Monday, January 30, 2012

Laura Loves {January 2012}

Can you believe that the first month of 2012 is already over? Crazy right! So far it has been a great and busy year for me! But I have a few things I’ve discovered this month that I love! So let’s get down to it!

25 Ways to Tie a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes!
I happened across this video on a blog just the other day. I wasn’t that interested in the subject, but I thought the editing was really really cool! If you happen to be looking for a cool way to wear a scarf this video is pretty neat as well and links to longer tutorials. But I just really thought the video the way it is put together is really really cool…enjoy!

As a bonus…you can read a behind the scenes on how they made this video {here}!

Ferris Beuller CR-V Super Bowl Commercial
This coming weekend is the Super Bowl and commercials are just starting to get leaked! I have to say that my current frontrunner is this Honda CR-V ad…

OH!…and GO GIANTS!

Mary Poppins on Broadway
Last weekend I went back to NJ so that the family and I could see the musical Mary Poppins on Broadway! If you know me personally…you probably have heard how Mary Poppins was one of my two favorite movies when I was young (along with The Sound of Music). I loved to sing along to the songs and run around with a measuring tape and measure everything as “Practically perfect in every way!”. Today it is still one of my all time favorite movies. So you can imagine how excited I was when we made plans to head to NYC to see the musical!

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The shows plot is very different from the movie. I have to admit that at times they talk a little fast. Despite getting used to the pacing at first, I have to say that I LOVED the show! The dancing and the musical numbers were great! But what really made the show cool was how great they were at “Broadway magic.” It was really amazing how great they were at distracting your eyes to one part of the stage to surprise you with something else…they managed to do it to all of us a few times. After the show we were all discussing:

“And I have no idea when that got on stage!” …..(trying not to spoil here ok?)

They even somehow made Mary’s magic carpet bag (from which she pulls out a houseplant and coat rack) work on stage…I honestly have no idea how that worked. The woman who played Mary was great, but the guy who played Bert was absolutely fantastic! And the kids were very talented as well! I would highly recommend the show!! Especially if you loved the movie. Be prepared for a different plot, but there are familiar songs that will definitely make you smile!! Smile

The Art League – Ceramics Class
This year I decided to get out and do something different! I discovered that right up the street in Old Town Alexandria, there is an art school, known as The Art League, that offers classes in all sorts of fine arts and crafts. I decided to treat myself and take a Hand Building/Throwing Ceramics course. I used to take ceramics in High School (for 3 years actually) and I used to love how playing with clay could take my mind off of other HS stressors. But I haven’t taken a class since then. It’s great getting back to working with clay…a nice way to break up the work week and meet new people! There are all sorts of skill levels in the class which made it really welcoming. The teacher’s demonstrations are helpful but it’s also nice to get tips from the different levels of students in the class. But it really is low pressure, it seems like everyone is just there to relax and have fun making stuff with clay….and I love it!

The Art League has classes in all sorts of arts…from photography, to knitting, to jewelry making! The classes are offered at all different times of day so even if you work it’s pretty easy to find a class that you’ll be able to make. I’ve enjoyed my ceramics class but I think eventually I might even try something totally new.

That’s all I’ve got for Laura Loves at the moment…I’m convinced I’m forgetting something but if I really love it I’m sure I won’t forget it again next month! Laura Loves will be back at the end of February!

Help the Extremely Close Ides of Moneyball

I have been slow to blog this month but January has been busy busy busy!! But among all the stuff going on I was still able to watch a few more movies for Mission: Oscar Snob 2012! Don’t forget you can also keep track of my progress {here}.

Before I get to the reviews, Oscar Nominations were announced! Check them out {here}!

Moneyball Poster
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Last weekend I rented Moneyball in a Sunday full of watching movies. It was a very interesting film about how the Oakland A’s tried an alternative method to recruiting players to try to compete with other teams with MUCH higher payrolls. As a Yankee fan, I have to admit that this film made me feel a tad bit guilty. But I thought the film did a really good job of showing how they tried to do something that could really change baseball…particularly because its true. Brad Pitt was really good in the film as was Jonah Hill. I have to admit to finding it a bit slow at times, but it was definitely enjoyable and I’d recommend it…especially for baseball fans. StarStarStar

The Help Poster
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I watched The Help the same day…and I have to say I really loved it! This story about a young writer in a southern town who chooses to write a book from the point of view of “the help” or the housekeepers who where largely discriminated against. I thought the film was really great. The actors, particularly Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were wonderful. There were funny parts, heartbreaking parts, and heartwarming parts. I really loved the sweeter parts of the movie where “the help” were treated kindly and how they wanted to share those stories too. I just really liked it a lot and already want to watch it again! I highly recommend this film! It’s the first one that gets 5 stars from me!! StarStarStarStarStar

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Poster
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Last weekend I got to go with my family to see Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close on opening night! This movie has really gotten a lot of mixed reviews, and its Oscar nomination for Best Picture has stirred up a lot of “how is that even possible?!?” chatter. I have to say that I don’t feel that way at all about this film. I really liked this movie a lot. It was the interesting story of a boy who seems to have something similar to autism deal with the loss of his father on 9/11. You see how he needs to deal with the loss and make sense of this tragedy and understand the guilt he feels from the events of that day. Because the movie is told from his perspective, it’s a unique and perhaps a slightly confusing view…but I think it was very moving and interesting. I felt this was a great film and I would recommend it highly. Were there flaws? Yes…but I saw more flaws in Hugo (which the critics LOVED)…and I felt this was a much more interesting perspective of a story to tell. This is a great movie and deserves it’s nomination. StarStarStarStar

The Ides of March Poster
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This weekend I rented The Ides of March. I knew it was a political story and even though I have some of my own political views, a movie about politics didn’t seem very exciting to me. When the movie first started I thought I was right…the beginning moves a little slow just because it has to set the political scene. You have to learn the situation and the important people etc…there is a lot of political strategy talk that I expected from the film. But once the events of the movie really start to unfold…I found it to be VERY interesting. It seemed to be a real statement about politics. How strongly people can believe in a candidate, how hard it is to hide certain actions, how easy it can be to hide other scandals, what is really right and wrong in politics, how much of a game it really is, the effect it all can have on people. Ryan Gosling was great. George Clooney was good in the film but his more important roles I think were as director and writer (The movie is nominated for Adapted Screenplay and I think that is well deserved). It was a really interesting movie and I’d recommend it. StarStarStarStar

Since Oscar Nominations came out I have updated my progress page to point out movies that have received no nominations. These movies will automatically become lower priority in the mission. I would also like to note that the movie Drive only got one nomination for a minor category (Sound Editing) so I don’t think that one will be a high priority either. Similarly as an update, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was nominated for 3 Oscars but only minor categories, so as originally planned I will most likely not see that movie since I haven’t seen any of the previous films.

The Oscars are only 28 days away! The mission is going strong! Have you seen any of the movies I’ve seen so far? What did you think? What do you think of the Oscar nominations? I was personally surprised that 50/50 and Young Adult didn’t get any nominations for writing. And although I wasn’t surprised…I once again felt like Hugo was a bit overrated getting the most nominations. Did anything surprise you? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Young Hugo Artist with Marilyn

I have had a very busy week this past week so I haven’t posted in a bit…but I HAVE made some progress on Mission: Oscar Snob 2012…

Before I get started with my reviews, one note about my star ratings. I give a number of stars (0 through 5) based on how much a movie entertained me…so looking below, while I think The Artist is perhaps more “artsy” of a movie…I was more entertained by Young Adult I must admit…I usually reserve 5 stars for a movie I absolutely LOVE. For me a 3 star movie is still definitely worth seeing but I might not need to see it again…2 stars might be getting into a “not so impressed.” For more info on the stars…check this post (although I’m not sure it always translates so literally).

Now on with the reviews…

Young Adult Movie Poster
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Last Saturday as soon as I posted the mission I started off by seeing Young Adult. I had mixed feelings about this movie when I originally saw the previews. Knowing it was written by Diablo Cody (writer of Juno) I knew it had potential to be good. It was just that concept looked really silly…a woman in her mid thirties is a successful writer of a young adult series of books. She finds out that her high school boyfriend has a new baby…and feeling stuck in her own life in the big city decides to head back to her hometown to win him back. To me the concept just seemed annoying. But when the critics enjoyed it, that confirmed its potential and I was glad to see it on the list.

I was right, the main character is a bit annoying…but slightly more dynamic than I expected. In a way you feel for her…not that you are rooting for her…but I think she is more relatable than I originally thought she’d be. The storyline was as I thought but had a few unexpected plot points. I laughed out loud a few times and cringed at her actions just as much. I think Charlize Theron does a great job. I do wish the characters were a bit more dynamic…but at the same time I suppose if they were slightly more dynamic it would have been too….hmmm…maybe too much more of a romantic comedy I guess (its hard to explain without giving too much away). Overall I thought it was a good movie and enjoyed it…StarStarStarStar
I ran out to see Hugo before it left the theaters. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the trailers but I had sort of got the impression of a picturesque children’s movie. While it is very beautifully shot, and it is about a kid, I don’t necessarily think the film was as directed at kids as I thought it would be.

The movie is about a young boy who loses his clock-maker father in a fire and goes to live in a train station with his drunk uncle who teaches him to care for the station’s clocks. Meanwhile he tries to find pieces to complete his father’s last complicated side projects. In the attempt to find these pieces, he meets a young girl and her grandfather who is unexpectedly connected to his project.

This film was hyped a bit and got good reviews from critics which may have sent me into the theater with high expectations, but I was a bit disappointed with the movie. While it was very pretty and a cute story, I had a few issues with the film as a whole. There were a lot of times when the dialog was way over dramatic. Without giving too much away, a lot of dramatic pauses seemed unnecessary and there were things that characters kept a secret from each other that didn’t seem necessary. The comic relief was fine, but felt sort of disconnected (particularly in the beginning) from the more dramatic parts of the film. Then there were other things that were never fully explained. I think it was a cute movie and story, but I just found myself rolling my eyes here and there at these issues. I’d wait for this one on DVD.StarStar

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This weekend I caught and early showing of My Week With Marilyn. I wasn’t sure what to expect here but a great performance from Michelle Williams. I definitely got that. Michelle did a great job and definitely transformed into Monroe. Last night she won a Golden Globe for her performance and based on what I’ve watched so far, I agree. I definitely think she will be nominated for an Oscar. The movie itself was interesting…the true story of how a young man working on a movie set in England manages to grab the attention of Marilyn Monroe…for a week. I think it gave a real insight as to what it might have been like to work with or even be Marilyn. I really liked the film…but I think Michelle William’s performance was the best thing about the movie for me.  StarStarStar



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This morning I ran to catch the silent film, The Artist. It was a really cool film about a silent film star who looses it all when “talkies” come along…and a newcomer actress who becomes very popular when sound has enters the theaters. It was a very interesting movie, and definitely worth seeing just for the fact that you realize how much you can understand without having much dialog in a film, even a film about sound entering the movies. I think the actors did a great job, especially with their expressions. The movie was cute and I think it was a good story. I think it’s a great movie to see…but as a warning…I think it has been getting a lot of its attention due to its format (being a silent film). Don’t get me wrong…I think it’s a good movie…but I do think it being a silent film is getting it more attention than this story would if it wasn’t silent. StarStarStar

The movies this week were great…but I think its sort of funny that a lot of them had the theme of classic movie making. I don’t think I’m giving too much away to say it plays a large roll in Hugo as well. The only one without movies in the theme was Young Adult!

Have you seen any of the movies above? Agree or disagree with my comments? Let me know in the comments below!

I am still watching movies today so I will be sure to post again soon…coming up next: Moneyball and The Help.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mission: Oscar Snob 2012

Well here goes nothing! As I mentioned in the last post, I received the issue of EW yesterday with the list…25 Movies to See Before Oscar Night! I’ll start with the list…then discuss the mission a bit.

EW’s 25 Movies to See Before Oscar Night

  • The Artist
  • The Descendants
  • War Horse
  • The Help
  • Hugo
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Moneyball
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • The Tree of Life
  • Beginners
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2
  • The Iron Lady
  • Rango
  • My Week With Marilyn
  • Shame
  • Albert Nobbs
  • The Ides of March
  • Kung Fu Panda 2
  • Bridesmaids    May 2011
  • J. Edgar
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin
  • Drive
  • Young Adult
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

I have to admit I’m a bit surprised by a few of the movies on this list…and not surprised at all by others. For example, I was NOT expecting Kung Fu Panda 2 to be on here…especially as a sequel and with the absence of an animated movie with the buzz of Tintin (actually that goes for the less buzzed about Rango too)…more on that in a minute.

There are some movies on here that I know I won’t see for different reasons:

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory will be premiering on HBO…but it has no release date listed yet for DVD and it is not currently in theaters. I don’t plan on subscribing to HBO just for this movie :-/.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is another I probably will not watch. Not because I have anything against Harry or the series…but I haven’t watched any of the prior movies. I’d like to watch the prior 7 before watching the very last one…I do have hopes of watching them all at some point. Also EW explained that it will probably be nominated for visual effects and sound. If those are its only nominations I feel alright skipping it. If it turns out it gets nominated for something bigger…I may reconsider….MAYBE.

Kung Fu Panda 2…for similar reasons as above I never saw the first Kung Fu Panda…but I did actually put it in my queue on Netflix for the mission…it’s a little easier to watch one extra movie in order to watch the sequel than 7…but we will see…I have a bit of a solution though…

This year I’ll be incorporating “Personal Additions” to the mission. The main point of the mission will still be to watch the original EW list…but there were a couple of flaws in last year’s list (some movies got no nominations, some nominations were not on the list). I decided that if I hear some buzz about a movie before the show or if a movie not listed gets a substantial nomination…I should also watch it and comment on it to become a true Oscar Snob. I will keep this list separate but still on the Mission Page above, and will note if they are not on the original EW list when I comment on them.

So far I have two personal additions:

~ The Adventures of Tintin…even EW mentioned (in the list) that this could be a contender when mentioning Kung Fu Panda 2. Plus there was a lot of buzz about its release. I think it could be up for animation…so I may try to see it as well.

~ 50/50EW mentioned that this could be a contender for Best Original Screenplay. I also wanted to see this earlier in the year but never got around to it. I think it would be a good personal addition.

So for those of you that missed last year, the goal of the mission is to watch as many of these movies as I can before the Oscars on February 27th. That is only 51 days away!

I’m at a bit of a disadvantage this year. Last year I had already seen three of the movies…this year I’ve seen only one!!! I am starting right away tonight and tomorrow. Tonight I think I am going to go see Young Adult and tomorrow Hugo (before that exits the theaters). I will try to collect a few movies for each update post. But you can always keep track of my progress by clicking the page “Mission: Oscar Snob 2012” at the top of the screen.

Which of the movies have you seen? Which ones did you love/hate? Any opinions on who might get nominated? Let me know! Feel free to join in the mission and link back if you want! Or if you are in the area let me know if you’d like to join me for any of the movies!!

Mission: Oscar Snob 2012 is officially underway!!

A Quick Archiving…

Today…I received this in the mail...

EW1189-cover
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Do you see what I see?!?!? No…I’m not referring to the lovely picture of George. (Hint…it’s the article written across the top!)

That’s right! The 25 Movies list has arrived at my door and so it is time to get started on Mission: Oscar Snob 2012!!! I will be writing an official beginning post to put up later today…but first I decided that I should archive my Oscar Snob list/page from last year (as the new list will be replacing it on the page above).

So here it is…my farewell to Mission: Oscar Snob 2011…I managed to see 18 of the 25 before Oscar Night! And made a lot of correct predictions! Not too bad!

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Last winter I attempted to watch as many movies listed on EW’s 25 Movies You Need to See Before Oscar Night before the big show on February 27th. This page is where readers could track my status. The movies that are crossed off have been seen. I will try to list dates if I can. Movies I have blogged about will include a link to the post!
EW's 25 Movies You Need to See Before Oscar Night
Mission Oscar Snob 2011 was completed once the Oscars aired....but I wound up being pretty sucessful with 19 out of 25 movies watched and most of my Oscar picks turned out correct! Mission Oscar Snob 2012 will start up around January!
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NOTE: I will most likely do this more immediately after the Oscar Results this year (although I like to keep the page up there)…it would be nice if the archiving is closer to the rest of the posts!