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Posts Tagged ‘2010’

Movie Review: The Tourist (2010)

December 21, 2010 2 comments

Man and woman's faces above Venice.Summary:
The Scotland Yard is watching Elise Ward in the hopes that her ex-boyfriend, Alexander, who owes millions of pounds of back taxes, will contact her.  They get their chance when he does, telling her to come to Venice and choose a random tourist of his height and build to trick the cops into thinking is him.  The cops don’t fall for it, but unfortunately the mobster Alexander stole billions of pounds from does.

Review:
I’ve been a fan of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp since I can remember, so that pretty much is the entire reason why I went to go see this film.  Unfortunately, I have to say, Angelina and Johnny are starting to show their age.  For a film largely based on youth-filled action and passion, this is a bit distracting.  Although I enjoyed the old-fashioned storyline, I think I would have enjoyed it better with younger casting.  I’m not ageist, but when a storyline is so youthfully oriented, the casting should match.

The storyline itself is thoroughly engaging and refreshing.  It’s a romcom in the style of Cary Grant classics like Bringing Up Baby.  There’s a bunch of slightly over the top but still believable action.  It doesn’t rely on idiocy of the main characters or klutziness to move the story along.  It’s over-the-top enough to be engaging and escapist, but still believable instead of laughable.

There are enough plot twists to keep it engaging, and the cinematography strikes the proper balance between clear action-filled shots, quieter romantic scenes, and the more technical scenes of Scotland Yard observing the whole situation.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable film that unfortunately suffers from miscasting.  Hopefully romcoms coming out of Hollywood will continue moving in this direction anyway.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: I saw this in theaters.

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Movie Review: When In Rome (2010)

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Man and woman standing close to each other with woman biting her finger.Summary:
Beth loves her career as a curator at the Guggenheim, and she’s told her friends that when she meets a man she loves more than her career that’s when she’ll know he’s the one.  She, therefore, is shocked when her sister meets an Italian man on a plane and gets engaged to him two weeks later.  Off to Rome for the wedding, and Beth hits it off with a guy.  But when she sees him kissing an Italian woman, she gets drunk on champagne and takes four coins from the love fountain in front of the wedding.  Uh-oh!  Taking a coin from the fountain makes the thrower fall instantly in love with you, and when Beth gets back to NYC, she winds up with four very determined suitors.

Review:
Yes, I actually do watch a chick flick periodically.  😉  This one is quite stereotypical, complete with Beth declaring she’s starving and proceeding to grab a salad to eat.  Oy.  There’s also the usual slap-stick humor, such as the main suitor falling down a hole in the streets of NYC.  It also takes quite a bit of suspension of disbelief to believe that Beth randomly grabbed four coins, all of which happened to have belonged to men.  Uh-huh.  Somehow I feel like the statistics of that actually happening are unlikely.

However, the story itself is a bit unique, what with the inclusion of magic.  Although it’s obvious who Beth will end up with, the way they wind up together was not entirely predictable, so that was nice.  The cinematography is visually very appealing.  For instance, the scene of Beth drunk in the fountain is just gorgeous.

The acting ranges from cringe-inducing to excellent.  Danny DeVito’s presence as one of the suitors really saves the film.  That man is just always so believable in whatever film he’s in.  Kristen Bell, who plays the lead, also does a good job, although the supporting characters are a bit iffy.

Overall, it’s a fun way to pass an hour and a half if you have a soft spot for romcoms and enjoy Italian scenery.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

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Movie Review: Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy (2010)

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Images of Donna Sadowsky with Faith.Summary:
This documentary follows the adoption of Fang Sui Yong, an 8 year old Chinese girl, by the Sadowsky’s, a Jewish family from Long Island.  The filmmaker seeks to highlight the particular issues faced when adopting older children internationally.

Review:
This is one of those films that shows how difficult life can be, and that sometimes there is no good choice.  There’s only the iffy choice that’s a bit better than the alternative.  Sui Yong (who now goes by “Faith,” so I”ll call her that for the rest of the review) didn’t want to leave China.  She was quite happy living with her foster family, and had never seen a white person before.  This is all the film tells us at first, so you immediately wonder, why can’t Faith stay with the foster family?  It turns out that foster families can’t adopt the children they’re caring for in China, and it is unlikely Faith would have stayed with them for her whole childhood.  Additionally, Faith is special needs with a club foot and dropped wrists.  Her foster parents state that she would face great difficulty in China, being treated as an outcast.  Her foster parents want her to be adopted.  They see that her future in China is very bleak.

That doesn’t mean that her transition to the US went perfectly, of course.  The culture shock Faith faces is severe, even if just looking at going from hearing Mandarin and Cantonese to hearing English all the time.  Donna Sadowsky is obviously a tough love type mom, believing that being firm will be the fastest way to help Faith acclimate.  Personally I believe she was a bit too tough.  Some of the learning could have been made into a bit more of a game.  More understanding could have been shown for her special needs.  But I only saw a brief film of two years of the time they spent together.  It’s almost impossible to tell Faith’s personality from that much film.  Maybe they tried taking it a bit easier on her, and she slacked off too much.  Maybe the doctors told them Faith could do certain things that it turned out she couldn’t.  It’s hard to tell.

An interesting element of the film is the fact that the filmmaker, a one-woman team, speaks Mandarin, and so translates sometimes for the family.  This of course means that she has a direct impact on the story she’s documenting.  It’s quite interesting to watch and to consider how much documenting a story impacts it.

Overall, this is a very interesting documentary.  Many people are hesitant to adopt older children.  This film shows that it can be done, as well as the great need for families for older and special needs children internationally.  It brings up interesting questions regarding international and transracial adoption, as well as demonstrating how quickly the American consumer culture impacts children.  I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in international adoption or the issues related to it.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: PBS website

Movie Review: Kick-Ass (2010)

September 2, 2010 7 comments

Four superhero faces.Summary:
Highschooler Dave wonders why no one in real life ever tried to be a super-hero, so he orders a wet suit, dubs himself “Kick-Ass” and sets out to attempt vigilante justice.  Lucky for him in his ineptitude, someone has thought of being a a superhero–ex-cop Big Daddy and his 9 year old daughter Hit Girl.  Their activities land them on the mob’s hit list, and pandemonium ensues.

Review:
This is a concept–blundering wannabe superheroes–that could easily fall flat on its face, but it doesn’t.  The addition of Big Daddy and Hit Girl to the scene really change the entire feel of the movie.  They’re not so much superheroes as vigilantes–think Kill Bill only with superhero costumes. They bring reality back into Kick-Ass’s daydreaming.  In the real world, fighting the bad guys often have serious consequences.  It’s not all youtube glory.

This was based on a graphic novel, and the bright colors in the costumes help bring that feel in.  The fight sequences aren’t stylized like anime, rather they feel like a typical action movie, but that was a wise choice given the basic message in the movie.  Shots are smooth and stylish without reading as cartoonish.

Apparently, some people find the character of Hit Girl offensive.  This surprised me since she was by far my favorite in the film.  Where I see her as possessing admirable grit, raw talent, and a propensity to speak her mind others see a little girl killing people and using the c-word.  I think those people are taking things a bit too seriously.  Hit Girl is clearly a little girl who enjoys what she does and is being true to herself.  Little girls aren’t always sugar and spice and everything nice.

Overall, Kick-Ass is a fun movie that will appeal to fans of superhero and action films alike.  I highly recommend it.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

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Friday Fun! (Happy 2010!)

January 8, 2010 4 comments

Sorry for the hiatus last week, guys.  I was recovering from my New Year’s Eve fun.  For New Year’s Eve I acquired First Night buttons so I could go see the Kaiju Big Battel (sic) taking place in Boston.  (Side-note: I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s called First Night and not Last Night.  It’s the last night of 2009, not the first night of 2010! Ideas?!)  I happened to catch some crazy Middle Eastern dancing that was occurring on a stage nearby while I was waiting.  I have no idea what kind of dancing it was.  It wasn’t bellydancing, and they hopped around waving their arms and fake swords a lot.  Anyway, so Kaiju Big Battel is essentially WWE only the wrestlers are wearing monster costumes ala Godzilla and the stage has miniature buildings set up that they also smash.  Two of my favorite characters of the night were Plantain and Dusto Bunny.  Dusto Bunny was actually dusty! (Sorry I have no pictures of Kaiju to show you.  I have yet to upload them from my camera).  Anyway, then I met up with friends in the Common to see the ice sculptures and rang in the new decade on the Esplanade.  It was definitely a fun night!

This week has been busy busy busy at work.  They’re renovating my library (again).  Currently all of us are crammed in one room while they work on the rest of it, but the exciting part, you guys, is I’m going to go from having a cubicle to an almost office!  It’s pretty much an office minus a door, but I’ll have a divider up in lieu of a door.  Plus they’re building me bookshelves, and I’m getting a brand new wood desk!  I’m excited to move into my new office.  It’s going to make me feel much more part of the team, since currently I’m the only one without an office.

In cooking this week, I tried out making gnocchi from scratch for the first time using sweet potatoes.  It’s pretty simple, actually.  You just cook the potatoes, pass them through a sieve, then combine it with spices, egg, and flour.  The tricky part, I discovered, is adding just the right amount of flour.  The consensus upon eating it was that it was neither good nor bad.  A bit too floury.  However, on reheating the leftovers, it went to good.  I’m thinking maybe I just didn’t cook them long enough?  I’ll definitely try it again.  I think it’s one of those recipes you improve with over time.  Kind of like pizza dough.

Oh, also, I’m all caught up in Lost now, so I’m totally ready for the new season. Bring. It. On!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Reading Goals for 2010

January 4, 2010 4 comments

I don’t want to over-plan my reading for 2010, but I do want to give it a loose structure and maybe broaden my horizons a bit.  I also want to be practical about my reading, for instance the fact that I rarely have time to go to the library (erm, the public one, not the one I work at 5 days a week).  Anywho, with that in mind, my loosely-defined goals for 2010 are:

  • Read the books I bought for undergrad classes but didn’t have time to read then.  Seeing as how my two majors are topics I actually like (History and English and American Literature), I actually do want to read these old “assignments.”  Expect to see a bit of ancient literature, Chekhov, and noir.
  • Read a bit more nonfiction in areas I want to be more educated in, preferably science.  Seeing as how I work in a medical library, this should be pretty easy to pull off cheaply.
  • Utilize Swaptree to get rid of books I weeded from my collection at the end of the year and in turn get books I want to read.  Since I’m doing an exact 1:1 exchange, this should keep my book collection on the smaller side.
  • Courtesy of a challenge from @shaindelr over on Twitter who gasped about my not having read any poetry in 2009–read one book of poetry.  However, I’m not making any promises that it won’t be of the ancient variety.  😉
  • Finally, watching Japanese movies got me pretty into the stories their culture has to offer.  That along with seeing some graphic novels in friends’ houses made me want to give the genre an official shot, so I’ll be reading at least 3 graphic novels/manga in 2010.  I’m super-excited to read my first Battle Royale, which I wanted to read after seeing and loving the movie.

Best Discoveries of 2009–Boston Places, Web Clips, and Recipes

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday you got to see my best discoveries–aka I encountered them for the first time–of 2009 in movies, tv shows, and websites.  The day before in my reading stats for 2009 you saw my favorite books I discovered.  Today I’ll be finishing up my discoveries lists with Boston places, web clips, and recipes!

Boston Places

  • The Friendly Toast (1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA)
    Known as a hipster joint, this restaurant serves breakfast/brunch foods all day long.  It’s decorated with fun vintage posters, many of which are scifi themed.  The portion sizes are huge!  You really get the bang for your buck here, and vegetarian options are numerous.  You even can get vegetarian sausage!  The servers are also super-friendly.  This is currently my favorite breakfast place in Boston.
  • Berk’s Store (50 JFK St, Cambridge, MA)
    I was hunting everywhere for waterproof knee-high boots without a heel, when I wandered into this store.  Crowded into a small space is the best shoe store I’ve found in Boston.  The styles reflect the needs of Bostonians–good for walking and the weather without sacrificing style.  The employees are friendly and–get this!–you can put a deposit on shoes and have them hold them for you to pick up later without paying anything extra.  This is great for if you find a great pair of shoes/boots but don’t want to drag them on your commute with you.
  • Boston Bed Company (1113 Comm Ave, Boston, MA)
    More than just mattresses, they offer bed frames, bedroom furniture, living room furniture, sofas, and chairs.  This business is locally-owned, and they understand Bostonian’s needs.  Everything is reasonably priced, the sales associates are friendly but also understand giving you space to wander about the store on your own, and you get free delivery (over a certain price point, which I forget right now, but I easily reached it when buying my mattress and box spring).  Definitely check them out for any furniture needs.
  • Hootenanny (36 JFK St aka The Garage, Cambridge, MA)
    The clothing off-shoot of Newbury Comics, this store is great for funky clothing, shoes, and bags.  I got my Glomits there, as well as a steampunk skirt and dress.  They also offer vegan shoes for my vegan friends.  The prices can be a bit steep on some items, but they have continuous sales which knocks them right down to reasonable.
  • Jacob Realty (279 Newbury St, Boston, MA)
    I had to apartment hunt this year, and after many phone calls that ended with me mad at an agent who couldn’t accept my price limit as a real price limit, I finally landed on Jacob Realty.  My realtor actually listened to me and treated me with respect, and she helped me land a great apartment!  Definitely check them out if you’re on the apartment hunt.

Web Clips (yes I know there’s a lot of cats on this list)

Recipes

  • Emeril’s Vegetarian Egg Rolls
    Confession.  I have a deep fryer, and for my housewarming party I wanted to use it.  I’d made egg rolls with my dad when I was a kid, but those were meat-filled (this was before I went veg).  Anyway, I was shocked to discover Emeril has a vegetarian recipe.  They require a bit of work what with making up the filling and wrapping them, but they came out very good.  Even my friends who don’t like egg rolls liked these.
  • Little House Apple Pie (The Little House Cookbook: Fronteir Food from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker)
    I’d gone apple picking with two of my best buddies, and I wanted to make apple pie.  The problem was that I’d never gotten the family recipe from my mother who I disowned, so I needed to find a good new recipe.  Omg, people, you should ditch family recipes more often.  This pie is so good!  Side-note, I always use Emeril’s Basic Sweet Pie Crust with my pies.
  • Vegan Sweet Potato Latkes (current issue of Vegetarian Times, apparently isn’t on their website yet)
    I wanted to make latkes for my Chrismukkah gathering, but wanted a healthier version than the traditional one.  I love sweet potatoes and already had a stash of them, so this seemed like it’d be cool to try.  Instead of eggs, the recipe has you boil some sweet potatoes and mash them to use for binding the shredded potato together.  I was skeptical as to whether this would work, but it totally did.  These were a big hit.

That’s it for my best-of lists!  Hopefully next year I’ll have more recipes to share with you guys.  I hope you all made some fun discoveries of your own in 2009.