Thursday, January 24, 2013

I'm late for a very important date

My practical New Year's resolution this year is two-fold:  to give up the snooze button, and to be on time.  

I hate being early for things.  Something about the way I'm hard-wired makes me think that being early is a waste of time.  Why get somewhere 10 minutes early, when I could have spent that ten minutes fixing my hair, talking on the phone, or grabbing a coffee?  At the same time, I despise being late, which is how I typically operate.  I'm late, I'm grouchy, Bradley is slow, and I am stressed.  My habitual tardiness makes me 10 minutes late for choir, or 15 minutes late to work, and it's become a habit I am none too pleased with.  So I am trying to change that mentality and be more proactive about getting up earlier and leaving earlier so that I'm not constantly in a rush, and allow myself to relax and enjoy the 10 "extra" minutes I might have by arriving to my destination with time to spare.

So hello 2013, and goodbye snooze.  

Since we are a good ways into the month now, I will admit that old habits die hard, but there has been a vast improvement, and I am headed in the right direction.  What are your resolutions, and are you keeping them?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Oh Say Did You Sync?

Lip Sync, that is.  Yes, Beyonce, I am talking to you.  Say it isn't so, Mrs. Jay-Z!  Why would you feel the need to pre-record and perfect the national anthem when you are standing still and singing the Star Spangled Banner for such a momentous occasion?  It's not like you were dancing and huffing and puffing, or singing in a stadium where the echo would throw you off.  And you are a darn good singer.  So I don't see why you would cheapen the song and reduce it to singing along to a recording.

When I heard you sing Monday, your rendition of the national anthem was amazing, or at least it was before I heard rumors that you were lip syncing.  Now it's just a big old fat disappointment.  Just like the first lady's red inaugural gown.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Too Much T.V.?

I have been on a TV binge for the last month and a half.  Ever since I took the LSAT, I have been playing catch up on all the fall TV shows I neglected, and let me tell you, I am Loving it!  Every night after I put Bradley to bed, it's like a whole new world!  2 episodes of Grey's Anatomy here, an episode of Glee there, a season's worth of Nashville;  I could really get used to this!  My current shows, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Downton Abbey
  • Glee
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • Nashville
  • New Girl
  • Parenthood
If Nashville weren't my hometown I wouldn't waste my time on this one, but I love the shots of the city and the fact that the show centers around country music.  New Girl makes me laugh out loud every single week.  Grey's has gotten good again and keeps me hooked every week with cliffhangers.  Parenthood makes me cry every week, and Glee is the guilty pleasure I just can't give up.  The big group numbers just take me to my happy place of singing in choirs.  Downton Abbey I'm watching on Hulu and catching up (currently started season two) so that eventually I will be able to watch the current season three on TV.  Lately I dream in British accents, and being a maid seems like such a glamorous lifestyle. 

And of course, whenever the Wildcats are on I'm glued to the tube as well.  It sounds like a lot when it's all written down like that, but my television habit is not an addiction or anything.  I can quit anytime I want to.  No big deal.  Anyway, why haven't there been any new Tori & Deans?  Seems like it's been forever since the last season.  I must nurture my love for Tori, and it's hard to do that with no new shows.  I've had several other recommendations by people, but there literally aren't enough hours in the day for me to add any more, but here they are, in no particular order:
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Modern Family
  • Suits
  • Game of Thrones (thanks to Ari, I will forever think of this as Game of Thongs)
  • Portlandia
  • Justified
  • Breaking Bad
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Some show that's supposed to be the modern-day FRIENDS?  Can't remember the name.
What else am I missing that I absolutely must watch?  What should I bump to make room for any of the above?  What are you watching?  Yes, you.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Law School Bound

We interrupt these regularly scheduled movie reviews for some important information:  as most of you know, I have decided to get off my rear end and pursue a childhood dream of mine to become a lawyer.  21, oh alright, 32, is not too late, and so next month I will begin my 4 year adventure into law school.

I admit that when I look at the paltry amount of blogs I posted last year that I am ashamed.  Though 2012 was a turning point for me as I navigated the waters of dating once again, and spent almost half a year studying for the LSAT, as well as working full time and of course taking care of the Little One.  There were many pictures not posted, and many stories not told in the blogosphere, and I hope to step up my game in 2013.

I love to write, and I do enjoy sharing the humorous anecdotes I can pull out of life, encouraging testimonies of faith, things of the contemporary world such as political commentary, movie and concert reviews, and yes, documenting the family life in words and pictures.  I'm sure I'll have more dating horror stories to regale you with (I'm still saving a good one for you all) and of course gripe about school and being tired I'm sure, but I hope the three or so of you who have stuck by me and still read this blog from time to time will hang around a little longer.

And if not, that's okay too, because I'm happy to keep on writing even if it's just for me, and won't have too much time to cry over lost readers!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Movie Review: Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty, directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Oscar winning director of the Hurt Locker, and formerly married to James Cameron), staring Jessica Chastain and a bunch of other men, is based on a true story centering around the CIA hunt for and capture of Osama Bin Laden.  Jessica Chastain just won the Golden Globe for best actress and is the frontrunner to get an Oscar for her performance.  I haven't seen any of the other Best Actress noms this year, but they all seem like a bunch of randoms so it will shock me if Chastain doesn't win.

Here are my take-aways from the movie:
  • this movie is long (over 1 1/2 hours) and it feels every bit that long
  • It's interesting to see how Bin Laden's hideout was finally discovered and ultimately raided
  • the film focuses exclusively on Chastain's character Maya, a CIA agent.  Other characters (predominantly men) wander in and out of the film, but for the most part, names aren't given, and you don't know who any of them are.  This was annoying.
  • Hey, Tony Soprano's in this movie!  Who is he supposed to be?  I dunno.  Some CIA big wig.
  • Maya likes to say Mother Effer a LOT.
  • Zero Dark Thirty does nothing for the tourism industry in Pakistan.
  • I must have missed the one insignificant line in the film that references the title.
  • Kudos to a prominent female director for tackling a subject matter like this with a strong female lead
  • Call me cinematically uncivilized, but this film was a character study on Chastain's character, and I am not particularly fond of Chastain as a matter of personal preference.
  • I'm giving this one thumb up.  It was long, it drug, and it was a little more conversation, a lot less action than I would have preferred.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Movie Review: Django Unchained

The second movie I saw over Christmas break was Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's new flick.  I am a Tarantino fan, so I knew what to expect going in:  quippy dialogue, hilarious cameos, and gratuitous violence.

I LOVED Tarantino's last film Inglourious Basterds, and Christoph Waltz who won an Oscar for his role, so Django did not disappoint as the feel of both movies is similar.  The little vignettes played out scene by scene, and by the time certain actors made their entrance, I was so engrossed in the unfolding plot that I'd forgotten that they were in the movie.  That said, there were maybe 3 vignettes too many as the movie did tend to drag in places.

With the premise of the movie being about a German bounty hunter (Waltz) offering to help a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) rescue his wife from an evil plantation owner (Leonardo DeCaprio), this film has gotten a lot of press about being too violent and disrespectful when it comes to depicting the treatment of slaves.  Yes, the things done to the slaves in Django were horrific.  Some were shown, but most surprisingly were not.  Allusions were made, and then the camera panned away.  I'm sure I would feel differently if I were black, but I actually thought Tarantino tackled this subject matter in his usual snarky way without making it over the top violent or offensive.  

I could not get enough of Christoph Waltz. His delivery of text is perfection in my eyes.  I don't know this to for certain, but I'd bet money that Tarantino crafted this role specifically for Waltz, and shine he did. Leonardo DeCaprio dominated his scenes with palpable tension as the role demanded, and there was one random scene with one random actor that will be known by all who see it as the comedic high point of the film.  Jamie Foxx was good, but overshadowed by the brilliance of Waltz and Decaprio, in my opinion.  

Overall, I'd say One and a half thumbs up.  If you're a Tarantino fan, you've probably already seen it.  If you're not, you can wait to rent this one.

Did you hear the people sing?

It’s a rare occasion nowadays that I go to the movies (flash back to my early 20s when this blog was a happening place for movie and concert reviews, and humorous anecdotes staring my twenty-something friends). However, having spent Christmas away from Bradley this year, I had time to see not one, but two new films. Here comes movie review #1.

Of course, I had to see Les Miserables. Not only am I a musical junkie (Sorry, Eric!), but the movie had plenty of star power, and I was intrigued at the way Les Mis was filmed. In case you didn’t know, the actors sang the parts live, with an accompanist following them, heard by the actors only through an ear bud, and then the orchestral accompaniment was added to the vocal tracks later. I would imagine that was maddening difficult for the conductor and musicians who had to follow the actor’s whims of subtle tempo changes throughout.

So Christmas Day came, and I was all set to see Les Mis. Just as we were ready to leave, I checked to make sure it wasn’t sold out. It was - along with every other showing of the movie that day at every nearby theater. Turns out, everybody and their mother goes to the movies on Christmas Day. Who knew? Immediately, I secured tickets for the next day, and thus I finally settled into my seat the day after Christmas, ready to hate Anne Hathaway.

I’ve been annoyed at the way the previews and movie posters have made her out to be this huge part of the film, when I and anyone who has seen the musical knows that Fontine isn’t around for very long, so I couldn’t understand why she was being billed seemingly as the star of the show.  I tried to dislike Anne Hathaway for this very reason, but alas, I could not. Her performance, small in part, but grand in delivery was one of the highlights of the film.  Plus, let's face it.  Anyone who makes themselves look ugly and cut their hair for a role is practically guaranteed an Oscar.

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean was also outstanding, and the benefit to film versus theater in this case is that the audience gets to see in detail the physical aging transformation of Jean Valjean up close and personal.  Due to the scoring of the music, Jackman was able to take his time and give real feeling behind the lyrics, staying true to the music, but also allowing for the rubato that the circumstances needed.  He's a strong contender for the Best Actor Oscar.

Who was that guy who played Marius? Eddie Redmayne is his name.  I'm not usually one for blondes, but he was a cutie patootie, even though his vibrato was visible by his shaking throat.  Redmayne was well cast for this part, and his heartfelt rendition of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was moving to the point where I understood this song in a way I never had before.  (That’s the song Marius sings after he survives the battle and goes back to the barricade ruins, for those who aren’t as familiar with the musical) which brings me to the best/worst song of the fim:

Favorite song – Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
Least Favorite song – Anything by Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe was an abomination to this movie.  Les Mis surely didn't need his star power.  I can remember seeing the previews for the film months ago, thinking to myself, "huh, I didn't know Russell Crowe could sing."  And then I saw Les Mis.  "Nevermind, he can't."  The meaty role of Javert as the pious villain has the powerhouse songs of Les Mis, and Crowe's vocals were in tune (though with the modern technology available through autotune, you can't necessarily credit Crowe with that), they were thin and flat and had no power behind them.  Even his acting was subpar so not even that could make up for him being cast in a major role in a MUSICAL.  As someone who knows and loves Les Miserables, I waited for Javert's songs, only to be majorly disappointed.  He was by far the weakest link of the cast.

2nd weakest link was a tie between Amanda Seyfried as Cosette and Sacha Baron Cohen as Thenardier.  Seyfried doesn't have a strong voice either (Hello, Mama Mia!) and so what should be light soft vocals ended up being overtaken by birdlike vibrato and an inability to sustain endings of songs, so the vocals were abrubptly cut off.  Sacha  Baron Cohen did a decent job as Thenardier, but he wasn't as hefty and grotesque as Thenardier is supposed to be, and when you're up next to Helena Bonham Carter, you're gonna lose.  Bonham Carter stole the show as Madame Thenardier in every scene she was in.

Overall, I give Les Miserables 2 thumbs up.