my life in entertainment - february/march 2013
movies i saw
Big Miracle - The fact that it took someone in the movie mentioning "President Reagan" for me to realize it's set in the 80's is proof of that decade's influence on current fashion trends! I liked the storyline, which featured John Krasinski (Jim from The Office) as Adam, a small-town Alaskan news reporter hoping to make it big when he stumbles into a complex story: two adult whales and their baby are trapped. Drew Barrymore plays Adam's ex-girlfriend Rachel who works for Greenpeace and Kristen Bell plays a determined news reporter (kind of a more serious version of Veronica Corningstone from Anchorman). Adam encourages his Inuit friends to think of the bigger picture rather than their tradition of hunting whales while trying to rein in Rachel's over-attachment to the whales. It was very cool that this movie was based on a true story and the filmmakers combined new film with original news recordings in a really creative way. The movie was billed as family-friendly but I think younger kids would get bored.
The Kids Are All Right - A family's world is torn upside down when the teen children of lesbian moms track down their biological dad; the moms, Nic and Jules, are threatened when their kids reach out to their dad and it forces them to confront the problems already present in their relationship (Nic is a very type A doctor, Jules is a free spirit). Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo were all amazing.
Skyfall - My dad loved James Bond movies, and I'm pretty sure I've seen every single one. Skyfall is my new favorite. The movie clearly seeks to define what role a modern James Bond can play: crimes now occur on computers and hacking presents a major threat to MI6; is James Bond still relevant? Heck yes. I loved the exploration of the mentor relationship between Bond and M, the new Q, and Javier Bardem as a perfectly creepy terrorist. There were a lot of little hat-tips to the classic Bond films that had me geeking out as a fan. And Naomie Harris was absolutely badass as Eve.
The Great and Powerful Oz - My mother really wanted to see this one so we made it a family outing. It was a fun movie, but did not live up to the original Wizard of Oz and left a lot to be desired (the most kid-friendly character, a broken doll, was simply referred to as "little China girl" because no one ever bothered to ask what her name was, the Zach Braff-voiced CGI flying monkey which was supposed to be endearing was creepy, and the Wicked Witch's origin story was lame (James Franco should not be anyone's raison d'etre).
Silver Linings Playbook - I love Bradley Cooper, I love Jennifer Lawrence, and even though movies about mental illness tend to make me squirm when they hit close to home, I really enjoyed this one. The characters were all really believable and Robert De Niro's performance as Cooper's probably-OCD superstitious father was wonderful.
books i read
A Heart So Broken by Christene Houston - I won a copy of this YA romance in a blog contest. Jenna is on a dangerously rebellious streak after her father, a soldier, is killed in Iraq. Her mother sends her to stay with her aunt and uncle in small-town Nevada for the summer, where she starts to lose a little bit of the toughness she's built up. She befriends a few of the locals - including a handsome boy who helps her get back into her old hobby, running. He has a secret that keeps him from being completely open about his feelings for her, and she almost spirals back into her rebellious ways because of it. At first, it felt more like a grown-up version of Jenna telling the story about her teenage self- she was very self-aware of the fact that her rebelliousness was a phase, and lines like "Tonight he'd taken it to a new level, washing down a few pills with a few dozen cups of alcohol" just don't sound like a teenager to me. When Jenna got to the small town of West Junction, the story picked up and the characters became more dimensional. Jenna is a narrator I think a lot of teenage girls could relate to, and I loved her aunt and uncle, who offered gentle guidance but weren't pushy. This book was self-published and probably would have benefited from a good copy editor, but was a solid first effort and I think Houston's book would be well-received by teen fans of Stephenie Meyer, Lurlene McDaniel, and Nicholas Sparks.
Things Not Seen, Things Hoped For, and Things That Are by Andrew Clements - this YA trilogy centers around Bobby, who wakes up one morning to find that he is invisible, and Alicia, the blind girl who he reaches out to because she is the only person who isn't completely freaked out by his condition. Through the three novels, Bobby solves the mystery of his invisibility, finds out he's not the only one to disappear, and becomes a much more mature young man. The first novel was much stronger than the second two, in my opinion.
Two for the Dough and Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich - Spring break is time for some fluffy reading, right? I read the first Stephanie Plum mystery novel, One for the Money, last year when the film with Katherine Heigl came out, and I'm really sad that the film flopped because as I read the next two books I could picture the actors having a great time with the story's ups and downs! Evanovich's books are hilarious and, though this term is usually associated with speculative fiction, her worldbuilding is what impresses me the most about her writing - the Burg, Stephanie's Trenton, New Jersey suburb, feels very much like a real place and its citizens are unique and memorable.
Riffs of Regret by Micah K. Chaplin - Micah has been an online friend of mine for a long time but this is the first of her books I've read. The main characters, Cori and Luke, are set up- more like pushed together- by their two best friends at the Austin City Limits music festival. They connect over shared musical interests and feel a mutual attraction, but there's a Pride and Prejudice moment where Cori insults Luke, not realizing he's right behind her and can hear every word, and both of them assume any chance of a relationship is gone. The characters are extremely well developed, and I really sympathized with them as they dealt with some very serious real-world problems. This book goes beyond normal chick-lit topics and really looks at how difficult it is to navigate today's world of dating and relationships.
New Girl - Now that Nick and Jess have confessed their feelings for each other, the storylines have gotten infinitely more awkward, and that means more hilarious for viewers. This is the show I most look forward to each week right now.
Saturday Night Live - so on point lately in host and musical guest choices as well as sketch writing (for the most part). I enjoyed the Justin Bieber episode a lot more than I expected to.
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - One word: Timberweek.
What are you loving this month?