Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey - Movie Review

"When Anastasia Steele, a literature student, goes to interview the wealthy Christian Grey, as a favor to her roommate Kate Kavanagh, she encounters a beautiful, brilliant and intimidating man. The innocent and naive Ana started to realize she wants him, despite his enigmatic reserve and advice, she finds herself desperate to get close to him. Not able to resist Ana's beauty and independent spirit, Christian Grey admits he wants her too, but in his own terms. Ana hesitates as she discovers the singular tastes of Christian Grey - despite the embellishments of success, his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family - Grey is consumed by the need to control everything" - Written by Mischa LeCroix


Rated R  - barely.  This is not for the under 18 crowd.  


The first few scenes of Fifty Shades of Grey are almost identical to Twilight.  Socially awkward girl drives a clunky car.  Hunky "BFF" catchs up with her in the school parking lot.  Mysterious Hot New Guy comes to her defense when another man gets too aggressive.  Mysterious Hot New Guy shows up in the most random of places.  

Full disclosure. I loved Twilight.  Loved it.  40+ year old grandmother here - I can't explain it.  So when I heard about E.L. James writing "Twilight for Adults" aka Fifty Shades of Grey - I was excited.  The trilogy hits the shelves.  Pure fantasy - damsel in distress - handsome billionaire - girl sits back and enjoys the ride.  No pun intended. I loved them.  LOVED THEM.  Thousands of women everywhere LOVED them.  

Then came the news they were bringing Christian Grey to the big screen.  Never have I anticipated a movie more than this one.  My friends and I put together Pinterest boards of actors who should be tapped to play Christian.  

Fast forward to Valentines Day weekend 2015 and the first movie drops.  I fully expected the movie to be a big fat disappointment.  What made it even worse - it came on the heels of awards season.  All the screenings I have been doing have been BIG movies - award  winning movies.  So I went into this completely expecting it to bomb.  But then it didn't.  I liked it - I really liked it!  And I wasn't the only one.  There was applause at the final scene.  

What is it about this movie? For one thing, I really liked how much the movie followed the book.  No big changes.  The casting for this movie was also SPOT ON.   Dakota Johnson IS Anastasia Steele. While Jamie Dornan never showed up on my Pinterest boards as Christian, when he walked onto the screen it made sense.  He is our man.

But the real attraction for me is simple.  You see,  I am a control freak.  I take care of everything.  I plan every meal - every date - what and where and how we do everything.  Did I say I liked being a control freak?  No, I don't.  It's just who I am and how I have evolved.  So for me - the attraction to this movie was the idea of a billionaire man sweeping into a girls life and taking care of her every want and need - whether  or not she even knows what those wants and needs are.

Please understand a few things.   
If you didn't read the book - this movie is not for you.  
If you dislike nudity and sex in movies - this movie is not for you.  
If you find this movie (even before seeing it) offensive & degrading to women, I completely respect that.  Just because I like Breaking Bad doesn't mean I cook meth.  If you know what I mean.

Do I think this is one of the best movies of all time?  Absolutely not.  But the movie did what it set out to do - it brought a fantasy on the page to life on the big screen, without completely screwing it up.

I know I will catch flack from other critics for liking this one, but that's ok.  I hated Under The Skin and lots of critics LOVED it.  That's what I love about movies.  There's something for all of us.






Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Most Violent Year ~~ Movie Review ~~

Most of you know, Jessica Chastain is my girl.  I love her!  Was I excited to see A Most Violent Year? You betcha!  Here we go:

"A crime drama set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city's history, and centered on a the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built."  - Written by Production




First let's talk about the things I liked about this movie  - I love the cast.

Jessica Chastain wears the mob princess tiara perfectly.    She portrays her role as  the calm, cool & collected bookkeeper/wife with ease.  It's when she drops that charade and we see the true character of Anna that she SHINES.  She goes from normal to bat shit crazy without blinking an eye - and I love it.  IMO, without Chastain, this movie would not warrant much mention.



I also like Oscar Isaac in this film. He plays the role of "a good man going bad" very well.  You do love him and want to believe in his niavete.  He seems to be brewing though, so you can never be sure.

David Oyelowo has a supporting role in this film - you know him from Selma of course.  It's a solid performance.  I met him a couple of weeks ago at the Critics Choice Awards.  Very nice guy.




I thought the Cinematography was SPOT ON.  Oscar-nominated Bradford Young (also of Selma fame, among others) gives AMVY a dark and dreary feel, and uses colors and shots that really take you to the early 80's.  (as a teen of the late 80's - I loved this)




There isn't really one thing I didn't like about AMVY, it just seems a bit too safe and slow. The story is good - so much corruption in the field of trash and sanitation?  Who knew!  It does a great job of taking you into the corruption of NYC back in the 80s.  But watching it, I felt like something was coming, like "any minute now, shit is going to get crazy", but it never really does.  

To wrap it up in a nice little package - I am glad I saw the movie, it was entertaining, but I wasn't blown away.  Of all the movies I saw this award season, it doesn't rank in my top ten.   But if you are looking for something to see on a Sunday afternoon - I would recommend you check it out.




Sunday, January 25, 2015

My First Critics Choice Awards



I have been back in Missouri for a week already and I still can't begin to put into words the fun I had attending my first Critics Choice Awards.  But I promised I would try, so here we go.




The day we arrived was a whirlwind (see earlier post about our Ellen segment), and it ended at the Critics Choice Pre-Party held at iPic

 
 
 
iPic is a spectacular theater experience - Jessica and I sat cozy by the fires - the food and drinks were over the top.  A great way to start our trip.
 
This is also where I met Aaron Dicer, who proved to be quite the entertainer.  (This pic is of us on our way to the After-party the next night)
 
 

 
The next day was all about getting glam.  Jessica and I put our trust in the hands of the team at blo Blow-Dry Bar in West Hollywood. 

 
 

 
They were very sweet and made us feel right at home - even letting us keep our bags there overnight , saving us a trip back to our hotel.  
 
I think they did a great job,  don't you?
 
 
 
The Awards Ceremony was held at the Hollywood Palladium, which was fabulous. 
 
 
 
 
Aaron took a quick picture of us and then he was off schmoozing with the celebrities.  This was old hat to him.  Next year, I will take everything I learned from him and get better pictures, I promise!
 
 
 
We were seated at Table 68.  See those beautiful books, I lost mine somewhere in the night.  It is my one regret.  Darn I wish I still had it.
 
 
 
 
 
We were seated with the folks from Bold Films.  They produced Whiplash and Nightcrawler this year - both films I loved.  Pretty happy with our table!!
 
 
 
 
John Krasinski and Emily Blunt were adorable to watch. 
 
 
 
Oprah was two tables away from us.  So surreal.  She is a presence, let me tell you.
 
 
 
John De Simio, Executive Vice President of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. 
 
 
 
 
When Angelina arrived, she walked by our table and said hello to both of us.  She is very beautiful.  During the breaks, Jessica did her best to talk to Angelina, but she was a popular girl.  She did manage to snap this picture of another woman's hand taking a picture of Angelina. 
 

 
I managed to speak with Julianne Moore for a few seconds - I hate this cheesy grin, but it does sum up my feelings at the moment.  I could hardly contain my excitement.  Julianne was very kind and gracious.  And tiny.  Everyone is tiny.
 
I also spoke with Michael Keaton  and David Oyelowo, and exchanged hellos with Reese Witherspoon in the ladies room.  Everyone we met was so friendly and genuinely nice.
 
After the awards, cars were waiting and whisked us away to the Hollywood Athletic Club for the Afterparty
 
 
 
The food and atmosphere at the Hollywood Athletic Club were over the top.  We had a wonderful time talking with other critics and film folks.  But alas, after a long day, our phones were dead so we didn't get any pictures.
 
 
The next morning, I couldn't stop smiling.  This was our lunch stop - we did all things touristy - Chinese Theater, TMZ Tour, Hollywood Sign etc.
 
 
 
We spent the last night of our trip at the Santa Monica pier - the perfect ending to a perfect trip to California.
 
 
The morning we left, Tyler Kimball was kind enough to join me for coffee.  He is the sweetest man!  He is in the movie Whiplash, which had been nominated for an Oscar just two days before our coffee date. To be part of an Oscar nominated film...neither one of us really knows what it will ultimately mean for him. But I tell you all this.  Write down his name.  Great things are heading his way.  I can feel it. 
 
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For the complete list of Critics Choice Award winners, click here:
 
 
 
 
Until next year!!!!

The Boy Next Door (Movie Review)

I knew better - I really did - but since Jay missed his opportunity to see JLo in person (with me two weeks ago in Los Angeles), I thought I would take one for the team and go see "The Boy Next Door".  Jennifer Lopez tops his list as Sexiest Woman in the World so it seemed the least I could do. 
 
As is sometimes the case, the trailer was the best part of this movie:



So ridiculous and predictable - we actually found ourselves laughing out loud.  (Lucky for us, there were very few folks in the theater (shocker), so we didn't offend anyone). 

Jennifer Lopez is beautiful to look at - there is no question.  Young Noah Guzman is quite handsome as well.  The movie only lasted 90 minutes.   So there is that.

My work here is done.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Then We Danced...with Ellen (Our Trip to Hollywood - Day One)

Last week, I checked something off of my bucket list - going to Ellen!! I expected it to be fun -  but it was beyond fun.  There really isn't a word to describe it except maybe supercalifragilisticexpealidocious?  Who cares about the spelling!!!

Once upon I time, I took a job at Fox 26 KNPN in St. Joseph, MO.  It just so happens that we carry Ellen in our lineup.  So I mentioned an upcoming trip to Los Angeles to our Sales Manager, Chris Schmitter (aka that crazy Northwest Fan from the Chamber Meetings aka the sweetest woman in the world).  I asked her "is there any chance I could get Ellen tickets?"  She replied "I don't know, but I will ask around."  Fast forward about 5 weeks and an email arrives - I have two VIP tickets to the Ellen show on the very day I land in Los Angeles.

Two things to mention here:  1.  Never ever be afraid to ask a question.  The worse thing that can happen is you get a "no."  2.  I have never prayed for good weather as hard as I did when I realized the small window of time I had to get from LAX to the Warner Brothers Lot, Gate 3.

I had two tickets to all my events in Los Angeles, so I invited my husband.  He had no interest in attending any events requiring "fancy clothes", so he stayed home and I took my first born, Jessica.  It was the fairest thing to do.  We go in order of age, just like Christmas.

We land.  We take a cab to our hotel.  We freshen up.  We take another cab to Warner Brothers and make a ROOKIE mistake.  We don't give the driver the exact address of Ellen, so he drops us off at the main entrance of Warner Brothers, which is a far cry from Ellen.  So we walked for quite a while and found Gate 3.  We checked in and then went looking for lunch.


Honestly - we ate - we didn't just drink wine.  Honest.  I promise!

Back to Gate Three to for Ellen.  We were SO excited!!  We had VIP tickets!!


Now you may be wondering - what does that mean exactly? It means you have tickets into the audience - for certain.  No chance you will be stuck in the Riff Raff room.  It also means you sit in this cute little roped off area of the parking garage.  Yes - you wait in line in a parking garage.  Its quite lovely, though.  There are vending machines and shade.  And a little Ellen kiosk.

Jessica works for a Charitable Group called #GoShoutLove.  They are all about loving and lifting up families with babies born in medical crisis.  Her goal was to connect Ellen with #GoShoutLove, so she wrapped a beautiful package full of #GoShoutLove Swag for Ellen.


Isn't it just adorable?!?!  (Meaning the gift.  But I know we can all agree, I do make adorable daughters too!)  We made lots of noise and acted like crazy fun girls and made great new friends:



Amy, Mindy, Kristal & her cutie husband, Ryan



Ryan again - and let me just tell you.  He does the Carlton like nobodys business.
He took this selfie with my phone when I wasn't looking.  So this was a sweet surprise!

Now you may be wondering - "why isn't Jessica in these pictures?"  Well that is because the producers fell in love with her and whisked her away - straight out of the VIP section!!!  She gave her gift to a producer who promised her it would make its way directly to Ellen!!  #GoShoutLove




Can you Shout Love!!!!!!

Jessica was gone FOREVER!!  I was so happy the new friends we met in the VIP section took me in as one of their own.  I could hardly contain my excitement.  She finally came back as we were being led into the Riff Raff Room.  And then guess what happened?!  Those new friends we met - gave #GoShoutLove a $50 donation!!!  We all hugged it out and cried!! #GoShoutLove!!


Let me remind you - all this happened before we even got into the studio!!

Once inside, we were amazed at how cozy the studio was - they split up our new "family" but we kept giving each other thumbs up throughout the show and had the time of our lives - so much dancing and laughing - it was amazing!  The guests for the show were Mariah Carey, Dax Shepard & Sharon Von Etten  

And then this happened:



Be sure and watch the video to see what happened!!  And then our facebook pages BLEW UP with screenshots of our reactions:


And THEN - there was yet another surprise!!!  We were asked to tape one more segment - with Jennifer Lopez!!!!  Now, this segment will air tomorrow so I can't share any pictures with you - but I will tell you this.  Jennifer Lopez is the most beautiful human being I have ever met in person.  She is stunning.  And so nice!!

After the taping, the announcer asked for Jessica Santo to wait in the studio to speak with a producer.  They invited us back to tape again the next day because they thought Jessica would be super fun for an on air game - but we couldn't do it because we had the Critics Choice Awards the next day.  Darn the luck!  But they have Jessica's number and all the information about #GoShoutLove.

It would mean the world to us if you could contact Ellen via your favorite social media and post this picture:



Use the #GoShoutLove Hashtag and tell Ellen to pick #GoShoutLove Babies for her next big giveaway! Oh, and be sure and tag Jessica and I!!!

Honestly, I am still recovering from the Ellen experience.  It will be a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life.
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I will blog about the rest of my trip to Los Angeles later this week  - I just thought the Ellen experience deserved its own post.  It w as INCREDIBLE!!!









Sunday, January 11, 2015

My Top Ten Movies of 2014 (aka the year I cried every time I went to the movies)

I know my Top Ten List is late to the party, but there were a couple of movies I wanted to see before I made my final decisions.  

I also know this list is going to piss off some folks, other critics may think I have lost my mind.  So let's be clear.  This is a list of MY favorite movies.  Maybe they aren't blockbusters, maybe they aren't getting awards buzz, but they resonated with me for one reason or another.  

So without further ado:


#10  Selma




Someone commented on Facebook "we all know this story - we all took history."  I challenge that.  I think we are too quick to assume we know all about the struggles of African Americans in this country.  Every family should see this movie and many conversations should follow.  We have a long way to go, people.


#9 Love Is Strange





This was just a beautiful love story.  A simple reminder to open our hearts and allow people to love who they love.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone deserves happiness.  



#8 The Sublime and Beautiful



The human spirit is quite resilient, we all know this.  But this movie showcases all of the feelings we must work through when facing our darkest hours.  It was a very difficult movie to watch but man, was it beautifully done.  


#7 Whiplash



The underlying story in this movie really got to me.  If Miles Teller would have played an athlete, it would have been so predictable.  But seeing a young man in the arts facing the very same pressure and demons, well it was just fantastic.


#6 St. Vincent




This was a nice little surprise.  We went on a Sunday afternoon - and I let Jay choose,  telling him this was a "funny movie".  Well it was, until it wasn't.  Lots of funny parts, that's for sure - but we quickly learn it's so much more.  I absolutely loved this one.


#5 The Fault In Our Stars



I didn't read the book, so I didn't know how this story was going to end.  I fell in love with this movie for a million reasons.  It was a beautiful, young love story.  


#4 Rudderless




The directorial debut of William H. Macy, this is a little known gem.  I promise you will not be sorry for checking this one out.  It is fantastic.  The soundtrack is also great.  Go into it blind and you will love it.  Do no homework.  Just watch it.

#3 Birdman



I was blown away by this movie - on the edge of my seat for the entire ride.  Every story I read, every interview I hear about the making of this movie makes me love it even more.   It was unlike anything I have ever seen.


#2 Boyhood




I really can't begin to describe the way this movie affects you.  Linklater gets it SO RIGHT.  It is like watching your own life in fast forward.  This movie is a game-changer.



And finally, my favorite movie of 2014:


#1  Maps to the Stars



My favorite movies are always the ones that show just how screwed up all of us are.  Celebrities, Doctors, Regular Joes.  We are all just jacked up kids trying to survive.  This movie is a beautiful fishbowl that proves exactly that.  I fricken LOVED IT.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

"Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth."

Rated PG-13

Let me start by saying I am not a "Hobbit" kind of girl.  I am not into Science Fiction and I only go see these types of movies to fulfill my "Criticly Duties".  So if you are expecting a big review of how close this movie was to the book, or some long diatribe about how fantastic the sci-fi effects were, you might as well stop reading.  Because I have no idea.

 How did it compare to the others in the Lord of The Rings/Hobbit family of films?  No idea.  I only saw the first one in 2001 and my memory fails me.  Nor have I read any of the books.  But I do know this, I enjoyed it very much.

I want to share a bit of the dinner conversation between me and my daughter after the movie.  (Tawni -18 - Artist/Gamer who has seen all the movies. She "got" the movie and did an excellent job keeping me up to speed with the "whos and whats" I might otherwise have missed.)  We talked at length about the epic battles of the movie, and the way they were depicted with no blood or gore.  Because of this, I think I enjoyed the movie more than I would have otherwise.  It made it a bit more family friendly.  That being said, we debated if  the absence of  the blood and guts of true battle would somehow desensitize children.  Just something to think about...

There were great life lessons - about true love and greed. Good stuff.

We saw this at the fantastic AMC BarryWoods 24 in IMAX 3D - I HIGHLY recommend you do as well.  The scenery was breathtaking.  I was blown away by the special effects. And who thinks up the creepy monsters and ogres anyway?  It was amazing.