Thursday, April 17, 2014

Books Hitting The Big Screen

This is my beautiful middle daughter, Jen Herron:

She has what some might call "an obsession" with books.  It started when she was very young, probably about the time she looked like this....

.....and she never went ANYWHERE without a book in her hand. 

It makes me super proud to report she followed her dream and became a writer.

Lucky for me she chose to make today's Blog Post about Movies. 

So without further ado, and without ANY WORK on my part, I give you "Books Hitting The Big Screen" by Jen Herron.

That's What She Read - Books Hitting The Big Screen

I hope you enjoy!!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Divergent - Hunger Games Big Sister

In Divergent, set in a Dystopian Chicago of the future, teenagers are given a choice to stay with what is familiar to them, or switch to a completely different life, or “faction” to put it in futuristic terms. Once a choice is made, there is no going back.

Divergent - Official Trailer

Tris, played by the talented Shailene Woodley, & her fellow dauntless newbies fight to survive a highly competitive initiation. They must undergo extreme physical and intense psychological tests, transforming them all.  

Just like Hunger Games, Divergent is also based on a best-selling young adult trilogy. I am sure writer Veronica Roth is pleased with the outcome.  

Shailene Woodley plays one tough cookie.Kate Winslet does a respectable job in her first “bad guy” role of her career, playing Jeanine (an answer to Hunger Games Gamemaker role, if you will...)  It’s also fun to see Ashley Judd again.  Playing Tris' mother, she looks lovely as ever and is just as bad ass as she was in Double Jeopardy some 15 years ago.

I promise fans of the book will not be disappointed when they finally come face to face with the legendary Four, perfectly played by the hunky Theo James.  

He rocks in this role.  It is quite easy to see why Tris is so easily distracted by her would be trainer.

It’s a great story that translates well onto the big screen. It really makes you take stock of the person you want to become.  If given the choice, would you walk away from your life for a chance to start over alone, knowing you could never go back?

Divergent will not disappoint, whether you have read the book or not, it is a fun movie to watch.

But be warned if you are afraid of heights, be prepared for lots of shut eye.  Watching it in Imax was almost more than I could take!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Let's Hope this is the Last Vegas.

I was very excited to finally see Last Vegas - such a fantastic cast!  Busy with my Oscar chasing, I had to wait until now to catch it on Redbox.  
Cue the "WAH WAH WAH".  
Lame.  Boring.  Depressing.  Yuck.
Dislike.  Two thumbs down.

Michael Douglas is way too tan and simple-minded as "Billy"

Morgan Freeman - my man!  Wait - this can't be him.  This guy can't stay out past 9pm and has to check in with his babysitter son.

Kevin Kline - Nope.  No way.  Not him. Except it was!

And finally Robert DeNiro, one of the greatest actors of all time played a grouchier version of my husband in old age.  Who wants that as entertainment?

These four buddies head off to Vegas for Billy's Bachelor party, taking us along for the ride.  We get to endure all the normal "old men behaving badly" slapstick as well as reminisce with them as they talk about the good ole days.  

As a middle aged woman, I despise being led to believe all 20 year old girls are attracted to old men.  (They aren't).  The one female in the movie is Mary Steenburgen, who plays a washed up singer - and doesn't really seem to into her role either.  And she is STILL 9 years younger than Douglas.  So frustrating!!

So why didn't Las Vegas work for me?  I think mainly because at 47 years old, I am not ready for the idea that four of the leading men of my entire life are considered senior citizens. 

I remember during the press tour for this movie, Morgan Freeman had trouble staying awake and DeNiro looked generally ticked off most of the time. 
After seeing this movie, I can understand why!

Plenty of people liked this movie, I just wasn't one of them. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Take2ReviewChick Awards Go To....

To quote one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite Oscar movies, Almost Famous:

It's All Happening!!!  Oscar Sunday is upon us!!!!

I think we can all agree, 2013 was a year of FANTASTIC movies - I truly can't remember another year like it. I had an absolute blast screening all the Oscar films, and as difficult as it was, I have chosen the Take2ReviewChick Award Winners.  

Below you will find MY FAVORITES in each category, followed by MY OSCAR PREDICTION in each category.  Most often, I think my favorites will win; but not always!!

Without further ado....

Take2reviewChick Best Supporting Actress
Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years A Slave

This category was the most difficult, as there are three actresses who gave phenonemal performances.  Alas, I can only choose one, so I choose Lupita Nyong'o for her heartbreaking role as Patsy in 12 Years a Slave.

My Oscar Prediction:
Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave

Her performance in 12 Years of Slave was one of the rawest, bravest roles a black actress must ever face.  She completely transformed herself into the tiniest of all humans;  or biggest if you really think about it.  She is so breathtakingly beautiful and has handled this breakthrough role with such grace, I am really, really rooting for her.

Lupita Nyong'o - 2014 SAG Award Winner

Take2reviewChick Best Supporting Actor 
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club

Jared Leto  so convincingly played AIDS victim "Rayon," it took several scenes before I even recognized him:  One scene in particular that takes place in Rayon's Fathers Office was so painful to watch, I found myself choking back sobs.  Leto himself tells us that very scene was the most important scene of the entire movie. It was brutal. I fell in love with Jared Leto's soul watching his interviews over the past few weeks.  He is such a kind and gentle man, a true model of compassion and love and understanding.  I very much hope he wins the Oscar, because in  doing so he will give  a voice to all the "Rayons"  of the world and that is 
 something he very much wants to do.

My Oscar Prediction:
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club

This was tough for me. I really, really love Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) - and for a first time actor to pull off that performance, well, it is just unbelievable.  I also LOVED Jonah Hill in Wolfie.  And Michael Fassbender was the meanest, ugliest, most pitiful man ever to walk this earth in 12 Years a Slave.  The only way I would be disappointed in this category would be for Bradley Cooper to win.  Everyone else is deserving.

Jared Leto - 2014 Golden Globe Award Winner

Take2reviewChick Best Actress 
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine

 Cate Blanchett's performance in this movie is outstanding.  She plays Jasmine French, an unsuspecting wife of a man arrested for a Ponzi Scheme (think Bernie Madoff).  Left penniless and forced to move in with her grocery clerk sister, she suffers a nervous breakdown of sorts, and Blanchett nails it.  Such a great role.

My Oscar Prediction:
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine

It appears everyone else agrees with me.  No one else is even biting at her heels.

Cate Blanchett - 2014 Golden Globe Winner

Take2reviewchicks Best Actor 
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street

 Leo's extraordinary performance in "Wolfie" skyrockets him from Actor to full blown Movie Star. Playing Jordan Belfort, an infamous stockbroker of the 90s (and convicted felon),  DiCaprio delivers his best work EVER. I was BLOWN AWAY.  To me, his "best scene" was trying to function during a Quaalude trip that went horribly, horribly wrong.  I  loved him in this role - and I feel like his time has come.

My Oscar Prediction:
Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club

As shocking as it was, McConaughey's appearance wasn't the biggest transformation you see in this film.     What really resonated with me was the emotional transformation he so convincingly expressed.  McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a man given 30 days to live - after unexpectedly learning he has HIV.  We quickly learn Ron was never really even living.  He surrounded himself with women only interested in his drugs and money, and with men only interested in his rodeo stories and partying lifestyle.  Once word of his illness got out, he had no one.  

The people in the "HIV Positive" community become his new reality, much to his dismay. The love and compassion he experienced with this new "family" and how he began to love them back -  was in my opinion the most relevant years of his life.  He was given 30 days to live, but he beat the odds and lived over five years longer.

In a movie that was about dying, he taught us more about living.  About acceptance and perseverance. About making your own destiny and never, ever taking no for an answer.

Matthew McConaughey - 2014 SAG Award Winner

Take2reviewChick Best Director
Steve McQueen - 12 Years A Slave

Steve McQueen handled Solomon Northup's story with such grace and dignity.  Even in their darkest hours, he molded the characters into people with the slightest glimmers of hope.  He showed us such hatred in one moment, but such love in the very next.  He brought out the absolute best in every actor and gave us a backdrop so beautiful yet so ugly at the same time. 

My Oscar Prediction:
Steve McQueen - 12 Years A Slave

I have faith in the Academy and they will reward Steve McQueen for a job well done, for a movie that will matter in the years to come.

And finally....

Take2reviewChick's Best Picture - 2014
The Wolf of Wall Street

Yep.  It's true.  This movie was by far the most entertaining film of the year.  The actors delivered career defining performances.  I was in love with the over the top wealth and greed, the lavish lifestyles, the "F-You attitudes".  I wanted to BE one of them.  I absolutely loved this movie - and I never wanted it to end.  In all it's filthy glory - Scorsese nailed it.

My Oscar Prediction - 2014
12 Years A Slave

I'll never forget how I felt watching this movie.  We were forced to sit their with our feelings of shame & disbelief or helplessness and rage, depending on the color of our skin.  It was the most difficult movie I have ever watched, and also the most important one.  This film is deserving of the title "2014 Best Picture" and I hope I am right.


Thursday, February 6, 2014


2013 brought us many great movies…movies about hatred, drugs and greed; people lost in space and men who fall in love with computers.   
 But there was one little gem a few folks might have missed, & a 2013 Best Picture nominee,  a movie called Philomena.

Dame Judy Dench once again shines in a heartbreaking movie based on the true story of Philomena Lee and the Catholic Church who betrayed her. 

For over 50 years, Philomena bravely held a secret -  a son she had given birth to in a convent, where cruel nuns baptized her in shame. She and other unwed mothers were treated like convicts, but the worst punishment came once their toddler children were torn from them & adopted out to rich American families, without their knowledge.

Philomena garners Dench her 7th Oscar nomination, and her best role in years.

 Philomena Official Trailer

In search of her son, Philomena connects with Martin Sixsmith, played by actor Steven Coogan.  He agrees to help find her son in exchange for permission to publish her story.   Freshly out of work following a political scandal, he considers human-interest stories like Philomena’s to be beneath him.    

Sixsmith,  a self proclaimed atheist, can’t understand why Philomena keeps her faith despite the horrific things the church did to her and her now lost son.  He becomes increasingly angry as he uncovers more and more injustice;  seemingly driven by anger and resentment.  Philomena in contrast remains hopeful and kind.

Their traveling time together allows Philomena to bore Sixsmith by reading from romance novels, and he acts like he can barely tolerate them. In the end, we are left wondering if  Philomena reads them for the happily-ever-after she may never get. And he listens for that very same reason.

In search of a son she lost 50 years ago, she may or may not find him, but she most certainly found another man who will never, ever forget their journey or the lessons in forgiveness and hope even an atheist couldn't ignore.