Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you are spending today surrounded by family, friends and more delicious food than you know what to do with.

Thanksgiving always puts me into a reflective mood as I think about all the things I am grateful for and all the things I hope for in the year to come. With those thoughts on the brain, I discovered this quote from Maya Angelou:

From this day forward I am going to do my best to present and to be thankful every single day. Though it will be tempting to think, "Whoa is me," wouldn't it be more fun to say, "Lucky me!"

I am lucky indeed to have the most incredible readers. To each and every one of you I say, have a wonderful day. Enjoy quality time with the people you love and the never ending supply of turkey, fixings and pie.

*Image source. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Movie Musings: Whiplash

We've been talking movies all week and today I want to introduce you to "Whiplash."

I first learned about the movie back in January when it was set to debut at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT. One of my clients at work was a major sponsor of the festival and was giving tickets to the "Whiplash" screening to some VIP guests.


The film stars Miles Teller as Andrew, a young man recently accepted to the best music school in the country. You may know Miles from his roles in Footloose, Divergent, That Awkward Moment or last summer's The Spectacular Now.

In this film, Andrew gets discovered by the music school's most infamous instructor and he's invited to audition for his ensemble. The song he is asked to play in the audition is called "Whiplash."

The crux of the entire film is about Andrew's relationship with the band leader, Fletcher. Fletcher is played by J.K. Simmons, an actor recognized mostly for his comedic roles, not for drama.

Fletcher is a tyrant. He's merciless and cruel. He enjoys embarrassing his students and continually reminding them of their inferiority.

His relationship with Andrew, who is desperate to please him, is uncomfortable to watch. There was one scene where I felt so anxious I actually thought I would throw up.

Andrew makes his entire life about impressing Fletcher. He breaks up with his girlfriend, he sleeps in his practice room and he drums and drums and drums until his hands bleed. There's a moment where the camera zooms in on him plunging his hand into a giant pitcher of ice water and you watch as the water goes quickly from clear to dark red.

In the final scene of the film, Andrew and Fletcher go head to head in a wild, angry face off. Without giving too much away, let me say that I wanted more resolution at the close of that scene. I felt like the movie just ended, without giving us an idea of what happens to Andrew. We just suffered through all that torture with him and we don't even get to know that he's ok?

Many film critics are calling this film Miles Teller's star making performance. You should see it for that reason, but please be warned, you will spend a lot of the film grimacing. You will also leave wanting to mix Raisinets into your popcorn from now on. I'll let you uncover that delicious gem yourself.

*Image sources 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Movie Musings: The Theory Of Everything

In the 8th grade I saw the movie "Good Will Hunting" and developed a serious crush on Matt Damon. I had pictures of him hanging in my room, I saw every movie he was in (even "We Bought a Zoo"), but in 2008 my unwavering Damon devotion began to dwindle. Why? Because I saw a Burberry magazine ad featuring a new face, Britain's Eddie Redmayne.

The type of crush I have on Eddie Redmayne is one where I blush just thinking about him! My love was cemented watching him in both "My Week with Marilyn" and "Les Miserables." Though the media slammed him for his terrible singing in"Les Mis," let's be honest, that's not why we were watching him.

I have a friend who knows of my Eddie crush and sent me the trailer for his newest movie as soon as it hit the web. In "The Theory of Everything" Eddie plays Stephen Hawking. The movie is based on the autobiography of Stephen's first wife, Jane.


For those who aren't familiar with the story, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS while in college. The doctors gave him two years to live. As time went on, he became unable to walk and eventually, unable to speak. Eddie played this part with such tremendous physical commitment. He contorted his face, curled every finger and twisted his legs into wobbly noodles.

Despite all his physical limitations, Stephen always kept his trademark sense of humor. Eddie found those perfect moments of levity and played them beautifully.

Opposite Eddie, playing Stephen's wife Jane, was Hollywood newcomer Felicity Jones. In the film, Jane is portrayed is a classic college cool girl who breaks away from her friends to pursue her relationship with Stephen. Some of their first dates are among the most romantic scenes I've seen on film. My blush-o-meter was off the charts!

When Stephen finally shares his diagnosis with Jane, rather than run away, she decides they should get married. Others try to caution her, but she is undeterred. For the wedding scene, the film's costume designers recreated Stephen and Jane's real life outfits almost exactly. Entertainment Weekly published this cool side by side photo.

For a majority of the film you watch Jane struggle as she takes care of Stephen. Though his mind is fully intact (as is his sex drive), his physical ailments increase year after year. In the early years of their marriage, they are able to conceive three children, who Jane cares for basically on her own.

Over the course of the film, Jane begins to become resentful of her situation. She thought she would have two years with Stephen and she was prepared to take on whatever came their way, but those two years became decades. Maybe I get it more now as I'm watching my own grandparents need more and more help, but caring for someone like that, it really takes everything out of you.

As you can imagine, a relationship like Stephen and Jane's drove Jane to look for comfort elsewhere. She found renewed love and affection in the church choir leader, Jonathan.

When I was younger and I would watch movies with my mom she would predict the outcome in the first few scenes. It used to drive me crazy! Now that I'm thirty, I've seen enough movies to develop her same keen sense of foreshadowing and from the very first moment I saw Jonathan on screen, I knew he would become Jane's second husband. His character is played by another newcomer, Charlie Cox.

In the final moments of the film there is a montage that takes you back through all the pivotal moments in Stephen's life, both personal and professional. It was so moving, I couldn't help but cry!

I absolutely loved "The Theory of Everything." Not only because I got to stare at Eddie for two hours, but because the story was so heart felt and emotional. All of the film critics and bloggers are saying Eddie will be nominated for "Best Actor" at the Oscars in February and I sure hope they are right! I wouldn't mind seeing him on the red carpet all season long.

If you weren't planning to see this movie, you've got to add it to your list!

*Image sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Movie Musings: The Hunger Games - Mockingjay (Part I)

It's Thanksgiving week, friends! Can you believe it? This whole year has been flying by at lightning speed. Since Thanksgiving weekend is a popular time to see movies with family and friends, for the next three days (leading up to Turkey Day) I'll be sharing reviews of movies I've seen this month. I hope these posts help you decide which flicks to see over the long weekend.

Let's start with "The Hunger Games - Mockingjay (Part I)." I saw the movie yesterday morning with three friends. We purchased tickets to the 10:15am show at Assembly Row in Somerville and not only did we get the leather seats that recline all the way back, but since it was a matinee, we only paid $8 dollars a person! The odds were ever in our favor.


When the movie began, they jumped right into the story line of the third book. One friend commented, "I really could have used a quick recap at the start. They just launched into this new chapter without reminding us where we left off." Very true. I agree that some type of recap or flashback to the final moments of the previous movie would have been helpful.

In "Mockingjay (Part I)" we are welcomed to Katniss' new home, the underground District 13. The movie brings the District to life in a way that felt very authentic to the book - the shocking depth of the campus, the simplicity of life, the all gray uniforms - it was exactly as I had pictured it in my mind.

The pace of the story feels slow at the start, where we basically see how torn up Katniss is day in and day out thinking about Peeta. There's a moment where she has a dream that she wakes from a nightmare and Peeta is there to comfort her. Then she actually wakes up and discovers he's still nowhere to be found. You really understand the weight of her pain and guilt in that moment.

With Katniss in District 13 is her life-long friend and sometimes love interest, Gale. The love triangle between Gale, Katniss and Peeta brings more tension to this film than any of the warfare or violence. You go back and forth between wanting her to be with Gale and wanting her to be with Peeta. For the record, I am 100 percent Team Gale. And not just because he's played by the devastatingly handsome Liam Hemsworth.

One of the new additions to the cast this installment is Julianne Moore as District 13's President Coin. She's traded her signature red hair for a sophisticated silver. President Coin requests that Katniss serve as the symbol of the revolution and she pushes Katniss every step of the way. Her character was one of my favorites.

Returning to his role as Plutarch Heavensbee is Philip Seymour Hoffman. I completely forgot he was a member of the cast. I wasn't sure if they would address his passing, but at the very end of the movie, the screen goes black and white text comes up and says, "In loving memory of Philip Seymour Hoffman."

The last thirty minutes of the film are action packed! The final scene is heart wrenching and a total cliff hanger. I wasn't sure how they would divide the last book into two, but they picked the perfect ending point.

I really enjoyed this installment of our beloved "The Hunger Games" franchise. So many of my favorite characters returned and gave stellar performances - Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinkett and Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair. It made me want to fast forward to the final film! According to IMBD, we'll have to wait until November 20, 2015.

Did you see "Mockingjay (Part I)" this weekend? What did you think?

*Image sources 1, 2 and 3

Friday, November 21, 2014

Grey's Anatomy: Little Buddha

Last night's episode of Grey's Anatomy was the last new one we'll see until Thursday January 29th! Can you believe it? Where did 2014 go?

This hour Maggie, Meredith and Derek are arguing over a patient in need of both heart surgery and brain surgery. The tension between Mer and Der continues to build for the entire episode until the final scene where Meredith pushes him into accepting the job in Washington D.C. I'm not a fan of this "pull rank" version of Derek. Where's the original McDreamy we all fell in love with?

Across the hospital, Callie and Owen continue their work with veterans in need of limbs. Two of their patients are enjoying competing against each other for milestones until one falls, hits his head and suffers a massive bleed. Could Callie have one single thing go her way this year? Just one.

Later on in an on call room, Arizona walks in on Dr. Herman having sex with her fellowship rival, Graham. That was unexpected!

Arizona sneakily gets her hands on Dr. Hermans's x-rays and asks Amelia for an expert opinion. Turns out, Amelia thinks she can remove the tumor. I wonder if Dr. Herman would fire Arizona once she'd be relieved of the pressure of only have a few months left.

The big news of the night resulted from April's ultrasound. In an awkward turn of events, Stephanie has to conduct the ultrasound. While doing so, she accidentally mentions the sex of the baby (a boy). She also notices something abnormal. She checks with both Arizona and Dr. Herman and they agree the baby has a bone disease that could keep it from living beyond a few days or weeks.

In the hallway, Jackson overhears Dr. Herman talking to Stephanie about the ultrasound and the "Little Buddha" baby. I sincerely hope Stephanie finds a way to down play this and keep it from Jackson. He and April will be heart broken.

At the close of the episode, Meredith experiences a wave of flashbacks. I am not sure what purpose that was supposed to serve. Anyone?

Don't be sad that you won't have a new episode of Grey's Anatomy to watch next week because next Thursday is Thanksgiving!

*Image source.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Read: One More Thing

Thanks to a recent whirlwind of work travel, I've had extra time to read these past two weeks. One of the books I just finished is called "One More Thing: Stories And Other Stories" by B.J. Novak. You most likely know B.J. as Ryan from NBC's "The Office." What you may not know, is that B.J. and I both grew up in Newton, MA. Have to support the hometown! 

For me, "One More Thing" was a collection of short stories likely stemming from jokes B.J. told at dinner parties and never quite got the reaction he was hoping for. So instead of tossing that small talk material, he decided to jot those thoughts down and get praise for them by publishing those bits in a book. I really wanted to love it, but I just didn't.

The list of crazy topics discussed includes: a Comedy Central roast of Nelson Mandela, Mark Twain attempting to get "Huckleberry Finn" published in 2014, the life of the man who invented the world's most famous math problem (if a train leaves Boston at 10:00am, and another from Seattle at 12:30pm, each going 60 miles per hour, at what point will they meet?) and how roller coasters get their names. 

There were a few stand out stories. My favorite one is called "All You Have To Do" (page 43 of the hard cover edition) which is written from the point of view of a man who always wears a red shirt out in public and when he returns home at night, he checks the Craigslist "Missed Connections" section for the key words "red shirt" or "red t-shirt" to see who noticed him or developed a crush on him that day. Yes, seriously. 

My gut instinct about how B.J. wrote the book wasn't exactly wrong. When I finished the stories and read the acknowledgements (which you should always do, because there is always amazing information revealed in there), I discovered that before writing the book, B.J. performed these stories as live readings for the Upright Citizen Brigade in Los Angeles and New York as a way to test the material. 

In the acknowledgements he mentioned two celebrities with hilarious shout outs:

1. "Years ago, I shared a lunch with the actor John Stamos. While we did not discuss any aspect of this book, I felt that it would be fun to include his name as a surprise for anyone casually scanning this section for names of celebrities."
2. "Mindy Kaling gets her own line in the acknowledgements, as previously negotiated by her representatives. Thanks, Mindy. I love you and you're the best." 

Reading those two tidbits made it worth reading the whole book! 

Since finishing this book, I've moved onto Tom Perrotta's "The Leftovers." Over two plane flights I've already devoured 250 pages. It's so good! When I finish, I am going to reward myself by watching the adaption that's been running as a new series on HBO.

What are you reading? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Mindy Project: My Side Of The Bed

Before I get into last night's episode of The Mindy Project, let's discuss how FOX ordered another six episodes, which will bring this season to 21 episodes total!

Also, if you aren't following @mindykaling on Instagram, she is posting the most amazing photos from their shoot in San Francisco this week.

This week's episode was titled "Diary of a mad Indian woman" in which Danny uncovers Mindy's diary. Apparently Mindy likes to compare Danny's body parts to foods like hot dogs and empanadas.

There wasn't anything particularly juicy in the diary (sadly).

My favorite moment of the episode was actually when Danny agreed to spend the night at Mindy's apartment. He walked in and she shouted, "Hello my love! Welcome back to paradise!" He then replied, "Oh God. It's like Grey Gardens in here. I'm going to be smothered by a collapsing tower of chotchies." Ha!

Also this hour, Dr. Fishman forces Mindy into teaching interns at the hospital. She winds up having a sexual harassment suit filed against her. I wanted to laugh at this story line, but it just never quite got there.

I was surprised that there weren't really any side stories this week. Nothing with Morgan and Tamra, nothing with Peter chasing a new girl, not even more than one scene with Danny's mom Annette.

What did you of last night's episode?

*Image source.
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