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Movie Review: Begin Again

Movie Review: Begin Again

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I went to see Begin Again with my cousin Erica this weekend. We really enjoyed the movie. Another friend, Paige, had recommended it and I was a bit dubious to be honest. I feared it was just another bland romantic comedy. The truth is it was WONDERFUL! The music was wonderful and the story great and very believable.

The best part of the movie, for me, was two secondary characters — Keira Knightley’s bestie Steve (played by James Corden) and Mark Ruffalo’s daughter Violet (played by Hailee Steinfeld). Both of them did a wonderful job playing very accurately and well-written characters. I spend most of my professional career dealing with teenagers and so I was very able to relate to and recognize the great writing/acting for the character of Violet. She was wonderful and in many ways at the very heart of the movie. As for Steve, the best friend, he was all heart and support — a wonderful friend who was there for his friend through thick and thin. There were two scenes in the movie that were just so real — one happy and sad — between the two friends that were so real and sweet.  I smile just thinking about them.

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The other star of the movie was the music that was sweet and clever. Keira Knightley does not have an amazing voice but it is interesting and she did do a fabulous job as the sweet and a bit tormented songwriter juxtaposed against the creative genius burnout that was Mark Ruffalo.

 

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This song is covered three times in the movie and is really at the center of the movie. It’s a lovely song and though I am not the biggest Adam Levine fan, even I had to admit that he did a wonderful job as an actor and a singer.

But my favorite song in the movie is probably this one… they film it in an alley and it’s a really fun scene.

I can’t speak to whether it was an accurate betrayal of the way music is recorded or the music industry but I really enjoyed the characters at the heart. It really felt like a movie for real people — not overly dramatic, but witty and realistic with a sweet message. I totally recommend it and hope that you enjoy it as much as me.

 

 

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Oscar — the Morning After

Did you stay up? I did. It was rough but I did it. My coterie of pj-wearing friends went home or to bed long before the Oscars were halfway through… what can I say we are all working people and it’s Sunday night.

As you know, the Oscars are one of my favorite nights of the year. The fashion? Incredible.

There were some misses, sure, and some strange choices, to be sure, but overall SO MUCH BETTER than last year.

Who were my favorites? 
I LOVED anything that sparkled. Jessica Biel was KILLING it in Chanel (anyone remember a blog post from someone???). Jennifer Garner was fierce in Oscar de la Renta.

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Don’t forget JLaw’s afterparty look:

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There was also a continued trend of serious nude or neutral dresses. Leading the pack were Cate Blanchett and Kristen Bell… Armani and Roberto Cavalli (respectively). Not to mention, Jada Pinkett Smith in her pale pink Versace and Jenna Dewan-Tatum in Reem Acra and Julie Delpy in Jenny Packham.

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I know what you are thinking… where’s your ode to Jennifer Lawrence? Well, sigh, I got what I asked for, Jlaw was not swallowed hole by another epic ball gown. She wore a manageable gown and her usual awkwardness like a badge of honor. She rocked that red orange that calls to mind her inaugural Oscar season. However, I don’t really understand why peplums were back in such a big way. I thought she made a huge statement in that color. And really, I  thought she was the leader of the pack when it came to bold color — which was largely missing from the telecast. Her overall look was powerful, confident, and just a little elegant. So even if I am not dying for her peplum Dior (of course), I am jazzed to see her look so fierce.

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At the end of the day, if I had to be pinned down to name one best of the night, it would be Sandra Bullock. Her navy Alexander McQueen gown paired with her classic jewelry and glorious hair and dark with just enough edge make up was, for me, the COMPLETE package. She just nailed it.

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I am sure the internet is blowing up with bloggers such as myself who can’t wait to share their thoughts on the dresses of the evening. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. Let me know what you think! 🙂

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Movie Review — Frozen

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Yep, I am legit reviewing Frozen. I haven’t seen a ton of movies lately (except American Hustle — which was great but since all I wanted was more CRAZY J.Law I don’t think I am able to write a somewhat unbiased review). Long story short, I follow this sassy UCF student on Facebook and he has been writing for weeks about how amazing Frozen was… he finally convinced me — a spectator to his life — to see the movie based on his enthusiasm alone. Jess was up in town for my birthday so we decided to take in a movie as well. WE LOVED IT.

And for three simple reasons.

1. It was hysterical. We laughed out loud SOOOO MUCH. So many great lines and awesome characters. This guy, Olaf, was particularly charming and funny.

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2. There wasn’t really a single bad guy. No one named something Maleficent, which makes it super obvious they are bad. The demons to be beaten are inside the heroines… so much more realistic. Life is obviously much more grey than black and white and good vs. evil. So this movie really provides a truly relate-able lesson.

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3. The heroine kicks butt — and mostly by relying on herself. Of course, I think that’s great. What a sweet and subtle feminist message for young people. Girls don’t need to be saved, girls can do the SAVING. Also, the heroine is super snarky (she’s played by Lady Snarkington herself, Kristen Bell).

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PS: The music is also SUPER catchy. You know it’s high quality since Idina Menzel lent her voice to the movie. Her voice is made for the troubled vocals of the icy older sister.

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I wholeheartedly recommend the movie. You will leave feeling better than ever. Absolutely be prepared to laugh and fall just a little bit in love with a moose and a snowman.

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Movie Review: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire

O. M. G.

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When the credits rolled, my friend’s husband whispered reverently “maybe one of the greatest movies ever.” Now that might be a bit of an over statement. But, it was, nevertheless, an AMAZING movie. The poster is accurate because Jennifer Lawrence comes at you in this movie! I was sad that I couldn’t see it with Hannah, my VIP Bestie, but maybe I will see it again with her because it is DEFINITELY worth double-viewing. Fans of the books will be hard-pressed to find anything substantive missing from the books. Fans of good acting are going to be in hog heaven.

I should warn you that at dinner before the movie I jokingly called the Jennifer Lawrence Fan Club meeting to order. Obviously, we are huge fans of hers. She’s young, brilliant, and crazy — we identify with her. 😉 BUT, HOT DAMN, this girl CAN ACT!

And before I get too far down this ranting path… I will give you five reasons to see and love this movie — even if you were like me and could barely get through the book because it was so sad and the main character goes through so much.

1. Jennifer Lawrence

There can be NO OTHER number 1 than Jennifer Lawrence. She is in every single scene. She doesn’t carry the movie so much as elevate it to higher plane. Her emotional range as Katniss is unbelievable. I will give three examples: the second reaping (it is actually the most intense underplayed and truly heartbreaking scenes), Joanna in the elevator (her faces alone will leave you laughing afterwards), and the last ten seconds of the film (fans of the books will know that this is the moment when the reality of her terrible, horrible, and heartbreaking fate is spelled out for her and in that moment Jennifer Lawrence KILLS it.)

I don’t want to ruin anything. But I think if they would seriously consider the acting in fantasy books for the Oscar, she’d be nominated again. Drop the mic.

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2. Chemistry.

I’ll admit that I struggled with the chemistry between Peeta and Katniss in the first movie and may have even been quoted this very week saying I wish they had cast someone else besides Josh Hutcherson. I am sorry. I was wrong. In this movie, they have the sweetest chemistry. He’s wonderful, he’s so soulful and kind. In the book, one of my favorite moments is when Haymitch points out that Katniss could live a thousand lives and never deserve him. The kind of powerful statement is hard without chemistry. It’s not a problem here at all. Also, I believe that the two of them acting together elevates the other and they both have emotional depth and surprising comic timing.

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(PS: the costumes in this movie were AMAZING. They were just enough less cheesy than the first and it was PERFECT. In particular, District 12’s costumes for the capitol (above) were just incredible.)

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Gale doesn’t get a ton of screen time but it’s still more than the first (his time is coming… brace yourself movie #3) but Liam Hemsworth continues to not disappoint and does Gale wonderfully and also has incredible chemistry with our heroine.

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3. Stanley Tucci (and all the supporting actors returning)

Ok, I love him, I do. He makes me laugh so hard. He and his fake teeth and falsies. Damn, he’s funny.

Everyone who returns, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz (who’d a thought he’d be crucial to the success of the movie), and Woody Harrelson. All give amazing performances and provide such heart to the movie. You enjoy every moment they are on screen.

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(this is her wedding dress, and in classic Capitol fashion it’s completely over the top, however, it will win you over in the movie especially once Cinna works his magic.)

4. The new cast.

This movie did the impossible, gave me actors playing roles who appeared EXACTLY how they did in my imagination. Mags, Finnick, and Joanna are PERFECTLY cast. It is a bit mind boggling actually. You should go see it solely for Jenna Malone’s slightly crazy but definitely deadly Joanna. Or Lynn Cohen as Mags doing so much without saying a word. And Sam Claflin who seemed a bit of a weird choice is perfection as the sexy, charismatic, but still incredibly loving and vulnerable, Finnick. The Jennifer Lawrence fan club was speculating if somehow her impeccable performance led others to up their game, because game was definitely upped in this movie.

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5. Captivating Story

This is a long movie. And when it ends, you are like, wait, isn’t there more?? The movie is beautiful. The acting (if you have not read the last 1000 paragraphs I wrote) was amazing. The story amazing. It’s just a wonderful movie. No sophomore slump or sequel issues whatsoever, it’s actually a more organic, smooth movie than the first and (no surprise here), Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss just gets better and better with time.

Go see it. Tell me what you think!

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Thor, The Dark World – Movie Review

So I begged, cajoled, and basically forced Meg and her husband Craig to see this movie on opening night because I was too busy to see it the rest of the weekend. It’s hard to go out and be wild on Friday nights when you’ve worked all week. So I was really grateful they agreed and we went. There is something to be said for seeing a movie with an opening night crowd, everyone is excited. It’s like having a room full of people rooting for the movie to succeed. Thor 2 did not disappoint. What kinds of things do you want from a movie like Thor 2? Here’s my bucket list:

1. Gratuitous torso shoots of Chris Hemsworth.

(I couldn’t find a pic from the movie. But now “thor shirtless” is in my search history. Great.)

When it happened, Meg and I started oooing and ahhing, and Craig, long-suffering as he is, just grinned at the adult women acting like preteen girls.

2. Snarky dialogue between Thor and Loki

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3. Surprisingly funny moments

Two words: Tighty whiteys… That’s a teaser if there ever was one…

4. Exciting action sequences…

Blah blah of course they had these.

5. Kat Denning popping in and doing and saying crazy things

To Thor: “How’s space?”

Here she is crashing Natalie Portman’s date…

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6. Badass lady characters

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7. Science that seems possible – or according to Asgardians and me, Magic!

I think if you actually understand physics there might have been some issues with the major plot points — or so I am told. To me, it was awesome and big and magical!

8. Manly hair braids…

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9. Bad guys in creepy masks

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10. Tom Hiddleston breathing…

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This movie delivered all of the above and more. We were all surprised at how many times we were laughing out loud. The chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston was amazing. They played lines off each other beautifully. Natalie Portman wasn’t annoying and frankly, in an action movie that’s a real win for the heroine. She has no super powers but still holds her own literally amongst gods. I won’t say much more because there are plot twists and it will be a richer experience if you go in fresh and unspoiled.

I would totally recommend this movie for a fun viewing. It’s the kind of thing that won’t challenge you in any way but you will leave feeling lighter and with a smile on your face. I can’t wait for the next one!