A blog about general entertainment, fashion, and movies. And some random stuff too.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 5: Posts of 2010

It's New Year's Eve, and in honor of this awesome ending to the year, here is a list of my top 5 most popular posts of this year, according to Blogger-in-dash stats. I also took the liberty to average in # of comments with number of page views since interaction is more fun. Hah! If you missed any of these, here's your chance to catch up! Hope you enjoy. See you next year! Click the titles to go to the entries.

5. Movie Review: Inception
With nearly 700 hits and a pretty hefty discussion started in the comments section, this one surprised me with how many of you were interested. And needless to say, I was glad, because it's a fantastic movie! I always love to hear what you guys have to say.

4. Dexter Season 5 Finale Discussion
Nothing on TV makes me more excited than watching what the heck will happen next on Dexter. Truly, this season was one of the most stressful yet wonderful experiences I've had while watching a show. And I finally got to watch this one in real time! Needless to say I ready to write a big frikkin' post about my thoughts on this one, and you guys were just as ready to add in your thoughts as well!

3. Discuss It: Dumbledore vs Gandalf
This wizard show down has been discussed many times before, but I was glad to bring it to my blog. With the most comments of any of my entries to date (32), this post was a blast for me to sit back and watch evolve. You guys did most of the work! Hah!

2. It's a TIE!
-HP World Entry Part 2: The Rides!
-Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
With both posts just over 1,200 views, I had to put both entries here at #2. Apparently a lot of my readers are Harry Potter fans. Love it! My trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was one of the best trips of my life, and I was so glad I could share it with whoever wanted to read about it. Also, the beginning of the end which is the newest HP movie, was a big deal for any Hp fan. I think you who viewed these entries totally understand!

1. Hollywood Suggestions: My Hunger Games Cast Suggestions
I have been continuously floored by the way this entry has taken on a life of it's own. At nearly 5,100 views, it's clear to me that this is a hot topic! Each time Id' go back to see the stats on new entries, this one was always at the top. I am excited to see what The Hunger Games movies will look like, and apparently so are a lot of you guys. Hah!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Hey guys! Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or whatever you celebrate this season! I will be out of town for the next 5 days, so no new posts for a little while. However, as soon as I get back I will be writing a lot about year-end tallies, reviewing The Fighter (hopefully I can get to see it this weekend), and talking Awards Season!

"Happy Holidays" from my dog, Penelope.
Yes... my dog is wearing a hat, but it's not mine. It's my mom's and ... I mean... come on, it's kind of cute. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Movies With Impact

I was talking to my friend Matt, who I went to High School with, and he's now at NYU getting his masters in composing (which, on a side note, makes him perhaps the coolest person I know).  I asked him when I was explaining my idea for this entry which story or movie changed his life. He replied it wasn't a story so much as a score he heard when he was 15 years old. It was the first Harry Potter score. ...And now he's a composer! Because of that one score he heard from 10 years ago. That's power. That score shaped his future. A good friend of mine from college said once: "Lives change on a day-to-day basis, for a number of reasons: either a best friend gets married or you see a beautiful sunset. Or you read a powerful book."

I'm sure anyone who has been interested in reading my blog is probably under the same belief that stories have the power to change perspectives, change ideas, change hearts, and under the right circumstances maybe even change lives. I really wanted to have an entry where people could discuss and talk about the story that impacted them in this way. In my experience, there has been one movie that has impacted me more than any other: The Lord of the Rings.

I was a sophomore in high school when The Fellowship was released, and I was unaware what the movie was about or that it was based on a book. I never enjoyed reading before (I mostly blame the Accelerated Reading program we did in middle school), and so it wasn't important to me, anyways. However, on a church trip December of 2001, Ashlie, who is now my best friend, took me to see the first installment of The Lord of the Rings. I was so clueless when it ended that I asked, "So... do we just assume everything goes as planned?" Her and our other friend, Rachael, laughed. "No, there are two other movies!" I was intrigued. It wasn't until the next year, when The Two Towers was released, that the fire started to grow in me, and I decided that I couldn't just watch these movies. I had to go against everything I would usually do and actually READ THESE BOOKS. I couldn't wait any longer to do so. 

It was through reading this series that I discovered I could enjoy reading. No one assigned me these books. No one forced me to test over them. I picked them up on my own and read them, and found I couldn't put them down. I never imagined before that I could ever feel so attached to a book. This was the beginning of me experiencing what (I later learned) Keat's called “the holiness of the Heart’s affection and the truth of Imagination.” I began to realize that some things that are created in the mind can be more real than some actual things in our lives, and through fantasy, real-life truths can be found. A Tolkein scholar has said, "People make the comment that this type of fantasy is escapist and evading the real world, but I think that [thinking] is an evasion. [The story] is actually trying to confront something that some people would rather not confront."

This new perspective and passion for the power of literature is what lead me to want to help others realize their capacity to love reading and how it has the power to change people. In turn, this made me want to teach English, directly sending me into my profession. I decided for sure, a year later in my senior year of high school (not far after the release of the third movie), that I wanted to be an English major, and so I was. And so I became, and am now, an English teacher. With a library in my room for my students to check out books they may enjoy. (Yes, Lord of the Rings is on there!)

Also, I fell in love with the cast of this movie. They will, perhaps, always be the cast-love-of-my-life. I don't know another movie that has ever been cast so perfectly. But besides that, they also gelled so beautifully with each other behind the scenes, it was that much more fun to watch them on screen. Chemistry abounds! Watching the actor commentary and seeing pictures of them from set, hanging out, or even red carpets was just a blast because you knew they loved each other, these films, and the experience of making them as much as you did. These movies/this story changed their lives, too, and it made me feel like I was, in some way, connected to these people. Because even though our lives were changed in completely different ways, they were still changed for the same reason and by the same means. 

Ultimately, because I adored this cast like I did, I wanted to watch all the special features I could get my hands on about the making of the film. I learned about every element of film-making, from adapting and writing a script, to story boards, to casting, to making scenery, to props, to directing, and much, much more. It made me discover my love for the art of film-making and it awakened my passion and interest in everything that goes with it.

Here I am, nearly 10 years later, and I still feel the same way about this story as I did when I first started on my journey to discovering it. Each December I watch all 3 movies all in one day, and my favorite parts always make me happy or bring a tear to my eye. Rereading the books always makes me feel like I am coming home. It's the kind of love you know will last a lifetime when you can go nearly a decade and nothing has worn off or gotten old. 

What movie/story/book/score/show has had an impact on you in this way? Please tell me in the comments!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dexter Season 5 Finale Discussion

I just finished watching the Dexter season 5 finale and I am surprisingly still alive. I really had expected to die during the show tonight from some sort of heart attack, but one of the things I have learned about this show is that the build up is sometimes more frightening than the the outcome (with exception of the season 4 finale). Not all season finales can be as intense as last season, but I still thought this season, as a whole was awesome. I absolutely loved season 5. FAVORITE so far! But it may have a lot to do with the fact that this was the first season I was actually able to watch in real time. However, I think it mostly had to do with Julia Stiles. Spoilers below!

Because of Julia Stiles' character, Lumen, we were able to see a part of Dexter we had never seen, a tender, loving, and completely unfiltered lover version of Dexter. Because Lumen was broken and had the same "Dark Passenger" as Dexter, he was able to fully be himself with her, and for the first time, feel like he could connect to someone genuinely and be human. Now, my love for the character of Dexter is like that of an overprotective older sister, I think. I find myself, while watching, wanting to hold him or wanting to give him a hug, console him or comfort him. So watching Lumen finally fulfill that part of Dexter's life, allowing him to feel like he's not the only person on Earth, was so wonderful for me. That moment, when it dawns on Dexter, that she looks at him and doesn't see a monster, that she appreciates him, ALL of him, was perfect! It was so special. And the first time Dexter realizes he may love Lumen was one of the sweetest things, in my opinion.

Perhaps my favorite moment of this entire season was, well obviously, the moment that all the walls come down and Lumen reaches out to Dexter. The embrace these two share in that episode was not just one of the first touch of two lovers, but the rebirth of these two broken people. Dexter, in this moment, is finally able to be with someone who knows his entire self and still cares about him, and his reaction in this moment could not be more touching. As for Lumen, this man has been her savior and guide and now he is her refuge. It was just such a beautiful scene. They have shared a deep intimacy and trust that few couples will ever share, and that moment allowed those emotions to come to fruition.

Which brings us to the finale and how things end. With the death of Jordan Chase, Lumen's need to kill no longer exists, so she decides that she will have to leave because she knows Dexter will not be able to stop his "Dark Passenger." And therefore, once again, Dexter's need to kill will keep him from having the companionship he desires and needs. What is really heartbreaking about this scene is that Dex begs Lumen not to go. We see flashes of anger and weakness (maybe desperation) we've never seen before. Is he mad at Lumen? I was. But I believe Dexter was more angry at himself for allowing himself to believe that he could have that sweet little life, with a lady who would accept his Dark Passenger, and she could meet all his friends, and his children, and share and understand his double life. The one thing he was missing with Rita was allowing her to know him completely, and I think with Lumen, he believed he might achieve it, only to have that hope (the highest hope he'd ever allowed himself to have) crashed by the reality that Lumen is not as damaged as he is. She is healed, and she must move on.

"Don't be sorry your darkness is gone. I'll carry it for you. I'll keep it with mine."(Be still, my heart!)

With that being said, I don't believe that the feelings they have for each other are gone, and since Lumen did NOT die, there is no reason for me to believe that one day she won't show up in the show again. I really hope to see her sometime in the 6th season, even though I doubt it. They were such a beautiful pair for this short while, and now it was tied up so nicely, I doubt they could re-open it. But I really just want Dexter be happy. What was truly sad about this finale is Dexter beginning to believe the last 5 years of trying to be human and nearly succeeding, was all a lie. He almost got there with Rita, only to find her murdered because of his extra-curricular activities. Then, he felt lost, but he was reborn in meeting Lumen, only to have the same issues drive her away. Could this be the last straw that makes him believe there is no point in trying?

Hopefully, Dexter will take into consideration that for a time, a person knew his secret. For a time, a person loved him despite, and respected him for it. For a time, someone loved all of him with no reservations, and could relate with him on every level. Hopefully, that will be enough for him, until he finds a better way to fulfill that void. I think the children coming to stay with him for the summer will help. Astor being sweet at the end was certainly a nice refreshing surprise.

One of the neatest thing that this season tackled was what right and wrong means, and how it's not always black and white. In many ways, in many situations within the story lines of this show, what is right is relative. This entire show is based on that principle with how Dexter views the world, but this season, many other characters learn their own perspective of right and wrong. We finally see Deb begin to construct her thoughts on this theme, and learn that not everything can be put into one side or the other. Her choice to let the "vigilante lovers" go shows that she's beginning to become a seasoned cop, like Laguerta or Angel, who make decisions based on what their experiences in the force have shown them. Also, that decision helped to keep me from dying in my seat of panic (haha).

Dexter is SERIOUSLY one of the best shows on TV, and now I am really not sure what to do with myself until season 6 returns. However, Justin just got me all 4 seasons on DVD so I think a re-watch is in order. What were your thoughts on the season finale? Please comment and share!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Top 5: Favorite Holiday Movies

It's that time of the year! And every Christmas, I set aside time for each of the following movies. Maybe you will agree. If I leave one off that you enjoy, tell me in the comments!

This movie is probably on so many people's lists for the holidays, but it's no wonder. Maybe the most adorable role Will Ferrell has ever been in, Buddy the Elf captures the same attitude of Christmas we all had as kids. And there is nothing more fun than a clay-mation Narwhol. 

Love Actually
I absolutely ADORE this movie. I usually wait to watch it during the holidays with the friend I saw it with originally (MELISSA) to keep it special, however, I really want to watch it throughout the year, too. With as many British all-stars as you can fit into one movie, it's no wonder this movie is so entertaining, but also it has a message that is refreshing and sweet without being cheesy. Perhaps my favorite line from the movie is from the beginning: "When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around."

Muppet Christmas Carol
This story has been done SO many ways. I don't know anyone who hasn't heard or seen some sort of version of Dickens' classic story, however, of all the ones that exist, this one is the best, hands down! I get tired of this story REALLY quickly, but for some reason, no matter how many times I watch this version...  I never tired of it. I love it.

Just Friends
I've actually cheated and watched this throughout the year. But it's especially necessary to watch this one during Christmas time. This is one of the funniest Christmas movies I think I've ever seen. There are Christmas songs in this movie, that when I hear them in real life on the radio or something, I laugh out loud. It was my first brush with Ryan Reynolds and I've never looked back, haha!

Lord of the Rings
Yeah, yeah this isn't ABOUT Christmas, but whatever. When I was in high school, I couldn't wait for the next Lord of the Rings movie to come out in theaters. It was always the weekend of December 16th that they were released. Now, every single December I block an entire Saturday off and I sit down from 8:30 in the morning and watch the Extended Editions of all three Lord of the Rings until about 11 at night (if you factor in meals and bathroom break times, it can take that long). It's the BEST. I started this yearly marathon in college my sophomore year when I realized I really wanted to chill out before exams. I organized it into a campus-wide thing and one of our professors let us into the projection room so we could all watch it together on a big screen. There were usually about 25 of us and we were all in our sleeping bags and PJs all day and it was glorious. And it has been every year since. And will be every year in the future.

Now tell me your favorites in the comments! And don't forget you can "like" my blog on Facebook. Just click "like" in the Facebook box to the right!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Movie Review: Black Swan

Black Swan has finally made its way to the Metroplex, and I was lucky enough to get to see it this weekend! I've heard so many things about this movie, so I was really pumped to see it, and it didn't disappoint. I'll give a general impression of the film for anyone who hasn't seen it, spoiler free!

From the moment the poster leaked online, I knew I was going to be interested in this film. I've never seen Natalie Portman in such a light before, almost unrecognizable. When I found out that Darren Aronofsky was going to direct, I was slightly frightened because his movies are ALWAYS hard to watch. They are unapologetic and raw. I was mostly basing this conclusion on Requiem for a Dream, which, to this day, is a movie I can hardly re-watch. However, as the opening grew closer, buzz for Portman's performance grew louder, and I knew there would be no question of whether or not I would see it, even if I was scared of what might be on screen.

Some of you may have heard that it is classified as a horror movie. This, I can attest to, because even though it is a psychological thriller, there are moments I absolutely did jump because of some frightening images. Also, there is a bit of gore. I didn't know just how much feet and finger nail violence would upset me until this film. Others of you may have heard it classified as a "sexual thriller," which is a term I didn't even know existed until this weekend. As for this label I would say I not only just learned of its existence, but now fully understand its meaning. There is a lot of sexuality in this film. It's not really gratuitous as sexuality is a huge catalyst to some things Nina (Portman) does, why she does them, and why she goes through what she goes through. However, I can understand if you are sensitive about sexuality (or maybe not even sensitive, but just moderate about it) you may not enjoy this film. You cannot escape the sexuality. It is throughout the entire film, so take this into consideration before stepping into the theater. You must be prepared, to give this movie a fair chance.

As for my impression, it was amazing. It's very rare to see a movie that is so beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Plus, blood, sex, and scares don't really bother me. Natalie Portman's performance should get her an Oscar nod, at least. And Mila Kunis was nothing to sneeze at. It was easy for the audience to believe that she was either or both a playful, care-free girl or a scheming, jealous understudy. As a fan of The Texas Ballet Theater and as a person who has seen Swan Lake at least 3 times, it was a frightening look at what might be going on behind the scenes, haha.

I was impressed by how the story is very straight forward with what is going on. Nina is already losing her mind as we enter the story. There is never any question of what is real and what is in her head. It's fairly obvious. And yet getting from the beginning (where I honestly guessed how the end would go) to the actual ending, you are still shocked by what you are seeing. It's nearly perfectly done. The camera work, the lighting in every scene, spot on for the mood and tone every time. Perhaps this is Aronofsky's most complete and best film to date. (Though that's hard for me to say, as I adore The Wrestler so much.)

A+! Now bring on the Awards Season!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Discuss It: Dumbledore vs Gandalf

I am just winding down (well as much as I can, haha) from my Harry Potter high since the 7th movie was just released a few weeks ago, and usually around this time of the year I am getting pumped about my annual Lord of the Rings marathon. Because of this, a thought occurred to me and now I need your input. Yes, you, all you fantasy geeks like me who have read/watched both series.

Who would win in an epic wizard battle? Gandalf or Dumbledore?

I know this has been over and over, but I am interested to see what my readers have to say on the subject. Let's base this debate on the books for the most part, but if you have only seen the movies, that's ok, too. I just really want to see where this goes. So make your cases, pick your sides, and tell me what you think and why!


(And don't forget you can "Like" my blog on facebook now! There's a box to the right. Give it a click. :) )

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Like" my blog on Facebook.

For those of my followers on Facebook, I made a page for my blog there. If you hit the "Like" button,  I would really appreciate it. It would help me see just how many people actually read my blog regularly and it would actually make it easier for me to keep my readers updated because it would act as a mailing list. I will start posting a link to my newest entries at the page.

You may or may not have noticed that to the right of my entries, I added a "Facebook 'Like'" gadget so that anyone who visits can easily "Like" the page from here. 

Tah Dah!

So if you enjoy my blog and you plan on coming back again and again, "Like" that Facebook page! Thanks guys, you're awesome.