our faces, we settled down for a very long movie. I’ll admit, the first 10 minutes or so were oddly uncomfortable. Getting used to the 3D was awkward and there was a certain amount of “motion sickness” to it all. But soon enough, the 3D seemed natural, and I was able to just enjoy the beauty of the images on the screen.

And beautiful they were. This movie was absolutely beautiful. Breathtakingly so. I will be incredibly surprised if it doesn’t get nominated and win for every category having to do with set, costuming, etc.

The 3D just simply added to the beauty, and fit perfectly with the fact that the movie was taking place in a world that was so unlike our own, filled with magical plants and gorgeous surprises around every corner.

I’ll make this clear, there is no other way to watch this movie but in 3D. Don’t bother to watch it otherwise.

As far as the story line itself goes, it was also a beautiful story, filled with awe, wonder, sadness, rage, fantasy, and every other emotion you can think of. In order to avoid posting spoilers, I’m going to skip any summary of the plot, and let you watch it for yourself. I will, however say that this movie served to show both the beautiful soul as well as the ugly nature of humanity. I was both touched and angered while watching this movie. Reminded of how the human race is so quick to destroy anything different and beautiful. But also how amongst us there are always those who will sacrifice everything to save that very thing.

The cast was fantastic. Sam Worthington as Jake Sully captured both the human and the avatar perfectly. Giovanni Ribisi was a pleasant surprise for me (i’m a big fan of his) as Parker Selfridge, the rich benefactor of the entire project. He always seems to play these conflicted characters, and is always so great at this. Zoe Saldana was beautiful as Neytiri.

The movie is almost three hours long, and yet, I found myself wanting more when it was over.

I don’t have much more to say because I don’t think my words can’t do justice to this film. Honestly, if you are even remotely a fan of fantasy, go see it. If you love beautiful images, go see it. If you are a romantic, go see it. If you like watching movies that make you think and examine the world around you, go see it. If you like explosions and battles, go see it.

I’m going to easily say this is my favorite movie of 2009. How’s that for a review? Just…go see it. In 3D. 😉

{August 13, 2009}   What Happens at Twilight?

The following is not so much a review of the Twilight series as it is a quick synopsis of what I thought of them. I tried really hard not to put any spoilers in this post, so I’m leaving pretty much all details out, so feel free to read on, even if you didn’t read the books, I give nothing vital away. In fact, I don’t give anything at all away, I kept it very basic and superficial to avoid all spoilers. I’m also including at the end my thoughts on the movie Twilight.

I knew as soon as I heard of the Twilight books that I would be reading them. If you don’t know by now, let it be known that I am a fan of all things vampire. My love affair with vampires began many many years ago when I became obsessed with the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles, and then grew exponentially with the 8 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I have read serious, scary and funny vampire books, including some chick lit/paranormal romance books that surprised me with their wit and charm. I have watched everything from the Blade movies, to the Underworld series to The Lost Boys and True Blood. If there are vampires or other mythical creatures involved, odds are, I’m intrigued by it.

So, of course, I knew I’d be reading the Twilight books. But I kept putting it off. Mostly because…well, have you SEEN the size of these books? I don’t exactly have a ton of free reading time these days, so tackling a book of that size was off putting, to say the least.

But, eventually, a few months ago, I gave in. Watching the previews for New Moon, the second movie in the series, I knew I could no longer put off reading these books if I wanted to read them before the secrets were all spoiled for me.

So I dug in. And I got sucked in almost immediately.

I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure what it was about the books that sucked me in, because for the most part, while reading Twilight, I was mostly just annoyed with both Edward and Bella. But I was also curious. Curious as to where it was all going to lead. Curious about this vampire world Stephanie Meyer created that was so different and unique from all the other vampire worlds we’re accustomed to. I had to know more.

By New Moon I was beyond irritated with Edward, and just about ready to slap Bella upside the head. I was being reminded why I stopped reading chick lit a while back, the weak and hopeless/helpless female protagonists annoy the inner feminist in me to no end. But then there was Jacob. And I very quickly became a member of Team Jacob. He was just the right amount of comic relief and carefree attitude to loosen up the book a bit, and suck me right back in.

As I dug into Eclipse, I became completely absorbed. Finally Bella stopped frustrating me, and I even began to take a liking to Edward. And Jacob? Oh how I adored him. Now, more than ever I NEEDED to know what would happen.

With Breaking Dawn it was cemented for me. Without a doubt, the best book of the series, it tied together all the loose ends, made sense of everything and told a story like no other. In this book I finally “got” Edward, finally enjoyed Bella and yes, still remained on Team Jacob.

And then with the ending? Fully satisfying. And yet, leaving me wanting more. Just like a good book should do.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the movie “Twilight”. Having finished the book, I decided to pick up a blue ray copy of the movie and watch it one night. Now, as a disclaimer I suppose I should say that I am that person that is ALWAYS disappointed in a “book to movie” movie. It’s just never as good as the book. BUT, knowing this, I went into the movie with an open mind, expecting the disappointment of missing scenes or changes from the book. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was such a poorly made movie.

Let me explain. In terms of cinematography (and remember I watched this in blue ray on my HDTV), I thought the film was beautiful. Simply gorgeous. But that’s where the good review ends for me. I thought it was choppy, incomplete, jumping from scene to scene in a completely disconnected and unnatural manner. I felt like I was watching a cliff’s note version of the cliff’s notes of the book. For the first 45 minutes of the movie there was no story line, there were just “scenes”. It was like a “clip show” of moments from a season of a television series. The characters are here, and now they are here, and now they are there, but let’s not tell the viewers how they got from point A to point B, let’s just put them there. I’ve heard complaints that there is no chemistry between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in this movie, but I can’t blame it on the actors. There was no story line to allow them to build chemistry. They were just pushed together and the audience was expected to just KNOW there was a chemistry and a “something” there. If you hadn’t read the book, how could you possibly understand the depth of their connection? You couldn’t. I will say that having read the book, it was nice to see some of the images come to life on screen, so I enjoyed the movie from that perspective, but it was not a “story” it was just images. I thought the movie got a little better towards the end, but I sure hope they do a better job with New Moon.

And there you go…my thoughts on both the books and the movie.

OMG, can I, like, just tell you how glad I am that I am NOT 17 again? LOL, WTF!

Yes, I know, there was definitely some 80’s valley girl mixed in with the text savvy new millennium teenager in that last sentence. It was done on purpose, I swear it.

But the sentiment, the sentiment is certainly there, regardless of what decade the language comes from.

After watching “17 Again”, the new Matthew Perry/Zac Effron movie, in a room full of teenagers, all I can tell you is I walked out thinking “Thank you God for allowing me to survive my teen years and make it happily to my mid-thirties. I don’t ever want to go back”.

My friend Chick Flick and I have decided to make Tuesdays our “movie night”. Our local theatre offers $6 Tuesdays, and since both of us tend to have pretty hectic weekend schedules, our “school night movie night” was born. We’ve been going pretty regularly for the last 3 months or so, and we’ve found that it works beautifully. The theatre is not crowded, the price is right, and with both of us being movie lovers, we get to go to the movies without the annoying side effects theatre going usually means.

Except last week, when unbeknownst to both of us, because neither of us have any kids, we decided on “17 Again” and arrived at the theatre to discover it was school vacation week. The theatre was packed. With teenagers. And we? Were planning to watch a teenybopper flick. Because, whether or not we happen to be in our 30’s, we just love teenybopper flicks.

It was touch and go for a moment, and we almost vetoed the movies altogether, but at the last minute we decided to suck it up, and go watch the movie with the teens.

The experience wasn’t as horrible as we had initially feared. The movie was packed, but for the most part, the kids were well behaved. And, truth be told, watching this particular movie in a room full of teenagers really did add a certain level of…realism to an otherwise ridiculous movie premise.

I should take this time to tell you that I am not one of those people who thinks all teenagers are horrible, in fact, I work very closely with a large group of teens and I think that for the most part, teenagers today are amazing, wonderful and far exceed most adults’ expectations of them. That being said, there are certain times I would really rather not be surrounded by them, and a movie theatre is one of those times. Truth be told, I don’t much like being surrounded by full grown adults at the movies either. People can be especially obnoxious in a dark movie theatre, so the emptier a movie room is, the happier I am.

But, back to the movie, because, this was, after all supposed to be a review, wasn’t it?

Right…so, 17 Again, if you don’t already know, is basically your typical “waking up in another body” story. (for more information about the movie, click on the picture above to be taken to the Yahoo Movie Page) Much along the lines of “Big” or “13 Going on 30”, where a young character wakes up in the body of their adult self, 17 Again takes the formula and reverses it. Matthew Perry is a disenchanted, disgruntled adult, who was his high school’s star basketball player, but somewhere along the way traded in his basketball dream for family life, and has never made peace with that decision.

Through a chance meeting he magically wakes up in the body of his former 17 year old self Zac Effron, and hilarity ensues.

The formula is well known, and has been time and time again. The plot is predictable, and not all that unique or original. But the writing was good, the jokes were indeed funny, and the actors made the characters likeable (or dislikable as the case may have been) enough to make this movie worth watching.

The main story line of Mike O’Donnel (Perry/Effron) trying to do right by his family, even while in his 17 year old body is a nice sweet twist on the story we’ve come to know so well. And I got a kick out of slightly twisted story line where his soon to be former wife finds herself inexplicably attracted to this 17 year old kid, lending itself to quite a few laughs for the audience.

My favorite character by far, though, was Ned, Mike’s best friend played by Thomas Lennon of Reno 911 fame. He was absolutely hilarious, and for me, the real star of the movie. Without his comic relief, I’m not sure the movie would have been nearly as enjoyable.

That being said, I can’t possibly do a review of this movie without mentioning the adorable Zac Effron. From the moment he walked out on the screen a collective “swoon” was heard in the audience. All the little teen girls (and some not so teen women, yours truly EXCLUDED) let out audible sighs. Probably the funniest bit for me in the entire movie was when the teen girl behind me shouted “He’s so hot”.

To be honest, Zac Effron is most definitely not “my type”, and even if he was older than a mere 21, he’d still not be my type. But, I will hand it to the kid, he is absolutely adorable and likeable. He is also, I must admit, a great comedic actor. I thought he did an excellent job delivering the one liners, and tripping over himself with the physical comedy aspect of the film. This kids’ got a bright future in the business, no doubt.

As for the idea of being 17 again and getting to do-over my adolescence? That part made this movie almost a horror flick for me. As if being a teenager wasn’t hard enough when I went through it, I can’t imagine doing it again in the age of YouTube and MySpace. So Not Interested. As I heard the teens in the room laugh at some of the jokes, all I could think was how terrible it must be to be an unpopular kid now a days. It wasn’t easy when I was there (trust me, I know), but it has to be so much harder now.

It was a sweet, sweet feeling to know I could walk out of that theatre and be in my 30’s, having left the teeny boppers on the curb waiting for their parents to come pick them up.

Overall, this wasn’t a “masterpiece” of a film, but then, nobody is expecting it to be. It was what it set out to be, which was an entertaining, funny, enjoyable flick.

For the entertainment value alone, I give it 3 ¾ Martini glasses.

In today’s movie reviews, I give you two more dance movies, and a…uh…comedy I think. As always, I post no spoilers in my movie reviews, so feel free to read them even if you haven’t seen the films.

Movie: American Dreamz (2006)

Starring: Mandy Moore, Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Chris Klein

Synopsis: (fom Yahoo Movies) On the morning of his re-election, the President decides to read the newspaper for the first time in four years. This starts him down a slippery slope. He begins reading obsessively, reexamining his black and white view of the world, holing up in his bedroom in his pajamas. Frightened by the President’s apparent nervous breakdown, his Chief of Staff pushes him back into the spotlight, booking him as a guest judge on the television ratings juggernaut (and the President’s personal fave), the weekly talent show American Dreamz. America can’t seem to get enough of American Dreamz, hosted by self-aggrandizing, self-loathing Martin Tweed, ever on the lookout for the next insta-celebrity. His latest crop of hopefuls includes Sally, a conniving steel magnolia with a devoted, dopey veteran boyfriend, and Omer, a recent Southern Californian immigrant (who just happens to be a bumbling, show tune singing, would-be terrorist awaiting activation). When both Sally and Omer make it to the final round of Dreamz — where the President will be judging along with Tweed — the stage is set for a show the nation will never forget.

My Review: I like Mandy Moore and think that she’s a class act among the crop of “teenyboppers” she came out on the scene with, so I really wanted to like this movie. The previews I had seen for it made it sound like a quirky, funny spoof on American Idol, and I was looking forward to laughing along with it. To say I was disappointed is probably an understatement. I think there was potential there for a really funny movie, but it just never delivered. Mandy Moore was annoying but unmemorable as Sally, Hugh Grant was annoying, but actually pretty funny as the movie’s version of Simon Cowell, Chris Klein was annoying but…well, no, he was just annoying. Dennis Quaid was probably the funniest as the President, but not necessarily due to his own acting, I just thought the biggest joke was how obvious it was that more than spoofing American Idol, the movie was spoofing our very own George W.’s uh…we’ll call it leadership skills. Like I said, there was potential for a funny movie there, but it fell short. I’d say wait for cable, but…nah, don’t bother.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Martini Glasses (and I’m being generous)

Movie: Take The Lead (2006)

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Rob Brown, and a whole slew of other unknowns.

Synopsis: (from Yahoo Movies) Pierre Dulaine is a Manhattan ballroom teacher and competitor who volunteers his time to teach ballroom dancing to a group of New York inner city high school kids. Initially forced to participate as a form of detention, the kids reject Mr. Dulaine’s efforts until his unwavering commitment and dedication finally inspires them to embrace the program, infusing it with their own unique hip-hop style while subconsciously learning valuable life lessons about pride, respect, self-esteem and honor.

My Review: I recently gave you a Thursday Thirteen listing my favorite dance movies. While researching to put that list together, I came across a few dance movies I had not yet seen, for one reason or another. One of those movies was Take The Lead, and the reason I had not seen this one was because I’m not usually a fan of Antonio Banderas, and couldn’t imagine what he could possibly bring to a dance movie. However, in a twist of coincidence (I don’t believe in coincidence by the way), Tivo decided to record Take The Lead for me last week. Well, I tell you what, I was pleasantly surprised. As far as dance movies go, this one followed pretty much the same formula they all do: A kid, or a group of kids, is on the wrong side of the law and/or wrong side of the tracks and/or wrong side of the family, etc., somewhere along the line they get introduced to an opportunity to change things via dance. Nobody thinks they can do it, least of all themselves, and yet, before all is said and done, there’s a big dance routine at the end and everyone lives happily ever after. Something along those lines. OH, and there’s always the star crossed lovers element thrown in for good measure as well. The twist for this particular movie was the element of the “Dangerous Minds” type movie, where a teacher goes to an inner city school to make a difference. Banderas’ character is based on a real teacher, so there was that element as well. But really, in these movies, it’s all about the dancing, isn’t it? And I thought the dancing was great. I, of course, loved it. But, what this movie brought was actually a bit more of a story. You genuinely cared for these characters, and wanted to see them do well, and to beat the odds.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Martini Glasses. (Come on, its a dance movie)

Movie: Step Up 2 The Streets

Starring: Briana Evigan, Robert Hoffman, Adam G. Sevani, Mari Koda, and a whole bunch of other unknowns

Synopsis: (from Yahoo Movies) When rebellious street dancer Andie lands at the elite Maryland School of the Arts, she finds herself fighting to fit in while also trying to hold onto her old life. When she joins forces with the school’s hottest dancer Chase to form a crew of classmate outcasts to compete in Baltimore’s underground dance battle The Streets, she ultimately finds a way to live her dream while building a bridge between her two separate worlds.

My Review: I was/am a huge fan of the original Step Up. Channing Tatum aside (but really, how could you EVER put that man aside?), it was a fun movie, with great dancing, and an entertaining twist on the “dance movie formula” (see above review). So, when I heard they were coming out with Step Up 2, I was beyond excited. Yay, another dance movie. Slight disappointment set in when I realized that Mr. Tatum would not be playing a major role in the movie (he has a slight cameo, more of a “passing the torch” sort of thing), but hey, still a dance movie. Once again, we meet the basic formula, and there are few surprises as far as plot development is concerned, but the story is a sweet story, and it works within the dance movie constraints. And again, it’s all about the dance anyway, right? The dancing was great. There are some surprises in terms of who the standout dancers in the movie end up being. I fell in love (as in, pinch his cheeks love) with one particular character. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and yes, I’ll watch it again (and again).

Side note, if you watch this movie, let me know if you agree with my assessment that Robert Hoffman (who plays Chase Collins, the male lead) is like a younger (cuter) version of Jay Mohr. I kept seeing Jay Mohr in his expressions.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Martini Glasses (hey, it’s a dance movie).

That’s it, those are my reviews for today.

{January 30, 2008}   Movie Reviews

I love going to the movies and yet, i don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like to. However, for some reason, in the last month, I’ve made it to the movies more often than I think all of last year. So, I bring you some movie reviews.

For the record, these reviews contain NO SPOILERS within.

I’m actually going to start off with a dvd before I move on to those Now In Theaters:

Movie: The DaVinci Code

Starring: Tom Hanks, Jean Reno, Audrey Tatou, Alfred Molina, Ian McKellen

Synopsis: Famed symbologist Professor Robert Langdon is called to the Louvre museum one night where a curator has been murdered, leaving behind a mysterious trail of symbols and clues. With his own survival at stake, Langdon, aided by the police cryptologist Sophie Neveu, unveils a series of stunning secrets hidden in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, all leading to a covert society dedicated to guarding an ancient secret that has remained hidden for 2000 years. The pair set off on a thrilling quest through Paris, London and Scotland, collecting clues as they desperately attempt to crack the code and reveal secrets that will shake the very foundations of mankind. (From Yahoo Movies)

My Two Cents: I actually read this book a few years ago and really enjoyed it. As I have a tendency to be seriously disappointed with a movie after I’ve read the book, I’ve decided that the best way to handle this in the future is to either watch the movie first, or wait until enough time has passed that I don’t have a very clear memory of the book. I took the latter approach with this one, and it worked well for me. I thought the movie was very well done, and for as confusing and conplicated a book as this was, they did a fairly good job of translating it to film. The vital parts of the story were there, and having the book as background knowledge, I had no trouble following along and grasping it. However, my friend Shopaholic wasn’t so lucky. She hasn’t read the book, and was completely lost during several key parts of the movie. She’s also not a Christian, so she doesn’t even have the religious background to be able to follow the basic Jesus, Mary and Joseph ideas in the storyline, so I’m sure that added to the hindrance. That aside, I feel they did a fairly good job of developing the story in sync with the novel, and as a stand alone movie, I enjoyed it as well.

Tom Hanks was great as Robert Langdon, if a bit different from how I had pictured the character. Still, I was reminded that I actually am a fan of his work, and should watch more of his movies. I felt the rest of the cast was also well put together, but I wasn’t particularly blown away by anyone, except for Silas. The actor who protrayed him was excellent in his role as the tortured, not-quite-evil, not-quite-pious soul. Overall, a good movie, but nothing spectacular.

Rating: I’d go with 3 1/2 out of 5 Martini Glasses on this one.

Movie: P.S. I Love You

Starring: Hillary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Gina Gershon, James Marsters

Synopsis: A grieving young widow discovers that her late husband has left her a list of tasks revealed in 10 messages, delivered anonymously, intended to ease her out of grief and transition her to a new life. (Again from Yahoo Movies)

My Two Cents: I loved this movie. Yes, it’s a sappy chick flick, but I like sappy chick flicks, and as far as sappy chick flicks go? This one was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. It’s very hard to write a review of this movie without giving anything away, and I make it a practice to NOT post spoilers in my reviews, so I’ll keep it short. I’ve never quite gotten what all the hype about Hillary Swank is, but I thought she was wonderful in this movie as the grieving widow. I’d never really noticed Gerard Butler before (sorry Julia, I know that’s blasphemy), but after this movie, I GET IT. I love Lisa Kudrow, and thought she was her usual cynical funny self in this, and loved it. I was tickled by the surprise of James Marsters (SPIKE) in this, small as his role was. I fell head over heels in love with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, again, as I had before when he played Denny on Grey’s Anatomy. I laughed at the funny stuff, and boy did I cry. I cry very easily, for the record. But with this movie? I’m pretty sure I started crying about 10 minutes in, and I didn’t stop until the end of the movie. Just when something would happen that would help me to laugh, and compose myself a bit…there it would be again, another tearjerking moment. Still, even with all the crying (perhaps because of it), it was a great movie, just bring tissues.
P.S. – I loved it.

Rating: I’m actually going to go 5 out 5 Martini Glasses on this one. I’ll buy the dvd.

Movie: The Bucket List

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes

Synopsis: Two terminally ill men try to fulfill a wish list known as “The Bucket List” before each kicks the bucket.

My Two Cents: I wasn’t even sure I wanted to watch this movie when I first heard of it. It seemed like a pretty morbid premisse to me, and another tear jerker, and I’d just watched PS I Love You, I didn’t need another tear jerker. But circumstances and timing left this as the only viable choice on a night out at the movies, so we settled on it. I’m glad we did, it was actually a lot less morbid than I expected, and in fact, was quite uplifting and funny. Really funny. The combination of Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman and Sean Hayes (very much out of his “Just Jack” character), was a fantastic mix. The story was sweet, if bittersweet, and I shed a few tears, but not nearly as many as I’d expected to. (Again, I cry at everything). And the movie was beautifully shot, some amazing scenery and images. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rating: I’ll go 4 out of 5 Martini Glasses here.

Movie: 27 Dresses

Starring: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Akerman, Edward Burns

Synopsis: Jane is idealistic, romantic and completely selfless–a perennial bridesmaid whose own happy ending is nowhere in sight. But when younger sister Tess captures the heart of Jane’s boss–with whom she is secretly in love–Jane begins to reexamine her “always-a-bridesmaid…” lifestyle.

My Two Cents: I had already mentioned in this post that I really wanted to see this movie because I was SO this girl. I’ve got about 20 less dresses than her, but man, am I the eternal bridesmaid! So I was giddy with anticipation at seeing it. The difference between myself and Jane is that she actually loves weddings…me? Not so much. The movie was most certainly 100% chick flick, and as such, there were several moments where I found myself wanting to slap Jane for her stupidity, her lack of a backbone, her inability to stand up for herself. This happens pretty much anytime I watch a chick flick, or read a chick lit novel, so I wasn’t really put off for too long. Again, without getting into spoilers, I’ll just focus on the basic stuff. The movie made me laugh A LOT. It was funny, it was silly, it was cute, and it was sweet. It also gave me a fantastic idea for my wedding, if I ever have one, but we’ll leave that on at that. Katherine Heigl was great in it, James Marsden is adorable, Malin Akerman as Jane’s sister was annoying (but she was meant to be, so I think that’s a compliment to the actress) and the rest of the cast? Forgetable mostly. Yes, even Ed Burns, his character did NOTHING for me. The movie itself? Cute, funny, I’d watch it again.

Rating: As far as chick flicks go, we’ll go 3 out 5 Martinis

And there you have it. Happy movie watching!

{January 4, 2008}   Movie Review – I Am Legend

Movie: I Am Legend (2007)
Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga
Synopsis: (from Yahoo Movies) Robert Neville (Will Smith) is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable…and manmade. Somehow immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City…and maybe the world. But he is not alone. He is surrounded by “the Infected”–victims of the plague who have mutated into carnivorous beings who can only exist in the dark and who will devour or infect anyone or anything in their path. For three years, Neville has spent his days scavenging for food and supplies and faithfully sending out radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. All the while, the Infected lurk in the shadows, watching Neville’s every move, waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind’s last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But his blood is also what The Infected hunt, and Neville knows he is outnumbered and quickly running out of time.
My two cents: I saw this movie on Sunday night (12/30/07) with my cousin PM and her husband JM. I think that before going into the movie I had a very general idea what it was about, but not a whole lot more. I knew it was about Will Smith, last man on earth. Good enough for me. What I didn’t know was how freakin’ scary this movie was at times. Or how deep. Or how sad. I’ve heard from several people who’ve seen this movie, and I’ve heard “I loved it” and “I hated it”…I actually haven’t heard any inbetween opinions, so it seems it’s one of those movies that evokes strong feelings one way or the other. I’m in the “I loved it” camp, although as I was watching it, I hated it. Let me clarify. I don’t watch scary movies, I hate scary movies. I live alone, therefore, scary movies serve to only make me a paranoid mess, hearing every little noise in my condo complex, and getting zero sleep. Therefore, I don’t watch them. I Am Legend was the type of “something is going to jump out any minute now” scary movie that I like the least. And yet, there’s a sort of adrenaline rush that makes it clear why people choose to watch movies that make them jump out of their seats. This movie has quite a few of these scenes, and it made for an interesting viewing experience. PM and I actually screamed out loud a few times, which led to fits of giggles afterward, but there were other screams in the theatre, so we weren’t alone. In fact, there were two “thuggish” looking teenage boys sitting in front of us, and during one of the scenes one of them jumped so far out of his seat I’m pretty sure he was airborne for a while. He then promptly slunk down in his seat, zipped his jacket up over his face, leaving only his eyes, and watched the rest of the movie in that “I can see, but I can’t really see, just in case something else jumps out” position. I myself watched quite a bit of the film through my fingers.
Besides the “scary” parts, the movie was also heavy with a sort of dark, end of the world gloom, broken up only by the humor Will Smith’s character infuses in his conversations with his dog, himself, and well…his imaginary friends. Being the last man on earth has led him to develop a sort of “crazyness” to keep him from going crazy. Through flashbacks we learn how the world came to be what it is, and how Smith’s character has taken it upon himself to be the savior. He almost literally carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, and Will Smith does a tremendous job of displaying the range of emotions a man in his position suffers through on a daily basis. I’ve always been a fan of his, but I think in this movie he reached a new level of his acting abilities. And ladies? HE LOOKS HOT as hell.
From a “special effects” perspective, the movie was pretty cool. Seeing New York City in a post-apocalyptic, weeds growing in the middle of highways, cars abandoned on the streets, wild animals roaming free sort of way was pretty magnificent. A true urban jungle. I was pretty impressed with the sets, scenery, what have you.
The movie certainly raises a lot of questions, and you walk out with a “wow, that was deep” sort of feeling. At least that seemed to be the consensus among the viewers at the theatre that night, from what I heard as we were walking out. The teenage boys who sat in front of us? “Man, that was some deep shit” is what one of them said as they walked past us.
I don’t think PM liked the movie nearly as much as JM and I did, but that is mostly because she was upset at several “turns of events” throughout. It is by no means a “feel-good” movie, and tears were certainly shed (by yours truly as well) while watching it.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film, even if I was crawling out of my skin waiting for it to “be over already”, and I will probably watch it again in the future.
Rating: I’m going to give it 4 out of 5 Martini Glasses.

{October 24, 2007}   Movie Reviews
Wordless Wednesday is below this post.

When I first started this blog (before anyone was reading it, that is), I used to do pretty regular movie and book reviews. It was more a way for me to keep track of what books I was reading and movies I was watching than anything else. I haven’t read all that many books lately, mostly because all my reading time is being dedicated to blog hopping, but I have watched quite a few movies lately. Here are some reviews of some of the movies I’ve seen recently. I’m not promising these to be in-depth reviews, just my opinions mostly.
Annapolis (2006) – Starring James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, and Donnie Wahlberg (which, let’s be honest, is the reason Tivo chose this movie for me).

Synopsis: This is the story of a kid (James Franco) from the wrong side of the tracks who wants nothing more than to get into the Naval Academy he’s grown up across the river from. It appears his dream as come true when he manages to get in on a scholarship, but life inside the academy is harder than he ever imagined. With Tyrese Gibson as the hard ass officer in charge who wants to see him fail, Donnie Wahlberg as the guy who gave him a chance, and wants to see him succeed, and Jordana Brewster as the love interest.

I actually really enjoyed this movie. As a “military” film, it was your typical “underdog” prevails story, but I’m a sucker for these types of tales. I thought it was well acted, had some really funny scenes, and a bit of a corny romance subplot. As far as “military” movies go, this was the chick flick of the genre, I thought. Throw in a pretty boy, Tyrese Gibson as the bad guy in charge, a former New Kid, and a female character who kicks ass, and you’ve got chick-flick ingredients. Again, I’m a sucker for that too. It worked for me. Its not one of those movies that’ll make much of an impact on you, but it was good for a few hours entertainment.

The Last Kiss (2006) – Starring Zack Braff, Rachel Bilson, Casey Affleck, Jacinda Barrett (wasn’t she on one of MTV’s Real Worlds?)
Synopsis: A group of 30 year olds struggle to adapt to life as adults.
Yeah, I don’t really know what to say about this movie. Seeing as Garden State (another of Zack Braff’s movies) is one of my all time favorite films, and having read the synopsis for this one, I was expecting some more of the same genius. To say I was disappointed is a bit of an understatement. Zack Braff’s character is a man in a good relationship, with a woman (Jacinda Barrett) he is in love with and has a good relationship with, but he’s going through a bit of a “mid-life crisis” at 30. So, in order to resolve this “crisis” he decides Rachel Bilson might just be the solution. At the same time a bunch of his other friends are going through relationship crisis of their own. I really didn’t find any redeeming qualities to any of the characters in this film or to the film in general. I can’t even recommend it to anyone.
Brokeback Mountain (2005) – Starring Jake Gyllenhall, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway.
Synopsis: Everyone knows the story. It’s a love story between two men in the American West from 1963 to 983.

I have a real problem with watching a movie simply because it’s gotten a lot of hype in Hollywood, and received all kinds of awards. As a general rule, I’m usually pretty disappointed in the critically acclaimed films (see Crash as an example here), so I tend to let the hype die down and watch it on my own time, to formulate my own opinions. So, I’ve just now gotten around to finally watching this movie.

I think I’m glad I waited for the hype to die down, but I’m also very glad that I did finally watch it. I was going to say I enjoyed this movie, but that would be an inaccurate choice of words, it was a terribly sad film, not something you actually “enjoy”. But I did think it was a beautiful film. All controversy aside, this was a love story of star crossed lovers, and I thought it was told in a poignant and emotional way. I thought both Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger did an excellent job portraying these characters, and although I think Gyllenhall got most of the media attention and praise surrounding this film, I thought it was actually Ledger who out did himself. He played the tortured and displaced Ennis so intensely that you couldn’t help but feel his pain and confusion. Credit is due to Michelle Williams as well for her portrayal of Alma, his wife. She too did a wonderful job of portraying the tortured soul she was.
As for the “controversial” love scenes? Eh…maybe I’ve watched one too many episodes of MTV’s Real World, but I just didn’t get what all the fuss was about. You watch a movie about a love affair between two men, you’d better expect some physical contact, and if you are uncomfortable with that, well then, you shouldn’t be watching the movie, now should you? Did I think it was over the top? Unless I watched some censored version, I really didn’t see the big deal. (for the record, I did not watch a censored version).
I thought it was a beautiful, if sad, love story.
Superman Returns (2006) – Starring Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden

Synopsis: After a long visit to the lost remains of the planet Krypton, the Man of Steel returns to earth to become the peoples savior once again and reclaim the love of Lois Lane.

Going in, I actually had NO IDEA what this movie was about. Okay, wait, let me clarify, I knew it was about Superman. And yeah, okay, the title should have given it away, but I hadn’t really followed any of the hype on this movie, so I didn’t know it would be picking up 5 years after the last movie left off. That was kind of cool for me. (Unlike the Star Wars movies, I’ve actually seen most of the Superman movies). I enjoyed this one. It was a bit campy at times, but hey, it’s a comic book superhero, if it can’t be campy then…but it was cute. It’s Superman, so you all know what happens, bad guy has kryptonite and wants to take over the world, Superman has to stop him, while at the same time keeping his true identity as Clark Kent a secret from everyone, and trying to keep his feelings for Lois Lane in check. There was a cute twist in the film that I won’t spoil for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but it left me hoping for more Superman movies, to see where it goes. Overall, I enjoyed it and thought Brandon Routh makes a good Superman.

Ice Age – The Meltdown (2006) – Starring the voices of Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Dennis Miller and John Leguizamo.

The Original Ice Age is probably my favorite cartoon movie of all time. Well, maybe not of all time, but definitely that I’ve seen as an adult. It has to be one of the funniest cartoon movies EVER made, full of that double humor these movies are so great at…funny stuff for the kids, and then the not-always-subtle jokes that only the adults get. I have wonderful memories of watching it with Lil’K at the theatre, and there being a father with his son sitting in the row behind us, and the kids would laugh at certain scenes, and then this guy and I would laugh at others, and our respective “kids in tow” would look at us and go “What’s so funny?” and the two of us would look at each other and just start laughing even more. But I’m totally digressing here, aren’t I?

Back to the Meltdown. I LOVED IT. It totally kept the same level of humor, and I laughed pretty much beginning to end. Highly recommend it if you just need a night off from the seriousness of life. It was especially refreshing as we had just come in from watching “We Own the Night”, which is definitely not a “light” movie.

We Own the Night – Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg
Synopsis: Two brothers on opposite sides of the law. Beyond the differences lies loyalty.
Joaquin Phoenix plays a night club manager, Mark Wahlberg plays his brother who is a cop. Throw in the Russian Mafia, illegal drug trafficking, and some family conflict, and you’ve got “We Own the Night”.

Sigh…Marky Mark, why must you insist on these dorky hairdos for your movie roles? First there was that GodAwful THING you did to your head in The Departed, and now THIS? Please stop.

Oh, right, the movie…this film has been compared to The Departed for obvious reasons. It’s a cop/gangster/mafia type film, which takes place at around the same time (sometime in the 80’s) and Mark Wahlberg plays a cop in both. But I think that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Where The Departed was a movie I walked out of thinking “WOW, that was so good, I have to see that again”, We Own the Night didn’t quite pack as much punch. Still, I thought it was an excellent movie. The movie begins with quite the uh…let’s call it “unexpected” scene, and I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of that scene was, but from there it moves a bit choppily through the introduction of the characters and their situations. I was actually a bit lost in the beginning and annoyed that I couldn’t understand half of what the actors were saying (and I’m not referring to the Russian ones, because they actually had subtitles to make that part easier to follow). Therefore, I’d say the first 30 minutes or so of the movie just didn’t grab me. But once the action kicked in, the movie hit its stride and moved much more seamlessly through to the end. What I really loved about this movie though was the subtle bits of tenderness strewn throughout. More than a “gangster” flick, this was a story of human relationships, without professing to be so. Both Joaquin’s relationship with his girlfriend, and the relationship between the two brothers had such unexpected tender touches that they took me by surprise. I wanted to explore more of that side of the story, but that wasn’t the purpose of the film. I liked how they kind of snuck that human side into a genre that has been done over and over again. This saved the movie for me. It was a good film, and both Wahlberg and Phoenix carried their roles with the talent we are used to seeing from them.
And there you have it.

et cetera