Saturday, March 31, 2018

Book Reviews: Read the Rainbow (Yellow)

This year, I decided to link up with Mia to Read the Rainbow. I managed to fit in a couple of yellow books this month. I am working to finish up another reading challenge as well and that took up a bit of my time this month.

I really enjoyed reading these stories. Many of them highlight a feeling that I can't really imagine. It was great to read the perspective of the various individuals that contributed. From an Indian girl experiencing puppy love before her parents arrange a marriage for her to the opposite of your stereotypical Asian boy pretending to be all the stereotypes to garner favor with the white kids at his school, I found each story to be insightful. These are the types of stories I wish more people would read so that we could begin to fix so much of the racist behavior that occurs in our schools and communities daily. I truly believe that exposure to those that aren't in our own race group is one of the keys to real change. I would definitely recommend this quick read to everyone.

This book has been on my to-read list for quite some time. I am glad that I finally had a chance to start it. The story follows the family line of two sisters that haven't ever met. They live completely different lives as they were born in completely different circumstances. The family lines are quite interesting to follow (even if it was a little tricky to get all the names sorted out at the beginning). I thought it was interesting to learn how each generation impacted the next. Definitely an intriguing story.

Have you read any good books this month?

Andrea :)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Date Nights - March 2017

We enjoyed some low key city dining and entertainment last March for our date nights. We really got into seeing plays and shows in our last couple of years in the city. That was definitely ok by me because the arts is my absolute favorite thing about NYC.

I found a new Chinese restaurant - Excellent Dumpling House - that opened up in Chelsea that we decided to try. We had a few staples for Thai food, but we never found a Chinese restaurant that really hit the spot. This place had serious potential, but this ended up being the only time we visited. The food was great with really quick service and lots of options. After dinner, we made our way down to the Magnet Theater for some improv fun with Kornfield and Andrews - love those two funny fellas together on stage!

Chris opted for burgers from Lucky's before we headed downtown to see The Penitent. Chris was really excited about seeing Chris Bauer in the production. Unfortunately, the story wasn't our favorite. The acting (a four character show) was well done, but the story itself sort of fell flat with us. We haven't had too many busts in our show seeing days so I suppose we were due for a bit of a dud. Of course, it was still a fun night out - which is all that really matters in the end!

Do you enjoy the arts?
What is the best stage performance you've ever seen?

Andrea :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Photo a Day - March 2017

March didn't have too much excitement last year. I got back into the swing of things with my job search and started focusing on getting back into shape and working more veggies into my diet.

In an effort to volunteer more, I decided to usher for Second Stage Theater and I worked my first show for them. I also got involved with the local Phi Mu chapter in NYC and enjoyed a nice dinner with the lovely ladies of that chapter to celebrate Founder's Day.

I did quite a bit of reading this month - really enjoyed spending my time delving into some interesting topics. The weather kept me home bound a couple of days as well.

A well stocked fridge is one of the best feelings in the world! The treadmill - not so much. I was ready for Spring so I could get outside for a run!

We ran the NYRR Spring Classic on what turned out to be a pretty nice day! I had my first official in-person interview of the job hunt, finished my Level One improv class, and found a great deal on Baskin Robbins ice cream on the 31st!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Date Nights - February 2018

We picked two very different, but equally fun date nights for February. I happened to see an advertisement for a couples' cupcake decorating event on Valentine's Day when I stopped in a local cupcake shop to get a couple treats to celebrate our engagement anniversary at the end of last year. Chris opted for a fun night out at an arcade in the heart of downtown Columbus.

Our Cupcakery is a cute little shop in Dublin. They have lots of neat classes and their products are quite tasty! For our Valentine's Day event, we spent most of the time working on various fondant designs at three different stations. We laughed our way through the sticky fondant fun. The second room is where we rolled out tiny roses - my favorite one! Finally, we added some shimmery dust to a couple of fondant hearts. After all our designs were created, we received some instruction on how to fill the cupcakes and then ice them. Chris and I decided to put strawberry filling in our chocolate cupcake, lemon filling in our vanilla cupcake, and stick with buttercream icing to fill our red velvet. I really enjoyed this part of the night, but Chris thought it was a mess. I think he preferred rolling and cutting the fondant. Either way, we did pretty good for a couple of fondant novices! Tasted amazing, too.

Chris found a unique spot for date night - Old North Arcade. The place has every arcade game you can imagine as well as a number of stations set up with Nintendo, Xbox, Sega, etc game consoles. We got there a little on the early side of the night which was a great idea because we had our pick of games. By the time we left a couple hours later, the place was pretty crowded. I enjoyed playing Ms. Pac Man and a new game I found called X-Bert. Chris liked the NBA and NFL games. I played those with him, but I wasn't much competition. We also found an old school Nintendo Mario Bros game open and played that for awhile. We wanted to try Mario Kart, but never could catch it when no one else was playing. It was definitely a fun night full of nostalgia and lots of laughs.

What are your favorite local date night spots?

Andrea :)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

My Oscar Predictions

It's finally Oscar Night!! I always love tuning in to see the show and hear the speeches. Below, I indicated my choice for winner in italics for each of the categories where I saw all of the nominees. You can see my reviews here, here, and here. I'm expecting it to be a fun night of celebration for these fantastic actors and actresses. Enjoy!

Best Picture
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Lead Actor
Timothee Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out
Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Lead Actress
Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie in I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird
Meryl Streep in The Post

Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige in Mudbound
Allison Janney in I, Tonya
Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water

Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk
Jordan Peele for Get Out
Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water

Original Screenplay
The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Animated Short
Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Live Action Short
DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O'clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us

Documentary Short
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

Have you seen any of the nominated films?
Which are your favorites?

Andrea :)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Other Oscar Nominated Movie Reviews...

I was able to see a number of movies nominated in other categories this year. Some of them I liked quite a bit more than a handful of the Best Picture nominations (Part 1 and Part 2). I'll share a quick review of each I saw in case you are looking for a good recommendation.

Lead and/or Supporting Actor and/or Actress Categories
I, Tonya - If you remember living through the whole Harding/Kerrigan Olympics ordeal, watch this one. It was a really interesting look at Harding's life in a faux documentary style. If Janning doesn't win the Oscar for supporting actress, it will be a crying shame. She was fantastic!

The Florida Project - I had high hopes for this one, but it didn't quite live up to them. It was an interesting exposition on child welfare in extremely low-income single-parent families that permanently reside in barely livable motels in Florida. If you have an interest in taking a closer look at our broken child welfare system then I highly recommend watching this insightful movie. It is also filmed in a bit of a documentary style.

Mudbound - This one started a little slow, but then really picked up in the last half. In the end, I really enjoyed it. It takes place in the time frame around World War II following both a black and white family in rural Mississippi farming country. The story takes some twists and turns with the two families continually intertwining. This one is available on Netflix and worth checking out.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. - As a true Denzel fan, I saw this one in theaters. I was surprised by how much I liked it overall. Colin Ferrell was great in it. Colin's performance ranked right up there with Denzel's in this film. The movie is a bit slow to get started, but worth a watch if you like Denzel.

All the Money in the World - I didn't have much interest in this one until I heard some rumblings about it being pretty good. It certainly didn't disappoint. I was engaged the entire movie and really found the premise fascinating. I can't even fathom being a little bit rich so to have unlimited resources (and not be willing to use them to save your grandson!!) was really beyond the realm of my brain to comprehend. As I've mentioned in the past, based on a true story movies are my cup of tea. They always speak to me and this one was no different.

Molly's Game - I loved this movie from beginning to end. It was uniquely told and exciting to watch. I am really disappointed it didn't get some recognition for Best Picture. I would definitely put it ahead of at least four (maybe five) of the films nominated in that category. I thought Jessica Chastain was phenomenal. And Idris Elba was awesome, too. If you don't watch any others I mention, watch this one. You won't be disappointed.

The Big Sick - We saw this one in the theater this past summer. I remember being pleasantly surprised by how well it integrated comedy into a generally sad story. Ray Romano played a fantastic character in this movie. His role was perfect and much needed. This one is worth watching even if it isn't quite your typical romantic comedy.

Boss Baby - I laughed out loud at the previews every single time I saw them for this movie. Unfortunately, most of the best moments were in those previews. It is a really cute movie, but not my favorite of the season.

Coco - Since my high school Spanish class, I've been intrigued by the idea of the Dia de la Muerta (Day of the Dead) tradition. Coco fully explores that tradition in a unique story. I'm not certain it would be my first choice for children (particularly those unfamiliar with the tradition or really even the idea of death), but as an adult I enjoyed it. The vibrant colors and lovely music really give the movie an edge.

Ferdinand - I watched this one with my parents and niece and nephew over Christmas. I really liked some of the characters, but the story wasn't anything that completely blew me away. Seemed to be your pretty standard animated flick. It's worth noting that my 4 1/2 year old nephew commented that it was a little long at the conclusion. My 5 1/2 year old niece requested a potty break midway through so I don't think it was entirely holding her full attention either.

Oscar Shorts: Animated, Live Action, Documentary

All of the animated films were good. Each was unique and entertaining in its own way. If you like animation, I would definitely see this set. Lou was my favorite, but it was tough to decide.

I really enjoyed all of the live action shorts. I would highly recommend checking them out if they are showing anywhere near you. My top three were The Silent Child, My nephew, Emmitt, and The Eleven O'Clock. All were really good though.

Chris and I went to see the documentaries together. They were all interesting, but I liked Knife Skills, Edith+Eddie, and Herion(e) the most. All were worth watching and touched on very relevant topics.

Have you seen any great movies in the past year?
What is your favorite genre to watch?

Andrea :)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Best Picture Nominees - Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of my Best Picture nominees post yesterday, click here. Otherwise, please proceed...

#6 - Lady Bird

I had really high hopes for this one, but I was let down. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf are both fantastic actresses. They both did a wonderful job in this film (particularly Metcalf), but the story simply wasn't anything new or really all that strong. It was a simple coming of age story. Ronan's character does all the typical things - fights with mom, ditched best friend for cooler crowd, finds a popular boyfriend by acting out. It's all been done before. I was bored by the story even though I enjoyed the performances from the actresses.

#7 - Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread surprised me in a good way with its storyline, but it took FAR too long to get there. I had a hard time finding common ground with any of the characters. Everyone seemed annoying in their own way. I was bored for the first half of the movie before any substantial action really occurred. There were some twists and turns in the second half that had me intrigued, just don't expect much action until about midway through.

#8 - Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman plays a great Churchill, but this movie completely bored me. I couldn't understand parts of the dialogue and the most entertaining part was when Churchill ventured out via public transportation. Darkest Hour had a stellar character, but it just need a little more umph. It was easily the least interesting to watch for me.

#9 - Call Me By Your Name

From the previews, I could tell this movie was going to bother me. It was billed as a romance movie, but that romance takes place between a teenager and an adult. I really can't get behind that idea. I was really bothered by the fact that the movie never really addresses the age factor head on. It does take place in Italy so perhaps there are some cultural norms that I am unaware of that would permit this type of relationship. However, the adult is an American. I just didn't feel comfortable about the idea of a child being romantically involved with an adult (even if it did take a bit of time for him to "give in"). It really rubbed me the wrong way. Outside of that fact, similar to Lady Bird, this one was a coming of age story. It really wasn't anything spectacular. Just a story of the teen falling in love with this visiting scholar. I mean, I've been there. I get it. There is something attractive about that substitute teacher type, but as a teenager you have to realize it ends at fantasy.

Have you seen any of the Best Picture nominees this year?

Andrea :)