Saturday, July 30, 2011

Movie Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Crazy, Stupid, Love is Fun, Awesome, Smart.

Love this movie! Have been looking forward to it for sooooo long since I saw that first preview. And I am happy to report that it totally lived up to expectations.

Basic premise:
Cal (Steve Carell) is not the most interesting of men, and his wife (Julianne Moore) has understandably just announced she wants a divorce. Jacob (Ryan Gosling) is the epitome of a suave ladies man. Dresses the part, talks the part, and has a way with women that will sweep you off your feet (or movie seat ... as the case may be). Yum-my! Hannah (Emma Stone) is a girl who is not charmed by his easy smile and smooth lines. Throw in a 12 year old son who thinks he's in love (a la Love Actually), a baby-sitter with her own crush, a teacher looking for a fun night, and a few other odd characters and you have yourself a great film with some of the best on-screen chemistry seen in awhile.

After his marriage falls apart, Cal is sitting in a bar night after night, complaining and looking rather pathetic. Jacob takes pity on him and takes him under his wing, transforming this sad man into very much a ladies man. What happens from here is just funny funny funny and there is a great OMG moment where things shift! Honestly ... you will NOT see that coming ... but will laugh your ass off when it does!

Overall, I really loved this movie. Can I see it again please? The roles were cast to perfection - I don't even like Steve Carell and I thought he was perfect here. He really brought to life this character who is completely average and sad, down-and-out and sloppy. He is perfect in the role of that guy that you see and then immediately forget. Frumpy ... that's a good word for him. But he is great in that role! And Julianne Moore - when is she NOT good?!?!? Never. She is great as Cal's wife who still wants to live and be young and enjoy her life, but finds she can no longer achieve this with her husband of so many years. The story between these two characters is really moving and these two actors work so well together.

Then there is Gosling. Oh man. Honestly ... the man can wear a suit. That is exactly my kind of man. Stylish. Sexy. Charismatic. Please ... take me home tonight. But seriously (no seriously), he is great in that role. Gosling is one of those actors I kind of forgot for awhile there since The Notebook because he did really good movies that I saw but just didn't remember him in and that didn't really play up his sex appeal. But he has reminded America of that very thing here ... yes indeed. In the words of Emma Stone, "it's like your Photoshopped!" And Emma Stone is ... Emma Stone. Vivacious, intelligent, witty and charming in the way only she can be and that so many fell in love with in Easy A. And I love her and Gosling together, such opposing characters in many ways until they realize just what lies beneath the surface.

Spoiler Alert: Honestly, one of my favorite scenes in the whole movie is with Gosling and Stone are at his apartment on the rainy night. That was a beautiful scene that was very touching and heartfelt. They did a beautiful job of portraying two characters who bare their souls and open themselves up for true intimacy and love. It's not about sex, though it starts out that way. Sex is only physical intimacy. True intimacy goes so far beyond that ... as they show. Loved their scenes together ... they are so cute!

So there ... I loved the movie. It is a film that Hollywood often misses on ... a witty and smart romantic comedy. Harder to actually execute than you would think. It is touching and funny and just plain-old-fashioned good.

So ... who wants to go see it with me (again)?

Also ... a few other movies I have recently seen:
  • Captain America - Pretty good, definitely made for 3D. Super excited that Stanley Tucci was in it as I love him! Honestly though ... it felt like a set-up for another movie in a lot of way ...
  • Cedar Rapids - First movie in awhile I actually stop watching and didn't even bother finishing. So bad.
  • The Company Men - This was a movie that really impressed me. I am actually surprised it didn't get better reviews and make more of a statement at the box office. It was smart and well written/acted. The ensemble cast was excellent. I thought it did a very nice job of showing what is happening in America and how the rich are living and what is happening to the folks in the middle. A sad story that is true for many Americans. Definitely made me reconsider any complaints I have about my job.
  • Sucker Punch - I'm sorry, I just didn't get it.
  • Bring It On - Thank you Netflix. This took me back ... oh high school.
  • Lucky Seven - What can I say. 10am on a Saturday morning at the gym flipping through channels while dripping sweat. Lifetime Movie Channel ... who can resist a young Patrick Dempsey. It sure made that 2 hour run go by ...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weight Watchers Week 01

As you may have seen in my previous post Monday of last week, I have joined Weight Watchers. The truth is, I have always had a bit of the roller coaster syndrome when it comes to weight and dieting - up ... down ... up ... down. There was a good period of time in there where I was able to really manage my eating and exercising and lifestyle ... but stuff happens and I fell off. You know ... there are always excuses. So here I am once again ... up. And I am so tired of it. Tired of feeling frumpy. Of none of my great smaller size clothes fitting. Boo. Don't get me wrong ... I am not super heavy or anything ... but I could stand to lose some weight.

So here I am one week down and I am already a convert! I am really really liking Weight Watchers! Here is some background:

  • Start: July 18, 2010
  • Duration: I signed up for the 3 month plan ... we will see from there
  • Version: Online/Mobile only
  • Weight Loss Goal: 17% of current weight ... I am NOT sharing my starting and goal weight ...
For those of you who are not familiar with WW, here is a brief overview:

You get a certain daily and weekly points allowance for foods as well as earning points for exercising. Using the online tool, you track the foods you eat and strive to stay within your daily 29 point food allowance. Additionally, you get 49 extra points for the whole week that you can divide up as you want - you can use a few each day to eat dessert/have a glass of wine or save them all up for one big meal (like a wedding or a restaurant date). So you use the awesome tracker to look up individual foods, create recipes, look up restaurant foods and log your exercise points. Then you just watch the numbers add up and stick within your budget.

29 points per day may not seem like a lot (and it isn't really) ... but you get smart really quickly on what is and is not worth the points. And you quickly learn to have the staple 0 point foods on hand to always munch on: gum, tea, most fruits and veggies, jello. And if I want to splurge and get something sweet or have a drink ... I can without feeling like I have blown my diet because I am still within my 49 extra points! I saved up my points this past weekend because I went to the U2 concert and knew that I was going to get a slice of pizza and a beer in Dinkytown after. And I did ... and I didn't feel like I had failed and I didn't therefore give up and just say the weekend was a wash and not diet/workout on Sunday! I felt OK about it ... it was completely acceptable!

So ... on that note, here are the top 10 things I am really lovin' about WW online:
  1. Bonus points - I feel like I can enjoy life and food! I just have to plan accordingly! Going out to a great restaurant on Tuesday? Well, I probably won't have too many points left over by the end of the week ... but that's ok!
  2. Points are more manageable than calories - It's kind of like money. When you are dealing with small figures under $20 ... you really think about each dollar's value. When you get to big numbers in the 1000's you get a little jaded and start thinking of it as Monopoly money. $15 vs $25 for a new top ... man, $10 is a big % swing. $20,000 vs $22,000 on a new car ... eh, with that big of numbers, what's the big deal!?!? Same with calories and points ... it is much easier and more realistic to think in small numbers.
  3. Accountability - I have been doing/saying this for a long time and have always tracked my calories ... but this is just another new (and fun) way to do it!
  4. Free foods - Gotta love being able to eat all the fruits and veggies (and jello!) you want! It is really helpful and keeps me full. I have taken to having two baggies with me each day - one with fruits and one with veggies - to keep me busy and grazing.
  5. Fruits and veggies - My mom would be so proud, I am eating them! In the past, I would have said that an apple and a 100 calorie snack pack have the same calories, so I am taking the snack pack. But now ... not so much! It is really helping me get the right nutrients.
  6. Evenings are easier - I get hungry at night after dinner. Before, when I was out of calories for the day, I couldn't eat anything. Now I can (as long as it's 0 calories).
  7. Mobile app - It is great to have everything on my iPhone. I can look up points for foods as I am shopping and make sure I only bring good things into my home.
  8. Learning the value of points - You quickly figure out what is and is not worth the points. One of my favorite things that is totally worth the points is soup! It is warm and filling and I have to eat it fairly slowly (I have a tendency to really eat quickly).
  9. Support at work - People at work know that I am doing this, so it is great to go out and eat with them because they are very supportive. They keep me in check and I cannot cheat.
  10. Cheats - Did I mention that I can still eat what I want and NOT feel like I have completely broken the cardinal rules of dieting and then proceed to feel guilty all day? I did? Good.
And ... it helps that I have already lost 4 pounds in one week! Yay! If it is this easy, I will definitely keep it up!

And ... check out my awesome nutritious fridge! All the little stuff you see here was to take to work for breakfast/lunch/snacks. Yum!

So ... in an effort to keep all this weight loss stuff separate (since I already have enough going in this blog), I am going to move it over to a new space! Check out my diet/weight loss/Weight Watchers journey over at I'll Start Again Tomorrow.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sneak Peak Movie Review: Another Earth

Let me start this post by saying that I do not really enjoy or read/watch anything that could be called Science Fiction. It's just not my thing. Don't get me wrong - great genre for many. Just not my cup of tea. To each their own ...

With that being said, I had sneak peak passes tonight for the film Another Earth. I wasn't too sure ... but then I saw the preview and also noted that the director and lead actress/co-writer would be doing a Q&A after. So I was sold ... and decided to check it out.

I knew I wasn't going to the typical movie when I got in line. There I was, blonde and wearing a bright pink sundress and a loud print handbag and white Ray Ban sunnies. And there was everyone else. Mostly guys, wearing somewhat odd shirts and talking about even odder topics. Ummm ... science fiction sure brings out a different crowd.

Either way ...

The basic premise of the movie is as follows: Scientists have just discovered another earth - an exact replica of our Earth. On the eve of this discovery, Rhoda - a bright girl who has just been accepted to MIT and dreams of exploring space - looks up to this other Earth and in that second ruins her life and that of another family. In a heartbeat she loses her life and her future. Flash forward 4 years and the other Earth is closer than ever, but she is father away from herself than ever. Her life is gone and she begins a journey of self-forgiveness and redemption. What she finds along the way though is something more as she embarks on love affair with the man whose life she ruined. Looming (literally) over this entire human story is the second Earth. Contact is attempted and commercial flights are contracted. And Rhoda wins a spot on one them. What will come next? How will life change again? What would they find on the other earth? From the point of discovery, how did the second Earth and all its inhabitants change?

The Q&A panel was very interesting. There were some pretty interesting science fiction type questions ... but the kind of lost me. The actress and director were both very nice and personable and answered questions very knowledgably.They were super down to earth (pun intended).

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the film. While a science fiction movie, at heart it was really a very human story about two people whose lives are irrevocably intertwined. Brit Marling and William Mapother both did a nice job or portraying broken characters in a difficult situation. Though not for everyone, it is a nice little film. So give it a chance ... you may be surprised like I was.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In the City of Blinding Rain - U2 Concert

Thank goodness it was not really blinding rain ... that would have been horrible! It was just enough rain to make it that much better!

This post could be titled a number of different things ... some other names under consideration were:
  • Singin' in the Rain
  • Nothing Could Be Even Better Than This Real Thing
  • Get on Your Rain Boots
  • Stuck in a Rainy Moment
  • It's a Rainy Day
  • I'll Go Crazy (If I Don't Get Dry Tonight)
  • Purple Rain
  • Rainy Day
  • Electrical Storm
  • I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - My Poncho
  • Staring at the Rain
Do you see a theme here? Come on ... think really really hard! Correct - The U2 360 Concert + lots and lots or rain! Note: make sure to scroll/read all the way down ... lots of fun photos and video clips!

Seriously though ... lots of rain. But you know what, that made the concert just THAT much more awesome and intense and memorable. The night of Saturday, July 23, 2011 was seriously definitely in my top 10 best nights ever! All around incredible and memorable and so worth the over year and a half wait. U2 was abosolutly incredible! The show was spectacular! The songs were like something from a dream!

A little history. Concert was on Saturday ... in the year 2011. Original concert was scheduled for summer 2010, but Bono hurt his back in Germany and the entire US second leg was postponed. Now ... I bought my tickets about 8 months before the original date ... so that makes it a 20ish month long wait. Man oh man ... it was SOOOOOOOOOOO completly and utterly worth it.

I have loved U2 for as long as I can remember. Not sure where I picked it up from. My parents liked them well enough, but they were not top on either of their music choices. No ... I get my like for ABBA from my mom and my love for all things lounge/chill/indie/international from my dad. But U2 is all mine ... and it has been an infatuation that has served me well. There is a song and an album and a sound for every mood and every situation you may be in.
  • Having a good day and want to scream it from the rooftop? It's a Beautiful Day.
  • Having a shitty day? Some Day's are Better Than Others.
  • Feeling a bit Lara Croft-ish? Elevation.
  • Blue? Your Blue Room.
  • In Paris enjoying the city lights at night? City of Blinding Lights.
  • Feeling lost? Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own.
  • Reminiscing? Stuck In A Moment.
  • ... and the list goes on ...

Video: A little bit of ELEVATION!

But seriously, they are great. And sure lot's of people say that ... but there is a difference between a U2 fan and a U2 fan. I fall in the latter category. I definitely have one friend who is a super fan beyond me ... but I am pretty far up there. Which is why I am ashamed to say that lately not too much U2 has made its way into recent playlists. Unfortunately, the music I keep on me most now is that which falls into two categories ... workout music and work music. Workout music you can guess - yes, there is plenty of Katy Perry. And work music, well, it has to be music that I don't get distracted by. A lot of Bliss, EBTG, and chill indie. Unfortunately, U2 was left out a lot because they just distract me ... all I want to is start singing along in my cube!

But no more ... this past week was U2 central on my iPod and I have created some all new playlists with my faves! I love you U2!

So anyway ... the concert ...

Minneapolis was going crazy over this for like a week beforehand. Construction of the claw started 4 days in advance and people were lining up at 4AM to get in for good standing-room spots on the floor. Looking back, I wish I would have done that ... but alas, I did not. Given the construction and 60,000 concert goers, I was very thankful to live within biking distance and I hoped a Nice Ride bike from my place to the U. Good choice ... because that place was CRAZY! You would not believe the crowds!!!! It was incredible! And so many people not going to the concert, just there to enjoy the atmosphere. Hell ... you could listen to the concert from lie a 1 mile radius if you wanted to!

Actually ... really cool, as I was biking down University, a huge convoy of cars came and pushed all traffic aside. 2 police motorcycles followed by a police cruiser, then 3 vans, then another cruiser and 2 more motorcycles. I don't know who it really was ... but I choose to believe that it
was U2 themselves! Honestly though ... when they left the stadium after, they did leave in very similar looking vans. I'm just sayin ...

Campus was great ... all the restaurants and bars were open and had outdoor seating and everyone was playing U2. Every place was packed to capacity with lines around the corner and people socializing and enjoying the pre-show atmosphere. I grabbed a cooling drink (it was humid) and then wandered about people watching and finally made my way to the gated open end of the TCF Stadium - The Bank. If you don't know the Bank, it is horseshoe shaped and at the open end it has gates that open to allow the 60,000 people out easily at the end. So at that end was where the claw was set up, so it was really neat to get to look in and see that pretty close up!

A super mixed crowd milling about, which I think is great. Young, old, families, couples, friends ... whatever! Everyone just ready to have an awesome time!

Eventually made my way in to my seat to watch the opening act - Interpol. I apologize to those I may offend ... but I did not really enjoy it. Sorry.

Then came the main attraction! 60,000 anxious fans waited ... in their seats, on the floor ... watching an empty stage and a rotating screen above telling us the time around the world in different cities and all sorts of facts and statistics about things going on in the world. And then ... the screen lit up ... the lights turned on ... and they walked out. Projected up on the giant screen, 4 incredible men walked out to a screaming stadium full of fans. And my god ... when they actually got on that stage and picked up their instruments and started singing, it was like electricity flowing through my veins. Like an amp plugged into my brain. There is no feeling like that ... none! It was hypnotizing. You could not look away yet you were vibrating with energy. It was beyond incredible.

Video: Introduction to the band ... "and then ... I heard the voice of God ..."

To put it in U2 lingo ... I was (and am) completely stuck in the moment of that incredible night and that mesmerizing music. It started raining 30 minutes or so in ... but it just made it that much cooler. People had rain ponchos ... i did not. I know have intimate knowledge of the phrase "chilled to the bone." But it truly did make the experience awesome, more memorable, and just plain fun! Standing there in the stands, jumping up and down with your face turned up to the sky as Bono sings "It's a Beautiful Day" is an incredible feeling ... and movie-moment type of feeling. And besides ... since it was raining, no one could see how emotional I got at some of my favorite songs that really speak to me. Yes ... I may have cried a bit. But honestly ... these songs really mean something to me!

Video: One of my favorites ... Stuck in a Moment. Always brings a tear to my eyes!

The rain kept up all night. Off and on ... mostly on and mostly really heavy downpour. But thankfully it only thundered once. Even the storm gods know better than to dare interrupt a U2 concert with superfluous noise. But rain it did. And people turned their faces to the sky and put their hands in the air and had a blast with it. Bono danced and skipped around a bit less than usual perhaps, but I get it, it can get slippery out there. But it did not stop any of them from putting on an incredible show! And it definitely did not stop Bono from skipping around on the stage singing "Singin' in the Rain" in between songs ... with and without an umbrella twirling as a prop. Gotta love Bono. AND ... it was incredible when the lights were turned up into the sky to watch the rain falling in the light ... so cool! Not to mention watching the big circular screen ... you could SEE the rain falling!!!

Of course the concert was filled with a variety of political and social messages, but there were every tastefully and artfully down. I especially liked Beautiful Day and how they had Commander Mark Kelly record a message from the International Space Station. And to those who say that there is too much of that stuff at a U2 concert ... get over it. It is a U2 concert!

Video: Beautiful Day with message from Commander Kelly.

Video: You can really see the rain falling in the screen!

So the music was great of course. They did a great combination of classics and new ... super popular and not so well known ... and they definitely covered some of my favorites! Honestly cried a little ... danced a hell of a lot ... jumped up and down until my legs killed and I nearly twisted my ankle slipping on the wet cement ... and sang myself hoarse. Me and everyone around me put our hands in the air so much you would think we were at a church revival! But no ... we just pray at the church of U2! But seriously ... sometimes when I put my hands up and watched everyone else, it did look like one of those religious sermon/concert things were people get really into it.

So that's it ... a post LONG overdue but so worth it in the end. Just like the U2 concert. It was, like I said, one of the best nights of my life! It was moving, memorable, hypnotizing, energizing and so many other adjectives I cannot even think of.

When is the next concert ... ?

For reference, here is the set list (from

Main Set: Even Better Than the Real Thing, The Fly, Mysterious Ways - Rain, Until the End of the World - Anthem, I Will Follow, Get On Your Boots, I Still Haven't Found, Stand By Me, Stuck in a Moment, Beautiful Day - Space Oddity, Can't Stand the Rain - Elevation, Pride, Miss Sarajevo, Zooropa, City of Blinding Lights - Singing in the Rain, Vertigo, Miss You-I'll Go Crazy (remix)-Raindrops Keep Falling-Discotheque-Life During Wartime-Psycho Killer, Please - Sunday Bloody Sunday, Scarlet, Walk On

Encore(s): One - Purple Rain, Hallelujah - Purple Rain - Where the Streets Have No Name - Singing in the Rain, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender - Singing in the Rain

One more video ...

Video: Bono asked everyone to take out their mobiles and light up the night sky!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Ok ... I know an airport is not really a travel destination in itself. But Schiphol is a different story ... it is Amsterdam Schiphol after all. A great airport in a great city that is the gateway to so many different places! A quick 7 hour direct flight from MSP and then onto so many great cities!

So, whenever I fly to Europe, I always try and fly through Amsterdam to my final destination . And I always try to get at least a 3 hour layover in to do all the things that I want to do! May be even a full 12 hours! The airport is so well connected and close to Amsterdam's old town center that you can leave your bags in an airport locker, hop on a train, and spend a very pleasant 8 or so hours walking around in Amsterdam! Enjoy a canal-view-cafe, check out the flea market, hit up the shops, walk the streets, visit the Van Gogh museum ... the one-day list is endless!

But even if I cannot leave the airport, there is plenty to do! Here are just some of my favorite things at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport:
  • "Mind your step"
  • It's so big ... you can work and walk and walk and stretch your legs
  • The people watching is incredible! It is great to just sit and watch all the different people coming through! As a gateway to not only Europe, but pretty much everywhere in the world, you get all kinds here!
  • My favorite little restaurant! I always stop for a bowl of the organic tomato soup and the little mini pancakes! Yum!!!
  • Two words: DUTY FREE (need I say more)
  • A little bit of good ol' fashion Holland flair
  • Great advertising ... I love looking at all the ads
  • The airport has a mini-Rijksmuseum! A little mini museum with about a dozen paintings in an upstairs room. And a nice gift shop.
  • Not that I have used them ... but the fact that I could go to a casino and gamble as well as grab a nap/shower at the hotel is great.
  • There is a library!
  • Holland boulevard - tulips, blue and white china, and more tulips!
  • KLM stewardesses wandering around - they are just like something out of Catch Me If You Can. Beautiful women with cute little blue outfits and perfectly coiffed hair a little hats. And they are always smiling .... unlike some stewardesses I know (cough cough).
  • Perfect sized (free) carry-on carts in the airport that have a great turn radius and are NEVER broken
  • Outdoor area where you can get some air and watch the plans arrive and depart
  • Did I mention you can easily leave the airport and go into the city?
  • Let's get more specific about Duty Free shopping. Perfumes galore. Swatch! Chocolates chocolates chocolates! Book store. International magazines. Electronics. Clothes. I just love browsing and seeing what is new and great (and then buying it back home on Amazon since it will be way cheaper!).
  • Whenever they announce anything over the PA system, it just sounds so proper and nice. "So-and-so departing for so-and-so-destination, you are delaying the flight. Please report to your gate."
  • Comfort seating. Lovely lounge seating upstairs with a view out over the airport and the opportunity to relax and even nap.
  • Only been once ... but the executive lounge is very very very nice.
  • Tulips! Fresh. Wooden. Candy. On t-shirts. On cards. On everything.

So yeah, that's Amsterdam Schiphol. No matter where in the world I am going, I try and go through here and give myself some time to enjoy it! Just throw my bags on my little card and away I go!

Mind your step ...

Feels Like: 120 Degrees

That's right ... WTF!?!?!?!?

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Favorite Poem: If by Rudyard Kipling

I was watching Beastly today on DVD and there is a beautiful poem in it called "having a coke with you." Made me think of my favorite poem -If, by Rudyard Kipling. So beautiful. So full of potential and possibility. So many answers to so many questions. So many great lines. A poem made for dreamers.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A few random things ...

  1. The dew point in Minneapolis over the past two days has been higher than in the Amazon. WTF.

  2. My car turned 1 year old on July 14th! Happy Birthday to my little VW Golf!!!

  3. I went to my first UMN CSOM MBA happy hour last week and got to meet some people that I will be starting my program with in the fall.

  4. As of today - Monday, July 18 - I am doing Weight Watchers online for three months. What can I say? I do some work with WW at work and have heard good things about it. Call it first hand consumer research if you will, but I just really want (need) to lose weight. So look for updates on how WW is going!

  5. I spent 3 days "up north" and will say that while relaxing, I don't need to do that again for another 4 years or so. Peace and quiet 24/7 is not really my thing.

THAT is how you bring in $168.6 million ... HP7:2

Well well well ... as you may have seen, Harry Potter 7: Part 2 brought in a whopping $168.6 million in its opening three-day weekend. Wow! Say it again ... $168.6 million. That beat Dark Knight for the #1 spot in terms of opening weekend sales. Yay! You knew it was going to happen ... if any movie could, it would be HP. And if any HP could ... it would be installment 7, part 2.

Now that I have had three whole days to digest the movie, I want to just circle back on my thoughts of the film. After originally seeing it, I was just so mesmerized and enchanted by the fact that it was the final that I think I kind of overlooked the movie itself a bit.

Warning: Spoilers Below

But now I have had some time to digest and I have to come back and just write that the movie itself really was very very good. As critics, it would appear, would agree. Throughout the series, the actors have all gotten better at their craft and really developed their characters. And 7 seems to be the ultimate showcase of their talent, really showcasing all that they have learned and taking their characters to new emotional depths, showing us what Harry, Hermoine and Ron and really capable of. The film is full of twists and turns and the director and entire team do an excellent job of maneuvering them. After seeing part 2, it really felt like 1 was a bit set up that just built built built and brought you to this pivotal point, then when 2 started (literally where 1 left off) ... it is like a bullet exploding from a gun. And it does not slow down from there. It really is go go go from the start in part 2.

Also, I love how we are back at Hogwarts. After a break in part 1, part 2 brings us back to where so much of HP all began. So great to see some of the old favorites back and triumphing over evil. Some of our favorite professors are back, including the oh-so-loved Professor McGonagall. Even Filtch and his cat have a funny little cameo. There are parts at the end in the big battle where you are just so excited you start clapping when good overcomes evil once and for all.

While Harry and team really came into their own throughout these films and truly demonstrated command of their craft in 7, one actor I want to showcase who really stole the show for me throughout, but especially in the final movie is Alan Rickman. As Sevurus Snape, he has always been the oily, no good villain who was out to get Harry. But if you read the books you knew there was something more. And in Part 2 of 7, you really finally get it. Watching him on screen in those final scenes, in those final moments was just heartbreaking.

So that is my opinion ... great movie in its own right made even better by the fact that it is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2.

Cannot wait to watch all the DVDs throughout the next two weeks and then go see Part 2 again in theaters. Yes yes yes!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The End of an Era: Harry Potter 7, Part 2

Yes, I am that girl who goes to various midnight movie and book release parties. I am the one that buys tickets online weeks in advance and waits in line and still goes to work the next morning after going to bed at 3AM. I am the crazy one. But guess what? I am also that girl who has a ton of fun, is happy and can laugh at herself and her crazy surroundings.

Last night was not just any midnight release party. Oh no. Definitely not. Last night marked the end of an era! Literally! Midnight viewing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2. Sigh

So that was me last night ... with my mom and my cousin ... out at a crazy busy AMC theater to enjoy the movie and the people watching! Check out those lines! The good news was that we didn't wait in any of them. I got us double-feature tickets, so we went in early and saw Part 1 at 9PM and then Part 2 at midnight. Good decision, it was great to see the first one again!

But seriously, the people watching! Intense! Love seeing all the people dressed up and all the great costumers and enthusiasms. And totally love that people don't just stick to the traditional "look i'm Harry/Hermionie/Ron" costumes. No way! People get creative! I saw a few Hagrids, a few Dolores', Beletrix, even some Rita Skeeteres and a dragon!

And that is only the people waiting in line and wandering around in the corridors getting concessions and such! Love the people in the theater as well. Such TRUE fans ... everyone laughs when they should, claps when good parts come, sigh and cat-call when characters (finally) kiss. I love that atmosphere of people who are truly engaged and truly there to have a good time! You can't beat that!

As for the movie itself, what can I say. It was great! Then again, it would be great even if it wasn't great - it is the final movie in the Harry Potter series. It is the end. Oh man! I am getting very emotional! Total dork ... I know. But I grew up on this ... this has been over a decade of following these characters and watching them grow and evolve and learn and love. I am one of those people that develops a sort of literary relationship with characters from books ... I get attached. That makes this hard. BUT ... it is nice to have closure and to see it done, to see that books honored to a good extent in the theatrical versions.

One note on the 3D - it didn't really do much for me for some reason. Not sure why ... just didn't seem to enhance as much as it could have. Maybe because so much of the movie is dark (literally, evening, underground, indoors, etc) that it just doesn't have the same effect as a big bold colorful Transformers or similar).

And now ... time to re-watch all the DVDs (which have been out on loan to others) and then see HP7:2 in theaters AGAIN!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sneak Peak Movie Review: Friends With Benefits

Friends With Benefits
Out in theaters July 22

I love sneak peak tickets - they are the best! Today took me to the AMC for a special viewing of Friends with Benefits staring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake - out July 22.

Basic Premise:
It's basically "No Strings Attached" but just way better! She's a NYC headhunter. He's an LA Art Director. She gets him out to NYC for a job and they become fast friends. Lunch leads to drinks leads to parties leads to ... well ... friends with benefits. Both have had bad past relationships and are emotionally unavailable/stunted. So why not take advantage of their friendship and take it one step further. But of course, like all FWB relationships ... something happens and before you know it ... the relationship turns. Dum dum duuuuummm ...

My Take:
Before I comment on the premise of the movie, I'll comment on the film itself. I really really liked it! It made me laugh and it made me smile. Both actors did a fine job and they had good chemistry, and the other actors were fun too: Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Jenkins. And the movie is FULL of great one-liners! Really! Take what you see in the previews, multiply by 10. It is definitely NOT one of those films where all the funny parts are the one's from the previews - it has plenty more where that came from! Justin Timberlake is great and really is a quality actor in his own right. He has great timing and a unique style that really works for this role. As for Kunis, she really is the same girl she was back in That 70's Show, just a little more mature. But guess what? It totally works!

All in all, the movie is predictable. Duh. If you go into this expecting something unique and ... well ... unexpected, then you are just being rather thick. This is a typical ro-com that makes you laugh and makes you sigh and makes you happy when they get together in the end (shocker ... I know!). So don't come complaining to me that you totally guessed what was gonna happen next. I would be concerned if you didn't know what was going to happen. But if you are in the mood for something light, funny and cute, then you are in business. Go to see two good actors in good roles taking the same old story and putting their own spin on it.

On another note, saw two other new movies in flight on the way to Geneva:

Jane Eyre is definitely one of my favorite books and this film adaptation was really very good! I know it won't be for everyone, but it you like classic literature and if you are looking for something with more substance and character, this is for you. Quality.

I know The Adjustment Bureau got rather bad reviews, but I thought it was OK. Maybe it was because I was on a 7 hour flight, but whatever. Damon really is a great actor and he and Blunt work well together, so that really helps the movie along. Not the best, but not the worst.

Friday, July 8, 2011

July 8 - my birthday!!!!

It's my 26 birthday today and I am celebrating it in one of the best ways possible - traveling and spending the day in one of my favorite places in the world! BERN!

Ready for a little Bern adventure - some walking, some bears, some chocolate, some Rosengarten ... and a whole lot of fun!!!!

From my summer of bliss here in 2008 ... view from Rosengarten:

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July ... Swiss Style

I spent Independence Day cruising on Lac Leman, then enjoying Laussane and finally dropping in at my dream job office.

This is where I had my picnic lunch today.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 3, 2011

Not a bad way to spend the day.
Hiked the Eiger trail at the base of the North Face in the Jungfrau Region.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Now Boarding at Gate G6 ...

Onto another adventure ... Departed from Gate G6 for Geneva, Switzerland. July 1-July 11. Travel Tuesday to come ...

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