Wednesday, November 27, 2013

MCAD Art Sale 2014

Another great year at the annual MCAD Art Sale. Wish I had more money to spend ... sigh. 

Minneapolis Institute of Art | Top 10

On Sunday I stopped by one of my favorite places in the city - the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I love art. I love museums. And I love the MIA. Why? Here's my top 10 reasons the MIA is a fabulous place. 

  1. Calm and quiet - I love how quiet and calm the space is. Unlike other major museums around the country and the world where the halls and galleries are overrun with tourists checking things off their bucket list ("oh look, the Mona Lisa, its tiny!"), the MIA is a quiet place that only has minimal people on it on an average day. It is not a high traffic, high tourist space. Rather, it is calm and peaceful.
  2. Collection - The MIA has a great mix of everything from Asia, Oceania, Africa to Europe from the middle ages through last year. 
  3. Third Thursday - Great monthly social events that draw a really eclectic and fun crowd. Love the themes, live music, busy space, chatter and seeing all the like-minded individuals that attend. 
  4. Art in Bloom - Another great event, this annual showcase of local floral artists is simply beautiful! And a great new way to admire the art!
  5. Free - Duh. 
  6. People watching I like to sit on the benches in some of my favorite galleries and watch people pass by my favorite paintings and just watch and listen. See how they interact with one another and with the art. How a mother explains to her daughter about Van Gogh's Olive Trees. How an elderly couple talk about Renoir's Piaza San Marco and remember memories of their own trip to Venice. How a school group tries to draw Monet's haystacks in their own notebooks. 
  7. Gift shop - Looking for something unique? This place may have it. Though the Walker is better for gifts, the MIA has a great collection of unique greeting cards.
  8. My room - I have my own favorite gallery. The impressionist room with my Renoir, Van Goh, Monet and Gaugain. 
  9. The building and grand staircase - I always make a point to go up the grand staircase as it is just so regal (and makes me feel regal too!). And the building itself is really quite beautiful.
  10. Other events - Art Perchance, Art swap, opening night gala, etc.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Movie Screening Review | The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Tonight I got to screen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which comes out at Christmas. While not the best movie of the year and though I think a lot of people will find it boring and weird and won't really get it and it is bound to get pretty poor reviews .... I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's not for everyone, but if you like whimsy, travel, dreaming, and the ongoing search for more (and good music and beautiful scenery), then you'll probably like this movie, too.

I like Ben Stiller. And I think he does a nice job staring and directing in this film. Stiller plays Walter Mitty - a daydreamer who escapes his boring, hum-drum life by drifting into his own little world of whimsy where he says and does the perfect thing at the perfect time. A life full of romance, action, adventure and much more. Due to some rather extenuating circumstances, Walter is forced to escape from his normal little life and venture into one of adventure that surpasses even his own wildest daydreams. That's where the line between real life and the dream world start to blur ... and that's where the beauty in this movie is.

So many people spend their whole lives leading such small lives. Day dreaming of something more ... but never taking the steps to pursue whatever that more may mean to them. But when you do, when you manage to step outside your little box or your little town, you realize that the real world can be just as wonderful as your dreams if you go after it. I like that message, probably because it is part of my own guiding principles through life. 

Also, this movie is very nicely done from an artistic perspective. The angles, cinematography, music and scenery are all beautifully woven together. I may be biased though, since they are some of my favorite places in the world ... including Iceland. 

So ... in conclusion. If you like to daydream. If you seek something more from life. If your mind drifts to places and adventures to be had. If you are like me .... you'll like this movie.

Also, the message in this film reminded me of one my favorite film lines ever. From Auntie Mame (the Rosalind Russell version) when she says, "life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Moment at the MIA

I went to the MIA this afternoon for the first time in awhile. I wandered and eventually made my way to my special room and sat on my bench, facing some of my favorite works in the collection - the impressionists. 

There was a couple in my gallery. She was in a wheelchair and her husband pushed her from painting to painting. He would stop the chair and read the artwork caption as she gazed on. And then he would push her to the next and do the same thing. 

That's sweet. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Move Review | Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Midnight screening - boom. That's the way we roll. I got out of class and went straight to wait in line ... and my friend Erin stepped off a plane and went straight to wait in line. I repeat - boom. That's the way we roll.

I love the ambiance of midnight screenings, being around like-minded movie fanatics. Such a high! 

So, Catching Fire. Yeah, it was awesome! And it was ever more awesome in IMAX. 

Yes, it is great.
Yes, it is even better than Hunger Games.
No, this is not just a movie for fans but doesn't actually have any merit as a movie itself. 
Yes, this movie is actually a GREAT movie for the reason other movies are great - acting, directing, cinematography, story, etc. 
No, it is not just another Twilight-type movie.
Yes, it is worth seeing in IMAX - so amazing when the screen opens up when they go into the arena. 
Yes, you should see Hunger Games first.
Yes, Jennifer Lawrence is amazing.
Yes, guys actually go to these movies (and enjoy them).
Yes, you will leave wanting more!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blast From The (Post) Past

I think it has been waaaaayyyyy too long since I watched Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.

That is so happening.

Original post is here!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Life Lately

I spend a lot of time on my blog writing about things that are going on around and my impressions of them. Whether a movie I went to or an art event or a restaurant or whatever ... I spend most of my blogging time doing reviews of activities. I don't often focus on myself ... and I especially don't often (if ever) focus on my feelings or what is going on with/to me. No thanks ... not my thing. I don't even necessarily enjoy talking about it to my closest friends, nevertheless here. Though maybe it would be easier here ... hmmmm ... regardless.

I thought it was time for a little update of what's going on. My life lately.

Things are good. Busy. But good. They are downright excellent when you compare to where they were exactly one year ago, so I will count my blessings. In facts ... let's make a list of my blessings:

  • I (still) love love LOVE my fabulous apartment.
  • I have managed to keep down my electricity bill by not yet turning on the heat in said apartment (crazy!).
  • My new favorite thing to make for dinner is this AMAZING lemon pepper cod I found at Costco with roasted veggies in the oven (2 new potatoes, bunch of carrots, cherry tomatoes, red pepper and broccoli with 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice and lemon spice blend). I hate fish ... and I love this fish. It's the lemon ... it take over the taste.
  • School is almost done - I have my last actual class this Thursday and then we just have to finish our paper and presentation for the week after thanksgiving and the take home final the week after that. Then ... freedom until January 21st!
  • It's almost Christmas! And I love Christmas! Though I am struggling with where to put the tree in my new apartment.
  • Lots of good movies coming out right now and I am enjoying going to every single one!
  • Speaking of movies ... Hunger Games IMAX midnight release on Thursday with my amazing friend Erin!!! Ahh!!!
  • I am working really hard right now to workout and eat well to stay on track over the difficult holiday times. I want to get back to where I was in May for the wedding. I went back up a bit, but I know I can do it with some good ol' fashioned hard work! 
  • On that note ... back on my old gym schedule and feeling sooooo good when I up the speed!
  • Feeling very grateful recently for amazing friends that I have gotten to see lots more of lately! September and October are always really hard with school, but over the last three weeks I have gotten to reconnect with some friends and it has felt great!
  • I want a new wool coat. It is all I can think about whenever I look at my (many) coats.
  • I want a new black leather hand bag. It is all I can think about whenever I look at my (many) handbags.
  • I am trying to decide what show I am going to power-watch over the holidays. I am thinking Scandal as everyone says it is sooo good and I have seen a few episodes here and there and really enjoyed!
  • I am really looking forward to seeing Phantom of the Opera when it comes here in December.
  • Dido the British Arrow Awards. 
  • When school finishes up for the semester my goal is to take my newly-found downtime and work on some of my photography and travel scrapbooks (I say that every year).
  • After this semester I only have three more semesters. That's pretty darn cool.
  • I am having a really hard time falling asleep lately. I cannot get myself to sleep ... I have to be at the point of passing out exhaustion before I can sleep. Unfortunately, that does not often come until 2AM or later. 
  • I'm pretty sure I may sleep through Thanksgiving. Like ... all 4 days of the holiday.
  • Snow snow snow snow.
  • I am going to get my Christmas music up and running this weekend. Yay!!!!
  • I have to figure out my New Year's plans. Uhhhh.
  • At this very moment, I wish I was soaking in a bubble bath.
  • At this very moment I am also 3 glasses of wine down.


If you don't know what the subject of this post is, well, that's a little sad.

Who remembers good old typing class? Or keyboard class? Whatever it was called. It was how-to-use-a-keyboard-101. Honestly, when you get down to it in terms of the things I actually remember from middle school, typing class might just be THE single most applicable thing I ever learned. I mean ... you use it every single day!

Who remembers these contraptions? No ... not the giant computer (though that is funny). But rather, the keyboard cover to keep you from looking down when you were typing. Apparently you can still buy them here
I remember we had a computer lab out in the main library area and we had those old, big computers with the huge monitors. And they would put these "hoods" over our keyboards so you could not see your fingers. And they would turn off the monitor so you could not see what you were typing. You had to FEEL it. You had to know what you were typing. You had to instinctively know where each letter was and where to reach and where to press. Seriously, good stuff. And there would be timed tests to see how much you could type (and without errors). I'll admit ... I was pretty darn goo. And it TOTALLY stuck with me. I am a pretty fast typer and I definitely use the home keys, don't look down, etc.

Kind of crazy to think that typing class was potentially the most relevant class from middle school. Yikes. I also learned how to make a clock in wood shop. And how to do some sort of math (I'm sure). Maybe some grammar. Honestly ... math and grammar and social studies all blur together. But I remember typing, and I remember it was middle school.

Today's education system is definitely changing. I know that many schools are getting rid of cursive and I say that sounds like a plan. Seriously never used it and never will. Seems WAY more important these days for kids to be able to properly type without pecking away with two fingers, key by key. Also, to learn how to properly PRINT so that their writing is recognizable. Let's tackle those two first, shall we.

P.S. I wrote this entire post with my fingers on the home keys, not looking down at my fingers once, and with minimal mistakes and deletions. Boom. Take that middle school.

Let Me Tell Teach You About Living Well

Huffington Post recently had an article titled "What Living in the Twin Cities Can Teach Us About Living Well". 

I figured ... might as well read and see how true it is.

For the most part, I agree with the article. Yes, we have good parks. Yes, people are (mostly) active. Yes, there are good jobs

But what is all this about low(er) rent? I mean ... geez ... maybe versus NYC. But otherwise, it is still high! Not a great market for renting right now. Believe me, I should know.

And what was missing?

Oh yeah .. that cold. I don't feel like I am "living well" when it is -10. In fact .... I don't feel much of anything ... my toes, my hands, my nose, etc.

But Minneapolis is a pretty darn good place to live, I definitely concur. Thought I am disappointed they didn't talk about the art and theater scene (which is really good!).

Movie Review | About Time

Mom came up this past weekend and we did a mother-daughter girl weekend. Translation? Shopping. Movies. Brunch. 

The movie choice this weekend was appropriately chick-flick rom-com for the weekend - About Time. 

First thing first. The poster and previews may be all about "if you love Love Actually, you will love this from it's creator." I call bullshit. The only movie that is Love Actually is ... Love Actually. 

Speaking of which ...we are OOOOOOHHHHH so close to being able to pop in Love Actually on repeat for the holiday season. Bring. It. 

Back to About Time. You know, it wasn't bad. It was exactly what it was supposed to be - a rom-com. Mind you, it was a rom-com with a fantastical twist (time travel ... hello!), but it did a nice job of keeping the film grounded and not getting too far into the sci-fi. The lead character were all cute and it helped that they were British and came from a quirky, somewhat eccentric British family. That kept me occupied for awhile. I will say, the movie did make me think about time (hahaha, pun intended) and about memories and spending time with those you love.

But with that being said ... save it for DVD. I am sure it will be out in February ... right in time for Valentine's Day. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Screening Review | 12 Years A Slave

Someone just hand Steve McQueen an Oscar (or two) already.

Normally my posts are a bit witty and sarcastic (or at least I hope they are ... maybe I don't really achieve my goal ... ooops), but that doesn't seem appropriate for this film, so I will try to be more serious.

I was very excited when I had the opportunity to see a screening of 12 Years A Slave recently. Not only was it being directed by Steve McQueen whom I think is an amazing director, but it also featured many actors I think are excellent and was getting a great deal of buzz for awards season. Additionally, the subject matter is such that I was very interested to see it covered by such a strong director. I was happy to see such a serious subject matter handled by someone whom I think could handle it and portray it in such a way as to be honest while also creating an artistically beautiful film. The challenge, in my mind, with films that have to do with subjects such as this - slavery, the Holocost, etc - is that they must walk a fine line between telling and showing enough without it being too much.

And Steve McQueen and his amazing cast let by Chiwetel Ejiofor and also featuring Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Giamatti deliver in every way. The film is honest, beautiful, shocking, sad, emotional, gut-wrenching, powerful, inspirational, and a testament to the human spirit and will to survive. Even writing this, I am getting chocked up thinking about the film more and more. In typical McQueen style, the film is often-times quiet, soft and almost peaceful, in direct contrast with the ugliness and harshness of the actions taking place. There is one particular scene that I will not be able to get out of my mind for a very long time. The camera is stationary for what feels like a 10 minute scenes that probably lasts two. A beautiful big flowering tree takes up most of the scene and birds chirp in the background. Yet the action taking place below the tree is one of such brutality. That type of juxtaposition is what got me throughout.

I can't say more about the film because words don't really describe all that it does and means. This is a must see. But, go into it knowing that it will be difficult to watch at times. But you must keep watching, because we must understand and we must remember and ensure it never happens again.

Move Review | Philomena

Let me just start by gushing ...

I like Judi Dench soooo much! She is such a wonderful actress! So talented. So versatile. I have loved all of her movies. I think she can do NO wrong. Therefore, you KNOW any movie she is going to be in will be great! It just has to be. 

Philomean is a true story and the film is based on 2008 book that tells the tale. Philomena is a lovable, aging Irish woman who - 50 years ago - gave up her son who was born after a single night of youthful passion. The book and film follow her life as she intersects with that of a BBC reporter who has recently gotten sacked. Together they go on a journey to find out what happened to the boy she never stopped loving and never wanted to lose. Sniffle sniffle. 

The film totally works and hits on all the right notes. From strong acting to a great story to wonderful dialogue, it is just one of those films that you enjoy all the way through and leaves you thinking at the end. One of my favorite things about this film is the wonderful screenplay with bright dialogue and witty banter. The actors are wonderful and the two leads are particularly good in scenes together - they have this amazing oddball chemistry that is honest and entertaining! The way Philomena says "oh Martin" is just so cute! The film has the perfect balance of strong emotion that just pulls at your heart with just the right amount of silliness. It's a lovable comedy that will make you cry at times. And I really hope that Dench gets a Best Actress nomination for this - would be very well deserved. 

Definitely a must see! If you are like me and like to see all the contenders before awards season, see it now. If you are not as interested, this film can wait for DVD, BUT make sure you actually see it when it comes out on DVD! 

Movie Review | Thor

Let's just get this out there to begin with.
Yes, Chris Hemsworth is hot.
Yes, Loki is pretty much the best Marvel villain.
Yes, there are bonus scenes after the credits. Two of them, in fact.
We good? Good. Moving on.

I have never read a comic book in my life, but I really enjoy pretty much all Marvel movies. For me, the actors really make it. Iron Man IS Robert Downey Jr. Thor IS Chris Hemsworth. Captain America IS Chris Evans. The movies are generally strong and deliver on exactly what they are supposed to - action and fun characters. Combine that with killer release schedules and you have a win at the box office. 2012's top grossing film was The Avengers coming in at $1.5 billion worldwide gross. So far this year, the number one film is Iron Man 3 with $1.2 worldwide. The public agrees ...

Thor: The Dark World is a good movie, just like most of the other Marvel movies. It delivers on action, adventure, some romance, evil villains and fantastical characters. That's really all that you need. Throw in some IMAX and 3D for good measure and you are in good shape. It's not amazing by any means and it won't win any Oscars, but it is very enjoyable and a great film to see in theaters.

See it. And see it in theaters on the big screen in the way that movies like this are supposed to be enjoyed.

Movie Screening Review | Saving Mr. Banks

I grew up on movies like Mary Poppins. They were all in my repertoire. The King and I. The Sound of Music. The Great Race. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I love them all. I would spend hours on end watching TCM and AMC back when those channels actually played old movies ... back before Jaws and Apollo 13 were gracing those channels. I still remember the gentle voice of Robert Osborne as he would introduce films with interesting little tidbits. "And now with Audrey Hepburn, here's Breakfast at Tiffanys."

Maybe that is part of the reason that I enjoyed this film - Saving Mr. Banks - so much. Because it took me back to the films I loved as a child and still love and put in the DVD player even today. Because every time they sang a song in this film, I wanted them to keep singing and do the whole thing and I was lip-syncing along. This film made me smile .. just like the best movies should.

If you do not know the story, Saving Mr. Banks is the story of Walt Disney trying to convince author P.L. Travers to sign over her the right for her book in a film by Disney. Mr. Disney had been asking for these rights for 20 years and finally convinced Travers to come to Los Angeles and hear his team out, see the script, hear the music, etc. What ensues is artistic differences at their best. From the very beginning, the author is difficult, protecting her dear Mary Poppins (it's always Mary Poppins, never just Mary) and the Banks family as though they were her own. And throughout the film, we discover why.

The film does a beautiful job all around. It weaves back and forth between the story of a little girl and her family in rural Australia along side the modern day discussion taking place at Disney, and you start to see where Mary Poppins and the Banks come from. The acting is - in Mary Poppins' words - spot on! I have always been a very big Emma Thompson fan and she nails this role of the prickly, stubborn and somewhat snobbish Travers. And Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Well, the man is good, we all know that. In this film, he does such a nice job of balancing the Disney character and giving us just enough of the good humor and joyfulness we expect of the Disney "persona" along with a dose of a real human who has a history and imperfections and moments of unhappiness.

The film also does a nice job of outlining the book-to-movie process and how challenging it can be and how so much of our favorite books can get lost in adaptations. As someone who is often critical of adaptions, it definitely gave me a new lens for opinions.

As anyone who has seen the finished Mary Poppins product can attest, many of the things that Travers said no to (no, no, no .. absolutely not!) did make it into the final picture. The music, the animated scenes ... and Dick Van Dyke himself whom she very-much opposed. But in the end, what we have is a classic that is loved by many and brings joy and happiness. It may not have been exactly what she wanted ... but it took on a life of its own.

Saving Mr Banks comes out December 20th. I would definitely recommend this as a good holiday family film for a day at the theater.

Streaming killed the video man ...

Remember that old song? "Video killed the radio man ... video killed the radio man ..." (I don't know any other lyrics from it).

Well, those days are long gone. If they remade that song today, it would probably go something like "Streaming killed the video man ..."

With the recent news that Blockbuster has decided to close their doors for good, I got to reminiscing about movies and the ol' fashioned video rental store. That is ... after I questioningly said "wait, you mean Blockbuster still has stores open? Huh. Who knew ...".

If you haven't noticed yet, I love movies. They make me happy. Enough said. That started at a very early age for me. I would go to the movie theater all the time to see movies, even with my parents when I was a teenager and it was sooo uncool. One time, my friends and I even drove allll the way to St Peter (a whopping 15 minutes away) to see The Prince & Me which for some reason was playing there, but not in Mankato. When I was in high school, one of my good friends actually worked at one of the two movie theaters in town and so she could get her and a friend into any movie for free at either theater. Totally awesome. There were three of us gals that were good friends and what we would is buy a third ticket and the two of us that didn't work at the theater would alternate who bought the spare ticket. I remember one time the movie theater manager even did a special screening of Mr. and Mrs. Smith for some of us! Good times!

Cinemark Movies 8 in the River Hills Mall. Classy. Check out that amazing signage and black and white tile work.
And the rental store. I have many memories of the video rental store. When I was growing up in Mankato, we had the typical Hollywood and Blockbuster. We were a Hollywood family and I don't want to tell you how many times I a) had to make a special trip to return a movie or b) inevitably had late fees. I still remember walking in and seeing those full walls of fake cases with the real DVDs behind them (if you were lucky). And the various other sections. And thinking "this is sooooo awesome ... they must have EVERY movie". Ha! 

What was really fun though was that by my house, about a 5 minute bike ride away, we had more of a ma and pa video store called Video Magic. Classy name, classy joint. It's the kind of place that has the little back room behind a curtain and little kids always inevitably ask their parents what's back there. They did this movie pass thing where you could pay a monthly subscription fee of I-don't-remember-how-much and with that you could have any 5 non-new VHS movies out at any given point. Oh man ... did I take advantage of that. Summer after summer I would have those 5 movies out and then get new ones ... and always remember to "be kind, rewind".

Even in uni when RedBox was already around, there was a Hollywood Video down the street that had the same set-up. My second summer on campus when I had a decent amount of free time, I did the exact same thing as I did with Video Magic. That's how I saw all the SATC seasons!

Good times.

But the times are changing. VHS is a thing of the past. What does "rewind" mean? Even DVDs aren't so cool anymore. Give me my RedBox and my Roku and my Netflix and my Amazon Prime screening. And thank goodness ... because I suck at returning things on time.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hello Kitty

Movie Review | All Is Lost

One man. Alone. Lost at sea. That is the premise of the stellar All Is Lost. Robert Redford is the only character. And there is only maybe 30 words of dialogue all together, with most of them being said by the Redford in the opening sequence. 

It is hard to talk about this movie without giving much of it away. But it is easily one of Redford's best performances and should definitely see him nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award. It is so interesting to watch a film like this - just one man against the elements, struggling for survival. And as an audience member in a theater experience, you are right there with him. The lights are low and you feel the isolation and hopelessness that he is going through, you feel the same sense of being lost. Also, with no dialogue, you really don't know what is going on what he is doing. He is tying a knot or mixing a solution together, but you don't know to what end. It is unsettling. You spend a lot of time asking "why". There is no back story, just a hint or two to a history. You don't even know his name! It is all about what is happening in that exact moment. 

Robert Redford is just amazing. To carry an entire film like this, and with no dialogue basically. Every emotion, every feeling, every little thing to be conveyed through motions and facial expressions. It is just amazing. And you SEE it. You see the desperation. The hopelessness. The hopefulness. The exhaustion. 

Definitely a must see. And in theaters. 

There was an error in this gadget